Black Collar Crime (October 2020)

Compiled by Bill Dunn

Arrested / Charged

Jose A. Lopez, 67, Mission Viejo, CA: Suspicion of committing lewd acts. Lopez volunteered as a pastor at Pacific Hills Calvary Chapel in Aliso Viejo from 2003–05 and at Compass Bible Church in Aliso Viejo from 2012­–20, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

He was arrested after the alleged victim reported Lopez started molesting her in 2010 when she was under 10 years old. She did not meet him through the church, authorities said.

Compass spokesman Brandon Mellor denied that Lopez had a pastoral role: “He never volunteered as a pastor at our church and he never volunteered in a role with kids in the children’s ministry at our church,” Mellor said in an email. “He served as a volunteer on a team of men that kept order in the parking lot.” Source: Pacifica Tribune, 8-28-20

John C. Sapp Jr., 34, Hartly, DE: 89 counts, including continuous sexual abuse of a child, sexual abuse of a child by a person of trust, 4th-degree rape with a victim under the age of 18 and unlawful sexual contact. Sapp, a married youth leader at Maranatha Fellowship near Dover, is accused of sexual involvement with 2 girls in the group he led for 3 years.

One girl told investigators she and Sapp began a “secret relationship” in 2017 when she was 15 and that they had sex 2 or 3 times a month until June 2019. The other girl told officers her “secret sexual relationship” started when she was 16 and went from January 2019 to January 2020. Source: News Journal, 8-26-20

Andrew Kawecki, 65, Scottdale, PA: Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and 2 counts of indecent assault for alleged incidents when he was pastor at St. Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church in Fairchance. He’s accused of assaulting an 11-year-old altar boy multiple times from 2004–07.

Allegations include forced masturbation and oral sex. Kawecki has served at 15 parishes in the Diocese of Greensburg since 1980, most recently as a trust adviser to Conn-Area Catholic School in Connellsville and pastor of parishes in Scottdale and Everson. Source: Tribune-Review, 8-26-20

Shawn N. Waddell, 29, Warner Robins, GA: 3 counts of sexual exploitation of children and 4 counts of eavesdropping, surveillance or intercepting communication. Waddell, a part-time youth pastor at an unidentified church, is accused of alleged incidents involving 3 females in 2019–20, some tied to church-related functions. Source: WGXA, 8-26-20

Stricjavvar Strickland, 38, Kalamazoo, MI: 4 counts of 3rd-degree criminal sexual conduct, 4 counts of human trafficking of a minor for commercial sexual activity and 3 counts of child sexually abusive activity. Strickland, pastor at Second Baptist Church, is accused of crimes between 2015–18 involving teens between the ages of 15–17.

He allegedly paid teen boys $100 to $200 to have sex with his wife or to send him nude photos. Two of the 5 alleged victims were students at the public high school where Jazmonique Strickland worked as a secretary. She had not been charged as of this writing.

One boy told investigators he was given a car in exchange for letting the pastor perform oral sex on him. It’s also alleged that Strickland engaged in similar behavior years ago with his ex-wife when they lived in Mississippi.

He also faces a misdemeanor assault and battery charge stemming from an incident with a church deacon. The Stricklands have 8 children. Source:, 8-25-20

Michael Zacharias, 53, Findlay, OH: Coercion and enticement, sex trafficking of a minor and sex trafficking of an adult by force, fraud or coercion. Zacharias, pastor at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Parish, is accused of engaging in sexual conduct with minors since the late 1990s.

According to court documents, Zacharias manipulated and coerced drug-addicted boys and men into having sex. At his own request, he had a “confession video” recorded in 2015 showing him fellating a male.

In the video he’s wearing clerical garb and at one point turns to the camera and says: “I first met [Victim #1] when he was in 6th grade at St. Catherine’s and I was a seminarian. I knew from the first time I saw him that I wanted to suck his —-. … I remember seeing him in the hospital, he had meningitis. I remember it was the two of us alone in the room. And I remember the back of his hospital gown opened up and I saw his a–. I wanted that sweet little a– right then.”

