Monday, October 31, 2005

 

Reverend Charged with Stealing Lottery Winnings From Homeless Man


Via YH:

Stafford County, Virginia - A Stafford County man is accused of taking $14,090 in lottery winnings from a dementia patient, then telling him he never won.

John Edward Johnson, a 53-year-old man court papers list as a reverend, was charged this month with felony embezzlement and obtaining money by false pretenses. He's free on bond.

Police describe the victim, Larry C. Barbour, as a semi-homeless man who won the Virginia Lottery on Aug. 25. According to a search warrant affidavit, Barbour told Johnson about his luck.

Johnson invited Barbour to live with him at a home on Raintree Boulevard in Stafford, said he'd help with the man's finances and deposited the lottery check into his own bank account, according to the affidavit.

When the check cleared Aug. 30, according to the affidavit, Johnson booted Barbour and kept the lottery winnings. Barbour told investigators that Johnson said he'd never won the lottery and it was in his imagination.

Johnson also took Barbour to the Social Security Administration to have himself designated as Barbour's representative payee, according to the affidavit.

Stafford detectives say they have learned that Barbour did in fact win the lottery and that the money was deposited into Johnson's account.

Barbour reported the situation to the Sheriff's Office on Sept. 16, and Johnson was arrested less than three weeks later.

The status of the winnings was not available last night.

According to Virginia court records, Johnson was convicted of misdemeanor embezzlement earlier this year and was sentenced to serve two days in jail.

That incident stemmed from a theft valued at less than $200 at Shoppers Food Warehouse in Stafford, said Capt. Billy Bowler, commander of the county's criminal investigations division.

Johnson hasn't had a preliminary hearing yet on the most recent two charges, according to court records.

It is not clear which, if any, church Johnson is affiliated with.


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Pastor electrocuted while performing baptism


WACO, Texas (AP) -- A pastor performing a baptism was electrocuted inside his church Sunday morning when he adjusted a nearby microphone while standing in water, a church employee said.

The Rev. Kyle Lake, 33, was stepping into the baptistery as he reached out for the microphone, which produced an electric shock, said University Baptist Church community pastor Ben Dudley.

Water in a baptistery usually reaches above the waist, said Byron Weathersbee, interim university chaplain at Baylor University.

Lake was pronounced dead at Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center, nursing supervisor Pat Mahl said. The woman being baptized apparently had not stepped into the water and was not seriously injured.

Pastors at University Baptist Church routinely use a microphone during baptisms, said Jamie Dudley, the wife of Ben Dudley and a business administrator at the church.

"He was grabbing the microphone so everyone could hear," she said. "It's the only way you can be loud enough."

About 800 people attended the morning service, which was larger than normal because it was homecoming weekend at nearby Baylor University, Dudley said.

Lake had been at the church for nine years, the last seven as pastor. He is survived by his wife, Jennifer, a 5-year-old daughter and two 3-year-old sons.

At a remembrance attended by about 1,000 people Sunday night at First Baptist Church, Ben Dudley told the UBC congregation that they would move forward as a church.

"I don't know how, when, why, where or what's going to happen, but we will continue as a church in the community because that is what Kyle would have wanted," he said.


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Friday, October 28, 2005

 

Baptist High School Teacher Sentenced for Sex With Student


Via YH:

Redwood City, California - A Redwood City private school teacher appeared in a San Mateo County Superior courtroom today where she was sentenced to six months in county jail for having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student.

Joan Marie Sladky, 28, pleaded no contest to four counts of unlawful sexual intercourse, penetration with a foreign object and oral copulation in connection with the physical encounters she had with the teen between December 2003 and January 2004.

Under a plea bargain Sladky made with the prosecution she faced the possibility of no more than one year in jail plus three years probation.

However, Superior Court Judge Mark Forcum said Sladky's "acceptance of responsibility" should be taken into account in terms of the sentencing.

Sladky at the time of the affair was a high school Spanish teacher and the victim was her pupil at a private Baptist school in unincorporated Redwood City.

Sladky, whose relationship with the victim spanned over six months, had sex with the student once at the his home and three times at her home, which is on the church/school property.

Edward Pomeroy, Sladky's defense attorney, said that while his client "betrayed the student teacher relationship," it was she who confessed to the illegal encounters that occurred.

"My client was the party that came forward and freely confessed this," Pomeroy said.

Sladky reported the relationship after another teacher at the school confronted her and the pair of teachers talked about the situation with the school pastor.

The sentencing of Sladky was postponed earlier, as Forcum wanted to hear from the victim about how the relationship has affected him, but the victim declined to talk at length about it.

According to Forcum, "the actual victim was reluctant to talk about (the relationship)," though the victim did express that sending Sladky to jail would be unnecessary.

However Forcum later said, "I do think jail time is acceptable because of the victim's age."

According to Pomeroy, the victim is currently a college student in Santa Clara who has "put the matter behind him," though earlier reports stated the victim was "scarred" by the relationship.

Sladky will be taken into custody on Dec. 2 at 7 a.m. at which time she will begin her six-month term.


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Priest admits embezzling $360,000


Randolph, New Jersey - The former pastor of Resurrection Church in Randolph admitted today to stealing $360,000 from the Roman Catholic parish between 1996 and 2001.

Father William M. Naughton, 61, of Chester, pleaded guilty in state Superior Court, Morristown, to one count of theft by deception from the church. He already has paid back close to $200,000, and hopes to repay the rest by the time he is sentenced on Dec. 16, defense lawyer Peter N. Gilbreth said.

The plea arrangement Naughton struck with the Morris County Prosecutor's Office calls only for restitution. The length of any jail time or probation he receives at sentencing is being left to the discretion of Judge Joseph A. Falcone.

Naughton is not expected to receive a state prison term, but he could be sent to the Morris County jail for up to 364 days.

Naughton, who was ordered by the Diocese of Paterson to step down as the church pastor in 2001, told the judge today that he set up a charity account in the church's name and used its proceeds for his own benefit, withdrawing $360,000 over more than five years. Naughton did not disclose to the judge how he spent the money but, outside court, his attorney said a major portion was spent to help a man named Harold Reid, with whom Naughton decades ago had a brief sexual relationship. The pair remained friends over the years, and Naughton repeatedly assisted Reid when he asked for help, Gilbreth said.


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Thursday, October 27, 2005

 

St. Joseph's priest steps aside for fiscal audit


WASHINGTON, New Jersey -- The Rev. Robert Ascolese of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Washington Borough is taking a temporary leave of absence while a financial audit of the parish is conducted, according to a letter from the Bishop of the Metuchen Diocese.

About a month ago, some parishioners questioned Ascolese's actions with regard to finances, according to a letter the bishop sent to the parish. Ascolese remains in good standing but felt it best to step aside and reside at a diocese retreat house while the investigation is under way, the bishop wrote in the letter.

"In order to avoid any suspicion of impeding or influencing these investigations, Father Ascolese has agreed to take a temporary leave of absence until all questions concerning his fiscal management of the parish have been satisfactorily answered," Rev. Paul G. Bootkoski wrote in the letter dated Oct. 22.

Joanne Ward, director of communications for the diocese, said Ascolese's decision to step aside was a precautionary measure. This way, there can be no misgivings about him being present during an examination of financial records or other matters, she said.

Parishioners should be assured Ascolese "is in good standing," she said.

"We in the diocese have our own auditing team under our department of finance, but in this case, our auditing team looked into this and determined an outside investigation (should be) done," Ward said.

She could not comment as to when the investigation began or which outside agency is conducting the audit.

Ascolese served his first eight years of priesthood at Emmaus House, the retreat center in Perth Amboy where he is staying, according to the bishop's letter.

"He understands the seriousness of the questions raised and the need to restore your confidence that what you give sacrificially to the parish of your hard-earned resources is being used appropriately and wisely," Rev. Bootkoski wrote in the letter. "He has assured me that he will cooperate fully with the investigators and auditors."

Although specific fiscal questions can't be answered until the investigations are complete, parishioners will be informed once the inquiry has been concluded, he wrote.

In the interim, Monsignor Michael Corona, pastor of Sts. Philip and James Parish in Phillipsburg, will serve as the temporary administrators of St. Joseph's Catholic Church. Father Dominick Dellaporte, who has served as a parochial vicar on a part-time basis, will devote his time to ministering to the church.

Ascolese received the "Beacon" Award for Excellence in May during the Warren County Human Relations Commission's 11th annual awards celebration.

A phone message left for the spokeswoman for St. Joseph's and a message left at Emmaus House were not returned late Tuesday night.


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4th Louisville priest defrocked after charges of sexual-abuse


LOUISVILLE, Kentucky - A fourth man has been dismissed from the priesthood and three elderly priests were ordered by the Vatican to stop working as priests after a review of sexual-abuse claims in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville.

