Black Collar Crime (August 2019)

Compiled by Bill Dunn

Arrested / Charged

Call the cops!

Phillip S. Stallings, 40, Durham, NC: 56 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. Stallings, founder of the Biblical Flat Earth Society, allegedly downloaded media depicting minors engaging in sexual acts. He describes himself on his website as “a reformed Christian Apologist, Theonomist, Kinist and a former seminary student.” He has 6,000 followers on a YouTube channel focused on his flat-earth theories. Source: News & Observer, 6-21-19

Syed Zaidi, 49, Toronto: Threatening death, criminal harassment, breach of trust and 3 counts of sexual assault. Zaidi is accused of assaults on a woman starting in 2008 when she came to him at the mosque where he was imam. He allegedly convinced her she was possessed by demons and needed his help. He was arrested while trying to board a flight out of Canada. Source: Toronto Sun, 6-20-19

John M. Ward, 45, Westlake, LA: 10 counts of 1st-degree rape, 40 counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile and 2 counts of pornography involving a juvenile. Ward, pastor of Bellview Baptist Church since 2012, was fired “because of his sexual immorality and failure to maintain the high standard of integrity for the office of Pastor outlined in the Bible,” a church statement said.

Sheriff’s spokesperson Kim Myers said Ward confirmed to detectives that he had been molesting the girl since 2017 when she was 9 and that he videoed her twice while she was nude. Source: KPLC, 6-18-19

Noah J. Paradis, 19, Georgia: 5 counts of inappropriate touching of 2 children alleged to have taken place in June while he was a staffer at a Christian camp for 3rd-6th graders in Overgaard, AZ. The camp is a ministry of LifeWay, an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention. Paradis has reportedly worked at summer camps “all over the U.S.,” said a sheriff’s office press release. Source: Religion News Service, 6-18-19

Stephen Bratton, 43, Houston: Continuous sexual abuse of a child. Bratton, co-pastor at Grace Family Baptist Church, is accused of inappropriate touching of a female relative that escalated to “sexual intercourse multiple times a day or several times a week” from 2013 to 2015, starting when the girl was 13.

Bratton told his wife about the abuse in May and admitted to co-pastors that he had “sinned in grievous ways,” court documents said. A father of 7, he testified in April in support of a Texas bill to ban abortion and charge women with murder if they had one. The bill died in committee. Source: AP, 6-16-19

Stephen L. Dunn, 68, Chambersburg, PA: Criminal use of a communication facility and 10 counts of possession of child pornography. Dunn, a Church of God pastor, director of Bridgebuilders Ministries and adjunct professor at Winebrenner Theological Seminary, is a married father of 4 with 8 grandchildren.

He was arrested after the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported an image that was viewed or uploaded via Microsoft Bing showed a prepubescent girl with genitals exposed. During a warranted search, officers allegedly found 50 printed images in his dresser drawer.

“The pictures depicted transposed images of [Dunn’s] face and what appears to be transposed images of various aged females to include images of juveniles,” the complaint said. Most of the images showed bondage and sado-masochism scenarios. Source:, 6-16-19

Stephen M. Houlihan, 28, Colorado Springs, CO: Attempted sexual assault of a child by one in a position of trust, internet luring of a child with intent to exploit and wholesale promotion of obscenity to a minor. Houlihan, worship and communications pastor at Fellowship of the Rockies, is accused of targeting a 15-year-old girl with explicit text messages, including a request for a nude photo. He is married. Source: Denver Post, 6-14-19

Michelle R. Lomax, 50, Beloit, WI: Theft in a business setting/less than $5,000 to $10,000. Lomax is charged with stealing $5,023 in 2018-19 from First Christian Church in Janesville, where she was secretary. It’s alleged she used the money mostly to pay rent on her apartment. Source: Beloit Daily News, 6-12-19

Heather Matuszek, 32, Clearwater, FL: 2 counts of lewd and lascivious molestation. It’s alleged she sexually touched a 15-year-old girl from her youth group at Clearwater Community Church between August 2014 and April 2015.

