The Rest of the Story

Celebrating the Fine, Upstanding
Moral Leaders of Today's World

Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Whatcha' Gonna Do?

Little Rock, AK
Yet another Little Rock police officer has been placed on administrative leave. Javier Allen is being investigated for the alleged burglary of his next door neighbor's apartment. The Benton woman says she found Allen in her apartment and police say Allen has confessed to the burglary. He is free on a $20k bond.

Muncie, ID
A Muncie police sergeant has been arrested in Anderson for allegedly stealing three shirts from a retail store. Sergeant Brian Fox, already facing disciplinary charges in another incident, allegedly ran from a security guard when confronted and refused to give investigators his name. The 17-year police veteran has been suspended in the past month for telling the news media about a lost homicide case file, and trying to organize co-workers to make prank phone calls to a police supervisor.

Lovell, WY
A former police officer in Lovell has pleaded guilty to six felony offenses. Gerald Frank Florez is facing a 14-to-20 year prison sentence after pleading guilty to three counts of immoral or indecent acts, one count of aggravated assault and battery, and one count each of second and third degree sexual assault. Florez, a 20-year veteran of the force, had originally faced 19 counts on a variety of primarily sex-related offenses. Prosecutors say he used his position as a policeman to intimidate some of his alleged victims.

Hartford, CT
A Hartford police officer has pleaded not guilty to charges of forcing a prostitute to have sex with him in exchange for not arresting her. Officer Salvatore Gallo is the fifth Hartford cop charged in the scandal. Two months ago, two officers pleaded not guilty to similar allegations while two others pleaded guilty to lesser charges.

Dundee, FL
One third of the police department in Dundee has been placed on leave. The Polk County states attorney is investigating allegations of sexual misconduct against the part of the police chief and two of his sergeants. Residents, and some police department employees, have apparently lodged complaints recently against Chief Roy Holland and other officers for sexual misconduct, failing to respond to calls about drug dealing and burglary, and sexual discrimination. Details of the complaints have not been made public. The Dundee city council have placed the officers on leave, with pay (of course), while the "investigation" takes place.

Orlando, FL
A 12-year veteran of the Orange County Sheriff's Office who worked as a high school resource officer is charged with possessing child pornography. Joseph Moss, 35, is suspended without pay, pending the outcome of an internal investigation. According to an arrest affidavit, Moss' wife contacted the sheriff's office after their 9-year-old daughter discovered nude photographs on the family's computer. A search turned up several graphic photos and e-mail in which Moss and correspondents discussed "kiddie porn" and how to download files.

Pickett County, TN
A Middle Tennessee law enforcement officer is facing serious charges this afternoon. The sheriff of Pickett County turned himself in to authorities. He is charged with statutory rape. Police have not released the name or age of the teen in question, nor the gender of the victim. (Het Hint: it must be a girl, because they'd use the homo angle against him in the press if it were a boy).

Woodstock, VT
A widely-publicized federal civil suit brought against Windsor County Sheriff William Heinz for shooting an 11-month-old beagle named Gromit has been settled out of court. Heinz claimed the dog was chasing deer when he shot it a year ago. The dog's owners, Scott Jaynes and Annika Brown of Peterborough, New Hampshire, claimed the sheriff violated their constitutional rights by depriving them of their property. The couple also accused Heinz of negligence in his capacity as a public official. Heinz' attorney said his client was opposed to settling the suit, and has, of course, been cleared of any misconduct charges. But the sheriff's insurance company decided to settle, because it was cheaper than fighting the lawsuit in court.

Miami, FL
A Miami police lieutenant suspects a fellow officer shot out the rear window of his sports utility vehicle as payback for a job transfer. A police report says Lieutenant Torsan Cowart believes 27-year veteran officer Diosdado Diaz is behind the shooting, as well as the note left on his vehicle demanding money. Diaz was transferred to foot patrol in downtown Miami because of a dispute over job performance and overtime. The job switch cost him a 5% pay cut. Miami internal affairs and Miami-Dade Police are making the usual show of investigating the incident.

