An Alabama youth evangelist was sentenced Friday to more than 1,000 years in prison after pleading guilty to multiple child-sex charges.
Al.com reports that a judge handed down the maximum sentence on every count to Paul Edward Acton Bowen. Bowen had pleaded guilty in Etowah County to 28 counts involving six boys between the ages of 13 and 16.
The 39-year-old Bowen faced charges that include sexual abuse, sodomy, enticing a child for sex and traveling to meet a child for sexual abuse. He still faces other charges in the Birmingham area.
Victims and family members wept as the judge slowly read out the maximum sentence and fine on every count, the newspaper reported.
The shackled minister apologized to his own family and victims in the courtroom.
“The shame and guilt I feel is overwhelming and has been for a long time,” he said. “My heart was never wanting to hurt anybody but my mind was not well.”
He had previously pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disorder.
Bowen was arrested on sex abuse charges last year. Authorities say additional victims came forward after he was in jail.
Bowen was a Christian minister who wrote books, ran his own youth ministry and traveled to speak at youth events.
Bowen pleaded guilty as his first trial was set to begin.
NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. – A North Carolina pastor has been charged with more than 100 felony sex offenses involving three children, authorities said.
News outlets reported Tuesday that Rodney Luffman, 58, was arrested without incident at his home last week in eastern Wilkes County, according to the sheriff’s office. A church website said he is a pastor at Open Arms Outreach Ministries in Elkin.
Luffman is accused of abusing three victims beginning about 20 years ago, when they ranged in age from 4 to 15 years old, Det. Amanda Boyd with the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office told news outlets. She said investigators determined the crimes continued for 15 years.
Luffman remains in jail on a $1 million bond. It’s unclear whether he has an attorney who can comment on his behalf. A phone call and a message to a phone number and an email listed for Luffman on the church’s website were not immediately returned.
A Texarkana pastor accused of sexual misconduct by 13 alleged victims on both sides of the state line is back in custody.
Logan Wesley III, 56, is being held in the Bowie County jail on a $1.25 million bond after a grand jury this month returned an indictment with 18 felony counts involving three different girls. He was originally arrested in November on a single felony charge involving one victim and was released after posting $100,000 bond shortly after.
During a hearing Monday, Judge John Tidwell refused to lower Wesley’s new bail and release him on the earlier bond. Tidwell moved up the trial from August to May 4, the Texarkana Gazette reported.
Wesley is accused of using his status as pastor of a Texarkana, Arkansas, church to sexually abuse young girls.
First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp said the three girls named in the Bowie County indictments are among the 13 alleged victims of sexual abuse whom she has identified and might call as witnesses at Wesley’s trial. The girls are from Texas and Arkansas.
If Wesley is found guilty on the counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14, he could be sentenced to between five to 99 years or life in prison. If found guilty on the counts of sexual assault of a child under 17 and indecency with a child by sexual contact, he faces two to 20 years in prison.
Weeks after she was fired from her job as administrator in Lucas County, Ohio, former “first lady” of Abundant Life Ministries in Toledo Laura Lloyd-Jenkins has now joined her husband, the Rev. Cordell Jenkins, behind bars for allegedly obstructing a sex trafficking investigation against him.
An ABC 13 report said Lloyd-Jenkins could now face a maximum prison sentence of up to 28 years if she is found guilty of one count of obstructing a sex trafficking investigation along with one count of making a false statement.
She pled not guilty to the charges against her when she appeared in court last Friday but was remanded in custody by Judge Jack Zouhary. Authorities allege that Lloyd-Jenkins, 43, notified a defendant of the pending investigation in March, then made false statements to law enforcement about her knowledge of the conduct alleged in the April indictment.
The former administrator and her husband were once partners in faith at Abundant Life Ministries until April 7 when Rev. Jenkins, 46, and Rev. Anthony Haynes, 38, were arrested by the FBI for sex trafficking of children.
Lloyd-Jenkins was placed on paid administrative leave from her county job in August after previously being placed on disciplinary suspension in July for “failure of good behavior,” ABC 13 reported. She had also resigned from the Lucas County Children Services board after federal agents revealed she was aware her husband had sex with a teenager and never reported it. In her position with the county, Lloyd-Jenkins managed a $500 million budget and more than 3,000 county employees.
“We think she is no longer the right person to serve in the capacity of county administrator, the highest non-elected position in Lucas County,” Pete Gerken, president of the board of commissioners, said when she was fired last month.
Court documents cited by ABC 13 said Butler, Rev. Jenkins and Haynes sexually assaulted a juvenile girl beginning in 2014 through 2017. The victim was allegedly 14 when the assaults began while in Haynes’ custody. Some of the assaults allegedly took placed at the Greater Life Christian Center in Toledo.
Haynes also routinely paid the girl money after the sex acts and warned her not to say anything about their activities as it would ruin his family and his church.
Haynes further shared the victim with other men, including Rev. Jenkins, court documents say. Jenkins allegedly sexually exploited the girl at his home on Barrington Drive repeatedly, as well as at his office at Abundant Life Ministries and at a motel in Toledo. He reportedly paid the girl and recorded some of their activities with his cellular phone. He allegedly also caused another underage girl to engage in commercial sexual activity in March 2017.
Family members and friends who reportedly packed the courtroom in support of the men last month became emotional when they learned that all three pastors could spend the rest of their lives in prison if they are found guilty.
Jenkins’ wife will have a detention hearing on Dec. 21.
The wife of one of three Ohio pastors accused of engaging in repeated sexual acts and the trafficking of teenage girls has been indicted on federal charges accusing her of interfering in her husband’s investigation.
The AP reports that 43-year-old Laura Lloyd-Jenkins was arrested Friday in Toledo on charges including obstructing a sex trafficking investigation and making a false statement.
Lloyd-Jenkins, a former county administrator in Ohio, pleaded not guilty and was ordered held pending a detention hearing. If found guilty, she could face a maximum of 28 years in jail.
Her 47-year-old husband, Cordell Jenkins, pleaded not guilty to charges alleging he and two other pastors, 38-year-old Anthony Haynes and 37-year-old Kenneth Butler, conspired to recruit at least three teen girls to have sex with them and shared photos and videos of the girls, the youngest being 14.
Haynes and Jenkins were arrested in April while Butler, who most recently ran a small church where his wife was the co-pastor, was arrested in October.
According to police documents, Haynes is accused of engaging in sexual relations with a then-fourteen year-old girl beginning in 2014 and of coercing the teen “into continued secrecy by implying revealing the sexual activity between them would ruin his family and church.” Haynes reportedly paid the teen “hush money” to keep the encounters to herself.
Haynes reportedly introduced the teenager to others who paid the girl for sex, including Jenkins, who had sex with the girl at a Red Roof Inn in Toledo and in his office in a nearby church. Jenkins often recorded the acts with his phone, according to court documents.
Jenkins caused another juvenile girl to engage in commercial sex acts in March 2017, according to the indictment, while Butler also caused another juvenile girl to engage in commercial sex acts from 2015 through 2017. Both teenage girls attended Haynes’ church.
Both Haynes and Butler are also facing charges of obstruction of a sex trafficking investigation; Haynes is accused of attempting to destroy electronic evidence of sex trafficking, while Butler is accused of instructing another individual to lie and then lying himself to law enforcement about his involvement.
Each of the men could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted.
“These three men violated the trust of these children and the communities they purported to serve,” U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman said in a news release, according to the Toledo Blade. “We are grateful for the courage of the victims and the dedication of our law-enforcement personnel in bringing these men to justice.”
Celia Williamson, director of the University of Toledo’s Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute, said it’s not surprising if the three men were acting together.
“It says to me what we already knew, that sex trafficking is a business,” she said. “Of course they worked together. That’s how it thrives.”
Jenkins founded Abundant Life Ministries in Toledo seven years ago, and the church closed after his arrest.
According to his bio on the now-deleted Abundant Life Ministries page, Jenkins pastored for over 15 years at several churches in the A.M.E. Zion Church in South Carolina, Oakland, California, and Toledo. Jenkins’ bio also claims that, “never wanting to be idle in his work for the Kingdom and community, Pastor Jenkins has been involved with several organizations” including the NAACP, the Black Methodist Fellowship, Single Parent’s Harvest, and more.
Jenkins, the son of two pastors, said his mission in ministry aimed to “make the strong weak, the mend the broken and to heal the wounded.”
His bio concluded: “Pastor Jenkins is happily married to First Lady Laura C. Lloyd-Jenkins. He and his wife desire to be living examples of Christ’s love in the church and community. His personal motto is ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ Philippians 4:13.”
So? Here are 20 more disgusting, degenerate pedophile Christian perverts of the Southern Baptist Convention of Pedophile Pervert Churches.
1 Marshal A. Seymour Church Position: Volunteer youth minister Court of Conviction: Polk County, 2009 Outcome: Registered sex offender in Florida. As part of a plea agreement, convicted of three counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor and one charge of directing sexual performance of a child. Sentenced to maximum of 10 years on each count. Released in 2016. A prominent Southern Baptist church in Florida once picketed by homosexual groups for its opposition to gay marriage is now in headlines for the arrest of a volunteer youth minister accused of sexually abusing teenage boys he met through the church. Pastor Jay Dennis called the arrest of 40-year-old Marshal Seymour a “Category 5 storm” for First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland, Fla., the Lakeland Ledger reported. According to his arrest report, Seymour is accused of sexually abusing three boys ages 15-17 at the time of the alleged acts. The arrest followed a two-week investigation that began when the oldest of the three, who is now over 18, came to police saying he didn’t want any more youth to be victimized. Church officials said they ran two background checks on Seymour before allowing him to volunteer for the church’s student ministry in 1999, but they came back clean. But Seymour in fact had a criminal record. Police in Mobile, Ala., arrested him July 1, 1999, on charges of second-degree sodomy and second-degree sexual abuse of a 16-year-old boy, while working as a youth minister at Parkway Assembly of God. The sodomy charge was dropped, and Seymour pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault in lieu of the sexual-abuse charge. His one-year jail sentence was suspended and he was put on probation for a year. “He did exactly what he did here in Mobile, Alabama,” Sgt. Gary Gross of the Lakeland Police Department told the Lakeland Ledger. “Sexual predators tend to be wanderers. They move from one location to another.” In 1999, Seymour moved to Lakeland and began volunteering at the First Baptist Church at the Mall, an 8,000-member church that sits on 32 acres at a 400,000 square-foot former shopping mall that it purchased in 1998 for $8.6 million. Seymour turned himself in to police late Friday night. Police allege he met victims through First Baptist Church at the Mall and often paid them money in exchange for sexual favors or to keep quiet about sexual encounters after they occurred. Seymour faces charges of unlawful sexual activity and three counts of using a child in sexual performance. He was also charged with tampering with or fabricating physical evidence for allegedly trying to bribe a clerk at a hotel where one of the incidents is believed to have occurred to remove his name from a computer register. The church’s pastor told media Seymour, who is married, was a popular church member and no one had any reason to suspect him of inappropriate behavior. Dennis said his own son worked at Seymour’s company that services fire-safety equipment. On Sunday Dennis told church members: “The church has also been harmed by this situation. This is a Category 5 storm for us. Our church is a great church, but today we mourn the fact that innocent people have been profoundly wounded.”First Baptist Church at the Mall is one of the highest-profile Southern Baptist churches hit in recent months with scandals over alleged sexual abuse by ministers.