Matuszek is also owner/operator of a Chick-fil-A restaurant, a chain that has come under fire for its anti-LGBTQ stance. The complainant told police that Matuszek spent the night twice in her bed, kissed her face and rubbed her body and breasts over her clothing. Source: WFTS, 6-12-19

Benjamin Widrick, 24, Camillus, NY: 3 counts of statutory rape by an authority figure. He’s accused of assaults on a student on Aug. 1, 2018, while serving as a summer intern at Long Hollow Baptist Church in Gallatin, TN. He graduated in 2018 from Liberty University in Lynchburg, KY, with a bachelor’s degree in pastoral leadership. Source: The Tennessean, 6-9-19

Victor A. Trevino Jr., 22, Lansing, MI: Accosting a child for immoral purposes, child sexually abusive activity, 2 counts of using a computer to commit a crime and 4 counts of criminal sexual conduct. Trevino, youth pastor at The Bread House South, an evangelical church, is accused of crimes involving a girl between ages 13 and 15 who belongs to the church.

Over a 2-year period he allegedly touched the girl sexually, asked her to send him naked photos and sent her photos and videos of his penis. His father, Victor Trevino Sr., 47, is charged with misdemeanor failing to report child abuse. He is Bread House pastor. Source: State Journal, 6-6-19

Timothy Milley, 65, Deseronto, Ontario: Luring a child to commit sexual assault, luring a child to commit sexual interference, luring a child to commit invitation to sexual touching, making arrangements to commit sexual assault and making arrangements to commit sexual interference. Milley, pastor at Catarqui United Church in Kingston, was investigated by an internet child exploitation unit between March 28 and June 4.

It’s alleged he used the screen name “redrider” to communicate with someone he believed to be under age 16. Source: Canadian Press, 6-6-19

Gordon L. Griffen, 57, Whiteville, NC: 2 counts of death by motor vehicle, driving while impaired and several traffic citations. Griffen, pastor at Moore’s Creek Missionary Baptist Church, was driving a Cadillac Escalade in the wrong lane when it hit a Chrysler PT Cruiser head-on. Killed were Jolena Timmons, 51, and her husband, Donald Timmons, 41, passengers in the Chrysler. Griffen was treated and released from the hospital. Source: Tabor-Lois Tribune, 6-5-19

Naasón J. García, 50, a Mexican national who heads a worldwide Pentecostal church called La Luz del Mundo, was arrested in Los Angeles on 26 charges, including human trafficking, production of child sex abuse images and forcible rape of a minor. Three women affiliated with the church — Alondra Ocampo, Susana Medina Oaxaca and Azalea Rangel Melendez — were also charged.

Defendants are accused of coercing underage girls into performing sex acts between June 2015 and August 2017. It’s alleged 3 minors and an adult woman were abused, with 1 child and the woman raped. Others were forced to perform sex acts and dances and lick whipped cream from each other’s bodies, a complaint said. La Luz was founded in 1926 by García’s grandfather. Source: Reuters, 6-5-19

Bernard McGarty, 94, La Crosse, WI: 4th-degree sexual assault. McGarty, a retired Catholic priest, is accused of propositioning a woman and placing her hand in his lap outside the public library May 11. He was identified on video footage that allegedly showed him handing her $20. He told police he gave her the money because she was homeless. The woman alleged he told her his name was Bill.

McGarty paid a $250 disorderly conduct fine in 2014 for exposing himself to a Wausau masseuse and asking her to rub his genitals. When she refused, he called her a derogatory name. Source: La Crosse Tribune, 6-4-19

Michael Comeau, 47, Port Allen, LA: Public intoxication and possession of open container of alcohol. Comeau, principal at Holy Family Catholic Elementary School, was arrested at 2:20 a.m. at Archibald’s Gentlemen’s Club in Washington on a complaint about “an intoxicated man refusing to pay his bill.”

Allen, who has resigned, was part of a school field trip to the nation’s capital. Students were in their hotel rooms under the supervision of other chaperones when Comeau was arrested outside the strip club. Source: The Advocate, 5-31-19

Brandon O. Hernandez, 20, Tempe, AZ: Aggravated luring of a minor and 2 counts each of sexual conduct with a minor and sexual abuse. Hernandez is youth leader for a boys group at a Mormon ward. An affidavit alleges he started “sexting” a girl in early 2019 whom he has known for 7 years and that the conduct progressed to illicit touching and mutual oral sex in a secure area of the chapel. Source: KPHO, 5-31-19 

Bobby J. Blackburn, 26, Prestonburg, KY: Prohibited use of an electronic communication system to procure a minor to commit a sex act. Blackburn, pastor of Elevate Church and owner of a pizza restaurant, is accused of soliciting a minor girl to have a threesome with another underage girl.