Philadelphia, PA
A Common Pleas Court judge has ordered the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office to file third-degree murder charges against two parole agents who shot one of their charges to death. Even though a grand jury cleared the pair in the killing, Judge Teresa Sarmina ordered charges be filed against the two agents.

A Police Escort
Miami, FL

A former Miami Beach Police officer and his girlfriend are facing charges in a prostitution case involving a 16-year-old girl. The police department confirms 30-year-old Officer Greg Elvin Priest resigned and surrendered with girlfriend Dianellys Morato. A warrant had been issued for their arrest on racketeering and pimping charges. The investigation started May 28th when detectives arranged a "date" with a 16-year-old girl through a newspaper advertisement. She was arrested after allegedly accepting $190 for "any kind of sex." Detectives say the escort service operated at two locations, one of which was leased in Morato's name. The girl's father says she fears for her life because friends of the implicated officers are threatening her. Four more police officers, from two separate departments, are also being implicated for their involvement in the prostitution ring, including officers from Miami, Miami-Dade and Hialeah Police Departments. Only one Miami officer has been reassigned for knowing about the operation and failing to report it. Neighbors say they saw police officers from several cities frequently visiting the brothels in Hialeah and Kendall.

You've Been Framed
Wheaton, IL

A jury is deliberating the case against four police officers and a former prosecutor charged with conspiring to frame a man for a girl's murder that sent him to death row. Prosecutors alleged the conspiracy among four sheriff's officers and a prosecutor spanned a decade and three murder trials for Rolando Cruz, convicted twice with another man for the 1983 kidnap, rape and murder of 10-year-old Jeanine Nicarico.

Cruz, a self-admitted "street punk" who said he told lies because he hated the police, was sentenced to death largely on the basis of a "dream" statement in which he supposedly offered details of the crime that only the murderer would know.

"You can't embellish, you can't fabricate, you can't make up evidence and you can't obstruct justice," special prosecutor William Kunkle told the jury about the alleged actions of the law enforcement officers.

The defense has suggested that officers and prosecutors made mistakes and bumbled their way through the high-profile Nicarico case, but insisted there was no evidence of a conspiracy, only the supposed manipulations of Cruz.

Holy Broker
Toms River, NJ

A man with a history of preying on clergy admitted he persuaded a priest to give him $1.4 million in church money by falsely promising he would invest it, then lost it all gambling. Robert Riggio faces a maximum nine years in prison. Riggio, who pleaded guilty to two counts of theft by deception, has already spent 14 months in jail awaiting trial.

Riggio, 52, called Federick Valentino, pastor of St. Bonaventure Church, in October 1996, and pretended to be a new parishioner who was $20,000 in debt to loansharks, prosecutors said. After receiving the money, Ryan called again, saying it would be difficult to repay it, but out of gratitude he would get the church a great investment through a friend.

Posing as Tom "The Banker" Barracus, Riggio persuaded the priest to continue sending cash to New York, supposedly for the great investment, until his arrest in February 1998. The scam came to light in December when Valentino tried to withdraw $30k in cash from a parish account. Fearing the priest might be an extortion victim, bank officials refused to allow the withdrawal without first notifying the diocese. Riggio, who said he lost the money at Atlantic City casinos and at racetracks in New York, has pulled other such scams in the past.

You Be the Judge
Leeds, England

Police officers in Leeds, England, told the city's crown court that they detained Judge Timothy Parkin, 43, after one of their undercover agents spotted him picking up a prostitute on a city street. The officers testified that when they approached the judge's automobile, he jumped out and exclaimed, "Thank god, officers. Can you help me? I can't get this woman out of my car!"

The Laying of Hands

Fort Lauderdale, FL
The Florida branch of the Evangelical lutheran Church of America is found guilty in a sex case. Fort Lauderdale jurors say the Florida-Bahamas Synod, a local governing body, failed to supervise former reverend Conny Sjostrom. Kerry Fitzgerald sued him and the church for a sexual relationship she says the pastor initiated during her counseling sessions. The church must reimburse her more than $116k for her counseling since 1994. Sjostrom has already reached an undisclosed settlement with her. The amount of punitive damages will be argued in court. However, jurors also found Fitzgerald 40% responsible for the negligence, because she participated in the sexual relationship for two years.

