Wednesday, August 31, 2005

 

Ellsworth guard gets prison time for sex assault


Racine, Wisc. - A Former Robert E. Ellsworth Correctional Center prison guard was sentenced to 3½ years in prison Monday for having sexual contact with a female inmate.

Michael D. Boivin, 34, of Waukesha, will serve an additional 6½ years on extended supervision when he is released from prison, Racine Circuit Court Judge Gerald Ptacek ordered.

Boivin is convicted of second-degree sexual assault by a correctional officer, which carried a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison and 15 years on extended supervision.

According to the criminal complaint, Boivin groped the inmate in a room in which the two were alone in June 2004 at the woman's prison in Dover.

For some time, Boivin had apparently been following the inmate around the institution, questioning her about her guest, who she'd been on the phone with, and even provided her with his telephone number, court records show.

"The victim felt as though Mr. Boivin was stalking her," said prosecuting attorney Randall Schneider, of the Racine County District Attorney's office.

During the sentencing hearing Boivin apologized for his actions.

"I don't where to begin. Sorry doesn't cut it," Boivin said. "What I did was wrong. I took advantage of the position I was in."

Boivin was taken into custody immediately following his sentencing. He had been out on bond.

When Boivin is released from prison he must also register as a sex offender, Ptacek ordered.


See our complete collection of bad behavior at the hands of prison and jail guards: Where did they learn that?

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Pastor, church face civil lawsuit from sexual abuse victim


ROCKFORD, Ill. -- A civil lawsuit has been filed against a pastor who had a sexual relationship with a teenage girl in his youth group. The suit also names the church's senior pastor and the church as defendants.

The Winnebago girl, who is now an adult, claims that her former youth pastor, Bradley Bounds of Rockford, "exploited and perverted his position of trust" by engaging in a consensual romantic and sexual relationship with her when she was 17.

Bounds, then 28, was married with a 2-year-old son.

She also claims that Rock Church, the Rockford church that she attended from age 7 to 17, and the church's senior pastor, John Sprecher, did not do enough to protect her from Bounds and was negligent in hiring and training him.

She is asking for in excess of $150,000 in damages -- $50,000 per defendant -- and costs of the lawsuit.

The lawsuit states that the woman sustained "severe and enduring emotional and psychological damage" because of the affair.

Bounds was found guilty of aggravated criminal sexual abuse in December. The age of sexual consent in the state of Illinois is 17, but is 18 in cases involving people in position of authority or trust. Bounds was sentenced to 48 months of probation.

He also is required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

The Rockford Register Star does not identify victims of sexual assault.

The woman's attorney, James Devine, declined to comment on the lawsuit except to say that she and her family will be asking for more than $50,000 from the defendants.

Sprecher, who has been senior pastor at Rock Church for the past 25 years, said the church never had a problem of this nature in the past and didn't have any problems with Bounds until the incident with the girl. Sprecher said Bounds, who worked at the church for five years, was fired immediately.

"My heart goes out to the young lady," Sprecher said.

"I'm sorry she felt she needed to go to this level. We knew nothing of the activities going on. We do all we can to protect all persons on our campus. We make sure we provide as safe an environment as we can. ... There have been no other allegations. This was a single incident, a single person."


See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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Pastor Gets 18 Months for Tax Non-Payment


CHICAGO -- A pastor was sentenced Tuesday to 18 months in prison for failing to pay taxes on the roughly $1,000 a week that federal prosecutors say he skimmed from the collection plate.

Hundreds of church members packed a federal courtroom for William Ellis' sentencing to show support for the former bishop of the Apostolic Pentecostal Church, and many were in tears over his punishment.


Ellis, 62, stared down, held his head in one hand and shook it sadly as U.S. District Judge Robert W. Gettleman imposed the sentence _ the minimum called for by federal guidelines.

Ellis allegedly skimmed $525,000 in church money over about five years. He pleaded guilty to a single count of tax fraud in a plea agreement with prosecutors under which six other counts were dropped.

Besides dipping into the weekly collection plate, Ellis allegedly used a church credit card for personal travel and clothes, and bought a life insurance policy and paid for a Mercedes Benz with church funds.

Defense attorney James Montgomery argued the church wasn't swindled because its officers knew that Ellis was dipping into the collections and approved the car payments.

Ellis is due to begin serving his sentence Oct. 17.


See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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Attorney in diocese lawsuit seeks to introduce priest allegations


FARGO, N.D. - The attorney for a woman accusing the Roman Catholic Diocese here of discrimination is seeking to introduce the issue of priest misconduct during the trial in her case.

Robert Schultz, the lawyer for Melissa Enebo, a former secretary for the diocese, said he wants to include evidence of misconduct by priests to show the diocese treated them differently from Enebo.

In her gender discrimination lawsuit, Enebo says she was fired in 1999 for getting pregnant outside of marriage.

Benjamin Thomas, the diocese attorney, told East Central District Judge John Irby at a pretrial hearing Monday that allowing allegations of priest misconduct as evidence would confuse jurors and "invite a media circus."

Thomas said priests are not considered employees of the diocese and are not subject to state labor laws. Only the Vatican can appoint and remove priests, so they are not a fair comparison in Enebo's case, he said.

Schultz said some priests are considered employees of the diocese and are under the bishop's oversight.

Irby said he would review any evidence of priest misconduct in private and then decide whether to allow the evidence in the trial. He ordered the diocese to provide records of lawsuits going back to 1985.

The diocese has said it warned Enebo that she was violating church policy by living with the father of her child even though they were not married.

Enebo's civil lawsuit seeks lost wages, compensation for distress and lawyer's fees.

The trial, starting Tuesday, is expected to last the rest of the week.


See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

 

State prison guard accused of urinating on jail computer


OLYMPIA, Wash. -- A state prison guard who was arrested after a drunken brawl at a nightclub may also be charged with urinating on a municipal jail computer, police said.

Willie M. Shannon, 26, of Lacey, employed at Washington Corrections Center in Shelton, was transferred to the Thurston County Jail, where he was booked for investigation of first-degree malicious mischief and then was released after posting bail, according to police reports Monday.

His employment status was unclear. A state corrections spokesman said the personnel office at the prison had closed by the time he was asked about the case Monday by The Olympian newspaper.

Shannon, Sean W. Dack, 25, of McCleary, who works with Shannon at the prison, and Randy M. Hinchcliffe, 38, of Olympia, who has previous felony convictions and knew Shannon from the prison, were arrested after fighting early Sunday morning at The Vault, police St. James Costa said.

Describing all three as apparently intoxicated, investigators found Shannon and Hinchcliffe had been thrown out of the club after punching and shoving each other, and Dack joined the fray after initially seeming to be trying to break it up, Costa said.

Dack and Hinchcliffe were cited at the municipal jail for disorderly conduct and released, but Shannon, while confined in a holding cell, relieved himself through a protective screen onto a nearby computer workstation, according to police reports.

Damage to the computer, monitor, fax machine and other hardware was estimated at $1,500, and other equipment was rendered unusable because of the contamination, Costa said.

Shannon apologized afterward, Costa added.


See our complete collection of bad behavior at the hands of prison and jail guards: Where did they learn that?

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Answers expected in funeral home murder case


HUDSON, WIS. -- The families of two funeral home workers killed more than three years ago in western Wisconsin may soon get some answers in the case.

Police have finished their investigation into the case and its connection to a priest who killed himself after officers interviewed him.

St. Croix County District Attorney Eric Johnson said he would not reveal any details until after meeting with the slain workers' families. He hoped to meet with the families early next month after he reviews several findings.

"They should hear it from me first," Johnson said.

Funeral home director Dan O'Connell and his intern, James Ellison, were shot to death in the O'Connell Family Funeral Home in February 2002. Hudson Police Chief Richard Trende has said investigators ruled out that the killings were random and listed the motive as personal.

The priest, the Rev. Ryan Erickson, 31, was working at a church in Hudson at the time of the slayings. Investigators questioned him about the killings in 2004 as part of a separate investigation into an allegation involving a minor or minors, authorities have said.

Erickson committed suicide Dec. 19 outside his new parish in Hurley, Wis., after police searched his church residence and office. Police said Erickson had denied any involvement in the slayings.

Trende has refused to say what led detectives to question the priest about the murders, and a judge has sealed court documents in the case, including requests for search warrants.


See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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Diocese dismisses priest who stole church offerings


It's estimated that fully 20% of American churches of all denominations are victims of embezzlement...

Indialantic, Fla. - A priest at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Community in Indialantic has been removed from his duties after $10,520 went missing from church coffers, the Diocese of Orlando said Monday.

The church's pastor David Page found money was missing after the church's weekly audits of donated money showed discrepancies, diocese spokeswoman Carol Brinati said.

The diocese oversees churches in nine counties, including Brevard County.

