Black Collar Crime (December 2019)

Compiled by Bill Dunn

Arrested / Charged

Raul A. Sanchez, 41, Casper, WY: Domestic battery, 7 counts of aggravated assault and 2 counts of strangulation of a household member. Sanchez, pastor

No gay priests

of Living Rock Foursquare Church, is accused of severe physical and emotional abuse of a woman for 14 years during their relationship.

An affidavit of probable cause said he “routinely” punched and kicked the victim and that one of his “favorite” things to do was grab her by the hair and slam her head against a car window. Another woman from outside Wyoming, whose allegations aren’t part of the charges, described to police a similar pattern of abuse.

The woman alleged that in 2012 when she was pregnant, Sanchez choked and punched her and that several weeks later she miscarried. The affidavit described an undated incident in which he allegedly made her strip naked in his office at the nonprofit disability services agency he also worked at. Source: Star-Tribune, 10-29-19

Aristotle A. Esguerra, 44, Madison, WI: Felony abuse of a child with the intention to cause bodily harm. Esguerra was a music teacher at St. Jerome Catholic School in Columbus in December 2018 when he is accused of striking a 7-year-old student hard enough in the thigh during class to leave a bruise. He was fired 3 days after the incident, which was reported the same day to Columbus police.

After hitting the child, Esguerra allegedly whispered, “I won’t be here next year because of what I just did to you,” the complaint said. He believed the student had been misbehaving. Source: WKOW, 10-25-19

Keith J. Collins, 58, and Carolyn C. Collins, 70, Ridley Park, PA: 45 counts of theft, conspiracy, receiving stolen property and failure to make required dispensation of funds. Keith Collins is senior pastor and his wife is executive pastor of Church of the Overcomer.

Gloria F. Byars, 58 — Carolyn Collins’ sister — faces 760 counts in a financial scheme in which the trio are accused of embezzling $1.09 million from 112 elderly victims through court-appointed guardianships.

The Collinses also operate Pinnacle Guardians LLC. The Church of the Overcomer’s website calls it “the church for people who don’t go to church.” All of the alleged victims are over age 60. Source: Daily Times, 10-23-19

Victor Mateo, 63, Yonkers, NY: 2nd-degree murder, 1st-degree manslaughter, 3 counts of criminal possession of a weapon and 2 counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Mateo, pastor at the Christian Congregation of the Redeemer Church in the Bronx, is accused of running over his recently estranged wife Noelia Mateo, 58, when she walked out of her house Oct. 3, said Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark.

Neighbors and her 11- and 9-year-old grandchildren watched as she then hid under her own car, which he drove over her before hacking her with a machete. He was arrested a week later after driving her car to Pennsylvania. Source:, 10-22-19

Timothy J. Hallows, 61, Kaysville, UT: 8 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. Hallows, bishop of the Wellington Ward in the Kaysville Mormon Stake, “admitted to distributing child sexual abuse material during online communications while using Skype. Hallows admitted to owning an unknown amount of images of child sexual abuse, but estimated the numbers over 100,” an affidavit said, adding he refused to take a polygraph exam with questions about sexual contact with children on camping trips. Source: Deseret News, 10-21-19

Amy Hutton, 41, Nutter Fort, W.VA: Embezzlement. Hutton, secretary at Bridgeport Presbyterian Church, allegedly moved $87,000 in church funds to her personal checking account between November 2018 and August 2019. Source: WDTV, 10-18-19

Mary Ann Lee, 75, Cleveland, GA: Felony theft by taking. Lee, who resigned in May as secretary at Central Baptist Church in Gainesville, is accused of taking $44,213 in church funds between January 2015 and August 2019.

Police began investigating in August after an audit revealed missing money. “This took place during a time period when others were employed and the current staff suspects previous employees pocketed money that could possibly be over $150,000,” said Cpl. Jessica Van. Source: Gainesville Times, 10-17-19

Elizandro Salazar-Montoya, 46, Carpentersville, IL: Criminal sexual assault and 4 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. He’s accused of assaults on a victim under age 18 when he was pastor at Iglesia Apostólica de Elgin between Nov. 1 and Dec. 1 of 2018. Source: WGN, 10-17-19

Dural R. Ragsdale, 71, Vicksburg, MS: Felony fondling. The grand jury indictment alleges the abuse occurred between Jan. 1, 1974 and Dec. 31, 1975 with a victim under age 14 when Ragsdale was a youth minister at Iuka United Methodist Church.

