Black Collar Crime (March 2019)

Compiled by Bill Dunn

Arrested / Charged

Jacob L. Coyle, 36, Peoria, IL: Criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse. Coyle, youth pastor at Averyville Baptist Church, is accused of sexual contact with a male parishioner on “multiple occasions” over 4 years, starting in January 2006 when he was 13. He alleged friendly back rubs led to sexual encounters at the church, mostly in a guest bedroom known as the “prophet’s chambers.” Source: Pekin Times, 1-29-19

Matthew D. Tonne, 35, Flower Mound, TX: Indecency with a child. Tonne is accused of molesting a girl from the Village Church at a camp for kids in 2012, when he was children’s minister. He was quietly removed in June 2018, although Village pastor Matt Chandler later said it was for reasons unrelated to the assault.

Some church members are upset that Chandler declined to say if anyone from the church was involved with allegations made last September. He also said “no persons of interest” in the investigation had access to children. Source: Christian Post, 1-26-19

Hugh J. Lang, 88, Castle Shannon, PA: Unlawful contact with a minor, corruption of minors, aggravated indecent assault, sexual abuse of children involving photography or other imaging, indecent exposure and 2 counts of indecent assault. “John Doe” alleged that Lang molested him in the church basement when he was 10 and was training to be an altar boy at St. Therese of Lisieux Parish in Munhall. Although he retired in 2006, Lang was still offering Mass at St. Anne Parish in Castle Shannon. Source: Post-Gazette, 1-25-19

Stephen Jordan, 67, Conway, SC: 3rd-degree assault and battery, entry on another’s land for various purposes without permission and trespassing on another’s land without permission. Jordan, who retired in 2016 as a Methodist pastor, was charged last May with 3rd-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor for allegedly fondling a 4-year-old girl.

The new charges stem from a Dec. 26 incident in which a woman reported Jordan came on her property and approached children who were playing. She told him to leave but he kept returning, a police report said. Source: WPDE, 1-24-19

Charles Townsend, 52, Lincoln, NE: Procuring alcohol for a minor. Townsend, pastor at St. Peter’s Catholic Church until placed on leave last August, is accused of an “inappropriate, nonsexual relationship” with a 19-year-old altar server that involved alcohol at a residence in July 2017, said Bishop James Conley.

Conley sent Townsend to Texas for treatment and told parishioners it was for health reasons but never told the teen’s parents about the incident, said a church statement. Source: Journal Star, 1-18-19

Thomas P. Ganley, 63, Phillipsburg, NJ: Aggravated sexual assault and 2 counts of sexual assault. Ganley, pastor at Sts. Philip and James Catholic Church, is charged with assaulting a girl in 1990-94, when he served a parish in Woodbridge. She alleges they had intercourse and oral sex on multiple occasions in New Jersey, Florida and Washington, starting when she was 16 and he was 39.

It’s the first case stemming from a new state task force investigating clergy sex abuse. The arrest came just 2 days after the accuser called the abuse hotline. Source:, 1-17-19

Rashan L. Wilson, 35, N. Charleston, SC: Domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature. Wilson, pastor at Southside Impact Church, is charged in an incident at the church involving a woman with whom he has 2 children and is 8 weeks pregnant. An affidavit stated: “The defendant then lunged toward the victim, put both of his hands around her neck and squeezed tightly until she was unconscious for an indeterminate period of time.”

She called 911 after regaining consciousness and was treated and released. Wilson has written 3 books, including “99½ Things a Woman Needs From Her Man: How to Establish and Maintain a Healthy Relationship.” Source: Post & Courier, 1-17-19

Daniel L. Johnson, 24, Greenwood, SC: Criminal solicitation of a minor, sexual exploitation of a minor and criminal sexual conduct with a minor. He was charged in November with similar assault counts involving another male alleged victim. Johnson is listed as a youth minister on the St. John’s United Methodist Church website, but Pastor Scott Nurse said that’s just because the staff doesn’t know how to remove him from the site.

A 13-year-old boy told police in November that Johnson made him take photos of his genitals and coerced him into performing oral sex, a warrant said. Source: Index-Journal, 1-17-19

John K. Wetteland, 52, Trophy Club, TX: Continuous sexual abuse of a child younger than 14. Wetteland, an evangelical Christian who formerly taught high school bible study and coached baseball at Liberty Christian School in the Dallas suburb Argyle, is accused of forcing a relative to perform a sex act on him. It allegedly occurred when the child was 4 and happened twice more during a 2-year period.

Wetteland is a member of the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame. He was the 1996 World Series MVP while pitching for the Yankees. A 1995 New York Times column noted his “Jesus Lives” coffee mug and a bible in his locker. “I honestly try and walk with Jesus Christ every day,” he told a reporter, describing his relationship with Jesus as more important than the one with his wife. Source: Morning News, 1-15-19

Malcolm J. D’Souza, 62, Calgary, Alberta: Sexual assault. D’Souza, pastor at 2 Catholic parishes, is accused of repeated, inappropriate touching of a woman in 2012. The Diocese of Calgary put him on leave last October after receiving allegations from 2 minors and several adults about incidents between 2010-16. Source: Calgary Herald, 1-15-19

