Pastor Dennis Bowling Sentenced in Child Sex Abuse Case

This story courtesy of Dayton Daily News.

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By Lou Grieco

A Riverside pastor accused multiple sex crimes against at least eight female members of his congregation pleaded guilty Thursday to 15 felonies, including two counts of rape of a child under the age of 13.

Dennis Bowling, 47, who had been pastor of Kingdom Harvest Church, 2360 Valley Pike, was to go to trial Monday. Under the plea agreement reached between Assistant Montgomery County Prosecutors Erin Claypoole and Elizabeth Scott and defense attorney Dennis Lieberman, Bowling will be sentenced to between 10 and 20 years in prison without any chance for early release.

“The defendant will serve that entire sentence,” said Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Dennis Langer, who will sentence Bowling on July 25.

On Thursday, June 5, Langer ordered a pre-sentencing investigation, including a psychological evaluation requested by Lieberman.

Bowling will also be designated a Tier 3 sex offender, requiring both community notification when he moves to a new residence, plus registration with the sheriff’s office every 90 days for the rest of his life, Langer said.

Bowling had been indicted on 90 felony charges. All but 15 were dropped under the agreement. Bowling pleaded to the two rape counts, both first-degree felonies punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

The other 13 charges were third-degree felonies, punishable by up to five years in prison. They include:

• Eight counts of sexual battery.

• Three counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.

• Two counts of gross sexual imposition, one of them of a minor under 13.

The charges cover a 10-year period, between 1996 and 2006, and involve eight victims, all who were between the ages of 12 and 17 at the time the offenses occurred, according to Montgomery County prosecutors. Langer said the counts Bowling pleaded to also covered all eight victims.

Two of those victims were present in court, along with their supporters, but they declined to comment.

Investigators did interview other victims, but did not have enough evidence to charge Bowling in those cases, prosecutors said.

“This defendant is the very definition of a sexual predator,” said Montgomery County Prosecutor Mathias H. Heck, Jr. “He was entrusted with juveniles, and then used his position as their pastor to victimize these children.”

Bowling has been in Montgomery County Jail since his Nov. 21, 2006 arrest.

Bowling was arrested after a group of women from the congregation told police he had sexually assaulted several female members of the church.

A Stebbins High School dropout, Bowling served at the nondenominational church and the adjoining Christian Training Center as pastor, youth minister and community leader for 19 years. In May 2006, Bowling received an “Unsung Heroes Award for Appalachians” from Sinclair Community College.

A group of church women tipped off police about Bowling’s alleged crimes on Nov. 20, 2006 the night of Bowling’s annual Thanksgiving dinner for the neighboring community. Bowling reportedly did not attend the dinner.

The following day, Miami County sheriff’s deputies arrested Bowling from a family member’s Miami County home and delivered the preacher to Riverside police. Nine days later, his wife filed for divorce. The couple had been married 21 years and had five children.

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Pastor Brian A. Neiswender Arrested for Alleged Molestation

This article courtesy of the The Citizens Voice. Originally I had posted a different news story, but this one has additional information so I am replacing it for the original post.

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By Bob Kalinowski

Pastor Brian A. Neiswender repeatedly fondled the girls while playing hide and seek in the dark and teaching one-on-one music lessons, according to arrest papers.

The 26-year-old Baptist minister surrendered to authorities Wednesday to face charges of indecent assault and corruption of minors in connection with the alleged sex crimes at Christ Community Church, 100 W. Dorrance St.

The two girls, now 17 and 18 years old, came forward in February. They said the abuse dates back to August 2003 and lasted for years.

Church leaders were advised of Neiswender’s alleged improper conduct at least two times, according to arrest papers filed with Magisterial District Judge Paul Roberts in Kingston.

The first time, a rule was briefly implemented that his lessons would no longer be one-on-one, the girls said. The second time, Neiswender apologized and “church members said they would take care of the situation,” but it’s unclear if any action was taken. A phone call placed to the church was not returned Wednesday.

