Christianity in General

Pastor and former police chaplain arrested for child sex abuse

January 6, 2019

 

Rodgers McFarland, pedophile pastor

 

HERE we go again … it seems that not a day passes without reports cropping up of God’s representatives being nabbed for abusing a child, or children.

 

The latest report comes from California, where John Rodgers McFarland, 66, above, head pastor at several Southern California churches, was arrested in Fullerton in connection with incidents that allegedly occurred while he was visiting relatives in Escondido.

He’s accused of two felony charges of lewd acts committed against a child between July 26, 2012 and July 23, 2013, according to a criminal complaint provided by the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office. The child is identified in the complaint as a girl under the age of 14.

McFarland has worked and lived in the Orange County area so law enforcement authorities believe there may be additional victims, according to Gloria Scott of the Fountain Valley Police Department.
Investigators executed search warrants at McFarland’s Fullerton home, his place of employment and the Fountain Valley Methodist Church.

McFarland is the current pastor at Orangethorpe United Methodist Church in Fullerton, where he has worked since 2014. Prior to that, he served as the head pastor of Fountain Valley United Methodist Church for 26 years, police said.

He also served as a pastor at Surf City Church in Huntington Beach from 2009 to 2014.

Americans Trust Clergy Less Than Ever, Gallup Poll Finds

December 27, 2018

 

Americans’ confidence in religious leaders’ honesty and ethical standards has been tanking in recent years.

 

Gallup has been asking Americans to rate the honesty and ethical standards of clergy since 1977.

 

The level of trust Americans have in clergy members has dropped to a record low, a recent Gallup survey suggests.

The polling organization found that only 37 percent of 1,025 respondents had a “very high” or “high” opinion of the honesty and ethical standards of clergy, according to a report published on Thursday. Forty-three percent rated clergy’s honesty and ethics as “average,” while 15 percent had low or very low opinions.

The 37 percent positive rating is the lowest Gallup has recorded for clergy since it began examining views about religious leaders’ ethical standards in 1977.

Currently, only 31 percent of Catholics and 48 percent of Protestants rate the clergy positively, according to Gallup.

Toronto pastor arrested, charged with sexual assault of teen girl

December 22, 2018

 

លទ្ធផល​រូបភាព​សម្រាប់ daniel george toronto

Daniel George, charged with sexual assault of minor

 

Toronto police have arrested and charged a pastor with sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl in three separate alleged incidents.

Daniel George, 51, from Shelburne, Ont., was arrested on Dec. 9 for sexual assault, sexual exploitation and failure to comply with recognizance.

Investigators said the incidents occurred between Oct. 5 and Nov. 22, 2018. He’s set to appear in court next week.

Police said he is a pastor at the School of Wisdom Outreach Temple, which is located at Jane Street and Haney Avenue, just west of the Stockyards.

Officers said George is known to frequent the areas of Brampton, Toronto, Shelburne, and Montreal.

Toronto police spokesperson Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook said they’re making the public known of the incident because they believe there may be more victims.

Illinois pastor arrested on child sex abuse charges

December 16, 2018

 

Jeffrey S. Krupinski, child molester

 

PITTSFIELD, Ill. — The pastor of a Detroit, Ill., church has been arrested on sex abuse charges.

Charging documents show that Jeffrey S. Krupinski, 51, was charged with two counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault in Pike County Circuit Court. The charges allege that Krupinski touched a 14-year-old girl for sexual gratification. The incident reportedly took place July 4.

The Detroit Christian Church’s Facebook page said Krupinski’s first day at the church was July 1.

Court records show Krupinski was arrested Oct. 26.

If convicted of the Class 2 felonies, he faces three to seven years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

He posted $4,500 on Friday to be released from the Pike County Jail. He was ordered to not have contact with any person under age 18 nor the accuser in the case.

Detroit pastor accused of murdering transgender woman

December 15, 2018

 

លទ្ធផល​រូបភាព​សម្រាប់ Albert Weathers,

Albert Weathers shot and killed a transgender woman

 

A Detroit pastor has been charged with murder in the shooting death of a 36-year-old transgender woman, authorities said.