District Attorney John Weddle said the charge isn’t subject to the statute of limitations because of a state law that states the “passage of time” does not bar prosecution of sexual battery of a child. Source: Clarion-Ledger, 10-16-19

Erick A. Ortenblad, 34, New London, MN: Theft by swindle. Ortenblad, pastor of Experience Christ Church, is charged with bilking an elderly couple out of $70,000 after allegedly telling them in 2017 he wanted to buy a church property in Willmar on short notice.

He allegedly told them he would repay them when his home in Texas was sold. The day after he deposited the check, he transferred $55,000 to his father’s account at the same bank to repay a debt. The church’s website appears to have been deactivated. Source: Grand Forks Herald, 10-15-19

Jeff Berry, 55, Franklin, TN: Indecency with a child by contact. Berry is accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy in 1996 while working at Pioneer Drive Baptist Church in Abilene, TX, and leading worship for various church groups. Pioneer Drive Baptist is also where fugitive day care worker Jeffrey Forrest, 47, wanted for aggravated sexual assault of a child, used to work.

The complainant, now 35, told police Berry’s abuse started when he was in middle school: “He turned out all of the lights and had candles instead; he had us both lie on the floor next to each other in the dark to watch a movie…” Another alleged victim later said Berry molested him in a similar setting. Source: KTXS, 10-14-19

Norman Hudson, 58, Memphis, TN: Attempted murder, aggravated rape, especially aggravated robbery, especially aggravated burglary, especially aggravated kidnapping and illegal possession of a credit/debit card. Hudson, pastor at Do You Believe Outreach Ministry, is charged with forcibly entering his neighbor’s home, stabbing her in the neck, pouring an insecticide down her throat and raping her.

It’s alleged Hudson forced her to give him her bank card pin number that he used to steal money from her account. Source: WMC, 10-13-19

Kenneth R. Sullivan Jr., 35, Lexington, NC: Securities fraud and 2 counts of obtaining property by false pretenses. Sullivan, treasurer at Grace Presbyterian Church, allegedly misappropriated over $260,000 from the church and took about $170,000 in retirement money from 4 people, including his parents.

The church discovered the irregularities in September 2018 after getting a notice it was in default on its mortgage. Source: Winston-Salem Journal, 10-8-19

Nicholas A. Martin, 24, Belmont, NC: Felonious indecent exposure to a minor and 4 counts each of indecent liberties with a minor and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Martin was music and youth pastor at N. Belmont Church of God and lived next to the church when the alleged crimes occurred between October 2018 to September 2019.

Martin, who is married, is accused of plying a 14-year-old girl with alcohol before assaulting her several times. Three other alleged victims came forward after his arrest. Source: Rock Hill Herald, 10-6-19

Curtis R. Brown, 55, Albuquerque, NM: Criminal sexual penetration and criminal sexual contact of a minor. Brown, pastor at Grace Baptist Church for 18 years, allegedly admitted to a 5-year-old boy’s family that he molested him several times during recent sleepovers at Brown’s home.

The boy told police that he and Brown, who is a relative, would play with their penises in the “man cave” until they would “squirt” and that penetration was involved. The boy’s father told police he would spend every Tuesday after school at the home Brown shared with his wife, who is suffering from liver failure. Source: KOAT, 10-4-18

Brandon R. Russell, 27, E. Liverpool, OH: Sexual battery. According to a September grand jury indictment, from June 1, 2011 through Jan. 1, 2014, Russell, pastor at an unidentified church, engaged in sexual conduct with a minor who was a member of the church. Source: Salem News, 10-2-19

Paul Cain, 65, Houston: Sexual abuse of a child and sexual assault of a child. Cain, pastor of New Canaan Missionary Baptist Church, allegedly assaulted a girl multiple times in 2018 when she was 13.