Derek Smittle, 30, Centerton, AR: Sexual assault. Smittle, a Sunday school volunteer at First Baptist Centerton, is accused of having a months-long sexual relationship starting last October with a 17-year-old girl who attended First Baptist. He also hosted bible studies in his home. The girl’s mother alleged she found Smittle and her daughter at an Airbnb in January, an affidavit said. Source: KFSM, 1-15-19

Charles Kormanski, 56, Bellefonte, PA: Embezzlement of over $167,000 from St. John Lutheran, where he’s been treasurer since 1998. It’s alleged he wrote 379 checks to himself, starting in December 2011. Source: WTAJ, 1-15-19

Donald L. Reynolds, 59, Edmore, ND: Felony theft. Reynolds is accused of stealing $34,668 since 2004 as pastor of High Plains Ministry, a congregation of 6 merged Lutheran parishes. He resigned in June after being confronted with allegations. Source: Grand Forks Herald, 1-10-19

Douglas Packer, 63, Sierra Vista, AZ: Sexual abuse, sexual assault and unlawful sexual conduct in a correctional facility. Packer, 2015 Chaplain of the Year for the Arizona Detention Association Conference, is accused by an inmate of inappropriate conduct at the jail in Bisbee.

“Chaplain Packer was in a position of community trust, and based solely on his actions and poor decisions, he violated his sacred oath of office,” said Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels. Source: Daily Star, 1-5-18

John Kakkuzhiyil, 63, Ord, NE: 1st-degree sexual assault. Kakkuzhiyil, pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, is accused by a woman of a November assault during which she alleges she blacked out after having drinks with him at his home. He entered drug and alcohol treatment Dec. 6 and was dismissed from it Jan. 2, said a Diocese of Grand Island statement. Source: WOWT, 1-3-19

Brian L. Oliver, 30, Casper, WY: Domestic battery. Oliver, who took medical leave in September as pastor at First United Methodist Church, is accused of assaulting a woman during an altercation in a private home in December where children were present. He pleaded guilty last July to driving under the influence, with his blood-alcohol content nearly 3 times the legal limit, was fined and placed on probation. Source: Star-Tribune, 12-31-18

Richard Rose, 59, Port Colborne, Ontario: 4 counts each of sexual assault and sexual interference. Rose is accused of incidents involving 2 minors while he was pastor at Northview Community Church when he lived in Markham between 1991-2015. He also operated a home day care and coached hockey during some of that time. Source: CTV News, 12-29-18

John R. McFarland, 56, Fountain Valley, CA: 2 counts of lewd acts on a child. McFarland, lead pastor at Orangethorpe United Methodist Church, is charged in alleged incidents involving a girl under age 14 between July 2012 and August 2013. Source: KUSI, 12-28-18

Aron Y. Rosner, Brooklyn, NY: Kidnapping. Rosner, a member of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect named Lev Tahor, is accused of being part of a conspiracy to kidnap children ages 12 and 14 in December from their mother Sara Helbrans, 32. The children were later found in Mexico.

The sect was founded by her father Shlomo Helbrans, who drowned in Mexico in 2017 after being convicted of kidnapping and deported to Israel. Rosner is a brother of Meyer Rosner, one of 5 Lev Tahor leaders arrested earlier in Mexico. Source: AP, 12-28-18

Charles W. Seely Jr., 49, Ft. Worth, TX: Indecency with a child by sexual contact, prohibited sexual conduct and sexual assault of a child/soliciting a minor. Seely, an oil company executive who served in the volunteer ministry at Christ Chapel Bible Church, is accused of assaulting a teen for about 5 years, starting when she was 15 in 2012. She alleges they had intercourse when she was still 15 and had sex in hotels, a vehicle and at a Christian camp.

“Given these allegations, and in accord with our child protection policies, the perpetrator will NEVER be allowed to serve in any Christ Chapel child-serving ministry in the future,” executive pastor Bill Egner wrote in an email. “WE BELIEVE HER, and commend her for courageously coming forward with this information.” Source: Star-Telegram, 12-27-18

Joao T. de Faria, 76, Abadiania, Brazil: Sexual violation through fraud. Faria, aka Joao de Deus (John of God), is accused of molesting a 39-year-old woman who had come to his faith-healing clinic for treatment. Over 300 women have come forward with similar abuse accusations. Prosecutors said more charges are expected due to 9 active investigations involving 16 complainants. Source: Morning Herald, 12-25-18

Darrell M. Yancey, 59, Grand Prairie, TX: 4 counts of sexual assault of a child, 3 counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and driving with an invalid license. Yancey, founding pastor of Church of the Turning Point, calls himself “the Apostle.”

An affidavit alleges a girl was 13 when the assaults started and that she conceived 3 children with him. She was living with him because her family had financial difficulties. Another alleged victim is his daughter. Source: WFAA, 12-21-18

Thomas Kreiser, 53, Bronx, NY: 1st-degree sexual abuse. Kreiser, pastor at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, is charged with sexual touching of a 10-year-old girl outside her clothes at a church school in September. He was sentenced in 2011 to 5 years’ probation for stealing over $25,000 from his previous parish. Source: Daily Voice, 12-19-18

Shauna Haile, Rogersville, MO: Felony stealing and forgery. Haile has worked at Harvest Community Church of the Nazarene for 13 years, the last several as treasurer. Church leaders said about $80,000 is missing. She allegedly told investigators it first happened by accident, that she had used the church debit card instead of her own and planned to pay it back, but when she didn’t get caught she continued to keep using the card. Source: KY3, 12-18-18

Jeffrey B. Head, 54, Draper, UT: 2 counts each of forcible sexual abuse and misdemeanor lewdness. Head, the leader of a local Mormon Church ward, is accused by at least 3 underage boys of offenses. One alleges Head came to his home unannounced in May 2016 and inappropriately touched him after asking to see his genitals after surgery.

