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More Baptists, Rapists and Pedophiles - OOOPs I Repeat Myself
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Former York County pastor's arrest, travels spark nationwide sex-assault search
W.Va. investigators are looking into the past of the Rev. Matthew Jarrell to see if they can connect any unsolved crimes to him.
By TED CZECH
In May 2007, the Rev. Matthew Dwayne Jarrell picked up a woman in Texas. She said he flashed a gold badge at her and told her if she did not do what he wanted, he would arrest her.
Instead, San Antonio Police arrested him and charged him with sexual assault. In his vehicle they found two knives, a stun gun, leather gloves, video equipment and a machete.
Last week, Jarrell, 41 -- who at one time served as pastor of Old Paths Baptist Church in North Codorus Township -- was again arrested on a sexual assault charge, this time in West Virginia.
Police there say he offered a woman a ride home, drove to a secluded area and raped her.
Jarrell faced up to 25 years in prison, and his case in Texas had not yet gone to trial. But two days after his arrest, Jarrell used a bed sheet to hang himself inside his West Virginia jail cell.
At least one law-enforcement officer believes those two cases might not have been isolated incidents.
Jarrell's itinerant nature -- he would often guest-preach across the country -- and those sexual assault charges have led investigators to examine his movements during the past few years.
"You have a four-year time span," said Detective Cpl. L.S. Deitz of the Kanawha County (W.Va.) Sheriff's Office. "Most people, when they commit crimes . . . most likely, there are additional incidences that they have not been caught for. . . . We're wondering exactly what he has done, if anything."
Deitz said he will be contacting police in any state Jarrell had ties to or visited, to see if they have any unsolved sexual assaults that are similar to Jarrell's cases.
"We're looking at the whole entire country, because of his travels," Deitz said.
Just after they arrested him, deputies took a sample of Jarrell's DNA. The sample will be sent to the FBI's Combined DNA Index System, to see if it matches DNA collected as evidence in any cases nationwide.
News of Jarrell's death surprised Cliff Herberg, first assistant district attorney in Bexar County -- which includes San Antonio.
Looking at the case files, he could see that it was stalled in the criminal justice system.
"He's going to have to answer to a higher power now," Herberg said.
Jarrell's last trip
Interviews with Dietz, along with allegations in court records and conversations with people who knew Jarrell, help paint a picture of a man leading two lives.
Jarrell left his home in Terrell, Texas -- about 30 miles east of Dallas -- on May 8 to visit his parents in Ohio for about a week.
On May 18, he stopped in Claysburg, Blair County, Pennsylvania. He was on his way back to Texas the next day when he stopped in Kanawha County.
Members of Jarrell's church in Texas, the Open Door Baptist Church in Mesquite, thought he was in Pennsylvania attending a Baptist convention.
While at a bar in Charleston, W.Va., on May 19, Jarrell approached a woman who was waiting for a cab. He offered to drive her home.
Later that day, she told deputies that Jarrell had driven her to a secluded area and attacked her.
"She stated he held her face down on the seat of the truck" and raped her, according to the complaint.
She escaped when Jarrell's truck became stuck in mud. She told police about Jarrell and his truck, and when they went to the area she described, they found Jarrell still there, still stuck in the mud.
He told police he was an associate pastor and a drug counselor at Open Door. He did not initially mention he had been with a woman. As the conversation continued, though, he said there had been a woman with him, and that they had sex.
"But it was consensual, according to him," Deitz said.
He was arrested and jailed, with bail set at $75,000 cash.
Two days later, he was found hanging in his cell.
An earlier drawn-out case
Court documents, police reports and interviews with Herbert, of the district attorney's office, recount a case in Texas in which Jarrell is believed to have raped a woman.
On May 24, 2007, a San Antonio police officer investigating a disturbance in the city parked near Jarrell's 2006 Ford F-250 truck.
Immediately, a woman opened a truck door and ran to the officer.
She told police she had been walking home when Jarrell asked if he could give her a ride.
Soon after she climbed into the truck, he "flashed a wallet with a badge" and told her that "he was an undercover officer and that if (she) would perform oral sex on (him) he would not take her in," a police report states.
He told her he had a gun and said he would use it.
Jarrell told police he was a pastor.
In his truck, they found two knives, a stun gun, leather gloves and a leather police badge holder with no badge inside. A gold, five-pointed-star badge was found under the steering wheel dash.