It was discovered the Rev. Marek Maczynski had taken the money from church donations, and church officials reported the missing money to the Brevard County Sheriff's Office in early August, Brinati said.

Bishop Thomas Wenski at the chancery office in Orlando didn't pursue litigation against Maczynski after Maczynski returned the money and issued a letter of apology to the diocese, church leaders and parishioners, Brinati said.


See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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New lawsuits allege 1950s sexual abuse by priest


Kansas City - Two men have sued the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, contending they were sexually abused in the 1950s by the Rev. Sylvester Hoppe, who died in 2002.

Gary Lee Smith of Topeka and Hank Talbot, who lives in northwest Missouri, filed lawsuits late last week in Jackson County Circuit Court. The lawsuits said the diocese “ignored, covered up and concealed” Hoppe’s behavior.

In a written statement released Monday afternoon, the Rev. Robert A. Murphy, vicar general of the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, said the diocese had no record of complaints from Smith or Talbot.

Still, he expressed regret for the harm done by a few priests. “The diocese is deeply sorry for what has happened to innocent children due to the abuse perpetrated by some priests,” Murphy’s statement said.

In September 2003, the diocese settled a 2002 lawsuit against Hoppe for $10,000. A California man, Thomas Dorrell, sued the diocese and Hoppe, alleging that Hoppe molested him in the 1950s, which Hoppe denied at the time through his lawyer.

Smith lived at an orphanage in St. Joseph that the diocese operated. Hoppe lived in a rectory attached to the orphanage and gave Smith gifts, clothes, wine and candy and began sexual activity with him at age 10, the lawsuit alleges. The abuse occurred between 1951 and 1956, it says. “Plaintiff repressed all memory of the abuse and/or could not ascertain his injury until 2005,” the lawsuit states.

Talbot lived in St. Joseph with his family when Hoppe recruited him as an altar boy at age 10 or 11, the lawsuit states. Hoppe would take the boy on overnight trips to towns where Hoppe would say Mass the next morning. They slept together, and Hoppe abused Talbot starting at age 13 in 1950, the lawsuit states.

“Hoppe told the plaintiff that such abuse was OK and favored in the Catholic faith,” the lawsuit states.

Smith and Talbot seek unspecified monetary damages.

Both lawsuits mention Hoppe’s lifelong involvement with the Boy Scouts. Hoppe served as a chaplain for Scout groups. In his 2002 lawsuit, Dorrell said Hoppe abused him at a Scout jamboree.

In 1999, a chapel at Camp Geiger near St. Joseph was named after Hoppe.


See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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Priest's name staying on hall


CHEYENNE - Wyoming's Catholic bishop said accusations of sexual misconduct against a former bishop were not enough to remove his name from a residence hall at the St. Joseph's Children's Home.

Bishop David Ricken said former Bishop Joseph Hart's name would remain on the Torrington facility, despite a new lawsuit filed last week accusing Hart of sexually abusing a young parishioner in Missouri.

"In this wonderful country, a person is innocent until proven guilty," Ricken said. "I am sure any one of us would welcome the protection of the law and the presumption of innocence if we had been accused.

"As far as I know, none of the accusations against Bishop Hart have been deemed credible enough to have been introduced into a court of law, let alone brought to a formal trial. Therefore, there is no cause at the present time to remove his name from the building at St. Joseph's Children's Home."

Last week, an unnamed plaintiff sued Hart, alleging that Hart had molested him starting when he was 12 years old. He was the fifth person to make such accusations against Hart.

Hart has not responded to media inquiries about this latest lawsuit, but he has repeatedly denied any sexual misconduct.

In conjunction with the lawsuit, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests asked that the Wyoming diocese remove Hart's name from a residence hall at St. Joseph's unless and until he is cleared of wrongdoing.

"We're really disappointed and believe that they're sending the wrong message," said SNAP president Barbara Blaine. "We believe it sends a chilling message to those who have been hurt, and we think the bishop could do much better."


See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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Dallas Theological Seminary, molestation victim reach settlement


Dallas - On the eve of what could have been an emotional trial, Dallas Theological Seminary reached a out-of-court settlement with a Trophy Club resident who blamed the seminary for his abuse by one of their graduates.

Jury selection was set to begin Monday in Tarrant County's 17th District court in Aaron Babb's lawsuit against the seminary, where a man now imprisoned for molesting Babb graduated in 1992.

But attorneys for Babb and the seminary said Monday the case was settled late Friday, with all terms to remain confidential.

"Our client is pleased with the terms of the settlement," said Babb's attorney, Thomas McElyea. "He was prepared to go to trial, but we believe it is in the best interest of all parties to solve the lawsuit amicably."

Thomas Brandon Jr., who represented the 80-year-old nondenominational seminary, agreed.

"The matter was settled to the satisfaction of all parties involved," Brandon said. "My personal hope is that this will help promote healing for Mr. Babby and for the seminary."

The seminary previously reached an out-of-court settlement with another victim of Jon Gerrit Warnshuis, the seminary graduate who is serving 40 years in prison after pleading guilty in 2001 to sexually molesting Babb.

Babb contended that the seminary was partly to blame for his abuse because they did not alert authorities after being told in 1988 that he had molested another boy.

Instead, the seminary allowed Warnsuis to graduate in 1992, said Babb, now 22-year-old security guard. Warnsuis was later hired by Oak Hills evangelical Free Church in Argyle, where Babb was attending when he was molested in 1996.


See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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Dog found dead in oven; burglary suspect charged


I keep meaning to start a new category of Bobo's World entries-- those involving animal cruelty, which really gets at the heart of a certain kind of American consciousness that leads to violence against the most helpless. For now, I'll just continue to post the occasional story:

SAVANNAH, GA. - A suspected burglar was charged with felony animal cruelty after police found a resident's missing dog burned to death in an oven that had been set to 400 degrees.

The dog's owner, Angela DeLettre, noticed an open back door, items missing and a kitchen sink overflowing with water when she came home Thursday. She found one of her dogs safe, but the other, a 1-year-old rat terrier, was missing.

Police later found the dead dog in the oven.

Police arrested Alexander Davis, 19, based on an anonymous tip. In addition to the cruelty charge, he was charged with burglarizing DeLettre's home and another home in the area. Another person was charged with theft by receiving stolen property.

"This is just sick. This is just very, very strange," said Melanie Higgins, a prosecutor who handles most of the county's animal abuse cases.

Davis remained in the Chatham County Jail. A court hearing was scheduled Thursday.

"To rob someone is one thing," DeLettre said, "but why hurt such a little animal?"


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Series of racist messages a 'very rude awakening' at University of Virginia


But racism is a thing of the past. Or, Racism is only found in the backwaters amoung the lower classes. Or, Educated people aren't racist anymore. Or, something...

RICHMOND, Va. — University of Virginia officials are considering making hate speech a violation of the campus honor code after racist messages were scrawled on doors and shouted from passing cars.

Charlottesville and university police are investigating five racial incidents, the first reported Aug. 20, university spokeswoman Carol Wood said Monday. Police had not charged anyone in the incidents.

"The writer of the spiteful words and the passing motorist who shouts an insult have no place in a community built on mutual trust and respect," University President John Casteen III wrote in an e-mail to students and staff.

More than 250 students attended a meeting Saturday about the racist messages.

"For the new students, this is a very rude awakening to societal problems that are everywhere, including the University of Virginia," said Noah Sullivan, a student organizer of the meeting. "For older students, this is nothing new."

Phil Jackson said he found a racist message written on a dry-erase board outside his campus dorm room early Saturday.

"I didn't think it was something that would happen," he said. "I don't think anyone should ever really get used to the disappointment or the frustration of individuals who don't embrace diversity."

Integrated in 1955, the University of Virginia has combatted a lingering reputation as a white, Southern stronghold. About 10 percent of the school's roughly 13,000 undergraduates are black.

Incidents over the past few years have fanned the flames, including a 2002 Halloween party at which two students dressed as black women and 2003 attacks on a biracial student council hopeful and a Peruvian business student.


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Monday, August 29, 2005

 

Shooting rampage at church ends with 5 dead


Thanks to John G. for pointing this out:

SASH, Texas — A shooting rampage outside a rural church near the Texas-Oklahoma border left five dead, including the suspected shooter who turned the gun on himself today after a nine-hour standoff with police, authorities said.

Witnesses told police that A.P. Crenshaw, who lived across the street from the Sash Assembly of God church, exchanged words in the church parking lot Sunday night with church member Wes Brown, who asked Crenshaw to leave.

Crenshaw went back to his house but soon returned and shot Brown, 61, at close range, and then shot pastor James Armstrong, 42, the witnesses said. Deputies found both men dead in a grassy area next to the church parking lot, and it didn't appear they were shot inside the church, Fannin County Sheriff Kenneth Moore said.

Crenshaw then went back to his house, got in his truck and drove down the road. A truck pulling a horse trailer was stopped at a nearby intersection and Crenshaw began firing at the truck, witnesses told police.

