Archive for July, 2015
July 28, 2015
WAUKESHA, WI — A pastor of a Waukesha church has been arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a child.
Peter Knebel was arrested Sunday, according to the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Office. Online court records show Knebel was charged Monday with First Degree Child Sexual Assault. The sheriff’s office says Knebel was a pastor at Fox River Christian Church and was also a school bus driver.
A criminal complaint says a girl told someone that Knebel touched her inappropriately while she was seated on his lap and playing computer games in his church office. Executive pastor Mark Roberts says the church reported what happened to authorities and suspended Knebel. Roberts says Knebel wasn’t assigned to work with children.
WISN 12 News reports Knebel apparently left his job as bus driver with First Student on his own accord last month. First Student is a bus company that operates within the Waukesha School District. The school superintendent told WISN 12 News, “We have no information that would tie this alleged incident to any of our students.”
The Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department told WISN 12 News Knebel admitted to committing “other violations against other children in the past.”
He is in custody at the Waukesha County Jail.
“Our main concern with it is his position within the community as a school bus driver, as well as a pastor at this church, is that there are most likely other incidents that occurred at this church we are not aware of,” Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Patrick Esser told WISN 12 News.
July 28, 2015
The Jehovah’s Witnesses Church in Australia failed to report more than 1,000 reports of child sexual abuse since 1950, according to testimony presented at a government inquiry into the claims.
On Monday, Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse began to hear two cases of child sexual abuse which will be used to examine how the church has historically dealt with such claims.
The first case presented was that of a 47-year-old church member who said she first began to suffer sexual abuse at the hands of a church elder when she was 15 years old.
“I felt that if I told someone, it would upset…members of the congregation.”
Identified only as BCB, the alleged victim stated that she often spent weekends at the house of Bill Neill, a church elder and the father of one of her friends. She stayed with the Neill family on and off during her teens because her own family lived an hour away from the Jehovah’s Witnesses Church in Corrigin.
One night, she said, after she said goodnight to Neill, “he kissed me goodnight on the lips. Initially, this did not seem unusual to me, but he then stuck his tongue into my mouth. I pulled away and looked at him in shock. He looked at me and gave me a queer smirk-type smile.”
Such “tongue-kissing” became a routine occurrence which BCB said she did not feel she could tell anyone about because of his position in the Church as an elder.
“I felt that if I told someone, it would upset [Neill’s family] as well as the members of the congregation,” she said.
Over the next few years, the abuse worsened and BCB reported that he broke into the bathroom while she was showering and watched her one occasion, and forcibly performed oral sex on her in a separate incident.
When BCB mentioned to Neill’s daughter that she had begun “seeing a couple of boys,” Neill found out and asked to meet with her.
“I understood that I was being asked to see [Neill] in his capacity as an elder and that I had to do as I was told. I would never have chosen to speak to [him] about my relationships with boys otherwise,” she said.
Even though she had expected a formal discussion of her relationships with someone who occupied an authority position in the church, she was instead met with more abuse.
“I feel like [Neill’s] position as an elder contributed to his power over me. I now think that I was brainwashed Into thinking that speaking to people outside the church…would bring reproach upon Jehovah’s name.”
The Jehovah’s Witnesses Church did not reply to ThinkProgress’ request for comment.
However, a 2009 statement from the church notes that congregation elders are expected to investigate allegations of child abuse, two witnesses must corroborate the claim in order for the alleged perpetrator to be sanctioned by the church.
When any one of Jehovah’s Witnesses is accused of an act of child abuse, the local congregation elders are expected to investigate. Two elders meet separately with the accused and the accuser to see what each says on the matter. If the accused denies the charge, the two elders may arrange for him and the victim to restate their position in each other’s presence, with elders also there. If during that meeting the accused still denies the charges and there are no others who can substantiate them, the elders cannot take action within the congregation at that time.
