Catholic officials in Boise said Tuesday that they had never received complaints of sexual misconduct by the Rev. W. Thomas Faucher prior to his arrest Friday on child pornography and drug charges.
In a midafternoon news release from the Diocese of Boise, Bishop Peter F. Christensen said the allegations against Faucher, if true, “are a betrayal of the trust we place in all ministers.”
Prosecutors say hundreds of images of child pornography and drugs such as marijuana, ecstasy and LSD were found in the retired priest’s home. Some of the images involved infants and toddlers. And Faucher, 72, wrote in an online chatroom that he “desires to rape and kill children,” Ada County Deputy Prosecutor Cathy Guzman said during a probable cause hearing Monday.
Faucher, (pronounced foh-SHAY), is charged with 10 counts of sexual exploitation of a child, two counts of distributing sexually exploitative material involving children and two counts of drug possession. All of the charges, except one of the drug counts, are felonies. If convicted, he faces a lifetime in prison.
“When I first heard of these allegations, I was absolutely stunned,” Christensen said in the Tuesday news release. “… Anyone who takes advantage of and exploits children for their own gratification is absolutely wrong. There are no excuses for such behavior by any one of our clergy.”
Church officials previously said that they would cooperate with the investigation into Faucher and that he would not be allowed to minister within the Diocese of Boise while the case proceeds.
Diocese communications director Gene Fadness said there was strong reaction from parishioners about the news of Faucher’s arrest.
“(They were) stunned, deeply saddened, shocked, (and) sad for not only children who are exploited like this, but sad for the many faithful priests, deacons, religious sisters, lay people who every day, without fanfare, do the work of the church — the way this kind of reflects on them,” Fadness said.
Prosecutors said they have no signs that Faucher ever acted on his urges. Boise Police Department spokeswoman Haley Williams said Tuesday that her department had not received any complaints about Faucher since his arrest. Idaho court records show no significant convictions for Faucher; his attorney said in court Monday that he has no criminal record at all.
Faucher has been retired for three years. He grew up in Boise and attended Saint Mary’s Catholic Church as a child, before returning here in 2002 to serve as its pastor.
He had been an active part of the church for years, including in its schools. Officials at St. Joseph’s Catholic School, Bishop Kelly High School and Saint Mary’s Catholic School largely deferred questions Tuesday to Fadness. Bishop Kelly communications director Katie Kerby said she did not know of any complaints about Faucher from parents or students at that school.
Fadness could not speak to every Catholic school in Boise, but said Saint Mary’s Catholic School has addressed the issue with parents of its students. The diocese’s superintendent of Catholic schools has also been communicating with school principals, he said.
Parishioners were especially saddened for Saint Mary’s, Fadness said, because the situation colors the church’s extensive community services. Saint Mary’s does a lot of outreach to the Hispanic community. It has a food bank, a school, and does other work to support the Treasure Valley.
Fadness, himself, is a parishioner of Saint Mary’s. While he was unsure if every priest spoke to their congregations about Faucher’s arrest, he said, his priest did talk to parishioners.
“Our pastor spoke briefly about it,” Fadness said. “He told the people to let the justice system play out, to not speculate, (and) he talked a lot about light shining in darkness and trying to give people hope. There’s a lot of people there who have known Fr. Faucher for years, so there was a lot of sadness and a lot of shock and some anger.”
At the time of his arrest, Faucher was living alone in a Boise home on Holly Hill Drive that he paid to rent from Saint Mary’s, Fadness confirmed. Because of the lease agreement, the church can’t immediately evict Faucher if he is released from jail.
Fadness also said the diocese is not paying for Faucher’s private attorney, Mark Manweiler. Fadness said the diocese would never pay for the legal defense of a priest.
Faucher remained in the Ada County Jail on Tuesday, held on $250,000 bond. A judge forbid him Monday from having any contact with children, and he is forbidden from using the internet while his case progresses.
Christensen called for prayer regarding the case and any “exploited” children, and advised any victims of child sexual abuse to report their experiences to police. He also referenced a sexual misconduct review board operated by the diocese, which investigates church reports internally. A call from the Statesman on Tuesday to the board’s director, Mark Raper, was not immediately returned.
STAUNTON — William L. Kerr is facing years in prison after he pleaded guilty to seven charges involving possession of child pornography and aggravated sexual battery.
Kerr, 75, appeared in Staunton Circuit Court on Tuesday afternoon.
The Staunton man pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child pornography and six counts of aggravated sexual battery. He faces up to 125 years in prison.
Nearly 45 other charges, including forcible sodomy, possession of child pornography and aggravated sexual battery, were not prosecuted.
According to evidence presented by Anne Reed, the chief deputy commonwealth's attorney for Staunton, between 1990 and 2004, Kerr invited several young girls ranging in ages 7 to 11 back to his Staunton home.
"Kerr would frequently invite children over to his house," Reed said. "The defendant would get the girls alone."
