Black Collar CrimesClergy Crimes

March –
June 1999

M – W

  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Washington



    OMAHA — The Omaha Archdiocese has been named in four more lawsuits filed by or on behalf of former altar boys who claimed they were molested by Fr. Daniel Herek.

    Herek was convicted last Aug. of manufacturing child pornography and of fondling the first plaintiff, a former altar boy who now is an adult. The priest was sentenced to 20 months to 5 years in prison and 5 years' probation after his release.

    The most recent lawsuits filed bring to 6 the number of claims filed over reported molestations by Herek. Two of the new lawsuits involve young men who were altar boys in Omaha and a third in Coleridge.

    The fourth new suit was filed by the mother of the young man who filed the first suit involving Herek. None of the boys have been named. Earlier lawsuits involved altar boys who had served at other churches in Omaha.

    All of the lawsuits claim the Archdiocese kept Herek as a parish priest even though it knew he was dangerous. He would eventually prey on a number of boys over a 25-year period.

    No dollar amounts are named in any of the lawsuits. The Omaha Archdiocese has issued a statement emphasizing it had no knowledge that Herek was molesting children.
    AP 5/19

    OMAHA — Fr. Richard Whiteing, 52, a parish priest, has stepped down after he was accused of propositioning an Omaha police officer. Cited for soliciting lewd conduct, he was also barred from entering the city's parks. A court date was set in May. A spokesman for the archdiocese said Whiteing informed church officials about the arrest and asked to be removed as parish priest. He apologized in a brief letter read to parishioners during Easter services and was to leave for St. Luke Institute in Silver Spring, Md., which specializes in treating members of the clergy with sexual disorders.
    NCR, 4/16, AP 4/5



    NASHUA — Inconsistencies in state law have prompted prosecutors to drop charges against a high school teacher. Br. Shawn McEnany, 35, had been accused of violating a 1989 law that bars those convicted of sexually assaulting children from working or volunteering with children.

    Assistant County Attorney Catherine Devine dropped the charge shortly before the former high school religion teacher's trial was to start, saying the inconsistency made it difficult for McEnany to know he violated the law.

    "Due to the fact that McEnany's underlying conviction is a misdemeanor from another jurisdiction, it would have been extremely difficult for this defendant to discover that by taking the teaching position offered by Bishop Guertin High School he would be exposed to felony status,'" she said.

    State law forbids anyone with a felony sex conviction from becoming a teacher. A separate section of the law revokes certification as a teacher for anyone convicted of any sexual assault. Devine said she hopes the Legislature will fix the problem.

    McEnany, who would have been the first person ever prosecuted for violating the law, failed three times to have the felony charge thrown out.

    His troubles began when authorities learned from Associated Press that he had been convicted of having "unlawful sexual contact" with a female student while teaching in Maine in 1988.

    McEnany was teaching at a school in Maine, which then was owned by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, who also own Guertin. He was charged in a Maine county court with having oral sex with a 15-year-old female student.

    In a plea bargain, prosecutors dropped a felony charge of gross sexual misconduct. Court records show McEnany pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawful sexual contact, a misdemeanor, and got two suspended sentences of 364 days.

    Guertin officials said McEnany did not teach for two years and received therapy before being sent to teach at the Nashua school in 1990. Guertin then was an all-boys school. When the school began admitting girls in 1992, McEnany's status was reviewed and he was allowed to stay, officials said.

    By all accounts, McEnany was a well-liked teacher who taught without incident until his arrest on Nov. 13, 1997. At the time, Guertin officials were not aware of the law that bars sex offenders from working with children, lawyers for the school have said.

    McEnany remains barred from ever teaching in New Hampshire.
    AP 6/14



    MIDDLESEX — A 25-year-old man wept as he told of being sexually assaulted as a teenager, but never looked across a courtroom at the former priest he claims attacked him.

    Defendant Michael Santillo, 49, watched intently as the witness recounted two sexual encounters that allegedly occurred in 1987 when he was an altar boy in Perth Amboy. In one incident, the priest invited the boy and several of his friends to his living quarters at the church, showed them pornographic movies and gave them money after encouraging them to participate in a sex contest, the man said.

    He broke into tears and forced a recess to regain his composure when he said Santillo asked the altar boy and his cousin to perform oral sex on him. When they refused, he said the priest asked "if he can perform oral sex on us ... It ended up happening." The testimony was offered in a pretrial hearing in Superior Court to decide which portions of testimony from several youths may be presented to a jury when the former priest's trial starts in New Brunswick.

