Former Pastor Angel R. Toro Pleads Guilty to Sexual Assault

Former pastor Angel R. Toro pled guilty to four misdemeanor counts of sexual assault against Doug Guillen on Tuesday, July 15, 2008, in Barron County, Wisconsin. The assault took place 21 years ago when Toro was pastor of the First United Methodist Church in Rice Lake.

At the time, Guillen helped the pastor build a fence over the course of several days and the pastor took advantage of the opportunity to assault the then-teenaged boy. During the court proceedings, Guillen said he had already “done 21 years to life” for what Toro did to him. For his crimes, Toro was sentenced to 18 months in prison, followed by three years of probation.

Personal opinion — the laws need to be seriously adjusted. Perpetrators are getting a slap on the wrist, while victims are serving a life sentence.

Advertisements

Pastor Sex Abuse Lawsuit Settled Out of Court

This story courtesy of the Denton Record-Chronicle.

~~~

By Donna Fielder

Two years after a woman filed a damage suit alleging Bolivar Baptist Church pastor Dale “Dickie” Amyx molested her as a 14-year-old and impregnated her when she was 18, the suit has been settled out of court.

Debbie Vasquez, now 47, sued Amyx and the church in June 2006, alleging that he began having sex with her when he was 28 years old, married and the youth pastor of a now-defunct Lewisville church, Calvary Baptist. According to the court documents, he continued having sex with her after he was pastor of the Bolivar church by threatening her with guns and knives.

The Denton Record-Chronicle traditionally does not name victims of sexual assault, particularly children. But Vasquez requested that she be identified to shine a light on the issue of clergy sexual misconduct. Coming forward with the story, which she hid for many years until it was too late to press criminal charges, was part of her healing process, she said.

She dropped the suit as part of a settlement agreement, she said, that included a written apology from Amyx and a cash payment.

“I made it clear in the beginning that I would sign no papers that limited me from talking or disclosing what happened. I had wanted this to go to court,” Vasquez said. “But my attorney told me to settle.”

Vasquez said the suit had dragged on so long that a time deadline was looming, and she and her attorney agreed to the settlement before time ran out.

The settlement, according to a document provided to Vasquez by her attorney, included a $22,500 payment. The document showed $15,000 came from Amyx and $7,500 came from the church. After payment to the attorney and court costs, Vasquez realized $9,659.38.

The suit was never was about money, Vasquez insists. It was the only venue left to illuminate a problem she believes is very prevalent among clergy — especially Baptists, who are not governed by a central church hierarchy.

The Baptist General Convention of Texas keeps a confidential list of clergy who have been found by their churches to have conducted themselves in an unethical way. But only a church can add to the list, and it is not made public.

Vasquez said she asked the church to report Amyx to the general convention as part of the settlement but was refused. She provided a letter from Brian Cartwright, Bolivar Baptist Church’s attorney, that spoke of “non-monetary conditions” and Cartwright wrote that he could not advise his client, the church, to agree to them.

“It is my opinion that allowing a non-member to dictate church policy would be in violation of the church bylaws and its method of government,” the letter stated.

Vasquez has joined a group called Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, which is trying to convince the convention to change that policy.

“I tried to tell Sanger police about another young girl he was telling me about that I was afraid was going to be abused,” she said. “But I didn’t have a name, and they said there was nothing they could do.”

Amyx remains on paid leave from the church pulpit and said in a telephone interview he does not know what will happen next as far as his employment.

“I’m just glad it’s over,” Amyx said. “It should have never happened.”

The suit contended that the church “knew or should have known” about the pastor’s sexual relationship outside his marriage when he was hired. But in February, 367th District Judge Lee Gabriel separated the two defendants in the suit and signed a “summary judgment” that effectively dismissed the church from any wrongdoing.

Cartwright confirmed the outcome of the suit but declined comment on it and would not discuss Amyx’s relationship with the church now. “All I can say is, it’s been resolved,” Cartwright said.

The Amyx family phone number is listed in the current Yellow Book as the church parsonage.

No one answered the telephone at the church during repeated calls.

Amyx’s wife, Melinda Amyx, said her husband was put on paid administrative leave in January 2007, a few weeks after a story appeared about the case in the Record-Chronicle. He has not preached a sermon at the church since then, she said, but he continues to be paid as pastor and they continue to be members. She teaches Sunday School and plays piano for the church.

“We’re just glad to have it resolved at last,” she said.

Christa Brown, an Austin lawyer, is a clergy sexual abuse survivor and an activist for victims of Baptist clergy abuse. She took an interest in the Vasquez case.

“The saddest thing about Debbie’s case is that, before she ever filed a lawsuit, she tried so hard to get help from the Baptist General Convention of Texas, and no one would do anything,” she said via e-mail. “Now, here we are two years later, and Debbie has been dragged through hell in her efforts to try to expose the truth about this man and to protect others.”

The Baptist General Convention of Texas keeps the file confidential and will answer inquiries of other churches about whether a prospective pastor is on the list.

“But most churches are like Bolivar,” Brown said. “When confronted with evidence about sexual abuse committed by a beloved pastor, they find ways to rationalize, excuse, minimize and deny, and they don’t report him,” she said. “So, despite the evidence — Amyx’s sworn deposition statements, Amyx’s apology letter, the paternity judgment, and Debbie’s own testimony — it does not appear that the Baptist General Convention of Texas will add Amyx’s name to its file of Baptist ministers who have committed sexual abuse. Why? Because the BGCT doesn’t accept abuse reports from mere victims, and because the church won’t report him. It’s a dysfunctional system that doesn’t work to protect others.”

Pastor Donald Leroy Robinson Charged with Child Molestation

Since the news site I found this article at specifically says it may not be copied or reproduced, I am going to include the link to the story at 6 News.

The article reports that Donald Leroy Robinson, the 56-year-old pastor of Grace Baptist Temple in Bloomington, IN, was arrested for allegedly fondling an 11-year-old girl on two occasions. This quote says it all:

“He, on two occasions, put his hand under her shirt on her skin and touched her stomach and then moved his hand up and rubbed her on her breast,” said Monroe County sheriff’s Detective Brad Swain… Police said Robinson admitted to them that he had rubbed the girl’s chest and stomach, but said he was just trying to comfort her.

First of all, I do hope the court is not naive enough to believe that clunker. A grown man has no excuse for that behavior, and a pastor has even less.

But let’s assume for the moment that the man really did think he was just “comforting” the girl. This is not a man who is qualified for church leadership! A man who is in a position that expects him to provide wise counsel, spiritual guidance, and a moral example is not only required to live up to the standard of his office, but if he fails – which this situation would certainly indicate he has done by his own admission – he deserves the judgment he gets.

That said, this excuse sounds suspiciously similar to the one where the pastor said it was all the fault of the 3-year-old he assaulted because she had “seduced” him. A pedophile looking for cover will come up with the most amazing excuses! If denial just won’t work, then blame the victim or play possum.

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.