Cain denied any sexual contact and when confronted with copies of explicit messages he allegedly sent her told police, “Well, when you’re dealing with that person it’s harmless because she initiates most of that kind of stuff.” Source: KPRC, 9-26-19

Octavio Cantarero, 42, Gaithersburg, MD: 4th-degree sexual offense and attempted 2nd-degree rape against a minor. Cantarero, pastor at Iglesia Pentecostal Principe de Paz, met the alleged victim in January and offered her a room at the church because “she was too young to live alone,” an affidavit said.

He allegedly offered to pay for her clothes, rent and school if she kept quiet and told her that “her demons had provoked him.” Source: NY Daily News, 9-25-19

Rick Iglesias, 64, Butler County, PA: 3 counts of 1st-degree criminal sexual conduct with a juvenile when he was senior pastor at Pleasant Valley Church in Winona, MN, between September 2010 and May 2012. He resigned in July as pastor at Orchard Hill Church, Wexford, PA.

According to a complaint, the victim was assaulted multiple times in Iglesias’s residence between the victim’s freshman and sophomore year in high school. It’s alleged that the sexual acts occurred weekly and involved masturbation and penetration. Source: Winona Daily News, 9-24-19

Angela Cheatwood, 41, Anniston, AL: Wire fraud. Cheatwood, bookkeeper for Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church and School, is accused of stealing $448,000 from the parish by writing unauthorized checks and taking money from school fundraisers and donations. Source:, 9-24-19

Brendan Williams, 78, Lawrence, NJ: Sexual assault/criminal sexual contact on a victim under the age of 13. Williams was pastor at St. Veronica Catholic Church in Howell when his alleged crimes occurred between 1997-99, the state attorney general’s office said. Source:, 9-20-19

David Rosenberger, 52, Millville, PA: Theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property and forgery. He is pastor at New Testament Assembly of God Church, where he’s accused of stealing over $252,000 between 2011-19. Source: WOLF, 9-19-19

Vincent DeLorenzo, 80, a former Michigan Catholic priest extradited from Florida in May, faces a new criminal sexual conduct charge for allegedly assaulting a 5-year-old boy in 1987 after a funeral service he officiated for the boy’s family.

DeLorenzo was charged in May with criminal sexual conduct for reaching into another boy’s pants and fondling his genitals. On many occasions when they were alone, DeLorenzo would “first pray and then insert his finger into [the boy’s] anus,” court records state. He was removed from ministry in 2002 after abuse complaints involving a different child.

The statute of limitations was tolled because he left the state. Source:, 9-17-19

Jonathan Skolnick, 37, Bronx, NY: Multiple charges related to production and possession of child pornography. Skolnick, associate principal at Salanter Akiba Riverdale Academy, a Modern Orthodox day school, allegedly posed as a teen girl online in March to communicate with a 14-year-old boy.

The boy was then convinced to send sexually explicit photos of himself to fake email addresses such as girlwholikesyou@protonmail that were controlled by Skolnick. He told police there were “approximately 20 to 25 victims,” most of whom were minors, the complaint said. Source: NY Post, 9-17-19

David Weltman, 29, Skokie, IL: 2nd-degree sex abuse. Weltman is accused of abusing an underage Hebrew student between February and March at Hillel House in Iowa City, IA, where he was executive director.

During the investigation, an officer spoke to an acquaintance of Weltman’s, who alleged to police that Weltman admitted being sexually attracted to children between the ages of 7 and 12. Source: Press-Citizen, 9-13-19

Pleaded / Convicted

Shauna Haile, Rogersville, MO: Pleaded guilty to theft and forgery. Haile, secretary for 13 years at Harvest Community Church of the Nazarene, was arrested after the church discovered about $80,000 was missing.

Court records said Haile told investigators the thefts started when she accidentally used a church debit card instead of her own and when she realized it wasn’t detected, she kept taking more money. Source: AP, 10-17-19

David Reiter, 50, South Park, PA: Pleaded guilty to theft, receiving stolen property, forgery, access device fraud, tampering with records and unlawful use of a computer. Reiter, administrator since 2001 at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Upper St. Clair, hid the theft of $1.2 million by impersonating employees at audit firms and falsifying accounting data.