Another alleged Head talked to him about masturbation “all the time” and once locked him in a car in the boy’s driveway so they could discuss sex.

“We have to figure this masturbation thing out,” Head allegedly told him. “You’re not leaving until we figure this out.” Source: Salt Lake Tribune, 12-15-18

Henry D. Gleason, 71, Claremore, OK: Child molestation, 1st-degree rape and sexual battery. Gleason, pastor of Harmony Star Freewill Baptist Church, is accused of assaults on 3 girls under age 10 and a woman now in her 20s. He allegedly told investigators he didn’t remember any sexual touching but would take the “fall” in order to keep the children out of a courtroom. Source: KTUL, 12-13-18

Jerrell G. Altic, 40, Houston: Altic, a pastor at First Baptist Church, is accused of embezzling over $800,000 from 2011-17, spending the money on things like overseas trips with his family, groceries and payment for his doctorate in divinity from Lancaster Bible College. The church’s insurance will cover $500,000 of the loss. Source: KHOU, 12-12-18

Albert Weathers, 46, Sterling Heights, MI: Murder and use of a firearm in commission of a felony. Weathers, pastor at Logos Church in Detroit, is accused in the December death of Kelly Stough, a 36-year-old transgendered woman.

Prosecutors believe the shooting is tied to Stough’s gender orientation. Weathers also worked at Great Lakes Water Authority until recently. Source: Fox 2 Detroit, 12-12-18

Joseph Walsh, 66, Hamilton Hill, Australia: 6 counts of theft. Walsh allegedly stole $252,000 between 2014-17 while he was pastor at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Subiaco. Source: ABC Local, 12-11-18

Mohamed Rawat, 49, London: Possession with intent to supply an illegal substance. Rawat, a volunteer Muslim chaplain, is charged with smuggling a synthetic cannabinoid called K2 or Spice into jail for inmates to smoke. Source: Daily Star, 12-10-18

Pleaded / Convicted

Richard Chibuto, Lusaka, Zambia: Guilty by bench trial of unlawful carnal knowledge. Chibuto, a Seventh-day Adventist Church elder, was accused of impregnating his 14-year-old stepdaughter and forcing her to abort the fetus. The girl testified he gave her 60 kwacha ($5) and other gifts to entice her to have intercourse 4 times between January and July 2018 after he had kicked her mother out of their home. Source: Lusaka Times, 1-22-19

Brian Boucher, 56, Montreal: Pleaded guilty to sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching for acts in the mid-1990s while he was pastor at St. John Brébeuf Catholic Parish. The victim testified he was molested about twice a week over a 3-year-period, starting when he was 10.

The plea came 2 weeks after Boucher was found guilty by bench trial of similar charges involving oral and anal sex with another boy, starting when he was 12, while pastor at another parish in 2008-11. Source: Montreal Gazette, 1-9-19

Donald R. White, 70, Hannibal, MO: Pleaded guilty to wire fraud for embezzling $320,888 as treasurer of Antioch Baptist Church from 1994-2016. A fire of “suspicious” nature destroyed the church in December 2016, about 2 months after White was confronted about the embezzlement, but he was never charged and no cause was ever determined. Source: Herald-Whig, 1-4-19

Loren Copp, 49, St. Louis: Guilty in a bench trial of 8 counts of production, attempted production and possession of child pornography and use of interstate facilities to persuade or coerce a minor to engage in sexual activity. Copp, founder of a combination church, martial arts school and pizza place, was identified in images showing incidents of oral and vaginal sex with underage girls, the youngest age 11. He ran the school under a nonprofit called Ma-ji Ryu Christian Karate Association. Source: KMOV, 12-26-18

James Jackson, 49, W. Palm Beach, FL: Guilty by jury of 12 counts of child sex abuse. He was arrested in 2016 after 3 underage girls told investigators he used his status as a pastor of a storefront church to groom them for sex during counseling sessions. He also ran a group called Positive Habitat for Aspiring Teens.

Valerie Jackson, now his ex-wife, pleaded guilty to child neglect last May for covering up the abuse. Source: WPBF, 12-19-18

Juan G. Castillo, 35, Carlsbad, CA: Guilty by jury of misdemeanor sexual battery. Castillo, pastor at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, was accused by a Diocese of San Diego seminarian of groping his genitals in February 2018 in a restaurant bathroom. He testified he was trying to put pressure on the man’s stomach to help him stop vomiting and might have accidentally touched his genitals.

Castillo told jurors that text messages he sent to apologize were for encouraging the seminarian to drink to excess, not for groping him. Source: Catholic News Agency, 12-18-18


Brian S. Dicken, 38, New Bern, NC: 5 years in prison with 3 years suspended after pleading no contest to taking indecent liberties with a juvenile while he was associate pastor at the Church of Christ at Mountain View in Winchester, VA. He was accused of having a sexual relationship from December 2014 to February 2017 with a girl he was counseling. She’s now 18.