In another part of the truck, police found a video camera and several handcuff cases, along with a machete and a video screen.
In a later interview with police, the woman told them Jarrell had said "I'm going to hurt you" if she didn't do what he wanted.
The woman had been charged with prostitution twice, in 1998 and in 2007. She pleaded no contest both times.
Jarrell was released on $50,000 bond and an electronic monitoring device was placed on his ankle. A day later, a different judge ordered the device removed. The judge did not give a reason.
The Texas indictment
On Dec. 19, 2007, a grand jury in Bexar County indicted Jarrell on a charge of sexual assault in the May 24 arrest.
Robyn Ross, one of Jarrell's defense attorneys, said several factors contributed to the lag time between Jarrell's indictment and a trial.
First, because San Antonio is a large city, moving cases through the system is "a slow process." Also, because Jarrell was out on bond, his case was "second priority," she said.
"In the eyes of the court, it's more important that people who are having their freedom withheld, while they're still waiting for their day in court, to be given top billing," she said.
Finally, there were several conferences between Jarrell's defense team and the prosecution; however, "we were just never happy" with any plea deals, Ross said.
Known criminal cases
2003: On April 15, Matthew Jarrell was arrested in Baltimore and charged with possessing a handgun in a vehicle, possessing a handgun on his person and prostitution-- general. Details on the prostitution charge and the overall case were not available.
The charges regarding prostitution and having a handgun on his person were dropped, court records indicate. He pleaded not guilty to having a handgun in his vehicle, but was found guilty at trial. He was sentenced to 18 months' probation and fined $250.
2007: Jarrell was arrested May 24 in San Antonio, Texas. On Dec. 19, 2007, a grand jury indicted him on one felony count of second-degree sexual assault. He was awaiting trial when he died.
2011: Jarrell was arrested May 18 in Kanawha County, W.Va., and charged with one count of sexual assault.
Read charging documents in the San Antonio and West Virginia cases under "Courts/police."
Time in York County
The Rev. Matthew Jarrell served as pastor of Old Paths Baptist Church in North Codorus Township from roughly 1997 to 2003, said the current pastor, the Rev. Johnny Edman.
Edman said some congregants kept in touch with Jarrell, who had returned to Old Paths at least twice as a guest preacher.
"He was good with people," Edman said.
In October 2001, a portion of the building's sanctuary and education wing on Salem Road were damaged by fire. Officials with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives concluded the blaze was started with an accelerant that was poured throughout the inside.
Steve Bartholomew, a spokesman for the ATFE, said Thursday that the case remains unsolved and that no arrests were ever made.
About 18 months before that fire, Jarrell's home -- the church's parsonage -- also caught fire. That blaze was ruled accidental.
Pastor Christopher Settlemoir arrested
He must be a menace to society. Otherwise, why would Judge Mathew Sabaugh set a $1 million dollar cash bond and make him wear a GPS tether? Baptist pastor Christopher Settlemoir stands charged with sexual assault of a 15-year-old boy. He faces up to life in prison.
The teen's mother went to the Warren Police Department last Thursday with text messages indicating the accused pastor allegedly had sexually assaulted her son. Settlemoir, who police say has been married for two years and has a 7-month-old daughter, turned himself in to police on Saturday, just prior to search warrants for the computers.
Settlemoir was the head pastor at Antioch Baptist Church and the principal of its school. The church and school website is down. It’s best to hide in these situations. Perhaps the public will forget.
Settlemoir is married with a new daughter. What a sad sad story.
Correction - Settlemoir was not the youth pastor, he was the head pastor.
Update 5/25/2011 - Pastor Chris Settlemoir sentenced
No law on church worker checks
By SARAH BURGE
An earlier version of this story gave the wrong first name for an assistant pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside. His name is Jeff Lasseigne.
Since a Temecula assistant pastor was arrested last month and charged with raping a 16-year-old choirgirl, revelations about his criminal past have raised questions about church hiring practices.
At least one church member and a victims' advocate say the pastor, who had been convicted in 2008 of sex with a 15-year-old from his previous church, should not have been allowed to work around youths.
Police have said that, as choir director at Mountain View Community Church, 26-year-old Joseph Jermaine Spencer was around up to 50 teenage girls. According to a police report, the lead pastor knew about his criminal history.
But the law does not require background checks for church employees, just those at church-run schools. And some sex offenses, such as the one on Spencer's record, don't require registration as a sex offender.
