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January 21, 2020
WILKES COUNTY, N.C. — An eastern Wilkes County pastor was arrested on over 100 counts of felony sex offenses Thursday, according to the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office.
Rodney Dean Luffman, 58, is identified online as the pastor of a church on N.C. 268 in Elkin called Open Arms Outreach Ministries.
He was charged in connection with two male victims and one female victim.
The victim’s ages ranged from 4 to 16 when the offenses happened, deputies say.
Most of the offenses reportedly happened between 2000 and 2015.
On Monday, he was in the Wilkes County Jail under a $1 million bond.
The investigation is ongoing.
January 20, 2020
MICHIGAN — Two former priests who served in the Upper Peninsula have been charged with sex crimes, the state Attorney General’s office announced Friday.
Both men had ties to the Catholic Diocese of Marquette.
The charges come as state Attorney General Dana Nessel continues investigations into clergy abuse.
Nessel said that she authorized charges against Gary Allen Jacobs, 74, of Albuquerque, New Mexico for multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct. The charges involved allege assaults between 1981 and 1984 in Ontonagon County and in early 1984 in Dickinson County.
State attorneys did not reveal information about the victims, other than to note that several charges involved a child between 13 and 16 and one charge involved a child less than 13.
Jacobs was arrested Friday in New Mexico and is awaiting extradition on eight felony charges.
The other former priest is Roy Joseph, 52, lives in India, state officials said.
The Attorney General’s office has authorized one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a 2006 incident in Marquette County. Joseph served as a priest there at the time.
Michigan priest accused of tying up teenage boy, taping mouth and eyes
Sixth Michigan priest charged with criminal sexual conduct
Court records reveal years of alleged sex abuse by priests across Michigan
January 18, 2020
WEATHERLY, Pa. (CBS/AP) — A Luzerne County woman drove into the path of an oncoming vehicle as a way to test her faith, then exhibited no concern about the people who were injured in the crash, state police said. Bail was revoked this week for Nadejda Reilly, 31, of Drums, who is charged with aggravated assault and other offenses over allegations she purposely caused the wreck on Route 93 near Weatherly on Jan. 7.
An investigator said Reilly told him she had been driving around for a few hours, waiting for a calling from God, when she decided to drive through the oncoming vehicle.
“Reilly related God took care of her by not having her injured,” wrote Trooper Bruce Balliet in an arrest affidavit. “Reilly expressed no concerns or remorse for the victims. Reilly also stated she did not care if the other people were injured because God would have taken care of them.”
Two people in the other vehicle were taken to a hospital for treatment of injuries, Balliet wrote.
The online court docket indicated her $50,000 bail was revoked Wednesday.
Her lawyer, Andrew Theyken Bench, filed a notice with the court that Reilly plans to waive her formal arraignment in Carbon County court. He declined comment on the record Friday.
Prosecutor Seth Eric Miller did not return a message seeking comment.
January 18, 2020
A “satanic” sect killed a pregnant woman and six children – aged between one and 17 – during a violent exorcism inside a church, say prosecutors.
Officers found a mass grave containing seven bodies – the 33-year-old woman, five of her children and a neighbour’s child – in the indigenous region of Ngabe-Bugle in Panama.
The gruesome discovery came after local authorities were told several families had been held against their will in a church where exorcisms were believed to have taken place.
Fifteen people were rescued from the religious sect where they were reportedly tortured by being beaten with bibles, choked and having burning sticks rammed in their mouths to “cast out the demons”.
Ten sect members were arrested on suspicion of responsibility for the killings, prosecutors said.
Those rescued from the church had suffered bodily injuries, Alexis Munoz, a senior police official, told Reuters.
Rafael Baloyes, senior prosecutor of the Bocas del Toro province of western Panama, said: “We’re talking about seven victims, six minors between the ages of one and 17.
“Six from one family, the mother and her five children, and the mother was pregnant.”
The deaths involved the La Nueva Luz de Dios (The New Light of God) sect in the community of El Terron, according to the Panamanian Ministry of Public Security.
Ricardo Miranda, head of the Ngabe-Bugle semi-autonomous zone, wrote on Facebook: “We demand the immediate eradication of this satanic sect that contradicts all the harmonious and spiritual practices contemplated in the holy scriptures.”
The victims were indigenous people who had been abducted and kept captive by the sect’s priests, who also carried out exorcism rituals that included physical abuse, local media reported.
Mr Munoz confirmed the discovery of a mass grave in the same location where the victims were rescued that contained at least seven bodies.
He told local media: “When we arrived we were told there was a mass grave in the area, the National Police has since confirmed its existence.”
Lawyer Rafael Baloyes said: “It is a complex case. The group abused people and committed criminal acts against the local community.
