BALTIMORE A priest who admitted to having a sexual relationship with a minor more than 20 years ago has been put on leave, according to the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Fr. Maurice J. Blackwell, 52, had been pastor since 1979. The sex abuse allegation surfaced six weeks ago when someone who knows the victim approached the archdiocese, said a spokesman. Church officials then contacted the victim, who told them of the consentual affair, which started at least 25 years ago when the victim was a teen-ager, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Archdiocesan officials then confronted Blackwell, who admitted to the
sexual affair which ended nearly 20 years ago. The spokesman said Blackwell's
authorization to function as a priest has been revoked.
As state law requires, the archdiocese reported the alleged abuse to the state's attorney's office. It was the second allegation that Blackwell engaged in sexual contact with a minor. In Sept. 1993, he was removed from the parish after police informed the archdiocese that it was investigating a complaint that the priest inappropriately touched a teen-age male parishioner. Blackwell was sent to a church-run residential treatment center in Hartford, Conn., for psychological evaluation. Police dropped the investigation because of insufficient evidence.
Blackwell was allowed to return after the treatment program. A blue-ribbon
panel Card. William Keeler had appointed to review the archdiocese's handling
of clergy sexual abuse cases criticized his decision. The panel noted that
a team Keeler had assembled to study Blackwell's case found the accusations
against him "consistent and credible." Keeler responded that the
panel had not met personally with Blackwell, and that he was satisfied that
the priest "had recommitted himself to faithful spiritual service to
BOSTON The state Dept. of Social Services is seeking more than 50 foster children cared for by a Worcester pastor who now stands accused of raping an 11-year-old girl and sexually assaulting two of his foster children. Rev. Jose Castillo, 52, pleaded innocent to charges of rape and abuse of a child, indecent assault and battery of a child and threatening to commit a crime. He was ordered held on $500,000 bail. Police found him hiding in the basement of the Iglesia Abrigo del Altisimo church, where he serves as pastor, when they went to arrest him.
The sexual assault allegations surfaced during the investigation into the disappearance of 5-month-old Marlon Santos, according to the assistant district attorney. The baby still has not been found.
Castillo and his wife Yolanda were the baby's foster
parents. After the baby's disappearance, the Dept. of Social Services took
custody of 2 other foster children staying with the Castillos, a brother
and sister ages 23 months and 3 years. The Castillos' 3 children were also
removed in response to an abuse complaint. Two boys, ages 12 and 13, were
returned to their parents, but a 17-year-old girl has been placed in a foster
home in the area.
The case involved an undeveloped parcel of land that Levenson had an
option to buy. The judge said Groden and Pucillo convinced Levenson he could
be a partner in a plan to use federal money to build affordable housing
on the land, but the US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development rejected
the proposal. Groden and Pucillo knew that but told Levenson the deal was
still alive so he would not buy the land for his own purposes, the judge
said. When Levenson's option to buy the land expired, the archdiocese bought
it for $500,000 from the federal Resolution Trust Corp., which had taken
it over from a failed bank, and Levenson was shut out. Eventually, the archdiocese
got an $8 million federal grant and built a 123-unit building.
KANSAS CITY A minister who participated in a school program to counsel troubled youths has been charged with rape and other sex offenses involving 3 teen-age girls. Rev. Gregory Robertson, 40, was accused of using his affiliation with the Kansas City School District to befriend families of students outside of school, said a spokesman of the police sex crimes unit. Robertson convinced parents to allow some children to temporarily move into his home to "give them guidance," he said.
Robertson has pleaded innocent and is free on $15,000 bond. He faces charges of statutory rape, 2 counts of statutory sodomy, attempted statutory sodomy and 4 counts of sexual misconduct. The charges involve 3 girls ages 12 to 14. The girls told police the incidents occurred between Feb. 1996 and Dec. 1997 at Robertson's home.
Police said Robertson met at least one of the girls through his work with the school district. They were not sure how he met the other two. The three girls did not know each other.
Robertson was part of a Ministers Alliance, a group formed last school year by a former superintendent to counsel troubled students. The program no longer exists, and Robertson was banned from the schools after officials heard about the investigation, said a district spokeswoman.