Text messages entered into evidence included them discussing a numbering system for acts ranging from foreplay to intercourse (the latter was a 12). The girl alleged the relationship gradually became more physical, which Dicken denied, calling her a liar. He has 6 children.

Senior pastor Douglas Hardman took issue in his testimony with Dicken’s claim he never completely closed his office door. Hardman, who had a nearby office, said he often heard Dicken’s door opening and closing and once saw the girl come out in tears.

Judge Alexander Iden noted the contradiction between Dicken’s plea bargain and his refusal to admit guilt. “You want me to find you guilty of a crime, but punish you like you didn’t do it, and I can’t do that,” he said. “This is not just about inappropriate text messages.” Source: Winchester Star, 1-26-19

Hafiz A. Pirzada, 76, Northolt, UK: 8 years in prison after a court found him guilty of 7 counts of sexual assault of a child and 2 counts of causing a child to engage in sexual activity. The parents of girls ages 9 and 11 had hired the imam to teach the sisters about the Quran. Incidents were alleged between 2007-09 but not reported to police until 2015. Source: The News International, 1-26-19

Aryeh L. Cohen, 44, St. Louis Park, MN: 30 days in jail, suspended, 150 hours of community service, undergo mental health counseling and register as a sex offender. Cohen, rabbi and director of youth outreach for the Minneapolis Community Kollel, pleaded guilty to engaging in electronic communication describing sexual conduct with a child.

He was arrested in February 2018 after responding to an undercover agent’s online profile that said he was a male turning 16 that August. Cohen then sent an explicit photo of himself and was arrested when he arrived at an apartment to have sex. Source: Pioneer Press, 1-16-19

Allan J. Mithen, 80, a retired Australian Catholic priest, pleaded guilty to 2 counts of indecently assaulting a girl when she 15 and 16 in 1965 and was sentenced to 13 months in jail, all suspended. At the time, he was in charge of a home for Aboriginal children taken from their families. The girl was told by another priest after the abuse that she had committed a mortal sin and would “burn in hell.”

Curtin University senior Hannah McGlade told reporters Mithen should serve jail time. “We all came out today to say black lives matter, Aboriginal lives matter. There should have been justice. This is a stain on Western Australia, what’s happened.” Source: ABC, 1-15-19

David L. Poulson, 65, Oil City, PA: 2½ to 14 years in prison after pleading guilty to corruption of minors and child endangerment as a Catholic priest. Allegations included abuse between 2002-10 involving at least 2 underage boys. “For more than 7 years, the Diocese of Erie allowed Poulson to remain a priest, even though they knew he was a predator,” state Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a statement after sentencing. Source: AP, 1-11-19

Danny Wooten, 55, Montclair, CA: 14 years in prison and restitution of $3.7 million for convictions on 53 felony counts, including embezzlement, conflict of interest and misappropriation of public funds. Wooten, founding pastor of New Covenant Christian Fellowship Center, also worked for the Pasadena Public Works Department, where he generated 300 false invoices for the city’s underground utility program, which he managed. It’s suspected that as much as $6 million was stolen but evidence only existed for slightly more than half that, said prosecutor Richard Santiago.

Co-conspirator Tyrone Collins, owner of Collins Electric, a business through which some of the money was embezzled, was convicted of 20 counts and sentenced to 7 years and $900,000 restitution. Source: L.A. Times, 1-11-19

David Tapley, 54, Crystal Lake, IL: 5 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of an underage female relative from about 2010-15 while he was a deacon at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Cary. The girl testified the abuse started when they played guitar and sang in the choir.

Tapley served as a deacon at Fox Valley Christian Reformed Church after he was barred from Sts. Peter and Paul. Source: Northwest Herald, 1-4-19

Civil Lawsuits Filed

The Diocese of Pittsburgh, Bishop David Zubik and his predecessor, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, are being sued by “Jane Doe,” who alleges she was molested in 1982 by Paul E. Pindel, pastor of St. Genevieve Catholic Church in Canonsburg. He died in 1991 at age 65.

Doe alleges she sought counseling about getting married while pregnant at age 15 or 16. She claims he asked if she had engaged in oral or anal sex.

“Father Pindel then placed her hand on his erect penis and requested for her to show him how she became pregnant,” the lawsuit says.

A state grand jury said the diocese has received multiple allegations since 2002 of abuse by Pindel dating back to 1957. The suit alleges the diocese ignored complaints about Pindel made by Doe’s father and instead transferred him.

The same defendants are accused in another suit of covering up “sexual interest in male children” by former priest William Yockey and repeatedly failing “to take any action to investigate, discipline or report Yockey as a sexual predator.”

Plaintiff Richard Bieranowski, now 53, alleges abuse by Yockey on numerous occasions in 1981-82 when he was pastor at St. Bernadette Parish in Monroeville. Yockey was withdrawn from active ministry in 1991. Bieranowski reported the abuse to his parents and a congregation member in 1985, the complaint says. Source: Post-Gazette/Tribune Review, 1-18-19

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is being sued in Navajo Nation tribal court in Utah by “LB,” who alleges he was molested 3 times in the 1980s by an unidentified church bishop who lived across the street from his Mormon foster family. He was one of thousands of Native Americans in the church’s Indian Student Placement Program, which started in the late 1940s and ended in about 2000.