Yet another girl alleged to police that Blackburn told her to say she sent the messages on his phone or she would lose her job. Source: Courier Journal, 5-31-19

Jerry Zweitzig, 71, Hatboro, PA: Enticing a minor to engage in illicit sexual conduct and possession of child pornography. He’s accused of assaulting a girl “numerous times” between 2009-14 when he was pastor at Horsham Bible Church, starting when she was 13. She told police Zweitzig took nude photos of her for several years before he started molesting her. Source: Courier Times, 5-31-19

Jeffery Parks, 51, Chicago: Predatory criminal assault of a victim under 13 and aggravated criminal abuse of a victim under 13. Parks, pastor at Good Shepherd Church, “abused two victims on multiple occasions” by fondling their bodies during tutoring sessions starting in 2017, said a statement from police spokesman Michael Carroll. The alleged victims are twin 12-year-old girls. Source: Chicago Tribune, 5-26-19

Marcin Garbacz, 39, Rapid City, SD: Wire fraud, money laundering and transportation of stolen money. He’s accused of stealing money from Catholic parishes where he was pastor from 2012-18.

Garbacz, a Polish immigrant, allegedly made cash deposits into his personal account of over $150,000. He was arrested May 10 at a Seattle airport waiting for a one-way flight to Poland. Source: KOTA, 5-23-19

John R. McFarland, 56, Fullerton, CA: 7 counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor younger than 14 and 4 counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor 14 to 15 years old. McFarland, head pastor at Orangethorpe United Methodist Church, is accused of offenses between 2003-17. He was also charged last December with molesting a girl younger than 14 in Escondido between 2012-13 when he was visiting relatives. Source: KNTV, 5-18-19

Andrew R. Wilkerson, 28, Shepherdsville, KY: Prohibited use of an electronic communication system to procure a minor. Wilkerson, a math and history teacher at Christian Academy of Louisville, allegedly planned to meet a 16-year-old girl who wasn’t an academy student for sex. Source: Courier Journal, 5-17-19

Laurent Thuillier, 43, Versailles, France: Rape of an adult, sexually soliciting a minor under age 15 and psychological harassment. Thuillier, pastor of St. Michel Catholic Church, is accused by a woman who alleges a year-long relationship with him that included harassment of her 13-year-old daughter, who was sometimes invited to sleep at the rectory.

Thuillier sent over 250 e-mails and 2,500 text messages to her and her daughter, sometimes with veiled threats, the woman alleges. Source: Le Parisien, 5-14-19

Mahmoud S. Shalash, 70, John Sadiqullah, 31, and Abdul Hadi, 34, all of Lexington, KY: Conspiracy and use of interstate facilities in commission for murder for hire. Shalash, imam at the Islamic Center, was allegedly recruited at his mosque “to provide a ‘fatwa’ authorizing the killing” of a man who owed Sadiqullah about $80,000 for a business deal.

An affidavit said an informant recorded several conversations, including one in which Sadiqullah allegedly said, “I want him dead” and offered $10,000. Source: Herald-Leader, 5-10-19

Daniel F. Heath, 33, Wilson, NC: Sexual exploitation of a minor. Heath, associate pastor at First Baptist Church, did “encourage” a 16-year-old girl to “engage in sexual activity, perform sexual activities to herself for the purpose of producing material containing a visual representation depicting this activity,” the arrest warrant said. It’s alleged the activity occurred from December 2017 to April 11. Source: Wilson Times, 5-9-19

Tony McElveen Sr., 46, Florence, SC: Bank fraud and aggravated identification theft. McElveen, pastor of Greater Faith World Outreach Church, also worked as a supervisor at Branch Banking and Trust Co. in Rowland, where for 3 months in 2017 he allegedly opened $50,000 lines of credit in 2 victims’ names. Both were over age 65.