Victim #1 was found in possession of fentanyl in July, FBI investigators said. Source: News-Messenger/Findlay Courier, 8-18-20

Willie Forest, Goldwater, MS: 3 counts of child molestation. Forest, pastor of Springhill Missionary Baptist Church in Pope, may have had other victims, said District Attorney John Champion. Source: Fox 13 Memphis, 8-17-20

Donato Cabardo, 56, Jersey City, NJ: Harassment and 2 counts of criminal sexual contact. Cabardo, pastor at St. Paul of the Cross Catholic Church, is charged with touching a parishioner’s breast and buttocks and kissing her cheek between January and July in the church rectory. She first reported the allegations to the Archdiocese of Newark, which notified law enforcement. Source: Daily Voice, 8-17-20

Ian Reid, 32, Treadlight, Jamaica: Sexual intercourse with a person under 16. Reid, who is married and has a Christian music ministry in which he performs as “the Gospel Kid,” is accused of having sex with a 15-year-old girl in July in an abandoned building.

In a 2019 interview about being hit by a careless driver in 2010, Reid talked about deciding during a long recuperation to start going to church and joining Holiness Born Again Church of Jesus Christ: “One week, I was sitting at the back and the evangelist called me to sing a song. I closed my eyes so tight and took the microphone and started singing. When I finished singing the song, I saw everyone screaming and raising their hands. However, I thought they were laughing at me because I didn’t know how the Holy Ghost worked at that time.” Source: Jamaica Gleaner, 8-12-20

Kenneth C. Glasgow, 53, Dothan, AL: Unlawful possession of a controlled substance. Glasgow allegedly possessed crack cocaine when he was stopped for a traffic violation. He is co-founder of the Ordinary People Society, a ministry focused on addiction, poverty and life after incarceration.

Glasgow, a half-brother of the Rev. Al Sharpton, was arrested in January on a similar drug charge and for scuffling with and biting a police officer. Source:, 8-11-20

Keisha Christley, Roanoke, VA: Embezzlement. Christley, director of the preschool at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, allegedly stole an undisclosed amount of money from the school between January 2016 and March 2020. The school is now closed for good due to lack of finances, Pastor James Armentrout announced. Source: WDBJ, 8-11-20

David Pettigrew, 48, Denison, TX: Transporting child pornography. Pettigrew, pastor of the Denison Church of the Nazarene since 2006, came to the attention of law enforcement officials through referrals from electronic surveillance providers and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

He is married to a teacher and they have 3 children, said the church’s website. Source: CBS Dallas, 8-7-20

José A. Mena, 60, Houston: Continuous sexual abuse of a child. Mena, pastor of Pueblo de Dios, is accused of sexually assaulting a 9-year-old boy as recently as April. Allegations date back to Jan. 1. Mena turned himself in on July 27. Source: KPRC, 8-7-20

Jonathan Tsai, 40, Los Angeles: Oral copulation of a person under 16, sexual penetration of a person under 16 and 4 counts of lewd acts on a child under 14. The complainant alleges Tsai molested her for 6 years starting at age 12 when he was youth pastor at Home of Christians Eastern Los Angeles. He’s now head pastor at the church, which has been renamed Abundant Life Ministries.

Two more women have reported assaults by Tsai when they were minors. Police in West Covina are investigating other allegations. Source: KABC, 8-6-20

Archie Emerson, 75, Smithfield, RI: 2nd-degree child molestation. Emerson, retired pastor at Ocean State Baptist Church, is accused of assaults on a girl between the ages of 6 and 11. Emerson “is shocked that someone would levy such horrific allegations against him,” his attorney said. Source: AP, 8-3-20

The unidentified chief priest of Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple was arrested on charges of criminal breach of trust as a servant. The Sri Mariamman Temple had lodged a complaint after finding that gold ornaments in the priest’s custody were missing.

The priest, age 36, was questioned and later returned the missing items, the temple said in a statement. Source: The Tribune, 8-2-20

Francis Hughes, 65, Queens, NY: Receipt and distribution of child pornography. Hughes, pastor of St. Pancras Catholic Church, allegedly shared nude images with a 15-year-old boy he met on the hook-up app Grindr in February.

The teen asked if he could send an explicit image to Hughes, according to the indictment. “I’d never get mad about that,” Hughes allegedly responded. “How would you like to be spoiled by your grandpa? … We can try to make it a regular thing.” Source: NBC New York, 7-29-20

Desmond Hicks, 34, George, Iowa: 2 counts of criminal sexual conduct. Hicks, former associate pastor of youth and worship at Cornerstone Free Church in Pipestone, MN, is charged with repeated sexual touching of a boy, now an adult, starting in 7th grade.