Police began investigating Robertson in Sept. 1997 after a girl told officers she had lived in Robertson's home in 1996. No charges were filed. The investigation was reopened in Jan. after a 12-year-old girl made new allegations. Detectives then found 3 other girls who had lived in Robertson's home, including one who said Robertson offered to buy her a pair of shoes in exchange for a sex act.
Robertson was ordained at Zion Grove Missionary Baptist Church about
6 years ago, but has since left the church, police said.
OMAHA Fr. Daniel Herek, 53, was sentenced to 5 years in prison and to 5 years' probation after his release though he could be paroled in 2 years for good behavior. Herek was convicted on charges he sexually assaulted a 14-year-old boy between 1992 and 1997 at a church. Officials said Herek also manufactured and possessed child pornography. A videotape and pictures of 2 naked boys were found by a cleaning woman in the rectory in May 1997.
Herek's attorney said there was no sexual activity recorded on the videotape. He asked Davis to impose probation as the only punishment, saying he feared what would happen to Herek in prison. He said Herek's brother, in prison on an unrelated conviction, was recently attacked by inmates who mistook him for Herek.
Immediately after the sentence was imposed, reporters were ordered to leave the courtroom. Herek was taken into custody by sheriff's deputies. His lawyer said Herek, who stood quietly as he was read his sentence, was not surprised with the outcome. He said Herek has not been allowed to speak to the altar boy whom Herek had known since the boy was a student. The two had a relationship, he said, but they were just "very close friends."
Herek and church officials are still facing a civil lawsuit filed in
Sept. on behalf of the altar boy, now an adult. It accuses the Omaha Archdiocese
of negligence. The lawsuit alleges archdiocese officials knew Herek had
shown "dangerous pedophile traits" but did nothing to remove him
from contact with boys or warn their parents. The lawsuit seeks unspecified
damages. Archdiocese officials have said they received no complaints about
Herek that raised alarm or warranted removing him from contact with children.
The lawsuit probably won't be settled for at least a year.
NASHUA The state Supreme Court has decided not to hear an appeal filed by a former high school teacher charged with violating a state law barring sex offenders from working with children. Br. Shawn McEnany, 36, faces trial on charges of violating the law and failing to register with police as a sex offender. McEnany had filed a pre-trial appeal with the high court, challenging the constitutionality of both charges. But the high court declined to hear the matter.
McEnany is free on bail. His trial has not been scheduled yet. If convicted, he could face up to 7 years in prison for the felony charge of working with children. Failing to register as a sex offender is a misdemeanor, but the assistant county attorney has said she would not recommend prison time.
The charges against McEnany came after an Associated Press article revealed he had been convicted of unlawful sexual contact with a 15-year-old female student at a high school in Maine a decade ago. He received a suspended jail sentence and was put on probation for two years. School officials knew of McEnany's criminal record when they hired him. Br. Leo Labbe, the principal, has said he believes McEnany learned from his mistake and posed no danger to pupils. McEnany and Labbe did not know of the 1989 state law barring people convicted of "any sexual assault" and various other crimes from working with children, the school's lawyers have said.
No complaints arose against McEnany during his seven years of teaching
at the school. After his arrest, scores of students, graduates and parents
came forward to praise his teaching skills and compassion. McEnany was relieved
of his teaching and ministry duties at the school in Nov. 1997, after the
allegations became public.
Judge Bruce Mohl said that Fortier was a person who gained the highest trust in the community and used that trust to prey on the most vulnerable. He also said that the two young men showed enormous strength and courage in coming forward. They had to know their accounts would be challenged and perhaps that was why Fortier selected them as victims.
The prosecutor had 3 individuals speak on behalf of the prosecution. The first was another victim, whose allegations are not included in this trial, who testified that Fortier had assaulted him in 1981. He was cross-examined by Fortier's lawyer about his criminal record in an attempt to discredit his allegations against Fortier.
The second witness was one of the victims' stepfather. He apologized
to his stepson and the other victim's family for trusting Fortier in giving
him the position to commit these crimes. The last person to speak was the
younger victim in the trial, who made a brief statement stating that he
had a hard time learning to trust and get on with his life. He hoped Fortier
would acknowledge his guilt.