He allegedly withdrew money several times from the credit lines to obtain checks payable to his church and withdrew money from the church’s account to make mortgage payments. The amount involved is about $107,000. Source: WMBF, 5-7-19

Artie M. Sturm, 40, Newport, TN: 3 counts each of statutory rape by an authority figure and aggravated statutory rape. Sturm, pastor at DaySpring Baptist Church, is accused of using his “position of trust or power” to repeatedly assault a teen girl from 2016 to March 2018. Source: Plain Talk, 5-6-19

Tyler Hedlund, 23, Albion, NE: Intentional non-injury child abuse. Hedlund, a physical education teacher and head football coach at St. Cecilia Catholic High School in Hastings, is accused of buying alcohol for a 16-year-old girl and her friends at least 3 times. The girl also alleges she had sex with Hedlund 6 or 7 times starting last December, mostly at his home. Charges haven’t been brought on those allegations. Source: WOWT, 5-2-19

Zakir A. Naik, 53, an Indian Islamic preacher living in exile since 2017 in Malaysia, is charged in India with money laundering of millions of dollars of criminal assets. He’s also accused of inciting terrorism by broadcasting from Dubai on Peace TV, which has an estimated 200 million viewers.

Some countries have banned the channel, including Bangladesh, where it’s accused of inspiring a 2016 cafe attack in Dhaka in which 22 people were killed. Source: BBC, 5-2-19

Josue Rodriguez, Jersey City, 60: Aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child. Rodriguez, auxiliary pastor at Templo Refugio, is accused of molesting a girl under age 13 on unspecified dates several years at the storefront place of worship. It’s part of the Congregation of Yahweh, which combines elements of Judaism and Christianity. Source:, 5-1-19

David N. Kimball, 34, Raleigh, NC: 4 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. Kimball, youth and young adult director at Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Cary, is accused of possessing nude images of girls between the approximate ages of 5 and 15. The images were allegedly found on a file-sharing network. Source: News & Observer, 4-30-19

Teri E. Sauers, 35, New Alexandria, PA: Theft and receiving stolen property. Sauers, treasurer at Derry Presbyterian Church, allegedly wrote 17 checks to herself from church accounts between February 2017 and November 2018. Church staff noticed funds were missing when they went to write a check to buy a new boiler for the building. Source: KDKA, 4-26-19

Luis Clarke, 38, Pembroke Pines, FL: Lewd and lascivious exhibition by an adult on a child under 15, 20 counts of sexual battery on a victim between 12 and 18 and 2 counts each of false imprisonment and directing a sexual performance by a child. Clarke, part-time youth pastor at Abraza tu Sueño Ministry, is accused of assaults on a 15-year-old girl starting in 2016 and forcing a teen boy to watch.

The alleged victim told police Clarke threatened to report her family’s illegal immigration status if she told anyone. Source: Miami Herald, 4-26-19

Denver “Dicky” Tackett, 64, McDowell, KY: A 16-count federal indictment accuses him of prescribing opioids that were not reasonable to treat dental patients, pulling teeth from 6 patients from 2016-18 who had no need for extractions and submitting Medicare claims for procedures he didn’t perform. Tackett is a part-time pastor at Wayland United Methodist Church and his Tackett Family Dentistry website touts its Christian values.

Patients like Angel Meade offered online praise for the office’s Christian environment. Meade gave it 5 stars in July 2018 and wrote, “It’s also wonderful knowing you have a true man of God working on your teeth!”

Fawn Nicole Blankenship wasn’t so pleased, writing last Feb. 25: “Since he ‘fixed’ two of my back teeth, I’ve spent thousands (by real dentists) saving them. If you’re there and want to trade your teeth for Percocet, then he’s the one for you. If you want to keep your teeth, I suggest finding someone else.” Source: Courier-Journal, 4-19-19

Pleaded / Convicted

George Papadakos, 52, Westfield, NJ: Pleaded guilty to wire fraud for embezzling over $66,000 from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America in New York City, where he was director of finance. Papadakos is accused of unauthorized use of a church credit card between 2012 and September 2017 for personal expenses. There’s speculation others are involved in financial misdeeds, said Dean Popps, a lawyer leading a church reform movement.

“There is more unaccounted for money than this,” he said. “More dominos need to fall for justice to prevail.” Source: NY Post, 6-22-19

Gerold Langsch, 75, Austin, TX: Pleaded no contest to misdemeanor assault by contact. Langsch, a Catholic priest working with the Knights of Columbus, is accused of an October 2018 assault on a woman in home hospice care. It’s alleged in an affidavit that after he anointed her with holy water and applied lotion to her chest, “he massaged her breast and pinched her nipple, saying ‘does that feel good?’ ”

The victim described feeling like a “nasty, dirty piece of meat.” The judge ordered Langsch to have no contact with anyone in the victim’s family and to never perform last rites ever again in the U.S. Source: CBS Austin, 6-13-19

Frederick Lenczycki, 74, Berkeley, IL: Pleaded guilty to 2 counts of sodomy involving 2 boys when he served as a Catholic priest from 1991-94 in Bridgeton and Florissant, MO. Lenczycki was removed from ministry in 2002 when he was charged with abusing 3 boys in the 1980s at St. Isaac Jogues Catholic Church in Hinsdale, IL.