2 John Wayne Diehl Church Position: Associate Pastor Court of Conviction: Kenton County, 2010 Outcome: Convicted of four sodomy charges in 2010 for offenses involving 17- and 15-year-old victims, according to a West Virginia sex offender registry. Served approximately eight years. Paroled. A former minister in Northern Kentucky has been charged with incest. John Wayne Diehl was the Associate Pastor of Administration at Piner Baptist Church in Morningview from 2004 until a week and a half ago.
A former associate pastor at a Kenton County church is in jail on a child sex charge. Diehl had been on staff at Piner Baptist Church in Morning View since October 2004, most recently as Associate Pastor of Administration. Apparently, a church member told a youth minister about the alleged sex abuse. Residents said they find it hard to believe an associate pastor is charged with sex crimes against a minor, especially since they say he’d also cared for youth at a children’s home. On a cached copy of the church’s Web site, Diehl is described as being married with three children and has made mission trips to Africa in the past.
3 Joseph Niemeyer Church Position: Youth pastor Court of Conviction: Kenton County, 2018 Outcome: Convicted of sodomy and sexual abuse, involving a victim 12 or under. Serving a 20-year sentence in Kentucky. A former northern Kentucky pastor will spend the next 20 years behind bars after prosecutors say he raped a child he was caring for. Joseph Niemeyer, 56, appeared in court Tuesday for sentencing on three counts of felony sexual abuse, rape, and sodomy. “When she went into the defendants custody. She went into his custody because she was looking for a safe home to live in. In the 4 years she was in his custody. He sodomized her, raped her and sexual abused her. This was a child that was 5-years-old.” said Lawrence Hilton, Assistant Commonwealth Attorney. Niemeyer pleaded guilty on Nov. 20 to four counts of first-degree sexual abuse and one count first-degree sodomy against the girl. Under the plea agreement, Niemeyer will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and must serve 17 years before being parole eligible, according to Kenton County Prosecutor Rob Sanders. Niemeyer worked with youth at the Banklick Baptist Church in Walton until he was arrested in February 2016. He also volunteered at Twenhofel Middle School. Police say they were alerted to the abuse after Niemeyer came forward last year and reported himself to officers.
4 Brandon James Carter Church Position: Youth pastor Court of Conviction: Lincoln County, 2013 Outcome: Registered sex offender in North Carolina who was convicted of kidnapping against a minor and sentenced to three years. A man who once served as a youth pastor and worked as a teacher pleaded guilty to a sex offense against a child. Brandon James Carter accepted a plea arrangement Wednesday, admitting to taking indecent liberties with a child and kidnapping. Carter was arrested in March 2012. At the time he was serving as youth and music minister at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Cherryville. The allegations against Carter were separate from the church, but he was asked to resign after his arrest. The offense happened at a Lincoln County residence on Aug. 2, 2004. The girl was 13 at the time. According to the teen, she was asleep on the couch and woke up to Carter fondling her. When Carter realized the girl was awake and in pain, he stopped and walked out of the room, Assistant District Attorney Mica Sanderson told the court. The girl documented the incident in her journal and left it out for her mother to see. The family attempted to deal with the problem without reporting Carter to the police. Now married and 21-years-old, the woman said she had to come forward. She tearfully told Superior Court Judge Forrest Bridges that she wanted to protect other teens. “He’s not got help, truly. He still puts himself in situations like music director and youth director,” she said tearfully. “I just want him to get help.” Carter was originally charged with statutory rape and taking indecent liberties with a child. He was offered a plea agreement that dismissed the statutory rape offense but added kidnapping. According to Sanderson, if a child is held against her will even for a brief time, it constitutes kidnapping when a parent has not given consent. He was sentenced to less than two years in prison. Once released, Carver will be on probation for nearly three years and be added to the Sex Offender Registry for 30 years.
5 Jacob Allen Conder Church Position: Youth minister Court of Conviction: Daviess County, 2017 Outcome: Convicted of distribution and possession of material portraying sexual performance by a minor. Serving a nine-year sentence. Registered sex offender. A former youth minister already convicted of sex abuse has pleaded guilty to four more counts. Jacob Allen Conder was scheduled to go to trial Tuesday in Daviess Circuit Court on the four felony charges, but the Messenger-Inquirer reports that he entered a guilty plea Friday. Under terms of the plea, he would serve three years concurrently with a one-year sentence he received in December for a similar charge in Letcher County. Conder was a deputy constable and a youth director at Wing Avenue Baptist Church in Owensboro when the allegations were made. The Daviess charges stem from a sleep-over at the church. A 15-year-old girl accused Conder of touching her inappropriately, which led to two other girls coming forward with similar charges. The previous charges stem from allegations during a mission trip to Letcher County.
6 Billy Ray Smith Church Position: Volunteer youth worker Court of Conviction: Bryan County, 2010 Outcome: Convicted of forcible sodomy in 2010. Serving a 15-year-sentence in Oklahoma state prison. A local church is reacting to allegations of sexual abuse against one of their parishioners. Deeda Payton reports. OSBI agents arrested Billy Ray Smith last Wednesday on charges of second degree rape and two counts of sodomy. In December, Durant Police arrested Smith on multiple counts of forcible sodomy from incidents that allegedly happened between Smith and a minor child in Durant. In addition to his teaching duties, Smith also served as a youth worker at the Calvary Baptist Church in Durant for several decades. The pastor wants to clarify that although Smith has been a member for about thirty years, that he was never a paid youth minister. He was just a volunteer, what they call a youth worker. He says the church is praying for Smith, and the family that reported the alleged incident. The pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Durant, Darel Bunch, says he has received several calls from concerned parishioners since Billy Smith’s arrest. Pastor Bunch wants to make it clear that Smith was never a paid employee of the church or a youth minister. He says Smith was a volunteer, and he acted as a youth worker at the church right up until his arrest, but pastor bunch says they never suspected him for sexual abuse. “Bill had been a member here for 30 years. We’d never had any indication of any wrongdoing before and again these allegations were a shock to us,” said Bunch. Pastor Bunch says thirty years ago when Smith volunteered to help with the youth activities, the church was happy to have the help. He says Smith’s relationship with the children and teens seemed to be good, but now Calvary Baptist is in the process of implementing background checks of volunteers and staff members.
7 Dustin Ray Werneburg Church Position: Youth pastor Court of Conviction: Coal County, 2012 Outcome: Convicted of rape and two counts of lewd and indecent acts or propositions to a child in 2012. Sentenced to 10 years in prison, plus a 30-year suspended sentence. Incarcerated in Oklahoma. A former Coalgate youth pastor will spend the next 10 years in prison for sex crimes against a young girl. 28-year-old Dustin Werneburg pleaded guilty Thursday to two of the eight charges against him in a plea deal with prosecutors. Police arrested Werneburg last November in Blanchard, Oklahoma, where he was working as a teacher’s aide. He resigned last August as the youth pastor at First Baptist Church in Coalgate when a parent came forward, and police began looking into inappropriate text messages he had exchanged with a female youth group member. Werneburg also received a 30 year suspended sentence if he violates parole when he is released.
8 Alexander Lawrence Edwards Church Position: Volunteer Youth minister Court of Conviction: Lee County, 2017 Outcome: Convicted of two counts of sexual battery against a child under 16 in 2017 in Cobb County. Ordered to serve three years in prison with credit for time served on Aug. 18, 2017. Registered sex offender in Georgia The lead pastor at Eastside Baptist Church said he and other church leaders are re-examining its hiring practices after a man who volunteered as a youth minister for most of 2015 was arrested and charged with child molestation last month. John Hull, who took over as lead pastor Jan.1, said he is familiar with the case of Alexander Edwards, who was arrested in his home in Lee County near Albany on April 14. However, Hull said he did not know Edwards, who police say volunteered with the church from January to November 2015. Hull said he has asked the church’s personnel committee and other leaders to find out how Edwards was allowed to work at the church. “We need to find out what happened, we need to find out how Alexander was brought into the organization. We need to then ensure and make sure that parents of our church and school and community understand that Eastside is doing everything it can to make sure it never happens again,” Hull said. Hull said the church has also reached out to the family of the child Edwards is alleged to have molested. According to a warrant for his arrest filed April 13, Edwards went into an 11-year-old boy’s Marietta bedroom several times over a one- to two-month period earlier this year while the child’s parents were asleep, where the alleged molestation occurred.
Questions are being raised in Marietta, Georgia, as to how a man charged with sexually abusing a child when he worked as a youth pastor in 2013 could be hired as a youth pastor this year, in a position where he is again accused of sexual abuse, 11Alive reports.
Alexander Edwards has been charged in two cases, one from 2013 and one from this year. He worked as a youth pastor at Providence Baptist Church in downstate Leesburg, where he was charged with two felony counts for making sexual advances on a 13-year-old boy in 2013. Yet the case wasn’t prosecuted at the time, and Edwards was hired by another church as a youth pastor, this time at Cobb County’s Eastside Baptist Church, 11Alive reports. This despite a $5,000 bond with limitations requiring that he not have any contact with children under 18 years old. He was arrested in April on suspicion of molesting an 11 year old in Cobb County. His charges remained pending for three years, allowing him to remain free on bond. But prosecutors in both counties are now moving forward with charges against Edwards. He is again free on bond, awaiting trial, but now wears an ankle monitor and is on house arrest.