"It's like setting John Hinckley (the would-be assassin of President Ronald Reagan in 1981) free and giving him a pistol," said David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, a national group that helps victims of abuse by religious authority figures.
Clohessy called it "extraordinarily reckless" to put a convicted, or even a suspected, sex offender in a church leadership position.
A former member of the church who worked with Spencer as a parent volunteer said she was appalled by news of his arrest and prior conviction. She wants to know why the church leader, Pastor John Wells, let Spencer work there.
"I am outraged," said Laura Jordan, who attended the church with her husband and children until a few months ago.
"The fact that this pastor knew his past and he didn't let any of us know," Jordan said. "So that we can make the decision whether to put our babies around this person."
Mountain View officials declined to comment.
Spencer's lawyer could not be reached, but his mother, Margaret Spencer, has said the allegations against her son are false.
Officials from other Inland churches say background checks have become a standard tool for weeding out applicants with criminal convictions.
John Andrews, spokesman for the San Bernardino Diocese, said anyone who works with children -- either as an employee or volunteer -- at a church in the Catholic diocese must be fingerprinted for a criminal background check. A conviction for a serious crime would rule a person out as a candidate, he said.
"A person with a sexual offense -- there's just no way," Andrews said.
Jeff Lasseigne, assistant pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, said potential employees and volunteers working with children there, too, must undergo background checks.
"We're about giving people second chances and opportunities," he said. "There's a balance. You want to help people but you have to be responsible about how you help them."
The crisis in the Roman Catholic Church focused attention on sex abuse by clergy. But, while the Catholic Church in the United States now commissions an annual report of credible accusations against clergy, estimates of sexual abuse reports in Protestant churches are more difficult to come by.
In 2007, The Associated Press reported that the three companies that provide liability insurance to the majority of Protestant churches in the United States typically receive more than 260 reports each year of young people under 18 being sexually abused by clergy, church staff and volunteers.
Those three companies, at the time, insured more than 165,000 churches and worship centers out of an estimated 224,000 in the United States, the report said.
Mountain View Community Church identifies itself as nondenominational, but also is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.
A spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee said Convention officials have no authority over individual Southern Baptist churches, which are autonomous.
"We have no voice at all in the hiring practices of any church," Roger Oldham said.
Oldham said the Executive Committee encourages all churches to do background checks and provides information about preventing sex abuse on its website. He said individual church leadership must take measures to keep their children safe.
SNAP advocates have criticized the Southern Baptist Convention, which is the largest Protestant body in the United States, for its refusal in 2008 to create a central database to track accusations against church officials.
Clohessy said that, despite the recent surge of sexual misconduct cases by clergy, some churches still foster an environment in which sexual predators operate with impunity.
Religious beliefs about forgiveness may allow churches to downplay misconduct, he said. And church members who object to giving an accused molester a second chance sometimes face criticism.
"There's the implication because they don't want this person around then they are somehow un-Christian," he said. "Religious institutions are a terrific place to go if you happen to be a sexual predator."
An Oklahoma Pastor Is Arrested On Sex Complaints
Reported by: Jamie Oberg
An Oklahoma Baptist minister was arrested Monday night, charged with sexual battery and rape with an instrument. The alleged victim told officers she was only 16 when the molestation began.
The accuser, is 19 and in college now, she told police that Bruce Sanders, 48 molested her throughout high school while she stayed in a Eufaula home with the pastor and his wife.
According to the arrest warrant, the victim calls Sanders “daddy,” but police say they are not related by blood.
FOX23's Jamie Oberg talked to arresting officers and community members. A well-known and respected preacher here at North Fork Baptist Church is in jail tonight, accused of sexual battery and rape with an instrument. The alleged victim coming forward, telling police disturbing details about what she says Sanders did to her when she was just 16 years old."
“You never want to hear that a preacher or someone with an authoritative position got charges like that,” McIntosh Co. Deputy, Tonya French said.
Working as a detective, Tonya French has seen and heard all kinds of criminal cases, but it’s not something that ever gets easier.
“Nothing shocks you, you think the next case won't shock the one before but people will shock you,” Dep. French said.
It’s hard not to handle a case like this with a heavy heart; thinking of everyone how her hometown will take the shocking allegations.
“It's shocking, it's shocking to anybody who's looked up to him, his congregation, the kids at school,” she said. "He sits on several different committees and works with a lot of youth."