Joseph Herp, who had been accused of sexual abuse in four lawsuits in 2002 and 2003, was dismissed from the priesthood, according to a new report on sexual abuse issued by the archdiocese.

The Vatican also ordered Robert Dollinger, J. Irvin Mouser and Edwin Scherzer to live in prayer and penance. They are not allowed to perform any public ministry, present themselves as priests or have unsupervised contact with minors.

The Vatican uses that option in cases of "health problems or advanced age," according to the archdiocese's report.

Mouser is 67, Dollinger, 78, and Scherzer, 79, according to court records. The archdiocese said Dollinger, Mouser and Scherzer would not comment.

The decisions were made public in the archdiocese's newly published annual report on finances and other activities, including its response to sexual abuse.

Scherzer has pleaded not guilty to criminal charges. The other three never have been charged.


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Group says accused molester is new priest at St. Anselm's


Marin County, Ca. - A small group of sexual abuse survivors gathered outside St. Anselm's Elementary School in San Anselmo yesterday to warn parents that an accused child molester is in their midst.

Members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, say a priest assigned to St. Anselm's Catholic Church on Shady Lane in Ross has been hit with a $4 million civil lawsuit claiming he molested a former Jesuit student in Oregon. St. Anselm's School is around the corner on Belle Avenue in San Anselmo.

The lawsuit - filed Oct. 6 under the initials J.T. to protect the identity of the plaintiff - claims that the Rev. John Schwartz sexually abused him in 1986 and 1987 when he was a student at the Jesuit High School in Beaverton, Ore.

Maurice Healy, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, said the Jesuit High School and the Jesuit Province of Oregon are investigating the claims. San Francisco will consider whether to take action based on their findings.

"The information we have is sketchy," Healy said. "We need to find out what the facts are before putting him on administrative leave."

Schwartz would be put on leave for the duration of the legal case if the allegations appear to be credible, Healy said, adding that Schwartz has "vigorously denied" such allegations.

Yesterday SNAP members handed flyers to a few passers-by at St. Anselm's Church before walking to Belle Avenue, where they were more likely to meet parents of young students. They said they wanted families to be aware that Schwartz was in the neighborhood and could be a danger to their children.

"In your child's best interest, we recommend that you be cautious around him," the flyer reads.

Joe Piscitelli, the Bay Area Outreach Coordinator for SNAP, said he believes officials with the Archidiocese of San Francisco are aware of the lawsuit and should take Schwartz out of the ministry - at least until the case is settled.

"This guy is accused of continuous molestation," Piscitelli said. "We want people to know he is here and that the church knows he is here."

Wayne Presley, who came from San Mateo County yesterday to hand out flyers, said victims like him are speaking out to protect others, who might be vulnerable.

"We feel we are the truth and that is what we are trying to get out," Presley said. "We stand for the truth and obviously the church doesn't."

SNAP members say they want the archdiocese to apologize for Schwartz's presence in Marin, and for San Francisco Bishop John Wester, who they say made the assignment, to visit San Anselm's and Marin Catholic High School to urge anyone who may have witnessed or experienced abuse at the hands of Schwartz to go to the police.

The archdiocese asserted that Schwartz has never been accused of wrongdoing before and that there have not been any problems reported in the four years that Schwartz has been serving in this area.

"Children are not at risk," Healy said.

Margo Enblm, a Belle Avenue neighbor, said her two school-age children go to a different school and are not old enough to go out on their own, so she wasn't really worried. "I think I'm glad to know it," Enblm said.

Kathleen Livermore, who was in her car waiting for her child to be released from school, said she was completely surprised when she read the flyer but did not feel ready to comment.

"I had no idea," Livermore said.


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Priest, accused in report, quits Drexel U. post


Aston, Penn. - A priest accused of molesting a Delaware County teenager has resigned his administrative post at Drexel University.

The Daily News first reported three weeks ago that James M. Iannarella was working as assistant vice president in Drexel's Office of Government and Community Relations, despite being one of 63 priests named in last month's graphic grand jury report on clergy sexual abuse.

Iannarella allegedly molested a 17-year-old female parishioner in 1999 at St. Joseph Church in Aston, Delaware County, where he was parochial vicar, according to the report.

Iannarella, who has worked for Drexel since 2001, quit this week, a Drexel spokesman said. Although still a priest, the Vatican is considering a laicization petition to defrock him. He has not returned telephone calls to the Daily News.

"He resigned and the university has accepted his resignation," Drexel spokesman Philip Terranova said.

In his Drexel post, Iannarella served as liaison to the Miss Philadelphia Organization's beauty pageant last year, where he mingled with dozens of teenage stunners.

Terranova declined to comment on why or how Drexel chose him for that role, saying: "I have nothing more to add to this story."

The District Attorney's Office did not file criminal charges against Iannarella - nor any of the priests listed in its report, except one - because statutes of limitations had expired.


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Bucks County parishioners blast priest for abuse cover-up


Bucks County, Penn. - A Bucks County Catholic priest identified in a grand jury report as helping to cover up sexual abuse by priests in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia faced angry parishioners at an unusual meeting Wednesday and asked for their forgiveness.

''I want you to know how sorry I am that this awful tragedy of sexual abuse occurred, and I am sincerely sorry for anything that I have done or didn't do that might have contributed to this situation,'' Monsignor Samuel E. Shoemaker told more than 400 people packed into St. Ignatius of Antioch Church in Yardley.

But for many at the meeting he had called, that wasn't good enough. One man held a sign saying

''Prison=justice'' in front of Shoemaker, who is mentioned at least 55 times in the scathing Philadelphia grand jury report released last month.

''I have a very direct question for the monsignor: Does it take an investigation by the state of Pennsylvania to know that you may or may not have committed a sin?'' said another man, lifetime parishioner Craig Mordock, 34, of Newtown.

A man who said he has been a parishioner for 20 years said he could forgive Shoemaker ''because I am a good Catholic. But I can't forgive the priests who stole our church. …They have to be held accountable, and we have to stand up publicly and say: 'You must go.''' Applause lasting 30 seconds followed his remarks.

A woman struggling to hold back tears told Shoemaker, ''If you can't stand up against these actions as a leader, then I can't have you as our leader.'' A man said, ''You ignore the fact that these guys were criminals. They committed a crime.'' Shoemaker, who said little during the meeting, answered by saying only, ''Correct, they did.''

When asked why priests accused of sexual abuse of minors were allowed to stay in the ministry after psychiatric evaluations, the monsignor said, ''In the 1960s, psychologists did not know that attraction to children or teenagers is an addiction that cannot be cured.'' But he said that did not excuse the archdiocese's failure to act properly.

Shoemaker, who has been in the ministry for 40 years and is not accused of abusing children, ducked questions about accusations against him in the 418-page grand jury report. Since the report was released to the public on Sept. 21, he has received letters from angry parishioners, including some who called on him to resign.

One of them was parishioner Ray Sizer of Yardley, who said outside the meeting, ''I haven't seen anyone answer to anything over the years. I'd like to see [Shoemaker] defrocked and sent on his way.''

David Kelly, 41, of Yardley said, ''In my anger, I wrote a letter to the monsignor and said I don't want to be a part of this parish anymore.''

Earlier, Shoemaker vowed to continue serving the parish and admitted the archdiocese's policies had been faulty.

''I look at myself as a person who tried his best to obey the diocese policies that were effective at the time, and regretfully they were inadequate,'' he told reporters outside the church.

Minutes later, in a prepared statement he read to the members of the 2,800-family parish where he has been pastor for nearly 17 years, Shoemaker said, ''Many of you are offended by the actions taken or not taken by those in authority, and, as a result, we are experiencing great hurt and pain. I pray for renewed forgiveness for errors in judgment that were made in the handling of these matters.''

Archdiocese spokeswoman Donna Farrel said Cardinal Justin Rigali is encouraging parishes in its five-county region, which includes Bucks and Montgomery counties, to hold similar meetings.

''I think they are happening all over the area,'' said Farrel, emphasizing the St. Ignatius meeting was Shoemaker's initiative.

After the monsignor invited reporters to attend, a group of lay people in the congregation who deal with church issues voted Tuesday night to bar them from entering the church. But the Pastoral Council reversed its decision Wednesday and allowed reporters into meeting in the parish auditorium moments before it started.

Shoemaker, who served as chancellor under former Cardinals Anthony Bevilacqua and John Krol for a little more than four years between 1984 and 1989, came to St. Ignatius in February 1989.

He spent two days testifying before the grand jury in December 2003 about his tenure as chancellor. Among other duties, the chancellor serves as head of personnel issues for the archdiocese.

The report portrays Shoemaker as one of several foot soldiers who assisted Bevilacqua and his predecessor, Krol, in covering up abuse of minors by priests.