LB alleges he told his foster mother but she accused him of lying and says his foster father spanked him for reporting his abuse to a case worker. The church didn’t report the abuse to law enforcement or the plaintiff’s biological family, the suit asserts. Source: AP, 1-9-19

The First Presbyterian Church of Plymouth, MI, and former church employees Victoria Barkoff and Lisa Williams are accused of negligence in a suit alleging an “adult man wearing a cross on a necklace” digitally penetrated a 5-year-old girl in a church bathroom on Palm Sunday 2017, then exposed his penis and left male DNA in her underwear. A criminal probe ended with no arrest.

Her parents allege the girl was gone for about 20 minutes from the classroom and that the church failed to notify other parents about the assault. Barkoff and Williams resigned after the incident. Source: Detroit News, 1-4-19

Sarah Greer, New Haven, CT, is being sued for withdrawing $238,000 from an account held jointly with her husband Daniel Greer, the former rabbi at Yeshiva of New Haven. A jury awarded Daniel Greer’s former student almost $22 million for being sexually abused in the early- to mid-2000s.

It’s alleged the withdrawal was to reduce Daniel Greer’s assets available to creditors and to prevent the male victim from collecting on the judgment. Daniel Greer still faces criminal charges of 2nd-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a child. Source: New Haven Register, 12-26-18

The Archdiocese of Atlanta, Archbishop Wilton Gregory and St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Dalton, GA, are defendants in a suit filed by “Phillip Doe,” who alleges he was molested starting when he was 12 by priest John D. Edwards from 1976-78. Edwards died in 1997. The church suppressed abuse allegations, thereby endangering the public, the complaint states. Source: AP, 12-20-18

Our Lady of Health Parish, Las Cruces, NM, and the Catholic Diocese of El Paso, TX, are accused of negligence in a suit filed by “Jane Doe N,” who alleges she was raped several times when she was 10 in 1978-79 by pastor Joaquin Resma, who died in 1983. The parish was part of the Diocese of El Paso at the time. Three others have accused Resma of abuse. His name is not on a recent list of credibly accused clergy, which attorneys called an insult to his victims. Source: Sun-News, 12-19-18

The Salesians of Don Bosco, the Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans and Archbishop Gregory Aymond are being sued by a man alleging he was raped in 1979 when he was 17 by Salvatore Isgro, a Salesian priest who died in 1990. He alleges Isgro held something under his nose that smelled like ammonia before raping him and afterward told him to sit in a warm bath when he got home. Source: The Advocate, 12-12-18

Civil Lawsuits Settled

Fairfield University in Connecticut, the Society of Jesus of New England, the Order of Malta and Haiti Fund Inc. will pay $60 million to over 130 plaintiffs who allege sexual abuse as students at a charity school in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, from about 1999 to 2009. Fairfield graduate Douglas Perlitz is serving a nearly 20-year prison sentence for molesting Haitian boys as young as 11. Fairfield is a Jesuit school.

Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian represented plaintiffs in the class-action suit, which is expect to be approved by a federal judge. The defendants agreed to a $12 million settlement in 2013 with 24 other plaintiffs. Source: AP, 1-25-19

Daniel Cronin, 91, retired Catholic archbishop of Hartford, CT, and previously bishop of the Diocese of Fall River, MA, settled a suit filed in 2015 by 2 Massachusetts men. They each will get $200,000 for alleged sexual abuse as altar boys in the late 1970s and early 1980s by priest Maurice Souza, who died in 1996 at age 83. Source: AP, 1-24-19

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles agreed to settle for undisclosed terms a 2015 sexual abuse suit filed by “John CJ Doe,” his attorney told a judge. Defendants include St. Louise de Marillac Catholic Church in Covina, CA, and Chris Cunningham, 56, who was the St. Louise pastor in 2001-02 when Doe was 12 and 13 years old.

Civil complaints filed in May and October 2017 allege Cunningham also sexually molested other boys ages 10-15 from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s at parishes in Palmdale and Redondo Beach. He was removed from ministry in 2006. Source: San Gabriel Valley Tribune, 1-22-19

New Life Church of Alamo, CA, and the San Ramon Valley Unified School District reached a $1.55 million settlement with a student who alleged he was molested by high school wrestling coach Kevin Lopez. The church’s insurance company will pay $849,000 and the church agreed to strengthen its child protection policies. The district will pay $699,000. A concerned parent reported concerns to the district in 2014 but Lopez wasn’t arrested until a year later. It was then discovered that the church had received numerous complaints about his behavior at camps and on mission trips and took no action.

According to a police report, Lopez was recorded talking to himself in an interview room: “[Expletive] miracles right now, God. Please help me.” He was sentenced to 10 years, 8 months in prison after pleading guilty to multiple counts of lewd acts on children. Source: Mercury News, 1-15-19

Five alleged victims of accused New Jersey pedophile priest Michael Walters settled their suits against Walters, the Archdiocese of Newark and 2 Catholic parishes for $400,000. Walters is accused of molesting boys and girls in the 1980s and 1990s. Ordained in 1965, he was removed from ministry in 2016. Source:, 1-14-19

Opus Dei, an international conservative Catholic organization, paid $977,000 to settle a sexual misconduct claim in 2005 in Washington, a payment that was only recently made public. It was made to a woman now in her mid-50s. She alleged that priest C. John McCloskey groped her several times while she was getting pastoral counseling for a troubled marriage and depression.