At the time, the boy was in foster care with Hicks’ now-wife, and would come to Pipestone to visit Hicks, who allegedly told police he thought the sexual contact was consensual.

“Desmond is the type of person that everybody falls in love with,” Cornerstone pastor Steve Stahl said when Hicks was hired in 2013. “He has musical talents beyond belief.” Source: Worthington Globe, 7-29-20

Denise A. Decker, 62, Duryea, PA: Felony theft and forgery and misdemeanor tampering with records. Decker, a 20-year employee of Nativity of Our Lord Parish, is accused of stealing $98,206 while she was church secretary.

She allegedly admitted stealing for about 5 years. Police began collecting the trash from the curb at her home and recovered 65 donation envelopes, the complaint said. Source: Citizens’ Voice, 7-23-20

Isac Calderon-Sierra, 22, Ville Platte, LA: 305 counts of possession of pornography involving juveniles under the age of 13 and 5 counts of sexual abuse of animals. Calderon-Sierra was a volunteer for a Catholic youth group that met at Our Lady Queen of All Saints Church.

When a reporter asked Blue Rolfes, Diocese of Lafayette communications director, when Calderon-Sierra volunteered or what his responsibilities were, she wouldn’t say. Source: Daily Advertiser, 7-23-20

Pleaded / Convicted

Wayne W. Allen, 69, Ft. Wayne, IN: Guilty by jury on 2 counts of child molestation. Allen, who has a doctorate from Concordia Theological Seminary and worked for 13 years as an overseas missionary with World Partners, was charged with assaults on a girl who stayed overnight twice at his home between April 2017 and May 2018. The girl alleged that he crawled into bed with her and used his hand to manipulate her genitals.

The judge declared a mistrial last November due to possible juror taint after it was reported that the juror was seen riding with her father to court and that the father had been in the courtroom during the trial. Source: NBC Ft. Wayne, 8-14-20

Todd Spain Jr., 27, Pelham, NH: Pleaded guilty to assaulting his wife at the time on a hike in July 2019. Spain was employed as a youth minister at Crossroads Church until 2 days after his arrest. His father is lead pastor at Crossroads.

Molly Spain alleged she and her husband got into an argument after he admitted to having an affair. “When she turned to leave the mountain, she was struck in the back of the head with a rock,” said an affidavit by Detective Brian King. She was taken to the hospital after calling 911 but wasn’t seriously injured.

The plea agreement calls for him to serve 30 days in jail on weekends, 40 hours’ community service, maintain good behavior for a year or serve another 23 months in custody and
undergo anger management training. Source: Eagle-Tribune, 8-11-20


Jack Trieber, Santa Clara, CA, was fined $10,000 for twice violating a health order by holding indoor services with vocal music at North Valley Baptist Church. Trieber justified the services by claiming the area was not a COVID-19 “hot spot.”

“He’s using the somewhat low numbers in Santa Clara County, which are the sign of success of their policies, to violate the policies and that’s not very good,” said Dr. Steven Goodman, Stanford University professor of epidemiology and associate dean of the school of medicine. Source: KPIX, 8-27-20

Rob McCoy, 56, Newbury Park, CA, who led services at Godspeak Calvary Chapel in violation of a health order, was held in contempt of court and his church was fined $3,000.

“They’re allowed to disagree with the court’s order but there are consequences for acting in violation of a court order,” said prosecutor Jaclyn Smith.

McCoy has been very vocal in urging other churches to resist public health orders. He ran as a Republican for state Assembly in 2014 and came within 5 percentage points of winning. Source: KABC, 8-21-20

David Astin, 38, Hermosa, SD: 3 years in prison, 3 years’ supervised release and restitution of $433,877 after pleading guilty to 3 counts of wire fraud involving a Rapid City anesthesiologist who was bilked. Judge Jeffrey Viken said he reviewed 23 pages of support letters written on Astin’s behalf that showed he had a strong religious background and was active in his church.

His attorney Paul Andrews said Astin’s religious convictions kept him from using his Social Security number because he belongs to an anti-government “sovereign citizens” movement. He fled during the investigation that started in 2008 to Guatemala, where he met his wife, with whom he has 8 children.

His father, Ward Astin, pastor of Christ’s Tabernacle Church for 19 years and also a sovereign citizen, was arrested for failure to obtain a state sales tax license for a business he had and pleaded no contest to a felony count in 2009. Source: Rapid City Journal, 8-8-20

David Lah, 43, Toronto, Canada, was sentenced in Myanmar to 3 months in jail for holding Christian church services in Yangon in defiance of a health order. Lah is a native Burmese. About 6% of Buddhist-majority Myanmar identify as Christian.