Two women inside the truck tried to flee out the passenger side, but Crenshaw got out of his truck, went behind the horse trailer where the women were hiding and shot them, witnesses said.

"The witnesses said they could hear the women screaming," Moore said.

Police have identified one of the women as Holly Love Brown, 50. She is not related to Wes Brown, Moore said.

"We believe it was just random," Moore said of the women's slayings. "They were just in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Police believe Crenshaw then circled back toward the church, fired at a home and cafe near the church without harming anyone, then went home.

Deputies arrived after receiving a 911 call from one of the church members, and the long standoff began. A 10-member SWAT team made two attempts to go into house, but Crenshaw fired at them so the officers retreated, Moore said.

Police finally made their way into the house about 6 a.m., after firing tear gas into the home. Crenshaw was found in a bedroom with a gunshot wound to head, Moore said. Police believe Crenshaw shot himself about an hour earlier.

A pistol, revolver and shotgun, along with ammunition, were found in the home, Moore said. They appeared to match the weapons used in the shootings, he said. Police found 12 spent rounds from a 9mm semi-automatic pistol outside the horse trailer where the women were shot. The pastor and church member were shot with a .38-revolver, Moore said.

Moore said the shootings have obviously shaken the 300 residents in Sash, a tiny community about 120 miles north of Dallas where the biggest crimes are usually stolen property or drug arrests.

"It was a very tragic night for the community of Sash," Moore said.

Moore said the motive for the shootings was under investigation.


See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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Megachurch pastor biggest beneficiary of charity he founded


Thanks to sittenpretty, a commentor over at Eschaton, for bringing this to our attention:

LITHONIA, Ga. - Jesus wasn't broke, and leaders of churches shouldn't be either.

That's what Bishop Eddie Long, who heads Georgia's biggest church, has to say in defense of his grand lifestyle, funded largely by the nonprofit religious charity he started in 1997.

According to tax records, Bishop Eddie Long Ministries, Inc. provided him with more than $3 million in salary and benefits, including a $1.4 million 20-acre home and use of a $350,000 Bentley. Long also received more than $1 million in salary, including $494,000 in 2000.

Long maintains the money came from royalties, speaking fees and several large donations - not from members of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, where he became pastor in 1987. The charity stopped operating in 2000.

During his 18-year tenure, New Birth has swelled from 300 members to 25,000. Long told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he heads an international corporation, not just a church.

"You've got to put me on a different scale than the little black preacher sitting over there that's supposed to be just getting by because the people are suffering," he said.

Long's charity and his church were separate organizations, and his charity was incorporated as a nonprofit religious corporation - not a church. He and his wife, Vanessa, were two of the charity's four board members.

The charity, which Long incorporated in New York in 1995, made $3.1 million in donations to others between 1997 and 2000, according to tax records - compared to at least $3.07 million paid to Long during the same period.

Nonprofits are exempt from paying state and federal income taxes if they meet certain criteria, but executives' benefits may not be excessive according to federal law.

Churches must report to the IRS how much they pay employees, but those records are not public. The charity's tax returns are public record.

Long's benefits were excessive, said Jeff Krehely, deputy director of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, a Washington-based group that promotes accountability in the philanthropic community.

"After reviewing the compensation packages of foundation executives, including those who have been written up in the press as being excessive, I've never seen anything quite like what Long (was) getting, when you include his salary, the house and the car," Krehely said.

Long's tax attorney, J. David Epstein, said the charity's compensation committee decided to use some of the charity's assets to pay Long for his work at New Birth to make up for years when he was underpaid.

"Bishop Long has never received the legal amount of compensation he is due by law," said Epstein, a Philadelphia lawyer specializing in church law and producer of a video for pastors called "How to Maximize Your Clergy Salary and Benefits Package."

Long used to receive a salary from New Birth, but now accepts "love offerings" from church members, according to a church spokesman.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who chairs a Senate committee investigating lavish salaries of nonprofit executives, expressed concern upon hearing about Long's situation.

"I'm worried that a few people are confusing the ringing of a church bell with the ringing of a cash register," Grassley said in a statement to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "When I hear about leaders of charities being provided a $300,000 Bentley to drive around in, my fear is that it's the taxpayers who subsidize this charity who are really being taken for a ride."

Long says he represents a "paradigm shift" in the black church, and that any problems people have with his charity stem from people's expectations that pastors should be poor. He said his congregation is inspired by seeing its pastor do well.

"I'm not going to apologize for anything."


See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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Ex-Pastor Facing Probe Over Herbal Paste


ROCHELLE, Ga. -- Curtis Brown carries business cards with old pictures of his tumors, including an egg-sized growth on his neck. He says they were each shed after the application of a flesh-eating paste containing the medicinal herb bloodroot.

"I cured myself of cancer," the cards read.

Georgia's medical board and the federal Food and Drug Administration don't share Brown's enthusiasm for the paste.

The state board has accused its maker, Dan Raber, a rural pastor-turned-healer, of practicing medicine without a license. FDA agents recently raided Raber's business, and a doctor could lose her medical license for allegedly knowing Raber was giving people the paste _ not approved for the treatment of cancer _ and not reporting him.

Raber's paste is described by the medical board as "a caustic, tissue-destroying substance that eats away human skin and flesh."


See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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Ellwood priest resigns


Ellwood City, Penn. - The Rev. Mauro Cautela has resigned as pastor of Holy Redeemer Parish, Ellwood City, amidst serious allegations of impropriety.

According to the Rev. John R. Rushofsky, director of clerical personnel for the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, Cautela has been placed on administrative leave, though he would not say what the allegations against Cautela are.

The official statement from the diocese was read at the 6 p.m. Mass Saturday in Holy Redeemer Parish and was to be read after all Masses today.

Additional diocesan personnel will be on hand after the noon Mass today at the church to answer any questions they can within the confines of the confidential nature of the matter.

The statement made no further reference to the specifics of the allegations, but said, "When allegations of this nature have been made, church law mandates that specific procedures must be followed. In response to this requirement, a preliminary investigation has already begun. This action does not imply guilt but is intended to find the truth while preserving the rights of everyone involved, including both the person against whom an allegation has been made and the alleged victim.

Because of the length of time involved in the procedures and "to ensure that the pastoral leadership of the parish continues" Cautela resigned effective immediately, according to the statement.


See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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Deal keeps ex-officer out of jail


Oklahoma County [Oklahoma]prosecutors have arranged a plea agreement that allows a former police officer accused of raping two children to avoid a jail sentence.
Ki Mitchell Harrington, 34, pleaded guilty this week to one count of child abuse, while 13 felony counts were dismissed. Harrington will serve a five-year deferred sentence.

The charges against Harrington included seven counts of first-degree rape, two counts of sexual abuse of a child and five counts of child abuse.

Prosecutors said there is insufficient evidence to prove Harrington committed any of the crimes alleged in the dropped charges.

The Oklahoma County district attorney's office issued a written statement Friday to The Oklahoman about Harrington's case:

"After lengthy investigation and interviews with the victims we were able to ascertain that the level of crime thought to be committed was not as egregious as originally thought. While we acknowledge a level of criminal activity was committed the difficulty was in proving it without sacrificing the victims."

An investigation into Harrington began Nov. 24, 2003, when the children's mother contacted police.

The children, a brother and sister, testified in a preliminary hearing in July 2003 that they were beaten with a belt containing multiple buckles or studs.

"I'm satisfied that these children will never be around him again and he'll never be a law enforcement officer again," Assistant District Attorney Sarah McAmis said. "I believe the outcome is in their best interest."

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Harrington never can have contact with the victims and he surrendered his Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training certification.

Harrington worked in the 1990s as a Blaine County deputy and as a police officer in Okarche and El Reno. Harrington was fired May 7, 2003, from the El Reno Police Department, where he had worked since September 2000.

He was an Okarche officer from September 1999 to June 2000.


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Sunday, August 28, 2005

 

Weekly church-related crime update, August 21- 27



  • On Sunday, the Los Angeles Times reported that Joe Sabolick, a pastor fired from his job at Calvary Chapel in Laguna Beach, California, had sued the church for $15 million in damages, claiming that church officials had "spread false rumors of wife-swapping and pedophilia... The lawsuit also describes accusations that Sabolick lied about having Jewish ancestors, fell under the control of Satan and 'abused' his wife by making her wear 'tight jeans.'"

  • The Associated Press reported that Rhenne Cervantes, a priest at Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Mandeville, Louisiana, was suspended after an audit found that he "improperly put $40,000 meant for his church into an account only he could access, then spent about $14,000 of it to boost his salary and household allowance."

