Clergy Crimes

April -
August 1997


  • Arizona
  • California
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana



    TUCSON — Msgr. Walter F. Rosensweig, now in his 70s, has reached a confidential monetary settlement and the Diocese of Tucson has come to a resolution with a man who accused the priest of sexually abusing him when he was a teenager 16 years ago at Sacred Heart Church in Nogales. (8/26)



    BUENA PARK — A pastor convicted for violating city zoning rules by operating a makeshift homeless shelter has won the support of several of the jurors who voted against him. Four jurors attended services at Rev. Wile Drake's First Southern Baptist Church. Two declined comment but two others said they were impressed with the sermon and will donate money after touring the patio and parking lot where some 40 homeless people now live. They said they were forced by the law to convict, and Drake said he understood and thanked them for coming. He faces up to $4,000 in fines and 6 months in jail. Sentencing was scheduled for Aug. 22 (8/9)

    BAKERSFIELD — A church school youth pastor will go to jail for two years for sexually molesting a 16-year-old girl. Jon Jon Jessee, 28, allegedly had sex with the girl while she was staying at the home he shared with his wife and young daughter.

    The girl told police she was living with the Jessees because of family problems she was having. She said Jessee would touch her inappropriately and then pray and ask forgiveness, and that they had sex in March after he came into the bathroom while she was taking a shower. After the incident he packed her bags and asked her to move out.
    Jessee pled no contest to the charges. (8/8)

    LOS ANGELES — Ronald Reagan's former pastor returned to active ministry two years after he was disciplined for sexual misconduct with 5 women. Presbyterian minister Rev. Donn Moomaw, 66, accepted an interim position in a San Diego church after the presbytery had determined he had fulfilled all the requirements, including signs of full repentence. (7/27)
    SAN FRANCISCO — Fr. Martin Greenlaw has been sentenced to a year in county jail, convicted of stealing more than $200,000 in church funds. In an earlier agreement with the San Francisco archdiocese, which had filed a civil suit against him, he promised to repay the stolen funds. An archdiocesan spokesman declined to comment but said the priest had made "full restitution." (7/18)
    PETALUMA — A former rabbi faces up to 8 years in prison after pleading no contest to a felony molestation charge involving a 12-year-old girl.

    Two misdemeanor molestation charges were dropped against Rabbi Sidney Goldenberg, 58, after the he entered the plea.

    The assistant District Attorney said no deals were made on Goldenberg's sentencing, who said he would solicit statements from several adults in New York who say they were molested by Goldenberg as children. They would be considered during sentencing. (6/19)

    BAKERSFIELD — A Mormon missionary working as a reading volunteer at an elementary school was arrested on suspicion of molesting an 8-year-old girl at the school. Jason Chad Larsen, 20, is alleged to have fondled the child in the school cafeteria which was filled with other children and reading volunteers. The girl reported the incident to a teacher's aide. The principal called the girl's parents and then the police.

    Larsen posted bond the next night. (5/24)



    PAMPANO BEACH — Fr. Thomas Foudy, accused of sexual misconduct, can't be sued for "clergy malpractice" but can in his capacity as counselor to his accuser, parishioner Alinka Sullivan, a county circuit court judge has ruled. The lawsuit alleges that when the emotionally troubled woman turned to her priest for counseling, Foudy took advantage of her problems to initiate a sexual affair that left her feeling guilty, ashamed and permanently damaged.

    Sullivan, a sometime model and actress, years before meeting Foudy, wrote and paid to have published a sexually explicit novel in which she criticized the Catholic Church and describes a seduction of a gay man as "deliciously sinful," akin to seducing a priest. (5/14)

    PENSACOLA — A priest who took a leadership role in a labor dispute between mushroom plant workers and owners is undergoing evaluation in a church-run medical facility after an accusation of sexual abuse. Fr. Richard Castillo, 43, was accused by Richard Watts, 24, who is in prison after a drunken driving manslaughter conviction. He made the accusation during the pre-sentencing phase of the trial, claiming he never told anyone of the abuse until he underwent counselling after the crash.

    Castillo, who had gained local prominence during the year-long strike when he walked the picket line and let union organizers use parish facilities, denied the charge. (No date)



    CHICAGO — Rev. Casey January, 30, a pastor at God's Tabernacle of Praise was charged with two counts of criminal sexual assault and one count of criminal sexual abuse. He allegedly assaulted a teenage girl after counseling her about a year ago in the church and her home. The alleged victim tried to commit suicide after the incidents. (8/7)



    KOKOMO — Former televangelist William E. Tully, Sr., 51 and 5 others are awaiting trial on charges of conspiracy to commit mail and securities fraud and money laundering. Tully and his Charter Financial Group, Inc., lost nearly $7 million, said by authorities to have floated a lavish lifestyle, including a 57-foot yatch, rather that the mortgages to build churches for poor congregations as claimed. His TV ministry collapsed in 1995 under the weight of a 61-count indictment. The trial, which is expected to start in Nov. and take several months, has already drawn battle lines over the use of videotaped statements from aged, frail investors and a defense fund in support of Tully. (8/22)



    HUMBOLDT — The bishop of the Sioux City diocese is asking parishioners to forgive their pastor, who admitted he had become addicted to gambling and misused parish funds. Fr. Michael Larkin, 56, resigned as pastor and is undergoing treatment. Bishop Lawrence Soens said an audit of parish finances has started and that restitution will be made. (4/26)

    DUBUQUE — Fr. Timothy DeVenney, 33, who pled guilty in January to 8 counts of lascivious acts with a child and 4 counts of assault with intent to commit sexual abuse with junior high school boys, was sentenced of up to 10 years, fined $200 and ordered to register with the Iowa sex offender program within 10 days. He had previously pleaded not guilty to 18 charges of fondling Dubuque boys.

    During the pre-sentencing hearing DeVenney tearfully apologized to a courtroom filled with parents and students. There were also several character witnesses who asked for compassion and a parent who called for a stiff sentence. One of the victims took the stand to describe his own encounter with DeVenney in the church rectory. Referring to DeVenney's steadfast denial that sexual abuse was never intended, the boy told him, "We both know what happened and we both know that someday you will have to face a higher authority." He also stated that his graduation, which should have been a joyful occasion, had been ruined because of the experience. (4/13)



    LAFAYETTE — After criminal charges were dropped against Fr. Mark Richard due to lack of evidence, Bishop Edward O'Donnell lifted his leave from active ministry but said further evaluation is needed before giving him a new assignment.

    Richard was arrested last January on suspicion of indecent behavior with a juvenile when they found him parked in a car with a 14-year-old boy at 1:30 A.M. The recently-ordained priest and the boy both denied wrongdoing. (5/30)



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