9 Jonathan Bailey Church Position: Youth minister Court of Conviction: Orleans Parish, 2016 Outcome: Convicted of 12 felonies, including molestation of a juvenile, indecent behavior with a juvenile and obstruction. Serving a 10-year sentence in Louisiana state prison, according to a prison spokesman. Bailey pleaded guilty to six counts of molestation, five counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile and one count of obstruction of justice. Though he was sentenced to 27 years total, the plea agreement allows him to serve the sentences at the same time, meaning he will serve a total of 10 years in prison. He must also register as a sex offender, Orleans Criminal District Court Judge Robin Pittman noted. Bailey’s indictment says the sexual abuse occurred between July 1, 2014, and Feb. 8, 2015, at locations including the Lakeview church at 5290 Canal Blvd. A police report says the abuse also occurred during a retreat in Mississippi. The victim’s father said Bailey is facing additional charges in Mississippi, which contributed to their eagerness to resolve the case in Louisiana. The allegations surfaced a month after the victim’s 14th birthday when church officials said they saw surveillance video showing the girl and the youth minister slipping into a closet together during a Feb. 8 church function. Senior pastor David Crosby said he notified the girl’s parents and New Orleans police and fired Bailey the next day. The report says Bailey, who was married at the time of the abuse, communicated with the girl via text messages and directed her to erase them. The victim said in her statement she missed school, lost a best friend in the fallout of the abuse. She said the ordeal has put her family under stress and impacted all of the youth at her church. She said in the statement that Bailey chose scripture and skewed its meaning to justify his actions, and “led me to believe it was OK to cross boundaries I had grown up learning” were wrong to cross. During the investigation, the victim told officials Bailey lavished the child with attention, gifts and promises of a future together. According to reports, much of the abuse occurred at the church in New Orleans in 2015 until Bailey took a youth group on a retreat to the Seashore United Methodist Retreat Center here in Biloxi. Prior to this trip, Bailey told the victim to come to his room after everyone else was asleep. Officials say Bailey later confessed his actions in a recorded interview. “Time after time during the course of this abuse, the defendant made intentional and unconscionable choices to manipulate and groom his relationship with the child to ultimately lead to the crimes for which he has been convicted,” said DA Joel Smith. “His repeated abuse of the trust that was given to him by the family, his church and the community will leave lasting scars. However, the strength and courage demonstrated by the victim throughout the process and especially today are a shining example of hope to those who may be victimized in the future.” In March 2015, Bailey was arrested and prosecuted by Louisiana with a hold to be transferred to Mississippi once the prosecution was complete. Bailey was sentenced to serve 10 years in the Louisiana Department of Corrections. Following his conviction in Louisiana, the Harrison County DA’s Office applied for Bailey to be transferred to Harrison County to face prosecution here. He was transferred in late 2018. After accepting Bailey’s guilty plea on 2 counts of sexual battery, Judge Clark heard from the victim, members of the victim’s family and from Bailey and his family. Judge Clark expressed to Bailey that “through his actions, he had broken the trust of the victim, the church and his own family, and now he would have to face the consequences of his actions”. Bailey was sentenced to 50 years with 27 years suspended, leaving him to serve 23 years without the possibility of parole or early release. Following his release, he must complete 5 years of post-release supervision, register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and have no contact with the victim. He will now be returned to Louisiana to complete his sentence there. Upon completion of his Louisiana sentence, will be transferred to the Mississippi Department of Corrections for the duration of his sentence.
10 Mark Kit Lucas Church Position: Youth minister Court of Conviction: Chatham County, 2011 Outcome: Registered sex offender in Georgia for a 2011 child molestation conviction. Police in Pooler have arrested a local teacher and youth minister on allegations he molested a 13-year-old boy six years ago. Mark Kit Lucas, 47, was booked Friday into the Chatham County jail on a felony charge of aggravated sexual battery in an assault reported to police earlier this month. Lucas stands accused of engaging in a sexual act with the youth at Lucas’ Pooler residence, according to a police report. At Woodlawn Baptist Church in Garden City, Lucas was recognized in 2004 for going beyond his duties as youth and education director, according to Savannah Morning News archives. On the Woodlawn Baptist Church Web site, Lucas is listed as having been recognized in 2006 for 25 years of service as an organist. The church’s Web site lists him becoming a part-time youth minister in 1997.
11 Timothy Neal Byars Church Position: Youth minister Court of Conviction: Knox County, 2008 Outcome: Registered sex offender in Tennessee for rape and for an attempt to commit sexual battery – crimes that were reported in two different cities on two consecutive nights in November 2006. Served two years in prison. The pastor at Tim Byars’ church tells Action News 5 that the youth minister resigned Sunday morning, following charges he raped a teenage girl competing in a state track meet in Knoxville. Officials say Byars raped a 14-year-old girl while she slept Friday night. The victim alerted her parents by text-messaging them. They flew to Knoxville to press charges. Byars is a youth and music minister at a Dyersburg church in addition to coaching the track team. Knoxville Police are also working with Nashville Police regarding a sexual assault claim made by a second girl during the same night. Investigtors say Byars, a non-faculty cross country coach, took the teen, the girl’s sister, and two of his daughters to a private track meet in Knoxville this weekend. The group planned to sleep in an SUV at Knoxville’s Ashe Park until the meet began. That’s when the 14-year-old claims Byars raped her. Now, the Nashville Police Department is investigating claims by a 19-year-old woman alledging that Byars inappropriately touched her while driving to that same track meet. In addition to serving as Dyersburg High School track coach, Byars also worked as a minister at Springhill Baptist Church in Dyersburg.
12 David Matthew Thorne Church Position: Youth Pastor, Music Minister Court of Conviction: Hancock County, 2017 Outcome: Sentenced to 25 years for sexual battery and unlawful touching of a child in 2017. Incarcerated in Mississippi. A former pastor at a Pearl River County church is facing jail time after pleading guilty to two sex crime charges in Hancock County. David Matthew Thorne, 35, of Picayune, on Monday pleaded guilty in Hancock County Circuit Court to one count of sexual battery and one count of touching a child for lustful purposes. He will be sentenced Sept. 25. Thorne was arrested in March 2016 for molesting a 15-year-old girl in a church van while he was the youth pastor at Goodyear Baptist Church in Picayune. He was also arrested on a charge of sexual battery, his third sex crime charge, in Pearl River County less than 24 hours after his arrest in Hancock County. The alleged crimes came under investigation after the child’s parents notified law enforcement officials.
13 Samuel A. Sutter Church Position: Youth pastor Court of Conviction: Hillsborough County, 2017 Outcome: Pleaded guilty to lewd and lascivious battery, unlawful sexual activity with a minor and use of a computer to solicit illegal acts. Sentenced to 10 years in 2017. Incarcerated in Florida and ordered to register as a sex offender, records show. The former pastor had already admitted to sexually abusing one of his teenage congregants. He had agreed to serve 10 years in prison. He said nothing as he waited Thursday for a judge to pronounce the sentence. But the girl’s mother couldn’t stay silent. “He used God as a weapon,” she told the judge. “Fear as a weapon. Her own beliefs as a weapon.” When the sexual encounters started, Samuel Sutter was a 25-year-old married pastor at Openwater Church in Odessa. The girl was 15. Sutter’s responsibilities included ministering to the church members in middle school, high school and college, and that was how the two met. They had chatted on the phone and on Twitter. Over time, they started getting together outside church, at coffee shops and malls. The sex began in the fall of 2015. “He shoved her face into bare, sweaty mattresses, so the evidence wouldn’t be on the sheets when his wife came home,” the mother said in court. “He obsessively reviewed every social media account she had, every text on her phone, every email, every photo …” The mother spoke of Sutter overpowering the girl, putting his hands on her neck. She spoke of him forcing her to take morning-after pills to prevent her from becoming pregnant. She spoke of him threatening to leave her, if she didn’t do what he wanted, to pursue one of her friends. In the spring of 2016, the mother noticed her daughter was acting anxious, more stressed than usual. She managed to get into her daughter’s phone, where she found text messages which indicated the two were sexually involved. Hillsborough sheriff’s detectives investigated and later arrested Sutter. They said most of the sex acts happened at Sutter’s home, but some occurred in the women’s bathroom at the church on Race Track Road in northwest Hillsborough County. “He chipped away her self worth, her self-esteem, her sense of balance, her trust, her faith in her family, her God and her self,” the mother said. “He continued to take, until all that was left was a shell of a girl who was so fearful and anxious and full of self-loathing that she felt the only way out may be to take her own life.” Since the abuse ended, the mother said her daughter can’t eat certain foods or listen to the Christian music she once enjoyed. She has nightmares and panic attacks. She fears becoming close to anyone. “Her precious gift of first love should have nothing to do with an adult, married youth minister …” she said. “This man hurt a child. He’s a dangerous predator, and unforgivable.” He pleaded guilty to three charges: lewd and lascivious battery, unlawful sexual activity with a minor, and use of a computer or device to solicit illegal acts. In addition to prison, Sutter was sentenced to 25 years of probation. He will have to register as a sex offender for life.
14 Brian Siegfried Brijbag Church Position: Youth pastor Court of Conviction: Hernando County, 2012 Outcome: Received deferred adjudication in 2012 on a charge of child abuse. Motion to terminate probation granted in 2014. Youth pastor Brian Brijbag was arrested for an alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and – and another 18-year-old teen girl. Yep – pastor Brijbag had a threesome in his office at church. Brijbag is 35, married and the father of three children. Former Baptist youth pastor Brian Brijbag, entered a no contest plea to a lessor charge child abuse, ending his trail for having sexual relations with a 17-year old female congregant. Brijbag is also alleged to have engaged in a sexual relationship with an 18-year old girl. Brijbag was the youth pastor at First Baptist Church of Booksville. He is married with three children. The plea deal allows him to avoid prison and the sex offender registry. Former Baptist youth pastor Brian Brijbag, profiled here, entered a no contest plea to a lessor charge child abuse, ending his trail for having sexual relations with a 17-year old female congregant. Brijbag is also alleged to have engaged in a sexual relationship with an 18-year old girl. As part of his plea agreement, Brian Brijbag, 36, will serve three years probation, undergo sex offender counseling, pay a $964 fine and have no contact with his accuser.
15 Scott Dewayne Wright Church Position: Youth pastor Court of Conviction: Pinellas County, 2009 Outcome: Convicted of two counts of sex with a 16- or 17-year old; sentenced to four years in prison. Released. Required to register as a sex offender. A youth pastor was arrested this week, accused of having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl in a Palm Harbor home. Scott Dewayne Wright, 35, who lives in New Port Richey, turned himself into Pinellas authorities Monday. He was charged with two counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor. Detectives say Wright met the teen in September 2006 when he was a youth pastor at Calvary Chapel in New Port Richey. The next year, according to authorities, Wright befriended the teen, and at least twice between September and November 2007, he engaged in sexual activity with her. A year later, detectives began investigating the case after the teen’s parents contacted authorities. The parents reportedly learned of the incidents from their daughter’s counselor. Wright later worked for the Crossing Church in Tampa for a period of time, according to the church’s Web site. Tuesday evening, a church pastor there said Wright no longer works there. According to his biography on the Web site, Wright is married with four children. The site, which referred to Wright as “Pastor Scott” said he began working at that church as student director in 2007. It also said that he “has a great drive to take youth on overseas missions trips every year.”