  • Reviewing a work history of Richard A. Emerson, an Indiana priest accused of sexual abuse, two former Catholic monks turned victims advocates and one priest turned whistle-blower told the Northwest Indiana Times that Emerson's career - he was moved by dioscese officials on average every three years, often to positions that put him in direct contact with youth - was the "classic profile" shared by many priests who have been accused of and/or proved to be pedophiles:

    "It's the perfect profile, actually," [one advocate] said, noting that many of the priests who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse across the country have held high positions of authority within their diocese or religious orders and often have had positions giving them access to children.

  • Catholic Bishop Donald Kettler announced from the pulpit that he was suspending Richard L. McCaffrey, a Fairbanks, Alaska priest that was the target of an Alaskan state police investigation of three separate child abuse claims coming from native villages in which McCaffrey had served.

  • On Monday, Theodore Myers, pastor of Temple of Faith Bible Way Church in Gadsden, South Carolina, was arrested on one count of a lewd act upon a child and one count of indecent exposure, "after authorities said he used candy to entice a 7-year-old girl to visit his church office, where he then fondled her and exposed himself," reported the South Carolina State.

  • Edward O. Paquette Jr., a Catholic priest who was defrocked after being accused of sexually abusing minors in three separate dioceses, had been sued by four more men in Vermont, who claimed that Paquette had abused them as minors, bringing to six the number of lawsuits against him, the Springfield, MA Republican reported.

  • Terry Hornbuckle, senior pastor at Agape Christian Fellowship in Arlington, Texas, was arrested for violating the terms of his release on a sexual assault charge. It was Hornbuckle's fourth arrest in recent months, explained the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram:

    The first time was on March 11 when he was arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting three former female congregants of Agape. He was arrested again May 11 after court officials said he tested positive for methamphetamines while free on bail. Hornbuckle was arrested a third time on June 29 when prosecutors filed two new sexual assault cases against him and charges that he threatened and attempted to bribe witnesses.

  • Clement LePine, the pastor at St. Josephs Catholic Church in Ishpeming, Wisconsin from 1957 to 1986 who died in 2000, had sexually abused two women, confirmed the Diocese of Marquette after an investigation.

  • On Tuesday, Lawrence Craig, minister at Williams Institutional Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in New York City, was arrested for attempted burglary and assault after he allegedly try to kidnap a four-year-old boy from the boy's home. Witnesses were able to identify Craig in part because the car he was driving had distinctive license plates - reading "Supreme Court 237" - easily tracked to Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Donna Mills, his girlfriend. "Craig told police he was drunk and in the wrong place," reported WCBS TV.

  • Richard Lydon, preacher at the Oil of Joy Ministries in Port Jefferson, New York, was arrested on three counts of falsely reporting an incident after he made several bogus calls from his cell phone to 911.

  • Duane Hammons, pastor at Alpha Joy Temple in San Antonio, Texas who had already been convicted of having sex with a minor, was charged with the same crime with a different girl. In the first case, a 15-year-old girl said that Hammons would "make her skip school and would take her to motel rooms to have sex," reported WOAI.

  • The nondenominational Dallas Theological Seminary, one of the largest in the nation, had reached an out-of-court settlement with a victim of Jon Gerrit Warnshuis, a former student, but another victim, Aaron Babb, will bring his law suit to court. As explained by the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram:

    If Dallas Theological Seminary officials had alerted authorities in 1988 -- when they learned that one of their students, Jon Gerrit Warnshuis, was accused of sexually molesting a 12- or 13-year-old boy -- Warnshuis might have gone to prison then. Instead, Warnshuis was allowed to graduate from the seminary in 1992 and later became pastor of an Argyle church. In 2001, he was sentenced to prison for molesting Babb and other boys for years at Oak Hills Evangelical Free Church.

  • On Wednesday, a law suit was filed against Joseph Hart, a former priest at St. John Francis Regis and several other parishes in Kansas City, and now a retired bishop in Wyoming. According to the lawsuit: "In approximately 1973 and 1974, when the plaintiff was about 12, the plaintiff answered phones in the church rectory. At one point, Hart told the plaintiff he was in trouble, then took him into the hallway of the rectory and molested him. Later in 1973 or 1974, the lawsuit says, Hart and the plaintiff were both participating in 'several basketball sessions.' While playing basketball, the lawsuit says, Hart groped and fondled the plaintiff, 'passing it off as mere sport.' Hart already faces different sexual abuse lawsuits filed in January 2004 and October 2004, reported the Kansas City Star.

  • Arthur Allen Jr., a former minister at House of Prayer church in Atlanta, was released from prison after serving two years on child cruelty and aggravated assault charges. Allen had ordered church members to whip their children with belts when they misbehaved. "Four other church members also were convicted three years ago in connection with the beatings of children at the church and served jail time," reported the Associated Press. "[Allen] served a 90-day jail sentence but refused to comply with the condition of his 10-year probation that children in his congregation could only be hand spanked at home by their parents. Allen skipped a probation revocation hearing and was on the run for five months before his capture in Cobb County two years ago."

  • An arrest warrant was issued for Jack Wendell Ruff, senior pastor at the Praise Tabernacle Church in North Port, Florida, charging him with "contracting without a license during a governor-declared State of Emergency and failing to complete work after taking advance monies for repairs to pool cages damaged by Hurricane Charley," reported the Florida Sun Herald. "Detectives say Ruff, acting as a salesman for a pool cage company, took sizable deposit checks from homeowners for repair work that was never done." Ruff, said police officials, had fled the area and is now a fugitive.

  • Attorney Daniel Shea, "who is suing Pope Benedict XVI in Texas for allegedly covering up the sexual abuse of children by a seminarian said he would challenge the U.S. diplomatic recognition of the Vatican if the pope is given immunity in the case," reported the Associated Press. The former Joseph Ratzinger - now Pope Benedict - is named in the law suit because of a letter he wrote to bishpos around the world while he was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The letter explained "that 'grave' crimes such as the sexual abuse of minors would be handled by his congregation and that the proceedings of special church tribunals handling the cases were subject to 'pontifical secret.'"

  • Harold Robert White, a former Catholic priest who is the subject of five sexual abuse law suits filed against the Denver Archdiocese, told KCNC TV that there were "half-truths" in the allegations, but the plaintiffs were just out for money. In the past month, 17 men have told The Denver Post that White molested them from the early 1960s to early 1980s.

  • On Thursday, Edgar Lopez Bertrand, a televangelist from El Salvador, was sentenced to two years probation for passport fraud. Bertrand had presented immigration officials with a fraudulent Salvadoran birth certificate for a girl he was attempting to bring into the United States.

  • "Half a dozen men have filed lawsuits alleging they were sexually molested, beaten and humiliated as children 40 years ago by nuns, priests and civilian staff members at Madonna Manor, a Catholic home for troubled children in Marrero [Alabama]," reported the Associate Press. "Four of the six plaintiffs claim they were raped or sexually fondled by priests or men they thought were priests; three allege they were sometimes molested by nuns in dormitories at night; five allege they were sexually molested by Madonna Manor's civilian staff or other adults, sometimes off campus."

  • Carlton Franklin Davis, the former pastor of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Gary, Indiana, was charged with "neglect after a son he fathered with a parishioner was hospitalized with burns across his lower body," reported the Indianapolis Star. "Samuel Kendrick [the baby] arrived at Community Hospital in Munster on Tuesday with deep burns across his legs, feet, groin and buttocks, apparently after having been immersed in very hot water, according to court records." Davis had been fired by the New Hope church board in September "after the baby's mother went public with allegations that he had fathered her child... It was the second time the married pastor had been publicly confronted with impregnating a parishioner. In 2002, a woman told church members during a Sunday service that Davis had impreg-nated her 16-year-old daughter."

  • On Friday, the Seattle Archdiocese reached a $2.6 million settlement with seven men who say they were molested by John Forrester, a former priest at Holy Rosary Church in Seattle and All Saints Church in Puyallup, Wash. who is now dead. "Forrester was accused of molesting the boys on camping trips or other outings -- some of them once and some repeatedly over the course of months or years," reported the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

  • Aaron D. West, pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Bradford County, Florida, was arrested on a felony charge of sending pornography to minors. According to a police press release, West had communicated with two Wisconsin girls, ages 14 and 15, and later admitted he talked to the girls in a chat room and sent them nude photos of someone else, saying it was him.

  • Jimmy Wilcox, a "controversial pastor who was paid $35,000 in [Lakewood, New Jersey] township funds to run a parental outreach program and criticized by some residents as a vagrant who hangs out and drinks at a local bus terminal, has been charged with disorderly conduct and drinking outside the public depot," reported the Asbury Park Press.


  • This, of course, is just this week's update. See the entire never-ending chronicle of church-related crime here.

    Return to Bobo's World homepage.

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    Minister charged in baby's scalding


    CROWN POINT, Ind. -- A minister fired from a 2,000-member Gary congregation nearly a year ago has been charged with neglect after a son he fathered with a parishioner was hospitalized with burns across his lower body.