"We all know each other and we all go to church,” Eufaula resident, Tina Hile said. “You think you know them but you don't know unless you're there every minute."
Church families know sanders as a man of God; standing up every week, as the pastor at North Fork Baptist Church.
But in Sanders' arrest warrant, he is known as "daddy” to a teenage girl who stayed with him and says over a three year period “daddy/daughter dates” were when he touched her inappropriately.
She told police it started when Sanders bought her a promise ring around her 16th birthday, a promise to stay pure until marriage.
Detectives tell FOX23 none of the alleged sex abuse happened at the church.
“Several places they allegedly took place," Deputy French said the investigation is on-going.
French says there are no other known victims and the defendant has no prior record.
“We're here to prove whether it did or did not happen,” she said. “Protecting people who can't protect themselves."
Initial emotions in town are mixed.
"It's so scary to find out something like that is happening so close to home,” 20-year-old Jessica Francis said.
"He'll be judged one way or another,” church-going man, Clifford Tucker said.
Clifford feels for the North Fork church family, "A lot of people are going to have trouble with this,” he said. “If he's proven guilty, then I think they should throw the book at him."
Defendant, Bruce Sanders is scheduled to have an initial appearance in McIntosh County courthouse Wednesday afternoon at 1:30 p.m.
According to the affidavit, the victim has also turned over several recorded conversations with Sanders, telling him she was not comfortable with the touching and text messages from sanders telling her he is in love with her.
New Hampshire man, Ernest Willis, guilty of raping teen church member Tina Anderson
BY Aliyah Shahid
A New Hampshire man was found guilty on Friday of raping and impregnating his children's 15-year-old babysitter from his church more than a decade ago.
The case came under the national spotlight after the victim, Tina Anderson, revealed that the fundamentalist Baptist church she and her attacker, Ernest Willis, attended forced her to confess her “sin” and apologize to the entire congregation.
She was not allowed to tell church members that the pregnancy was the result of being raped.
The pastor at Trinity Baptist Church then helped ship Anderson off to live with a Colorado family she didn't know to deliver the baby, who was put up for adoption.
Concord police did not find her until last year.
Willis, 52, of Gilford had previously pleaded guilty to one count of statutory rape, but denied he forcibly raped Anderson twice in 1997.
Anderson, now 29, said Willis forced himself on her while he was giving her driving lessons and again at her home weeks later. Willis argued the sex was consensual.
She told ABC News' 20/20 last month that when she discovered she was pregnant, she confided in Willis who offered to pay for an abortion.
When Anderson refused, “he asked me if I wanted him to punch me in the stomach as hard as he could to try to cause a miscarriage. I told him ‘no.'”
Chuck Phelps, who was pastor of the church, said Anderson voluntarily apologized at the church. The defense questioned the credibility of the young woman's account, noting she went out to dinner with Willis on her 16th birthday just two months after she said Willis raped her.
"When he decided his sexual gratification was the most important thing in his life, he shattered mine," Anderson read from a victim's statement as Willis stared at her.
Willis faces up to 54 years behind bars.
Rape cover-up implicates multiple pastors, multiple churches
A woman alleges she was raped twice 13 years ago by a deacon of her church, Trinity Baptist in Concord, New Hampshire. Tina Anderson says the rapes resulted in her becoming pregnant when she was only 15. (That’s Anderson in the photo, in around 1997, before the assaults.)
The former deacon, Ernest Willis, has now been arrested on sexual assault charges.
Anderson also asserts that church officials, led by former pastor Chuck Phelps, covered up the crime. (That’s Phelps in the photo on the left.)
When she told of the alleged rape and pregnancy, church officials “blamed her…forced her to stand in front of her congregation and apologize for getting pregnant, and write a letter asking Willis’ wife for forgiveness.”
As a pregnant 15-year-old, Anderson was whisked off to Colorado where, she says, she was forced to give up the baby for adoption.
Pastor Chuck Phelps had previously worked with the pastor of Tri-City Baptist Church in Westminster, Colorado, and that’s where the young Tina Anderson was sent.
At that time, the pastor of Tri-City Baptist Church was Matt Olson, who is now the president of Northland International University, a Baptist Bible college in Wisconsin whose motto is "preparing the next generation of servant-leaders for Great Commission living." (That’s Olson in the photo on the right.)