16 James Louis Kubicek III Church Position: Youth minister Court of Conviction: Lowndes County, 2012 Outcome: Convicted of child molestation, sexual exploitation of a child and enticing a child for indecent purposes. Sentenced to 20 years on the first charge, five years on the second charge and 10 years on the third charge. Incarcerated in Georgia. A Valdosta youth minister remains in jail Tuesday on Child Molestation charges. The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office began investigating last week after they got a tip he was sexually involved with an underaged member of his church. Folks in Valdosta were shocked to hear of the suspected child molestation by a pastor from First Baptist Church. “It’s a well known church in this area, a large congregation, and I’m just so sorry they had to be faced with this,” said Lowndes County Sheriff Chris Pine. 29-year old James Kubicek III was a youth minister at the church. Lowndes County deputies arrested Kubicek when he returned from a church mission trip around 3 o’clock Monday morning. “Anybody in that position, in such regards, should also realize that according to the bible you’re held to a higher standard,” said Valdosta Resident Reginald Benjamin. Investigators tell us Kubicek confessed to the crimes against a 15-year old girl. The church fired Kubicek as soon as they heard about the misconduct. “They have been very cooperative in our efforts to investigate this crime,” said Pine. Many folks told us off camera that it is the responsibility of the parents to monitor their children’s behavior. Others said it’s disgusting this can even happen.
17 John Holland Brothers Jr Church Position: Youth minister Court of Conviction: Routt County, 2014 Outcome: Sentenced 20 years to life. Incarcerated in Colorado. John H. Brothers Jr. fits the pattern of child molesters who move from place to place in an effort to stay ahead of the law — and find more victims. A former teacher and youth pastor, Brothers was targeted with child abuse charges in Kentucky that prompted him to relocate to Louisiana — where he was busted for similar crimes previously committed in Colorado. Get the disturbing details below. Between 2006 and 2008, as the Craig Daily Press reported in April 2012, around the time he was charged for crimes in Colorado, Brothers worked as a youth pastor at First Baptist Church in Yampa and a teacher at Steamboat Springs’ Heritage Christian School. Brothers was so well-regarded at Heritage Christian, where he taught science, math and a Bible class, that he returned to the school in May 2009 to deliver the commencement address. By then, Brothers had moved on to Henderson, Kentucky, where he became a youth minister at Hyland Baptist Church — but he didn’t stay there over the long haul. According to The Gleaner, a newspaper in Henderson, he left Kentucky for West Monroe, Louisiana in October 2011 after church deacons at Hyland confronted him with sex-abuse allegations that had come from two members of the youth group he oversaw. The move didn’t keep him out of trouble. The Gleaner reports that he was arrested on two sex-abuse counts the following month, after he returned to his Henderson home to collect some of his belongings. A grand jury indictment followed the next February, with a trial set for that May — but these plans were put on hold when a reported Brothers victim in Colorado came forward that same year to say he’d been molested for more than two years, from April 1, 2006 to May 31, 2008. The accuser is described by 7News as having been twelve years of age when Brothers assaulted him. The gears of justice ground as slowly in this case as in many others, and as a result, Brothers’s trial on the Colorado charges didn’t end until Friday, when a jury found him guilty of sixteen counts: eight pertaining to sex assault on a child, with a like number specifying that he was a person in a position of trust.
18 Luke A. Cooke Church Position: Youth Minister Court of Conviction: Shelby County and federal, 2015 Outcome: Youth minister fled to China, Morocco and Albania after being indicted on sex crimes charges in Shelby County, Tenn., in 2007. In 2015, he was brought back from Albania by U.S. marshals and convicted in Tennessee of “coercion or enticement of a minor” for having transported a juvenile with the intent of engaging in illegal sexual activity and sentenced to 138 months. He is serving out his sentence in federal prison. A former youth minister charged with rape was extradited to Shelby County on Thursday. Luke Cooke was indicted on rape and aggravated sexual battery charges in 2007. Shelby County investigators said Cooke raped an 8-year-old and a 16-year-old. Cooke then left the country. He was found in China, but when U.S. Marshals prepared to deport him back to the United States, he ran again .In 2014, detectives learned that Cooke was in Morocco. A few weeks later in April 2014, Interpol contacted the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office to say they found Cooke in an airport in Albania with an expired passport. U.S Marshals obtained a federal arrest warrant for Cooke, charged him with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, and began the extradition process. He was extradited from Albania in September 2015 after nine years on the run, which included stops in China, Morocco and Spain A man will serve 11-and-a-half years in prison after pleading guilty to rape and aggravated sexual battery. Luke Cooke, 34, said he is guilty of sexually molesting an 8-year-old boy and a 16-year-old boy between 2003 and 2006. He was the youth minister at the local church where the complaints were made, authorities said. The sentence was negotiated as part of a settlement approved by Criminal Court Judge W. Mark Ward. Cooke will serve it concurrently with a separate federal sentence of 11-and-a-half years, which was handed down last week in the U.S. District Court. He received the federal sentence after he pleaded guilty to interstate transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity involving a child. Cooke will also be under supervision for life and will be placed on the sex offender registry.
19 Douglas Randall Pope Church Position: Youth pastor Court of Conviction: Bulloch County, 2012 Outcome: Registered sex offender in Georgia. Pleaded guilty to child molestation. The youth pastor at a Statesboro church has been arrested on enticing a child and child molestation charges. Douglas Randall Pope, 31, of Statesboro, was charges with three counts of enticing a child for indecent purposes and one count of child molestation. The Criminal Investigations Bureau of the Statesboro Police Department got a complaint May 20 that a 14-year-old girl was being molested by a 31-year-old man. The complainant told investigators that man was the youth pastor of Merrywood Baptist Church in Statesboro, according to Statesboro police. The victim said inappropriate behavior and touching happened over the past two years and also involved other girls. More interviews were conducted with other girls and more complaints were received. Detectives executed a search warrant Tuesday at Pope’s apartment at 315 S. Zetterower Ave. Computers, cameras and related digital media were seized from the apartment. Pope was home at the time and was later interviewed at the Statesboro Police Department about the complaints, according to police. The investigation continues and more charges are anticipated in this case. The Merrywood Baptist Church was alerted by police about Pope’s arrest. Let’s break this one down. Pope is a Baptist. He fat and unmarried. He attended some university courses but does not appear to have a degree. He’s only worked with children and young adults. His only qualifications are that he’s worked with kids. The victim is a 14-year-old girl (prime age for abuse). His church is of the small Baptist variety in Georgia with a very small staff. The church website has no information about the arrest and has made no statements. We don’t know if there was a background check performed or adequate safeguards in place. Conclusion – the situation does not look good for Pope. This scenario is typical for clergy sexual abuse among Baptists.
“The youth pastor at a Statesboro church has been arrested on enticing a child and child molestation charges. Douglas Randall Pope, 31, of Statesboro, was charged with three counts of enticing a child for indecent purposes and one count of child molestation. The Criminal Investigations Bureau of the Statesboro Police Department got a complaint May 20 that a 14-year-old girl was being molested by a 31-year-old man.
The complainant told investigators that man was the youth pastor of Merrywood Baptist Church in Statesboro, according to Statesboro police.”
“According to a press release, a 14-year-old girl alleges that Pope inappropriately touched her over the past two years. The victim told police other juvenile females were also involved.
Additional complaints were made against Pope when investigators conducted interviews with other juvenile females, the press release said. Following a search of the suspect’s residence, detectives seized “computers, cameras and related digital media.” The investigation is ongoing and additional charges are expected, the report said. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Criminal Investigative Bureau of the Statesboro Police Department.”
20 Joe David Nelms Church Position: Youth pastor; volunteer bible study leader Court of Conviction: Orange County, 2011 Outcome: Had already moved to Texas when he was arrested on California charges. Convicted of lewd or lascivious acts with a minor (victim aged 13). Sentenced to one year in jail and five years probation in California and required to register as a sex offender for life. Registered sex offender in Texas. Prosecutors in California sought public help in identifying possible additional victims of a former youth pastor under arrest on a charge of sexual assault. Joe David Nelms, 47, was arrested March 18 in Lindale, Texas, on an Orange County warrant charging him with eight felony counts of lewd acts on a child under 14. A press release from the California district attorney’s office said a woman now in her 30s came forward recently to allege that Nelms molested her over three years beginning when she was 14 years old in 1993. Prosecutors said Nelms committed the crimes while working as a youth pastor at Pacific Coast Church in San Clemente, Calif., originally named First Baptist Church of San Clemente, from 1990 to 2000. At the time of his arrest, Nelms was a volunteer Bible study teacher at First Baptist Church in Lindale, Texas, a church affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and the Baptist General Convention of Texas . He also worked as a counselor for high school-aged children at Sky Ranch, a Christian camp and ministry. Based on evidence obtained in the investigation, investigators said they believe that Nelms may have additional victims. Sky Ranch, a Christian camping ministry with locations in Van, Texas; Cave Springs, Okla., and Ute Trail, Colo., released a statement saying that based on an internal investigation there is no reason to believe that Helms harmed any children during his employment there.
Joe David Nelms has served his time in prison. In 2011, he was sentenced to one year in jail and five years of probation for molesting a young girl beginning when she was 14. He is now a registered sex offender in Texas and California.
Nelms served as the youth pastor at Pacific Coast Church (formerly known as First Baptist Church of San Clemente), between 1990 and 2000. He was arrested on an Orange County warrant after moving to Lindale, Texas, where he was volunteering as a Bible study teacher at First Baptist Church. He also worked as a counselor for high school-aged children at Sky Ranch, a Christian camp and ministry. He was ultimately convicted on charges of lewd or lascivious acts with a minor. The victim was 13 when the abuse started.
Prosecutors say Nelms was arrested after a woman, now in her 30s, came forward to claim that the youth pastor sexually molested her over the course of three years, beginning when she was 14 years old in 1993. Police sought public information to find additional victims, though no reports on additional victims were released at the time.
A 47-year-old former San Clemente youth pastor pleaded guilty today to molesting a parishioner beginning when she was 14 years old, according to court records. Joe David Nelms pleaded guilty to eight felony counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a minor and was sentenced to a year in jail and five years of formal probation, according to court records.