~~~

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.

Derek Gillett Pleads Guilty to Child Molestation, 30 Year Sentence

This story is courtesy of the Cherokee Tribune

~~~

A pastor pleaded guilty to two counts of child molestation in Cherokee County Superior Court on Friday.

Derek Gillett, 38, of southeast Cherokee County, was arrested in March for molesting two juveniles “for some time,” according to police reports. He was a pastor at Cornerstone Community Church in Forsyth County.

After hearing the plea, Judge Jackson Harris sentenced Gillett to 30 years. He will serve 10 years in jail and the remainder on probation.

During his plea, Gillett said he was “forever sorry” and that he had dishonored his family and “put them through a world of hurt.”

Prior to forming Cornerstone last year, Gillett served as a volunteer youth director at Midway United Methodist Church in Alpharetta.

The victims were not members of the congregation, sheriff’s office Public Information Officer Sgt. Jay Baker said, but their relationship to Gillett was not released to protect their identities.

He originally was charged in March by the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office with two counts of aggravated child molestation and two counts of sodomy.

Gillett was released later that month from the Cherokee County Adult Detention Center on $50,000 bond, but with conditions including that he wear a GPS monitoring device at all times and not have unsupervised contact with juveniles.

Rev. Michael Jay Brown Martinez GA Charged with Child Molestation

My thanks to the Augusta Chronicle for this story.