This procedure seems consisted with BCB’s account. After she formally came forward with her claims of abuse, she was asked to meet with Neill, Church Elder Max Horley, and another church official as well as and her husband. She recalled receiving defiant stares from Neill over the course of the meeting and said in her statement that the environment did not allow her to openly discuss her abuse.
It was already very hard to talk about sex in a room full of men. It was especially hard to talk about what [Neill] had done to me while he was sitting there In front of me. I didn’t feel llke it was a safe environment and I was scared of what the consequences would be If I told the whole truth. Perhaps if a Sister who I was comfortable with had been there too, it might have been easier
Max Horley stated in his testimony that the church was unable to find what he called “clear proof” of the abuse.
“[Neill] denied that he had deliberately done anything improper and, if anything had happened, it had been unintentional,” he said. “Due to the lack of clear proof from either party, it became a case of one person’s word against another. However, it had cast a cloud over the qualifications for [Neill] to remain an elder.”
“I knew it wasn’t right,” Horley said. “I didn’t realise it might have been a criminal matter.”
While Neill stepped down as a church elder soon after that meeting with BCB, Horley, and others, the reason for his resignation was not made clear to church members.
“Although I understood the reasons for privacy, I have since felt that people in the congregation should have been warned about someone like [Neill],” BCB said.
It does not appear that they reported BCB’s claims to authorities as may have been required by Australian laws on the “mandatory reporting” of child abuse and neglect. Sometime after Neill stepped down from his position as elder, he moved along with his family from Corrigin to Perth. It was only after he died that BCB reported her abuse to the Royal Commission.
The 2009 Chuch statement on child protection affirmed that “elders may be required by law to report even uncorroborated or unsubstantiated allegations to the authorities.”
According to the Royal Commission, even when members were official sanctioned by the church for child abuse, they were later allowed to return. The Commission found that since 1950, the church expelled 401 members after its internal hearings on allegations of abuse. It subsequently allowed 230 of them to return to the church. Thirty-five were welcomed back on multiple occasions.
While church members who have confessed to child sexual abuse may be allowed to return to their congregations if they are deemed sufficiently repentant, a 1997 article from The Watchtower, a magazine put out by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, suggested that they should not be allowed to assume authority positions.
“For the protection of our children, a man known to have been a child molester does not qualify for a responsible position in the congregation. Moreover, he cannot be a pioneer [full-time missionary of Jehovah’s Witnesses] or serve in any other special, full-time service.”
Creflo Dollar was caught stealing $15,000 from his church’s tithe fund. Apparently his $27million is not enough.
July 22, 2015
Televangelist Creflo Dollar of World Changers Church International has been arrested. The mega church pastor is being charged with theft by fiduciary after being caught stealing from the church’s tithe. He is currently being held at Fayette County Detention Center located in Fayetteville, Georgia, a metropolitan city if Atlanta. Dollar turned himself in and is currently awaiting transport to the Fulton County Jail.
Church officials say that Creflo Dollar was caught on surveillance video stealing tithe money in an office. The video shows Dollar rummaging through wads of cash, taking roughly about $15,000. “This is so surprising, I would have never thought such devious acts would be done by my pastor” claims Bro. Jerron Thomas, a deacon of the church.
Dollar has been the senior pastor of World Changers Church International since 1986, and the mega church is home to about 45,000 people and his services are viewed by millions weekly across the world. This past weekend, Creflo Dollar came under flame for starting a GoFundMe campaign to raise $65,000,000 for the purchase of a new personal private jet. The jet is said to be the fastest jet ever designed for commercial flight. Dollar has claimed on several occasions that he does not receive any pay from the church and that he has earned his wealth from non-church investments and business ventures. Creflo Dollar is reportedly worth $27 million.
Creflo Dollar is expected to go before a judge on Friday, this is when his bond will be set by a judge.
As the money was taken as evidence and he was led away in handcuffs he was heard to say, “Hey, man, leave me alone. Give that money back. Those be Creflo’s dollars.”