No one spoke on behalf of Fortier, and he chose not to speak himself. There were several letters submitted to the judge by Fortier's supporters in his defense.
There were an equal number of supporters present in the courtroom for both the victims and for Fortier. Fortier was convicted in Aug. on 16 counts. He was found guilty of performing sexual acts on 2 teen-age boys at the rectory where Fortier served from 1991 until his arrest last Oct where they spent weekends.
He was arrested after police received reports from a 14-year-old boy that the priest had sexually assaulted him. The victim said that the abuse had continued from May until Fortier's arrest. Shortly thereafter a second victim came forward stating that Fortier had assaulted him between Feb. 1994 and June 1995. A third victim alleged he was also assaulted by the priest, but those charges will have to be heard in a separate trial because the alleged incident occurred in another county.
The Diocese of Manchester suspended Fortier after his arrest. The 8 counts
of aggravated felonious sexual assault could carry prison terms of 10 years
to 20 years each. The felonious sexual assault charges could carry terms
of 3 years to 7 years apiece.
Daily Democrat, 10/9/98
VINELAND A lawsuit filed by a teen-age girl who was an altar server, choir member and Sunday school aide accuses an Episcopal priest of sexually assaulting her. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the family of the unidentified girl, now 18 and living in another county. A second lawsuit filed there the same day alleges the priest also fondled a 40-year-old parishioner.
The lawyer representing the two unidentified women said they came forward after speaking with six or seven other parishioners who made similar claims against Fr. Thomas Berlenbach. Berlenbach and his lawyer denied the allegations. The diocese removed Berlenbach from his post at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Feb. 1997. He faces a trial in the diocese's ecclesiastical court.
The county prosecutor would not comment on whether Berlenbach was ever investigated on criminal charges, but said no investigation is pending. The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages, medical and legal expenses, and payment for the clients' lost capacity to earn money in the future.
In the summer of 1994, the girl, then 14, was "violently raped" in a basement meeting room during a coffee hour after a Sunday service, according to the lawsuit, and 3 years later, the girl was sexually assaulted in Berlenbach's office.
The second lawsuit claims a woman, now 40, was abused by "inappropriate
touching of the plaintiff's lower torso" on Feb. 22, 1997. The lawsuits
also name Bps. Mellick Bellshaw and Joe Morris
Doss as defendants, alleging they knew about Berlenbach's "deviant
sexual conduct" before the women were abused, but failed to investigate.
A two-count indictment returned by a grand jury charges Rabbi Fred Neulander, 57, with accomplice murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the 1994 death of his wife, Carol. Neulander, who has been the sole suspect in the killing, was arrested in Sept. He remains free on $400,000 bail awaiting trial.
Neulander could face life in prison without parole for 30 years if convicted. Prosecutors said they will not seek the death penalty. The indictment alleges Neulander, the former leader of Congregation M'Kor Shalom, conspired with and acted as an accomplice of "a person or persons unknown" to carry out the slaying. The rabbi is not charged with personally committing the murder.
Authorities have said they believe Neulander had his wife of 29 years killed so that he could continue his extramarital affair with Philadelphia radio personality Elaine Soncini. Investigators believe Mrs. Neulander, 52, was killed Nov. 1, 1994, in the couple's home by a hitman posing as a deliveryman. Her husband found her body when he returned from the synagogue. Her purse was missing, but no other valuables were touched. No other arrests have been made.
Neulander, former senior rabbi at the synagogue he founded with his wife in 1974, resigned in Feb. 1995 after reports of his affairs with two congregants. He was later suspended by a rabbinical panel, but has been performing marriages and funerals. Soncini has said she had a two-year affair with Neulander that ended shortly after his wife's death. Neulander has neither confirmed nor denied the relationship.
The rabbi asked a witness who has reputed underworld ties if he knew
someone who would kill his wife, the prosecutor said. The witness, identified
as Myron Levin, last month accused Neulander of duping him on the sale of
a Torah. Levin said he gave the rabbi $16,000 to buy the sacred scroll,
but that it is really worth only about $3,000 because it contains errors.
Levin said he had asked Neulander to purchase the Torah four years ago in
honor of Levin's late wife. Levin then donated the Torah to M'Kor Shalom.
