Pastor Jonathan Locust Sr. Sued For Fraud and Abuse

Pastor Jonathan Locust Sr. is being sued by three women who allege he used his position of authority to commit fraud, and sexual, emotional, and spiritual abuse against them for two years.

The linked article gives a good snapshot of how an abusive pastor may operate. In saying this I’m not making a judgment about this man’s guilt or innocence. But the actions described by the plaintiffs are ones I have seen many times before.

It is my hope that if anyone affected by this case should find this blog, you can find some help and additional insight about dealing with the issue of alleged abuse in the church in the articles in the right sidebar of this site and under the Church Abuse tab.

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Pastor Jose Campoverde Charged with Child Sex Abuse

Pastor Jose Campoverde has been arrested on suspicion of molesting four girls in his church in Anaheim, CA. According to the linked article, Campoverde is being held in lieu of $500,000 bail on suspicion of lewd conduct with a minor, sexual battery, child annoyance and false imprisonment.

It is my hope that if anyone affected by this case should find this blog, you can find some help and additional insight about dealing with the issue of alleged sexual abuse in the church in the articles in the right sidebar of this site and under the Church Abuse tab.

Pastor Jessica Banks Sentenced for Child Abuse

Southern California pastor Jessica Banks was sentenced to life in state prison last Friday for abusing her five adopted daughters, who were beaten daily, fed spoiled food and hidden in a garage.

According to the linked article Jessica Banks, 65, of Moreno Vally was sentenced to 36 years and 8 months in prison along with two consecutive terms of 15 years to life. Superior Court Judge Richard Hanscom in Riverside described it as the worst abuse case he had seen.

However, the Moreno Valley woman denied any wrongdoing and her attorney said an appeal was planned.

It is my hope that if anyone affected by this case should find this blog, you can find some help and additional insight about dealing with the issue of clergy abuse in the articles in the right sidebar of this site and under the Church Abuse tab.

Former Youth Pastor John Picard Sentenced for Sex Abuse

Former youth pastor John Picard was sentenced to 40 years in prison for sexual battery, with no possibility of parole. According to the linked article, Picard was convicted on all 42 counts of sexual battery at the end of a six-day trial. The former youth pastor used coercion to form sexual relationships with six female parishioners.

It is my hope that if anyone affected by this case should find this blog, you can find some help and additional insight dealing with the issue of clergy sex abuse in the articles in the right sidebar of this site and under the Church Abuse tab.

Church Youth Director Bradley Boda Charged with Sex Abuse

Church youth director and volunteer Bradley Boda has been charged on suspicion of two counts of sexual assault on a child, two counts of unlawful sexual contact, two counts of sexual exploitation of children, one count of attempted sexual exploitation of a child, three counts of enticement of a child, and two counts of indecent exposure. According to the linked article, police believe Boda used his positions as church youth director and volunteer at Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church in Longmont, CO to sexually assault boys as young as 11.

It is my hope that if anyone affected by this case should find this blog, you can find some help and additional insight about dealing with allegations of clergy sex abuse in the articles in the right sidebar of this site and under the Church Abuse tab.

Youth Minister Joshua O’Bannion Arrested for Child Sex Abuse

Youth pastor Joshua O’Bannion of Gilbert, AZ, was arrested September 9 for alleged sexual contact with a 14-year old in the youth group at Christ Life Church. According to the linked article, Bannion subsequently admitted to three incidents of sexual contact with the girl.

It is my hope that if anyone affected by this case should find this blog, you can find some help and additional insight about dealing with the issue of clergy sex abuse in the articles in the right sidebar of this site and under the Church Abuse tab.

Church Culture That Fosters Clergy Sex Abuse

There are some interesting findings in Baylor’s study on the prevalence of clergy sex abuse, that can give insight into both the reasons for this abuse and how we can prevent it.

Our general ignorance of the existence of the problem is significant. While all of us have seen cases here and there of clergy sex abuse, we tend to think of it as first, a Catholic Church problem, and second, as something rare and unusual. The findings by Baylor’s study show that “In any given congregation with 400 adult members, seven women on average have been victims of clergy sexual misconduct since they turned 18…” If you think about that, in reference to your own church, that is not a rare or unusual event. (On a side note entirely, if we would take the same type of statistical information about child abuse and domestic abuse and apply it to our churches we should get another wake-up call. Abuse in the church is a wide-spread, common problem, not a rarity.)

In Baylor’s study, they found some interesting correlations about the particular culture of modern churches which make church members vulnerable to abuse by church leadership.

Lead researcher Diana Garland said, “Research showed 92 percent of those sexual advances were made in secret, and 67 percent of the offenders were married to someone else.”

“This is not simply an affair. It is an abuse of power,” Garland said.

According to the linked article, some of the ways church members are made susceptible to abuse include:

  • Warning signs ignored. In some instances, congregations “see it happening and don’t know how to name it,” she said. Religious leaders may be observed acting inappropriately in public as well as private settings, but the congregations lack the ability to categorize and process what they witness.
  • A culture of “niceness.” Particularly in the context of religious communities, people are expected to be nice to each other—be careful not to hurt anyone’s feelings, give others the benefit of the doubt, overlook incidents that might cause embarrassment and generally avoid confrontation. That culture can cause victims, family members and friends to remain silent about the abuse of authority by spiritual leaders.
  • Ease of private communication. In the past, family members knew when letters arrived in the mail addressed to other family members, and phone messages often were posted in public places. With e-mail and cell phones, religious authorities can conduct intimate conversations with members of their congregations without anyone knowing about it.
  • Lack of oversight. Religious leaders seldom have to report to anyone for their time, and they are able to move freely within a community without being suspected of any inappropriate activity.
  • Multiple roles. In addition to their appropriate role in providing comfort and spiritual direction in times of crisis, some religious leaders enter into longtime counseling relationships with individuals that can create vulnerability and dependency.
  • Trust in the sanctuary. “We call it a sanctuary because it’s supposed to be a safe place. We trust leaders to tell us the truth,” Garland noted. But some clergy abuse that trust, using their “positional power” as religious authorities to prey upon members of their congregations.

These are all issues the church and church members need to take note of and make adjustments in church policies accordingly. We have a moral and Scriptural obligation to take back the “sanctuary” of church and make it safe for all members to be free to worship God there.