    Santillo has denied wrongdoing. The allegations stunned parishioners in nine New Jersey communities who knew the clergyman before he left the priesthood to care for his sickly parents. His attorneys have called the allegations fabrications.

    The altar boy, now married and the father of two, was brought to the witness stand yesterday to corroborate the testimony of two witnesses who also say they were sexually assaulted by the priest.

    The defense is seeking to prevent those two from testifying before a jury, asserting their claims would prevent Santillo from receiving a fair trial. One witness, now 26, appeared humiliated as he reluctantly recounted events he claimed occurred in the priest's living quarters. He said he was 13 or 14 when Santillo involved him and other boys in a similar incident. He said Santillo massaged him and began removing the boy's clothes as he protested and performed oral sex on him. On cross-examination, the witness said he continued to accept money from Santillo, asserting he would simply stop by the church and collect cash, no questions asked. I told him if he didn't give me money, I would go to the police," the witness said.

    Another witness, identified as a 25-year-old man, calmly said he witnessed a sex game for money. At one time, Santillo offered him money to expose himself and when he refused, the priest grabbed him by the crotch, the witness said. On cross-examination, he insisted he had no intention of suing Santillo or the church. When he once mentioned suing the priest, he said he only meant he was looking to incarcerate Santillo, but never wanted money.

    Santillo was not accused of assaulting those two men because the time period to file allegations lapsed before they revealed the alleged assaults.

    The most dramatic testimony came from the former altar boy, who said the attacks ruined his life and led him to years of heroin abuse. The man said he was pressed by his suspicious mother into disclosing the alleged incidents. "I was really, really high and I just got tired of hearing my mother ask over and over again if he had done anything to me," he said.
    Star-Ledger 6/11

    TRENTON — Two adult males who alleged they were sexually abused as teenagers by a former Presbyterian youth minister have no right to sue the local church and its hierarchy because of the state's charitable immunity law, an appeals court has ruled.

    The men sued the national Presbyterian Church, the church's Synod of the Northeast, the Presbytery of Elizabeth and the Presbyterian Church at Pluckemin claiming they had been repeatedly sexually abused by their Presbyterian youth minister, Jeffrey Cheseboro. A lower court dismissed the case against the church defendants saying that they were afforded charitable immunity under state law. The appellate panel concurred.

    "People don't realize this but if you send your child to a church-affiliated nursery school and they are abused by the teacher the only cause of action you have is against the abuser itself. The church is immune," said John Thatcher, who represented the plaintiffs in the case.

    The way the law works, Thatcher said, if you are a member of a church and slip and fall on the stairs, you have no right to sue the church because you are a beneficiary of the church's "charitable purposes." A stranger, or nonmember, however, can bring a case, the courts have found.

    In 1995, lawmakers did amend the charitable liabilities law. They said that trustees, directors, officers, employees, agents, servants or volunteers of charitable organizations were not granted immunity if they committed an act of sexual assault and other crimes of a sexual nature, but the charitable institutions themselves were.

    The appeals court also upheld a dismissal of the case against Cheseboro. The court found that the two-year statute of limitations, which in most sexual abuse cases begins once a child reaches adulthood, had expired.
    AP 4/5

    ATLANTIC CITY — A priest denies allegations he made unwanted homosexual advances toward a seminary student. Fr. Anthony Manuppella is named in a 4-count civil suit against the Diocese of Camden. The suit claims that Manuppella and Fr. William C. Pierce discussed homosexual lifestyles with Christopher McKelvey and asked him to accompany them to gay bars whenMcKelvey began studies at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, PA, in the mid-1980s.

    The suit also claims McKelvey complained to Frs. John T. Frey and William Brennan, but neither offered their help. The suit is expected to have as many as 10 other complainants added.
    Courier Post 4/?

    NEWARK — A Christian Brother wanted on criminal charges in Canada has been hiding out in New Jersey, the order has confirmed. Thomas Cuthbert Ford, 64, a math teacher since 1986 at a Catholic high school in Oradell, NJ, disappeared in Nov. 1996 after he was indicted on 9 counts of beating children with a leather strap at Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John's, Nfld., between 1956 and 1959. If convicted, he would face 14 years to life in prison. Canadian officials have not been able to secure his extradition and only the US Department of Justice and Christian Brother order officials know his present whereabouts.
    Edmonton Journal, 3/29



    LAS CRUCES — A priest with a gambling problem controlled a charity account at a Catholic church where investigators uncovered a $19,000 discrepancy. The discrepancy was found while investigators were looking into the loss of $127,000 from the collection box at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Cathedral over a three-year period.