Albert Weathers, 46, was charged with open murder and use of a firearm on Monday in the case of Kelly Stough, who was found dead on a Detroit street last week.

Prosecutors said a police officer discovered Stough’s body last Thursday and charged Weathers, the pastor of the Logo’s Church, after an investigation.

Authorities did not disclose a possible motive, but sources told ABC affiliate WXYZ that Weathers allegedly fled the scene and reported the shooting to police afterwards.

He was fired from his position at the Great Lakes Water Authority shortly after being charged, according to the company.

“Albert Weathers is no longer employed at GLWA. Mr. Weathers was off-duty at the time of the alleged incident,” a Great Lakes Water Authority spokesperson said. “His conduct was unrelated to his employment with GLWA.”

Weathers is being held on $1 million bond, but his lawyer, David Cripps, plans to petition for a lower bond, citing the suspect’s strong ties to the community. He said his client maintains his innocence, according to WXYZ.

Prosecutors and officials with the Fair Michigan Foundation, a program that assists in solving serious crimes involving members of the LGBT community, called Stough’s death an example rampant violence against transgender people.

“This case reflects the excessive brutality that members of Detroit’s transgender community constantly face,” Fair Michigan President Dana Nessel said in a statement. “We thank the Detroit Police Department for their efforts to investigate the facts of this tragic crime.”

Weathers is due back in court next week.

Pastor Arrested For Sexual Assault of 3 Minor Girls

December 13, 2018

 

Jerry Lewis Friday , pedophile

 

A North Carolina pastor was arrested today for the sexual assault of three minor children. Jerry Lewis Friday is accused of sexually abusing at least three victims over the past several years. According to the police, Friday assaulted the children at private residences and church property. Friday used his position as pastor to gain trust with families and assaulted the children.

According to the Gaston Gazette, authorities learned about the abuse after a victim reported the crime to the police. In court, prosecutors told the judge the investigation started three weeks ago after the victim came forward.

As the police conducted their investigation, they identified three victims abused by Friday. Prosecutors say the victims’ ages at the time of the offenses ranged from 13-17. Today the victims are 16-19 years.

According to a report on WCNC, police say the abuse occurred between 2015-2018. Friday allegedly abused the girls at his residence, the victim’s home, and on the property of the church. All of the girls identified as victims were members of the congregation lead by Friday.

During Friday’s arraignment, the court charged him with one count of felony statutory sex offense, four counts of felony indecent liberties with a child, one count of felony disseminating obscene material to a minor, and two counts of misdemeanor sexual battery.

Based on the severity of the crimes, prosecutors asked the judge to set Friday’s bail high. After hearing the evidence, the judge agreed to set Friday’s bail at $1 million.

Friday did not appear physically in court but watched by a video screen.

When the judge asked Friday if he had anything to say to the charges, he told the court no.

At this point, police have not ruled out the possibility that there are more victims and consider the case on-going. They have asked anyone that has been victimized by Friday to call Det. Rheinson at 704-866-3320, or Crimestoppers at 704-861-8000.

With a bond of $1 million, the crimes committed by Friday against the three victims must be egregious. Friday’s charge of felony statutory sex offense is a class B1 felony and carries a maximum of life in prison.

He’ll say the devil made him do it.

 

New Providence Baptist Church has not commented to any media outlets. However, starting today they are going to need to hire a new pastor, Friday won’t be available for service anytime soon.

Tonight the victims can rest easy knowing the man that brutally assaulted them is behind bars. Hopefully, the girls will be able to receive the professional help they need to recover from the trauma.

Hundreds of sex abuse allegations found in fundamental Baptist churches across U.S.

December 11, 2018

 

 

លទ្ធផល​រូបភាព​សម្រាប់ dave hyles

Dave Hyles, sexual predator posing as ‘man of god’

 

Joy Evans Ryder was 15 years old when she says her church youth director pinned her to his office floor and raped her.