Jude Dayton Hughes Church Position: Pastor Court of Conviction: Avery County, 2016 Outcome: Registered sex offender in North Carolina for 2016 conviction of taking indecent liberties with a student, aged 17. Sentenced to 12-months probation. A local pastor is accused of committing a sex crime against a teenager in Avery County Wednesday. Investigators said Jude Hughes, the pastor at Jonas Ridge Baptist Church, sent two naked photos of himself prior to his arrest. Outside the church Wednesday, Hughes’ name was still displayed as the pastor. Hughes was a full-time custodian at Avery County High School and deputies said he violated school district policy trying to become friends on Facebook with a female student. With the student’s and parents’ permission deputies took over her social media accounts, deputies said. “During the night, he sent two explicit photographs, pornographic in nature of himself, to who he thought was the girl,” Avery County Sheriff Kevin Frye said. What Hughes didn’t know was deputies had taken over the student’s Facebook account. The photos were never seen by the teenager, but ended up in the hands of deputies. Investigators said Hughes then set up a meeting with the teenager bringing beer with him only to find deputies waiting.
Timothy Lynn Brumit Church Position: Pastor Court of Conviction: Federal, 2008 Outcome: Pleaded guilty and was convicted of charges of coercion and enticement of a minor and transportation of child pornography. Contacted a police officer via the internet who was posing as a 13-year-old boy and then distributed child porn, mainly of boys 5 to 15 engaging in sex acts with adults – both photos and videos, court records show. He then offered to come to Virginia and pick up the child. Sentenced to 300 months in federal prison in 2008. Incarcerated. A 48-year-old former Aiken teacher was sentenced to 25 years in prison for attempting to entice a person he believed to be a 13-year-old boy to engage in illicit sexual conduct and for transporting child porn through the Internet. Upon completion of his prison sentence, Timothy Lynn Brumit will remain under court supervision for the rest of his life. He also will be required to register as a sex offender in any jurisdiction in which he lives, works, or goes to school. According to court documents and proceedings, between January 2 and January 23, Brumit used “Hello.com,” a website operated by Google, Inc., to communicate with a person whom he believed to be a 13-year-old boy located in Stafford, Virginia. Brumit, who used the screen name “charmingtim75” online, actually was communicating with an undercover detective from the Dumfries Police Department. The Google Hello online service enables users to trade and view digital pictures and videos while chatting in real time about the images. During the course of more than 15 online chats, Brumit distributed more than 600 files containing graphic images and movies of child pornography to the undercover detective. The images included depictions of boys under the age of 12 engaged in sexual acts with other minor boys or with adult males. Some of the images that Brumit distributed to the undercover detective depict violence and sadistic and masochistic abuse of young boys. Brumit instructed the undercover detective to engage in sexual acts and encouraged him to obtain a webcam. Brumit also discussed traveling from his South Carolina home to Stafford, where he would meet the fictitious boy, take him to a motel room and engage in sexual activity with him. Brumit also wanted the fictitious boy to leave his family and live with Brumit in his South Carolina home. In one of the last Google Hello chats prior to his January 24 arrest in South Carolina, Brumit instructed the fictitious boy to bring his original birth certificate and social security card when Brumit met him in Virginia. Brumit also instructed the fictitious boy to bring the laptop that he had been using to communicate with Brumit, which Brumit planned to destroy to conceal his connection to the fictitious child. A forensic examination of Brumit”s computer revealed that he had used the Google “Hello” program to trade over 44,000 images of extremely graphic child pornography with 110 different individuals located in 31 states and 7 foreign countries. At the time of his January 24, 2008 arrest, Brumit was employed as a high school English teacher at Batesburg-Leesville High School, in South Carolina. He also had served as a minister in various churches in South Carolina.
Mark Allen Green Church Position: Youth Pastor Court of Conviction: Navarro County, 2013 Outcome: Sentenced to 50 years for continuous sexual abuse of a child after a trial by jury. His victim was reported to be a 13-year-old girl. Texas prison record shows he’d been previously sentenced to prison at least four times for burglary or theft before his latest 2013 conviction. Incarcerated in Texas. A former Southern Baptist “cowboy church” pastor was sentenced to 50 years in prison without the possibility of parole after a Texas jury found him guilty April 5 of continuous sexual abuse of a child. Green was arrested May 31, 2012, on charges of sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl in Waxahachie, Texas. The news disrupted the Cowboy Church of Marshall County, Ala., which fired him after only a couple of months as pastor. n September, a grand jury in Ellis County, Texas, returned a “no bill,” or refusal to indict. Another grand jury in neighboring Navarro County, however, handed down an indictment in July. According to the local newspaper report, a Navarro County jury of six men and six women returned a guilty verdict after one hour and 15 minutes. Deliberations over the sentence took 30 minutes. In addition to time in prison, he was fined $10,000. The newspaper identified Green as the former youth minister of the JBarC Cowboy Church in Palmer, Texas, but said he currently works for a company that installs flooring. Green reportedly got the girl to retract her allegations, leading to the dropped charges in Ellis County, but after her parents and Green had a falling out, she renewed them, leading to his conviction in Navarro County.
Timothy Lee Reddin Church Position: Pastor Court of Conviction: Federal, 2018 Outcome: Convicted of attempted coercion and enticement of a minor. Sentenced in federal court to 120 months imprisonment and 25 years supervised release. In prison. A former Springdale pastor was sentenced to federal prison Wednesday for trying to entice a person he thought was a teenage boy into a sexual relationship. Timothy Lee Reddin, 68, of Fayetteville was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison without the possibility of parole followed by 25 years of supervised release on one count of attempted online enticement of a minor. An agent with Homeland Security Investigations in July was investigating online enticement of minors to engage in sexual activity in Northwest Arkansas, according to court records. The agent posed as a 14-year-old boy and logged into a social media account. An individual, later identified as Reddin, contacted him a short time later. Reddin began inquiring about the purported minor’s sexual experience, according to prosecutors. Reddin then expressed a willingness to engage in sexual activity with him. Reddin planned to meet the purported boy in Fayetteville in early August for sex. Police went the meeting location and arrested Reddin when he arrived. Reddin was listed as a pastor at Turner Street Baptist Church in Springdale at the time of his arrest. He also worked as a part-time history instructor at Ecclesia College in Springdale, according to a faculty directory. A federal grand jury indicted Reddin in September, and he pleaded guilty in October. During sentencing, prosecutors presented the judge with evidence Reddin was a convicted sex offender at the time of his arrest. Reddin faces a charge of failure to register as a sex offender in Washington County Circuit Court. U.S. District Judge Timothy L. Brooks presided over the sentencing hearing. Records show Reddin was arrested and convicted in federal court in 2000 for possession of child pornography. Reddin pleaded guilty Sept. 8, 2000, to having 10 or more items depicting child porn on his computer, including at least one that involved a child younger than 12, according to court records. In December of that year, he was sentenced to two years and three months in prison and required to register as a sex offender. Reddin spent 16 years as a pastor in Hot Springs Village and taught high school for three years in Heber Springs and McCrory, according to records. He resigned in 1998 as director of missions for the Central Baptist Association in Benton after being confronted about child pornography on a computer, according to court records.
Dan William Haby Jr. Church Position: Pastor Court of Conviction: Tarrant County, 2016 Outcome: Registered sex offender in Texas who pleaded guilty to indecency with a child by sexual contact in 2016 in exchange for seven years probation and deferred adjudication. Victims were teenage boys. Days into his trial on charges that he molested a teenage church member more than a decade ago, the former pastor of Cowboy Way Church in Alvarado pleaded guilty Monday to indecency with a child in exchange for seven years’ deferred adjudication probation. Under the sentence, if Dan William Haby Jr. abides by the terms of his probation, the case will be dismissed with no conviction on his record. If he violates probation, he can be sentenced to a maximum of 20 years in prison. Either way, Haby is now required to register as a sex offender for life.
Joseph Monroe Leal Church Position: Pastor Court of Conviction: Tulsa County, 2012 Outcome: Registered sex offender in Oklahoma. Court records show he pleaded guilty to two counts of using technology to engage in sexual communication with a minor, Oklahoma court records show. Sentenced to six years in prison with three years suspended. A 36-year-old Henryetta minister has been arrested on complaints of sexting a minor girl after the two attended a church camp. Joseph Monroe Leal, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church of Henryetta, was booked into Tulsa County Jail on two complaints of using technology to engage in sexual communication with a minor. He has been released on bond. According to an affidavit filed in Tulsa County Court, Leal started texting the then 14-year-old girl after she attended the Summit Church Camp in 2009. Initially, the messages related to “spiritual subjects,” the affidavit states. In the summer of 2010, when the minor was 15, the texts became sexually explicit, according to the affidavit. The girl began saving the texts this spring. According to the church web site, Leal has served as pastor at Immanuel Baptist since 2006. He is originally from Moore and has also served at churches in Shawnee and Wellston.
Johnny McCullough Church Position: Pastor, Radio evangelist Court of Conviction: Union County, 2009 Outcome: Serving a 15-year sentence in Mississippi state prison after being convicted by a jury on two counts of gratification of lust/unlawful touching of a child. Sentenced on 9/22/2009. Acquitted of five other charges by the jury. One victim said he touched her while purporting to “pray for her,” according to appellate court record.
Joshua M. McCready Church Position: Youth pastor Court of Conviction: Howard County, 2000 Outcome: Pleaded guilty to nine counts of child abuse in 2000 for abusing John Doe, 12 at the time, and served 18 months in jail, according to the Baltimore Sun and Maryland court records. An unnamed youth and his mother are suing a Berlin church and its officials, as well as the Columbia-based Baptist Convention of Maryland/Del- aware, alleging that the congregation’s youth pastor repeatedly sexually abused the youth and that church officials failed to protect the boy. The boy, referred to in the lawsuit as “John Doe,” was 12 when the abuse by the First Baptist Church of Berlin youth pastor, Joshua M. McCready, began in 1997, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in Howard Circuit Court late last month. McCready was convicted of child abuse in June 2000 for the abuse against John Doe, who is now 17, and was sentenced in a Worcester County court to an 18-month jail term, according to papers filed with the lawsuit. The multimillion-dollar lawsuit names the church, its board of deacons, McCready, his parents – his father, The Rev. Francis McCready, is pastor of the church – and regional and national Baptist organizations. According to the lawsuit, the abuse took place at the Berlin church, at the home of Joshua McCready’s parents, and at a church-sponsored camp in North Carolina. The lawsuit, which alleges battery and negligence, says the abuse ended in January 2000 after a roommate of the youth pastor talked to the boy. A woman who answered the phone at Francis McCready’s home declined to comment this week, and a message left for the pastor at the church was not returned. The lawsuit alleges that he and his wife, Maxine, knew that their son slept in the same bed as the boy, and the lawsuit says the pastor tried to head off accusations against his son by assuring the youth’s mother that they were “rumors.” Bob Simpson, a spokesman for the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, said this week, “We certainly oppose child abuse of any kind” and encourage individual churches to deal swiftly with abusers. Nevertheless, the official said, the convention is not part of a hierarchical structure and has no say in a church’s business – including its hiring of pastors. The convention, which acts as a “service” organization, has been dropped from lawsuits against churches because of the independent nature of the individual churches, Simpson said.