Dallas, TX
Six women have accused an 87-year-old former minister of molesting them years ago at a school for missionary children in Africa. The women were brought to Dallas as part of a church investigation into allegations against the reverend Bill Pruitt, a retired associate pastor of Highland Park presbyterian Church in Dallas, The Dallas Morning News said. Pruitt was a presbyterian missionary in the former Belgian Congo from 1945 until 1970 when similar allegations by other women forced him to quit. He was also a dormitory supervisor at a boarding school for missionary children in Kinshasa, Congo, where the six women all were students. The newspaper said there is no indication of any criminal charges or civil complaints pending against Pruitt, who retired in 1985.

Gainesville, FL
Sheriff's detectives in Alachua County have arrested a local preacher and charged him with a capital sexual battery that allegedly took place in 1994. Detectives say Larry Brown, 34, of Trees of Righteousness Harvest Time Ministries, is being charged with sexual battery against a girl who was under the age of 12 at the time. They say Brown was a travelling evangelist (read: snake oil charlatan) who was staying in the girl's home when the incident allegedly took place.

Where There's Smoke...

Kokomo, ID
A Howard County volunteer fireman and arson investigator has been arrested and charged with a small arson fire at a Kokomo area apartment. Forty-three-year-old Joe Gifford is accused of setting the trash can fire in a laundry room. So far, investigators haven't revealed a motive for the blaze. Gifford, a longtime member of the Taylor Township Volunteer Fire Department, has been suspended indefinitely.

Maybe he just had a really, really skanky pair of undershorts that he couldn't get clean, and decided to dispose of them. Did'ja ever think of that, huh?

Webster, TX
Neighbors, friends and family of former City of Webster Fire Marshall Wesley Slomina are shocked by allegations that he was involved in child pornography. Police say thousands of photos were taken from Slomina's computer at work and at home that contained graphic sexual images of mostly very young girls, and even some infants (!!). Police also say Slomina claims he's a porn addict. If he's indicted on child pornography charges, which is a federal crime, his attorney says he will plead "not guilty." Slomina was fired from his job because of the incident.

Daytona Beach, FL
The fireman who stole toys from a "Toys For Tots" drive he ran for five-years in Volusia County has been convicted of grand theft. It took a jury less than two hours to find Donald Dwyer guilty. The 62-year-old volunteer firefighter testified during his trial this week that he did nothing wrong by taking the toys, which he intended to give to his grandchildren. He also said other firefighters took toys, so he figured he could too. Dwyer, who faces up to five years in prison, will be sentenced at a later date. His 19-year-old son has already pleaded "no contest" to theft charges for his part in stealing the donations.

Bastions of Morality
Tampa, FL

The Deeper Life christian Church in Tampa, with guilty pleas from five of its pastors, has become the first church in the state to be convicted of a felony. The church and pastors were accused of a variety of crimes, including food stamp fraud, and dealing in stolen property. The pleas were entered in Tampa by the church's head pastor, Melvin Jefferson, and his associate pastors. A judge ordered five years probation and more than $27k in fines for the pastors.

The Mayor of Simpleton
Richmond, VA

Former Richmond Mayor Lee Young has been shipped off to a federal prison in South Carolina. The former politician and baptist minister has to serve a two-year sentence after pleading guilty to influence-peddling and fraud. In interviews with Richmond television stations, Young said god has forgiven him... and he's forgiven himself. Young will serve his time at the minimum-security prison camp in Estill, South Carolina, where we'll see just how far that forgiveness gets him.

It's Comin' Right for Us!

Chicago, IL
A woman killed by police gunfire had her hands in the air and was telling officers she was getting out of a car when she was shot, according to a woman who says she witnessed the shooting. "She's shaking and saying 'I'm getting out, I'm getting out," Lanita Gray told The Chicago Tribune. "Then the gun goes off. I don't think [the officer] knew she shot her."

The car was pulled over for expired license plates. The passenger, LaTanya Haggerty, 26, was shot after the driver of the car ran away. Police say patrol officer Serena Daniels mistook a cellular phone in Haggerty's hand for a gun.