January 18, 2020
Lyon (AFP) – Accused of sexually abusing dozens of boy scouts in the 1970s and 80s, a French Catholic priest confessed in court Tuesday to “caresses” he knew were forbidden, and said for 20 years “it happened every weekend”.
At scout camps, “it could be four or five children a week,” Bernard Preynat, 74, told a court in Lyon on the first day of his trial for preying on boys.
“For me, at the time, I was not committing sexual assault but giving caresses, hugs. I was wrong.”
Sitting up straight in the dock Bernard, Preynat‘s voice quavered as he admitted the interactions “did bring me sexual pleasure.”
But while he knew the actions were forbidden, he said he only finally understood that they were illegal thanks to “the accusations of the victims”.
The accusers were aged seven to 14 when the alleged crimes were committed between 1971 and 1991, when Preynat was a scout leader in Lyon.
The allegations against him sparked the biggest crisis in the French Church in decades and last year saw a cardinal convicted of covering up the alleged crimes.
Preynat was defrocked by the Church last July.
Former scouts have claimed he touched and kissed them and forced them into reciprocal fondling while they were in his care, including at camps. He denies ever kissing the boys on the mouth.
Francois Devaux, one of Preynat’s accusers and the founder of a victims’ organisation, spoke of the “hell” his parents, who had alerted church authorities about his experience, had lived through, and his own “very difficult, very complicated” adolescence as a result.
He said he had tried to commit suicide.
“I think I used to be a bright child. After, I lived a very dark life… flirted with dangerous things,” Devaux testified. He was ten when it happened.
“Pain, anger… Whatever the court decides, the harm and the trauma suffered in my childhood will continue. My responsibility is that this must never happen again,” said Devaux.
January 16, 2020
January 15, 2018
A Roman Catholic priest in Northern New Jersey was arrested and charged this week with multiple counts of child sex abuse dating to the early 1990s, the state attorney general’s office said. It was the first criminal case brought by New Jersey’s Clergy Abuse Task Force, which was formed last year to investigate abuse allegations in the Catholic Church.
Father Thomas P. Ganley, 63, of Phillipsburg, was arrested on Wednesday and charged with one count of aggravated sexual assault in the first degree and two counts of sexual assault in the second degree, the office of Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said in a statement. The office did not reveal the sex of the victim, who it said was between the ages of 14 and 17 at the time.
Father Ganley was assigned to Saint Philip & Saint James Church in Phillipsburg at the time of his arrest, but the attorney general’s office said the abuse occurred between 1990 and 1994 at Saint Cecilia Church in the Iselin section of Woodbridge. Both churches are part of the Diocese of Metuchen.
“Our Clergy Abuse Task Force is diligently pursuing its mission to expose the truth about past wrongs and seek justice for survivors, because no person is above the law and no institution is immune from accountability,” Mr. Grewal said in a statement. “This case illustrates that we are prepared to move swiftly to investigate allegations, and where there are viable criminal charges, to pursue those charges.”
The Rev. James F. Checchio, the bishop of Metuchen, said in a statement that it had never received an accusation of sexual abuse or misconduct related to Father Ganley, who he said also served as a chaplain at St. Luke’s Warren Campus Hospital in Phillipsburg.
Kira Bub, a spokeswoman for St. Luke’s University Health Network, said in a statement that Father Ganley had never been employed as a chaplain at the hospital. Instead, she said he was “one of several religious leaders who when requested by patients was permitted to visit in their room to minister requested services.”
January 10, 2020
NOBLESVILLE, Indianapolis – A suspended Catholic priest in Indiana is facing charges alleging he sexually abused a child in 2016.
Father David Marcotte of Indianapolis is charged in suburban Hamilton County with child solicitation, vicarious sexual gratification and dissemination of matter harmful to minors.
The Indianapolis Archdiocese suspended the 32-year-old Marcotte from public ministry in February after its victim assistance coordinator learned of the abuse allegations. It said that at the time of the alleged abuse, Marcotte was assigned to St. Malachy Parish in Brownsburg and St. Martin of Tours Parish in Martinsville.
A message seeking comment was left for Marcotte’s attorney.
January 10, 2020
Two Roman Catholic priests were each sentenced to more than 40 years in prison in Argentina for sexually abusing deaf children, a court in the western city of Mendoza ruled Monday.
Argentine priest Horacio Corbacho was sentenced to 45 years in jail, while a 42-year sentence was imposed on Italian Nicola Corradi for the abuse of some 20 children at the Provolo Institute for deaf and hearing-impaired children between 2004 and 2016.
The court said the sentences took into account the aggravating circumstances that the priests were responsible for the children’s wellbeing, as well as the fact that the victims were minors.
The institution’s gardener, Armando Gomez, was also jailed for 18 years for sexual abuse.