    Carlton Franklin Davis, 47, Munster, the charismatic former pastor of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Gary, and Serrita Monique Kendrick, 24, Merrillville, have been charged with neglect of their 7-month-old son, Samuel Kendrick.

    Munster police arrested Serrita Kendrick on Thursday. A warrant was issued for Davis' arrest, and it was not clear Saturday whether he had been taken into custody. The charge carries a penalty of six to 20 years in prison.

    Samuel Kendrick arrived at Community Hospital in Munster on Tuesday with deep burns across his legs, feet, groin and buttocks, apparently after having been immersed in very hot water, according to court records.

    The baby was transferred to University of Chicago Children's Hospital, where a child protection team found that "at the time of the injury the child would have had to have been in serious pain and that there was no way caretakers could not have known he was injured," a probable cause affidavit said.

    Davis and Kendrick told Munster police they changed the baby's diaper late Monday and washed him off with cool water in a tub. The mother said she put a clean diaper on the infant, wrapped him in a blanket and laid him down. Both said the baby was not crying.

    However, about 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, the mother said she checked on Samuel and discovered skin was peeling off. The woman said she drove the baby to Community Hospital, and Davis followed in his car.

    Davis was fired by the New Hope church board in September after Kendrick went public with allegations that he had fathered her child. Davis had guided the church through a $2 million renovation the year before.

    It was the second time the married pastor had been publicly confronted with impregnating a parishioner. In 2002, a woman told church members during a Sunday service that Davis had impreg-nated her 16-year-old daughter.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Saturday, August 27, 2005

     

    Pastor charged with bad behavior, drinking


    LAKEWOOD, N.J. — A controversial pastor who was paid $35,000 in township funds to run a parental outreach program and criticized by some residents as a vagrant who hangs out and drinks at a local bus terminal has been charged with disorderly conduct and drinking outside the public depot.

    Rev. Jimmy Wilcox, who had moved to Lakewood this year but gave police a Brick address, was arrested Aug. 12, police said.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Pastor arrested on porn charge


    Tallahassee, Tenn. - The former pastor of a Bradford County church was arrested in Tallahassee on a felony charge of sending pornography to minors, a Leon County Sheriff's Office spokesman said.

    But what wasn't clear Friday was why it took 2½ years to arrest him. Investigators had seized his computer in late 2002, according to a press release, and the man had admitted sending the photos.

    Aaron D. West, 49, was booked into the Leon County Jail on Friday on $50,000 bail but will be taken to Bradford County to face a judge there, spokesman Chris Chase said.

    West was arrested at the Thomasville Road Wal-Mart, where he works as an assistant manager. Store manager Wally Davidson declined comment and a corporate spokeswoman would say only that West was suspended without pay.

    West had been pastor of Bradford County's Faith Baptist Church; a message left on the office phone was not returned Friday.

    He had been communicating over the Internet with two Wisconsin girls, ages 14 and 15, beginning in late 2002, when he still the church's pastor, according to a press release.

    Law enforcement there found out and tipped off sheriff's deputies in Bradford County. Sheriff's Sgt. Daniel Wolfe went to West's house and spoke with him.

    West said he talked to the girls in a chat room and sent nude photos of someone else, saying it was him, according to the release. He also said he talked with the girls about meeting them, but never made the visit.

    West also allowed Wolfe to seize his computer, in which was found "information indicating West collected child pornography," the release said.

    But it wasn't until Aug. 24 that an arrest warrant was put out for West, who had to be tracked down because he had moved from the county a year ago. He was soon found in Tallahassee.

    Lt. Kenneth Hinds, Bradford County sheriff's spokesman, said he could not immediately explain why the case took so long.

    "With hundreds of cases coming in, it sometimes just takes a while," he said.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Church settles with more abuse accusers


    Seattle - Seven men have reached a $2.6 million settlement with the Seattle Archdiocese and a Kansas religious order over accusations that a priest sexually abused them in the 1970s when they were altar boys.

    The Rev. John Forrester was accused of molesting four of the boys while he was serving at Holy Rosary in Seattle and the other three while serving at All Saints in Puyallup, according to their attorneys.

    The settlement is believed to wrap up all known allegations involving Forrester, who is dead, though the Seattle Archdiocese still faces dozens of other sexual abuse claims.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Bexar jailer under probe after gunfire


    The Bexar County [Texas] Sheriff's Department is investigating one of its jailers after he fired eight rounds at an SUV after an apparent confrontation with a passenger in the vehicle.

    No one in the SUV was hurt.

    Mark Vargas, a 26-year-old Bexar County Jail guard of about five years, is not facing criminal charges, but the Sheriff's Department is investigating whether he violated departmental rules.

    Vargas told San Antonio police he thought the small silver item the passenger held up during the traveling confrontation on Northwest Loop 410 was a handgun and that he was afraid the passenger was going to shoot him, according to a police report.

    Although the only thing police found in the SUV that resembled a small gun was a cell phone, Vargas isn't being investigated for criminal wrongdoing because he feared for his life and "was taking law enforcement action at that time," said Sgt. Gabe Trevino, an SAPD spokesman.


    See our complete collection of bad behavior at the hands of prison and jail guards: Where did they learn that?

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    Air Force specialist indicted on child porn charge


    OMAHA, Neb. — An Air Force computer security specialist has been indicted on a federal charge of producing child pornography.

    Tech Sgt. Erik Dean Rabes, 44, is assigned to the U.S. Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base south of Omaha. The unit oversees the nation's nuclear arsenal and is responsible for defending U.S. interests in space.

    Rabes was indicted Tuesday. He has been jailed since April on a related charge of sexual assault of a child.

    The indictment accused him of enticing a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct and producing a visual image of that conduct in November 2000, while stationed at Colorado Springs, Colo.

    Air Force officials were cooperating with civilian authorities in the investigation, said Army Lt. Col. Randi Steffy, a spokeswoman for Rabes' unit. She said she couldn't confirm whether military computer had been used in any of the alleged activities.

    A military investigation could lead to additional charges.


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    Denton constable removed from office


    Denton County [Texas] Deputy Sheriff Roger Shaw was appointed temporary interim Precinct 2 Constable today after Larry Floyd was temporarily removed from the position.

    The removal and the appointment were ordered by visiting District Judge Robert Thornton in the 158th District Court following civil charges filed against Floyd by the District Attorney's office after a Denton County grand jury indicted him on three third-degree felony charges of possession of child pornography.

    Constable Shaw, 61, will begin his duties immediately and will fill the position until the suit against Floyd is resolved. If Floyd is permanently removed as result of the suit, the Denton County Commissioners Court will appoint a permanent interim constable to serve until a special election is held in 2006.

    Constable Shaw began working for the Denton County Sheriff's Office in 1993. In 1997 and 1998 he was a Constable Deputy in Precinct 2. He has been a court bailiff since November 1998. He lives in The Colony.


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    Friday, August 26, 2005

     

    Wal-Mart Shootout Video Released


    CEDAR HILL, Texas -- A gunman fleeing from pursuing officers ran inside a Cedar Hill Wal-Mart store in May. The officers from Cedar Hill police and the Ellis County Sheriff's Department chased the man into the store, where they ultimately killed him.

    Thursday, a Dallas grand jury cleared the officers of any wrongdoing after viewing surveillance camera video of the incident.

    Jeffery Spradling, facing arrest on a child-support warrant, ran from officers, who feared for the lives of bystanders, officers said.

    "(The officers) took the action deemed appropriate to stop that," said Sgt. Don Peritz of the Dallas County Sheriff's Department. "The officers knew the suspect was armed. The officers knew the suspect attempted to pull his weapon."

    The grand jury ruled that Spradling represented an immediate danger to officers and customers inside the store. The video supported witness statements taken by investigators soon after the shooting.


    See also our collection of cultural-defining Wal-Mart moments.

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    1 killed at Wal-Mart in Albuquerque


    ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO -- One man was killed and a woman was injured Thursday during an apparent domestic dispute inside a Wal-Mart on the city's Southeast Side.

    Police spokeswoman Trish Hoffman said a witness told authorities that a man had been stabbing the woman inside the store when another man intervened and shot her attacker. Hoffman said the stabbing appeared to stem from a domestic dispute.

    The woman, whose name was not immediately known, was taken to a hospital where she was being treated for multiple stab wounds. The man who was shot was pronounced dead at the scene. His name was not immediately released, nor was the name of the man accused of shooting him.


    See also our collection of cultural-defining Wal-Mart moments.

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    Lawsuits allege violence, sex abuse at church-run home


    Marrero, Alabama - Half a dozen men have filed lawsuits alleging they were sexually molested, beaten and humiliated as children 40 years ago by nuns, priests and civilian staff members at Madonna Manor, a Catholic home for troubled children in Marrero.