It was one of two cases in June in which Chicago police killed unarmed people during traffic stops. In the other shooting, police said a Northwestern University student was shot when he "tried to grab an officer's gun." In both cases, the victims and the officers were black.

Virginia Beach, VA
Seven police officers are scheduled to face the Virginia Beach Personnel Board for their roles in the 1997 shooting death of an unarmed motorist. Police shot and killed 28-year-old Bruce Quagliato after a low-speed pursuit. Officers claim they thought they "saw him reaching for a weapon," so they opened fire, shooting 60 rounds and hitting the unarmed man a whole 12 times (a 1-to-5 ratio... these guys are real marksmen, eh?). Prosecutors cleared the officers of criminal wrong-doing, but the seven are appealing their suspensions and demotions for violating department rules.

Fleecing the Flock

Tallahassee, FL
A North Florida minister is arrested on charges of bank fraud, money laundering and grand theft. The reverend Gregory Pittman of Tallahassee is accused of systematically misusing funds from the Saint John's Missionary baptist Church for nearly five years. When the church's financial committee questioned some of his actions, Pittman abolished the panel and began handling all of the accounts himself. Investigators claim the minister embezzled a total of $32k from his church.

Orlando, FL
A businessman was ordered to repay $12 million he swindled from christian groups by telling them profits from an investment scheme would be used to build churches and educate the poor. Jonathan Strawder, the 26-year-old founder of Sovereign Ministries International, also got five years in state prison, but the term will be served concurrently with a 5-year federal sentence he received last month.

With his clean-cut good looks and his knowledge of the bible, Strawder persuaded at least 2,200 church groups and individuals to entrust their money to him. Strawder promised to invest in offshore trading programs he said would yield as much as 600% a year. Investors also were told profits would build churches in Kenya and Poland and pay for poor students to go to school.

The venture was instead a Ponzi scheme, in which early investors are paid with money from new investors. Strawder bought himself several sports cars, a boat and real estate. Aside from the fact that he wasn't an ordained minister, how exactly does this make him different from Pat Robertson, Jerry Fallwell, or any other evangelical snake oil salesman?

OtB Update: Tampa, FL
The reverend Henry Lyons, once the powerful leader of one of the nation's largest black church groups and now an inmate at a state prison, faced further humbling in federal court. The 57-year-old minister was sentenced on federal tax evasion and bank fraud charges to which he pleaded guilty in March. The five counts carried a total possible sentence of 75 years in prison, but his lawyers expected a term of fewer than 10 years.

The charges grew out of his business dealings while president of the National baptist Convention USA. He admitted failing to pay taxes on $1.3 million in income, defrauding a bank and making false statements to a financial institution and to federal housing officials. Federal prosecutors dropped 49 other charges, including extortion, conspiracy and money laundering.

Lyons was convicted February 27th in state court of bilking corporations out of nearly $4M, and of stealing almost $250K donated by the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith for burned black churches in the South. He was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison for racketeering and grand theft.

A repentant Lyons has emerged since he began his state sentence April 1 at Lowell Correctional Institution near Ocala, his lawyers said. "He's reading the bible and reading prayer every day ... trying to find peace for himself," said attorney Jeff Brown.

Fat lot of good it did him before.

He Was a Slime in His Last Life, Too
Houston, TX

Hindu priest Shaan Sharma is accused of having inappropriate sex with a woman in his spiritual care. The alleged victim told a Harris County jury that Sharma told her she was afflicted with cancer, and the only way to cleanse her body was by having sex with him. The woman, who could barely speak through her tears, told the jury she was a virgin at the time, and believed everything Sharma said because he was a priest. Sharma's attorney says he will deny all the allegations.

Who Guards the Guards?

Columbus, OH
A former corrections officer has been charged with raping female inmates at a state prison. A Franklin County grand jury has indicted 33-year old Mallory Peterson of Columbus on eleven charges, including rape, kidnapping and sexual battery. The state Highway Patrol says Peterson engaged in sexual conduct with three inmates at the Franklin County Pre-Release Center. Investigators say that in some instances he used force against them.

