Child Abuse

Report documents decades of abuse by Colorado’s Catholic priests

October 26, 2019

DENVER, Oct 23 (Reuters) – At least 166 children have been sexually abused at the hands of 43 Roman Catholic priests in Colorado since 1950, an investigative report disclosed on Wednesday, far exceeding the scope of the scandal previously documented in the state.

The scathing 263-page report, presented by former U.S. Attorney Robert Troyer, accused the Archdiocese of Denver and the Dioceses of Pueblo and Colorado Springs of fostering a culture of secrecy that placed the reputations of offending clergy and church leaders over the welfare of children.

“This dynamic in the Colorado Dioceses was a severe impediment to the protection of children, and it is one (they) are not done addressing,” the independent report said.

Most of the abuse took place decades ago, although one case found to be “arguably still viable for prosecution” has been referred to authorities for further criminal investigation, the review said. The alleged offender was not identified.

In documenting the church’s failure to protect its youth from predators, the report cited the example of one now-deceased Denver-area priest, George Weibel, who investigators concluded had molested at least two girls under the guise of teaching them to swim or ice skate.

One victim reported the abuse to another priest, who failed to notify church superiors because he was good friends with Weibel, according to the report commissioned by the state attorney general’s office.

“He did not report it to Denver Archdiocese authorities, and he did not even record her (victim) report until years later. As a result, the Denver Archdiocese did not take any action against Weibel,” the report said.

The report’s release came eight months after the three dioceses agreed to open up their personnel files to Troyer’s team of investigators and set up a compensation fund for victims.

In a statement following the release of the report, Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila apologized to the victims, but said his words could not ease their suffering.

“I am sorry about this horrible history — but it is my promise to continue doing everything I can so it never happens again,” Aquila said.

NC pastor accused of sex crimes involving minor arrested

October 26, 2019

Nicholas Adam Martin

BELMONT — Authorities in North Carolina say a pastor accused of sex crimes involving a 14-year-old has been arrested.

News outlets report 24-year-old Nicholas Adam Martin was taken into custody Sunday. Gaston County authorities said in a news release that he’s an associate pastor at North Belmont Church of God in Belmont.

Martin has been charged with four counts of indecent liberties with a minor, four counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and one count of felonious indecent exposure to a minor. The incidents reportedly took place between October 2018 and September 2019.

Martin is being held in the Gaston County jail on a $1 million bond. It’s unclear whether he had an attorney who could comment on his behalf.

Priest arrested in Toronto sexual exploitation investigation

October 26, 2019

Jordan Wellington

Toronto police have arrested an associate priest in connection with a sexual exploitation investigation.

Investigators say that Jordan Wellington, 37, of Toronto was arrested following the alleged sexual exploitation of a 17-year-old girl.

Wellington has been charged with sexual exploitation and criminal harassment and repeated communication, police said.

According to police, Wellington is an associate priest at St. John’s Anglican Church-Willowdale, which is located near Yonge Street and Steeles Avenue.

Anyone with information related to this incident is being asked to contact police or to reach out anonymously through Crime Stoppers.

No further details have been released regarding the alleged incident.

Mormon Bishop Arrested for Child Pornography

October 25, 2019

On Wednesday, October 16th, 61 year old Timothy James Hallows was arrested and charged with eight counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, a second degree felony. Each of the charges carry the potential of up to 15 years in prison. In his initial court appearance on Thursday, he was ordered to be held without bail.

In August, Microsoft, owner of Skype, sent a tip into the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about “child sexual exploitation material” being distributed on their platform under the username “timhallows”.

Officers served an internet service provider with a search warrant to reveal the IP address associated with the reported account which traced back to the Kaysville residence of Hallows.

On October 3rd, investigators discovered that there were three additional complaints concerning the same user and files depicting “child sexual abuse.”

Officers served a search warrant to his residence on Wednesday the 16th, where they report that he admitted to distributing child pornography and admitted to owning more than 100 images. Investigators indicate that they located thousands of images at his home.