    According to two affidavits for search warrants issued in January, money in the charity account at the church was under the control of Fr. Tom Beggane. Last Nov., Bp. Ricardo Ramirez said Beggane admitted to a gambling problem and agreed to reimburse the church for "tens of thousands" of dollars. Affidavits note Beggane has admitted to gambling but has insisted he had no gambling problem.

    Police said the church has not reported this discrepancy, and the police cannot charge anyone until the church reports itself a victim. The only crime reported to the police by church officials was a theft from a collection box in April 1998 after $500 disappeared. Further investigations of church files and tally sheets led investigators to estimate collection-box losses at $127,000 over 3 years.
    AP 4/27



    NEW YORK CITY — A prominent Hasidic rabbi has been charged with making death threats against a 22-year-old woman to keep her from testifying that her father raped her as a child.

    Rabbi Bernard Freilich, 47, allegedly went to the woman's home earlier this year and told her he "would teach her a lesson and send her to the cemetery" if she took the stand, court papers said. A grand jury indicted Freilich on felony charges of witness-tampering, witness intimidation, and harassment. If convicted, he would face up to 4 years in prison.

    Freilich had pleaded not guilty in May to misdemeanor charges in the same case. His lawyer said he will enter the same plea when he's arraigned on the more serious charges next month. The attorney described his client as a community leader who prides himself on his connections to law enforcement. Before he was first charged, Freilich had been a special assistant to a superintendent in the New York State Police.

    The lawyer said Freilich does not know his accuser, whose name was not released. But prosecutors have said the rabbi and the woman's father are close friends. The father was charged in Feb. with first-degree rape, incest, sex abuse, and harassment in the pending criminal case. He was arrested again on April 22 after allegedly violating an order of protection by pounding on his daughter's door and warning her it would be her last day unless she withdrew her accusations.

    Prosecutors say that three days later — with the daughter about to testify before a grand jury — Freilich went to her home and threatened her; allegedly repeating the threats the next day. Another Borough Park man also has been charged with trying to get the woman to drop the charges
    AP 6/24

    NEW YORK CITY - A priest who took a vow of poverty was charged with trying to smuggle into the country $2.4 billion in amateurish counterfeit US Treasury notes. Fr. Mario Beato-Prieto, 35, a Spanish citizen who was running a parochial school in the Philippines for the Augustinian order, was arrested at Kennedy Airport after US Customs agents discovered he was carrying the fake currency in his luggage.

    Prosecutors said the priest tried to sell 24 phony $100 million notes through a broker. He also had $2,000 in cash, plus a document indicating he had access to another $65 billion in fake currency. But the notes looked more like $100 million bills adorned with alikeness of Grover Cleveland, marred by typos and runny ink. They were confiscated after the priest arrived on a flight from South Korea.

    It was not immediately clear what the penalty he would face if convicted. After he pleaded innocent to a charge of foreign transport of false documents at his arraignment, two fellow Spanish Augustinian priests asked the judge to release him into their custody. The judge said she would free Beato-Prieto if the four priests living at the rectory signed a $25,000 bond. The defendant would be under church arrest, confined to the rectory and the chapel when not in court.

    At the request of the priests, the judge also agreed that Beato-Prieto could help say Mass.
    AP 6/23

    NEW YORK CITY — A prominent rabbi and a public school board conspired in a 20-year scheme that siphoned more than $6 million in taxpayer money to a private Jewish school and its affiliates, authorities said. Rabbi Hertz Frankel pleaded guilty to conspiring with Public School District No. 14 to place about 80 Hasidic women in no-show jobs on the district payroll, investigators said. The plea earned Frankel 3 years probation and a restitution order of $1 million, which the chief investigator termed a "corrupt bargain."

    The scheme involved giving the women - some with as many as 10 children - family health insurance benefits while their paychecks were often handed over to Frankel. Many were on the district payroll as school security guards. Most of that money was then given to the Beth Rachel School in Brooklyn, where Frankel is a principal. The school bills itself as the largest Jewish girls' school in the world.

    In exchange, Frankel assured district administrators that they had the support of a critical bloc of Hasidic men on the 9-member public school board.