His wife, Connie Reiter, 44, is charged with 2 felony counts of receiving stolen property. Source: Tribune-Review, 10-16-19

Daniel F. Heath, 33, Wilson, NC: Pleaded guilty to enticing and coercing a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity. Heath, associate pastor at First Baptist Church, admitted in federal court in Texas that he knew the victim was under 18 and living with her parents when he asked her to take photos and videos of herself engaging in sexually explicit conduct and sending him the images.

Prosecutors said Heath made the girl “submit” to him, including what to wear and obtaining his consent before touching her own body. He traveled to Texas to visit her in February. Source: Baptist News Global, 10-11-19

Jeriah Mast, 38, Millersburg, OH: Pleaded guilty to 2 counts of gross sexual imposition for molesting 2 underage males between 1999 and 2008. A plea agreement dismissed 12 counts involving several other victims.

Mast admitted the abuse occurred for about 15 years in Ohio and Haiti, where he worked for Christian Aid Ministries of Berlin, OH, a missionary group supported by Mennonite, Amish and other churches. A Haitian court is seeking Mast’s return to that country. Source: Post-Gazette, 10-9-19

Patrick Casey, 56, Westland, MI: Pleaded guilty to aggravated assault after a jury was unable to reach a verdict on a charge of criminal sexual conduct. Casey, pastor at St. Theodore of Canterbury Catholic Parish, was accused of a sexual encounter in his office in January 2013 with a man, then in his 20s, who professed to be gay and was seeking to receive the sacrament of confession.

The archdiocese of Detroit dismissed Casey from the clerical state on Aug. 1, 2018. Source: Fox 2 Detroit, 10-7-19

Kenneth S. Marshall, 37, Mathews, VA: Guilty by jury of felony forcible sodomy. Marshall, youth pastor at Cornerstone Fellowship Church, was charged with assaulting a 15-year-old boy who attended the church and is a special ed student. It allegedly occurred June 10, 2018.

The boy told his teacher the next day and investigators determined he had not showered that morning and was still wearing the clothing he slept in. A forensic test revealed DNA on his penis that appeared to match Marshall’s DNA profile. The odds of the DNA coming from someone other than Marshall was 1 in 7.2 billion, prosecutor T.C. Bowen III told the court. Source: Virginian-Pilot, 9-26-19

Daniel Greer, 79, New Haven, CT: Guilty by jury of 4 counts of risk of injury to a minor. Complainant Eliyahu Mirlis, now 31, testified Greer repeatedly raped and molested him when he was a student at the rabbi’s Yeshiva of New Haven from 2002-05.

“That’s what I do with my kids. It’s fine. Don’t worry about it,” Greer allegedly told Mirlis after their first encounter at Greer’s home when Greer fed him nuts and wine before kissing him and groping his crotch.

Greer faced 8 felony counts but Judge Jon Alander threw out all 4 sexual assault charges when he determined prosecutors mistakenly chose a time-barred definition of 2nd-degree sexual assault and the statute of limitations had run out.

The U.S. District Court in Hartford awarded Mirlis $21.7 million in punitive and compensatory damages in 2017 in his civil suit. Source: Yale Daily News, 9-25-19


Elozer Porges, 46, New York City: 2 years in prison and a $150,000 fine after pleading guilty to wire fraud for submitting false documents to the federal government from 2013 to 2016 stating that at-risk students at Central United Talmudic Academy in Brooklyn were being served meals they never got. The academy is paying back $3.2 million in restitution to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Prosecutors said the funds were actually being used to host social events for adults and for bat mitzvahs and bar mitzvahs in a banquet hall. Expenditures included about $800,000 for chicken.

“That’s a lot of chicken, your honor,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Erik Paulsen told U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis at the sentencing hearing. Co-defendant Joel Lowy also pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing.

Porges, the father of 11, is still drawing $100,000 annually from the academy despite doing no work on its behalf. Source: NY Post, 10-25-19

Benjamin Field, 28, Maids Moreton, England: Life in prison with a minimum of 36 years after being convicted of killing retired teacher Peter Farquhar, 69, in 2015 in order to inherit his house and money. Field was an Anglican Church warden in the Diocese of Oxford. Anglican wardens are parish administrative assistants. Source: The Guardian, 10-18-19

Yehuda Ben David, 70, Ashdod, Israel: 4 years in prison on a conviction of sexually assaulting sisters aged 8, 12 and 14 at the synagogue where he was rabbi. He was also ordered to pay 150,000 shekels ($43,000) in damages to the girls, who didn’t realize for a long time that he was molesting their siblings.