ALBUQUERQUE A popular priest arrested late last year for allegedly promoting prostitution has been indicted on 42 counts, including 11 accusing him of hiring or offering to hire teen-age boys to engage in sex.
All but one of the counts listed in the indictment returned by a grand jury against Fr. Robert Malloy, 41, are felonies. He could receive 145 years in prison if convicted on all counts.
The 11 counts of sexual exploitation of children by prostitution allege that Malloy hired or offered to hire 7 boys over the age of 13 and under the age of 16 to engage in sex acts. Malloy was accused in the indictment of allegedly paying or trying to pay the boys for oral sex and-or masturbation. The alleged crimes occurred from July 1994 through 1998, according to the indictment.
The priest also was charged with 19 counts of criminal solicitation to tamper with evidence, 10 counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, one count of tampering with evidence and one count of resisting, evading or obstructing an officer.
Prosecutors said that including the 7 boys named in the prostitution counts, the indictments involve a total of 15 alleged victims between the ages of 15 and 17, identified by initials. The alleged crimes took place from July 1994 up to the time the well-known priest and longtime police chaplain was arrested Dec. 17, but prosecutors and police had refused to detail why and affidavits for search warrants and arrest warrants had been under seal. Not even Malloy's attorney, Ray Twohig, was allowed to look at the evidence.
Malloy had been charged following his arrest with one count of promoting prostitution and 3 counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Police searched his home, church office and car on the day he was arrested and then a second time before the indictment. News reports said that a "dossier" on homosexuality and photos had been found.
The district attorney said that further investigation by police had led to additional alleged victims. He declined to elaborate on the specifics of the indictment.
Malloy, following his arrest, was suspended by the Archdiocese of Santa Fe from his post as pastor and placed on "restricted status." He has been free on $12,000 bond while awaiting the case to be taken to the grand jury and during the legal battle that ensued over Judge James Blackmer's decision to seal the court documents. One report said he would be serving in a convent.
The judge had ordered the documents sealed to protect the identities of alleged victims and witnesses in the case as well as to safeguard an ongoing police investigation. He recently conducted his own investigation into apparent leaks of the sealed information to a television reporter who Blackmer said broadcast reports containing "substantial inaccuracies." He called a halt to the probe after a three-part hearing in which 19 police officers, including the police chief and a mayoral aide all denied being the source of the leaks.
Twohig eventually went to the state Supreme Court in an effort to force
Blackmer to unseal the documents. But the high court ruled earlier this
month that the documents would remain sealed. With the indictment, Twohig
has access to the names of Malloy's accusers for the first time. But the
affidavits are still off limits to the public.
Journal, KOAT-TV, AP, 2/25/99
Ordained as a priest in Norwich in 1958, Bissonnette was sent by the diocese in 1963 for treatment at the Servants of the Paraclete center in Jemez Springs. He later worked as a priest in Santa Fe and the alleged abuse occurred there between 1966 and 1968. He is retired and lives at an undisclosed location in the state.
The appeals court said the church in Conn. was subject to the authority of New Mex. courts under the state's "long-arm" law. The ruling reversed a 1997 decision by a district court which had dismissed the lawsuit.
The Diocese contended before the appeals court that it was shielded from lawsuits in New Mex. because the Servants of the Paraclete decided to place Bissonnette in the parish at Santa Fe. However, the court concluded that the Servants of the Paraclete "functioned as the diocese's intermediary."
The diocese paid for Bissonnette's stay in Jemez Springs and would not allow him to return to Conn. as a priest because of his alleged sexual abuse of boys during the early 1960s. It designated the priest who founded the New Mexico center as its agent to supervise Bissonnette.
Bissonnette was transferred briefly to a facility in Minn. operated by
the Paracletes, but he returned to New Mex. in 1966 after failing to obtain
an appointment as a priest in another state.
Sheehan, who traveled to the Vatican to report to the pope, said that
the pontiff also was happy with the efforts being made to make sure the
problems don't happen again.
ROCHESTER, NY A Roman Catholic priest who blessed same-sex marriages and allowed women a prominent role at the altar in violation of Vatican rules has been excommunicated for starting his own church. Fr. James Callan, 51, was suspended in Dec. after ministering for 22 years at Corpus Christi Church. More than 1,000 parishioners still attend alternate worship services he presides over at various Protestant churches in the city.