McCloskey, who’s in his 60s, suffers from advanced Alzheimer’s and is largely incapacitated, said Thomas Bohlin, U.S. Opus Dei vicar. Two other women may have been victimized by McCloskey, Bohlin said. Source: National Catholic Reporter, 1-8-19

A survivor of child sex abuse at a Sisters of Nazareth children’s home in Londonderry, N. Ireland, has been awarded state benefits for a series of health complaints and lingering trauma from the abuse. Kate Walmsley, 62, a member of the Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse group, says she was molested starting when she was 12 by 2 priests and older girls at the Catholic facility.

At a historical abuse inquiry in 2014, Walmsley testified she was also “mentally and physically abused by nuns.” She described being beaten and force-fed her own vomit by nuns and scalded with hot water. Source: Belfast Telegraph, 1-6-19

The Religious Sisters of Mercy, an order of Catholic nuns founded in Ireland, settled with 6 clergy sex abuse plaintiffs who attended schools operated by the nuns on Guam. Settlement terms weren’t disclosed but the suits sought total damages of $30 million. Source: Pacific Daily News, 1-4-19

The Catholic Diocese of Burlington, VT, settled for undisclosed terms a suit that alleged sexual abuse by former priest Alfred Willis at St. Ann’s Parish in Milton in the late 1970s and early 1980s when the plaintiff, who now lives in Texas, was an altar boy.

The diocese has settled about 50 abuse cases, paying out over $31 million. Bishop Christopher Coyne said a lot of the money came from the sale of property in Burlington and that much of that money is now gone. Source: WCAX, 12-21-18


Guam’s Catholic Church filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a move that will let the archdiocese avoid trial in dozens of sex abuse suits and enter settlement negotiations with nearly 200 accusers. Church attorney Ford Elsaesser said assets are valued at $22.9 million with liabilities of $45.6 million. The church plans to sell nonessential real estate and add the proceeds to the settlement fund.

Notice will be given to potential claimants, with the estimated deadline to file in May or June. A trust fund will also be established for future claimants who did not file within the bankruptcy deadline. Source: AP, 1-15-19

Legal Developments

Phra Sorasak Siripattho, 61, Bang Bua Thong, Thailand: Siripattho, a Buddhist monk, was arrested after 11 years on the run after being charged in 2008 for having sex with a 14-year-old student. The girl lived near the temple with her grandmother and reportedly climbed through the window to sleep with him several times. Her family eventually filed a complaint. Source: Bangkok Post, 1-15-19

Nine Jewish yeshivas in Ramapo, NY, were fined a combined $70,200 for failure to provide student measles vaccination records. The schools were ordered to submit the records during a measles outbreak in which there are nearly 100 confirmed cases in Rockland County. Brooklyn health officials said there are over 40 cases in the Orthodox Jewish community. Source: Journal News, 12-19-18

The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York has to pay a $4 million judgment for refusing to hand over documents it received in response to a 1997 letter sent to Jehovah’s Witnesses congregations about known molesters in the church, a California appeals court ruled 3-0. The lower court awarded plaintiff “J.W.” the money. She accused church elder Gilbert Simental of Mountain View of abuse in 2006 at a slumber party at his home. He was eventually convicted of molesting her and 2 other girls. Source: NY Law Journal, 12-10-18


The Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, WI, released the names of 46 clergy with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of minors. Fifteen are still alive. At a press conference, Bishop David Ricken apologized to the 98 known victims since 1906 and called for other victims to come forward. “We believe you,” he said. Ricken said the names would be posted on the diocese’s website at noon. It appeared that the website crashed less than a minute after noon.

The next day, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests called the list “partial, biased and incomplete” and sent a letter to state Attorney General Josh Kaul to ask for a statewide investigation. The letter claimed that former Bishop David Zubik destroyed files in 2007. SNAP also alleged 16 names were left off the list. Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm has also called for a probe.

Diocese Chancellor Tammy Basten said those 16 priests aren’t under Ricken’s authority. “Priests who are part of religious orders, such as the Norbertines or Franciscans, are accountable to their religious superior within the order,” Basten said. Source: Press-Gazette, 1-17-19

Richard McGrath, 72, Chicago, the former president of Providence Catholic High School being investigated for allegedly molesting a male student at the New Lenox school in the mid-1990s, has gone AWOL from his religious order. Anthony Pizzo, prior provincial of the Midwest Augustinians, said McGrath was “illegitimately” absent from the Hyde Park friary.

Police were alerted in December 2017 after a female student reported seeing an image of a nude boy on McGrath’s cell phone but closed the investigation with no charges after he refused to turn over the phone. It was reopened after the student, Robert Krankvich, filed a suit alleging McGrath molested him repeatedly between the ages of 13 and 15 in his office and at the friary. Source: Chicago Tribune, 12-29-18

Illinois’ 6 Catholic dioceses failed to disclose sexual abuse allegations against at least 500 priests and clergy members, according to preliminary findings, said state Attorney General Lisa Madigan. The dioceses’ lists have 185 names.

In many cases, the accusations have “not been adequately investigated by the dioceses or not investigated at all,” Madigan said in a statement, adding that the church often failed to notify law enforcement or the Department of Children and Family Services about allegations. Source: CNN, 12-19-18

At least 412 allegations of sexual abuse of minors by 187 independent fundamental Baptist churches and affiliated institutions in 40 U.S. states and Canada have been documented by a Texas newspaper investigation. Victims allege the number of abused is far greater because many victims don’t ever come forward. The totals include 168 church leaders accused or convicted.