Really, there is no commentary necessary after watching this.
July 20, 2015
A young Palestinian man died on Tuesday after being badly beaten in an “exorcism”, medical and police sources in the West Bank town of Hebron said.
The family of the 19-year-old with psychological problems had called in two “healers”, a man and a woman, who beat the young man to drive out evil “spirits”, Palestinian police sources said.
He was critically injured and taken to hospital in Hebron where he died, police and medics said.
The pair who administered the beating were arrested, as were the victim’s father and brother.
Sadly, belief in demons and devils is being encouraged by Pope Francis.
Why is Pope Francis so obsessed with the devil?
By the Rev. Thomas Rosica
Updated 2:35 PM ET, Mon July 20, 2015
“The Rev. Thomas Rosica is CEO of Canada’s Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation and English-language media attache to the Holy See Press Office.”
(CNN)Pope Francis seems to be obsessed with the devil.
His tweets and homilies about the devil, Satan, the Accuser, the Evil One, the Father of Lies, the Ancient Serpent, the Tempter, the Seducer, the Great Dragon, the Enemy and just plain “demon” are now legion.
For Francis, the devil is not a myth, but a real person. Many modern people may greet the Pope’s insistence on the devil with a dismissive, cultural affectation, indifference, or at the most indulgent curiosity.
Yet Francis refers to the devil continually. He does not believe him to be a myth, but a real person, the most insidious enemy of the church. Several of my theologian colleagues have said that he has gone a bit overboard with the devil and hell! We may be tempted to ask, why in the devil is Pope Francis so involved with the prince of demons?
In 2013 Pope Francis made exorcism an official Catholic rite.
That’s right, it’s a direct quote from the bible. Psalm 137:9.
July 10, 2015
The government of the United State is a secular one. If you have any doubt about that you should read the First Amendment, It explicitly forbids the establishment of religion.
The law of the land is the Constitution, not the Bible, the Koran, the Book of Mormon or any other religious text. However, we continue to elect people to public office who profess that they put their religion (or more correctly, their interpretation of it) above the Constitution. Anyone professing allegiance to anyone or anything ahead of the US Constitution should be disqualified from holding government office. It is no different than if they owed their allegiance to China or India or Russia or ISIS.
This is not an academic issue. The consequences are very real. Religious texts have been used, and continue to be used, to justify the subjugation of blacks, women, gays and other minorities.
‘God’ tells people to murder doctors, fly planes into the buildings and
the sea and to murder those who do not follow their particular brand of religion.
Religious beliefs affect policy decisions. One particularly blatant example is this quote from James Watt, Secretary of the Interior during the Reagan years – “We don’t have to protect the environment, the Second Coming is at hand.”
The US needs leaders who are committed to building a just and peaceful society within the parameters of its Constitution. Those who put their religion ahead of the Constitution should be banned from public office.
Priest Lied To Parishioners About Investigation And Waited Weeks To Tell Police About Hidden Bathroom Camera
In the 24 days he waited to report that a boy had found a hidden camera in a men’s bathroom at his Sherwood church, Father Ysrael Bien pacified parishioners with a tall tale about a nonexistent police investigation, according to court records.
Police believe Bien, 34, was either responsible for the camera or aided and abetted whoever was, according to a search warrant affidavit filed in Washington County Circuit Court.
The Catholic priest “is a part of the investigation,” Capt. Ty Hanlon said Tuesday, though police have not named him as a suspect.
A 15-year-old boy found the camera April 26 at St. Francis Catholic Church, the affidavit says. He discovered it in a bathroom with a single toilet and a door to the vesting room, where altar servers and the priest prepare for Mass.
The teenager noticed an electrical outlet affixed to the wall at waist-height next to the toilet, the records say. He thought that was a strange place for an outlet, so he pulled it from the wall and brought it to the priest. The fixture appeared to be a disguised camera.
Bien told the boy and his father that he would report the discovery to police, according to the records.