Krol and Bevilacqua are accused in the report of keeping 63 known abusers in the ministry — including 12 who served in the Lehigh Valley region at some time — and transferring some to other parishes.

The grand jury said Shoemaker played a role in covering up the deeds of at least eight of 28 priests whose acts of sexual perversion are detailed in the report.

Among those, Shoemaker is accused in 1984 of naming a known sexual predator, the Rev. David Sicoli, as the associate director of the archdiocese's Confraternity of Christian Doctrine program for the Philadelphia area.

The report also says that, in 1986, Shoemaker pressured a therapist at St. John Vianney Center to make an ''accommodation'' in the hospital's initial recommendation that the Rev. Peter Dunne be removed from parish ministry and supervised 24 hours a day.

The therapist at the church-run treatment facility in Downingtown, Chester County, ''accommodated'' by reversing himself on the recommendation, the report says.

Shoemaker's name surfaces in the case of the Rev. James Brzyski, a priest at St. Cecilia Church in Philadelphia's Fox Chase neighborhood who is described in the report as one of the archdiocese's ''most brutal abusers — emotionally as well as physically.''

During seven years spent in two Philadelphia parishes, Brzyski ''sexually abused a hundred young victims,'' including a 12-year-old boy who for 20 years thought his mother gave the priest permission to sodomize him.

Another priest, the Rev. James Gigliotti, consulted Vice Chancellor Donald Walker about Brzyski's alleged abuse of a boy named Matthew, the report says. Gigliotti was told to share his knowledge of the boy's abuse with Matthew and his family.

When Walker spoke with Shoemaker, the report says, ''it was decided'' that Gigliotti would not reveal what he knew about Brzyski.

The report goes on to say Shoemaker was ''well acquainted with [Brzyski's] history and the archdiocese policy of trying to avoid knowing about the priest's victim's.'' As a result of this policy, the report says, many of Brzyski's victims ''went undiscovered, or at least unrecorded.''

As Shoemaker's meeting with his St. Ignatius parishioners ended, a man called out, ''Where do we go from here?'' No one answered.


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Pastor Arrested for Failing to Register as Sex Offender


Jefferson, West Virginia - A man who refers to himself as Bishop faces one to five years in jail, if he is found guilty, for failing to register as a sex offender in West Virginia.

West Virginia State Trooper Brian Morris investigated a tip that Ranson Parris, 63 years old, was living in the former town of Jefferson for the past two months. "He was running a church in Jefferson. He claimed to be a bishop, to be a pillar of the community. He is a sex offender," Morris said. By law, sex offenders must register within thirty days of moving to the Mountain State.

The New Hope Metropolitan Community Church and Christian Center along MacCorkle Avenue posts signs of upcoming fundraisers for the homeless and gospel sings. Parris declined to comment when 13 News asked to speak with him regarding the charges.

Neighbors never saw a Sunday service at the church. Fresh Seafood Company Market and Restaurant owner, Tim Cerullo said he was surprised by the charges. "Someone who was supposed to be a preacher and doing that thing, so apparently the whole thing was just false," he said.

Trooper Morris says Parris was convicted of a sex crime with a minor in California. Parris did register as a sex offender in Florida but gave a Roanoke, Virginia address.The 63 year old man has a long rap sheet that spans several states and includes sixteen aliases, said Morris.

Parris spent two hours in jail before posting five hundred dollars bond. The felony charge of failing to register as a convicted sex offender carries a penalty of one to five years. Parris' preliminary hearing is set for November 4th.


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Pastor Who Disrupted Council Meeting Released From Jail


From KSAT-TV:

SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- A local pastor is released from jail after being arrested and dragged out of City Hall last week.

The Rev. Narciso Mendoza spent nearly four days in jail for disrupting a City Council meeting last Thursday.

The Word Of Faith Church pastor was jailed when he refused to leave the podium after his time ran out during the public comment portion of the meeting.

He supports Proposition 2, which seeks to further define marriage in Texas as only between a man and woman, banning gay marriage, and he wanted to know where the council stands.

"They can talk about every other issue, talk about the saints, and things that pertain to their political agendas, but when it comes to the taxpayers and this proposition, I just felt they needed to respond," he said.

Mendoza will appear in court later this week to face the charges. He could be fined up to $900 for his public protest.


With more details from the San Antonio Express-News:

[...]

A San Antonio pastor strongly in favor of the amendment was released from the Bexar County jail Monday on a personal recognizance bond, several days after being arrested outside City Council chambers.

Narciso Mendoza of Word of Faith Church addressed council members at Thursday's regular meeting, asking them to take a stand on the proposition. After speaking for his allotted time, Mendoza refused to sit down and instead "threw himself on the floor," according to a San Antonio Police Department report.

While in jail, Mendoza held a hunger strike, said Bexar County Jail Administrator Amadeo Ortiz.

[...]


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Testimony Begins In So-Called Pastor Trial


I'm not sure what this "so-called" and "self-proclaimed" hedge words are about. Aren't all pastors self-proclaimed? This guy had a church, after all.

San Antonio, Texas - He calls himself "Apostle Alex." The self-proclaimed pastor is on trial, accused of sexually assaulting young girls. It's a story we first told you about on News 4 WOAI.

Testimony began Wednesday with a ten year old who took the stand. Cameras were not allowed in the courtroom, but News 4 WOAI's Jacqueline Ortiz listened and watched, as a ten year old held on to her stuffed frog and described where each sexual assault took place.

The young girl told a judge and jury that she was sexually assaulted by Victor Icenogle, 48, at his office, in his chair at home, and at Canyon Lake. While the 10 year old testified, Icenogle occasionally looked up at her, but for the most part, he could be seen writing on a legal pad.

Icenogle was the pastor of the Promiseland Church on Montgomery in San Antonio. Testimony continues Wednesday, and News 4 WOAI will continue to bring you the details. Icenogle faces up to 99 years in prison


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Pastor Charged With Theft



Bangor, Maine - A one time pastor in Bangor is returning to Maine, not to visit the congregation he built up, but to face charges on what authorities say he took from them.

Ron Durham is now in jail in Georgia waiting for authories in Maine to pick him up. Durham had served as Pastor of the Abundant Life Church for 15 years. During his tenure, church membership grew from just a few members to 600.

In November of 2003 Durham said he needed treatment for alcoholism, resigned from the church and moved to Georgia. It was after that authorites say church leaders noticed more than their pastor was missing. More than $100,000 was gone.

Ron Durham will face theft charges next month. If he's found guilty he faces up to ten years in prison.

The court could also force him to pay back the stolen money to his former church.


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Youth minister arrested in Internet sex sting


PEACHTREE CITY, Ga. - A man who works as a youth minister and school bus driver has been arrested for trying to arrange a sexual encounter with a teenage girl who turned out to be an undercover police officer.

Mohammad Bolton, 31, of McDonough made contact with someone he thought was a 15-year-old girl over the Internet. Police arrested him Wednesday at a Wal-Mart in Peachtree City, where he went to meet the girl.

Peachtree City Police Chief Jim Murray said Bolton also used a computer to send an obscene picture of himself.

While talking to who he thought was a teenager he asked to sneak into her house to see her, Murray said. When the undercover officer told him they would get caught, Bolton said "I do it all the time. It is easy," Murray said.

Bolton is a youth minister with the Church of Harvest International in Jonesboro, police said. He has been placed on unpaid leave by the Clayton County school system, where he has driven a bus since August 2003, according to spokesman Charles White.


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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

 

Minister, Headmaster Sentenced to 30 Years for Child Porn


This and the following two come via YH:

Huntsville, Alabama - A Valley minister and former school headmaster has been sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for child pornography.

A U.S. District judge sentenced 35-year old Alan Webster Tuesday afternoon.
Webster tearfully pleaded for leniency, but also acknowledged the crimes he committed.

"He took full responsibility for it. He wasn't trying to talk his way out of punishment to shift blame to someone else or something else," said Webster's attorney, Robert Tuten.

Reaction in the Heart of the Valley is mixed, especially at Huntsville Christian Academy where Webster was the headmaster.

Teachers, parents and students at the school knew the day of sentencing would come for Webster. But never knew how they would react until reality hit.

In December 2004, Alan Webster roamed the halls of Huntsville Christian Academy as the school's headmaster.

Five days before Christmas,10 FBI agents showed up unannounced, copied hard drives of all 50 computers in the school. They were looking for child pornography.

They believed Webster was responsible. His colleagues, his friends, were shocked.

Reggie Whiddon, administrator who hired Webster, first as a classroom teacher.

Webster worked his way up to assistant principal, then headmaster.

Whiddon says justice has been served.

"I'm glad it's behind us. I'm sure he feels same way, decision been made and everyone can move on with life," said Whiddon.