If people hold the bible and Jesus in their hearts, the disease will not come in,” he proclaimed in a video to a roomful of faithful. “The only person who can cure and give peace in this pandemic is Jesus.”

About 20 people who took part in his gatherings in April, including Lah himself, eventually tested positive for COVID-19. That led to a cluster of 67 cases. Source: Al Jazeera, 8-7-20

Civil Lawsuits Filed

St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, Jamaica, NY, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and former scoutmaster and teacher Lawrence Svrcek are defendants in 12 lawsuits in which Svrcek is accused of molesting the plaintiff and other children in the 1970s and 1980s.

The latest suit was filed in Queens and alleges Svrcek molested “S.G.” starting in 1984 when the student attended Jamaica Day School, which was run by St. Demetrios Church. Source: NY Post, 8-22-20

The Catholic Diocese of Alexandria, LA, is the sole named defendant in a suit filed by “Lou Doe,” who alleges he was molested by Leo Van Hoorn in 1962–63 when he was in 1st or 2nd grade at Sacred Heart of Jesus School in Pineville.

Van Hoorn was suspended from active ministry in 1979, retired as a priest in 1983 and died at age 74 in 2006. The suit calls him a “diseased pedophile.” Source: Town Talk, 8-22-20

John J. Jenik, the Catholic Archdiocese of New York and Paul Gruber are being sued by Shawn Ganley, who alleges Gruber molested him at age 14 in the 1980s at Our Lady of Refuge School in the Bronx. It’s alleged Jenik was abusing minors himself when he “trafficked” Ganley to Gruber.

Gruber was convicted in the mid-1980s after another boy’s parents complained. He’s now a tutor in Arlington, VA. Jenik, 76, who oversaw the after-school program where Gruber volunteered, resigned as auxiliary bishop in 2019 due to a “credible and substantiated” abuse allegation. Source: NY Post, 8-15-20

Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, is being sued for negligence by “John Doe,” who alleges former SU grad student and Olympic athlete Conrad Mainwaring, 68, sexually abused him. The school, founded in 1931 by the Methodist Episcopal Church, since 1920 has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Mainwaring ran the 110-meter hurdles in the 1976 Olympics for his native nation of Antigua and Barbuda.

According to a 2019 ESPN investigation, at least 41 men as young as 12 across 2 continents and 4 U.S. states have accused him of abuse, often while employed at prestigious institutions. Statutes of limitations have hindered criminal prosecution.

While working in student housing and counseling in 1987 at Caltech in Pasadena, he gave “Brian” a massage after a workout that ended in masturbating him, according to ESPN. Mainwaring was also certified in physiotherapy. “He was very clever, very diabolically clever because he was couching it as nonsexual,” as a way of achieving mental toughness, Brian alleged.

“I looked at him like a Christian disciple because he would intersperse his weird, wacked-out teaching with Bible aphorisms here and there,” said Brian, who is very religious. “Like cults use the Bible, he used it in a way that he knew had pull with me.” Source: Daily Orange, 8-14-20; ESPN, 8-1-19

The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church, Cardinal Donald Wuerl and Bishop David Zubik are defendants in a suit brought by William Schneider, 65, who alleges he was 8 when he was molested in the 1960s by James Somma, a priest who died in 2004.

Schneider’s sister reported similar abuse to the diocese in the late 1990s but church leaders dismissed her claim and she died before filing a lawsuit. Another woman who reported abuse was allegedly told Somma shouldn’t be removed because of his “strong denial, sterling military career, the passage of time and [the alleged victim’s] admitted psychiatric treatment.” Source: Ellwood City Ledger, 8-12-20

The Catholic Diocese of Albany, NY, former Bishop Howard J. Hubbard and St. Francis of Assisi Parish are defendants in a suit filed by a South Carolina man who alleges he was 10 when Hubbard sexually abused him in 1975 during a church-sponsored bus trip to West Point Military Academy and on other occasions.

It’s the 5th suit alleging abuse by Hubbard. Abuse by another priest, Cabell B. Marbury, is also alleged. Marbury taught at Cardinal McCloskey Memorial High School in Albany. “This priest forced [the plaintiff] to touch him, and the priest touched him. He was also forced to have anal sex with this priest,” the suit asserts.