Washington, AK
A former Washington County Juvenile Detention Center guard is being charged with six counts of violating a minor for allegedly having consensual sex with five underage female inmates. Earl Guillory, 36, has pleaded not guilty to the charges, and is free on a $2,500 bond until his scheduled trial. Although everyone agrees the sexual contact was consensual, the age of the victims and Guillory's position of authority constitutes a crime. Authorities at the facility say they have since implemented new policies which should avoid such situations in the future. Juvenile detention workers are now prohibited from being alone with ANY inmate.

Sebastian County, AK
A former Sebastian County Adult Detention Center deputy has pleaded "no contest" to charges he extorted money from inmates in return for "favors." Luther Jerome Wilkins, 33, of Barling was sentenced to a three-year suspended sentence and fined $2,000 for bribery by a public servant.

Boise, ID
A Meridian man has been sentenced to life in prison for causing the death of an 11-month-old child. Former prison guard Edward Stevens insisted that he did not kill Casey Whiteside, the son of his former girlfriend. The little boy died in 1997 and a jury felt that Stevens caused the injuries by hitting and throwing him. Because he used to be a guard, Stevens is expected to serve his sentence in an out-of-state prison.

Uniondale, NY
Four prison guards have been charged in the beating death of an inmate who allegedly angered them by repeatedly crying out for his methadone treatment. The guards pleaded innocent in the death of Thomas Pizzuto, who died six days after entering the Nassau County jail to serve three months for a traffic violation. Pizzuto, 38, a recovering heroin addict, had a seizure three days after the alleged beating and died. All four guards were released on $500k bond. Lawyers for the men said they would be cleared.

Ivano Bavaro, along with fellow jail guards Edward Velazquez and Patrick Regnier, were charged with two counts of federal civil rights violations. The charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison. According to the indictment, Bavaro served as lookout when Velazquez and Regnier went to the inmate's cell and beat him repeatedly on Pizzuto's second day in custody. After the alleged January 8th beating, Pizzuto was left in his jail cell over the weekend to let his injuries heal, his family claimed. A fourth guard, Joseph Bergen, was charged as an accessory after the fact for allegedly doctoring a report of the death to claim Pizzuto suffered his injuries in a shower room fall.

All four officers remain on modified duty at the jail pending trial. Their weapons were taken away, and they are permitted no contact with inmates.

Ooo-- big punishment for nearly beating a man to death. Oh, yeah... it's okay, he was a prisoner, a bad guy, and thus has no rights. Right?

Preaching Tom
Douglasville, GA

A baptist preacher accused of being a peeping Tom at Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport is back in the pulpit at his Douglasville church. Police have charged the reverend Danny B. Moody with using a video camera to look under women's skirts at the airport. Moody is free on bond.

Um, I Guess I Was Coming Right For Him
Boise, ID

A 25-year-old Payette County reserve deputy says he thought he was dead after his instructor shot him in the neck. Tom Patterson says he couldn't talk or move after he heard someone yell "you killed him." Patterson was playing the bad guy during a training exercise when Lieutenant Mark Mullins shot him "by accident." Patterson will make a complete recovery and says he "has no ill feelings" toward Mullins whom he calls "a pretty good guy" who's "beating himself up" over the shooting.

We should note that Mullins was standing over the hospital bed with his hand beneath his coat when the victim's statements were made.

Officer Butterfingers
Montclair, CA

Authorities now confirm that a police detective who was wounded during a firearms training accident did in fact accidentally shoot herself. The report reviewing the March 17 shooting of 10-year veteran Amy Nelson determined weather conditions might have contributed to the incident. On that cold, damp evening, Nelson was required to switch her handgun from one hand to another with a rifle strapped over her shoulder.

"Every one of us has dropped a full glass of water or a plate of food at one point in time and it's not because of lack of training or lack of experience. It was just an accident and that's exactly happened what here," Montclair Police Department Chief Guy Eisenbrey told reporters at a news conference.