Child pornography images were found on Webster's home and work computer. Webster also admitted to producing nude pictures of one of his students.

"What did occur is definitely a sin against God, parents, the students, the school," he said.

A trust betrayed, but one people are willing to forgive.

"If Alan or anyone has asked God to forgive of sin...then the Lord forgives," said Whiddon.

Webster was released on bond. He'll report to prison on January 5th.


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Church business manager sentenced to two years in theft


WAUKESHA, Wis. - Terming what she had done an obscenity, a judge sentenced the former business manager of First United Methodist Church of Waukesha to two years in prison for stealing $253,000 in church funds to enhance her lifestyle.

Waukesha County Circuit Judge Ralph Ramirez also had a piece of advice Monday to Judith Lynn Anderson, 53, of what she ought to do besides working full time during 10 years of extended supervision he also ordered her to serve.

"Quite frankly, I suggest you get a part-time job, too, to pay back all you owe," Ramirez told Anderson.

Authorities said she took ski vacations in Colorado and golf trips in Florida, among other things, with the money that was taken.

Anderson pleaded guilty in July to felony theft for stealing the money from March 2000 to August 2003. She was also sued in civil court by her former congregation and reached a settlement with the church in which she and her husband agreed to pay $320,000. That figure includes $70,000 in interest and attorney fees, according to defense attorney Chris Bailey.

Church spokesman Thomas Taft Jr. said First United Methodist has received $81,000 in proceeds from the sale of the Andersons' former home and $800 in payments the couple made until Anderson lost her job.

Anderson stole the money by issuing duplicate payroll checks to herself, writing checks to herself and making unauthorized personal purchases with a church credit card, authorities said.

A document filed in the civil case contends that Anderson "used monies stolen from the church" to make purchases from Midwest Airlines, Funjet, AirTran Airways, restaurants, motels and retailers in sporting goods, furniture, hardware and tires, among other things.

The judge also said Monday in court that Anderson used the church's money to buy a pickup truck for her son and a $50,000 boat that she and her husband still used last summer.

"There was no need for you to take any of this money, This was not putting shoes on the baby's feet. This was not buying milk," Ramirez said, adding: "I perceive this as good, old-fashioned greed."

Assistant District Attorney Kevin Osborne said: "There is no explanation for this crime that I'm aware of other than that the defendant wanted to live beyond her means."

Anderson expressed remorse at the hearing.

"In no way can I justify what I did," she said.


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Priest deported for Sexually assaulting 17-year-old girl


NEW BRITAIN, Conn. -- A visiting Roman Catholic priest who plead guilty to the sexual assault of a 17-year-old high school student during a counseling session has completed his nine-month prison term and been sent back to Poland in accordance with his court sentence.

Roman Kramek, 43, came to Sacred Heart Church to help with Christmas services during the winter of 2002. While here, he was called upon to counsel his victim about a previous sexual assault.

On December 18, 2002, Kramek went to the victim’s grandmother’s home to meet with her, and during the meeting inappropriately touched the victim, then assaulted her while her grandmother was out of the room, authorities said.

Kramek, said State’s Attorney Scott Murphy, told the victim that he had sex with her as a "counseling technique" to show her that "sex with a man can be pleasurable." In Connecticut, it is illegal for anyone acting as a psychotherapist, including a priest, to engage in sex with anyone they are counseling.

Kramek spoke little if any English at the time of his arrest, and many of his supporters believe he did not understand the seriousness of his confessions to police, in which he admitted to having sex with the victim.

Following his arrest on Christmas Eve, 2002, a large contingent of the city’s Polish community formed an organization to raise and oversee a defense fund for Kramek. The organization paid his bond for release during his trial and raised questions about the legitimacy of the victim’s complaint. That tactic brought condemnations from other religious and civic organizations, including SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Kramek eventually plead guilty to second-degree sexual assault in a plea agreement that ended his trial and left him with a nine-month sentence and 10 years of probation, plus the understanding that upon his release from jail he would have to return to Poland because he was a non-citizen convicted of a felony.

Father John Gatzak, spokesman for the Hartford Archdiocese, has previously said that because Kramek is a member of the Archdiocese of Warsaw there has been little the local diocese can do.

"Officials in Poland will only be able to determine Kramek’s future with the church," Gatzak said in January 2003. At that time, Gatzak said he did not know what church authorities in Poland would do, and calls to Gatzak today were not returned.

It was also unclear if the archdiocese’s policy on allegations of sexual misconduct involving minors would apply in Kramek’s case. It would appear that the Archbishop of Hartford could choose to forward information indicating the threat Kramek may pose to children or young people, but no one at the archdiocese would say if that will happen.

Kramek was released from MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield on Monday, taken to Hartford and turned over to officials from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services before being deported to Poland.

The victim in the case, meanwhile, has said publicly that she has yet to recover from the assault, though in a statement in court before Kramek was sentenced she said she forgave the priest in spite of the damage to her physically, emotionally and spiritually.


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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

 

From pillar of community to accused killer


Again, from YH:

Kansas City - The telephone rang at 10 p.m. April 4. Kristina Mangelsdorf and her husband were upstairs on the computer, and Mark Mangelsdorf picked up the receiver.

It was a detective calling to say he and other officers were at the front door of their home in Pelham, N.Y., in upscale Westchester County. Could Mark Mangelsdorf please come down?

“I think Mark was always sort of expecting that that could happen,” Kristina Mangelsdorf said in a telephone interview last week. “We went downstairs, grabbed his shoes and went to the front door. They were standing there and they took him away immediately. I didn’t even get to kiss him goodbye, which absolutely traumatized me.”

Today, Mark Mangelsdorf is scheduled to appear in a Johnson County courtroom to answer charges in a murder that occurred nearly a quarter of a century ago. The 1986 graduate of Harvard University’s MBA program is accused of killing — and plotting with Melinda Raisch to kill — Raisch’s first husband, David Harmon of Olathe.

Mangelsdorf said last week he would waive his preliminary hearing, which was scheduled to begin today. He is expected to plead not guilty. A judge likely will bind him over for trial.

For Kristina Mangelsdorf and others who know Mark Mangelsdorf, the accusations are impossible to believe. They see the 45-year-old as a devoted father, a successful business executive and a person of impeccable character.

“He is the best father, the best husband, the best person that I can imagine him being,” said Kristina Mangelsdorf, 36, who is expecting their second child in December. “I know for 100 percent certainty that he didn’t do this.”

Johnson County District Attorney Paul Morrison said Mark Mangelsdorf might not appear to fit the mold of a murderer. Many people, he said, felt the same about Raisch, a 48-year-old churchgoing mother married to a dentist in Ohio. Still, Morrison said, a jury convicted her in May.

“We’re not really concerned about what he (Mangelsdorf) has done since Feb. 28, 1982,” Morrison said, “ but we do have a very strong belief that he was involved in the homicide of David Harmon during the early morning hours of Sunday, Feb. 28, 1982, and that’s what this case is about.”

The year the murder happened, Mangelsdorf was a senior and student body president at Mid-America Nazarene University in Olathe. His student government office was next door to the office of the dean of students, where Raisch, then Melinda Harmon, worked as a secretary.

The two became romantically involved, prosecutors contended at Raisch’s trial last spring. Raisch wanted out of her marriage, prosecutors said, but felt trapped by the conservative religious culture that dominated her life and took a dim view of divorce.

So the two devised a plot and beat 25-year-old David Harmon to death with a blunt object, according to the complaint filed April 4 against Mangelsdorf.

Tracking dogs brought in at the time to search for clues led detectives from the Harmon duplex to a trash receptacle next to Mangelsdorf’s apartment a few blocks away. Nothing was found.

Inside Mangelsdorf’s apartment, investigators discovered about 20 cards and letters from Raisch. An investigator testified during Raisch’s trial that the cards reflected more of a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship than the platonic friendship the two claimed to have.

Also, during Raisch’s trial, an employee for a private DNA laboratory in North Carolina testified that DNA found on the carpet inside Mangelsdorf’s apartment in 1982 could have come from David Harmon. The carpet was taken from Mangelsdorf’s apartment but DNA testing was not available back then.

At the time, Raisch told police that two men entered her home, beat her husband to death and knocked her unconscious. She said the men wanted the keys to the bank where her husband worked.

But when Olathe investigators reopened the case in 2001, Raisch told a different story. She denied involvement in the murder but said only one man entered the home. She did not see who he was, she told an Olathe detective, but she felt the “presence” of Mangelsdorf.

Raisch had been expected to testify during Mangelsdorf’s preliminary hearing. She faces up to life in prison. She has yet to be sentenced.

Mangelsdorf testified during Raisch’s trial that the two were friends. He said he was not in love with Raisch and that he had nothing to do with the murder.