Kingston police Capt. John Jorda said there is another local victim whom police are trying to locate and there might be one more.

Neiswender currently is the pastor of student ministries at Heritage Baptist Church in Lakeland, Fla. Local authorities have advised Florida investigators about Neiswender’s arrest and they are “looking into matters” there, Jorda said.

Neiswender’s profile on the Web site for his Florida church portrays a loving husband and father dedicated to helping young people connect with God.

His profile says he is a graduate of Baptist Bible College in Clarks Summit and mentions he served at the church in Kingston. Four pictures on the site are of him with his wife and young daughter.

One of the alleged victims said she didn’t want to come forward at the time because she didn’t want to get Neiswender in trouble. The most recent contact documented in arrest papers is when Neiswender sent two “unusual” picture messages to one of the girls in June 2007, police said.

Just days after the victims came forward, police say they wiretapped a phone call between Neiswender and one of the girls. He “apologized several times for what (he) had done” to her, according to arrest papers.

Neiswender has been cooperating since contacted by police, Jorda said.

His attorney, Jair Novajosky, noted Wednesday his client came to Luzerne County to answer to the charges within 48 hours of being notified about them. He assured his client would show up for future court dates.

Neiswender was released on $50,000 unsecured bail, meaning he didn’t have to post any money but would be responsible for that amount if he failed to show up for court.

Representatives from his Florida church did not return phone calls or e-mails Wednesday.

School and Psychology of Adjustment

This term I’m taking Psychology of Adjustment. I really didn’t know what to expect when the course started. There were a couple psych classes available this summer with instructors who had good ratings on ratemyprofessors.com and that was my qualifier. LOL! My first semester in school I registered for classes without checking out the professors on ratemyprofessors.com. I learned the hard way why that was a bad idea. 😉 Anyway, my understanding was that the class was about adjusting to the changes and challenges of life.

Well, I am loving this class. It is personally challenging rather than just an exercise in accumulating knowledge. If you really want to dig around in why you do the things you do and learn how to change your own choices, I recommend getting the book, I Never Knew I Had a Choice, by Gerald and Marianne Schneider Corey.

The chapter we’re working on this week talks about “injunctions” – the internal “do’s” and “don’ts” that we are taught, either actively or passively, from the time we are very young. These injunctions program the way we act and the choices we make, and unless we deliberately choose to stop and challenge them we will never be able the change our lives.

See which of these may be determining your actions:

Don’t be yourself.
Don’t think for yourself.
Don’t feel.
Don’t be close.
Don’t trust.
Don’t fail.
Don’t be foolish (or silly or have fun).
Don’t be important.
Don’t brag.
Don’t let us down.
Don’t be sexy or sensual (even within your marriage).
Don’t focus on your appearance (at all).
Don’t change.
Don’t talk back (or question authority).
Do – be perfect.
Do – say only nice things.
Do – be more than you are (you are not good enough the way you are).
Do – be obedient.
Do – work up to your potential.
Do – be submissive.
Do – be practical at all times.
Do – listen to authority figures.
Do – always put your best foot forward.
Do – put others before yourself.
Do – be seen but not heard.

I included a couple extras that weren’t in the book. Even the ones that “seem” like they are good are not necessarily, especially the way they are interpreted within an abusive environment.

Another question that I thought was very thought provoking was, “What messages have you received concerning:

  • your self-worth
  • your ability to succeed
  • your gender role
  • your intelligence
  • your trust in yourself
  • trusting others
  • making yourself vulnerable
  • your security
  • your aliveness as a person
  • your creativity
  • your ability to be loved
  • your capacity to give love

Think about it and see if you learn anything interesting about yourself. We can only change what we can first identify as a problem. Personally, I think this is a process that will never end. If we’re not growing, we’re stagnating or going backwards – neither is something positive.

Reference:

Corey, G. & M. (2006). I Never Knew I Had a Choice. 85, 86