Ben David was convicted of indecent assault in 1997 but was only sentenced to 5 months’ community service. Source: Haaretz, 10-11-19

Phillip J. Buckson, 32, Boiling Springs, SC: 10 years in prison and 5 years’ probation after pleading guilty to 2 counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor age 11 to 14 for multiple assaults on a girl while he was pastor at Cleveland Chapel Baptist Church.

The girl alleged Buckson impregnated her twice after they started having intercourse in October 2015 when she was 13. Both times she had abortions. Source: The State, 10-10-19

Roderick G. Watkins, 57, Heber Springs, AR: 80 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of sexual assaults dating as far back as 2010 on 3 boys and a girl ages 6 to 16 while he was an elder at the Heber Springs Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Cleburne County Sheriff Chris Brown said 6 other people came forward as the trial neared. Source: KLRT, 10-9-19

Lothar K. Krauth, 81, Great Falls, MT: 5 years in prison after pleading guilty to receiving child pornography. Prosecutors said Krauth, pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church from 1989-2014, received thousands of images of child porn, including children as young as 2 or 3. Source: AP, 10-4-19

Barton Burron, 73, New Edinburgh, Ottawa: 2 years in prison and payment of $1,000 a month for the rest of his life as part of a $490,000 restitution order on a fraud conviction for stealing money from St. Luke Lutheran Church, where he was volunteer treasurer and bookkeeper for 30 years.

In his victim impact statement, Pastor Brian King said Burron soured King’s relationship with many parishioners by blaming him for the church’s financial situation while Burron tried to cover his tracks. “It was a betrayal by someone that I and many others considered to be a friend.” Source: Ottawa Citizen, 10-4-19

Victor Trevino Sr., 47, Lansing, MI: $400 in fines and court costs and 80 hours of community service for failure to report child abuse allegedly committed by his son, Victor Trevino Jr., 22, a youth pastor at Bread House South, a bilingual ministry where his father and mother have respectively been pastor and first lady since 2004. Source: WILX, 10-3-19

Cedrick McMillian, 34, Prichard, AL: $1,500 fine plus court costs. McMillian, pastor of New Heritage Community Church and operator of Heritage Funeral Home, was found guilty of charges related to illegal operation of a cemetery for burying 14 people in a place not certified as a cemetery.

He and funeral home director Joseph Bonner also face criminal charges of corpse abuse for failure to correctly seal caskets and bury them at the proper depth. McMillian was convicted in 2012 for having sex with a 14-year-old female relative. Source: WREG, 10-2-19

Hurmiz Ishak, 66, Sterling Heights, MI: 4 years in prison for criminal sexual conduct. Ishak, a subdeacon and sacristan at St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church, was convicted of assaulting a 14-year-old boy at the church in 2017.

Jurors heard from 2 other alleged victims, a teen girl and an adult woman, who testified he acted inappropriately with them. The adult was a teen at the time and was allegedly told by her mother to keep quiet so she wouldn’t be ostracized and “treated like damaged goods” by the Chaldean community. Source: Free Press, 9-29-19

Hector D. Mendoza-Vela, 42, Fremont, CA: 56 months in prison after pleading no contest to 5 counts of lewd or lascivious acts on a child age 14 or 15. The native Salvadoran was accused of molesting a boy about 30 times from June 2016 to December 2017 while he was pastor at Corpus Christi Catholic Church. Source: Mercury News, 9-27-19

Thomas Ericksen, 72, Minneapolis: 30 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of sexually assaulting boys in the 1980s while he was pastor at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Winter, WI. Sawyer County authorities had known of sexual assault allegations against Ericksen for 35 years before his arrest in November 2018.