Donald Stelting, who was dean of students at Mid-America Nazarene in 1982, last week described Mangelsdorf as a bright student and a natural leader. He said that he never was aware of anything improper between Mangelsdorf and Raisch.

“I thought there was absolutely no way either of them could have been involved in that at all,” said Stelting, now dean of academic affairs at Nazarene Bible College in Colorado Springs, Colo. “Students were very supportive of Mark. They were as astonished as anyone else that he was suspected of this.”

Stelting performed the ceremony at Mangelsdorf’s first wedding in June 1983. He married a woman he asked out on his last day of classes as a senior at Mid-America Nazarene. The two have three children; they were married about 14 years.

Kristina Mangelsdorf said she met Mark Mangelsdorf in 1997, shortly before his divorce was final.

Both were working for Pepsi, she in its New York office and he in Seattle as a vice president. Their paths crossed while working on a project that led to the idea of selling coffee beverages in glass bottles.

After the project, Mark Mangelsdorf took her out to dinner in New York to thank her for her work on the project .

They quickly found they had much in common, Kristina Mangelsdorf said. They married 6½ years ago and have a 2-year-old daughter.

Kristina Mangelsdorf now is a marketing director for Diet Pepsi at PepsiCo’s headquarters in Purchase, N.Y. Mark Mangelsdorf is an independent consultant.

Kristina Mangelsdorf said her husband told her about the murder early in their relationship.

“We had a very long dinner and he took me through it,” she said.

He said a friend of his had died and that he had been a suspect in his friend’s murder but that he had not been involved.

“He didn’t need to tell me that (he was innocent). I would have known that anyway but he wanted me to know that this was out there, that it could possibly come back to haunt him some day. He didn’t want there to be any surprises or secrets in our marriage.”

Kristina Mangelsdorf said she had tucked the story away and hadn’t thought about it much over the years.

“There was no reason to think about it,” she said. “It was an unpleasant thing that had happened in the past.”

Early in 2001, however, she came home from work and found her husband standing at the front door talking with police officers. He told her they were from Olathe. She knew immediately why they were there.

Last April, when detectives showed up at their door again, they took her husband to jail. He was released on a $300,000 bond.

Those who know them have been incredibly supportive, Kristina Mangelsdorf said.

Kristina Mangelsdorf accompanied her husband in April when he testified in Olathe in the Raisch case. She plans to be at his side throughout.


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Baptist fraud trial becoming marathon


YH, who is forever beating me at my own game, sends this along:

Phoenix, Arizona - The trial of two men charged with theft and fraud in the 1999 collapse of the Baptist Foundation of Arizona has already gone on for a month in Maricopa County Superior Court and is expected to last at least five months more.

By the time it's over, the state will have spent more than $1.6 million on the trial, just for experts, accountants and outside attorneys, according to the Arizona Attorney General's Office.

On the other hand, the defendants, who say they lost all of their money when the foundation went out of business, have a defense fund of nearly $4.6 million.

Fortunately for everyone, six-month trials are few and far between.

"We've been stretched to the utmost to be competitive in court with some very sophisticated trial procedures," said Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard.

"I think you'll find on both sides: This is one of the most exhaustively researched cases," Goddard said. "And in terms of using the electronic potential of the courtroom, this case is going to set some new standards."

William Crotts and Thomas Grabinski each face three counts of fraud, 27 counts of theft and two counts of illegally conducting an enterprise in the wake of the foundation's 1999 bankruptcy. They are accused of taking more than $550 million from more than 11,000 investors. If convicted, they each could be sentenced to nearly 34 years in prison.

Five other BFA employees or associates already have pleaded guilty to related felony charges in exchange for their testimony against Crotts and Grabinski. A sixth is too ill to go to trial.

The expense of the trial comes from the fact that there are multiple defendants and hundreds of thousands of legal and accounting documents to keep track of.

The Attorney's General's Office has four attorneys, a paralegal, a technology expert and a victim's rights advocate working on the case full time. Their salaries are not reflected in the $1.6 million the AG's Office anticipates spending.

Crotts' and Grabinski's legal defense money comes from a 2004 civil court case. The two executives sued BFA's insurance company when it balked at paying their legal expenses.

A Superior Court jury awarded $2.1 million to Crotts, the foundation's former president, and $2.5 million to Grabinski, its legal counsel.

The complexity of the case accounts in part for its length. Prosecutors must first instruct the jurors in standard accounting practices before making a case that BFA violated those practices. In addition, because each defendant has his own attorney, the state's witnesses are cross-examined twice, once by each attorney.

But it is rare for a criminal trial to last six months.

The 2003 trial of Brian Finkel, the abortion doctor found guilty of sexually abusing his patients, took four months.

Last year, the trial of Wendi Andriano, who was convicted of murdering her husband, took four months.

Ricky Wassenaar's trial earlier this year for taking over a guard tower in a state prison lasted two months.

Goddard recalls a seven-month fraud trial he prosecuted as an assistant attorney general in the 1970s.

And defense attorney Michael Piccarreta, who represents Crotts, took part in a six-month federal trial in the 1980s involving church workers accused of smuggling refugees into the country.

"So I guess these things come along every 20 years," Piccarreta said.


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Lexington man gets 30 years for killing pedophile priest


LEXINGTON, Ky. - A Lexington man who fatally beat a retired priest and convicted sex offender with a pickax was sentenced to 30 years in prison after a judge received a letter from four of the cleric's victims.

Fayette Circuit Judge Gary Payne could have given Jason Anthony Russell, 28, life in prison without parole for murdering the Rev. Joseph Pilger, 78. Russell avoided a possible death sentence by agreeing last month to life without parole.

Under the sentence handed down Friday, Russell would be eligible for parole in 25 years.

The judge received a letter from Michael Long, now of Austin, Texas, that said Russell had "done a society a favor" by killing a "pedophile monster that preyed upon innocent little boys while in a position of authority and calling him self a man of God."

Long also wrote on behalf of three relatives who were also molested by Pilger.

"The damage a pedophile inflicts on young children is life-changing and lifelong," Long said in his letter. "The entire emotional and developmental wiring as a child is changed forever. Pedophiles are nothing but human debris. I have, for years, wished to do what Mr. Russell did."

In 1995, Pilger pleaded guilty to abusing four boys in Western Kentucky when he was their pastor during the late 1960s at St. Francis Borgia Roman Catholic Church in Sturgis. In exchange for the confession, prosecutors recommended probation.

Long, who sued Pilger in the early 1990s, wrote that he now regrets not fighting the plea deal.

"If we would have been more adamant about his sentence, we would not be writing you now, and Mr. Russell would not be where he is as well," Long said. "So you see, even now after his death, I still feel guilt."

Pilger was found dead on Dec. 3, 2003.

Russell, who alleges he was sexually abused as a child, had been released from prison about two months before the slaying and lived with Pilger.

Russell has said he decided to kill him after the retired priest offered $5,000 to have sex with Russell's then-6-year-old son. Russell also claims that he had twice walked in on the retired priest masturbating with photos of Russell's son and catalog clippings of other children.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Lou Anna Red Corn objected to the judge's sentence.

"You have put us in a situation of knowing our recommendations are meaningless," Red Corn said. "And in a position of making it difficult to make recommendations in the future."

The judge said he agreed with prosecutors that a harsh sentence was appropriate, but not necessarily life in prison.

"Knowing the facts, knowing everything involved, at least what little I know, I don't think that is an appropriate sentence," Payne said.

State law does not require judges to abide by recommendations from juries or, in the case of guilty pleas, prosecutors. They frequently accept them, however.


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Accused priest put on leave


BATH TWP., Greene County, Ohio - A priest based in Champaign County is on indefinite administrative leave, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati announced Monday, following his arrest last week on suspicion of public indecency and resisting arrest at the Huffman Dam Five Rivers MetroPark.

Clarence Heis, 51, has been pastor of St. Michael Parish in Mechanicsburg and Immaculate Conception in North Lewisburg since 1993, the archdiocese said.

Heis was ordained in 1982, served as associate pastor at St. Thomas More parish in Withamsville following ordination and at Guardian Angels parish from 1983 to 1989 when he became Air Force chaplain, serving in the Persian Gulf.

In 1992, he was assigned to Holy Trinity parish in Coldwater, where he remained until his latest assignment.

According to a report from park rangers, Heis was arrested Wednesday with two other men when a ranger, acting as a decoy, observed the men engaged in lewd acts.

Larry Jones, chief of the parks' ranger division, said Monday that this year, 30 people have been arrested in the parks for public indecency.

Jones said he has fielded complaints from park visitors who stumble onto illegal activity.

"It's upsetting to have to listen to what those poor people tell you. You feel for them having to witness something like that," Jones said.