That night, Nelson was firing a .45 caliber Sig Sauer. The official ruling now says that when Nelson was switching it from her right hand to her left she apparently lost her grip, and the top-heavy gun swung back. When she grabbed the weapon to regain control, she apparently depressed the trigger, said Avila.

Investigators examined the bullet fragments that struck Nelson in the forehead, confirming they definitely came from her gun. There was also no evidence that the fragments were from a ricocheted bullet. Investigators also reviewed the shell casing stuck in the ejection port of her gun. The report also clears Nelson and other officers of any negligence.

Nelson is no longer in a coma, she remains hospitalized but continues to improve. Nelson has recently regained her speech and can hold brief conversations with family members, Avila said.

Officer Cujo
Chandler, AZ

A police dog escaped from a squad car and mauled an innocent pregnant woman during a drunken-driving arrest. The attack came as Isabel Ford was leaving a dance recital with her husband, mother-in-law and 4-year-old daughter. While crossing the street, she saw officers running toward a DUI suspect who had become combative.

As Officer Dennis Newman joined the pursuit, his police dog, Rex, escaped. Instead of helping the officers, the Belgian Malinois knocked Ford to the ground and bit her repeatedly. "It was certainly the most terrifying thing I've ever been through," Ford said. "The dog was relentless. My husband is the hero. I'd be dead without him."

Terrance Ford punched and kicked the dog until Newman could bring it under control. Mrs. Ford suffered wounds to her buttocks, hip and arm that required 30 stitches. Doctors assured Ford that her baby was not injured.

"Our sincerest apologies. I know the city of Chandler will do what's necessary to help this woman," said Police Chief Bobby Joe Harris. He said the dog will be taken off the streets (with pay) pending an "investigation," but won't be destroyed.

Preaching, Not Practicing
Little Rock, AK

Senator Tim Hutchinson, a Southern baptist minister who stressed family values in his campaigns, has filed for divorce from his wife of nearly 29 years. Hutchinson, 49, the first popularly ("legally") elected republican US senator from Arkansas, cited unspecified problems in papers filed in his hometown of Bentonville.

Hutchinson, a former state legislator elected to the Senate in 1996, is touted on his web site as a "dedicated advocate for American families." Responding to questions submitted by The Associated Press in 1996, Hutchinson said "the breakdown of the American family" was one of the two biggest problems facing the nation.

Burning with Jealousy
Hawkinsville, GA

A 70-year-old Pulaski County preacher has pleaded guilty to charges he vandalized his own church last year in a fire that gutted the sanctuary. The reverend Felton York was sentenced to probation, but ordered to make restitution of more than $105k. York apparently set fire to the Hartford baptist Church last year in a fit of jealous rage, after members discussed ordaining another minister.

Nearer Our God Than Thee

Oakland, CA
The National baptist Church has expelled an Oakland congregation for condoning homosexuality. The move was agreed to at a national NbC meeting in Des Moines, Iowa. Leaders of the Lakeshore Avenue baptist Church are reportedly infuriated by the move.

Austin, TX
The Log Cabin republicans, the nation's largest gay republican organization, has condemned a ruling by a Texas district court in a custody hearing involving a lesbian mother and her husband. Judge Keith Nelson of the 78th Judicial District of Texas decreed that a prdominantly gay place of worship, the Metropolican Community church, is an "unacceptable place" for the estranged couple's child to attend Sunday School. Explained Rich Tafel, executive director of the LCr, "This ruling is an appalling and unconstitutional overreach of the government and a clear violation of the separation of church and state."

Yeah, right. Since when has the state been separate from the church in Texas, anyway?

Holy Counterfeits, Batman!
New York, NY

A catholic priest who took a vow of poverty was charged with trying to smuggle into the country $2.4 billion in fake Treasury notes. The reverend Mario Beato-Prieto, 35, a Spanish citizen who was running a parochial school in the Philippines, was arrested at Kennedy Airport after US Customs agents discovered he was carrying the fake currency in his luggage.

Prosecutors said the priest tried to sell 24 phony $100-million notes through a broker. He also had $2,000 in cash, plus a document indicating he had access to another $65 billion in fake currency. But the notes looked more like $100m bills adorned with a likeness of Grover Cleveland, marred by typos and runny ink. They were confiscated after the priest arrived on a flight from South Korea.