    Prosecutors investigated for 6 years. Two former district superintendents implicated in the investigation died without being charged. Three lower-level district administrators pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges related to the scheme, which ran from the mid-1970s to 1994.
    AP 4/16



    BISMARCK — The State Supreme Court has again refused to allow prosecutors to go after a priest accused of stealing almost $190,000 from a church. The justices, in two separate opinions, agreed that criminal charges against Fr. Leonard Burckhard would represent a state intrusion into church matters.

    Burckhard was charged with stealing from St. Catherine's Church in Valley City, where he served as parish priest from July 1989 until Oct. 1996. He was ousted after an audit uncovered financial irregularities. The state's attorney believes Burckhard embezzled almost $190,000, using it for investments, fishing trips and an extensive collection of baseball memorabilia.

    The legal dispute focused on whether Burckhard had authority over the money he was accused of spending. Bp. James Sullivan of the Fargo diocese has implied he did. In correspondence, Sullivan has signaled that the church, rather than civil authorities, should handle any disciplining.

    The court's majority opinion said there was no argument that Sullivan was the proper interpreter of Burckhard's authority over church funds, saying that to have a jury make factual determinations about the correctness of his administrative decisions would be in direct contravention of the First Amendment.
    AP 4/7



    HAMILTON — A Pentecostal minister convicted of repeatedly raping his daughter has been sentenced to 17-50 years in prison and fined $7,500. Yet the judge declined to classify Rev. Darrell Bell, 50, as a sexual predator, based on court-ordered psychological exams that concluded he has a low probability of repeating the offense. Bell has been ruled a sexually-oriented offender, which means he will have to notify local authorities where he is living and check in with them.

    His daughter, Dawn Bell, asked to be publicly identified as she helped prosecute her father, including testifying against him at trail. She said her abuse began at age 10 and continued until she was 18 and moved away. She later confronted her father and went to prosecutors after he refused to get counseling.
    AP 6/12

    WASHINGTON COURT HOUSE — A former youth pastor who admitted to having sex with a 15-year-old member of his youth group has been sentenced to four years in prison. Matthew Eric Moore, 30, was sentenced after pleading guilty in Feb. to one count of sexual battery. Moore was originally charged with sexual battery and corruption of a minor for encounters with the girl in 1997, when he was 28 and she was a 15-year-old member of the youth group at Heritage Memorial Church.

    He was sentenced to one year less than the maximum. Moore will be placed on probation after his release and must register as a sexual offender.
    AP 4/17



    DUNCAN — Fr. James Rapp, 58, will not be allowed to serve as priest while an investigation continues into charges of lewd molestation filed against him by county prosecutors. Rapp, of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, based in Toledo, Oh., has been pastor in Duncan since 1991.

    Police arrested Rapp on two counts of lewd molestation involving a minor. He was charged in county District Court and released on $10,000 bond.

    The spokesman for the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City said the allegations came from the mother of a teen-age boy. The woman's son, 17, alleges he was sexually abused by Rapp at the age of 10 and was abused by the priest as late as last year.
    AP 5/12



    SALEM — The Archdiocese of Portland could be liable for damages for alleged child sex abuse by a former priest, the Oregon Supreme Court has ruled, and made the much the same ruling in a case involving the Boy Scouts of America.

    Lawyers said the decisions look to put Oregon in the forefront of broadening liability in such cases.

    The Supreme Court didn't rule that the Roman Catholic Church or the Boy Scouts are financially liable, but said there are sufficient grounds to return the cases to the circuit courts to decide that. The unanimous ruling went beyond the well-established legal standard that employers are liable for damages caused by workers "acting within the scope of employment."

    The lawsuits were brought by two men who seek a total of more than $30 million for abuse they say they suffered as long as 30 years ago. The high court reversed lower courts which had dismissed the cases. The cases now return to the lower courts for further proceedings.

    Steven Fearing claims he was abused in the early 1970s by Melvin Bucher, a former priest in Tigard. Fearing sought $10 million in damages from the Portland archdiocese and other church organizations. He settled earlier with Bucher and the other organizations; which leaves only the archdiocese as a defendant in the case. He contends that Bucher's employment put him in a position of trust that led to his sexually abusing Fearing.

    The archdiocese argued that on those grounds, many employers could be held liable for employees' misconduct just by giving them the opportunity to be alone with third parties.

    But the Supreme Court said a jury could infer that Bucher's performance of his pastoral duties "were a necessary precursor to the sexual abuse and that the assaults thus were a direct outgrowth of and were engendered by conduct that was within the scope of Bucher's employment."

