Christianity in General

Tennessee pastor, 41, is found guilty of raping a teenage boy after citing Bible verse which said ‘holding each other is just a way to show love’ – and he now faces two more trials involving other underage accusers

August 30, 2019

Gorton testified in his own defense on Wednesday, denying that he sexually abused any children
  • Ronnie Gorton was convicted Wednesday of 24 charges, including sexual battery and statutory rape 
  • During his trial, Gorton’s accuser, now aged 18, testified the pastor sexually abused him every night for a year-and-a-half 
  • Gorton denied raping the boy, but admitted to giving him alcohol and sleeping in his bed, because he claimed the teen was suicidal 
  • He faces two more trials stemming from alleged sexual abuse of two other teens, one of whom was 12 at the time 
  • Prosecutor called Gorton a ‘ravenous wolf in sheep’s clothing’  

Another malignant hypocrite bites the dust.

A Tennessee youth pastor has been found guilty of raping and sexually abusing a teenage boy on a nightly basis for more than a year.

A jury deliberated for less than two hours before finding 41-year-old Ronnie Gorton guilty Wednesday on 24 charges, including sexual battery and statutory rape.

WMC-TV reported that Gorton, who had remained stone-faced throughout the trial, put his head down as the verdicts were read in Tipton County.

The now 18-year-old victim told jurors the abuse started the day he moved in with Gorton and his then-wife, Rhonda, in 2017, and intensified over the next year-and-a-half.

When asked to describe the frequency of the abuse, the victim said Gorton raped him every single night.

‘It just never stopped,’ he said from the stand, according to a report from Covington Leader.

The 18-year-old said Gorton justified his actions by citing a Bible verse which said ‘holding each other is just a way to show love.’

He accused the married pastor of isolating him from his family and friends, manipulating him into thinking everything was his fault and taking control of his life.

When on one occasion the teen invited two friends over to stay the night, he said the pastor plied them with alcohol and engaged in inappropriate behavior towards them.

Gorton took the stand in his own defense on Wednesday and vehemently denied molesting the victim during two hours of testimony, though he admitted providing alcohol to the youth and other teens.

He also admitted to sleeping in the boy’s bed, but claimed he only did it because at the time the teen was in a ‘dark place’ following his mother’s arrest and spoke of suicide.

As reported by WMC Action News 5, prosecutor Walt Freeland called the victim’s bedroom in the Gorton family’s house ‘a chamber of horrors’ and described the pastor as a ‘ravenous wolf in sheep’s clothing’ who preyed on his flock.

Gorton’s ex-wife took the stand as a witness for the prosecution during the trial, painting an unflattering portrait of her former spouse as a man with a volatile temper who cultivated a facade of respectability.

‘I was very quiet when it came to the way I portrayed Ronnie,’ Rhonda Gorton told the court on Tuesday. ‘He was supposed to be a man of honor and I tried my best not to tarnish his reputation.’

The couple married in 2001 as virgins. There was little intimacy in their relationship and they had no children of their own, according to the ex-wife’s testimony.

Rhonda said she knew since 2012 that her husband had an addiction to pornography and served alcohol to minors, but she kept mum, telling herself he was just mentoring troubled boys.

‘I blame myself for not seeing it because I didn’t want to or because it was hidden, either way.’

Gorton’s sentencing hearing will start in November.

Gorton still faces trials involving two other teenagers who accused him of rape. One was 12 at the time of the alleged abuse

The pastor at the now-defunct Awakening Church in Atoka still faces trials involving two other teenagers who accused him of rape. One was 12 at the time of the alleged abuse.

The sexual abuse allegations against Gorton first came to light when Tipon County deputies responded to a report of a suicidal man at his home on January 31, 2018.

During the course of their investigation, Gorton was given a psychiatric evaluation and taken in for questioning.

Meanwhile, deputies learned that Atoka police were investigating an underage boy’s accusation that Gorton had raped and sexually assaulted him multiple times at Gorton’s home earlier in the month — the accusation was said to have made Gorton suicidal.

Following the initial investigation, two additional alleged victims came forward with accusations against Gorton.

Gorton was indicted in March of that year on charges, among them one count of rape, 16 counts of statutory rape by an authority figure, 17 counts of sexual battery by an authority figure and five counts of aggravated sexual battery.

Five months later, a grand jury returned another 44-count indictment against him.

Evangelical Songwriter Ditches Christianity In Emotional Instagram Post

August 27, 2019

He’s changing all the references to god in his songs (Jesus, God, Lord, etc.) to ‘baby’ to make them more commercially viable.

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A musician who spent years writing songs and performing with the globally influential Christian music collective Hillsong now says he is questioning his faith.

Marty Sampson is a songwriter and worship leader for the recording label that grew out of Hillsong Church, a congregation based in Sydney that now has branches in 23 countries. Hillsong frequently sets the trends in the Christian contemporary music industry, and its songs are sung by millions of people around the globe every Sunday.