Anderson says Olson made her write a letter to the wife of deacon Willis. “He made me sit down and write a letter of apology to the rapist’s wife for betraying her trust by seducing her husband.”
“Chuck Phelps and Matt Olson did a lot to systematically brainwash me,” says Anderson, “and make me believe this was my fault, to cover things and make people believe that it wasn’t Ernie’s baby, to make -- even Chuck Phelps’ wife…asked me if I enjoyed it when it happened. And it’s not OK…. It’s not OK to make victims believe it’s their fault.”
[“Not OK” indeed. Amen, Tina. You go, girl!]
But Tina was actually “brainwashed” even before the alleged rapes committed by the church deacon. She says she was also silenced in an earlier case.
Anderson alleges that “Trinity Baptist Church members had told her not to report an earlier case in which she had been molested by a convicted sex offender who was also a member of the congregation.”
"They told me that to be a good Christian, I need to forgive, forget and move on in my life," she said. "And they told me that a good Christian doesn't press charges on another good Christian."
[How many times have we heard that “forgive and forget” line from Baptist officials and pastors? How many more times will we hear it before Baptist officials change their ways and implement systems of accountability?]
“Growing up, Anderson said, a family member molested her and beat her and her brother with a belt to ‘show us who was boss.’ When the man was imprisoned for an unrelated sex crime, Anderson, then 13, said she felt comfortable enough to tell church members that she, too, had been a victim. But she said church members told her to keep quiet.”
“Anderson said Phelps directed her to visit the man in state prison to offer her forgiveness.”
"He said if I didn't forgive him and give him forgiveness, then I would get bitter," she said. "It's just kind of how things at the church go. The woman is blamed for everything."
“At the state prison in Concord, Anderson said she was forced to confront the man with her mother. ‘It was horrible,’ she said. ‘It was awful.’”
Over the next two years, Anderson says she confided in Willis, who was then a deacon at Trinity. He offered emotional support and Anderson began babysitting for two of his children.
"I had gotten very close to the (Willis) family," Anderson said. "At Trinity, your whole world revolves around the church and the people who are in the church, so those are really the only people you have contact with."
“But according to Anderson, Willis raped her twice when she was 15 - once at her home and once in the parking lot of a Concord business during a driving lesson. Those allegations are the basis of the criminal charges the police have filed against Willis. Several months later, Anderson realized she was pregnant.”
Anderson’s mother called pastor Chuck Phelps for help, and according to Anderson, Phelps removed her from Trinity's Bible school. "I was told that I was a bad influence," she said. "I was told I was going to have to go up before the church."
Anderson went to stay at pastor Phelps’ house, where she reports that she wasn't allowed to see any of her friends or talk to anybody. "I had to stay there until they shipped me away,” she says.
Once in Colorado, Anderson was home-schooled.
But before she left for Colorado, Anderson was made to stand before some 400 members of the Trinity Baptist congregation to ask forgiveness for getting pregnant…."I was completely humiliated," she said. "I felt like my life was over."
“At Phelps's urging, Anderson said, she gave her baby girl up for adoption”
Anderson “continued to be home-schooled until what would have been her senior year, when she returned to Concord for about six months. She lived with her mother again, and attended Trinity, sitting in the same pews as Willis. Anderson's mother remains a member of Trinity today.”
Phelps, who is now the senior pastor of Colonial Hills Baptist Church in Indianapolis, claims there was “no cover-up.” But according to his recent statement in the Concord Monitor, Phelps admits that he told the 15-year-old Anderson to “be responsible.”
“She knew this person was dangerous after the first time, but she continued to be around him… She needed to be responsible,” says Phelps.
[“Continued to be around him”? Anderson says that the second alleged rape occurred when Willis came to her house. And if Phelps was so convinced that Willis was "dangerous," why did Phelps allow Willis to remain in the congregation with nothing more than a statement that he was unfaithful to his wife?]
Meanwhile, even as police are seeking to conduct an investigation, the current pastor of Phelps’ prior church, where this story began, sent an email to members of the congregation. As reported by the Associated Press, the email from Trinity Baptist’s current pastor, Brian Fuller, “contains two statements advising parishioners to remain silent.”
“I love you tenderly and am confident you will only talk of these matters to our Lord in prayer,” wrote Fuller (shown in the photo on the right).
[Does that sound like “no cover-up” to you? To me it sounds more like “ongoing cover-up.”]
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