"By starting this new church, a schism has occurred," the Diocese of Rochester said. "Fr. Callan has effectively excommunicated himself," it added. "Catholics who have joined the new church are not in full communion with the Church and have incurred the same penalty."
Callan rejected the suggestion that he removed himself and vowed to continue offering worship services. "I'm not worried about excommunication or de-frocking or whatever they want to do," he said. "I know who I am I'm still a Catholic priest and I will continue to do these things that I'm excited about."
The diocese warned that it might seek Callan's dismissal as a cleric
"to remove any confusion" about whether he was still a Roman Catholic
priest. Excommunication means Callan cannot participate in any of the sacraments,
but it need not be permanent and can be lifted by a bishop, said the diocese's
Three members of the church's board had filed a complaint with police in Oct. 1997, alleging that O'Keefe had taken off with more than $30,000 in parish cash and property, including foreign gold reportedly hidden in the basement of the chapel. A month later, a grand jury indicted O'Keefe, 57, with two felony counts of third-degree grand larceny.
"I am a priest in good standing with my bishop,'" O'Keefe said. He said he wasn't guilty. "It will all come out. There's a lot more to be told here than you can imagine." He said he fled the church because he was being pursued by "right-wing extremists." He said he was owed the money and property as payment for his contract, which expires in 2000, according to the Times Union of Albany.
Traditionalist churches like St. Michael's have rejected modernization
of the Roman Catholic church since the Vatican II council in 1965.
He was arrested Oct. 7 at a federal medium-security prison in Ray Brook, where he has been a chaplain on contract since June 1991. Authorities say they found the Orthodox rabbi in possession of a large bottle of shampoo containing sealed balloons of cocaine and marijuana.
Gottesman had been under investigation for the past several months by
prison officials, the Justice Department, the FBI and state police, said
the executive assistant to the warden at Ray Brook prison. If convicted,
Gottesman could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The report was written by an independent sociologist, Prof. E. Burke Rochford Jr. He said he did not know how many children were abused mentally, physically or sexually, but his interviews of parents and children showed it was a sizable number.
One girl recalled she was spanked and made to wear dirty panties on her
head as punishment for bedwetting: "I would cry ... for my mom, but
that wasn't allowed. So I would say I was crying in devotional ecstasy."
A young man said it got to the point where he wasn't afraid of being sexually molested: "Sexual molestation, all of us, man, we'd just take it, you know. We didn't even consider it abuse back then."
Critics have attacked Hare Krishnas since the sect was founded in New York in the 1960s by Sri Prabhupada, an Indian who believed it was his destiny to spread the teachings of the Hindu god Krishna. For more than two decades, Rochford studied the sect's devotees, known in the 1970s for shaving their heads and handing out flowers and literature at airports. He said he has a fondness for many of its members, even agreeing to serve on its North American board of education. So when he uncovered the abuse, "I was devastated."
One of the sect's official publications, the ISKCON Communications Journal, reported Rochford's findings in its current issue.
"We want people to be aware of the depth of the problem and do everything possible to protect kids in the future," said Anuttama Dasa, the movement's North American spokesperson. "The first step is to put everything on the table and do everything to rectify past mistakes." The stage for abuse was set by the Hare Krishna's elevation of celibacy and its belief that only the spiritually weak pursue sex and marriage. "Children were abused in part because they were not valued by leaders and even, very often, by the parents who accepted theological and other justification offered by the leadership."
Many members of the sect, he said, had no clue of the mistreatment because the estimated 2,000 children who passed through the schools were removed from families at an early age some as young as 4 and sent to institutions throughout the world. Children had only occasional visits with their parents, and letters home were often censored by school officials.
By 1986, all boarding schools in North America were closed except for one high school in Alachua, Flor., where a child protection office was established.
At its peak in the early 1980s, the sect claimed 5,000 U.S. members living in communities centered around their temples, according to Anuttama Dasa. Today there are about 90,000 U.S. members, with only 800 living in the spiritual communities.