Outside the court a group of young people waited for the ruling with banners supporting the victims.
Corbacho, 59, and 83-year-old Corradi had been held in preventive detention since their arrest three years ago on charges of child sex abuse at the school.
Apart from the gardener, several other staff at the school were taken into custody after the allegations of abuse first came to light in 2016, and the institute, 1,000 kilometres west of Buenos Aires, was shut down.
They included a 42-year-old Japanese nun, Kosaka Kumiko, who was arrested later after surrendering to authorities. She was charged with complicity with the two priests.
The trial began on August 5 and heard evidence from 13 victims from the institute during in camera hearings.
Teenager, 19, kills ‘paedophile priest who abused him’ by ramming a crucifix down his throat and suffocating him
January 5, 2020
- Alexandre V. attacked 91-year-old Catholic priest at his home in Agnetz, Oise
- Roger Matassoli is accused of abusing the victim and his father
- Alleged to have abused at least four boys from 1960-2000
- Attacker has been charged with torture, murder and resisting arrest
A 19-year-old man has been arrested for killing a suspected paedophile priest by ramming a crucifix down his throat and suffocating him.
Alexandre V., who is alleged to have been abused by the priest, attacked the 91-year-old Catholic Roger Matassoli at the holy figure’s home in Agnetz, Oise, northern France.
Matassoli had been accused of sexually abusing at least four boys, including Alexandre and Alexandre’s father, between 1960 and 2000.
The priest had to be shifted from the diocese of Clermont in 1967 to the diocese of Saint-Andre-Farivillers, and was then moved to Agnetz, following allegations of paedophilia, reports Franceinfo. And yet he remained on the church’s payroll until 2018.
The attacker, whose full name has not been published, was arrested and charged with torture, murder and resisting arrest.
The priest’s body was found in his home with signs of torture on November 4.
Alexandre, who worked as a housekeeper in Matassoli’s home, was caught by authorities attempting to escape in the holy man’s car and arrested on the same day.
However, he was transferred to hospital due to alleged psychiatric problems and was not formally charged until December 26.null
The suspect had tried to kill himself after being abused by the priest, according to the suspect’s father Stephane, who has also claimed that his father killed himself when he learnt how his son had been abused by the priest.
Speaking about the priest’s impact on his family to French media, Stephane said the priest had ‘shattered a whole family’.
Police are investigating the case on the grounds that the killing was an act of revenge, reports French media. Alexandre has also told investigators he has no recollection of the events.
The priest is also alleged to have abused a man when he was aged between six and 15 years old in Saint-Andre-Farivillers, Franceinfo reports.
The victim’s sister Colette, who has made the claims, told the broadcaster that everyone in the village knew the rumours but no one took any action.
She also said that when a picture of Matassoli stripped naked was found in a landfill it was brushed aside, after the priest claimed it was taken when he was 18 years old and in the army.
‘(But) he did not look like an 18 year old boy in this photo,’ she said, before adding that young boys were invited to the priest’s home in the village every Thursday.
The priest had been officially removed from church duties in 2009 following the first allegations of abuse, but was kept on the payroll for another ten years, Beauvais bishop Jacques Benoit-Gonnin has revealed.
He was only removed after the bishop took into account the testimony of at least two alleged victims, and has claimed he was still paid due to ‘ecclesiastical errors’.
West Virginia Catholic bishop spent $4.6M renovating mansion where he ‘inappropriately touched young priests’ – fitting it with a sunken bar, a wine cellar and a $20K dining table – before church quietly sold it for only $1.2M after he was fired
January 6, 2020
A disgraced bishop spent $4.6million renovating the mansion where he allegedly made advances at young priests before the church quietly sold the property for just $1.2million.
Bishop Michael J Bransfield resigned as head of the Catholic Church in West Virginia in September 2018 amid allegations of sexual and financial misconduct. He was barred from public ministry by Pope Francis earlier this year.
A secret report later revealed how Bransfield spent more than $2.4million in church funds on personal travel, luxury items, liquor and prescription drugs – along with $4.6million on renovations to his diocese-owned home in Wheeling, where he allegedly groomed and inappropriately touched young men during his 13-year tenure as Wheeling-Charleston Diocese bishop.
After the allegations against Bransfield were made public over the summer, the diocese sold the Wheeling residence it had provided for him to David H and Meredith McKinley for $1.2million in August, according to Ohio County real estate records. David is the son of Congressman David B McKinley.
Church officials said they conducted the sale privately – without a real estate agent or online advertising – to avoid paying commission. The officials emphasized that the proceeds from the sale would go toward supporting programs for survivors of sexual abuse.
The private sale also had another effect: It kept the public from seeing just how extravagant Bransfield’s mansion was.
