Evangelism Exposed

“Jesus wept.” Joh 11:35

Priest testifies against diocese


A priest who has been a national critic of his church’s handling of clergy sex abuse cases said Monday that the state’s Roman Catholic diocese was irresponsible in handling molestation reports in the 1970s involving the Rev. Edward Paquette.

“They were in some sort of vacuum,” the Rev. Thomas Doyle told a Burlington jury. His testimony came during the third day of a trial on claims by a Waitsfield man that as a Christ the King Church altar boy he was molested by Paquette between 20 and 50 times in 1977 and 1978.

“In my opinion, they were irresponsible,” Doyle said of the Vermont diocese. “Their concern was for the image of the institutional church. I’ve seen this in more instances than I can count.”

Doyle, a former Air Force chaplain and Vatican embassy aide in Washington, D.C., has researched the issue of clergy sex abuse records for 24 years and written extensively on the subject. He is an advocate for the victims of such abuse and testified Monday on behalf of the Waitsfield man.

Doyle said his review of diocesan records showed that then-Bishop John Marshall did not consider the potential threat to altar boys when he hired Paquette in 1972 and retained him after receiving a report that Paquette had molested boys in Rutland in 1974.

“I didn’t find any serious effort to sit down with the families of the victims and consider the harm to the victims,” Doyle said.

Instead, Marshall relied on the advice of psychiatrists who said Paquette’s “homosexual” problem was treatable. According to church documents, Marshall moved Paquette to parishes in Montpelier and then Burlington after the Rutland incidents.

“They put him in charge of altar boys in Burlington,” Doyle said. “Through that venue he got to molest more young boys.” Paquette’s name has been linked to 18 lawsuits filed by former altar boys who alleged he molested them.

Tom McCormick, a diocesan lawyer, challenged Doyle’s assessment, saying Marshall was in some ways ahead of his time in addressing clergy sex abuse.

McCormick said Doyle’s own research showed that few bishops suspended or defrocked priests accused of child molestation, yet Marshall did so twice, by relieving Paquette of his duties in 1978 and, in 1980, beginning the process that led to the defrocking of another problem priest, the Rev. Alfred Willis.

At one point, McCormick got Doyle to agree that Doyle himself used to be more tolerant of efforts to rehabilitate pedophile priests than he is now.

“The Father Doyle of today disagrees strongly with the Father Doyle of the 1990s, correct?” McCormick asked Doyle.

“I would not make those same assessments today,” Doyle conceded.

McCormick also pressed Doyle on Doyle’s claim that bishops in the 1970s knew of information regarding priests who molested children and should have been aware of the importance of closely monitoring their conduct.

“You don’t know what he knew, do you?” McCormick asked.

“Well, I have an idea what he knew,” Doyle said, referring to church personnel records he had reviewed.

The trial continues today at Chittenden Superior Court.

August 19, 2008 Posted by | Altar Boys, Catholic Church, Church Scandals, Sex Abuse | Leave a comment

New Sex Charges Filed Against Ex-Youth Pastor


MANSFIELD, Ohio — Investigators on Tuesday said additional charges were filed against a former youth pastor who was accused last month of sexually abusing a teenage girl.

John Picard was arrested and charged in July with 10 counts of sexual battery.

Picard was accused of having sexual relations with a girl starting in 1992 when she was 13 and continuing until she reached adulthood when he was at Mansfield’s Grace Brethren church, 10TV News reported.

Police said that the first claim against Picard, now 40, came in 2005.  The girl, who at that time was 16, claimed that Picard first engaged with sexual conduct with her but investigators did not have any supporting evidence to charge him.

In July, another woman came forward said she and Picard had a sexual relationship that started when she was 13.

Six new charges were filed against Picard this week after a third woman claimed that Picard had sexually abused her, 10TV News reported.

Investigators said that Picard not only used his position in the church to prey on his victims but also used scripture to convince the girls that what he was doing was right.

Watch 10TV News and refresh 10TV.com for additional information.

August 19, 2008 Posted by | Sex Abuse | Leave a comment

Ex-Palestine youth pastor arrested on sex charges


MABANK —  First Baptist Church of Mabank youth minister Joshua Neal Ponder, 32, was arrested Aug. 13, for sexual assault of a teenager.

Mabank Police Chief Kyle McAfee said Ponder confessed to charges related to a 16-year-old male victim.

The assault allegedly occurred April 8 but was not reported until Aug. 8, according to reports.

The teenager is not a member of the church.