Two days later, the boy’s mother contacted Bien and asked if police wanted to talk to her son or take his fingerprints.
He told her that police had visited the parish and they didn’t need the boy’s statement or fingerprints because the priest had filled them in on everything, records say. Police had a suspect in mind who had used similar devices in other places, he continued. They were gathering more evidence to make an arrest, he said.
He also told the mom that officers said it would have been better if the boy had left the device alone “so they’d have a chance at collecting evidence from it later.”
The priest assured her that “a conclusion would happen soon, and that he would be sure to tell them when someone was arrested,” records say.
After the parents heard nothing for two weeks, the boy’s dad asked the priest for an update on May 10. Bien, according to records, told the dad that he didn’t have any new information. The priest also said he’d purposely not informed the church deacon.
This surprised the dad, who had thought the deacon would have been notified immediately. Bien said he would inform the staff at a meeting on May 13.
On May 14, Bien sent the parents a Facebook message with a lengthy update on the fabricated police investigation, the affidavit says.
“Sherwood police did not have enough to go with from the device,” the priest wrote. “Two sets of fingerprints were found: mine and, by process of elimination, (your son’s). … They were hoping to find a third set of fingerprints to lead them to the perpetrator. But there was none. Not surprising because they said it is consistent with the modus operandi of the person they have in mind. The device – same style and model – is ‘affiliated’ with this person. Unfortunately, these are ‘circumstantial (sic). Because of insufficient and inconclusive evidence, they are not able to place the person they have in mind in our church bathroom. …
“Fortunately, however, other police departments are pursuing the same person for another on-going case investigation (I am not sure if it is a crime of a similar nature or different and bigger). Happily, this is where they are confident they are going to get him. So, officially Sherwood police investigation of our incident is over. But other police departments (Tigard or Beaverton, I’m not exactly sure) are currently pursuing the person they think is also our perpetrator …”
The priest then asked the couple to pray for him because he was having some medical tests done.
“Thanks. See you around,” he wrote.
The boy’s parents became suspicious.
“The information that Father was offering did not seem to make sense,” the dad noted in records.
They doubted that police didn’t want to talk to their son. So, records say, on the following Monday the dad asked the deacon for the police report.
The deacon told him he knew little about the incident. After some discussion, they decided the dad should request the police report from Bien and copy the deacon on the email, records say.
The boy’s dad emailed Bien on May 19. “I wanted to reach out and request a copy of the police report from Sherwood PD,” he wrote. “If you didn’t receive a copy of the report, I’ll be glad to contact Sherwood PD to request it.”
The priest replied a little more than an hour later.
“There is no police report and it is best if I explain this to you in person,” Bien wrote.
The boy’s dad, the priest and the deacon agreed to meet later that day at 5 p.m., emails show.
“Father informed me that he had lied to me, and that there was no police report or investigation because he had not reported the incident or the device,” the dad later told police.
Bien told the dad and investigators that he’d put the device in a drawer in the vesting room, and when he went to get it out later that day, it was gone, according to records.
He hadn’t contacted police, he told the dad, because he feared “the consequences of losing the device,” records say.
By the end of the meeting, the men agreed that Bien and the deacon would report the camera to police and the Archdiocese of Portland, records say. They decided that Bien would cooperate with the investigation completely and come clean about his lies.
The next day, May 20, Bien and the deacon told the dad they’d followed through with alerting authorities.
Records say an officer responded to the church that day on a suspicious circumstances call. The priest described how the camera was discovered and how he found it missing from the vesting room hours later.
Bien told the officer that the hidden camera had no memory card in it, according to records.
Detective Debbie Smith noted in the search warrant affidavit that some spy-style devices have battery-operated, motion-sensing cameras that either store the images to a memory card or wirelessly through a wifi network. St. Francis has wireless Internet, the detective wrote, and a wifi-enabled camera could have been configured to use the network.
A judge signed search warrants for the church, Bien’s home, his car, phones and computers.