The archdiocese, which includes 19 counties, in a statement released Monday said: "Archbishop (Daniel) Pilarczyk apologizes to the people of the archdiocese for the scandal and pain that this event has caused. He affirms again that the church expects its priests to be chaste."


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Pastor admits having child porn


Cambria County, Penns. - A former Byzantine Catholic pastor in Cambria County faces prison time after admitting he possessed child pornography.

Jason R. Dolan, 31, of Portage pleaded guilty in Johnstown’s federal court, U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan announced Monday.

Dolan was pastor at SS. Peter & Paul Byzantine Catholic Church in Portage and St. Michael Byzantine Catholic Church in South Fork.

He is scheduled for sentencing Feb. 28 before U.S. District Judge Kim R. Gibson.

Dolan was relieved of his pastoral duties in January by the Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh.

He cannot currently function as a priest.

A tribunal made up of church clergy is considering “what, if any, action should be taken in this case,” said archeparchy spokeswoman Veronica Varga.

“He was placed on administrative leave, where he will remain until a decision from the tribunal is rendered,” she said.

Neither Dolan nor his Pittsburgh-based attorney could be reached for comment.

It remains unclear what led authorities to investigate Dolan.

The FBI and state police conducted the probe.

In a release issued Monday, prosecutors said Dolan “knowingly possessed pictures and movies as computer graphic files containing images of child pornography” from April 27, 2004, to Jan. 3.

When Dolan was named in a one-count indictment in June, church officials said the criminal charges stemmed from “illegal materials on a personal computer obtained through the use of a private Internet account.”

They said the matter was unrelated to any archeparchy church.

Dolan faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

While the felony charge carries a stiff maximum sentence, officials said Dolan’s penalty will be based on “the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.”


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Pastor accused of covering up sexual abuse resigns


PHILADELPHIA - A pastor who allegedly covered up sexual abuse by priests resigned from his church in the Philadelphia suburbs, according to a published report.

The resignation of Msgr. Vincent M. Walsh, 69, who has been on a health sabbatical since August, was read from the pulpit at weekend masses at Presentation Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Wynnewood by the church's interim pastor, Msgr. Michael McCulken, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Monday.

A recent grand jury report said that in 1970, when he was Cardinal John Krol's assistant chancellor, Walsh "sat silently" while parents praised a priest for befriending their sons without alerting them to the priest's known sadomasochistic behavior, and later heard complaints about the priest and failed to alert the parish pastor.

The letter McCulken read said Walsh's resignation wasn't related to his work as vice chancellor. Instead, it cited a bacterial infection and other illnesses and said he was leaving for personal reasons relating to his physical and emotional health.

McCulken referred a request for comment to the archdiocese, and Donna Farrell, a spokeswoman, reiterated that it didn't intend to censure administrators named in the grand jury report. Farrell said earlier that Cardinal Justin Rigali was "focused on moving the archdiocese forward."

The Inquirer said another clergyman, Msgr. Samuel E. Shoemaker, pastor of the 2,700-family St. Ignatius of Antioch Church in Yardley, called a parish meeting for Wednesday evening to discuss the grand jury's findings.

Though the report said Shoemaker raised occasional concerns that the church wasn't acting forcefully enough against abusers, it also criticized some of his actions, saying he named a known sexual predator as an associate director of youth programs in 1984.

Shoemaker declined to discuss the allegations, but said he would at the meeting, which he said would give parishioners a chance to voice their thoughts. He said he had received some angry letters.

"A lot of people are banding together to have him removed," said one parishioner, Joan Naylor of Yardley, who has three children in the parish school. "They think he can't lead us spiritually, and they're boycotting, going to other churches. They don't want to have him sitting on the altar and have him preaching to us."


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Society of Jesus settles three molestation lawsuits


CHICAGO - Leaders of the Society of Jesus say the religious order has settled three lawsuits with plaintiffs who say they were molested by priests while attending Jesuit schools in the Chicago area more than 30 years ago.

Two of the lawsuits alleged that the Reverend John Powell, a retired Loyola University professor, sexually abused seven women in the 1960s and early 1970s. The order says six of the seven women settled in the past month.

The third case settled in the past month involves allegeations by a 57-year-old man that the late Reverend Wilton Skeffington, a former teacher at Loyola Academy, repeatedly abused him while he was an upperclassman at the Jesuit school.


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Monday, October 24, 2005

 

Weekly church-related crime update, October 17 - 23



  • Nicholas V. Cudemo, a Philadelphia-area priest who had been defrocked because he had molested dozens of girls, peformed a baptism at Christ The King Church in Haddonfield, New Jersey. Explained the Philadelphia Daily News:

    From the 1960s to the 1980s, Cudemo maintained sexual relationships with girls from the Catholic schools where he taught, molested a fifth grader in the confessional, invoked God to seduce and shame his victims, and once took an 11-year-old he raped for an abortion, according to the grand-jury report released last month by the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office.

  • The Fitzgerald Center, a treatment center in Jemez Springs, N.M. operated by the Servants of the Paraclete, which served thousands of priests, brothers and other religious people battling addiction, depression and sexual problems, including some priests who have become infamous locally and nationally for molesting young boys and girls, had destroyed background information on its charges before it closed in 1995. The information might have been used by litigants in the chuch abuse scandals.

  • Dana Brashear, youth group leader at Crossroads Baptist Church in Fort Myers, Florida who had been convicted on two counts of lewd/lascivious battery for having sex with a 12-year-old boy, has been sued by the victim's family. Also named in the suit was the church itself and the Lee County School Board, which allegedly did not report the victim's repeated absences from school while in Brashear's company. Brasher, said the suit, molested his victim under "the pretext of Bible study."

  • Damion Armond Rutues, youth pastor at Learning of the Lord Revival Ministry in Des Moines, Iowa, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for molesting three girls between the ages of 8 and 11 in his apartment and his church office. Rutues' mother is the pastor of the church.

  • "An allegation of sexual misconduct against Monsignor Peter Cheplic that Archdiocese investigators deemed 'credible' was referred to county prosecutors, an Archdiocese spokesman said yesterday," reported the New Jersey Journal. "The investigation, concluded by the Archdiocese Response Team in April 2003, was of a March 2002 allegation by Martin Kansky that Cheplic had sexually molested him at a house at the Shore in 1978, when Kansky was 18 and Cheplic was pastor of St. Matthew's Church in Ridgefield."

  • Richard L. McCaffrey, a priest in Fairbanks, Alaska who has been removed from his duties while church officials investigate abuse allegations, has been accused by a second women of sexual misconduct. "The lawsuit alleges McCaffrey molested the first plaintiff in Tununak, a Western Alaska village, between 1978 and 1979, and the second plaintiff in Hooper Bay in 1980 and 1981," reported the Associated Press. "Both Yupik Eskimo villages are more than 600 miles southwest of the diocese, which serves 47 parishes throughout the Interior, the North Slope and the west coast of Alaska."

  • Lloyd D. Jones, youth pastor at Calvary Church in Naperville, Illinois, pleaded guilty to two aggravated criminal sexual abuse charges, admitting he made a male sophomore high school student perform a sex act on him while they were at Jones' apartment last year, and that he inappropriately touched a second 17-year-old he brought to his Naperville apartment in 2000.

  • Keith Vazquez and his wife, Rene Christou-Vazquez, the founders Dyvine Faith Breakthrough Church in Rosedale, Maryland and of Dynamic Women Weight Loss and Exercise Center in Dundalk, Maryland, were sentenced on tax charges. "Between 1996 and 1999, the Vazquezes left income unreported, submitted false information or failed to file tax returns altogether for some years, according to a February press release from the U.S. Department of Justice," reported the Dundalk (Md.) Eagle. The tax charges were related to operation of the weight loss center. "Calling the centers 'a safe haven for women,' Keith Vazquez said they provide support groups and crisis counseling in addition to Bible study groups. He and his wife still own the Dynamic Women centers in Dundalk, Golden Ring, Towson and Fallston. They called their tax troubles a transforming time, one that led them to a life of service to others."

  • Alberto Bondy, pastor at St. Anne Catholic Church in Warren, Michigan, has been accused of choking and slapping a fellow priest two years ago after a wedding at his previous church in Center Line, and of hitting a 16-year-old boy with a duffel bag in August after accusing the teen of "joyriding" on a lawnmower in front of St. Anne's.

  • Larry Davis, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Cold Spring (Kentucky) who had earlier pleaded guilty to defrauding a bank and the federal government after $700,000 went missing from the church, resigned his post.

  • James Laudwein, a semi-retired priest now working in Portland, Oregon, was accused of molesting a 14-year-old Yupik Eskimo girl when he worked at St. Mary's Boarding School in Western Alaska, in 1980.