    In response, the Archdiocese of New Orleans has been poring over old records to reach its own assessment of conditions at Madonna Manor during the 1960s, said the Rev. William Maestri, the archdiocese's spokesman.

    "We want to make sure that where there are victims, we respond appropriately to them," he said. But the task is difficult and time-consuming, Maestri said, because records are vague and full of gaps.

    "We're dealing with such a long period of time over 40 years ... What we're trying to do is build a paper case in terms of time lines what actually took place."

    Another problem for the archdiocese is that the people making the claims say they had blocked the incidents out of their memories and only recently began to acknowledge and confront their childhood experiences. "You don't want to revictimize anyone but this whole notion of repressed or recovered memory, it's very hard for us to deal with it."

    Complaints about Madonna Manor "have been on our radar for more than a couple of years," said Michael Kuczynski of the New Orleans chapter of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.

    "The first thing that impressed us was the severity of the abuse reported. These aren't cliched single instances of abuse against children, but repeated acts of abuse" by other students, priests, nuns and lay staff members, he said.

    Madonna Manor and an affiliated institution, Hope Haven, are operated by the Archdiocese of New Orleans' charitable arm, formerly called Associated Catholic Charities. At the time of the complaints Madonna Manor was staffed by nuns belonging to the School Sisters of Notre Dame.

    Many youngsters were placed there under court order. In other cases, families unable to care for all their children sent some to be cared for by the church.

    Within the past six weeks, four men, Larry Daigle of Kenner, James Harvey of Altadena, Calif.; Keith Porche of Slidell and a man identified only as John Doe of New Orleans, have filed claims that they were frequently abused at Madonna Manor.

    In addition, two other former residents, Stacey Brown of Harvey and Ted Lausche, of Lake Geneva, Wis., recently amplified suits they filed last spring that now allege specific acts of abuse at Madonna Manor by named priests, nuns or other staff members.

    Brown and Lausche say they were raped by a now-retired priest, who vehemently denies the allegation.

    Maestri said the archdiocese believes the priest may be the victim of a "misidentification." He noted that Brown said in his suit he "was heavily dosed with psychiatric drugs during most the years he lived at Madonna Manor."

    The church's internal review process months ago concluded that Lausche's claim against the priest was "without semblance of truth," Maestri said. A second inquiry will look at Brown's allegations, he said.

    Four of the six plaintiffs claim they were raped or sexually fondled by priests or men they thought were priests; three allege they were sometimes molested by nuns in dormitories at night; five allege they were sexually molested by Madonna Manor's civilian staff or other adults, sometimes off campus.

    Among the nuns listed in the lawsuit, two are dead; two are aged and mentally incompetent and one left her order and her whereabouts are unknown, according to a church investigation. The order has no record of another defendant's name.

    Lausche also said he was raped by then-priest Gilbert Gauthe, a visitor to Madonna Manor whose exposure as a serial pedophile in later years was the precursor to the national sexual abuse scandal that rocked the church in 2002.

    All of the plaintiffs allege they lived in an atmosphere of harsh beatings by nuns, including one who, several said, favored a collapsible military shovel as a regular instrument. Two men claimed they were locked in a closet for up to three days as punishment.

    Maestri said Thursday that records searchers will try to determine whether the allegations were true and whether beatings were so severe that they violated standards existing at the time. "Corporal punishment was an accepted standard of treatment not only in Catholic schools but in public schools and private schools," he said.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Priest says molestation allegations have "half-truths"


    Denver - A former Roman Catholic priest accused of molesting boys across the Denver Archdiocese told a Denver TV station Wednesday that there were "half-truths" in the allegations and suggested that his accusers' attorneys are out for money.

    In an interview with KCNC- Channel 4 outside his Denver apartment, Harold Robert White said he felt bad upon learning about the allegations against him. In the past month, 17 men have told The Denver Post that White molested them from the early 1960s to early 1980s.

    "I'm just sorry that these guys are all going through this right now," said White, 72. "I feel they might be just doing it to themselves. Or their lawyers are doing it because lawyers are all out for money, and I don't have any money."

    Five men have filed civil lawsuits in the past week accusing the Denver Archdiocese of covering up for White. None has named White as a defendant.

    Asked if he was wrongly accused, White said, "There's a lot of half-truths, and I don't want to say lies, but ...."

    White also took issue with a lawyer who at a news conference last week displayed a poster suggesting White abused minors from the early 1960s through 1993, the year he left public ministry.

    "It ended way back in 1981," White said. He declined to elaborate on what he was referring to. He said his attorney told him not to say anything.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Boy Scout leader arrested on molestation accusations


    LOS ALTOS, Calif. - A Boy Scout leader was arrested Thursday on accusations that he molested a scout over a five-year period beginning in the 1980s.

    Gregory Allen Wagner, 42, was arrested Thursday morning in his Los Altos home by the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office. He is being held in jail for continuous molestation of a child, lewd acts on a child under 14 and distributing pornography to a child.

    The victim told authorities that the molestations began in 1987 when he was a 12-year-old Boy Scout and continued until 1992, Deputy Terrance Helm said. The unidentified victim told authorities that Wagner molested other children as well.

    "We will investigate until we find every victim," Helms said.

    Wagner's family declined to comment Thursday to the San Jose Mercury News.

    Wagner had been associated with Troop 31 since 1986.


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    Man nabbed at Wal-Mart for handcuff prank


    CONWAY, N.H. (AP) -- They say you can get just about anything at Wal-Mart, including arrested. Police say employees at a Wal-Mart called to report a young man was in the store on Tuesday in an orange prison jumpsuit and handcuffs, asking for a hacksaw.

    It turns out Joha Turner, 18, of Pittsburg, hadn't escaped from anywhere. He told police it was a prank. They told him he was under arrest, for disorderly conduct.


    See also our collection of cultural-defining Wal-Mart moments.

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    Minister gets term and fine for fraud


    Houston - A televangelist from El Salvador who pleaded guilty to passport fraud to help a girl he claimed as his daughter has been sentenced to time served and two years' supervised release, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Houston announced.

    Edgar Lopez Bertrand, 65, a naturalized U.S. citizen living in El Salvador, also was fined $2,000.

    He pleaded guilty in July to two counts of making false statements in applications for U.S. passports after striking a plea agreement with federal prosecutors in Washington, D.C. The U.S. Attorney's Office here also handled the case.

    Lopez Bertrand had been in jail about three months before being sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal.

    Lopez Bertrand first presented a fraudulent Salvadoran birth certificate in the name of Pamela Lopez Bertrand to the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador on Feb. 17, 1995, according to court documents.

    He renewed the passport in February 2000. When he came to the embassy for a third renewal on Jan. 27 this year, a consular official became suspicious, court documents state.

    Under questioning, Lopez Bertrand admitted that the woman, now 20, is not his biological daughter and that the birth certificate was false.

    He was arrested in May at Bush Intercontinental Airport while en route to Israel, sparking headlines in El Salvador. He heads the Baptist Biblical Tabernacle Friends of Israel Church in San Salvador.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Thursday, August 25, 2005

     

    Lawyer Set to Challenge Vatican Status


    Thanks to Aaron for the heads-up on this article!

    ROME (AP) - The lawyer who is suing Pope Benedict XVI in Texas for allegedly covering up the sexual abuse of children by a seminarian said Wednesday he would challenge the U.S. diplomatic recognition of the Vatican if the pope is given immunity in the case.

    The pope's lawyers have already asked President Bush to certify Benedict's immunity from liability in the civil lawsuit since he is a head of state - the Vatican city-state.

    Attorney Daniel Shea, who is representing one of three boys suing the pope, told a news conference Wednesday that Bush could abstain from confirming Benedict's immunity. In that case, the judge handling the case, Judge Lee Rosenthal of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Houston, would decide how to proceed, he said.

    But if Bush grants the immunity, Shea said he would challenge the constitutionality of the U.S. diplomatic recognition of the Holy See as a sovereign state on First Amendment grounds.

    ``The Holy See is a church,'' Shea said.

    Joseph Ratzinger - Benedict's former name - is named as a defendant in the civil lawsuit, accused of conspiring with the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston to cover up the abuse of three boys during the mid-1990s. The suit is seeking unspecified monetary damages.

    The three boys, identified in court documents as John Does I, II and III, allege that a Colombian-born seminarian on assignment at St. Francis de Sales church in Houston, Juan Carlos Patino-Arango, molested them during counseling sessions in the church in the mid-1990s.

    Patino-Arango has been indicted in a criminal case by a Harris County, Texas, grand jury and is a fugitive from justice, the lawsuit says.

    Shea has argued in civil court documents that a May 18, 2001, letter Ratzinger wrote to bishops around the world was evidence that he was involved in a conspiracy to hide Patino-Arango's crimes and to help him escape prosecution.

    The letter, written when Ratzinger was still prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, explains that ``grave'' crimes such as the sexual abuse of minors would be handled by his congregation and that the proceedings of special church tribunals handling the cases were subject to ``pontifical secret.''