Hallows waived his Miranda right pertaining to self incrimination and willingly spoke to investigators.

It is reported that when investigators told Hallows that they believed he had engaged in sexual contact with children, “he stated, ‘Uh huh’, and shook his head in affirmation,” according to the affidavit.

“Hallows stated the children are not real, and provided several incidents of justification or rationalization for the conduct,” according to the probable cause statement.

“Hallows refused to take a polygraph examination with questions regarding hands-on sexual contact with young children,” according to the affidavit. “He further stated that he has done nothing regarding sexual contact with children long term.” Hallows is said to have gone on to explain that images he took while serving as Bishop for the Mormon church on camping trips could lead to a failed polygraph.

Elgin pastor arrested, accused of sexual abuse of minor

October 20, 2019

ELGIN, Ill. — A pastor in Elgin has been accused of sexually abusing a minor last year.

Elizandro Salazar-Montoya, 46, of Carpentersville, was arrested Thursday morning and charged with four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and criminal sexual assault.

Authorities believe he knew the victim, who was younger than 18, and held a position and trust and authority over the victim.

At the time, authorities said Salazar-Montoya served as a pastor at Iglesia Apostólica de Elgin (IAFCJ) church in the 37 block of Hopps Road. Prosectors said the abuse took place between Nov. 1 and Dec. 1 of last year.

The Kane County Child Advocacy Center investigated the case with assistance from the Elgin Police Department. The case remains under investigation. Anyone with information should call the Kane County Child Advocacy Center at 630- 208-5160.

He is being held on $300,000 bond and the pastor’s next court date is scheduled for Oct. 25.

Father Oliver O’Grady-California Monster

October 25, 2019

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As the most populous state in the country, California has had more than its fair share of infamous people, perhaps none more so than former Catholic priest Oliver O’Grady who sexually abused at least 25 children in the Diocese of Stockton during decades of working in California.

O’Grady himself was molested by a priest as a young boy and there were incidents of incest in his family in which he was both perpetrator and victim.

O’Grady’s infamy is not due solely to the number of children he harmed but also due to the fact that it involved Cardinal Roger Mahony and his tenure as the bishop of Stockton from 1980-85, just prior to transferring to Los Angeles.

As an LA Times reporter wrote in 2005, “In a chillingly frank account, a former Roman Catholic priest, promoted 20 years ago by Roger M. Mahony, recently described his decades-long career as a pedophile, including his sexual tastes and how he groomed his young victims for abuse.

In a 15-hour videotaped deposition in March, Oliver O’Grady described how his heart raced when one of the slim, playful boys he preferred toweled off after a swim. He also said he liked to lift little girls’ skirts and peek at their underpants.

Asked to demonstrate how he would lure one of his estimated 25 victims into his arms, the 59-year-old Irish native softened his voice, flashed an avuncular smile and looked directly into the video camera.

“Hi, Sally,” O’Grady improvised. “How are you doing? Come here. I want to give you a hug. You are a sweetheart. You know that. You are very special to me. I like you a lot.”

If his hug met no resistance, O’Grady testified, he would take the child’s compliance as “permission” to molest.

The deposition came in connection with lawsuits filed against the Stockton Diocese over alleged abuse by clergy. Mahony, who was bishop of Stockton from 1980 to 1985 before heading the Los Angeles Archdiocese, inherited O’Grady, who had admitted years earlier to molesting an 11-year-old girl. In 1984, police investigated a therapist’s report that O’Grady had molested a boy.”

The reporter described how there were times during the deposition, O’Grady seemed to be enjoying his performance. He showed no signs of remorse during the deposition or during his stint in prison.

In 1993 he was convicted on four counts of “lewd and lascivious acts” on two minors, the brothers Joseph and James Howard, and was sentenced to 14 years in prison. O’Grady repeatedly molested the Howards between 1978 and 1991, from age three to 13. Court documents show church officials knew that O’Grady had abused children as early as 1976 and 1984 but had done nothing. Police had been informed of earlier charges and had declined to file charges. Bishop Roger Mahony sent O’Grady to a psychiatrist for an evaluation and the second opinion said the counseling was satisfactory; the second opinion did not recommend he be removed from ministry, nor established a diagnosis of pedophilia.”.[3] In 1998 a civil jury ordered the Catholic Diocese of Stockton to pay $30 million in damages to the brothers. A judge later reduced the amount to $7 million. O’Grady was paroled from prison in 2000 after serving seven years, and went to Ireland after being deported from the United States.