  • Michael Stephen Baker, a Los Angeles priest who had reportedly admitted to Cardinal Roger M. Mahony in 1986 that he had molested children from 1978 to 1985, was once again the target of a criminal investigation. "Mahony did not notify police but sent Baker to a residential facility that treated priests for sexual abuse problems," reported the Associated Press:

    Afterward, he was assigned to a series of nine other parishes but barred from having one-on-one contact with minors - restrictions he violated three times, according to church personnel file summaries that the archdiocese released. Baker has been accused of molesting more than 20 children between 1974 and 1999, according to the archdiocese.

  • Paul Lebrun, associate pastor at Little Flower Catholic Church in South Bend, Ind., is on trial for child molestation charges in Mesa, Arizona.

  • Donald Durand, a retired priest who had served in parishes in Portland, Salem, Corvallis and Silverton, Oregon, and who is accused of molesting six boys, asserted his Fifth Amendment rights over 80 times during a court proceeding, reported the Associated Press. "Hundreds of accusations of sexual abuse have been made in the last few years against more than three dozen Oregon priests."

  • Anthony Ocloo, a Ghana priest and MBA student at Saint John's University in New York, was charged with sexual abuse and child endangerment charges for allegedly fondling a 16-year-old girl in the rectory of Saint Ephrem's in Dyker Heights.

  • Kenneth “Tripp” Atkinson, youth minister at First Baptist Church in Columbia, South Carolina, remains on paid leave from his post while awaiting a grand jury appearance on charges that he raped a 13-year-old girl while working at his previous job, at Pawleys Island Community Church. "Atkinson has worshipped at First Baptist since the allegation surfaced, said attorney and church spokesman Bryan Barnes," reported the South Carolina State. "'I understand he was very warmly greeted,' he said. 'Everybody I talked to at church has been very supportive of him.'"


  • See the entire never-ending chronicle of church-related crime (dating back to June 5) here.

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    The continuing case of the allegedly masterbating judge



    Background information here.

    SAPULPA, Okla. (AP) _ Some of the top names in the community are listed as witnesses who are set to testify on behalf of a retired Creek County judge accused of masturbating while on the bench.

    Among the witnesses Donald Thompson said he will call are Creek County District Attorney Max Cook and his assistant, Mike Loeffler, as well as such attorneys at Creekmore Wallace, who represented Terry Nichols in the Oklahoma City bombing case.

    Wallace used to be on Thompson's defense team but stepped out so he could testify about the judge as well as the star witness against him, court reporter Lisa Foster.

    Thompson's trial on three felony counts of indecent exposure is expected to begin Nov. 7 in Bristow. Pretrial maneuvering has each side in the case accusing the other of behaving unfairly.

    Assistant Attorney General Pattye High, a special prosecutor, described getting specific information about witness testimony from defense attorney Clark Brewster as ``pulling teeth.'' One of the allegations Brewster has made in court is that court reporter Foster smoked marijuana.

    High describes that claim as empty because Brewster has not specified which witness might back it up.

    The witness list offers a glimpse of the defense strategy, in part to put on a series of attorneys who will speak well of Thompson.

    It is unclear what prosecutors Cook and Loeffler will say_ except to discuss the judge's demeanor. However, the defense summary of its witnesses does get specific about some.

    For instance, in 2003 Doug Stall and Steve Chlouber both represented Dennis Stewart during a 10-day libel trial at which jurors awarded $3.7 million to the minister, whose address was listed on the NewsOK.com Web site as the home of a registered sex offender. The Court of Appeals reversed the verdict earlier this year.

    That trial is one of three at which prosecutors alleged Thompson masturbated on the bench. Stall and Chlouber will testify that ``at no time did the judge act peculiar or consistent with the actions described by the prosecutor's witnesses,'' said the defense witness list, recently filed in court.

    In addition to the attorneys, Thompson's lawyers have subpoenaed 13 jurors on the libel case and two dozen who sat on other trials. The summary of their expected testimony is vague in court documents, but one juror, aircraft mechanic Christopher Cupp of Stroud, will testify that the judge behaved well during the trial and that ``if anything out of the ordinary would have occurred with the judge, he would have seen it,'' court records said.

    Other witnesses include Pat Hale, a friend of Thompson's who owns a leather shop and is expected to testify that he gave Thompson a penis pump as a gag gift, and that the sex toy ``was a beat-up old pump that was cracked, had a hole in it and had the pumping device broken on the side.''


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    Alaska a magnet for problem priests?


    Aaron sends this along:

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- A recent string of lawsuits accusing Roman Catholic priests of molesting children has reinforced suspicions among some critics of the church that remote Alaska was a dumping ground for problem clergy.

    "I absolutely believe that church officials intentionally sent abusive priests to minor communities, transient communities, where kids may be less apt to tell and have less faith in the justice system," said David Clohessy, national director of Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

    Four priests who served in Alaska have been sued over the past two weeks, with the most recent case brought Thursday against a Jesuit accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl in 1980 in the Eskimo village of St. Marys, some 500 miles southwest of Fairbanks.

    All together, 12 priests who served in Alaska have been publicly accused of sexual misconduct. Most of the alleged abuse occurred in remote villages, and most of the alleged victims were Alaska Natives.

    Patrick Wall, a former Benedictine priest and consultant for a Costa Mesa, California, law firm that has worked on more than 300 church abuse allegations nationwide, said rural Alaska was a prime place to send abusive priests. Alaska's isolation and its cultural reverence for authority figures, such as elders and priests, meant parishioners would be less likely to speak up.

    The number of priests accused is a small percentage of the 500 who served in Alaska between 1959 and 2002. But Wall said he has interviewed more than 100 Alaskans who have complained of abuse, and "I'm quite sure that by the time this runs its course, we can expect over 200 clients."

    "There are whole villages we've never been able to visit that we know perpetrators were in," he said.

    Fairbanks Bishop Donald Kettler disputed the notion of Alaska as a dumping ground.

    "My reaction when I hear that is that I feel the opposite is really true," said Kettler, who has been bishop for three years. Those who work or volunteer in the diocese "come with a commitment wanting to serve the peoples of Alaska. They were not forced to come here."

    Plaintiffs' attorneys said they have had a hard time obtaining church personnel records that might prove their suspicions.

    The Fairbanks Diocese serves 41 parishes spread out over more than 400,000 square miles. It covers Alaska's Interior, the North Slope and the western coast.

    Rev. John Whitney, a church official in Portland, Oregon, vehemently denied Alaska is a magnet or hiding spot for problem priests.

    "It's absolutely untrue," he said. "I have never seen any evidence of that. People were sent to Alaska who requested to go to the missions there. It was considered the hardest place to go, because of the remoteness and the conditions they had to work with at the time. They wanted to spread the gospel."


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

    Return to Bobo's World's homepage.

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    Sunday, October 23, 2005

     

    Young Singers Spread Racist Hate



    This article comes via ABC News. NYMary and NTodd have commentary, and song lyrics.

    Duo Considered the Olsen Twins of the White Nationalist Movement

    Oct. 20, 2005 — - Thirteen-year-old twins Lamb and Lynx Gaede have one album out, another on the way, a music video, and lots of fans.

    They may remind you another famous pair of singers, the Olsen Twins, and the girls say they like that. But unlike the Olsens, who built a media empire on their fun-loving, squeaky-clean image, Lamb and Lynx are cultivating a much darker personna. They are white nationalists and use their talents to preach a message of hate.

    Known as "Prussian Blue" -- a nod to their German heritage and bright blue eyes -- the girls from Bakersfield, Calif., have been performing songs about white nationalism before all-white crowds since they were nine.

    "We're proud of being white, we want to keep being white," said Lynx. "We want our people to stay white ... we don't want to just be, you know, a big muddle. We just want to preserve our race."

    Lynx and Lamb have been nurtured on racist beliefs since birth by their mother April. "They need to have the background to understand why certain things are happening," said April, a stay-at-home mom who no longer lives with the twins' father. "I'm going to give them, give them my opinion just like any, any parent would."

    April home-schools the girls, teaching them her own unique perspective on everything from current to historical events. In addition, April's father surrounds the family with symbols of his beliefs -- specifically the Nazi swastika. It appears on his belt buckle, on the side of his pick-up truck and he's even registered it as his cattle brand with the Bureau of Livestock Identification.

    "Because it's provocative," explains April of the cattle brand, "to him he thinks it's important as a symbol of freedom of speech that he can use it as his cattle brand."


    Teaching Hate
    Songs like "Sacrifice" -- a tribute to Nazi Rudolf Hess, Hitler's deputy Fuhrer -- clearly show the effect of the girls' upbringing. The lyrics praise Hess as a "man of peace who wouldn't give up."