The Rev. Brent Tucker of First Baptist Church of Mabank, Chairman of the Deacons Randy Teague and Minister of Music Chris Sweet conducted a press conference at the church Thursday. The three released a statement on behalf of the church.

“We are deeply saddened by the circumstances that involve Josh Ponder prior to and during his employment at FBC Mabank,” the statement read. “We lift up in prayer his family and those who have been affected. The FBC Mabank does not condone these alleged actions. …

“We have accepted the resignation of Ponder effective Aug. 14. We are in prayer for our youth and their parents at this time.”

Prior to his stint in Mabank, Ponder served as youth minister at First Baptist Church of Palestine from June 2001 to May 2007.

The Rev. Jay Abernathy, pastor of First Baptist Church of Palestine, was notified of Ponder’s arrest late last week and said the church would cooperate with police in the investigation, if asked.

“We are shocked and saddened by this incident, and are praying for everyone involved,” Abernathy said Monday afternoon. “We have made counselors available to our youth and families who may be hurting and will be available to anyone in our church and community who wants to talk.

“We are working to respond to everyone hurt by this.”

Representing the Palestine church’s deacon ministry board, Steve Jenkins mirrored Rev. Abernathy’s sentiments in a statement made by phone Monday.

“As a church, we are saddened by the news of (Josh’s) arrest,” Jenkins said. “We are thankful for the prompt response of the Mabank Police Department and will assist them in any way possible to see that justice is served.

“We respect the need for privacy and healing in the lives of those affected and pray that others will also.”

Ponder remains in the Kaufman County Law Enforcement Center charged with sexual assault of a child. Bail has been set at $200,000.

Mabank police are investigating possible instances of improper contact with other victims.

August 19, 2008 Posted by | Baptist Church, Sex Abuse | Leave a comment

Churches make fitness a new commandment


At a Bible study class in Roswell, six women recite Corinthians 6:19 — “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God.”

Then they set about the earthly task of shrinking that temple.

They swap low-fat recipes, share food diaries and chat about late night cravings. They end the meeting by briskly walking around the church property.

They begin the weekly get together by stepping on a scale.

“We really stress how valuable you are and you have to take care of yourself,” said the Roswell Presbyterian Church group leader Carmen Newsom, who is 37 and has lost 18 pounds during the 13-week program. “I know that if I am up at 10 p.m. and want a bowl of ice cream, I can call these women for support.”

Across Atlanta, some places of worship are being enhanced with weight loss programs — boot camps, walking groups and healthy cooking demonstrations.

Beulah Baptist Church in Decatur boasts a 70,000-square foot state-of-the-art – you could even call it swanky – fitness centers complete with basketball courts, indoor lap pools, yoga classes and massage therapy.

And thousands of Atlanta area church members have recently joined the “50 Million Pound Challenge,” a weight loss program launched last year by Dr. Ian Smith, the diet expert for VH1’s “Celebrity Fit Club.”

The 50 Million Pound Challenge, sponsored by State Farm Insurance and targeting the African-American community, is a free online program that keeps track of weight loss and offers shopping lists, 30-day-meal plans and exercise regimens. Smith also talks about making dramatic lifestyle changes — including lightening up church pot lucks.

Atlanta boasts more registrations than any other city, with 44,499 weight loss enthusiasts. Although not all are church groups, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church alone has 1,700 of its church members signed up.

Smith said churches’ space, numbers and infrastructure make them an ideal resource for helping people get in better shape.

He said teams of people typically lose 25 percent more weight than people who try to lose weight solo. And since churches typically sign up as a group, they are automatically more likely to shed more pounds than those trying to do it alone.

“Call it new age if you want to, but churches today are adapting nicely to what is happening instead of playing just the traditional role of spiritual guidance,” he said. “They are getting into the practicality of what someone needs to take care of their lives.”

Telleha Howard of Atlanta decided to join the 50 Million Pound Challenge several months ago after she was put on blood pressure medication several months ago. She also signed up her church, Citadel of Hope, and 13 fellow church members got involved. The group have started doing cardio before their weekly liturgical dance class. They also keep food journals, and weigh themselves every week.

Howard has lost 53 pounds and went from a size 20 to a size 12.

“When Dr. Ian Smith said our eating habits are putting us on the sick and shut in list, it really resonated.”

Lamont Johnson, pastor of Shy Temple CME in Atlanta, admitted he was “the last person” from his church to join the challenge. Old habits, he said, are hard to break.

But he said the emphasis on health in churches — stemming from a growing concern about obesity and related diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure — has stretched — all they way to the church pot lucks.