“It’s OK. It’s OK,” he told her. “You don’t have to be afraid of anything.”

He straddled her with his knees, and she looked off into the corner, crying and thinking, “This isn’t how my mom said it was supposed to be.”

The youth director, Dave Hyles, was the son of the charismatic pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, considered at the time the flagship for thousands of loosely affiliated independent fundamental Baptist churches and universities.

At least three other teen girls would accuse Hyles of sexual misconduct, but he never faced charges or even sat for a police interview related to the accusations. When he got in trouble, Hyles was able to simply move on, from one church assignment to the next.

Hyles’ flight to safety has become a well-worn path for ministers in the independent fundamental Baptist movement.

For decades, women and children have faced rampant sexual abuse while worshiping at independent fundamental Baptist churches around the country. The network of churches and schools has often covered up the crimes and helped relocate the offenders, an eight-month Star-Telegram investigation has found.

More than 200 people — current or former church members, across generations — shared their stories of rape, assault, humiliation and fear in churches where male leadership cannot be questioned.

“It’s a philosophy — it’s flawed,” said Stacey Shiflett, an independent fundamental Baptist pastor in Dundalk, Maryland. “The philosophy is you don’t air your dirty laundry in front of everyone. Pastors think if they keep it on the down-low, it won’t impact anyone. And then the other philosophy is it’s wrong to say anything bad about another preacher.”

The Star-Telegram discovered at least 412 allegations of sexual misconduct in 187 independent fundamental Baptist churches and their affiliated institutions, spanning 40 states and Canada.

Twenty-one abuse allegations were uncovered exclusively by the Star-Telegram, and others were documented in criminal cases, lawsuits and news reports. But victims said the number of abused is far greater because few victims ever come forward.

One hundred and sixty-eight church leaders were accused or convicted of committing sexual crimes against children, the investigation found. At least 45 of the alleged abusers continued in ministry after accusations came to the attention of church authorities or law enforcement.

Compounding the problem is the legal statute of limitations. For many alleged offenders, the statutes on the crimes have expired.

Many of the allegations involve men whose misconduct has long been suspected in the independent fundamental Baptist community. But most of their victims have not publicly come forward, on the record, until now. Even pastors have for the first time — in interviews with the Star-Telegram — acknowledged they moved alleged abusers out of their churches rather than call law enforcement.

From Connecticut to California, the stories are tragically similar:

A music minister molested a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina and moved to another church in Florida. Another girl’s parents stood in front of their Connecticut congregation to acknowledge their daughter’s “sin” after she was abused by her youth pastor, beginning at 16. This year, four women accused a pastor in California of covering up sexual misconduct and shielding the abusers over almost 25 years.

To understand how this systemic, widespread abuse could happen again and again, some former members say it is necessary to understand the cult-like power of many independent fundamental Baptist churches and the constant pressure not to question pastors — or ever leave the church.

“We didn’t have a compound like those other places, but it may as well have been,” said one former member who says she was abused. She requested anonymity because, like many others, she is still intimidated by the church.

“Our mind was the compound.”

Current and former members say many independent fundamental Baptist churches rule by fear.

Pastor Jim Vineyard was an expert in the tactic.

Vineyard had a tattoo snaking around his forearm and liked to talk about the days he said he was a Green Beret. He began his preaching career under Dave Hyles’ father, Jack, in Indiana and left to begin his own church, Windsor Hills Baptist Church in Oklahoma City.

Former members in Oklahoma City remember the story about a photo of a dead man Vineyard kept in his desk. It was a favorite of Vineyard’s to tell from the pulpit.

In one version of the story, the picture was of a man who voted against Vineyard coming into the church to pastor. The man subsequently got into a car crash and broke his neck.

Or there was this version: The photo was of the son of a Windsor Hills family who told Vineyard they were going to leave the church. Vineyard warned them: If they did, God would punish them. They left, and the son died in a car crash.