At least 11 men claimed abuse by Ericksen, who was removed from the priesthood in 1988. One man alleged he was assaulted at age 9 while in Holy Cross Hospital in Merrill with a broken femur. Ericksen took advantage of that, he told the court: “I was so young that I remember I had an Incredible Hulk robe and a favorite stuffed animal. This person I trusted preyed on the innocence of a boy attached to his hospital bed.” Source: Wausau Daily Herald, 9-26-19

Shawn Butler, 53, Hillsborough, NJ: 5 years in prison for violating Megan’s Law by working as a youth minister and counselor at Eternal Life Christian Center despite his 1990 sexual assault conviction. The 5 years will be added to his 5-year sentence last March for child endangerment and criminal sexual contact for molesting a 15-year-old girl in 2014.

He also has a 1988 criminal sexual contact conviction. Source:, 9-24-19

Martin P. Ramos, 45, Fresno, CA: 270 days in the county jail and 4 years’ probation after pleading no contest to oral copulation of a person under 18 and misdemeanor child molestation. Ramos, an elder at a Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation, was charged in 2017 with crimes against a 17-year-old girl who attended the church.

Ramos mentored the girl and they exchanged “inappropriate” photos before their relationship turned physical, police said. Source: Fresno Bee, 9-20-19

Stacy L. Sindleri, 35, Johnstown, PA: 6 months in jail after pleading guilty to theft by unlawful taking for stealing just over $250,000 from St. Clare of Assisi Catholic Church, where she was parish secretary. She wrote dozens of checks to herself from the church’s accounts between March 2016 and March 2018, according to a criminal complaint. Source: Tribune-Democrat, 9-17-19

Moeiletafa Mauga, 64, Irvine, CA: Time served (102 days), 5 years’ probation, 262 days’ home confinement and $227,152 restitution after pleading guilty to embezzling that amount from First Christian Church of Garden Grove while she was church secretary. She used church debit cards to regularly withdraw cash from 2013-17. Source:, 9-16-19

Civil Lawsuits Filed

The Catholic Diocese of San Diego is being sued by 3 women who allege molestation in the early 1960s by Gregory Sheridan, a priest who died in 1991. He is on a 2018 list of priests credibly accused of abusing children.

Plaintiff Cathie Ray told reporters she can still feel Sheridan’s tongue in her ear and licking her neck while she helped him organize his stamp collection when she was 9. Her parents would drop her off on Saturdays at the rectory. She said Sheridan would bounce her up and down on his lap until she felt an erection, which occurred about twice a month for several years. Source: KNSD, 10-18-19

Juan Ricardo Torres is suing the Diocese of Sacramento on claims he was sexually assaulted as an altar boy at age 15 in 1983-84 by Jose Pinal Castellanos, pastor of Sacred Heart Catholic Parish in Gridley, CA. The suit includes a letter written by diocesan attorney Louis Desmond that indicates former Bishop Francis Quinn approved a request by Pinal to start working in Cuernavaca, Mexico, after 4 boys had alleged abuse.

Current Bishop Jaime Soto said in a statement that he’s ashamed of “the transfer of a recognized perpetrator. … This was a grave failure of judgment and a betrayal of trust.” Source: KCRA, 10-15-19

The Archdiocese of New York, St. Sylvester Catholic Church in Concord and Msgr. Edward Weber are defendants in a suit filed by Arne Haughwout, who alleges he was assaulted at least 150 times in 1978-83 when he was an altar boy and Weber fondled his genitals, forced him to perform oral sex and sodomized him.

When Haughwout threatened to call the police, Weber allegedly told him he would never be able to see his brother again if he told anyone. He has been put on leave as director of the archdiocese’s director of priest personnel. Source:, 10-12-19

The Diocese of Greensburg, PA, is being sued by “Jane Doe,” who alleged she was raped by George Pierce, pastor of Holy Family Catholic Church in Seward, starting when she was 10 in 1973 or 1974, with assaults continuing for about 4 years. Pierce died in 2009.

Doe’s attorney Richard Serbin said she sued instead of accepting the diocese’s offer of $88,100 from its victims compensation fund. Her mother was housekeeper at the rectory.