He said he knew his congregation was serious about losing weight during a recent pastor’s appreciation celebration. Tables were covered with one kind of dish — salads. There was spinach, chicken salad, fruit salad and arugula salad.

“When you are talking church dinners, you are expecting fried chicken and rolls and collard greens,” he said. “But you know what? This was really nice. A blessing actually.”

“People today are more health conscious,” said Johnson, who said he’s drinking more water, eating better but wants to do more to get healthier. “And when you look at the church as a family, this is something you can do as a family. We have to do a good job of taking care of our bodies. That is scripture. We have to do a better job.”

August 19, 2008 Posted by | Evangelical Tricks, Presbyterian | Leave a comment

Sex abuse lawsuit against Belleville Diocese moves ahead


BELLEVILLE –Former Bishop Wilton Gregory is on the defense list of potential witnesses in the a civil trial involving a Belleville Diocese priest accused of sexually molesting an altar boy, prospective jurors were told Monday.

The trial involves a lawsuit brought in 2002 by James Wisniewski of Champaign, who alleges that when he was a 13-year-old altar boy at St. Theresa’s Parish in Salem in the early 1970s, he was sexually assaulted by the Rev. Raymond Kownacki. Named as defendants are Kownacki and the Diocese. Kownacki has stated he will not comment.

Belleville attorney Mike Weilmuenster, who represents Wisniewski, asked potential jurors Monday whether they would give added weight to the testimony of witnesses who are or were officials of the Diocese. He mentioned four witnesses on the defense list — Gregory, now archbishop of Atlanta, former vicar general Monsignor James Margason, current chancellor the Rev. Ken York and Monsignor Joseph Schwaegel, who was removed from active ministry in the mid 1990s for a sexual addiction not involving a minor.

No of the potential jurors said he or she would give more credence to a church or former church official.

It is common during both civil and criminal trials that not all listed witnesses are called. Telephone calls to Gregory’s media relations office in Atlanta were not answered.

The civil trial got underway after the Illinois Supreme Court on Monday denied a request by the diocese to dismiss the lawsuit because of time-limitation concerns. The high court also denied a request to postpone the trial that began Monday morning with jury selection. The denials were issued without comment.

David Clohessy, director of the St. Louis-based support organization the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said: “Thank goodness the diocese’s shameful ‘Hail Mary’ pass to the (Illinois) Supreme Court was rejected.”

Circuit Judge Lloyd Cueto has ruled that before the jury can begin deliberations on whether Kownacki is guilty of causing psychological damage to Wisniewski, it must first decide whether the diocese fraudulently concealed evidence of molestation. If the jury decides that “fraudulent concealment” occurred, it can go forward with deliberations.

Transcripts of earlier deposition testimony has shown that Margason, Gregory’s representative to a citizens review board set up to investigate sex abuse allegations, withheld the names of victims from board members.

The transcripts also showed that Gregory did not turn over personnel files of many priests who were later removed from active ministry, and that the review board did not ask for the files.

August 19, 2008 Posted by | Altar Boys, Church Scandals, Sex Abuse | Leave a comment

Former Pastor Sentenced To Prison

Brian Williams admitted he sexually abused a 15-year-old girl who attended his church in Sunbury [source]:

A former Delaware County pastor who pleaded guilty to charges that he sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl at his church was sentenced Monday to eight years in prison.

Brian Williams, the former head pastor at Sunbury Grace Brethren Church, told the girl she wasn’t to blame for what happened. He also apologized to his congregation.

“When that openness and that trust is violated in this most intimate and most-personal kind of way, it’s an especially egregious offense,” said Delaware County Prosecutor Dave Yost.

Williams pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual battery in June.

Investigators say Williams forced the girl to perform oral sex in his church office.

Another source here and here (vidoe)

Oral Sex in the Bible:

Song of Solomon 2:3 [blowjob]:

“As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. .” The words of a famale person about what she did her lover sitting down under his shadow.

Song of Solomon 4:16:

Come … blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.

August 19, 2008 Posted by | Oral Sex, Sex Abuse, Sex in the Bible, Song of Songs | Leave a comment

Baptist Pastor Salaries Narrowly Surpass Inflation


Over the past two years, Southern Baptist pastors are making more money, but the rates of inflation are not far behind the salary increases.

As reported by the Baptist Press and posted on Townhall.com, the Southern Baptist Convention organized a survey of more than 12,000 church staff members. The results of the survey, conducted by LifeWay Research and GuideStone Financial, found that Baptist senior pastors’ compensation has risen 7.26 percent since 2006, compared with the 7.01 percent hike in the Consumer Price Index, which is a major indicator of inflation.