Daniel M Acker Jr. Church Position: Youth minister Court of Conviction: Shelby County, 2012 Outcome: Convicted of eight counts of sexual abuse involving children. Serving a 17-year sentence in Alabama. Within 90 days, retired fourth-grade teacher Daniel M. Acker Jr. will be in an Alabama state prison after pleading guilty Thursday to eight counts of child sexual abuse. Acker received 17-year sentences on each of six counts of sexual abuse first degree of a child less than 12 and 10-year sentences on each of two counts of sexual abuse first degree. The sentences will run concurrently and will include the time already spent in the Shelby County Jail. After serving the 17 years, Acker must wear an electronic monitor for 10 years. He also must register as an adult sex offender. “This is a very tough sentence,” said Richard Minor, the special prosecutor for the case. “In Alabama, anyone sentenced to a life sentence may be released after 12 years. We are striving to reach truth in sentencing; in this case 17 years means 17 years.” “You are not eligible for probation or parole,” Judge James Hill Jr. told Acker during the hearing. “You get no trial; you get no appeal. “This guilty plea means you admit to being a sexually violent predator,” Hill said. Six of Acker’s victims and their families sat in Courtroom 6 in the Shelby County Courthouse, watching as their former teacher shuffled to the table where his lawyers sat. Shackled and wearing a standard-issue orange jumpsuit and white canvas slippers, Acker looked down and avoided eye contact with anyone in the audience. His parents were his only relatives present. Acker marked his 50th birthday last month behind bars in the county jail. He will be released from jail on Jan. 4, 2029, at age 67. He will be 77 when the electronic monitoring part of his sentence is completed. During the hearing, Minor summarized the eight counts that included touching breasts, vaginas and buttocks of 10- and 11-year-old girls while in the classroom and on the school bus. Other counts related incidents of Acker placing a child’s hand on his penis and pushing his penis into the back of a student while she was working a problem on the board at the front of the class. In each case, Minor said Acker had told investigators that while he couldn’t name all of the students, he had committed such acts. Except one. “I never touched a vagina,” Acker told the judge. “Either you plead guilty because you’re guilty, or you are not going to plead at all,” Hill said. Acker chose to plead guilty. “Teachers are in a position of trust and authority over our children, and violation of that trust can have devastating effects on the student, their families and the community as a whole,” Minor said. “Parents and the community have a right to assume and demand that they will not be abused.” Among the victims in the courtroom was Kristin Lopez Hurt, who accused Acker of touching her inappropriately in 1991, when she was 11. Acker was not only her teacher but also a neighbor. She said he molested her several times in the classroom as well as in her home. Acker denied the charges then, but he was suspended with pay, and after a grand jury declined to indict him, the school board voted unanimously to reinstate him after a hearing that lasted eight hours. Norma Rogers, Shelby County school superintendent at the time, pushed for Acker’s dismissal. “I’m just sad really,” Rogers said regarding the guilty pleas. “He hurt so many for so long, and when I think that we had a chance to stop him, at least stop him in Shelby County schools all those years ago and the board did not, I’m sad. “I feel sorry for the young girls he hurt, and I feel sorry for Acker’s family, too,” Rogers said. “At least now, justice has been done.” Hurt expressed relief. “I finally feel vindicated, not just for myself but for all the girls,” Hurt said after the Thursday hearing. “They’re younger, and this is harder on them.” Hurt, the ’91 victim, is married and has a 6-year-old daughter and a 13-year-old stepson. “For more than one year, I waited on the day that justice would be served,” Hurt said in a statement issued shortly after Acker’s arrest in January. She refiled her charges, and this time, Acker told Alabaster police that he had touched her when she was a child. She said Acker had continued to follow her through the years, showing up at several Publix stores where she worked. The conditions of his agreement require that he have no contact with any of his victims. “I’m hoping I can relax some now,” she said.
James Robert Griffin Church Position: Associate Pastor Court of Conviction: St. Tammany Parish, 2009 Outcome: Convicted of aggravated incest and pornography involving juveniles in 2009. Registered sex offender in Louisiana but listed as non-complaint for moving without notification.
Jordan Lee Roseboom Church Position: Volunteer youth minister Court of Conviction: Montgomery County, 2013 Outcome: Registered sex offender in Indiana for six 2013 child molestation convictions (following guilty pleas). Sentenced to three years on four charges and three years probation on two charges; released from prison on probation in 2017. A former youth minister will spend 12 years in prison for molesting boys. Jordan Roseboom was also sentenced to six years of probation Wednesday. Roseboom volunteered at Rock Point Baptist Church in Crawfordsville. Last October, he pleaded guilty to fondling or touching 10 boys. None of the acts took place at the church or at church-sanctioned events.
Brian Kelly Burchfield Church Position: Youth pastor Court of Conviction: Pottawatomie County, 2016 Outcome: Sex offender registry indicates 2016 conviction of soliciting a minor by using technology. Sentenced to six months in jail and 10 years probation. Registered sex offender in Oklahoma. They trusted him completely A former youth pastor was arraigned in Pottawatomie County on Thursday morning after being accused of sex crimes. We’re told Burchfield was the youth pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church for several years and gained the trust of some teenage boys in the youth group. Police tell us they’ve talked to four of those boys in the past week who told them their text conversations with Burchfield were starting to make them uncomfortable. Police tell us Burchfield would ask the boys for pictures of themselves and talk to them about pornography. Burchfield was arraigned Thursday, accused of crimes that have shocked families from Shawnee to Edmond. Investigators say Burchfield had been inappropriately texting four former youth group members, all boys between the ages 14 and 17. “They looked at him almost like a second father figure. They trusted him completely in the status he was in, his role in their lives,” Detective Ethan Rieves said. Court documents show when the alleged victims were interviewed by police, they said Burchfield “invited the juveniles to attend a ‘Man Journey Retreat’ with him” where “he took the juveniles to his in-laws’ lake house in Eufaula, Oklahoma.” That was in July of last year. The teens told police, “Burchfield came up with the idea that he and the juveniles go skinny dipping on two separate occasions.” Police brought Burchfield in to talk on Wednesday, and we’re told he confessed. Court documents show Burchfield told police, he’d “just change into the mindset of a juvenile kid when he was around them and would do stupid stuff.” A concerned parent got the investigation going, police say, when they took extra precautions to look out for their son. “The parent did everything right. The parent set up their devices to when their child was receiving text messages or instant messages through their device, it would automatically go to the parent’s device as well,” Det. Rieves said. Burchfield has been fired from his latest college pastor position, and formal charges against him are pending. Immanuel Baptist Church released the following statement: “We are very saddened to hear of the allegations regarding Brian Burchfield, a former minister at our church. We have no indications whatsoever that any inappropriate conduct occurred while Brian was an employee at Immanuel. We are fully cooperating with law enforcement officials and have provided them all of the information we have. We are praying for any people affected and trusting God to provide His presence and peace at this difficult time.”
John Orin Langworthy Church Position: Music minister Court of Conviction: Hinds County, 2013 Outcome: Registered sex offender in Mississippi for 2013 convictions of two counts of sexually touching a disabled child. Was not previously charged but was fired in 1989 from his position as music minister at a megachurch in the Dallas metro area after the executive pastor confirmed the church “received an allegation that John Langworthy had acted inappropriately with a teenaged student. Based on this allegation, he was dismissed from that post.” Burleson’s comments stem from a recent controversy involving a ministry leader at Morrison Heights Baptist Church in Clinton, Miss. The Clarion Ledger newspaper in Jackson, Miss., reported Aug. 9 that Morrison Heights music minister John Langworthy had confessed to inappropriate behavior with young males at a church where he formerly worked, Prestonwood Baptist, a prominent church in Plano, Texas. “These decisions were ungodly,” Langworthy told the Morrison Heights congregation in a video of his confession that is posted on the Clarion Ledger’s website. Burleson said Langworthy kept his past a secret until a former staff member at Prestonwood, Amy Smith, recently contacted Morrison Heights about the man’s previous behavior, which she said started at Prestonwood with an allegation involving a teen. WFAA-TV in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, reported that Prestonwood’s executive pastor, Mike Buster, recently presented a brief statement about Langworthy: “In the summer of 1989, the church received an allegation that John Langworthy had acted inappropriately with a teenage student. Based on this allegation, he was dismissed immediately, removing him from all responsibilities with the church. In no way did officials of the church seek to cover up the actions of Mr. Langworthy or silence his accuser. The elected officers dealt with the matter firmly and forthrightly.” Burleson said he preached at the Mississippi church when he was president of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma and he considers the people there his friends. He said the turmoil resulting from the Langworthy confession could have been avoided with the implementation of a database listing sexually abusive clergy. “Unless you have a database for these types of issues, what happened at Prestonwood and Morrison (Heights) will happen again,” Burleson said.
Christopher Scott Decaire Church Position: Youth minister Court of Conviction: Pima County, 2009 Outcome: Convicted on molestation and sexual misconduct charges and sentenced to 79 years in 2009 in Pima County, Ariz. Incarcerated in Arizona. A 51-year-old former youth minister convicted of repeatedly molesting a 13-year-old girl told his sentencing judge Friday that the judge only heard the worst things about him during his trial. The truth is that he “loved and respected” every one of his church’s youths, taught them God’s word and preached that they should treat others as they would want to be treated, Christopher Scott Decaire said. Decaire was convicted last month on six of the eight molestation and sexual-conduct charges he originally faced. Decaire’s victim, now 15, testified Decaire molested her and forced her to perform oral sex between January 2007 and January 2008. During the trial, DNA tests proved semen found on the girl’s jacket was Decaire’s. They also listened to a damning telephone conversation between the girl and Decaire that had been secretly recorded by police. The two met through his position as youth minister at the East Tucson Baptist Church.