Defy Jim Vineyard, the message went, and God would punish you.

To go against the advice of the pastor of an independent fundamental Baptist church is almost unthinkable. The “man of God” is chosen by God and is the church’s direct link to him. To question the pastor is to question God.

“I see a culture where pastoral authority is taken to a level that’s beyond what the Scripture teaches,” said Tim Heck, who was a deacon at Faith Baptist Church in Wildomar, California, and whose daughter said she had been abused by the youth pastor there. “I think the independent fundamental Baptists have lost their way.”

Many pastors build authority through fear and interpretation of Bible verses. Children learn the story of Elisha and the she-bears: As the prophet Elisha walks up the path toward Bethel, a group of children surrounds him and makes fun of his baldness. Two she-bears emerge from the woods and maul 42 of the children. The lesson: Don’t challenge the man of God.

Even if they leave, some ex-members wonder for years whether bad events in their lives were caused by an angry God. Jennifer McCune, who came forward this year to allege that Dave Hyles raped her when she was a 14-year-old in Texas, still wonders 36 years later if God punished her by giving her late husband cancer.

 

For the full article go to the Miami Herlad;

Hundreds Of Women Accuse Medium ‘John Of God’ Of Sexual Abuse

December 11, 2018

 

លទ្ធផល​រូបភាព​សម្រាប់ joão de deus

João de Deus and his sexual crimes against his followers

 

UPDATE                   UPDATE                   UPDATE                   UPDATE                  UPDATE   

December 19, 2018

The number of sexual assault complaints against this fraudster is now well over 300.

Brazil’s state police say they have found a suitcase full of cash and emeralds hidden in the home of a faith healer accused of sexual abuse by hundreds of women.

The suitcase was discovered at the home of Joao Teixeira de Faria on Friday in a basement accessed by a trap door in a closet.

Police in the central state of Goias said they also found about $300,000 worth of Brazilian reals. They had yet to appraise the emeralds.

De Faria worked for several decades in rural Brazil as a healer who claimed he could cure diseases.

 

HuffPost Brazil’s Andréa Martinelli says the country has been in shock since the first accuser spoke up on TV earlier this month, triggering an avalanche of similar complaints. João Teixeira de Faria, known as John of God, “was a medium of prestige here in Brazil,” Andréa said. His devoted followers believed he had the power to heal through “spiritual surgeries” and felt betrayed and even defensive when women began accusing him of abusing them under the guise of treatment.

Now wait a fuckin’ minute. How can people still be shocked by a ‘faith healer’  also being a fraud and a sexual predator?  These traits go together like peanut butter and jelly, like Amos and Andy, like Leopold and Loeb. Wake up people. They are all frauds and many (if not most) of them are sexual predators.

 

UPDATE                   UPDATE                   UPDATE                   UPDATE                  UPDATE   

Twelve women have come forward with allegations of sexual abuse against world-famous Brazilian medium and spiritual healer João de Deus (John of God). According to the victims, he abused them when they sought spiritual healing in the House of Dom Inácio de Loyola, in Abadiânia (GO), where thousands of people from all over the world go searching for spiritual treatments and counseling to every week.

The cases were first reported by news articles in newspaper O Globo and in a special episode of TV Globo’s late-night talk show “Conversa com Bial.”

According to O Globo’s piece, 12 women reported unwanted sexual advances from De Deus. The reporters spoke to six of them,

“Conversa com Bial’s” host Pedro Bial and reporter Camila Appel also interview 10 of those women and heard similar accounts. The talk show only showed four of them, because of time constraints.

The show featured three Brazilian women, who asked to remain anonymous, and Dutch choreographer Zahira Lieneke Mous, the only victim who agreed to go on record entirely.

​Mous said that her first went to Abadiânia’s healing center in 2014 when she sought help healing the trauma from previous sexual abuses.

After extensive research, Mous said she felt comfortable traveling alone to Goiás. In her second visit to the healing center, she was told she had been chosen to have a private consultation with João de Deus. “You feel special,” she said.