By comparison, pastors who were not the senior pastor saw their compensation increase 12.24 percent over the two-year period. Full-time office personnel had a 9.55 percent increase, and custodians have benefited from a 9.92 percent increase.

Another finding of the survey is that two-thirds of Baptist churches are paying for their full-time pastors to have partial or full benefits. Of the two-thirds, 36 percent reported that their families get at least partial coverage, 19 percent report coverage for pastor and spouse and 10 percent indicate coverage for the pastor only. As for other insurance, 38 percent of senior pastors receiving coverage said they had life or accident insurance paid for by the church, 32 percent have a disability benefit, 27 percent have vision insurance and 12 percent have dental insurance.

Geographic region, weekly worship attendance and the pastor’s level of education seemed to determine most whether or not the pastor received benefits. The weekly attendance breakdown showed that one additional worshipper added to the average equals an additional $34 toward the senior pastor’s compensation. The average raise for an additional year of experience, however, was only $254.

Statistics were adjusted to account for the differences in church size.

August 19, 2008 Posted by | Baptist Church, Love of Money, USA | Leave a comment

Expert Witness Testifies in Priest Sex Abuse Trial


An expert witness, a catholic priest who specializes in counseling victims of clergy sexual abuse, testified Monday that the Catholic Diocese of Burlington was negligent in its handling of Father Edward Paquette in the 1970s.

A former altar boy at Christ the King in Burlington claims the diocese acted irresponsibly when it hired Paquette even though it knew of reports of sexual abuse at parishes in Massachusetts and Indiana.

Bishop John Marshall made that decision and then moved Paquette from parishes in Rutland to Montpelier and then finally Burlington as accusations of molestation arose at those places.

Father Thomas Doyle said in Chittenden County Superior Court that evidence showed Paquette had a history of abusing boys in the Diocese he previously worked in.

Doyle, a well-known advocate for victims of clergy sexual abuse, said he based his opinion on letters and other documents included in the Burlington Diocese’s 88-page file on Paquette.

Defense attorneys tried to paint Doyle’s conclusions as retrospective, quoting several articles Doyle wrote in the past two decades in which he outlined certain conditions under which abusive priests could return to work.  Doyle acknowledged his past opinions, but said he didn’t have all the information available to bishops when he made those comments.

Plaintiff’s attorneys, prior to the defense’s questions on the issue, brought up the $300-an-hour fee Doyle charges for his work as an expert witness.  Doyle said much of that money goes to charity, though.

The trial resumes Tuesday.

August 19, 2008 Posted by | Altar Boys, Catholic Church, Celrgy Sex Crimes, Church Scandals | Leave a comment

Priest testifies against church in Burlington trial


Associated Press – August 19, 2008 10:05 AM ET

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) – A Catholic priest who now advocates for victims of priest sex abuse took the stand in a former altar boy’s case against the Diocese of Burlington, telling jurors the church botched its response to molestation complaints against the Rev. Edward Paquette.

The Rev. Thomas Doyle says church leaders at the time were irresponsible, that their concern was for the image of the institutional church, not the children.

His testimony Monday came in the third day of a trial over a Waitsfield man’s suit against the Diocese, which he blames for molestation he says he suffered at the hands of Paquette in 1977 and 1978. The man says church leaders knew Paquette had a history of sex abuse complaints when they hired him.

It’s the second such case to come to trial this year. In May, another former altar boy from Christ the King church in Burlington won an $8.7 million verdict against the Diocese after jurors agreed that church officials had failed to protect him from Paquette.

August 19, 2008 Posted by | Catholic Church, Church Scandals, Sex Abuse | Leave a comment

Sex abuse trial gets underway for former Northshore pastor


Tuesday August 19, 2008, 7:36 AM

AMITE — Jury selection begins today in the sex-abuse trial of a one-time pastor at a now-defunct Ponchatoula church, eight months after another church member was convicted of rape.

Louis Lamonica is charged with four counts of aggravated rape for allegedly abusing his two young sons when they were 11 years old or younger. Conviction carries an automatic life prison sentence.

Lamonica and Austin “Trey” Bernard III are among seven former members of the Hosanna Church indicted in 2005 for allegedly having sex with Lamonica’s sons and Bernard’s daughter over several years.

Bernard is serving a life sentence after being convicted of aggravated rape.

Attorneys say jury selection will take two to three days in Amite.

August 19, 2008 Posted by | Rape, Sex Abuse | Leave a comment