A Washington Post article published Sunday offers an inside look at the 9,200-square-foot Colonial Revival-style home – once known as Elmcrest – that Bransfield spent millions of dollars retrofitting with lavish amenities including a sunken basement bar, temperature controlled wine cellar and $20,000 dining room table.
The diocese offered the mansion at 52 Elmwood Place to Bransfield when he was installed as bishop in 2005. Just before he moved in, a plumber accidentally started a fire which caused $700,000 in damage.
Six people who worked on the home described to the Post how what was intended to be a modest renovation to repair the damage ballooned into an extensive, costly undertaking at Bransfield’s insistence.
‘It was always, “this” or “that” is what the bishop wants,’ said Jim Baller, the construction manager during most of the renovation.
Baller said Bransfield insisted on landscaping a large portion of the seven-acre property, planting trees to create a buffer between the home and a nearby interstate and installing a fish pond and waterfall as the focal point of the grounds.
Inside the home, Bransfield requested heated floors and jets in the master bathroom, five bay windows, a sun room, refurbished fixtures and a climate-controlled wine cellar with room for hundreds of bottles.
The unfinished basement was transformed into a sunken basement bar, where Bransfield allegedly plied young priests with alcohol and made unwanted advances on them.
Bransfield wanted the bar to be modeled after the cocktail lounge in entertainer Bob Hope’s Hollywood home.
‘The bishop said he wanted to bring clergy into the room and make a pleasant place where they could play cards,’ Denis Gill, the lead architect on the project, told the Post.
A crew of 25 to 30 masons spend a year constructing a stone fireplace in the basement, Baller said.
The Vatican investigation detailed how Bransfield would host lavish dinner parties at his home. Guests were seated in front of a massive portrait of the Last Supper as they dined on meals prepared by a personal chef.
After dinner, Bransfield would invite guests down to the basement bar, where he downed a half-bottle of Cointreau or more out of a tea cup, along with opioids like oxycondone.
‘Dinner guests who only visited occasionally were not invited to join the Bishop in the basement for after-dinner drinks, but he expected his Priest-Secretary, the Vicar General, overnight guests, and certain of his “favorite” young priests . . . to sit in the basement and be in his company,’ investigators wrote in the report.
‘One witness described this as “watching the Bishop watch television”. It was a ritual that none of the witnesses who experienced it reported that they enjoyed.’
The report includes an account from one seminarian who said he loathed staying at Bransfield’s home and ‘described multiple instances of overly aggressive hugs in which the Bishop would grab and squeeze various parts of the witness’s body’.
Witnesses also said that Bransfield would often invite guests upstairs to show them portraits of himself with important figures in the church, some of which were hung in his bedroom.
Bransfield ‘denied engaging in any sexual harassment or sexual activity with any priest or seminarian, either verbally or suggestively by his conduct’, the report states.
Former pastor, 50, is sentenced to 65 years in prison for filming himself repeatedly raping two underage girls inside the Missouri pizza shop he ran
January 5, 2020
- Loren Copp, 50, was convicted last year of eight federal counts of child sexual exploitation and enticement involving four victims
- Copp, a pastor and karate instructor, ran Dojo Pizza out of a defunct church on Morganford Road in St Louis
- Prosecutors said Copp groomed and sexually abused two sisters for a decade, beginning when they were 9 and 11 years old
- He also allegedly made the girls work at the pizzeria for little pay and threatened to kick them out if they refused
A former pastor and owner a karate-themed St. Louis pizzeria has been sentenced to 65 years in prison for repeatedly raping two young girls in his care and producing child pornography.
Loren Copp, 50, was convicted last year of eight federal counts of child sexual exploitation and enticement involving four victims.
He was sentenced to federal prison and ordered to pay $294,000 in restitution on Friday in US District Court.
He previously rejected a plea deal carrying a prison sentence of 15 years.
Federal prosecutors say Copp, a one-time pastor and karate instructor who ran Dojo Pizza out of a defunct church on Morganford Road in St Louis, groomed and sexually abused two sisters who had been in his custody since 2009, when they were ages nine and 11, reported Riverfront Times.
The children ended up living at Copp’s pizza shop, which also served as a community center and a karate school, because their parents were imprisoned, homeless or battling drug addiction, authorities said.
According to testimony presented at trial, Copp began grooming the victims for abuse by touching their buttocks while playing ‘the butt game,’ which then led to him touching their privates and breasts.
‘Eventually, Copp began raping both girls, and he would record the sex acts with a cell phone or video recorder,’ according to a statement from the US Justice Department. ‘While at the Dojo Pizza property, Copp would rape each girl multiple times a week, and while there he took pornographic pictures of one victim’s genitals and breasts.’
Some of the sexual abuse took place while Copp’s then-wife was away.