Mous described, among tears, that during the first consultation, the psychic first asked why she was there. Then, he came close and smelled her skin, and asked her to stand with her back facing him and led her to a bathroom.

He then placed her hands on his genitals, moving them in stroking motions. After the abuse was over, he opened a cabinet filled with gemstones and asked Mous to pick one. Then she was led back to the bathroom, and João de Deus forced her to have anal sex.

The choreographer told Bial that she didn’t run and scream because she believed she could be trained as a medium to help other people. The show displayed a photograph of Mous during her time at Abadiânia’s healing center, in which she was assisting John of God in his healing sessions, which was considered a great privilege.

After she left Abadiânia, Mous realized the seriousness of what had happened to her but kept in self-denial for the following four years.

“I was terrified of them sending bad spirits in my directions, wrecking my life; that I would not be able to sleep,” she said.

After a while, Zahira understood that she needed to deal with this and other traumas, and shared her story on a Facebook post.

Sitting next to Bial, she heard other women’s stories and realized that the cases follow a pattern. The victims say that first they were chosen for private consultations, treated as if they were unique, and taken to a room accessible by a side door within the healing center’s main building. João de Deus’s offers of crystals and gemstones after the abuses were another common practice, according to the testimonies.

One of the Brazilian women said that she sought the medium after a breast cancer treatment in 2017. Fragilized from the medical procedures, she first underwent a public spiritual surgery, but when she returned for a follow-up consultation, she was called into the side room. There, João de Deus told her that she was almost cured, but that she still needed further treatment to remove the tumor for good.

João de Deus told her not to tell anyone what was about to happen and the sexual abuse started.

The woman described how the medium told her to stay with her back facing him, as he proceeded to touch her all over her body. He also asked her to rub her hips with her hands and take deep breaths. He said she had too much energy and that he would heal her. Then he laid his penis against her buttocks and started to breathe heavily.

The victim said she was distressed, but she was afraid to yell something and afterward be assaulted by the thousands of believers that were outside the center waiting for their turn in the healing sessions. She then told João de Deus she was feeling uncomfortable with his behavior and he told her to go.

“He said that he was doing everything in his powers to help my family and me, but I was uncooperative. Also, that the disease would be coming back.”

Another Brazilian woman saw the psychic for the first time in 2009, searching for a cure for her son’s sight problem. She returned several times, and in 2013 she sought spiritual help after divorcing her husband. According to her account, she was assigned a special energy cleanse in João de Deus’ private room, and he took her to the bathroom and placed her with her back facing him. He then put her hands in his genitals. In another occasion, the medium sat in a chair and requested oral sex.

After these episodes, she returned to the healing center accompanied by a male relative and João de Deus wasn’t happy to see that. She also said she only realized that she was sexually abused after hearing other victim’s narrative. She told Bial it was tough to tell the story of her abuses, but she wanted to avoid the same happening to other people.

The third Brazilian victim said she went to Abadiânia to treat her depression. Some friends recommended the center, and she went there twice, in 2014 and 2015. She underwent a spiritual surgery on the first visit but saw no improved. The second time, she noticed João de Deus staring at her while she was standing in line for treatment.

After practically pushing away a sick female follower who knelt to greet him, he went to the woman, took her hand and invited her to the “special” room, as he continued to stare at her.

Once inside the side room, he locked the door and told the victim he dreamed of her. He also placed her hands on his penis and said the woman she was strong and was doing a good thing. He invited her to lunch and afterward committed further abuses, saying that the treatments to clean her chakras, and then the spiritual entities request secrecy about what was happening.

OTHER SIDE
João de Deus’ press representative sent the following statement to “Conversa com Bial”: “For 44 years, João de Deus served thousands of people in Abadiânia, doing good deeds through spiritual healings. Despite not being informed of any details regarding this news piece, he vehemently rejects any improper practice during his consultations. ”

The press representative told O Globo newspaper that the accusations were “false and fanciful,” questioning why the victims didn’t seek the police. The representative also said that the whole situation is “regrettable since Medium João is a person with a spotless character.”