In recent years, the Krishna movement has experienced its biggest growth
in Eastern Europe and in India, where it was once regarded with disdain
by native Hindus. Internationally, there are now an estimated 1 million
adherents to the Hare Krishna movement.
PITTSBURGH A priest accused of embezzling $1.5 million from collection baskets at two churches died from a brain virus, not from having his oxygen and intravenous tubes disconnected, his doctor has testified. Fr. Walter Benz, 72, who also had leukemia, was a terminally ill patient when he died Sept. 4. He apparently spent 25 years stealing from 2 parishes, then spending the money on luxury cars, antique guns, lavish gifts, and gambling trips with a church secretary.
A coroner's inquest was held to determine whether someone killed Benz. Although his doctor said he was expected to die within days, a mysterious couple was seen at his bedside about two hours before his death. His oxygen and intravenous lines had been disconnected, and the couple left without being questioned. They have not been identified. Dr. Donald Huber, the nursing home's medical director, testified that the tubes were for the priest's comfort, not life support. He said the brain disease killed Benz. In fact, the lines had been disconnected once before at the request of MaryAnn Albaugh, 51, the church secretary with whom Benz lived, because she had power of attorney over his affairs, Huber said.
Police never charged Benz before he slipped into a coma in the days preceding his death. Albaugh is accused of theft, conspiracy, and record tampering. She was to be arraigned Feb. 5, and she invoked her constitutional right to refrain from testifying at the inquest.
Still the couple who disconnected the tubes and fled have not been identified,
nor any motive suggested for their actions.
Rev. Javan McBurrows, 47, beat Michael Davis across the back of his legs as many as 10 times with a two-foot metal mason's level, and then forced the child to march the length of the family's squalid suburban home until he dropped, police said. They said the boy was being punished for wetting his pants and for looking at one of the couple's daughters in the bathroom.
McBurrows and his wife, Jane, took the boy to the hospital, telling doctors he had fallen in the bathtub. They then fled with their own five children to Georgia. The boy died soon after and an autopsy showed he had been beaten over a prolonged period.
McBurrows, pastor of the Third Christian Church was arrested for child endangerment in Georgia and returned to Philadelphia.
The 4-year-old, his 7-year-old sister and 5-year-old brother had been living with the McBurrows for about a month because their mother, who also has 3 other children, could not care for them.
After being charged with first-degree murder, McBurrows was remanded
to jail with bond set at $500,000. Police who searched the family's home
described the two-story house as a "squalid, uninhabitable" dwelling
with only one bed. The property has since been condemned.
PROVIDENCE A once-popular priest pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting 5 teenage boys from 1979 to 1992 at his lakeside cottage and at a church rectory. Fr. Michael LaMountain was given a suspended prison sentence, under which he will not spend time in jail unless he gets into more trouble. But his guilty plea to 2 counts of first-degree sexual assault in addition to 7 other charges gave some satisfaction to two victims who were in court. "His reputation is ruined," said James Egan, who met LaMountain at age 13,
LaMountain was given a 12-year sentence and also must undergo counseling, register as a sex offender and issue a written apology to each of his victims. LaMountain personally apologized to Egan and to Dan Turrenne, another victim who was in the courtroom. but looked at neither man when the judge invited them to address their abuser.
The accusations against LaMountain came to light after the men filed lawsuits against the Diocese of Providence, alleging that the diocese knew of the allegations but did nothing to stop him. The diocese suspended LaMountain in March 1995 and other victims came forward. The diocese has been hit by dozens of similar accusations against ordained priests in recent years. About 40 people have filed lawsuits contending that during childhood they were sexually abused by a total of 13 priests.
LaMountain pleaded guilty to 2 counts of first-degree sexual assault,
6 counts of second-degree sexual assault, and one count of second-degree
child molestation. The suspended sentence resulted from a plea agreement
reached in consultation with the victims, who were concerned that LaMountain
could be acquitted or that the trial could take a long time.
Fr. Robert Allaire, 61, entered no-contest pleas to 3 counts of embezzlement. In exchange for his pleas, Allaire was given a 5-year sentence, with 2 years to be served in home confinement and 3 years suspended.
The amount of restitution will be determined later. Allaire will remain free on $25,000 personal recognizance bail until he begins serving his sentence Feb. 15.