Sampson has been writing for Hillsong since at least 1998. More recently, he was one of the musicians behind “The Lord’s Prayer,” a song that appears in Hillsong Worship’s 2018 album, “There Is More.” The song is a musical rendition of Christianity’s foundational prayer.

But Sampson now appears to be questioning the foundations of his faith. In mid-August, he started sharing his doubts about Christianity with his followers on Instagram. According to the faith-based news website Christian Post, Sampson announced in a since-deleted post that he was “genuinely losing my faith,” clarifying later that while he hasn’t completely renounced Christianity, his faith has been on “incredibly shaky ground.”

Iowa pastor arrested in Minnesota, faces Omaha child sex abuse charges

August 18, 2019

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OMAHA — Authorities in Minnesota have arrested an Iowa pastor on charges that he sexually assaulted two girls at a home in Omaha.

Police in Carlton County, Minnesota, arrested 44-year-old Emanuel J. Rodriguez on Saturday morning on a Douglas County arrest warrant that charged him with two counts of third-degree sexual assault of a child. The website for the Calvary Assembly of God Church in Council Bluffs, Iowa, lists Rodriguez as a pastor.

An affidavit filed Friday accused Rodriguez of fondling two girls between Jan. 1, 2017, and May 17, 2019, inside two homes in Omaha previously owned by Rodriguez. The girls are now ages 12 and 11.

It’s unclear when Rodriguez will be returned to Omaha.

Independent Fundamental Baptist Pastor Charged with Rape of Teen

August 15, 2019

A former pastor of a fundamentalist Baptist Church in Maryland is facing sexual assault charges related to a minor child. Baltimore police say that Giovanelli assaulted a former student for eight months in 2007.

According to a report by WJZ in Baltimore, police began investigating Giovanelli after the victim reported the assault to police on May 2018. The victim, Sarah Jackson, agreed to share her story with the media.

According to Sarah Jackson, Giovanelli began abusing her in January 2007. Initially, the pastor sent her text messages that were suggestive. Then the abuse progressed to unsolicited kissing and touching that occurred daily at school or in church offices.

Cameron Giovanelli worked as a pastor Calvary Baptist Church in Dundalk from 2003-2014. The church is part of the fundamental independent Baptist church which holds, but does not adhere to, strict Biblical beliefs about sex, marriage, homosexuality, and gender roles.

Jackson told police that the abuse occurred between January – August 2007. She shared her story online through blogs, podcasts, and YouTube videos. After she reported the abuse to police, they opened an investigation into the allegations surrounding Giovanelli.

Not only did the police investigate the claims, but the church reached out to Jackson to talk with her. Church pastor Stacey Shiflett said that Jackson’s story was credible because of the detail she provided in her account of the abuse. Additionally, he and the staff were able to corroborate many of the statements made by Jackson

After Jackson publically accused Giovanelli of rape, the former pastor wrote a 2,400-word essay where he denied the allegations. Additionally, Giovanelli called Jackson a liar and said he would no longer tolerate her dragging his name through the mud.

Following a 15-month investigation, police issued an arrest warrant for Giovanelli last week. He is charged with sexual abuse of a minor, perverted practice, and fourth-degree sexual offense stemming from the illegal sexual contact he had with a student. Baltimore police believe Giovanelli likely assaulted other children from the church.

Sarah Jackson shared her happiness on Twitter when she learned of the pastor’s arrest. She wrote, “15 months. 455 days. I have cried, and I have prayed.” Jackson continued, “I have watched my character, integrity and my family be shredded for speaking up. Today, God’s timing was revealed. Today, Cameron Giovanelli was arrested for sexually abusing me in high school.”

After authorities issue the arrest warrant, Giovanelli turned himself into police last week. Police booked him, and at his bail hearing, the judge released him on his recognizance. The former pastor cannot have any contact with the victim as a condition of his release.
If convicted on all charges, Giovanelli faces up to 36-years in prison.

IFB is one of the most toxic cults in the United States. These churches promote an insular and secretive society that distrusts outsiders. Within the church, men have complete control over their families.

Additionally, women must submit and obey their husbands. With an imbalance of power in the church, the culture becomes ripe with abuse by the men toward women and children. Due to church members distrusting outsiders, members rarely report sexual assault or domestic violence to authorities.

Sarah Jackson refused to remain silent. Due to Jackson’s courage in reporting him to police, Giovanelli will face his day in court. No church or organization should hide the sexual abuse of children from authorities.

The IFB proves again that underneath their holier than tho appearance many of the pastors use their position of power to prey on their congregations.

Oklahoma youth pastor, former teacher arrested for child rape

August 15, 2019

HUGO, Okla. (KXII) – A current Hugo youth pastor and former teacher and coach has been arrested accused of having sex with teen girls while he was previously employed as a teacher in McCurtain County and a youth pastor in LeFlore County.