The 2006 film Deliver Us From Evil, documents O’Grady’s abuse. O’Grady said he wanted the film to serve as the “most honest confession of his life.”

In December 2010 he was arrested in Dublin, Ireland for possession of child pornography. The victims were as young as two years old. Authorities discovered child pornography photos and videos on O’Grady’s laptop, on an external hard drive, and on a USB key. Judge Patrick McMahon remanded O’Grady on continuing bail to appear again on January 28. As part of his bail conditions O’Grady was required to sign on twice daily at Dublin’s Harcourt Terrace Garda station, and surrendered his passport. In January 2012, O’Grady was sentenced to three years in prison in Ireland for possession of child pornography.

It is hard to imagine that the Diocese of Stockton and Cardinal Roger Mahony knew all about O’Grady’s pedophilic behavior and remained complicit in his crimes for decades. That makes them criminals as well.

Oliver O’Grady is not an isolated case in California either. There are over 400 Catholic priests who’ve been credibly accused of sexual abuse. If the survey is expanded beyond the Catholic Church, the situation is even grimmer. Take for instance, the present case at the University of Southern California with George Tyndall and his serial abuse of young female college students.

Fresno priest told followers they needed sin masturbated away, police say. Now he faces sex charges

October 16, 2019

An Anglican priest in Fresno has been arrested and charged with sexual misconduct involving at least three adult parishioners. And police fear there could be dozens more victims.

Jesus Antonio Castaneda Serna, 51, was taken into custody on Sunday after an investigation by Fresno police detectives. Serna, who headed the Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe church in Fresno, is alleged to have convinced frightened followers that they had sinned or were cursed and that the only cure was to be rubbed with a “sacred oil” and be masturbated by him.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said Serna told his victims that this was a special ritual he learned while in India and that their semen needed to be examined before they could be healed.

Dyer said many of Serna’s victims were undocumented immigrants, a fact that the priest is alleged to have exploited.

“Serna preyed on the undocumented because he knew they would be reluctant to talk to the police,” Dyer said.

Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp and Dyer urged the other victims to come forward, saying that they don’t need to be afraid. If they are undcoumented, they can apply for a U visa that is granted to victims of mental or physical abuse and who are willing to cooperate with police.

Anyone who believes they are a victim may call the Fresno Police Department at 559-621-7000.

Serna was booked into Fresno County Jail on Sunday and posted bond on Monday.

Smittcamp said Serna has been charged with multiple counts of sexual battery, battery and attempted sexual battery. So far, detectives have taken statements from three victims, ages 54, 45 and 43, and there are at least 19 others who told church officials they, too, are victims. At least one of those victims is female.

Smittcamp said Serna faces up to 11 years in jail if he’s found guilty on all counts. That could change if more victims come forward.

Dyer said Serna was a former Catholic priest in Yakima, Washington, from 1997 to 2006.

The Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin said Serna joined the diocese in 2008 but had been relieved of his pastoral and priestly ministry in October 2017 after Bishop Eric Menees received credible information that Serna had committed sexual misconduct. Serna was officially stripped of his duties on Nov. 24, 2017.

In a news release, the diocese said it forwarded information about Serna to Fresno police Authorities at Monday’s news conference did not disclose a timeframe for the alleged misconduct that resulted in Serna’s arrest.

After he left the diocese, Serna moved on to start his own church, Holy Spirit church at 4277 N. West Ave. in Fresno.

Dyer said authorities believe they’ve identified 22 potential victims but there may be hundreds more victims.