The state police were notified of the irregularities by the Diocese of
Providence, which had begun its own inquiry into the matter. Several questions
remain unanswered, including what he spent the money on and where he will
Allaire had been pastor of the parish for 17 years. He resigned in 1997, citing health ailments, among them emphysema.
NASHVILLE A former priest and teacher is in jail without bond, charged with 4 counts of child rape and 2 counts of aggravated sexual battery. Edward McKeown, 54, was taken into custody on suspicions that he had inappropriate contact with a 12- year-old boy in 1995. Police are looking into the possibility that there could be other victims. McKeown, who taught in the 1970's, left the priesthood in 1989. He now works for the metro property assessor's office, where he has been placed on administrative leave.
A caller to a radio station who claimed to have been a high-school student
of McKeown's, said that the former priest had a fetish for paddling the
bare back-sides of boys.
Reuters, 2/1/99, WSM 1/31
BLANCO In their flowing black robes and matching hats, the bearded monks of Christ of the Hills Monastery were for years merely a curiosity. The members of the only Russian Orthodox monastery in Texas lived on a hilltop outside of town, welcomed outsiders who came to see their weeping icon of the Virgin Mary, and said little when they ventured into town to buy groceries or mail letters. However, the monastery's relationship with townspeople has been strained recently by a sex scandal involving two monks.
Samuel A. Greene Jr., 54, known as Fr. Benedict, and Jonathan Hitt, 37, known as Fr. Jeremiah, have each been charged with 3 counts of indecency with a child. The charges involve a 17-year-old male religious student who lived at Christ of the Hills in 1997.
The monks were arrested in Jan. and could get up to 20 years in prison. Fr. Pangratios, their spokesman, would not discuss the allegations, citing a gag order imposed by the judge.
An attorney for the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, said the church suspended the two monks in late 1998. Both men are free on $50,000 bail and continue to live at Christ of the Hills.
Greene, a former TV hawker of real estate and self-promoter, founded the monastery as an ecumenical commune in the 60s. It later became associated with Russian Orthodoxy and moved from the San Antonio area to its site near Blanco in 1981.
Since 1985, the monks have said an image of Mary has wept tears of myrrh. Word of the weeping icon spread with the help of pamphlets and coupons drawing thousands of visitors each year, many of whom put something in the donation box or buy a candle.
Bp. Charles Grahmann has demanded that Roberts stop his Internet, TV and radio work immediately, a diocesan spokeswoman said. She said the diocese is checking reports that he has celebrated public Masses. If verified, he could be suspended, which would turn the restrictions on his work from the mid-1990s into a ban on exercising any priestly powers.
His spokeswoman said he had not knowingly violated diocesan orders and earlier ended his far-reaching public speaking career when told to. She said Roberts denies sexual misconduct allegations made against him in the last decade by people in the St. Louis and Peoria, Ill., areas. He can't confirm or deny molestation allegations that date to his late-1960s pastoral work in the Dallas area, she said, because he suffered from alcohol-related blackouts and "temporary amnesia" then.
Dallas church officials acknowledge making payments to two of Roberts' male accusers. None of the allegations has resulted in civil or criminal charges. He was forced out of two parishes in the late 1960s and went to St. Louis for psychiatric treatment, former parishioners said.
Roberts has been a shining light to conservative Catholics around the country, some of whom have seen the church's pedophilia crisis as the result of liberalism and lack of obedience to the Vatican. The priest's latest book, 1997's Nobody Calls It Sin Anymore, urges readers to resist the devil with a back-to-basics obedience of the Ten Commandments.
The diocese says it made its first payment to a Roberts accuser in 1994, providing $8,900 for therapeutic expenses to someone in St. Louis. Officials would not discuss details of that case.
Diocesan officials then recalled Roberts from St. Louis and had him help out at his first parish post in two decades. He was ordered to get permission for all public speaking engagements and not to work with males younger than 30.
Several months later, in late 1995, Grahmann granted Roberts a medical retirement and further restricted his faculties. He was told to end all public ministry, not to say Mass in public and not to administer the sacraments except in emergencies. That action came after a complaint by a former altar boy who received a $30,000 settlement from the Dallas Diocese.