Folha contacted João de Deus’ representatives but so far received no response.

Trial begins for Winnipeg pastor charged with sex crimes in California

December 7, 2018

 

លទ្ធផល​រូបភាព​សម្រាប់ Nathan George Rieger

Nathan George Rieger. pedophile

 

The trial for a Winnipeg pastor accused of arranging to meet a minor for sex in California has started in that state, an official in the local district attorney’s office confirmed Tuesday.

Assistant district attorney for San Luis Obispo County Eric J. Dobroth wrote in an email pre-trial motions in the trial for Nathan George Rieger began Monday and jury selection was completed Tuesday.

Opening statements and evidence will begin Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. CT, Dobroth said.

Rieger, 53, was arrested on Aug. 10 in Arroyo Grande, about 128 kilometres northwest of Santa Barbara, and charged with arranging to meet with a minor for a sexual act and meeting with a minor for a sexual act, according to Arroyo Grande Police Department records.

The 53-year-old entered a not guilty plea later in August. He also resigned from his pastor position at Winnipeg Centre Vineyard Church on Main Street, where he previously worked for 19 years.

Rieger was arrested on Aug. 10 by the Arroyo Grande Police Department. (Arroyo Grande Police Department)
Officers first began investigating Rieger on Aug. 8 as part of an undercover sting operation.

Police created an avatar of a 15-year-old girl, which they used to communicate with Rieger, Cmdr. Shawn Cosgrove with the Arroyo Grande Police Department told CBC in August.

“There’s a whole network of people that are looking to have sex with minors and we have a detective bureau that is designated to have conversations with these people that are seeking to have sex with minors,” Cosgrove said at the time.

Pastor Arrested After Pulling Gun on Transgender Sex Worker

December 7, 2018

 

រូបភាពពាក់ព័ន្ធ

 

A New Orleans pastor is in hot water after allegedly pulling a gun on a transgender sex worker in late November. Wilfred Brown (no photo available) pastor at Evariste Temple Church of God in Christ was arrested on November 20th after the sexual tryst went wrong. Authorities charged Brown with illegally pointing a pistol at Kourtney Smalls as well as soliciting a prostitute.

 

According to an article in the New Orleans Advocate, Brown and Smalls met on November 20th. Police investigating the case believe Brown picked Smalls up at 10:30 pm. The state trooper report said Brown stopped near an intersection and solicited Smalls to engage in a sexual act.

 

Shortly after Smalls entered the car, Smalls told police that Brown put on a condom. Brown then initiated the sexual act with her. According to Smalls, the incident went south when Brown realized that she was a transgender woman.

 

In the police report presenting in court, Smalls told authorities that Brown chased her down the street at gunpoint in a fit of rage. While Smalls ran for her life, she called 911 and asked for help.

 

Police made contact with Smalls, and they took her side of the story. Shortly after talking with Smalls, police pulled Brown over as he left the area.

 

When police approached the vehicle, authorities found Brown’s pants unzipped. They located an empty condom wrapper outside of the parked car. Authorities also found a bottle Viagra in Brown’s back-pocket.

 

Naturally, Brown’s recollection of the events starkly contrasted Smalls’ account. Brown said that he picked up Smalls to offer her a ride because of the cold temperatures outside. Brown told the Advocate he only planned to have a conversation with Smalls.

 

According to Brown, everything went wrong when Smalls forcibly reached into his front pocket and stole a wad of cash. Brown said Smalls took around $370.00. After Smalls robbed and punched him, Brown said he pulled the gun out to defend himself.

 

After taking accounts from both individuals, police arrested them both for their roles in the incident. Police charged Brown with aggravated assault and soliciting a prostitute. Authorities charged Smalls with simple robbery. Both were taken to the station and booked on November 20th.

 

Brown immediately posted a $500 bond and was released until his court date. Smalls remains in jail due to a probation violation for a 2015 conviction on four charges of simple robbery.