Investigators with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation say they were asked to investigate when allegations surfaced that Justin White, 34, had sex with a female student several times during the 2013-14 school year when he was employed as the baseball coach at Smithville Public Schools in McCurtain County.

During the investigation, agents spoke with another girl who was a member of the Spiro Baptist Church when White was youth pastor there. The girl, who was underage at the time, said White would take her upstairs at the church to be alone. When alone, White would inappropriately touch and kiss the girl, who agents said was a teenager.

White was arrested on charges of second degree rape in McCurtain County and lewd molestation in LeFlore County at the Clayton Avenue Baptist Church in Hugo and is currently in the Choctaw County jail awaiting transport to McCurtain County and then to LeFlore County.

Pastor charged with sexual battery was considered ‘prophet of God’ by congregation

August 9, 2019

Cesar Guerrero, 38, a pastor at Misión Cristiana El Calvario has been charged with three counts of sexual battery stemming from an incident that occurred on Aug. 5, according to court documents.

CINCINNATI, Ohio – A pastor at a Ohio church has been charged with a sex crime involving a minor.

Cesar Guerrero, 38, a pastor at Misión Cristiana El Calvario in Sharonville, Ohio, has been charged with three counts of sexual battery stemming from an incident that occurred on Aug. 5, according to court documents.

The man is accused of engaging in sexual conduct with a 17-year-old girl who is a member of his church. According to jail records, “multiple females” have made sexual abuse accusations against him.

“Guerrero is considered a prophet of God as the Pastor of his church,” an affidavit states.

Police said he used this position to influence a girl into believing that the word of God said she “needed to be cleansed from being molested as a child,” the affidavit states.

Court documents state Guerrero met the girl alone in his office and “used bible scripture and prayers to cleanse her” while sex acts were performed.

He told the victim that “God was talking to him and it was necessary,” documents said.

Guerrero appeared in court Thursday with a Spanish translator before Judge William Mallory but told the court he spoke English.

In addition to the sexual battery charges, police said Guerrero is facing federal child pornography charges. Mallory also confirmed pending federal charges at Guerrero’s arraignment.

Police said he had plans to leave for Guatemala and “will leave the country if released.”

While discussing bond for Guerrero, Mallory told his lawyers, “You realize I’m going to hold him.”

His lawyer requested a reasonable bond anyway saying he was not a flight risk.

“I can’t do that,” Mallory said.

Guerrero is being held on a $300,000 bond.

Fired Officer Says Christian Beliefs Prohibit Him From Training Women

August 9, 2019

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Uber-Christian cop claims that he is the victim of discrimination because he’s not allowed to discriminate against women. Ironic, huh?

A North Carolina man fired as a sheriff’s deputy after refusing to train a new female officer because of her gender alleges in a lawsuit he is a victim of religious discrimination.

Manuel Torres, an evangelical Christian and former Lee County sheriff’s deputy, asserts that his faith prohibits him from being alone with women who aren’t his wife ― which he said is exactly what would happen if he agreed to train a female deputy.
The 51-year-old is suing the Lee County’s Sheriff Office, claiming he was fired for asking to be exempt from training the woman.
The 51-year-old is suing the Lee County’s Sheriff Office, claiming he was fired for asking to be exempt from training the woman.

The suit, filed in federal court in North Carolina on July 31, also names as defendants two other small towns Torres says subsequently denied him a job because of his religious beliefs about interacting with women. He seeks more than 300,000 in damages, as well as reinstatement by the sheriff’s office.

Mike Huckabee: Thoughts And Prayers Are ‘Only Thing’ That Will Stop Mass Shootings

August 6, 2019

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Because it’s been working so well so far.

This weekend’s mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, have many people demanding that something be done to stop gun violence.

However, Mike Huckabee insists there’s only one solution to curbing the violence and it’s ― you guessed it ― “thoughts and prayers,” that time-honored solution of pretending to do something without actually doing anything.

Huckabee said mass shootings will never stop until “kids are brought up once again to believe that we are all made in the image of God, that life is sacred and superficial differences like skin color are meaningless.”

He added:

Until then, passing more laws and pointing more fingers is just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Mike Huckabee is a fucking idiot.

South Carolina pastor arrested for failing to register as sex offender

August 3, 2019

LAURENS COUNTY, SC (WSPA) – Laurens County Sheriff’s Office officials said an Upstate pastor, who was found to be a tier III registered sex offender, was arrested for failing to register.

According to sheriff’s office news release, several members of the Bethlehem Grove Baptist Church, located in Clinton, went to the sheriff’s office to voice their concerns about their pastor, Henry Masten, II.

An investigation into their concerns revealed that Masten is a tier III registered sex offender out of Richland County.