Church officials said they made no payment in connection with a third
abuse allegation in 1989 from Peoria.
Morning News, 11/13/98
The lawsuits charge that 3 young boys were assaulted in the 1980s and early 90s by Rudolph "Rudy" Kos, the subject of the case settled in July, and Robert Peebles Jr. The diocese has previously also paid to settle charges involving Peebles.
Kos is now serving a life sentence after being convicted of sexually assaulting several altar boys. The Vatican removed him from the priesthood.
Peebles and another former priest were accused of sexual abuse in cases
that the diocese settled in Feb. 1998 for $5 million. Peebles was accused
of sexually abusing four boys while serving in the diocese and as a US Army
chaplain in the 80s.
For more information about the cases involving Rudy Kos, see The Kos Files, the Doyle Demarest Memo Part I and Part II, and the Sipe Report.
RICHMOND Former Mayor Rev. Leonidas B. Young has agreed to plead guilty to 4 of 19 felony counts alleging he sold his influence as mayor and, as a pastor, defrauded members of his congregation, according to a newspaper.
The Times-Dispatch said Young is likely to face 2 years to 2 1/2 years in prison at sentencing. Young will lose his City Council seat automatically if he pleads guilty. He became pastor of Richmond's Fourth Baptist Church in 1990 and was elected to City Council 2 years later and appointed mayor in 1996. Last fall, Young was indicted on charges of racketeering, fraud, filing false tax returns, suborning perjury and money laundering. The charges carry prison terms ranging from five to 30 years.
Authorities allege Young peddled influence as mayor and cheated members
of his church out of money he used to help pay for an expensive secret life
of extramarital affairs.
The lawsuit stems from charges first filed against baby sitter Richard Wescott Weaverling, who was later convicted of multiple sex crimes and sentenced to 73 years in prison. Weaverling molested children in their homes and at the 300-year-old Episcopal church, where he baby-sat with his mother from Jan. 1993 until Sept. 1994. The plaintiffs allege that John A. Grubb, a church member, and Fr. Michael W. Jones, the associate rector, also took part in the abuse. The amended suit raises to more than $250 million the amount of damages sought by the 35 plaintiffs, who include more than a dozen children.
Jones, now rector in Chesapeake, denied the allegations. Grubb has an
unlisted phone number and could not be reached. No criminal charges have
been lodged against Jones or Grubb, but prosecutors said they are continuing
to investigate the case.
VANCOUVER A former pastor who pled guilty to having oral sex with one boy and trying to seduce his brother has been sentenced to 6 months in jail followed by therapy. The judge rejected a request by prosecutors that Robert Dwayne Bennefield, 33, be sentenced to more than 12 years in prison but accepted a defense proposal that he be granted the special sex offender sentencing alternative and ordered him to pay $500 to each victim and a $250 fine, and have no contact with the victims or other youngsters.
Bennefield pled guilty in Aug. to one count of first-degree rape of a
child and one count of attempted second-degree assault involving two brothers
who attended Lighthouse Christian Center. He later admitted molesting 9
MILWAUKEE A self-proclaimed pastor who held church services for children in his home was sentenced to 80 years in prison on charges of sexually molesting 4 girls. Kenneth Spaulding, 47, had been convicted in Dec. of four counts of first-degree sexual assault of a child.
Authorities said children were molested during services at his home where
he sponsored "sleepovers" at night.
Malsch was convicted in Oct. 1993 of using his position as a priest to take advantage of a 14-year-old boy he was counseling while a pastor in Tomahawk. Malsch took the boy to a Wausau area motel room, gave him alcohol and took explicit photos of him, records show. The boy told investigators Malsch tried to fondle him.
Malsch, sentenced to 5 years in prison, reached his mandatory release
date. The ex-priest has been through several alcohol and sexual therapy
programs and still blames his troubles on the church and his victims, a
The complaint says the boy reported that he had a sexual relationship
with Saffold from Jan. 1996-98, starting when he was 15. Saffold, pastor
of the Foundation of Prayer Evangelistic Ministry and founder of a popular
youth choir, remained free on $25,000 bond posted by supporters under orders
that he remain under house arrest while his case is pending.