I started doing weekly YPW posts during the long-but-way-shorter-than-we-thought-it-would-be fight for marriage equality. Religious bigots were running all over the country claiming we had to protect the children from married same-sex couples because married gay couples would want to have kids and won’t someone please think of the children! These same religious bigots didn’t seem interested in protecting kids from the sexual predators in their own churches. They didn’t want to have a conversation about who was actually preying on vulnerable kids. They didn’t want anyone thinking about that. Et voilà, Youth Pastor Watch!
It went away for a while – the article I linked to explained why – but now it’s back, because, as Dan Savage explains:
Because trans men and women are already using restrooms all over the country and there isn’t a single case anti-trans bigots can cite to justify their anti-trans hate campaign—not a single case of trans women exploiting civil rights protections to prey on children in public restrooms—but the news is still full of stories about kids being raped in the churches they’re dragged to by their parents. Because children are actually safer in restrooms being used by trans men and women than they are in church basements, on church retreats, or during church youth groups. Because it’s something we need to bear in mind while pious shitstains like Ted Cruz—and the pious shitstains pushing an anti-trans ballot initiative here in Washington state—insist they’re just trying to protect the children.
A few final thoughts before we get to this week’s youth pastors: If kids got raped at Denny’s as often as they got raped at church, it would be illegal to take your kid to Denny’s. Trans urinators aren’t a danger to kids. Youth pastors are. And why focus just on youth pastors? Because when I included pastors, priests, Sunday school teachers, and church staff… these posts were way, way too long. I had to find a way to narrow the scope. So: youth pastors.
VIRGINIA: “The man who once led a church youth group has pleaded guilty to committing sex crimes against children he met through the organization. Jeffrey Clark, 46, entered a guilty plea on three counts of Aggravated Sexual Battery and two counts of Indecent Acts with Child by Custodian, Monday morning in a packed Colonial Heights courtroom. A judge sentenced Clark to 60 years in prison. Forty-seven years of that prison sentence was suspended. A 21-year-old college student, who said Clark abused him as a child, looked Clark in the eye when he told Clark the former youth group leader ruined his life…. Clark was arrested last summer when police said he inappropriately touched another boy at his Chester home.”
ARIZONA: “The pastor of a church in Tolleson is condemning a youth leader who’s accused of having sex and doing drugs with a teen parishioner. Pastor Tony, as he’s known, has admitted to all of it and the girl’s father has the ‘sexts’ to back up the sickening stories. Robert Anthony Jerez is behind bars facing nine counts of sexual conduct with a minor and one count of sexual abuse…. The 35-year-old Jerez is accused in court documents of having sex with the girl 10 times from October of last year until this past January, using drugs and drinking with the girl at her house and sexting with her…. The documents show Jerez admits to having sex with an underage girl at least three times. Court documents reveal he knew the victim was underage.”
TEXAS: “A Texas youth pastor who has been accused of sexually assaulting at least three kids was beaten up by good Samaritans as he molested a child last week. Willie Bell, 29, was caught in the act attacking a 6-year-old kindergarten student behind an apartment building in Dallas on March 31… Bell did not live at the apartment complex and did not know the child or the mother. ‘When I heard he is a student pastor, I’m like really?’ the mom told the station. ‘Who can you trust? Who can you believe?’ The youth pastor has also been accused of molesting two young boys in Cedar Hill in February while wearing ‘church shoes,’ according to the station.”
ARKANSAS: “A Craighead County circuit judge has sentenced a former Jonesboro youth minister to two life sentences for rape, Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington of Jonesboro said. Anthony Waller, 39, of Marion was charged in November on two counts of rape after authorities found a ‘very large amount of child pornography’ on his computer, Ellington said. An arrest affidavit filed in Craighead County Circuit Court in November indicated that police found thousands of images…. Waller was the youth minister of Jonesboro First Assembly of God from 1999 to 2015. He was fired two days after the voyeurism charges were filed.”
And some more:
MAINE: “A youth minister affiliated with a Canaan church has been charged with sexually abusing a young girl. Lucas Savage, 37, of Clinton was arrested Friday night and charged with unlawful sexual contact, said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety. Savage is director of ministries at Youth Haven Ministries in Canaan. That organization is affiliated with the Canaan Calvary Church, McCausland said. Savage was arrested in Mercer and taken to the Kennebec County Jail.”
CALIFORNIA: “A 54-year-old Bay Area man who volunteered for a local church’s youth group was arraigned Wednesday on 30 charges of child molestation and possession of child pornography, officials said. All of the charges pertain to one victim, a man now in his late 20s, who recently came forward with allegations that he was sexually abused and shown child pornography between the ages of 5 and 12 by the defendant, Gregory Helfrich, of Los Altos Hills…. The suspect volunteered for the Abundant Life Christian Fellowship’s ‘SAFARI kids’ program in Mountain View.”
OKLAHOMA: “A former Moore youth minister is behind bars Friday, accused of sending pornographic pictures and videos to several teens at his church. Casey Haynes is no longer employed as the youth minster at the Central Church of Christ…. Court documents say Haynes used the social media app Snapchat, to ‘[exchange] pictures and videos with at least four minors’ — teens who detectives say were part of Haynes’ youth group. One of the girls told the investigator, after a church youth event Haynes ‘put his hand under her shirt and grabbed her breast.’ ‘It’s unfortunate that we see a lot of this in the schools and now in churches. It’s someone you trust with your kids,’ said Sgt. Jeremy Lewis, Moore Police.”