Hubbard retired in 2014, the same year Marbury died. Source: Times-Union, 8-12-20

St. Stephen’s Catholic Parish and School, Grand Island, NY, is accused by plaintiff “PB-22 DOE” of enabling now-deceased priest Lynn Shumway to molest him in 6th grade in 2009. It’s alleged Shumway “lured Plaintiff to the church bathroom” and “engaged in unpermitted, forcible and harmful sexual contact” during a school assembly.

Shumway, who wasn’t ordained until age 55, died in 2019 at age 71. He also taught Latin at Bishop Duffy High School. Source: WKBW, 8-11-20

Bridge Bible Church, Bakersfield, CA, and Eric Simpson, former pastor of transformation, are named in a suit filed by an anonymous plaintiff alleging Simpson abused his position as a Mennonite Brethren marriage counselor to make sexual advances.

The plaintiff and her husband were counseled by Simpson for 9 months starting in 2016. She alleges he started one-on-one therapy sessions with her in 2018, using “his position of authority and trust to initiate repeated physical contact of a sexual nature on Plaintiff. He also bombarded her with sexually explicit and graphic comments.”

Pastor Jeff Gowling later announced to the congregation that Simpson would no longer be working at the church because of “an inappropriate relationship with a female member.” He received a severance package and outside financial support and returned to counseling, now at Hume Lake Christian Camps. Source: Mennonite World Review, 8-10-20

Immaculate Conception Catholic Parish, Bloomfield, PA, Cardinal Donald Wuerl and Diocese of Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik are being sued by Gennaro Greco, who alleges he was raped twice in 1967 as an altar boy by Leo Burchianti, parish pastor. Greco immigrated to the U.S. from Italy when he was 13.

A state grand jury report alleges Burchianti abused at least 8 boys between 1967–93 while being moved around to different parishes. He withdrew from the ministry in 2003 and died in 2013. The report said he received treatment on 3 occasions at church facilities for “inappropriate relationships with male minors” and that monetary settlements were made with 2 people in 1994 and 2008. Source: Tribune-Review, 8-7-20

New Mexico Catholic priests Roderick Nichols and Damian Gamboa, the Las Cruces and El Paso dioceses, 2 parishes where they served and the Order of Friars Minor are being sued by “John Doe” and “Jane Doe” for alleged child sexual abuse.

John Doe alleges Nichols molested him in the early 1990s when he was about 13 and Nichols was pastor at St. Vincent De Paul Parish in Silver City. Jane Doe alleges Gamboa abused her in the early 1980s when she was 13 or 14  and Gamboa was pastor of St. Francis de Paula Church in Tularosa. Source: Sun News, 8-4-20

Mark Rhodes, Wynantskill, NY, Victorious Life Christian Church of Troy and elder Dominick Brignola are defendants in a suit alleging plaintiff Abigail Barker was 5 in 1998 when she was molested by Rhodes while he was babysitting her and her younger brother. Barker is Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s deputy press secretary.

According to the suit, Rhodes removed “Plaintiff’s pajama bottoms and underwear, bringing his face up to her vagina and anus and touching her vagina with his face. … When Plaintiff disclosed the abuse, Defendant VLCC, its Pastor and Presiding Elder Defendant Dominick Brignola and Defendant Rhodes revictimized Plaintiff emotionally in an effort to silence Plaintiff and cover up the abuse.”

Rhodes worked at Victorious Life until 2011, and his wife remains a deacon there. Source: WAMC Public Radio/Noaker Law Firm, 8-4-20

The Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, MO, covered up abuse by priests known to be sexual predators allege suits filed by 2 plaintiffs. It’s alleged Darvin Salazar assaulted the plaintiff in the rectory at Holy Cross Catholic Church in July 2018. He is in the process of removing himself from the priesthood.

The other suit alleges John R. Tulipana assaulted the plaintiff several times when he was 13 in 1977 while serving as pastor at Coronation of Our Lady Parish in Grandview. Tulipana was barred from the ministry in 1994 and died in 2012.

The diocese paid $10 million in abuse settlements in 2008 and another $10 million in 2014 in cases involving 79 plaintiffs. Source: Insurance Journal, 8-2-20

Civil Lawsuits Settled

The Order of St. Augustine agreed to pay nearly $1.4 million to 11 abuse survivors (10 female, 1 male) who alleged Catholic priest John J. Gallagher molested them in the 1970s at St. Mary’s School in Lawrence, MA.

