Pastor Leon Rankins III Sentenced in SECOND Child Abuse Conviction

This article is courtesy of pnj.com.

A couple of thoughts come to mind as I read this:

Why was this man a pastor again when he had a former conviction for sexual abuse?

Note how, in spite of the fact he was a previous offender, he had a collection of supporters with him in the courtroom. A good number of these people surely believed in his innocence. People are really not dumb enough to believe in the innocence of someone they know is guilty. The reason they believed him was because he was completely believable!

Also note how he pled with the victim’s family not to press charges and blamed his behavior on personal problems and stress. He also threw in a promise to leave the ministry. First of all, his behavior had nothing to do with stress! He had a sex abuse charge as a teenager in 1989, and a prior sex abuse conviction as an adult in 1994. He was already a registered sex offender. This is classic denial.

Unfortunately, since Christians feel obligated to give people the benefit of the doubt, this type of plea is often successful, enabling a pedophile to move on to fresh hunting grounds in a new church. They move on if they get the hint that things are getting too hot in one church, usually before any charges are filed.

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Circuit Judge Nick Geeker sentenced Pastor Leon Rankins III today to five years in state prison and 10 years probation.

Rankins, 36, of the Restoration Full Gospel Baptist Church in the 900 block of West Cervantes Street, is also required to register as a sexual predator.

Rankins pleaded no contest in April to two counts of lewd and lascivious battery on a victim over the age of 12.

If Rankins had been convicted at trial, he would have faced at least 12 years in prison.

Rankins, who had been free on bond, was handcuffed and led out of the courtroom by his attorney and the court security officer.

More than 20 family members and supporters of Rankins filed quietly out of the courtroom after Geeker announced the sentence. None wished to comment as they exited the courtroom.

The allegations against Rankins came to light last April when the victim told his parents that the minister had been molesting him for two years, according to police reports.

Prior to his arrest, Rankins pleaded with the victim’s family not to press charges. Unbeknownst to Rankins, the family had contacted authorities who recorded a telephone conversation in which Rankins told the victim’s mother he was dealing with personal issues and was willing to leave the church.

It was the second time Rankins, a registered sex offender, was accused of having sex with a boy.

Rankins was 17 years old at the time of another sex abuse allegation in 1989; the victim was an 11-year-old boy.

In 1994, Rankins pleaded no contest to two counts of sexual battery and was sentenced to two years of house arrest followed by two years of probation.

More Thoughts About SBC Clergy Sex Abuser Database

This article is from Stop Baptist Predators blog. Christa is commenting on the article I posted yesterday by Princeton professor Marcia Hamilton. I originally found the article by Hamilton on Christa’s site.

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By Christa Brown

Hamilton’s words are strong. But read for yourself the “reasons” given by SBC Executive Committee president Morris Chapman. Are they really “reasons” or just excuses?

I think Chapman reveals the falsity of his reasoning when he repeatedly refers to “convicted” sexual predators. It shows that he’s making a straw man argument.

Chapman claims that a “Baptist only” database of convicted sex offenders would be less comprehensive than the federal database of convicted sex offenders. Because the federal database of convicted sex offenders is the most comprehensive one, it’s the “best resource,” says Chapman.

But this was never about creating a database of only the convicted. It was about creating a database of convicted, confessed and credibly accused clergy predators. That last part – the “credibly accused” part – is critically important.

For Chapman to focus only on the convicted shows either ignorance or disingenuousness.

Experts far and wide – scholars, law-enforcement, and child advocacy groups – universally recognize that most active child molesters have never been convicted of anything. This means they won’t show up on the federal database of convicted sex offenders.

This reality – i.e., that most child molesters have never been convicted and can’t be prosecuted – is why most other major faith groups have systems to objectively assess the credibility of abuse allegations against their clergy. Even if faith leaders can’t put such men in jail, they can at least prevent them from using their weapon of ministerial trust to molest and rape kids in some other unsuspecting congregation.

Over 700 Catholic priests have now been removed from active ministry based on “credible accusations” of child sex abuse. Only about 3 percent were ever convicted of anything. If Catholic leaders still professed the same tragically low standard as Southern Baptist leaders, about 679 of those “credibly accused” priests would still be in ministry and working with kids.

For that matter, if they took off their collar, those “credibly accused” priests could now go to work in Southern Baptist churches. After all, they aren’t going to show up on the federal database of convicted sex offenders.

In real-world effect, Southern Baptists are allowing that men may continue in ministry unless and until they show up on a federal database of convicted sex offenders. This is a terrifyingly low standard that leaves kids in harm’s way.

In that light, Morris Chapman came close to getting something right when he reiterated the SBC’s oh-so-useful autonomy excuse. “The world may never understand our polity,” he said.

What the world will never understand is how a powerful religious group that purports to be a moral beacon can possibly prioritize the protection of “polity” over the protection of kids against the clergy who prey on them.