Independent fundamental Baptists deem Southern Baptists too liberal. Though they operate independently, many pastors are linked by the church-affiliated colleges they attended, such as Bob Jones University in Greenville, SC. Source: Star-Telegram, 12-9-18

U.S. Catholic bishops have tallied 6,846 abusive priests who served in their parishes since the 1950s, according to an analysis of data from Bishop, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Vatican and Jesuit statistics and reports from clinicians. Although the conference estimates about 6% of priests are abusive, the analysis from court cases, investigations, bankruptcy filings and diocese records shows the rate is about 10%, or 11,700 clergy.

Estimates are higher in some areas, such as Fairbanks, Alaska, with a 19% rate. In addition, Bishop Accountability founder Terry McKiernan said 100 U.S. dioceses haven’t named any abusers. There’s also a year missing from the church-funded John Jay College of Criminal Justice study released in 2004 that doesn’t include the 2003 numbers. Source: York Daily Record, 12-7-18

Removed / Resigned

Mark Milatz, Brighton, MI, resigned as senior pastor at Shepherd of the Lakes Lutheran Church in Brighton, MI, and as a Missouri Synod Lutheran minister. A December letter to parishioners said church officials would contact the Michigan State Police for the “purposes of exploring possible financial improprieties.”

According to reports about what took place at meetings before his resignation, it was stated that Milatz had been treating staff in a “hostile and erratic manner” and had been asked by the board to seek counseling. While the board was mulling what action to take, a “series of financial issues” were uncovered. Source: WHMJ, 1-28-19

David Crabtree, Raleigh, NC, was permanently deposed (removed) as an ordained deacon by the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina after it investigated an allegation of sexual misconduct and conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy. Crabtree, lead anchor at WRAL-TV, told viewers that he had a relationship “years ago” with an adult woman. He’s now divorced. Source: News & Observer, 1-26-19

William Sprigler, New Ulm, MN, was permanently removed from public ministry by the Catholic Diocese of New Ulm. Sprigler retired in 2016 but has since filled in for pastors in New Ulm and Orlando and Venice, Fl.

According to a statement from Bishop John LeVoir, the diocese was informed in December by the Archdiocese of San Antonio, TX, that it had discovered allegations of sexual abuse of 2 minors in 1976 while preparing a clergy abuse disclosure report. The archdiocese has determined that the allegations were credible. Source: New Ulm Journal, 1-26-19

John P. Smyth, 84, Des Plaines, IL, was removed from ministry due to allegations of sexual abuse of minors in 2002-03 at Maryville Academy, a facility for children with special emotional and medical needs. Smyth is retired but until recently was still living in the rectory of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the Maryville grounds. Source: Sun-Times, 1-17-19

John F. Meyers and Raymond W. Smart are unsuitable for ministry and have been removed, according to the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Meyers, 64, was put on administrative leave in late 2018 due to a substantiated abuse allegation from the early 1980s. Smart, 74, is accused of abuse of a minor in the same time period.

Joseph Logrip, 73, was placed on administrative leave, also for an allegation of abuse in the early 1980s. He had been removed earlier but reinstated in 2014. Source: WHYY, 1-13-19

Patrick J. Lee, 68, Chicago, head pastor at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, was asked by Cardinal Blase Cupich to “step aside” from ministry due to an accusation of child sexual abuse in 1979 at St. Christopher Catholic Church in Midlothian. Source: Chicago Tribune, 1-12-19

Mark Porterfield, pastor of St. Martin Catholic Church in St. Martins, MO, and judicial vicar for the Diocese of Jefferson City, was placed on administrative leave. “While the allegation does not involve a minor, it does fall within the protocol of the diocese for clergy conduct and requires further consultation and investigation,” a statement said. Source: News Tribune, 1-11-19

Donnie Romero, Ft. Worth, TX, resigned as founding pastor at Stedfast Baptist Church after admitting he has been “a terrible husband and father.”

“I have not been ruling my house well,” Romero, who has a wife and 7 children, told his congregation on Jan. 2. “I’m the one at fault in this situation. I love Stedfast Baptist Church. I love my family. This is the best decision for my family and this church to make.”

Romero has compared LGBTQ people to pedophiles, called gays “scum of the earth” and applauded the 2016 mass murder of gay people at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub. In another video posted later, he said went to a Jacksonville casino and drank alcohol. “And there were girls there that were prostitutes and I committed adultery on my wife multiple times. I drank and gambled multiple times. … I even smoked weed.” He hasn’t been charged with any crime. Source: NY Daily News, 1-10-19

Donald G. Timone, a Catholic priest who retired from the Church of St. Joseph in Middletown, NY, was suspended from ministry during reinvestigation of 15-year-old claims he molested a male minor. “There is potentially new information … that has come to light,” said Joe Zwilling, spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York. Source: Times Herald-Record, 12-26-18

Jesuit priests Frank Case and Pat Lee resigned as vice presidents at Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA, after criticism of their handling of clergy sexual abuse allegations. A news report recently revealed Case, 80, recommended pedophile priest James Poole for a chaplain’s job in 1989 at St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, although Poole had been accused of abusing Alaska Native women and girls as early as 1960.