    The archdiocese issued a statement saying the decision addressed only a legal theory "and did not evaluate the specific facts of this case."
    AP 4/9



    PHILADELPHIA — After two days of testimony, a county judge took less than a minute to decide to deny a request to grant a new trial to Fr. Robert K. Orr, 55, an Episcopal priest convicted of possessing child pornography and distributing it on the Internet.

    The defense attorney has 30 days to appeal to State Superior Court. For now, the former pastor from Wyncote still faces an 11- to 23-month prison sentence, handed down by the judge April 27. Defense had argued that crucial evidence, including phone records and witness testimony, were not adequately addressed by Orr's former defense attorney during the March trial.

    He tried to show that much of the evidence used against Orr was part of a larger conspiracy that included one of Orr's former parishioners, John Ralston, whom Orr claims downloaded the pictures and framed him. Additionally, he raised questions about a message allegedly left by a school principal saying he had the photographs Orr requested. The recording was later determined to be a hoax.

    The assistant district attorney agreed that the message was a setup, but said that it could not be used to prove that the entire case against Orr was part of an elaborate scheme to get him. Instead, she said much of Grimes' questioning amounted to a "smear campaign," to target Ralston.

    Police acting on a tip found about 20 pictures of children engaging in sex acts on the new computer in Orr's church office at in May 1998. Shortly after his arrest, Orr was relieved of his priestly duties by the Episcopal Diocese of Philadelphia. He was later inhibited, meaning he cannot perform in a religious capacity, pending a church investigation.
    Inquirer 6/7, 3/11

    PITTSBURGH — A church secretary won't go to jail for helping a priest steal $25,000 from parish contributions, but she must pay the money back to the Catholic congregation in suburban Pittsburgh.

    Mary Ann Albaugh, 51, pleaded no contest to one count of criminal conspiracy to commit theft in a deal that would keep her out of jail but require restitution, and ordered to pay $25,000.

    Meanwhile, lawyers for the diocese filed motions asking that the court force Albaugh to return property such as jewelry and clothing to the church. Albaugh claims the items are her personal property.

    Prosecutors said Albaugh helped Fr. Walter Benz embezzle a fraction of the $1.5 million he allegedly stole over 25 years from collection baskets at two parishes in suburban Pittsburgh.

    Albaugh was the secretary at one of them where Benz was assigned in 1993. They spent the money on fancy cars, antique handguns and gambling trips to Atlantic City, among other items, prosecutors said.

    Benz died at a nursing home last year before he could be prosecuted. He was 72.
    AP 5/12



    PROVIDENCE — The state Supreme Court has dismissed an attempt by a dozen individuals to have the bishop of Providence found liable for their alleged abuse at the former St. Aloysius Home in Smithfield.

    Upholding an earlier dismissal in Superior Court, the justices concluded there was insufficient proof that retired Bp. Louis E. Gelineau had insufficient participation in the home and therefore could not be liable for the alleged abuse.

    St. Aloysius was a residential treatment facility for boys between the ages of 5 and 15 that was owned and operated by the Diocese of Providence. It closed in January 1994 following the allegations of abuse.

    The plaintiffs, former residents of the home, claimed that Gelineau, by virtue of his position as head of the Diocese of Providence, was negligent in supervising the St. Aloysius' staff.
    Journal 6/12?



    MEMPHIS — A congressman, a county judge and the Memphis Diocese are seeking a presidential pardon for a priest imprisoned in Kentucky for setting a fire at his church.

    Rep. Harold Ford Jr., D-Tenn., has written to Vice President Gore's office about a pardon for Fr. Fred Sauer. Ford said he was acting on behalf of Judge Tim Dwyer and the Diocese of Memphis. On June 29, 1996, Sauer set fire to a curtain behind the altar in the Church of the Nativity, the parish he had served since 1990. No one was hurt, but the fire caused about $27,000 in damage. Sauer confessed a few days later. He blamed his actions on clinical depression, alcoholism and personal problems that included the death of his mother.

    He was arrested and then sent to a Catholic psychiatric hospital in Penn. He underwent 23 months of treatment and counseling for depression and addiction. A year ago, he was sentenced to the Federal Medical Center in Lexington, Ky., where he is receiving psychiatric treatment.