The Illinois victims alleged “Father Fred” repeatedly molested them, often swaddling them in “Baby Jesus” costumes for pageants that never took place. He pleaded guilty in 2004 and was sentenced to 5 years in prison. In 2008 he became the first U.S. priest to be labeled sexually violent under Illinois law. Source: Crux, 5-31-19

James M. Oler, 55, Bountiful, BC: Guilty of unlawful removal of a child. Oler, leader of a fundamentalist Mormon sect, illegally took his 15-year-old daughter from Canada to Nevada in 2004 to marry a 24-year-old man, ruled Justice Martha Devlin. Oler was acquitted in an earlier trial but an appeals court ordered a retrial.

Devlin said Oler certainly knew the girl would be expected to consummate the marriage immediately in order to “fulfill her role in bringing forward children in line with the divine mandate.” Oler was convicted of polygamy in June 2018 for having 5 wives and was sentenced to 3 months’ house arrest and 75 hours of community service. Source: Canadian Press, 5-19-19

Aryeh Goodman, 35, E. Brunswick, NJ: Pleaded guilty to interstate travel in aid of racketeering enterprises in connection with soliciting prostitution. A plea agreement calls for him to serve 18 months in prison. Goodman, a rabbi who ran a religious school out of his home, was among 30 men who had sex with a 17-year-old girl who was coerced into prostitution.

Goodman was released from prison in 2016 after serving time for indecent assaults in 2001 on boy under age 13 at Camp Menachem, PA, where Goodman was a counselor. Source:, 4-16-19


Jerrell G. Altic, 40, Houston: 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to 1st-degree aggregate theft. Altic admitted stealing over $800,000 while he was First Baptist Church pastor from 2011-17. Prosecutors said he spent the money on overseas trips with family, on various personal expenses and for a doctorate in divinity from a Pennsylvania bible college. Source: Houston Chronicle, 6-10-19

Douglas Rivera, 40, Baldwin Park, CA: 6 years in prison after pleading no contest to lewd act upon a child. Rivera, pastor of God’s Gypsy Christian Church in Glendale, was accused of masturbating in his pickup parked outside a hotel room occupied by 2 girls from China ages 10 and 13.

He exposed himself and stared at the girls for about half an hour before knocking on their door, forcing his way inside and fondling one of them, said Covina police Lt. Trevor Gaumer. Surveillance video led to his arrest. Source: KNBC, 6-10-19

Sanji Ram, 61, Kathua, India: Life imprisonment on convictions for murder, gang rape and criminal conspiracy. Ram, chief priest at a Hindu temple, was among 6 men convicted in the 2018 rape and bludgeoning death of an 8-year-old Muslim girl abducted while she was grazing horses in the Himalayan foothills.

Two more men got life sentences, while 3 others were found guilty of destroying evidence and got 5 years in prison. Source: NPR, 6-10-19

Rodney Harmon Jr., 34, Stockton, MD: 37 years in prison on convictions of displaying an obscene item to a minor and 3 counts of sexual abuse of a minor while he was youth director for Bayside Community Church, which meets at Pocomoke High School. Source: Daily Times, 6-8-19

Robert Worthy Sr., 66, Chester, SC: 20 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of 2 counts of attempted murder and possession of a weapon for shooting his estranged wife and mother-in-law at Father Son Holy Spirit Christian bookstore in 2017. Worthy was an associate minister at a Chester church at the time. Source: Rock Hill Herald, 6-6-19

Jerred Peacock, 34, Estero, FL: 6 years’ probation after pleading guilty to felony unlawful sexual activity. Peacock was arrested having sexual contact with a 17-year-old girl between March 2018 and August 2018 when he was a youth pastor at Living Waters Church. Source: WBBH, 6-5-19

Luckner Stimphil, 55, Brandon, FL: 57 months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States. His daughter, Elwofine Dufort, 31, was sentenced earlier to 2 years. Stimphil, pastor of First Calvary Life Ministry is a well-known figure in Tampa’s Haitian-American community.