The order settled a previous suit by 3 women for $1 million in 2018. Gallagher, who died in 2006, also coached basketball and swimming. Source: Boston Herald, 8-28-20

The Catholic Diocese of Columbus, OH, will pay $1 million to Kevin Heidtman, now in his 30s, for abuse by Msgr. Thomas Bennett, a St. Charles Preparatory School teacher from 1964 until shortly before his death in 2008.

Heidtman’s attorney Konrad Kircher said the $1 million settlement amount is fair for Ohio, which caps civil damages at $250,000. If the case had gone to trial, that would have been the maximum amount of any award. Source: Columbus Dispatch, 8-26-20


A total of 503 people filed clergy abuse claims against the Catholic Diocese of Rochester under New York’s Child Victims Act that extends the time allowed to bring claims, which is double the projected amount.

That total is in addition to more than 30 people who already settled claims in 2019 through a mediator. The diocese earlier paid $1.6 million to other survivors before the new law took effect. Source: WHAM, 8-19-20

Legal Developments

In cases involving 2 Utah men charged in 2018, the state Supreme Court ruled unanimously that children who report sexual assaults don’t need to testify and confront their alleged abuser multiple times in court. One man is charged with abusing his 5-year-old daughter. The other, age 27, is accused of having sex with a 12-year-old girl.

The decision means that young people won’t have to testify at preliminary hearings except in rare circumstances. Recorded interviews can be used instead. The court ruled that a child victim could still be required to testify at a pretrial hearing if a defense attorney can show it’s needed to present evidence on a specific point material to the judge’s decision. Source: Salt Lake Tribune, 8-19-20

Islamic cleric Abdullah al-Faisal, aka Shaikh Faisal, 56, will stand trial on 5 counts of conspiracy as a crime of terrorism and soliciting or providing support for an act of terrorism after being extradited from Jamaica to New York City.

Born Trevor William Forrest and raised in an evangelical Christian family, Faisal was introduced to Islam in his mid-teens. He eventually moved to London, where he became a firebrand preacher in the late 1990s. He was convicted in 2003 of inciting violence, served 4 years in prison and was deported in 2007 from Britain and from Kenya in 2010.

In 2016, an NYPD undercover officer made contact with Faisal and they established encrypted communications, the indictment said. At Faisal’s urging, the officer traveled to the Middle East, where Faisal had promised to assist her in joining the Islamic State. Source: Washington Post, 8-14-20

Jeffrey McGehee, 32, Portage, MI, had his plea bargain rejected by Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford. McGehee, a leader at the Church of Jesus Christ in South Haven, pleaded guilty to dissemination of matter harmful of minors for sending nude photos and a video of himself masturbating to a 15-year-old boy in 2017.

McGehee had pleaded guilty to a single felony count of dissemination of matter harmful to minors, with the special prosecutor recommending only a year’s probation and no incarceration or sex offender registry. Four charges were dismissed.

The boy alleged to investigators that he was told to keep quiet by the church pastor and others, charging documents said. The pastor, who is McGehee’s father-in-law, was charged with 2 misdemeanor counts of failure to report for attempting to cover up the incidents. Those charges were dismissed in December. Source:, 8-10-20

N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation extending the 1-year window for Child Victims Act lawsuits to Aug. 14, 2021. Cuomo had extended the deadline in May to January 2021 due to coronavirus-related delays in the court system.

“The Child Victims Act has allowed more than 3,000 brave survivors to come forward to seek justice,” said Democratic state Sen. Brad Hoylman. “Yet it’s clear many New Yorkers who survived child sexual abuse haven’t come forward, especially during the COVID-19 crisis which has upended our courts and economy.” Source: Catholic News Agency, 8-3-20

The Catholic Episcopal Corporation of St. John’s is financially liable for sexual abuse at the Mount Cashel orphanage in the 1950s, ruled Newfoundland and Labrador’s highest court. The archdiocese must now pay about $2 million to 4 lead plaintiffs. Mount Cashel, operated by the Christian Brothers, was closed in 1990 and torn down in 1992. Source: Canadian Press, 7-29-20


Emil S. Payer, 75, Unity, IN, had his name added by the Catholic Diocese of Greensburg to its list of clergy with “credible and substantiated” claims of sexual abuse. Payer was convicted in 2014 of stealing $98,033 from the Church of the Seven Dolors in Yukon and was sentenced to 10 years’ probation and restitution.