    Ford said he hoped Gore's office would forward the matter to President Clinton, but the Memphis congressman said he doesn't know if the White House will respond.
    AP 4/17

    NASHVILLE — An investigation of child sex abuse charges against a former priest has widened to include a second former clergyman. County prosecutors have subpoenaed church personnel records of Edward McKeown, 54, and a second former priest, according to a spokesman of the Diocese of Nashville.

    McKeown was arrested in Jan. and charged with 4 counts of rape and 2 counts of aggravated sexual battery on a teenage boy who was under his temporary custody at the time, and will face a grand jury for indictment. McKeown had been given custody of the boy after the 15-year-old was accused of molesting a young girl in 1997.

    The diocese has since received a call from an adult parishioner who claimed he was abused by McKeown and the second priest, the spokesman said.

    Prosecutors will not comment and the diocese will not identify the man. No charges have been filed against him, The Tennessean reported.

    McKeown is accused of abusing the boy over a three year span when the two were neighbors. Detectives suspect McKeown molested other boys over 20 years while he worked in Middle and East Tennessee.

    McKeown was ordained in the early 1970s and left the priesthood in 1989. He taught high school in Nashville as well as ministering in several parishes.
    CNN 3/8, AP 3/7, NCR 3/5

    UPDATE — It was learned recently McKeown has been sentenced to 25 years in prison. Under Tennessee's sex laws, he must serve all of that time, with none off for good behavior. His attorney said he was accepting a plea agreement because he did not want to cause any more pain for the boy and his family.
    NCR 7/2



    HOUSTON — Bp. Joseph Fiorenza of the Galveston-Houston Diocese and president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops will have to answer charges in court that he allowed a known clerical sexual predator to abuse a minor male over a 10-year period. This case could bolster suspicions that the US bishops have learned little and done even less since their 1984 summer meeting at St. John's where they were informed of the severity of the problems.

    The lawsuit was filed by Windle Turley of Kos trial fame. Fiorenza will have to explain why he allowed Fr. Dennis Peterson to abuse a male youth for over a decade and put Peterson in a position in contact with boys. Peterson served as Director of Special Youth Services for 17 years.

    Peterson counseled the boy after the youth was repeatedly sexually molested by the lay leader of a Boy Scout program. The lawsuit alleges Peterson then sexually abused the youth himself, usually after giving him alcohol and/or drugs. This pattern continued even after Peterson's transfer. Peterson also heard the youth's confessions during this period, absolving him of any sins involving these sexual activities.

    Peterson is in a "treatment center" at an undisclosed location.

    The suit charges Fiorenza with "a long history of assigning and reassigning well-known perpetrators in dioceses where he has worked. A prime example is Fr. David Holley, who molested youths in dioceses from Mass. to Minn. to West Tex., and is now serving a life sentence in New Mex. While Fiorenza was bishop of San Angelo in West Texas, he incardinated Holley even though he knew Holley was a perpetrator.
    The Wanderer 6/17

    DALLAS — A priest was under suicide watch in jail following his arrest on charges that he fondled a 12-year-old girl, police said.

    Officers arrested Fr. Emeh "Anthony" Nwaogu on a charge of indecency with a child. Bail has been set at $50,000. The charge accuses the 53-year-old priest of fondling the girl's breasts and genitals the previous night at his church in south Dallas, where he has been a pastor for the past 5 years.

    A police report said he admitted fondling the girl while they watched a videotape in the rectory the previous night.

    He is the ninth priest in the Dallas Diocese to be accused of child sexual abuse in the 1990s but only the second arrested. The other one arrested, Rudolph "Rudy" Kos, is serving a life sentence in state prison; the diocese and its insurers have paid about $31 million to settle claims that church leaders covered up his abuse of 11 boys. More than $5 million was paid to settle claims involving other priests. And some Kos-related litigation is still pending.

    The priest was suspended after diocese officials learned of his arrest.
    AP 5/5

    DALLAS — Six women have accused a retired missionary of molesting them 30 years ago in Africa, shortly before Highland Park Presbyterian Church hired him as an associate pastor.

    Similar allegations by others forced Rev. Bill Pruitt, 87, to quit his mission job in 1970, say two of the women and a former mission official. All the accusers are daughters of people who worked with Pruitt in Congo, then called the Belgian Congo.

    North Texas Presbyterian leaders have named a three-person team to investigate the accusations. Pruitt is retired from active ministry but may have continued doing pastoral work such as hospital visits and adult Sunday school classes, a spokesman said. He is not known to face any criminal or civil charges; legal experts say events in foreign countries generally are beyond the reach of US law.