Stimphil and Dufort operated a tax preparation business that prepared fraudulent returns and “caused more than $11 million in losses to the IRS, essentially stealing the tax dollars paid by honest Americans,” said Special Agent in Charge Mary Hammond. They were ordered to pay $11 million in restitution. Source: Tampa Bay Times, 5-28-19

Ronald Paquin, 76, a defrocked Catholic priest who served a prison term in Massachusetts for molesting an altar boy, was sentenced to 16 years in prison in Maine for abusing another altar boy during trips to Maine in the 1980s. Paquin, who was portrayed in the movie “Spotlight,” was released from prison in 2015 after completing his sentence. Source: WRAL, 5-23-19

Osher Eisemann, 62, Lakewood, NJ: 60 days in jail and 2 years’ probation after a jury found him guilty of money laundering and misconduct by a corporate official but acquitted him on 2 other charges. Eisemann, an Orthodox rabbi who founded the School for Children with Hidden Intelligence, was accused of using a private fundraising nonprofit for the school to launder $630,000 in public tuition funds. The prosecution, which sought 12 years, is appealing the sentence.

He was also accused of transferring another $200,000 of school funds into a personal account and then back to school accounts to create the false impression that he was using personal funds to repay debts he owed the school. The money was returned shortly after it was withdrawn. The school receives $1.8 million a month from public school districts that send students with special education needs there.

Judge Benjamin Bucca said the rabbi’s “selfless life is very clear. In many respects this is a very, very unfortunate situation.” Bucca also said he hopes Eisemann can eventually return to the school despite the conviction. Source:, 5-17-19

Steven Winn, 34, Crandall, TX: 4 years in prison after pleading guilty to 3 counts of sexual assault of a child. Winn, a youth pastor at Open Door Baptist Church in Mesquite, faces a similar charge in another county. His father, Larry Winn, 76, also faces a molesting charge. Former Open Door pastor Robert Ross, 71, is charged with failing to report sexual abuse of a child. Source: WBAP, 5-11-19

Michael Guidry, 76, Morrow, LA: 7 years in prison after pleading guilty to molesting a 16-year-old boy in 2015. Guidry, pastor at St. Peter Catholic Church, was accused of giving the boy alcohol at Guidry’s residence before the assaults. Source: The Advocate, 4-30-19

Clinton D. Brackett, 34, Lindale, TX: 8 years in prison after pleading guilty to sexual assault of a child younger than 17. A plea agreement dropped 3 similar counts dating to when he was a youth pastor at First Baptist Church in Ballinger in 2015. He carried a leather-bound bible into his sentencing hearing.

The victim told investigators the inappropriate relationship started on the first Sunday of spring break in 2015 when Brackett invited her over to watch a movie while his wife and infant son were out of town. She alleged they had sex over 20 times, including in the church balcony. Contact ended after he took a job as director of youth ministries at First United Methodist in Lindale. Source: Standard-Times, 4-25-19

David Turpin, 57, and Louise Turpin, 50, Perris, CA: 25 years to life in prison after pleading guilty to 14 counts of cruelty and false imprisonment for the long-term abuse of 12 of their 13 children, ages 3 to 30. The children were home-schooled, denied food and kept secluded in filthy conditions, sometimes in shackles. One daughter, 17, escaped in January 2018 and called 911. Police said she was emaciated and appeared to be about 10 years old.

The Turpins are Pentecostal and made the children memorize long bible passages as part of their home schooling. They believed God called on them to have so many children.

A statement by their daughter Jessica, 25, was read by her brother at sentencing: “Though it may not have been the best way of raising us, I’m glad that they did because it made me the person I am today. I just want to thank them for teaching me about God and faith. I pray often for them.” Source: L.A. Times, 4-19-19

Civil Lawsuits Settled

Fairfield University in Connecticut and several Catholic organizations and individuals will pay $60 million to settle a suit alleging abuse of Haitian children at a Catholic orphanage who were abused by pedophile Douglas Perlitz, a 1992 Fairfield University graduate, who was convicted in 2010 after admitting he traveled to Haiti from 2001-08 for illicit sexual activity with boys.