He was removed from active ministry in 2011 when the theft was discovered. The diocese plans to reconsider Payer’s living situation on church property, said spokesman Jerry Zufelt. Source: Tribune-Review, 8-26-20

Robson de Oliveira Pereira, 46, a Catholic Redemptorist priest who is rector at the Basílica do Divino Pai Eterno in Trindade, Brazil, is under investigation for allegedly embezzling more than $21 million donated to the shrine.

Pereira, a media celebrity, manages a set of associations connected to the shrine, which is a popular pilgrimage site. It’s suspected Pereira used deception and shell corporations to mislead officials and create obstacles to the funds’ transparency while enriching himself and his associates. Source: Crux, 8-26-20

Four Catholic dioceses in Kansas — Wichita, Salina, Dodge City and Kansas City — plus the conservative Society of St. Pius X, a breakaway sect, have had 205 allegations of clergy abuse lodged, according to a probe by the state Bureau of Investigation.

The agency convened a 6-agent task force in early 2019 at the request of Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who has opened 120 cases stemming from the allegations. The neighboring state of Missouri has a similar task force. Source: Wichita Eagle, 8-13-20

The Catholic Diocese of Covington, KY, announced that 59 priests and 31 others associated with the church — deacons, teachers, brothers, nuns and laypersons — sexually abused children since the 1950s. The report was compiled by a pair of former FBI agents. Of the accused priests, all but 14 are dead.

“I sincerely hope that this report will bring at least some sense of closure to those whose lives have been forever changed by the egregious behavior of those who were pledged to care for God’s little ones,” said Bishop Roger Foys. Source: WLWT, 8-1-20

Removed / Resigned

Virgil M. “Maxey” Wheeler III, 63, Old Metairie, LA, was removed as an ordained deacon at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Parish due to an allegation of abuse from 20 years ago. Wheeler’s attorney Eddie Castaing denounced the “scurrilous and false allegations.”

Wheeler is a prominent attorney who has served on the boards of directors for Archdiocese of New Orleans charities, including the Catholic Community Foundation. He won’t serve on any boards during the investigation, according to the archdiocese. He was among the 2007 alumni of the year at Loyola University. Source: WWL/Times Picayune, 8-4-20

John Ortberg, 63, Menlo Park, CA, resigned from Menlo Church, a megachurch he pastored for 17 years. He was placed on leave in late 2019 after elders learned he let a volunteer who had admitted an attraction to children work with them at the church. It later came out that Daniel Lavery, Ortberg’s son, had emailed the elders about the situation.

Ortberg returned to the pulpit last spring after an inquiry, but the issue flared up again after Lavery revealed that the accused volunteer was his younger brother, a fact Ortberg withheld from the congregation. Source: Washington Post, 7-29-20

Ibraheem Lunat resigned as imam at Masjid Al-Jumu’ah, a Muslim mosque in Bolingbrook, IL, after Instagram videos and photos posted by Lunat came to light.

“Hijabi season is now gone and hoe-jabi season is finally upon us,” Lunat said in a video that included a “checklist” of tips for women, such as using perfume “to let all the boys in town know you’re back and ready for business — huzzah, open sesame,” and wearing a “skintight” abaya, or overcoat, “to make that booty pop” and attract attention from “n——.”

Other posts included captions about “bagging your first cougar,” “smash a single mom” and an explicit joke about pedophile priests. Source: Religion News Service, 7-28-20

Rich Perry, former pastor at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Missoula, MT, has been permanently removed from ministry due to credible claims he sexually abused a minor girl in the late 1970s or early 1980s in Seattle. Perry will live under a safety plan at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos, CA.

Perry was sent to the center in October 2019 for a separate matter, after a woman came forward with a claim of “inappropriate contact,” which Perry admitted to at the time. Source: The Missoulian, 7-27-20


Francisco José Cox, 86, a Chilean archbishop removed from the priesthood in 2018, died without facing trial on allegations of sexually abusing minors. His death was due to “respiratory failure and multisystemic failure,” said a statement by the Schoenstatt Fathers, his original religious order, which was founded in Germany in 1914.

He was buried the same day he died, with only his 4 brothers present. Pope Francis removed Cox from the priesthood after an investigation conducted by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Source: Crux, 8-14-20


Steve Benson cartoon