Defense lawyer Abraham Clott explained that the church could not raise bail because Augustinians take a vow of poverty. The judge said she would free Beato-Prieto on if the four priests living at the Holy Rosary rectory signed a $25,000 bond. The defendant would be under church arrest, confined to the rectory and the chapel when not in court. At the request of the priests, the judge also agreed that Beato-Prieto could help say Mass.

Sure! Accused cops can go back to work, why not priests? I mean, morality is a somewhat fluid and relative thing, isn't it? But I tell ya, it's a good thing they don't do this with surgeons accused of malpractice, though.

Pope to Victims: Get Over It
Vatican City

Pope John Paul II expressed solidarity with victims of sexual abuse by clergy, but insisted such scandals are no reason to drop celibacy requirements for priests. The pope's mention of sexual abuse came during a meeting with bishops from Ireland, a predominantly catholic nation which, like most countries with catholic populations, has been rocked by pedophilia scandals involving clergy.

As he has in the past, the pope said he was close in "suffering and prayer" to those who were sexually abused by clerics or religious figures. (Hmmm.... Does this mean that he, too, was a victim of abuse... or a perpetrator? Both, perhaps?)

Addressing the bishops, the pope said: "These scandals, and a sociological rather than theological concept of the church, sometimes lead to calls for a change in the discipline of celibacy." But, John Paul said, "the difficulties involved in preserving chastity are not sufficient reason for overturning the law of celibacy."

To date, there have been literally tens of thousands of priests accused, caught, and/or convicted world-wide of child abuse charges. The pope, apparently, doesn't feel that this is a problem worth adressing.

Forgiveness Ain't Our Business, It's Yours
Newark, NJ

A Canadian-born clergyman whose quest for US citizenship has been stymied by a teenage marijuana conviction was stripped of his ministry for writing an abusive letter to immigration agents. The reverend Steven Mullenix, the 36-year-old son of an American, was summoned before top officers of the Assemblies of god church and given a one year suspension for "conduct unbecoming a minister of the gospel," said the reverend Saied Adour, district superintendent in New York.

Mullenix was raised in Canada. He was caught with a bag of marijuana at 18 and spent three months in jail. He moved to upstate New York in 1995 and had hoped to become a US citizen. But under a law designed to exclude terrorists, Nazi war criminals and other undesirables (which could taken to mean "clergy," but isn't), Mullenix is deemed "excludable" for life. Anyone arrested with more than an ounce of drugs is considered a potential dealer.

He lashed out in a letter to the Immigration and Naturalization Service on June 7, writing: "You evil bastards... You are all guilty, and compared to my teenage stupidity, it is a far more grievous sin." Very nice language for a man of the cloth.

Mullenix said he apologized to the church for his remarks, which he explained were made in frustration. "It's a very stressful situation for me dealing with the INS," he said. "To be basically put out of the ministry is a little bit extreme. The phrase I used is a rude but culturally acceptable idiom in my Canadian family" ... kinda like 'shithead' or 'fuckface' or 'uncle fucker.' They're terms of endearment.

Losing his ministry means Mullenix will probably have to leave the country with his wife and two children. His religious-worker visa, which expires in December 2000, will be revoked in four months unless he finds a real job. Mullenix expects the church will allow his family to remain living at the rectory in this village 35 miles from Rochester for a few months while he looks for pastoral work. "We have a faith that no matter what happens, god is going to take care of us," he said.

God Helps Those Who Fend For Themselves
Mounty Holly, NJ

A South Jersey minister has been sentenced to probation for leaving a severely brain-damaged teenager alone in his empty house. The reverend Charles Boling and his wife had cared for the 14-year-old girl for more than ten years. They were in the midst of a move from Florence in Burlington County to Oregon, and said they left the girl in their house while they spent the night in a motel because the motel did not have a cot for her. Neighbors called police because they believed the Bolings had abandoned the child. The family is now in Oregon and the girl is in the custody of social service authorities in Wisconsin, where she was living when Boling took charge of her.


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