    The 6 women were flown to Dallas for a series of closed-door interviews with the investigators, who include two Presbyterian ministers and an elder. None is from the Highland Park church, which has long been a leader in Presbyterian mission work.

    If the church investigation leads to an ecclesiastical trial and conviction, Pamela Pritchard, the one accuser willing to be identified said she has been through years of therapy, struggling to deal with sexual abuse she says she suffered in her early teens. She said she's going public in large part because she fears Pruitt still may have access to children.

    Another accuser said she hopes publicity will lead other victims to get help. She said she felt powerless to complain when abused in the late 1960s in Congo's capital of Kinshasa, at a boarding school for missionaries' children where Pruitt worked as a dormitory supervisor.

    Her parents, she said, "were 500 miles away" at a rural mission post. "There was no telephone or radio connection."

    Pritchard said she was aware of at least 6 victims beyond the women who have spoken to investigators. Some were abused at the school, as she and the second accuser were, she said, and others were targeted when Pruitt visited mission posts. Because children were separated from their parents, Pruitt was like a father or an uncle, who charmed them with everything from toys to tricks to hypnosis, she said.

    Her father, John Pritchard, said two girls from other families accused Pruitt in the late 1960s. Mr. Pritchard, then chief administrator for US Presbyterians' mission work in Congo, said he ordered Pruitt never to be alone with girls again and to quit his mission work. Pruitt, he said, did not respond to the allegations, "but his wife did. She was very strong in denying that such a thing could happen."

    Mr. Pritchard said his daughter told him only recently that she, too, had been molested. Mr. Pruitt enjoyed a reputation as "a very gentle and compassionate man... one of the most loved and admired missionaries we have," he said.

    A retired pastor, speaking on condition of anonymity, said his daughter was one of the two who complained in the late 1960s and is not part of the six coming forward now. The pastor said his family "was aware of the problem" and knew that Pruitt had been forced from his job.

    Pruitt was later hired by the Highland Park church, one of the largest Presbyterian congregations in Texas.
    Morning News 4/26

    NORTH RICHLAND HILLS — A day after a popular priest retired amid an accusation of sexual misconduct, it was unclear whether legal action would be taken against the priest or his diocese. A spokesman for the Diocese of Fort Worth declined to elaborate about the allegation or the reasons for Fr. Philip Magaldi's retirement.

    According to a statement from the Diocese of Fort Worth, Magaldi, 62, retired after a 35-year-old Mass. man accused him of sexual misconduct that the man said occurred in the 1970s. The unidentified man contends that the abuse occurred for several years, according to the statement. The priest "vehemently denies" the allegation and "insists that he has never met or had any contact with the person," the diocese stated.

    Magaldi's retirement was an-nounced during Masses on Sunday. Staff members were on hand yesterday to counsel parishioners who were upset by the allegation. But the senior pastor, Msg. Charles King, said Magaldi, who pleaded guilty to embezzlement in 1992 in Rhode Island, will receive a pension.
    Fort Worth Star-Telegram 4/26

    FORT WORTH — Five women agreed to drop their sexual-misconduct lawsuits against the founder of a Baptist church in exchange for his admission to some of the affairs, according to court papers.

    The lawsuits against Ollin Collins, founder of Harvest Baptist Church and a former board chairman of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, were dropped after Collins acknowledged that he "engaged in an adulterous relationship" with three of the women. But all five women retained the right to sue Collins again their attorney said. "We had asked him to apologize to the church and agree not to be in the pulpit until Sept. of 2000, and he refuses to do that," he said.

    Four women and the family of another filed lawsuits in state district court contending that Collins had used his position to force them into "lewd, lascivious, obscene conduct."

    Harvest Baptist Church, with 3,500 members, fired Collins in Nov.

    The church and the women agreed to a settlement in which the church and its insurance company would pay $400,000 to the women and their families, the Star-Telegram reported. The church has paid about $100,000 of the settlement and will sell a piece of property to cover the cost said an attorney for the church.
    AP 4/22

    DALLAS — Robert Tilton, 52, once drew thousands of worshippers to Sunday morning services in his gleaming, stained-glass Word of Faith church along a busy freeway. But Tilton's ministry, which grossed as much as $70 million a year through television and mail solicitations, was rocked by scandal in recent years. Now, the televangelist has sold the church building and grounds to the city for $6.1 million and settled a million-dollar fraud lawsuit filed by his first wife, The Dallas Morning News reported.