A state grand jury report detailed how the diocese first received complaints about Pierce in 1972 but let him remain in the ministry until 1997 and how he allegedly told a 10-year-old boy in 1969 that he had to submit to sex “in order to be saved and go to heaven.” Source: Tribune-Review, 10-9-19

The Diocese of Providence, RI, former Bishop Louis Gelineau, current Bishop Thomas Tobin and St. Anthony Catholic Church in N. Providence are being sued by Philip Edwardo, a former altar boy who alleges now-deceased St. Anthony pastor Philip Magaldi molested him at least 100 times in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

A new law gives victims up to 35 years after they turn 18 to file suits against “perpetrator defendants.” That’s not the case for nonperpetrators, such as churches or agencies that supervised the offender, but the suit argues that the enabling hierarchies are also perpetrator defendants like the getaway driver in a robbery. Source: Boston Globe, 10-3-19

Trail Christian Fellowship in Eagle Point, OR, is being sued by a woman who alleges she was molested multiple times between 2008 and 2009, starting when she was 14, by Jacob Durrett, then 23, who led a church youth group. It’s alleged the church failed to protect the plaintiff and several other girls despite knowing about their complaints.

Durrett was arrested in 2015 and pleaded not guilty but took his own life before the case could go to trial. Source: KOBI, 10-3-19

Civil Lawsuits Settled

The Archdiocese of Seattle, St. Benedict’s Abbey and the American-Cassinese Congregation of Benedictine Monasteries paid $225,000 to settle a Washington state suit alleging sexual molestation by John Forrester, a priest from Atchison, KS, serving as assistant pastor of All Saints Catholic Church in Puyallup and 3 other parishes in the mid- to late 1970s. Forrester died in 2002.

The archdiocese also settled a suit for $250,000 involving 2 members of the Christian Brothers of Ireland, Frank Delamere and William Donohue, who were accused of sexual abuse in the 1960s at Briscoe Memorial School, an orphanage and boarding school in Kent. The school closed in the 1970s. Source: News Tribune, 10-3-19

Legal Developments

The Catholic Church, Boy Scouts of America and other California institutions will face a flood of lawsuits that could force bankruptcies due to a law taking effect Jan. 1 that gives victims of childhood sexual abuse until age 40 (up from age 26) to sue. It also gives victims of all ages 3 years to sue.

About 1,000 suits, the vast majority against the Catholic Church, were filed when California lifted the statute of limitations for a year in 2003, recalled John Manly, who has represented Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman and other gymnasts.

“I think you’re going to see organizations that have been essentially engaging in systemic criminality by protecting pedophiles are about to be exposed. It’s not just the Catholic hierarchy, it’s private schools, it’s public schools, it’s physicians,” Manly said. He predicted 5,000 to 10,000 lawsuits under the new law. Source: AP, 10-14-19

The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York’s appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court fell on deaf ears as the court denied certiorari. California plaintiff “J.W.” sued the society in 2013 and in 2015 was awarded over $4 million by a Riverside Superior Court jury, an award upheld by a state appeals court.

The suit alleged J.W. was 9 when she was assaulted in 2006 by Gilbert Simmental, a Jehovah’s Witnesses elder, while hosting a pool party for his daughter at their home. Simental was given a reprimand after confessing to church leaders but law enforcement was only notified after J.W. told her school principal a year later. He was found guilty of 3 counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a child and sentenced in 2008 to 45 years to life in prison. Source: Friendly Atheist, 10-10-19


Bryan G. Fulwider, 59, Altamonte Springs, FL, was found dead of an apparent suicide Oct. 29 at his home. He faced 30 counts of sexual battery by a person in a position of custodial authority to a person less than 18 years of age. Fulwider, most recently a United Methodist pastor, was charged with assaults between 2005-10, starting when the girl was 14 and he was senior minister at First Congregational Church of Winter Park.

He also co-hosted a weekly radio show called “Friends Talking Faith With the Three Wise Guys,” which aired on Orlando’s NPR affiliate. The co-hosts were nominated as finalists in February for the Orlando Sentinel’s “Central Floridian of the Year” award “because of their attempts to use faith to unite the community.”

In a phone call recorded by the victim and shared with police, Fulwider told her there “was never anything salacious or bad about it and you were always too damn mature for your own good.” Source: Orlando Sentinel/WFTV, 10-29-19