Ex-Abilene pastor, Christian musician Jeff Berry arrested on child sex crime

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October 9, 2019

ABILENE, Texas — Jeff Berry — best known in Abilene as the worship leader in the late 90’s at Grace Bible Study, a non-denominational bible-study for college students — was arrested on a child sex crime.

Berry — who now lives in Franklin, Tennessee — was arrested around 4:30 p.m. by the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office on a sealed indictment out of Taylor County.

He’s charged with being a fugitive from justice.

Berry’s bond was set at $10 million.

He’s also being detained in the Williamson County Jail (TN) on a hold out of Texas for indecency with a child by contact.

Berry, 55, is accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy in 1996.

At the time, Berry was working at Pioneer Drive Baptist Church and leading worship for various church camps.

Pioneer Drive Baptist Church is also where fugitive ex-day care worker Jeffrey Forrest, 47, who is wanted for aggravated sexual assault of a child, used to be employed.

In a divorce affidavit obtained by KTXS, the young man, who is now 35, said the abuse by Berry started when he was in middle school.

“He turned out all of the lights and had candles instead; he had us both lie on the floor next to each other in the dark to watch a movie,” said the victim.

The allegations include touching and spooning after Berry took the young man’s shirt off.

“It was all very uncomfortable and scary to me, and the next thing I remember, I was in his car and he was taking me home,” the victim said.

The alleged sexual abuse was not reported until October 2018.

“I was ashamed and embarrassed about what had happened,” said the victim.

In the document, the victim said he did not even tell his parents what happened and at times thought it was his fault.

Years later, while counseling another kid who was molested by another suspect, the victim told his aunt what Berry had done to him.

“I blurted out that was me and then my aunt helped me address the issue,” the victim said.

A second victim said Berry abused him in the same setting — a candlelight room with music playing in the background.

At the time of the alleged crime, Berry was hired by First Baptist Church of Abilene to lead worship for a summer camp.

Berry and the second victim — who was in high school — became friends and hung out together.

One night at Berry’s home, Berry started massaging the second victim’s shoulders.

“Berry then took his shirt off and asked me to take off mine or took mine off himself, and then he put me on top of him, kissing, caressing and fondling me,” said the second victim.

The alleged sexual abuse went on for 15-20 minutes.

Berry worked for several churches throughout Texas and later moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he managed several Christian musicians.

He’s expected to appear in court on Oct. 24 at 1 p.m.

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Australian Catholic priest charged with 18 additional child sex offences

October 8, 2019

A Catholic priest has been charged with multiple child sex offences allegedly committed at a Southern Highlands college more than 30 years ago.

In April 2019, detectives attached to The Hume Police District – working under Strike Force Kesup – investigated allegations of sexual and indecent assaults at a Burradoo boarding institution during the 1980s.

A 78-year-old Kensington man remains before the court charged with nine offences allegedly involving students, who were aged between 12 and 15 at the time.

Following extensive investigations, the man was re-arrested at Southern Highlands Police Station about 11.30am on Tuesday.

He was charged with an additional 18 offences, including four sexual assault offences, 12 indecent assault offences, and two offences of gross indecency committed by a male.

The man was given conditional bail to appear before Moss Vale Local Court on Tuesday, October 8.

Police will allege that between 1982 and 1989, the Catholic priest indecently assaulted 11 children, committing 27 offences in total.

The NSW Police Force encourage anyone who has been a victim of such crimes or has information about incidents of child abuse to come forward.

High priest of Norman church removed from position following child sex crime charges

October 6, 2019

Image result for Matthew Hack.Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

NORMAN, Okla. — A member of the high counsel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, according to church members, was removed from his position amid allegations of lewd acts with a child.

“The initial feeling was just disbelief,” Jordan Wareham told News 4.

Wareham, who grew up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Norman, spoke about accusations against a former church leader, 64-year-old Matthew Hack.

Four counts of lewd acts to a child and one count of oral sodomy were filed in Cleveland County on Thursday.

“It’s every parent’s nightmare to hear that something’s happened to their child,” Wareham, a good friend of the victim’s parents, said.

The six-year-old victim was “visibly upset and crying when her mother brought her in to be interviewed,” according to the probable cause affidavit.