David Wayne Farren Church Position: Youth pastor Court of Conviction: Bowie County, 2017 Outcome: Pleaded guilty to 10 counts of sexual assault; sentenced to 180 months in 2017 in negotiated plea agreement. In Arkansas state prison. A Texarkana pastor was sentenced to 15 years in prison Tuesday morning for sexually abusing two teen girls who were members of youth ministry groups he led at several local churches. David Wayne Farren, 42, appeared with Texarkana attorney Jason Horton for a plea and sentencing hearing before Miller County Circuit Judge Carlton Jones. Farren pleaded guilty to seven counts of first-degree sexual assault, one count of second-degree sexual abuse and a misdemeanor count of violating mandatory reporting requirements. Farren pleaded no-contest to one count of second-degree sexual assault as well. As part of a plea bargain, Jones sentenced Farren to 15 years for each of the nine felony counts of sexual abuse, to run concurrently, and to four days in the county jail with credit for four days served on the misdemeanor. At the end of the hearing, Farren was led from the courtroom to the jail. Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Connie Mitchell said Farren confessed to eight of the nine felonies during an interview with Texarkana, Ark., Police Dept. investigators last year. According to a probable cause affidavit, the victim listed in eight of the felony counts first met with TAPD detectives in July 2016 when she was 20. That victim told investigators she was motivated to come forward because she worried Farren was grooming another girl. At the time of his arrest, Farren was serving as lead pastor of Anchor Church in Texarkana. The victim told investigators she first met Farren while in middle school at Trinity Christian School and while Farren was youth minister at Trinity Church and later youth minister at Heritage Baptist Church in Texarkana. The girl said she confided in Farren in 2013 that she had been sexually abused by someone else in her past. Members of the clergy, teachers and medical personnel are required by law to report allegations of child physical or sexual abuse to a national child abuse hotline, but Farren did not. The girl said she was babysitting Farren’s children the first time he touched her sexually as she was lying on a couch under a blanket, and that he had intercourse with her on her 17th birthday in 2013. She said she and Farren had sex in his home in Texarkana, Ark., more than 20 times and that he would have sex with her in his garage if his wife was at home. She said Farren claimed he did not divorce his wife because it would be a sin. The victim reported that the abuse stopped in August 2013. The victim mentioned that when Farren began taking an intense interest in her, another girl with whom he had been “close” had left for college. The other girl was interviewed by TAPD detectives in August 2016 after Farren’s first arrest. She told detectives Farren began touching her sexually after her father died when she was about 15 and Farren was her youth minister at Faith Baptist Church in Texarkana. The second victim to be interviewed by police is named in one of the second-degree sexual assault counts. She said she cut off contact with Farren after he made a phone call to her while she was in her college dorm room. The girl said Farren’s sexual conversation with her led her to “realize how he had control over her.” Farren will be required to register as a sex offender upon his release from prison and will be required to pay a fee for the registration as well as a fee for having his DNA included in state and national databases.
Jason Roy Bolton Church Position: Youth Pastor Court of Conviction: Prince William County, 2010 Outcome: Convicted of taking indecent liberties with a child as a person in a custodial or supervisory relationship. Sentenced to three years; released. Registered sex offender in Ohio. Prince William County police have arrested a former youth pastor on charges that he carried on a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl in his church group. Jason Bolton, 32, of Dumfries, began a close friendship with the girl in September 2007, police said. By early 2010, the relationship had become romantic. Bolton, a married man with two sons and a daughter, began as a youth pastor at Potomac Crest Baptist Church in 2007. He resigned in May after the sexual allegations came to light. In a first person profile on the church’s Web site, Bolton says he was called by Jesus Christ to serve at the church after ministering to students at the University of Delaware, where he studied art in the late 1990s. “I am not perfect and I make mistakes every day,” Bolton says in the profile that has since been removed. “My hope is that through my life I can help show youth that Jesus Loves them and that He wants them so much that He died for them.”
Jeffery Dale Eddie Church Position: Children’s minister Court of Conviction: Colbert County, 2014 Outcome: Pleaded guilty to 20 charges, including sodomy, sexual abuse of a child under 12 and possession of child pornography, according to federal civil court documents. Serving a 30-year sentence in Alabama state prison. Children’s Minister Facing Sex Abuse Charges, Multiple Victims Confirmed Muscle Shoals Police have released new details in the investigation of a children’s minister accused of multiple sexual abuse crimes. Late Tuesday afternoon, Jeffery Dale Eddie, Highland Park Baptist Church children’s minister, was arrested and charged with two counts of child pornography, 31 counts of second-degree sodomy and three counts of sexual abuse of a child under the age of 12. Court documents, released Wednesday morning, state that while being questioned on Sunday afternoon, Eddie “confessed to performing oral sex and other acts on several of the minor members of his church, numerous times.” On Monday, investigators spoke with a minor and his family about acts Eddie told police he performed on the child over a three-year period. Documents indicate these incidents happened between the summer of 2010 and this past fall at the church. During Wednesday morning’s news conference at the Muscle Shoals Police Department, Chief Robert Evans told WHNT News 19 the whole investigation started on Saturday after a parent contacted police and church officials about possible inappropriate behavior between Eddie and a child at church. After finding child pornography on Eddie’s computer at the church, Evans said the investigation ballooned to include the sexual abuse charges that have now been handed down. Investigators are still interviewing possible victims in this case. Evans confirmed there are multiple victims and is asking the public for prayers for those involved. As of Monday, Eddie was listed as a children’s minister on the Highland Park Baptist Church website. His picture and information have since been removed from the site. The church posted this statement on its website Wednesday, saying Eddie is no longer affiliated with the church. Highland Park Baptist’s Lead Pastor, Brett Pitman, also came to the police department’s news conference on Wednesday morning and read the statement aloud. It says: “As a church, we are outraged, shocked and deeply saddened by the events that have unfolded over the last few days. First and foremost, we are striving to assist any children and families that have been affected by these events. The health and well being of these children is our number one priority at this time. For years, Highland Park Baptist Church has invested in the Shoals community and we are committed to helping our entire community cope with this situation. Anyone with any information about this case should immediately contact the Muscle Shoals Police Department. Any children or families in search of counseling may contact our church office for assistance. In closing, we want to personally thank every person that has come forward. They are heroes and should be treated as such.”
Joel Mark Waltz Church Position: Youth Pastor Court of Conviction: Story County, 2017 Outcome: Convicted of sexual exploitation by a counselor or therapist. Sentenced to a 10-year special sentence in 2017. Incarcerated in Iowa. A former Boone youth pastor who pleaded guilty to having inappropriate contact with a now 20-year-old woman off-and-on since she was 16 was sentenced to four years in prison Wednesday, according to Story County Attorney Jessica Reynolds. Joel Mark Waltz, 47, pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor in October, a week before he was set to go to trial. Waltz was arrested in late March and originally charged with sexual exploitation by a counselor or therapist, a Class D felony. According to Ames Police Cmdr. Geoff Huff, the woman met Waltz when she was 11 years old, and met with him on a regular basis until she was 18. Huff said the woman described Waltz as a father figure before he confessed his love for her when she turned 16. Huff said the two began a sexual relationship that occurred in several locations around Boone and Ames, where the woman lived. Waltz resigned from his position at Grace Community Church in March 2016, shortly after the allegations were brought against him. Reynolds said that in addition to the prison sentence, Waltz will also be forced to pay fines and court costs, as well as complete a psychosexual evaluation, be on the sex offender registry for no longer than 10 years and have no contact with the victim or her family for five years.
Walter Harrison Yocum Church Position: Youth minister Court of Conviction: Harford County and Cecil County, 2013 Outcome: A registered sex offender in Maryland with a 2013 conviction for sexual abuse of a minor. Received a five-year suspended sentence, according to Maryland court records. A former youth minister at a Southern Baptist church in Maryland pleaded guilty March 20 to sexually abusing a 15-year-old girl attending the congregation’s vacation Bible school. Walter Harrison Yocum, 35, pleaded guilty to a single count of sexual offense in the third degree, according to the Baltimore Sun. At the time of his arrest last August, he was youth minister and contemporary worship musician at Calvary Baptist Church in Bel Air, Md. He will be sentenced May 30 and faces up to 10 years in prison. Yocum was charged Aug. 23 with third- and fourth-degree sexual offense, sexual abuse of a minor and second-degree assault. According to a letter on the Calvary Baptist Church website, Yocum was suspended with pay when he confessed to his pastor about “having an inappropriate relationship with someone other than his wife.” After evidence pointed to “ongoing misconduct with a minor beyond what was initially confessed,” he was fired. Founded in 1949, Calvary Baptist Church reports an average weekly attendance of 370 in its entry in the Southern Baptist Convention’s church search database. The congregation has long been active in the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware.
Gregory Stanley Dempsey Church Position: Music minister Court of Conviction: Hamilton County, 2007 Outcome: Convicted of a Sept. 1, 2003, sexual battery by an authority figure, according to his Tennessee sex offender registry. The former pastor of Middle Valley Methodist Church was taken into custody on Monday to begin serving an 11 month and 29 day sentence at the county workhouse for statutory rape. After a lengthy and emotional sentencing hearing, Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern gave Gregory Stanley Dempsey three years for statutory rape and a consecutive year for sexual battery by an authority figure. He will be on intensive probation after he is released and must continue in a treatment program. He also cannot be around young children except for his 12-year-old daughter, the judge said. Dempsey told the jury he “accepts full responsiblity” for a two-year homosexual relationship with a young church member, but he asked for “mercy” and for “probation.” He said he wanted to apologize to the victim, to the victim’s family, as well as his own wife and daughter and former church members. He said the incident has cost him to lose his home and life savings and he is having difficulty finding anyone who will hire him. Police said the incidents started when Dempsey was minister of music at the Oak Street Baptist Church. He had taken that position in early 2002. The youth testified at the sentencing hearing, saying he has gone away to college in another state and is trying to put the incidents behind him. He told the defendant, “I won’t let you stop my life anymore. I’m ready to do something good with my life.” The victim’s father said his son had been a musical prodigy, but the incidents had taken away much of his love for music.He said while the abuse was going on, the minister on Sundays “would come up and hug my neck and thank me for letting (the son) be a part of his life.” Dempsey said he is attending weekly therapy sessions with other sex offenders. He said he got a job selling insurance out of town, but could not make a living at it. He said he became a team leader at Convergys, but was fired when news of his arrest came out. He said he and his wife and daughter attended one church for three months, then were told they needed to leave the church. But he said the First Baptist Church of Soddy-Daisy has welcomed them with open arms. He said he and his wife and daughter have had to move in with his mother-in-law, Jane Cook. Dempsey’s wife, Julia, testified in his behalf, calling him a good father and husband. She acknowledged she was shocked when she found out about the incidents, but she said she is standing with her husband of 13 years.