    "It really breaks my heart to see those two girls spewing out that kind of garbage," said Ted Shaw, civil rights advocate and president of the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund -- though Shaw points out that the girls aren't espousing their own opinions but ones they're being taught.

    On that point, April Gaede and Ted Shaw apparently agree.

    "Well, all children pretty much espouse their parents' attitudes," she said. "We're white nationalists and of course that's a part of our life and I'm going to share that part of my life with my children."

    Since they began singing, the girls have become such a force in the white nationalist movement, that David Duke -- the former presidential candidate, one-time Ku-Klux-Klan grand wizard and outspoken white supremacist -- uses the twins to draw a crowd.

    Prussian Blue supporter Erich Gliebe, operator of one of the nation's most notorious hate music labels, Resistance Records, hopes younger performers like Lynx and Lamb will help expand the base of the White Nationalist cause.

    "Eleven and 12 years old," he said, "I think that's the perfect age to start grooming kids and instill in them a strong racial identity."

    Gliebe, who targets young, mainstream white rockers at music festivals like this past summer's "Ozzfest," says he uses music to get his message out.

    But with names like Blue-Eyed Devils and Angry Aryans, these tunes are far more extreme than the ones sung by Lamb and Lynx.

    "We give them a CD, we give them something as simple as a stick, they can go to our Web site and see other music and download some of our music," said Gliebe. "To me, that's the best propaganda tool for our youth."


    A Taste for Hate
    Gliebe says he hopes that as younger racist listeners mature, so will their tastes for harder, angrier music like that of Shawn Sugg of Max Resist.

    One of Sugg's songs is a fantasy piece about a possible future racial war that goes: "Let the cities burn, let the streets run red, if you ain't white you'll be dead."

    "I'd like to compare it to gangsta rap," explained Sugg, "where they glorify, you know, shooting n****** and pimping whores."

    Sugg shrugs off criticism that music like his should not be handed out to schoolyard children, arguing that "it's just music, it's not like you're handing out AK-47s."

    Perhaps not, but Shaw says it's the ideas in the music that are dangerous.

    "When you talk about people being dead if they're not white," said Shaw, "I don't think there is much question that that is hateful."


    A Place to Call Home
    Despite the success of Prussian Blue and bands like Max Resist within the White Nationalism movement, most Americans don't accept their racist message.

    Like many children across the country, Lamb and Lynx decided to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina -- the white ones.

    The girls' donations were handed out by a White Nationalist organization who also left a pamphlet promoting their group and beliefs -- some of the intended recipients were more than a little displeased.

    After a day of trying, the supplies ended up with few takers, dumped at a local shop that sells Confederate memorabilia.

    Last month, the girls were scheduled to perform at the local county fair in their hometown. But when some people in the community protested, Prussian Blue was removed from the line-up.

    But even before that, April had decided that Bakersfield was not "white" enough, so she sold her home, and hopes that she and the girls can find an all-white community in the Pacific Northwest.


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    Real Data: Fundamentalist Societies (Including the American heartland) are more dysfunctional than secular societies


    Chuck points us to the following George Monbiot article, which discusses researcher Gregory Paul's article in the Journal of Religion and Society, "Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies." While Paul labels his research "A First Look," it begins to answer some of the questions that were raised in our continuous comment thread.

    Better Off Without Him

    By George Monbiot

    Are religious societies better than secular ones? It should be an easy question for athiests to answer. Most of those now seeking to blow people up - whether with tanks and missiles or rucksacks and passenger planes - do so in the name of God. In India, we see men whose religion forbids them to harm insects setting light to human beings.

    A 14th-century Pope with a 21st-century communications network sustains his church's mission of persecuting gays and denying women ownership of their bodies. Bishops and rabbis in Britain have just united in the cause of prolonging human suffering, by opposing the legalisation of assisted suicide. We know that the most dangerous human trait is an absence of self-doubt, and that self-doubt is more likely to be absent from the mind of the believer than the infidel.

    But we also know that few religious governments have committed atrocities on the scale of Hitler's, Mao's or Stalin's (though, given their more limited means, the Spanish and British in the Americas, the British, Germans and Belgians in Africa and the British in Australia and India could be said to have done their best).

    It is hard to dismiss Dostoyevsky's suspicion that "if God does not exist, then everything is permissible."(1) Nor can we wholly disagree with the new Pope when he warns that "we are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which ... has as its highest goal one's own ego and one's own desires."(2)

    (We must trust, of course, that a man who has spent his life campaigning to become God's go-between, and who now believes he is infallible, is immune to such impulses).

    The creationists in the United States might be as mad as a box of ferrets, but what they claim to fear is the question which troubles almost everyone who has stopped to think about it: if our lives have no purpose, why should we care about other people's?

    We know too, as Roy Hattersley argued in the Guardian last month, that "good works ... are most likely to be performed by people who believe that heaven exists. The correlation is so clear that it is impossible to doubt that faith and charity go hand in hand."(3)

    The only two heroes I have met are both Catholic missionaries. Joe Haas, an Austrian I stayed with in the swamp forests of West Papua, had spent his life acting as a human shield for the indigenous people of Indonesia: every few months soldiers threatened to kill him when he prevented them from murdering his parishioners and grabbing their land.(4)

    Frei Adolfo, the German I met in the savannahs of north-eastern Brazil, thought, when I first knocked on his door, that I was a gunman the ranchers had sent for him. Yet still he opened it. With the other liberation theologists in the Catholic church, he offered the only consistent support to the peasants being attacked by landowners and the government.(5) If they did not believe in God, these men would never have taken such risks for other people.

    Remarkably, no one, until now, has attempted systematically to answer the question with which this column began. But in the current edition of the Journal of Religion and Society, a researcher called Gregory Paul tests the hypothesis propounded by evangelists in the Bush administration, that religion is associated with lower rates of "lethal violence, suicide, non-monogamous sexual activity and abortion". He compared data from 18 developed democracies, and discovered that the Christian fundamentalists couldn't have got it more wrong.(6)

    "In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion ... None of the strongly secularized, pro-evolution democracies is experiencing high levels of measurable dysfunction."

    Within the United States "the strongly theistic, anti-evolution South and Midwest" have "markedly worse homicide, mortality, STD, youth pregnancy, marital and related problems than the Northeast where ... secularization, and acceptance of evolution approach European norms".

    Three sets of findings stand out: the associations between religion - especially absolute belief - and juvenile mortality, venereal disease and adolescent abortion.

    Paul's graphs show far higher rates of death among the under-5s in Portugal, the US and Ireland and put the US - the most religious country in his survey - in a league of its own for gonorrhea and syphilis. Strangest of all for those who believe that Christian societies are "pro-life" is the finding that "increasing adolescent abortion rates show positive correlation with increasing belief and worship of a creator ... Claims that secular cultures aggravate abortion rates (John Paul II) are therefore contradicted by the quantitative data."(7)

    These findings appear to match the studies of teenage pregnancy I've read. The rich countries in which sexual abstinence campaigns, generally inspired by religious belief, are strongest have the highest early pregnancy rates(8). The US is the only rich nation with teenage pregnancy levels comparable to those of developing nations: it has a worse record than India, the Philippines and Rwanda(9). Because they're poorly educated about sex and in denial about what they're doing (and so less likely to use contraceptives), boys who participate in abstinence programmes are more likely to get their partners pregnant than those who don't(10).

    Is it fair to blame all this on religion? While the rankings cannot reflect national poverty - the US has the world's 4th highest GDP per head, Ireland the 8th - the nations which do well in Paul's study also have higher levels of social spending and distribution than those which do badly. Is this a cause or an association? In other words, are religious societies less likely to distribute wealth than secular ones?

    In the US, where governments are still guided by the Puritan notions that money is a sign that you've been chosen by God and poverty is a mark of moral weakness, Christian belief seems to be at odds with the dispersal of wealth. But the UK - one of the most secular societies in Paul's study - is also one of the least inclusive, and does rather worse in his charts than countries with similar levels of religion. The broad trend, however, looks clear: "the more secular, pro-evolution democracies have ... come closest to achieving practical "cultures of life"."(11)

    I don't know whether these findings can be extrapolated to other countries and other issues: the study doesn't look, for example, at whether religious belief is associated with a nation's preparedness to go to war (though I think we could hazard a pretty good guess) or whether religious countries in the poor world are more violent and have weaker cultures of life than secular ones. Nor - because, with the exception of Japan, the countries in his study are predominantly Christian or post-Christian - is it clear whether there's an association between social dysfunction and religion in general or simply between social dysfunction and Christianity.

    But if we are to accept the findings of this one - and so far only - wide survey of belief and human welfare, the message to those who claim in any sense to be pro-life is unequivocal. If you want people to behave as Christians advocate, you should tell them that God does not exist.

    [Footnotes at link]


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