Wareham said once the church learned of the allegations against Hack, he was removed from his position on the church’s high counsel.

“It’s my understanding that they also filed a third party lawsuit to go along with it,” Wareham said.

News 4 went to the church to get more information on the alleged lawsuit, but the doors were locked and no one answered our calls.

Hack denied touching the victim and told investigators he doesn’t know where the allegations are coming from, according to the affidavit.

However, investigators said they found that probable cause exists to support the crime of lewd acts, according to the affidavit.

“This is something no child should ever have to go through and they deserve justice as much as everybody else,” Wareham told News 4.

Hack will be in court in Cleveland County on October 29 at 9 a.m. for a preliminary conference hearing.

Devil In the Red Hat: What the Bridgeport Diocese Abuse Report Can’t Say

October 5, 2019

Besides being the bishop of Bridgeport, Conn., and then cardinal archbishop of New York, the Reverend Edward Egan was a monster. Now that he is safely dead, this can be said. And much more. In the Diocese of Bridgeport he was preceded by other monsters, Bishop Walter Curtis and Bishop Lawrence J. Shehan. This was known as a kind of folk wisdom in the diocese and patched together from the years of stomach-turning testimonies and news items. But now, at least some of the truth is documented extensively in a report by a judge and law firm commissioned by the Bridgeport diocese itself.

Those three abovementioned men reigned, between 1953 and 2000, over a diocese in which over 70 priests abused nearly 300 children in various ways. The response of these three men to this reality evolved. One bishop would simply instruct subordinates to handle abusive priests and then not look too much into it. Some shredded and destroyed incriminating documents. Egan perfected the art of legal stonewalling. The report largely vindicates the approach of Egan’s two successors, Archbishop William Lori (now of Baltimore) and the current bishop, Frank Caggiano. Both implemented recommended practices, and the incidence of abuse declined.

The report goes into the consequences of abuse for the victims. Their damaged relationship to the Church, their struggles with depression, and self-harm. A sample quote: “Sir, I do not know what to do or how to handle this. I have carried this with me for many years. . . . With the court case . . . coming to light, I went through the whole painful memories again and again. . . . I have not been able to have sexual relations with my wife for almost a year now. I feel so dirty and ugly inside. . . . Please help me. What should I do?” That quote is captioned: “Adult survivor practicing in another Christian denomination, relating how 35 years earlier, as an eighth-grader, he visited a Catholic parish in the diocese to explore Catholicism, only to be abused by the very priest from whom he sought an introduction to the faith.” It also outlines continuing problems for non-offending priests, in terms of lowered morale.

The report is admirably blunt. Reassignment of priests known to have abused children began under Bishop Sheehan. Bishop Curtis did not remove abusive priests from service and was “undisguisedly indifferent” to child sexual abuse. Egan “took a dismissive, uncaring, and at times threatening attitude toward survivors and survivors’ advocates.” He adopted a “scorched earth litigation strategy” and held a “belief that his principal obligation was to protect the assets of the diocese and to safeguard against what he described as “scandalous” media reports. The report does note that there had been an evolution in our society’s attitudes toward the sexual abuse of children over the period covered but that one constant remained, a conviction that “sexual abuse of children is morally wrong and deeply injurious.”

Nearly 1,700 Priests ‘Credibly Accused’ of Abuse Living With No Oversight

October 3, 2019

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Nearly 1,700 priests and other clergy members of the Roman Catholic Church who have been credibly accused of child sexual abuse are living with little to no oversight from religious authorities or law enforcement, according to an AP investigation. Dozens of priests have committed crimes since leaving the church, including sexual assault and possessing child pornography, the AP reports. Hundreds of priests were found to still be working with children, 160 continued working or volunteering in churches, and about 190 obtained professional licenses to work in education, medicine, social work, and counseling. The AP reports that 76 still had valid credentials in those fields as of August. Each diocese determines the threshold for a priest to be determined as “credibly accused,” with allegations ranging from inappropriate conversations to rape.

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