It wasn’t clear what prompted Lee’s resignation as vice president of mission and ministry. A Gonzaga spokesman declined to explain the reasons for the departures, saying he couldn’t discuss personnel matters. Source: Spokesman-Review, 12-21-18

David R. Gaeta, American Fork, UT, retired as pastor at St. Peter Catholic Parish and will not be allowed to return to public ministry. He was placed on leave in August amid allegations of sexual misconduct in Ogden in 1982.

The Diocese of Salt Lake City said Gaeta was accused of sharing a bed with a minor and, in a separate incident, offering 4 minors alcohol and asking them to undress. No criminal charges were filed. Source: Daily Herald, 12-18-18

Joseph Metzger II, Norfolk, VA, has taken a leave of absence as pastor of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, Diocese of Arlington Bishop Barry Knestout wrote in a letter to parishioners. Metzger’s interactions with young people were not “in keeping with the Code of Conduct with Minors set forth in the Diocesan Safe Environment Regulations,” the bishop wrote, adding that “no allegations of child sexual abuse have been made.”

The Diocesan Review Board will determine Metzger’s suitability to returning and in what capacity, Knestout said. Source: WVEC, 12-10-18

Ronald S. Escalante, Purcellville, VA, was placed on leave as pastor at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church. A Diocese of Arlington statement said he’s accused of “boundary violations involving a minor and adults” that go against its clergy code of conduct. Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Kraig Troxell said an investigation concluded criminal charges aren’t warranted. Source: AP, 12-11-18

Thomas J. Valenti and Erick Viloria were removed from public ministry by the Catholic Diocese of Rochester, NY, during investigations of alleged misconduct. Valenti, pastor of Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick’s Parish in Owego, is among 8 priests named by Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian as child abusers between 1950-78.

Viloria, pastor at Our Lady of Peace Parish in Geneva, is the subject of an August 2018 complaint that he “engaged in objectionable and inappropriate use of social media with an adult” that was unrelated to his parish ministry. Source: Democrat & Chronicle, 12-10-18

Mark Jendrysik, 60, Glendale Heights, IL, was permanently removed as pastor of St. Matthew Catholic Parish due to an alleged incident with a teen girl about 35 years ago when Jendrysik was a seminarian serving a summer internship. “On behalf of the Diocese of Joliet, Bishop Conlon expresses his deepest regrets and apology to the victim. The reporting of such incidents is emotionally difficult, and the victim in this case has shown great courage in coming forward,” a statement said. Source: WLS, 12-9-18

Juan Cano, 35, Encino, CA, associate pastor at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church, was removed from ministry by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles due to reports of inappropriate contact with “several females” in the parish, which was his first assignment as a priest. In an interview with the archdiocese on Facebook, Cano, a Mexico native, said he decided to become a priest after a miracle cured a congenital tumor in his head.

Although Cano will not be charged in these cases and new accusers could come forward, the Catholic Church is removing Cano from the ministry, said Adrian Marquez, archdiocese director of media relations. Although law enforcement has determined Cano won’t be criminally charged, he’s being removed and has no right of appeal, Marquez said. “It’s not his choice. He is not going to be allowed to be a priest anymore.” Source: L.A. Daily News, 12-7-18

Murrough C. Wallace, 82, S. Lake Tahoe, CA, a retired priest and native of Ireland who last served as an active pastor at St. Theresa Catholic Parish in 2003, was directed “to withdraw from ministry until more facts can be gathered” about an allegation of assault by a 17-year-old boy in 1985 at a camp where Wallace was director, the Diocese of Sacramento said in a statement. Source: KCRA, 12-6-18


Paul S. Wakefield, 62, Gilcrest, CO, pastor at Gilcrest Baptist Church was struck and killed by a train at a U.S. 85 crossing 8 days after he was charged with misdemeanor unlawful sexual contact and suspicion of committing a crime against an at-risk person, a felony. He was on foot and his death remains under investigation.

The charges stemmed from a Jan. 3 incident when a nurse at an assisted living facility in Windsor noticed the door to a patient’s room was closed. She told police she entered the room and found Wakefield kneeling in front of the woman, who has cognitive communication deficit, with his hands up her blouse and his head on her chest, according to an affidavit. Wakefield stood up and told her he was listening to the woman’s heart.

Court records said the woman’s son walked in on Wakefield with his head on his mother’s chest and once with his hand under her blouse. He told police he was examining her ribs because she told him she had fallen and hurt them.

He’s survived by his wife of 35 years, 4 sons and 6 siblings. Source: Greeley Tribune, 1-13-19

Edward J. McKeown, 74, a pedophile Catholic priest accused of molesting at least 30 boys in Nashville and east Tennessee over 20 years, died in prison of natural causes. He was convicted in 1999 of sexual assaults on a boy, starting when he was 12 and continuing for 3 years, and was sentenced to 25 years. He was due to be released May 1, 2020.

Edward Kmiec, named bishop of Nashville in 1992, had given assurances that the diocese had removed McKeown from “direct or unsupervised contact with youth” after an initial molestation complaint was lodged in 1986. But records unsealed in 2002 by the state Court of Appeals in a civil suit filed by 2 victims showed McKeown was allowed to teach youth classes, hear children’s confessions and participate in sleepovers with them. Source: The Tennessean, 1-1-19

Steve Benson cartoon

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