    While international experts say the pope can certainly claim immunity in the case and that ultimately Shea's suit won't succeed, lawyers for church sex abuse victims say the case is significant because it has gone further than other recent attempts to implicate the Vatican and high-ranking church officials in the sex scandal.

    Shea acknowledged that a previous court challenge to the U.S. diplomatic recognition of the Holy See failed, but said it was because the plaintiffs - a lobbying group seeking further separation of church and state - didn't have standing, meaning they weren't affected by the issue.

    ``John Doe I, II and III have got standing and then some,'' he said.

    He said Bush may also choose to abstain from the case because of the political implications it may have.

    ``The Evangelical community has been horrified at what they've seen in these cases, and I don't think his political base can stand him in effect providing cover for Ratzinger. But that's a political question,'' he said.

    The State Department has said the pope already is considered a head of state and automatically has diplomatic immunity. Spokeswoman Gerry Keener said Tuesday that Benedict doesn't have to ask for immunity and Bush doesn't have to grant it.

    The Vatican spokesman and Ratzinger's lawyers have declined to comment on the case.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Pastor-turned-conman wanted


    The Charlotte County [Fla.] Sheriff's Office Economic Crimes Unit is looking for a pool-cage installer who allegedly swindled at least 48 area residents of more than $500,000 before disappearing.

    An arrest warrant has been issued for Jack Wendell Ruff, 58, of North Port, for contracting without a license during a governor-declared State of Emergency and failing to complete work after taking advance monies for repairs to pool cages damaged by Hurricane Charley.

    Detectives say Ruff, acting as a salesman for a pool cage company, took sizable deposit checks from homeowners for repair work that was never done.

    Ruff, the senior pastor at the Praise Tabernacle Church on Edgewater Drive, recently moved to North Port after living in the Deep Creek area for several years.

    Detectives have been investigating mounting allegations against Ruff since June.

    However, in a Tuesday press release, the Sheriff's Office said Ruff "has since fled the area" and requested help from the public in finding him.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Pastor convicted of child cruelty gets out of prison


    Macon, Georgia - A minister is free after serving two years in prison for having children at his church whipped with belts.

    The Rev. Arthur Allen Jr. was released Wednesday from Central State Prison in Macon, Department of Corrections spokeswoman Peggy Chapman said.

    Allen's wife, Trina, picked up the minister from the medium security prison, Chapman said.

    Allen, 73, has been in the prison since 2003 on child cruelty and aggravated assault charges stemming from activities at the House of Prayer church in northwest Atlanta.

    He was accused of ordering church members to discipline children with whips and belts when they misbehaved. The spankings left welts on two boys.

    He served a 90-day jail sentence but refused to comply with the condition of his 10-year probation that children in his congregation could only be hand spanked at home by their parents.

    Allen skipped a probation revocation hearing and was on the run for five months before his capture in Cobb County two years ago.

    Four other church members also were convicted three years ago in connection with the beatings of children at the church and served jail time.

    Wearing jeans and a casual shirt, Allen gathered with his small congregation Wednesday afternoon at the church. He declined to comment on his release.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Sexual abuse suit filed against former KC priest


    A Kansas City-area man on Wednesday filed a sexual abuse lawsuit against a former local priest, calling the priest’s alleged actions “utterly repugnant.”

    The plaintiff, identified in court papers as “John Doe E.K.,” alleged he was sexually abused by the Rev. Joseph Hart on at least two occasions in the early 1970s at St. John Francis Regis church.

    The suit was filed in Jackson County Circuit Court.

    Hart, who served at several parishes in Kansas City, is now a retired bishop in Wyoming. Hart’s attorney, Larry Ward, said Wednesday he had not read the lawsuit but that Hart “absolutely, categorically” denied any wrongdoing.

    The lawsuit was revealed at a sidewalk news conference just outside the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph chancery in Kansas City. The news conference was organized by a Chicago-based organization called Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

    “(Hart) is very distressed that this organization continues to try and attack his reputation and the years of service that he has given to the people,” Ward said. “It’s hurtful and it’s harmful, and he denies it completely.”

    Hart was named as a defendant in sexual abuse lawsuits filed in January 2004 and October 2004. Both of those cases are pending.

    In the latest lawsuit, the plaintiff said Hart “used his position of trust and authority to sexually abuse and exploit the young E.K.”

    According to the lawsuit:

    In approximately 1973 and 1974, when the plaintiff was about 12, the plaintiff answered phones in the church rectory. At one point, Hart told the plaintiff he was in trouble, then took him into the hallway of the rectory and molested him.

    Later in 1973 or 1974, the lawsuit says, Hart and the plaintiff were both participating in “several basketball sessions.” While playing basketball, the lawsuit says, Hart groped and fondled the plaintiff, “passing it off as mere sport.”

    The lawsuit says the plaintiff has suffered from shock, emotional distress, physical manifestations of emotional distress, embarrassment and other problems. It says he has sustained loss of earnings and will continue to incur expenses for medical and psychological treatment.

    The Kansas City area plaintiff, now in his mid-40s, works in construction. He is married and has children. In a written statement, he said, “I’m doing this because what happened was wrong and the church handled it badly. I started drinking right after the abuse and I have had an alcohol problem my whole life.”

    His lawsuit asks for a jury trial and unspecified damages.

    The lawsuit also names the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph as a defendant, saying it engaged in a “cover-up” that allowed Hart access to numerous children.

    In a statement Wednesday afternoon, the Rev. Robert A. Murphy, vicar general of the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese, said in part: “As we’ve learned in recent years, some priests did betray our trust and preyed on the most vulnerable among us: our children. … These misdeeds led to a critical self-examination by every bishop in the country. People who have been harmed deserve justice.”

    However, the statement said, “We also must cautiously explore every allegation, because not every accusation is just.”

    After Wednesday’s brief news conference, members of the organization tried to deliver a letter to Bishop Robert W. Finn at the chancery office.

    The letter asked Finn “to personally stand in your Cathedral pulpit and prod witnesses and victims to break the silence.” The same letter also was addressed to Bishop David Ricken of Cheyenne, Wyo., and encouraged both bishops to remove Hart’s name from an orphanage in Wyoming.

    A spokeswoman at the Kansas City office said the letter would be delivered to Finn.

    Hart was ordained in 1956 and served in five parishes in the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese. He was ordained bishop of Cheyenne in 1976 and retired in 2001.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Iraqi War veteran faces molestation charges


    SCRANTON, Penn. — An Iraq war veteran taken in at a Taylor home – where he allegedly molested his host’s 13-year-old daughter – waived his preliminary hearing Wednesday in Central Court.

    Dietrick Weitz, 26, of Hughestown, is charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault and other crimes.

    The mother of the girl told Taylor police she allowed Mr. Weitz to stay in her home because he was a family friend who had served in Iraq.

    The sexual contact allegedly took place in March.

    Mr. Weitz, who allegedly told police he wanted to marry the girl, is free on his word to appear at future court hearings.


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    Man sues seminary that graduated pastor later convicted of molestation


    Ft. Worth, Texas - Aaron Babb believes a single phone call to police 17 years ago would have changed his life: he might never have been sexually abused, attempted suicide or been awakened by his own screams.

    If Dallas Theological Seminary officials had alerted authorities in 1988 -- when they learned that one of their students, Jon Gerrit Warnshuis, was accused of sexually molesting a 12- or 13-year-old boy -- Warnshuis might have gone to prison then.

    Instead, Warnshuis was allowed to graduate from the seminary in 1992 and later became pastor of an Argyle church. In 2001, he was sentenced to prison for molesting Babb and other boys for years at Oak Hills Evangelical Free Church.

    On Monday, Babb, 22, will seek to hold the seminary accountable in a Fort Worth courtroom. The case will test whether an institution that knew of his past abuse but granted Warnshuis a master's degree in theology is responsible for his actions.

    Last week, the nondenominational Dallas Theological Seminary, one of the largest in the nation, agreed to an out-of-court settlement with another of Warnshuis' victims. Both sides agreed to keep the terms of the agreement confidential.

    Babb's lawsuit alleges that the seminary knew Warnshuis was a danger but failed to warn Oak Hills of his past when the congregation hired him in 1996. The seminary has previously said no one from the church called to check on Warnshuis' credentials when he was hired.

    In court depositions, seminary officials say they didn't call police in 1988 because they were unclear on whether they were legally required to do so.

    The state law requiring anyone who suspects child abuse to alert law enforcement went into effect in 1995, according to a spokeswoman with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

    In depositions, officials said they let Warnshuis graduate because a psychologist changed his opinion and said Warnshuis was mentally sound.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Jail employees accused of having inmate beaten up


    One Muskogee County/City Detention Facility [Oklahoma] employee was arrested Tuesday night and another will be arrested today in the assault of an inmate, Muskogee County Sheriff Charles Pearson said.