 

Despite the evidence against him, Brown told the Advocate that he would sue “if necessary” for the false accusations made by Smalls. He insists that because he has diabetes and has high blood pressure, he would never solicit a prostitute.

Volunteer is caught performing oral sex on a child, 3, on a megachurch’s camera

November 29, 2018

 

Jacop Robert Lee Hazlett, 28, was arrested after allegedly abusing the 3-year-old child on Sunday

Jacop Robert Hazlett, caught blowing a 3 year old

maybe that’s why he volunteered at the church

Only an incredibly negligent parent would allow their child to attend church.

 

 

  • Jacop Robert Hazlett, 28, was arrested after being filmed with the toddler
  • An affidavit says that Hazlett was recorded performing oral sex on the child
  • Investigators say Hazlett led the toddler to the restroom and assaulted him
  • The church told parents they had carried out all requisite background checks 

 

A church volunteer who was caught on a security camera performing oral sex on a toddler is being held.

Jacop Robert Lee Hazlett, 28, was arrested after police say he escorted a three-year-old into a bathroom where he sexually assaulted the child on Sunday at the NewSpring Church, in Charleston, South Carolina.

An affidavit states that Hazlett was recorded on cameras leading the child to the bathroom where he performed the sex act.

In a statement handed out yesterday by the church, they stated: ‘In the videos, it appears there was inappropriate conduct by Hazlett.

‘We immediately took steps to prevent Hazlett from volunteering in any capacity at our church in the future and, at the same time, we reported this information to law enforcement.’

Former pastor and critic of gun control charged in Catholic supply store murder and sexual attack

November 23, 2018

 

Bruce

Thomas Bruce, from pastor to rapist and murderer

 

A man who formerly worked as a pastor is facing murder, sodomy and kidnapping charges for attacking three women at a Catholic Supply store in the St. Louis suburb of Ballwin.
On Wednesday, St. Louis County authorities charged Thomas Bruce — 53 of Imperial,  Missouri — in connection with a deadly Monday attack at the religious supply store.
Bruce, who had written on social media about his opposition to “gun-free zones,” allegedly began the attack by retrieving a handgun after shopping in the store.
He’s accused of forcing three women into a back room at gunpoint. There, he allegedly exposed himself and ordered them to “perform deviant sexual acts on him,” according to a criminal complaint.
When one of the women refused to comply, Bruce shot her in the head.
He ordered the other women to continue the sexual acts and he later fled the scene.
“It seems to me a guy like this saw an opportunity — three women in the store alone,” St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch said. It is not believed Bruce targeted the store for religious reasons, according to McCulloch.
Saying he’s served as a police officer for more than three decades, Jon Belmar — ​​​the county’s police chief — called the crime “one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever had occasion to investigate” in a statement published on social media Wednesday.
Bruce has religious connections in his past.
He founded an evangelical Christian church called Calvary Chapel in 2003. He also has been associated with several other ministries and churches across the state.
Bruce worked at Calvary Chapel as a pastor for a few dozen people until 2007, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports, citing David Fitzgerald, a pastor at an affiliated church in the area.
A survey of Bruce’s social media presence shows that he’s spoken publicly against gun control and about veterans’ issues.
“We should stop expecting criminals to follow the rules,” he wrote last week. I’m hoping we end gun-free zones and put the criminals on notice that they will be stopped.”
He has posted often about veterans’ issues, including a call to action just last week for people to support veterans who are considering suicide.
Bruce served in the U.S. Navy in the 1980s.
Bruce’s arrest brought an end to a two-day manhunt. In the wake of the attack, some schools, churches and businesses closed in the area.
Bruce faces 17 counts, including first-degree murder, sodomy and attempted sodomy, kidnapping and other crimes. It wasn’t yet clear if he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
He has no previous criminal record in Missouri beyond a traffic ticket.
Bruce is jailed without bond and could be eligible for the death penalty. Good.
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