If you're lucky enough to be a member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, you'll receive the kind of news 6 times a year that I'm passing on below for your attention. Crime amongst the clergy is as active as in any other profession, and, if you ask me, sexual crimes are more prevalent within the clergy than without it. That's because of the peculiarly repressive attitude in churches toward sex. Not only that, churchly codes of silence means that in many churches children are protected from the sort of information that might save them from predators. Thus predators enjoy church congregations and have an easy time of it in houses of worship and within naive congregations. Not only that—most sexual attacks come from people known to the child. Where else but in friendly, close congregations can predators have such easy access to naive children? There's so much unwarranted trust within congregations.
It's a shame, I suppose, that childish innocence must be shattered, but how else do you protect children from predators? If they see only Disney movies, designed for kids and adults who are still like children, then they'll be vulnerable when confronted with danger, nor will their erstwhile protectors be any more likely to see through a predator's sweetness.
As you peruse the list below, remember that the list of crimes does not count the other lists in the paper such as "convicted and sentenced" and "civil suits settled" and cases under investigation. Not only that, this list only scratches the surface since it is only people aware of the FFRF publication who will send these in. That number will be only a small percentage of Americans. Imagine how long these lists would be if everyone contributed their local news to this national paper.
• Rev. Eugene Marriott, Fort Washington, MD: raping & beating a woman in Fairfax, VA. The minister for men at Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church was accused of attacking and raping the woman in his car. Her body showed signs of having been hit with a belt & fists. Marriott told police that the attack was a form of role-playing. Sources: United Press InternationaI 3/8/06, wtopnews.com 3/8/06
• Michael Willis Heard, 27, & Gregory Railey Jr., 26, Canton, OH: 4 counts of theft by deception. Heard is founder & chief executive officer of Xzuberant Faith Basketball Association, a Christian-based basketball league. Railey is chief operating officer. The league scammed at least $60,000 from hundreds of people, by promising that nobody would be refused pro contracts as long as they paid registration fees. Sources: The Repository [OH] 3/5/06, 2/11/06
• Rev. Terry Hornbuckle, 44, Arlington, TX: failing to stay in custody long enough to be fitted with an electronic monitoring device. The pastor of the Agape Christian Fellowship Church has been in & out of jail since March last year. He was initially arrested for drug abuse & sexual assault, then arrested three more times for violating the terms of his bail. He was ordered to pay the costs of his twice-weekly drug tests & monthly bond supervision. He cannot consume alcohol or drugs unless prescribed by his doctor & pre-approved by the court. Source: Dallas Morning News 3/3/06
• Rev. Elidio Tapia-Renteria, 45, Owatonna, MN: 4th-degree criminal sexual conduct. The preacher at Calvary Church in Owatonna & Rios De Agua Viva in Faribault was charged with molesting his assistant several times over a 7 month period. He reportedly told the woman she was doing God's work by helping him to liberate himself, & threatened that something bad would happen to her & her family spiritually if she refused. Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press 3/1/06
• Rev. George Silva, 73, Raton, NM: 4 counts of sexual misconduct involving a minor. The Catholic priest was arrested by FBI agents on charges including transporting a boy under age 16 from New Mexico to France & Portugal for criminal sexual activity. He is on administrative leave pending an internal church investigation. Source: Santa Fe New Mexican 2/24/06
• Rev. Morales Saintilus, Long Island, NY: 4 counts of incest, 2 counts of endangering the welfare of a child, & 2 counts of sexual abuse. The pastor & owner of the Ebonizer Baptist Church, attended by Haitian Americans, was charged with raping at least 3 female family members under age 17, some as young as 12. One teen said she was raped nearly twice a week for 4 years. Saintilus is a fire-&-brimstone preacher who often speaks about atoning for one's sins. Source: WABC- TV 2/9/06
• Rev. Kevin Thompson, 48, Bay Area, CA: illegally catching & selling 465 juvenile leopard sharks. The pastor of the Bay Area Family Church & 5 other people were charged with harvesting leopard sharks that were too small for commercial distribution & therefore protected under state law. Source: San Francisco Examiner 2/9/06
• Rev. Vincent Kohn, Springfield, FL: abandonment & cruelty to animals with unnecessary suffering. The pastor of The Anointed Church of God was arrested after a witness saw him throw several puppies into the woods from a pickup truck, leaving them to die. Police who went to Kohn's house found more puppies & their mother, all malnourished and/or with no food or water. Source: local6.com 2/7/06
• Rev. Michael Peters, 36, Denver, CO: 2 counts of sexual assault of a child by a person in a position of trust. The minister at New Hope Baptist Church was charged with sexually assaulting a girl, 17, in 2003. He was then pastor, choir director, & counselor at the 2nd Baptist Church in Boulder. The girl was in the church choir & had come to him for counseling after being a victim of a previous sexual assault. Source: Denver Post 2/7/06, 9news.com 2/7/06
• Rev. Jimmy McCants, 54, Chicago, IL: misdemeanor criminal trespassing. The pastor was arrested in the middle of his sermon at the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church. The church's board of directors told police they had fired McCants in December, & a woman affiliated with the church had signed a complaint against him for trespassing on church property. Source: AP 2/7/06
• Msgr. Bernard Prince, 71, Ontario, Canada: 2 charges of sexual assault. He was accused of abusing an altar boy, 12, when he was a parish priest in the 1960s. Now retired & living in Rome, he was once secretary general for the Vatican's Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith, & was close to the late Pope John Paul II. Source: AP 2/3/06
• Rev. Charles V. Shifflett, 54, Culpeper, VA: taking indecent liberties with a child. This is the 3rd time he was arrested in just over the same week. The pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, who resigned last November, was charged with an incident occurring in March 1998. He was previously charged with 2 counts of child endangerment in incidents occurring in 1992-93, & taking indecent liberties with a child between 1991-93. He was a leader at Calvary Baptist Academy, a church-run private school. Source: Free Lance-Star 1/27/06
• Timothy Robert Frahm, 40, San Antonio, TX: indecency with a child by contact. The religion, literature, & physical education teacher at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church School was charged with molesting a female student, 12. He has since resigned. Source: San Antonio Express-News 1/26/06
• Rev. Lorenzo Dixon, 40, Arcadia, FL: simple battery & improper exhibition of a firearm. The pastor of Assembly of Praise Church was arrested at the Fairfax Tabernacle Church in Jacksonville for being involved in a fight with another man. During the argument, Dixon wielded a handgun. Source: local6.com 12/28/05
• Rev. Galen Ermil Peckham, 71, Waterloo, IA: indecent exposure, assault with intent to commit sexual abuse, & 2 counts of simple assault. The visiting minister at First United Methodist Church resigned after being arrested for molesting an elderly woman at a care facility. Peckham was also told to refrain from active ministry pending the investigation. Source: Waterloo Cedar-Falls Courier 12/22/05
• Rev. Joseph Briceno, Phoenix, AZ: 8 counts of sex crimes involving 2 minors. The fugitive priest was arrested near the Mexican border. Source: AZ Daily Star 12/17/05