    The employees are accused of conspiring to get inmates to assault Alisha Mackey, 30, who was in Muskogee County on Monday for a preliminary hearing on two child abuse charges. Mackey is serving a 20-year sentence for permitting one of her sons to be sexually abused by her husband, Jimmy Don Mackey.

    Jail runner Stacy Gray, 26, was booked into the Muskogee County jail on a complaint of conspiracy to commit assault and battery on an inmate. She was to be taken to Wagoner County Jail later Tuesday night, Pearson said.

    Booking supervisor Shelley Ford, 39, said she would surrender after she found a baby-sitter but later refused.

    Pearson said a warrant will be issued today to arrest Ford, who lives in Cherokee County.

    "This is a very serious offense," Pearson said. "I am going to submit it to the DA's office and probably to federal authorities."

    Female inmates who clean the jail kitchen said that Ford sent Gray to talk to two inmates who later beat up Mackey, Pearson said.

    Pearson said jail officials started getting notes from inmates late Monday about the assault on Mackey.

    Mackey did not report the assault, Pearson said, but a transport officer taking her back to Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McLoud noticed she had a black eye and reported it.

    Gray was crying when she told investigators that Ford had asked her to go into the jail kitchen and ask two inmates to beat Mackey up, Pearson said. Gray told investigators she took Mackey to Cell 1 where she was beaten.

    Pearson said he would seek the same charges against the inmates as the jail employees.

    Gray excused the assault, saying she didn't like what Mackey had let happen to her son, Pearson said.

    "We don't either," Pearson said. "That's why she is in prison.


    See our complete collection of bad behavior at the hands of prison and jail guards: Where did they learn that?

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    Wednesday, August 24, 2005

     

    Prison guard sentenced for stealing drugs


    RACINE, Wisc. - A former Racine Correctional Institute prison guard was sentenced to two years probation for stealing inmates' prescription drugs.

    As a condition of his probation, Michael S. Cline of Union Grove, will have to serve 90 days in jail with work-release privileges.

    Cline, 31, was also charged with felony possession of narcotic drugs and misdemeanor theft of property. Those charges were dismissed when he pleaded no contest on July 11.

    Cline will remain free on $2,500 signature bond until Sept. 10, when he is scheduled to report to the Racine County Jail.

    Cline is convicted of stealing Oxycodone from inmates at RCI, according to the criminal complaint. He admitted to stealing the drug to support his addiction habit, the complaint said.


    See our complete collection of bad behavior at the hands of prison and jail guards: Where did they learn that?

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    Molotov Cocktail Tossed Into Wal-Mart


    Melbourne, Fla. - A man hurled a Molotov cocktail inside a Wal-Mart store Tuesday night, igniting a small fire before employees tackled him and an off-duty police officer arrested him, police said.

    Investigators said a man, who was not identified, drove to the Wal-Mart located at 3950 N. Wickham Road in Melbourne Tuesday night and walked into the Neighborhood Market area of the store.

    Witnesses said he shouted something at a cashier before throwing the bottle of flammable liquid about 8 p.m.

    Employees extinguished the fire and fought the man to the ground until police arrived.


    See also our collection of cultural-defining Wal-Mart moments.

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    Two Arizona Wal-Mart workers shot dead


    GLENDALE, Ariz. - Two Wal-Mart employees were shot to death Tuesday as they gathered shopping carts in the parking lot of one of the retail stores in suburban Phoenix, and police later arrested the suspected gunman.

    The shootings occurred in the middle of the parking lot, about 75 yards from the store entrance. At one point, a body could be seen in one of the corrals used for collecting shopping carts.

    Hours later, police spokesman Mike Pena said a suspect had been arrested without incident in a retirement community in nearby Peoria.

    Investigators initially sent a robot to Ed Lui’s door, fearing he could still be armed. The man came out with his hands up and was booked on two counts of first-degree murder, Pena said.

    No known motive
    Authorities did not have a motive for shootings. It does not appear Lui knew the victims or had a vendetta against them or Wal-Mart, Pena said. The gunman did not appear to have been under the influence of any substance.

    “We don’t know why he did this. This was barbaric,” Pena said.

    Lui drove into the parking lot, got out of his car and shot each victim several times with a handgun. It does not appear Lui spoke with the victims, he said.

    The gunman then drove away but was followed by two witnesses who were able to provide license plate numbers that police used to track Lui’s car.

    After he was captured, Lui was calm at the police station, answering ’yes’ and ’no’ questions, Pena said. He did not know whether Lui had a criminal record.

    The victims were identified as Anthony Spangler, 18, and Patrick Graham, who was either 18 or 19. Both were from Glendale.

    Delia Garcia, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman on the scene, said the two young men were collecting shopping carts when the gunfire broke out. She said the store would be closed at least until Wednesday.

    “This is an extremely tragic situation,” company spokeswoman Sharon Weber said from Wal-Mart headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.

    Screaming shoppers
    Authorities initially kept customers inside the store, but they were later allowed to leave.

    Lisa Crider said the store was filled with screaming people who were trying to get out. “It was just pure chaos,” she told The Arizona Republic. Crider said she initially tried to stay inside the store but later fled.

    Late Tuesday, police had cordoned off the suspect’s neighborhood about two miles from the Wal-Mart. Plainclothes officers roamed through the area of stuccoed homes with red-tile roofs and desert landscaping.

    At the scene of the shooting, police also cordoned off much of the store’s parking lot, telling anyone whose car was within a perimeter that they would have to leave their vehicles there.

    Some of the store’s 450 employees could be seen leaving the business Tuesday evening. The company planned to offer help for workers upset by the shootings, Garcia said.

    The scene of the shooting was about 20 miles northwest of downtown Phoenix.


    See also our collection of cultural-defining Wal-Mart moments.

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    Pastor Indicted on Child Sexual Assault Charges


    A former San Antonio pastor convicted of having sex with a minor was indicted on similar charges early this month. The accusations involve a different woman who was a child at the time of the alleged assault.

    Just three months ago, former Alpha Joy Temple pastor Duane Hammons was convicted of sexual assault of a child. The incident happened in 1993, when his victim was only 15 years old.

    She says Hammons would make her skip school and would take her to motel rooms to have sex.

    Hammons was sentenced to six months in prison and ten years probation. He is currently appealing that decision.

    Now, three months later, Hammons is charged again. And just like the last case, this one involves a woman who was a minor at the time of the allegations.

    Hammons' trial on the latest charge is set for October. He could face more jail time.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    LI Preacher Arrested for Making False Reports


    Suffolk County [New York] Police have arrested a Port Jefferson preacher for three counts of falsely reporting an incident after he made several bogus calls from his cell phone to 911. Police say 44-year-old Richard Lydon is the preacher with the Oil of Joy Ministries. Police say he made two calls to 9-1-1 on August 22nd.

    The first call at 1:47 a-m reported an off duty police officer needed assistance. This call was determined to be unfounded. The second call at 3:54 a-m reported that there was a violent domestic incident taking place. This call was also determined to be unfounded.

    Police say Lydon was responsible for an additional false report on August Fifth at about 12:39 p-m. During that call, he alleged that a car accident had occurred and someone was hurt. This was determined to be false when police got there.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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    Minister Driving State Supreme Court Judge's Car Arrested In Alleged Kidnapping Attempt


    NEW YORK A man who says he is a minister is under arrest and due in court for allegedly trying to kidnap a little boy in the Bronx.

    Forty-four-year old Lawrence Craig will be arraigned on Wednesday morning as investigators and everyone else try to figure out what really happened.

    Craig told police he was drunk in the wrong place and was trying to help somehow when he apparently attempted to snatch a four-year-old Bronx boy from his apartment on Saturday.

    Craig was wearing a priest's collar but it is not clear where or if he is a minister. Neighbors had no problem remembering the license plate of the Volvo sedan he drove away in because it read Supreme Court 237 belonging to Supreme Court Judge Donna Mills who said she lent him her car.

    The judge, according to a police source, identified Craig as her boyfriend and said he had a drinking problem and was looking for help.

    The judge herself is perhaps best known for crashing another car, a Rolls Royce, into two parked cars in Riverdale three years ago. She was charged with drink driving, but acquitted by a Bronx jury.

    The mother of the little boy in the weekend attempted abduction picked Craig out of lineup but said nothing to reporters when she returned to her ground floor apartment on Beaumont Avenue.

    But neighbors all know the story she told police about the strange man who banged on her door Saturday afternoon insisting he knew her.

    “He attempted to grab the child by the arm and that is when she pushed the door and closed it,” says Anna Molina, a neighbor.

    In 2001, Craig was charged with sexually assaulting a minor in the state of Wisconsin. He pleaded no contest, paid a fine and served no jail time. Now he is facing charges of attempted burglary and attempted assault.


    See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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