A federal court has already approved 150 claims under the lawsuit; 20 more are pending. In 2014 the same defendants paid $12 million to settle claims by 24 other victims. Source: National Catholic Reporter, 6-19-19

The Catholic Diocese of Sacramento, CA, Holy Rosary Parish in Woodland and Jonathan Molina, current Holy Rosary pastor, settled a suit for $200,000 filed by Dorothy Small, who alleged she was sexually assaulted in 2015 by former pastor Renerio Sabuga Jr. Small alleged church officials failed to rein in Sabuga after she complained.

Sabuga had offered his services as a “secular counselor” but used those sessions to groom Small for sex, the suit alleged. When she told another priest about Sabuga, the other priest allegedly responded, “What man wouldn’t want a piece of a– every now and then?”

Sabuga was eventually fired and returned to the Philippines, where it’s believed he’s still active as a priest. Source: Fresno Bee, 5-21-19

The Catholic Diocese of Duluth, MN, has agreed to a $40 million settlement with 125 plaintiffs alleging sexual abuse as children by clergy and other laypersons in the diocese. The diocese also will relinquish secret files on 37 priests credibly accused of abuse.

Michael DeRoche, “plaintiff No. 1,” said he complained to the diocese 20 years ago. “The Catholic Church is big about confessions and doing penance, and they never owned up to it.” Source: Star Tribune, 5-2-19

The Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles will pay $8 million to a victim who was sexually abused and kidnapped in 2016 by a teacher at her Catholic high school. Juan I. Barajas, then-athletic director and health teacher at Mission High School in San Gabriel, is in prison for repeated assaults of a 15-year-old girl.

Barajas, now 38, took the girl to Las Vegas after his wife found out about the relationship. He pleaded guilty to statutory sexual seduction. Several allegations from 2015 detailed suspicious behavior by Barajas at the all-girls school, including taking the girl into his office over 50 times. Source: NPR, 4-17-19


A $650,000 offer from the Buffalo Catholic Diocese to make amends for sexual abuse by deceased New York priest Michael Freeman in the mid-1980s was turned down by James Bottlinger, now 50. Instead he intends to sue under a new law giving plaintiffs a 1-year window to file claims in sex abuse cases previously barred by statutes of limitations.

“There needs to be a story behind that money,” he said. “I don’t want the church to determine ‘Here’s some money, go away.’ ” The offer was the largest in the diocese’s recently concluded $17.5 million compensation program. Source: Buffalo News, 6-18-19

New Jersey Catholic dioceses started accepting claims from residents alleging molestation by clergy as minors, no matter when it happened. The program’s first phase will focus on people who previously reported abuse with a deadline to submit claims by Dec. 31. The deadline to register a new allegation is Oct. 31.

A similar New York program, now ended, paid out over $230 million. The ongoing Pennsylvania program total is up to $35 million. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill in May upping the statute of limitations to age 30 from 20. It also opens a window until Dec. 31, 2020, for people older than 30 to sue. Source:, 6-17-19

Legal Developments

Texas police raided the Catholic Diocese of Dallas headquarters in Oak Lawn, St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Oak Cliff and a Safesite Inc. storage facility in Mountain Creek in May looking for evidence of sexual abuse by 5 priests: Edmundo Paredes, Richard T. Brown, Alejandro Buitrago, William J. Hughes Jr. and Jeremy Myers.

The diocese has said Paredes, longtime pastor at St. Cecilia, was credibly accused of molesting 3 teen boys over a decade ago. Brown was named by a woman who said he sexually assaulted her niece at Holy Family of Nazareth in Irving in the 1980s, along with other victims.

The affidavit also detailed accusations that Hughes had sexual intercourse with a minor over a 6-month period in 1983 and that Buitrago molested a 5- to 7-year-old girl whose family attended St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church in Plano. Myers was accused of molesting a teen before and after the student was expelled from Subiaco Academy in Arkansas.

Of those priests, only Paredes has been charged with a crime. He’s believed to have fled to his native Philippines. Source: Morning News, 5-15-19

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been ordered by a federal court to provide a list of names of all “sister” missionaries (women) who were at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, UT, at same time as McKenna Denson. She alleges she was raped in 1984 by Joseph Bishop, president of the center when she was a missionary.

The court also wants the names of any other sister missionaries who have alleged misconduct by Bishop during his 1983-86 tenure. The church previously said another woman had accused Bishop but refused to disclose her name. Source: KSL. 5-10-19

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