    City officials, who expect the sale to close next week, plan to spend two years and $1.5 million converting the church and surrounding 12.9 acres into a convention center.

    A school founded by the church has also been sold for $3.3 million to the school district. The school, Lexington Academy, which closed in Dec., was run by Tilton's first wife, Marte Tilton. Mrs. Tilton sued her ex-husband, the church and longtime church attorney J.C. Joyce of Tulsa, Okla., for more than $1 million in 1996, charging that they reneged on a written agreement to support her and the private school after the couple's 1993 divorce. Details of the settlement, including the amount, were not disclosed. Tilton, who secretly married again in early 1994, filed for divorce again more than 3 years ago.

    Attendance at Word of Faith — where Tilton still holds the title of senior pastor, although he lives in South Florida — has dwindled to about 140 this year, according to Trinity Foundation, an evangelist-monitoring group strongly critical of Tilton.

    The 4,800-seat church, founded in 1976, used to be packed before media reports and lawsuits in the early 1990s began accusing Tilton of false promises of prayer and healing. However, he lost only one jury verdict in those lawsuits, and it was overturned. Tilton returned to preaching on television in some cities about a year ago, buying air time for his midnight show.
    AP 4/3



    MANASSAS — A former minister was convicted of suggesting to a parishioner that they kill each other's wives.

    James Elrod Ogle, 46, entered Alford pleas to charges of attempted capital murder and solicitation of a felony. In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges that prosecutors have enough evidence for a conviction.

    Ogle, former pastor of the defunct Bull Run Bible Fellowship in Manassas, will remain jailed without bail until his sentencing. He could get up to life in prison.

    Police said that during a Feb. 24 telephone conversation, Ogle suggested to Scott Jinks that they commit murders for each other. Ogle was counseling Jinks and his wife about their marriage at the time. Jinks told police, and testified against Ogle during a preliminary hearing.

    Prosecutors say Ogle typed instructions on how Jinks should kill Ogle's wife, suggesting a drive-by shooting at night while Ogle was driving and his wife was in the passenger seat.

    The documents also instructed Jinks to wear gloves to avoid leaving fingerprints, prosecutors said, and asked how much it would cost to buy a silencer, adding that he would "be glad to pay for it."
    AP 6/28



    TACOMA — Elders from the Bethel Christian Assembly have defended their handling of a complaint against a youth pastor now charged with eight counts of child molestation and rape, saying the allegations against Herman Glenn Jr., 34, amounted to "hearsay."

    The elders also said in a statement that Glenn was returned to his job only after they were assured he would not be a threat to children.

    Prosecutors charged Glenn with 8 counts stemming from alleged assaults on two teen-age boys beginning last year. Possible cases involving as many as 16 other boys remained under investigation.

    After his arrest, Glenn told authorities he'd had sexual contact with 3 youths in the Chicago area and 14 others in Tacoma. Another boy came forward recently to say he was sexually molested by the pastor, according to a police spokesman.

    Glenn resigned his post at the 2,000-member Bethel Christian Assembly, citing "gross moral failures by engaging in sexual contact with minors." He was being held on $75,000 bail in the county jail on 6 counts of third-degree rape, one count of second-degree rape and one count of child molestation. He has pleaded innocent.

    The boys described a grooming process that involved passwords and progressive levels of contact between them and Glenn, prosecutors said. Glenn told authorities he would pretend to be sleepwalking or talking in his sleep to get the boys to engage in sex acts. "A lot of mind-control was involved in it," the spokesman said. Detectives say Glenn would approach boys and tell them he needed help curing his alter personality.

    None of the sexual contact involving the two boys occurred at the church but at Glenn's home, charging papers said.

    Glenn said church officials had no knowledge of what he'd done prior to his admission. In their statement, the church council of elders said Glenn came to the Tacoma church in 1991 with "glowing recommendations" from Homewood Full Gospel Church in Homewood, Ill., a Chicago suburb.

    Rumors reached them that something had happened there. Although the elders did not describe the nature of the information they received, investigators said a pastor at Homewood had contacted Tacoma church officials after two boys in the Chicago area accused Glenn of touching them inappropriately when he was pastor there.

    The elders asked a counselor to evaluate Glenn "We were given complete assurance that Herman was within normal sexual limits and posed no threat to children or society," they said. The counselor told The Seattle Times that he was shocked by Glenn's arrest.
    AP 6/5, Chicago Sun-Times, 6/4



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