~~~

By Jeremy Craig

An assistant pastor at an area church has been charged with covertly videotaping underneath the skirts of teenage girls at Augusta Mall, officials said Friday.

The Rev. Michael Jay Brown, 41, of Candlewood Drive in Martinez, was charged with child molestation, clandestine surveillance and being a peeping Tom, Richmond County jail records state.

The Rev. Brown is listed as an assistant pastor at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Martinez on the jail record and on the church’s Web site.

Richmond County sheriff’s Maj. Ken Autry said the Rev. Brown was jailed Thursday night.

Investigators found that the Rev. Brown had placed a video camera in a shopping bag, and while at Augusta Mall, pointed the camera upward and filmed up the skirts of two girls, Maj. Autry said.

Neither girl had any idea initially that they were being filmed, the major said.

According to the initial incident report filed with the sheriff’s office, the incident happened Tuesday afternoon.

The victims are not from Augusta, the report states, but have listed addresses in Emanuel and Candler counties, more than 70 miles south of Augusta.

Maj. Autry said investigators are checking the reverend’s work computer to see if there are other images of a similar nature.

Messages to the church and to its denomination, the Lawrenceville-based Presbyterian Church in America, were not returned as of early Friday evening.

The Rev. Brown also was a volunteer with the Court-Appointed Special Advocate program.

Program volunteers speak up for abused and neglected children in the foster care system.

Dan Hillman, the executive director of Child Enrichment Inc., which administers the program, said officials were speaking with the office of Juvenile Court Judge Herbert E. Kernaghan Jr. to have the pastor removed from the single case he was appointed to at the time of his arrest.

He said the Rev. Brown will be terminated as a program volunteer.

“It’s pretty devastating,” Mr. Hillman said.

“(The Rev.) Brown had clear local and state background checks,” he said.

All volunteers must submit to extensive criminal background checks for the program.

Darrell Gilyard Back Behind an SBC Pulpit In Spite of Sex Abuse Charges

This excerpt is from stopbaptistpredators.blogspot.com. I’ve only pulled part of it, so check out the link to see the whole piece.

According to comments on the Tiffany Croft blog, Darrell Gilyard preached from the pulpit of First Timothy Baptist Church in Jacksonville last Tuesday. I’ve also gotten a couple emails about this.

First Timothy is a church affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.

As many of you probably recall, Gilyard is the pastor who was previously mentored by two former Southern Baptist presidents, Paige Patterson and Jerry Vines. News reports reflect that dozens of sexual abuse and sexual assault allegations were made against Gilyard at 4 churches in Texas and Oklahoma, but he was always able to simply move on to another church. He finally moved on to Florida, and is now facing charges of lewd conduct and child molestation…

This just blows my mind. When will there be accountability and when will leaders be found culpable for such gross negligence? Even assuming no child was endangered during a guest speaking engagement, this known sex abuser, currently under investigation for and charged with child molestation, is being honored and held up as a positive example to people who would not be in the same building with the man if they were given the choice to decide for themselves.

If we were to assume a stance of “innocent until proven guilty” (in spite of the fact that some of his previous alleged sexual misconduct has been verified by SBC leaders such as Paige Patterson), the man has no business preaching in a church! NONE. During a period of investigation he should suspend all ministerial leadership duties until the truth is determined. That would be a scriptural thing to do, since a pastor is to be blameless.

This frustrates me beyond words. Gilyard is an irresponsible and reprehensible excuse for a pastor. I say that, not out of an assumption of his guilt on the sexual molestation charges, but based on the fact that he is a supposed spiritual leader who would dare to take a guest speaking engagement while under active legal investigation. This is blatantly against Scripture and reveals his power-grasping motives.

And yes, I do hold the SBC leadership who know better and will not raise a finger to protect SBC churches against this man, whom they know to be guilty, fully responsible.