A youth pastor who was jailed for raping and impregnating a 16-year-old girl has now been charged with hiring a hitman to kill the judge who sentenced him as well as the leader of his church.
Not sure which Bible verse justifies that one, but there you go.
The 37-year-old Pennsylvania pastor, Jacob Malone, was sentenced to more than three years in prison for sexually assaulting the girl, then allegedly offered his cellmate $5,000 to kill Pastor Harold Lee Wiggins, who called the cops on him regarding the girl.
He also said he would give his cellmate more money if he murdered Judge Jacqueline Cody, who imprisoned him for the assault. He was charged Feb. 24, according to the district attorney.
This inmate contacted the Chester County District Attorney’s Office in July 2019, regarding this accusation. Chester County Detectives conducted an immediate investigation, including interviewing the inmate that defendant had solicited to commit murder. After concluding that Chester County had no jurisdiction over this matter which occurred in Somerset County, PA, our assigned detective promptly referred it to the Pennsylvania State Police in Somerset on August 12, 2019.
District Attorney Deb Ryan stated, “The District Attorney’s Office is deeply concerned about these extremely serious allegations. Most importantly, we can confirm that the victims involved in this case are safe. We are committed to assisting the Pennsylvania State Police and the Somerset County District Attorney’s Office in their investigation.”
In case you think this has nothing to do with religion, you’re wrong. The only reason he was able to take advantage of a child was because he used his unearned respect and position of influence.
The former pastor was initially arrested in January 2016 after the girl gave birth to his child and implicated him in sexually assaulting her, the Daily Local News said.
She thought of him as a father figure, but he took advantage of her “mentally, physically, spiritually,” she told cops, saying the “godly man” proved himself “something else when no one was watching.”
Malone pleaded guilty in April 2017, expecting a plea-deal sentence of two to four years, the paper said.
But Judge Cody surprised him at sentencing, rejecting the lighter sentence and hitting him with three to six years, because the victim wanted him to serve more time for what the judge called his “inexcusable” crimes.
He was so angry about a slightly longer prison sentence — over child sex abuse — that he was willing to pay for a murder… or two.
At least he was caught. Now he’s charged with attempted murder, criminal solicitation, attempted aggravated assault, and terroristic threats, all of which would be added on to his current sentence if he’s convicted.
The former pastor of a local church was sentenced Thursday to 30 years in state prison and a lifetime designation as a sexual offender by Judge William F. Stone.
Larry Michael Thorne had been found guilty earlier this summer of lewd and lascivious battery on a victim between the ages of 12 and 18 and sexual battery on a victim in the same age range, according to a press release from the First Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office.
Thorne was arrested Nov. 14, 2014 after the victim reported that he’d had sexual contact with her on numerous occasions. The abuse started when she was 14 and ended when she was 17, according to news accounts.
The sexual molestation included sexual intercourse. These criminal acts occurred repeatedly in Thorne’s home in Fort Walton Beach.
The sexual abuse stopped only when the child disclosed it to a pastor at the church she began attending after she had been able to distance herself from the defendant.
The jury also heard evidence from two earlier victims who had been subject to the same pattern of conduct and sexual molestation when they were in their teens.
According to news accounts, Thorne was the youth pastor at Abundant Life Church on Hill Avenue beginning in 1985. In 2007, he took over as pastor after his father stepped down. In a news article about the transition, Thorne spoke about wanting the church to be a “lighthouse to our community.”
The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation, with the assistance of the Department of Children and Families and Children’s Advocacy Center personnel, and made the arrest. The case was prosecuted by Assistant State Attorney Christine Bosau.
Naason Joaquin Garcia, the leader of the Mexico-based church La Luz Del Mundo, is scheduled to be arraigned in Los Angeles on June 21. The list of charges is long and disturbing. Among them: rape of a minor, extortion and human traficking.
But what exactly is La Luz Del Mundo? And what role does Joaquin Garcia have among his followers?
WHO IS JOAQUIN GARCIA AND WHY WAS HE ARRESTED?
Joaquin Garcia isn’t just the leader of La Luz Del Mundo. Adherents of the fundamentalist Christian group consider the man now being held on $50 million bail a living apostle of Jesus Christ, like his father and grandfather before him.
Joaquin Garcia was arrested at LAX last Monday on charges including child rape and human trafficking, after four church members from L.A. County filed reports using the California Attorney General’s clergy abuse tip line. The alleged crimes occurred in L.A. County between 2015 and 2018.
Prosecutors say Joaquin Garcia and three female co-defendants coerced underage victims into performing sex acts by telling them that if they defied Garcia’s desires as “the Apostle,” they were defying God.
In a news conference Thursday, Attorney General Xavier Becerra said his heart goes out to the many Mexican immigrants in Los Angeles who depend on La Luz Del Mundo, or The Light of The World church, for support.
“I understand many are probably very frightened and confused,” Becerra said. “Many of these folks are not well-versed in American society, are not totally fluent, and depended quite a bit on what this organization provided to them.”
“I would simply say to them that no law of California, no law of humankind, and certainly no law of God would permit what Naason Joaquin Garcia is alleged to have committed against these young women,” Becerra said.
HOW HAVE LA LUZ MEMBERS REACTED?
Since Joaquin Garcia’s arrest, some members have held prayer services for their embattled leader and church leaders have issued statements of support.
“The church categorically rejects the false accusations against Joaquin Garcia,” La Luz spokesman Nicolas Menchaca told LAist, adding that “the Apostle” has always acted according to the law.
During a service this week at La Luz Del Mundo’s East L.A. church, a crowd of about 100 people gathered — the focus was largely on Joaquin Garcia himself.
“Our reaction has been to come to church and to pray, and to put everything in God’s hands, because we trust that God will answer our prayers,” said Priscilla Granados, 25, standing outside after the service.
The Greek-style, gold-columned temple is the group’s largest in Southern California, with more than 1,200 members. Joaquin Garcia once served as pastor at the East L.A. church. In 2014, he became the international leader of La Luz Del Mundo, based in Guadalajara.
Granados, who joined the church with her family at age 12, said she believes Joaquin Garcia is innocent of the charges against him.
“I only speak of what I know, and what I know of him, for the years that I’ve been part of the church, I’ve never seen anything, witnessed anything, or heard anything relatively close to what’s being spread right now,” Granados said.
Some former members of La Luz Del Mundo have spoken critically about Joaquin Garcia. One online forum is aimed at “exit support” and discussion.
WHAT IS LA LUZ DEL MUNDO?
La Luz is the largest evangelical church in Mexico and the second largest religious body there after the Roman Catholic Church. It’s also a transnational movement with between 1 and 5 million members worldwide and dozens of churches in Southern California. That includes the East L.A. location and a church in Pasadena.
The religious group was founded in Guadalajara in 1926 by Joaquin Garcia’s grandfather, Eusebio Joaquin Gonzalez, still venerated by adherents as the “first Apostle.”
After the Great Depression, Joaquin Gonzalez recruited migrants returning to Mexico from the U.S. In the 1950s, he began to evangelize in Los Angeles.
“This is a migrant church that was born in the most historically and traditionally migrant place in all of Mexico,” said Patricia Fortuny, a cultural anthropologist based in Mexico City, that’s researched the group since 1989. “It has the highest rate of migration to the United States historically, since the 19th century.”
For that reason, Fortuny said California, with its large population of Mexican immigrants, has the largest concentration of La Luz adherents in the U.S.
Joaquin Garcia’s father, Samuel Joaquin Flores, led the church from 1964 until 2014. He was the subject of sexual abuse allegations in 1997, but never faced criminal charges.
WHAT IS THE BELIEF SYSTEM OF LA LUZ MEMBERS?
The La Luz belief system is a mash-up of Pentecostal theology and regional Catholic culture, Fortuny said.
La Luz followers identify as Christians who follow the Bible and believe that Jesus Christ is humanity’s savior. But they’re taught salvation can only be achieved by following the international leaders of their church, past and present.
This belief system fostered an intense connection and trust among many members who view Joaquin Garcia as the key to their religious movement.
La Luz traditions are unfamiliar to many in the U.S. Churches offer three prayer services each day. Male and female worshippers sit on opposite sides of churches. Women wear long skirts and cover their heads with lace veils. Church members aren’t supposed to drink, smoke or gamble. The church does not celebrate Christmas or Easter.
While Fortuny said the religious group is too large and well-organized to be considered a cult, La Luz Del Mundo’s focus on its “apostles” does set the church apart from other Latin American evangelical Pentecostal movements.
“Most Pentecostal churches don’t worship their pastors,” Fortuny said. “Having this ‘living apostle’ is the strongest feature of the church, because it’s fantastic for the people. They feel unique, like they are chosen to be part of the restored primitive Christian Church. But it’s also the weakest feature of the church, because of that coercive power the leader, in this case Naason Joaquin Garcia, has.”
As a minority religion in heavily Catholic Mexico, La Luz Del Mundo members have faced some marginalization and persecution. Fortuny said Joaquin Garcia’s arrest will only worsen relations between Catholics and non-Catholics in Mexico.
“There’s already violent discourse against La Luz Del Mundo in Guadalajara,” Fortuny said. “Now, this is probably going to extend into many other evangelical groups who are not La Luz, and who are not as fundamentalist. Other churches will be painted with the same brush.”
Fortuny also worries about millions of La Luz faithful, whose lives are now thrown into disarray.
HOW WILL THE ALLEGATIONS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT AFFECT THE CHURCH AND ITS FOLLOWERS?
While a faction of believers are defending Joaquin Garcia, Fortuney said there’s likely another faction that believes he’s guilty and will fight to keep the church going without him.
“The church could be divided and weakened, but it could also become stronger,” Fortuny said. “Naason can be perceived as an innocent man wrongly persecuted by the state. This persecution can become symbolic social capital for the Church to use.”
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Joaquin Garcia’s $50 million bail set a new record in Los Angeles County, because of concerns his followers might be able to raise enough funds to help him flee prosecution.
Last Friday, La Luz Del Mundo officials held a press conference in Los Angeles, introducing the legal team that will defend Garcia against 26 felony charges.
Wednesday, June 12, 11:52 a.m.: This article was updated with the new arraignment date and details from members.
This article was originally published on Monday, June 10 at 7 a.m.
Aaron Schrank covers religion, international affairs and the Southern California diaspora under a grant from the Luce Foundation.