“The Sheriff’s Office also found that Mr. Masten had not registered his employment in Laurens County with our agency or the Richland County Sheriff’s Office, therefore a warrant for his arrest was issued for failure to appear,” according to the sheriff’s office’s news release.

Masten was arrested at the church on Aug. 1 and he was booked into the Johnson Detention Center.

According to the release, Masten was convicted in Ohio in 2014 for gross sexual imposition and was also convicted in Richland County in 2007 for second-degree burglary.

Sheriff’s Office officials said a charge of failing to register can carry a fine of up to $1,000 and/or jail time of up to 366 days.

According to the release, the tier III sex offender classification is given for offenses including sexual assaults involving sexual acts regardless of victim age, sexual contact offenses against children below the age of 13, nonparental kidnapping of minors and attempts or conspiracies to commit those offenses.

“This type of incident is concerning. All calls for service are taken seriously and handled professionally,” Sheriff Don Reynolds said. “This office responds to all types of calls and handles them appropriately, regardless of who is involved. We serve and protect fairly and impartially in our actions.”

In regards to whether or not Masten will remain the pastor of Bethlehem Grove Baptist Church, sheriff’s office officials said that decision is “at the discretion of the church itself.”

Evangelical Megachurch Is Sued for More Than $1 Million in Child Sexual Abuse Case

July 29, 2019

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Matthew Tonne, the former children’s minister did a lot more than minister to them.

A woman who said she was sexually abused as a child by a pastor at one of the country’s most prominent evangelical megachurches sued the church on Friday, alleging gross negligence and seeking more than $1 million in damages.

The case against the Village Church — which is based in Flower Mound, Tex., outside Dallas, and is led by Matt Chandler — is perhaps the most high-profile current lawsuit alleging child sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention. It comes as the largest Protestant denomination in the United States has vowed to address widespread sexual abuse in its congregations.

The suit alleges that the church was “willfully negligent” in its failure to protect a child in its care from being sexually assaulted. It also says the church is liable for the actions of the pastor, who was removed from the staff last year. The woman is seeking damages after she says the abuse caused emotional distress, including an ongoing struggle with depression.

“No one has ever apologized to her, ‘Hey we are so sorry we failed to protect you.’ That is what has stuck with me this entire time,” said Christi Bragg, the young woman’s mother.

Matthew Tonne, the former children’s minister, was indicted by a grand jury in November and arrested in January on charges of sexually molesting Ms. Bragg’s daughter in 2012, when she was 11. Mr. Tonne, whose lawyer has said his client had been falsely accused, faces a forthcoming criminal trial.

The family said the Village has failed to provide them with sufficient answers and support since they told church leaders about the abuse in February 2018.

The Village has “not yet to date demonstrated a good faith desire to resolve this,” said Boz Tchividjian, a lawyer representing the young woman, who is now 18. “We have provided ample opportunity and ample time for that. We have hit a brick wall, and at that point in time we had to make the difficult but necessary decision to press forward to filing the lawsuit.”

Mr. Chandler and a lawyer for the Village, Dustin Gaines, did not respond to requests for comment after the suit was filed.

Florida pastor arrested on charges of rape of a girl under the age of 12

July 27, 2019

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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) – Detectives in Sarasota have arrested a pastor on charges of sexual battery of a girl under the age of 12.

Detectives say on Thursday, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office received a report from the little girl’s mother that Bicente Velasquez Morales, 43, a pastor at the House of Restoration Ministry on Pershing Avenue, had sexually battered her daughter. The mother made the report after detectives say her daughter told her about the abuse.

On Friday, Child Protective Services interviewed the victim, who told interviewers Morales had inappropriately touched her three separate times.

Detectives arrested Morales Friday night on a felony charge of sexual battery of a victim under the age of 12. He will be booked into the Sarasota County Jail.

Congolese Pastor Arrested Over Sexual Abuse

July 18, 2019

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Luanda — Angolan police authorities arrested a Congolese pastor of the Church of Espirito Santo (IESA) on Wednesday in Luanda, accused of sexual abuse and having impregnated a teenage girl, according to a source at the National Police.

Speaking to ANGOP, the PN source stated that the pastor, 39, belonged to an IESA congregation, located in the Salinas neighborhood, in the municipality of Belas, in Luanda.

The man confessed to the crime to the police authorities, after being detained.

According to the source, the incident occurred in December 2018 when the teenager’s mother, a church believer, took the girl to the congregation for malaria treatment.

According to the source, the pastor asked the mother of the 16-year-old girl to put her in the church, but later the man took the teenager to his home, where he sexually assaulted her several times.

Seven months later, she added, the adolescent showed symptoms of gestation, which led the mother to make clinical tests in one of the hospitals in the capital.

After the medical examinations, it was confirmed that the teenager was pregnant.

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