But, to these children, he served as an authority figure and their Sunday school teacher at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Parish in Staunton. During Reed's stipulation, she said many of the girls were fearful to come forward and tell someone about the abuse.
Reed said the abused children, now adults, attended St. Francis with their families.
"The defendant was trusted by her parents, who worked in the church," Reed said of one of the victims. "At the age of 9 years old, the defendant started to sexually abuse her while she was at his residence.
"She was afraid to say anything that was happening to her out of fear of hurting the defendant's wife, whom she cared for very much as well as concern of upsetting her parents," Reed continued. "It was not until several years later that she was able to disclose what had happened and seek counseling."
Many of the victim's stories were similar. Kerr would sit beside some victims in the basement of his residence and fondle them under their clothes, according to Reed.
Reed described other stories from the victims, including one who was 7 when Kerr began molesting her. According to Reed, the defendant would give her candy or toys to play what he called the "bubble game," code words for oral sex.
During a search of Kerr's home, Staunton Police seized several computers that contained child pornography, as well as a hidden VHS tape and several photo slides of juvenile girls that Reed described as "child erotica."
Kerr's computer history also showed searches that included "little girl pee hole," "old man molesting little girl," "little girls being touched" and "little girl rubbing genitals," Reed said.
Kerr will be sentenced at 1 p.m. May 8 in Staunton Circuit Court.
Catholic Sunday school teacher pleads guilty to child porn, sexual battery charges Laura Peters, newsleader.com Feb. 6, 2018
John Gleason Hubner (Source: Department of Corrections)
A Baptist church in South Carolina settled a child sexual abuse lawsuit, agreeing to issue an apology, admit liability, and to pay $300,000 to the plaintiff.
Bryan Barnes, spokesman for First Baptist Church of Columbia, S.C., said that church leadership issued the apology and explained the terms of the settlement before the congregation on Sunday, according to the Baptist Press.
The case involved a boy identified only as “Joel Doe” who alleged that Andrew McCraw, a volunteer in the church’s youth ministry, engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior with him when he was between the ages of 11 and 16.
“Today, we want to offer an apology for the inappropriate and unacceptable conduct this young man endured and express regret for what we failed to do to prevent it,” church leaders said, according to the outlet.
“No student should have to experience what this young man endured,” the church’s statement added.
Doe filed the lawsuit in October 2017 through his parents against First Baptist Church Senior Pastor Wendell Estep, and McCraw. The lawsuit alleged that McCraw initiated a relationship with Doe as a young adult mentor in a church youth program, but the relationship progressed in intimacy to inappropriate touching and sleepovers at McCraw’s house with no other adults or youths present.
The lawsuit also lists several sexually explicit text messages that McCraw sent to the boy, such as “Be there in 10. Have the lube ready,” and “Hey, anything to get that *** in a swimsuit.” Doe and his parents alleged that McCraw sometimes sent dozens of such messages to him a day.
Doe was 11 when McCraw began the abuse and was 16 by the time he alerted his parents to the inappropriate behavior.
Church leadership initially issued a rebuttal against specific allegations within the lawsuit. Church leadership contested the claims they knew about the relationship between Doe and McCraw before law enforcement started investigating McCraw.
They also contested that they knew McCraw spent time alone with the youth away from church property, and that the case was part of a church conspiracy to cover up sexual abuse.
The case was one facet of a cover-up conspiracy, the lawsuit alleged, related to former First Baptist deacon John Hubner, who in 2002 was sentenced to 36 years in prison for sexually abusing an underage girl.
Church leadership also argued that “any injuries or damages sustained by the Plaintiff (Joel Doe and his parents ) were due to his own negligent, careless, reckless and grossly negligent acts or omissions.”
First Baptist leadership confronted McCraw after learning of the allegations of sexual abuse against him and terminated his involvement with the church.
Doe and his parents subsequently amended their lawsuit with added allegations that the church chose not to report McCraw to the police to avoid a public scandal and that they failed to notify the next church in which he served of his sexually predatory behavior.
The church has now, according to the terms of the settlement, accepted responsibility for the entire situation, and stated that even though they “had strong policies in place” and subjected McCraw to a background check before allowing him to serve. Leadership said they will reevaluate their youth protection policies and strengthen them where necessary, especially with regard to adults texting church youths.
Doe, his parents, and the church have buried the hatchet, but the youth and his parents will proceed with their lawsuit against McCraw.
A Hill County pastor and former student at Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary was sentenced to 20 years in prison Tuesday for using social media to lure a teenage girl into a sexual encounter last year.
Benjamin Nelson, 27, pastor of Peoria Baptist Church west of Hillsboro, pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child, two counts of indecency with a child by contact and online solicitation of a minor.
Judge Lee Harris of Hill County’s 66th State District Court sentenced Nelson to five concurrent, 20-year sentences in a plea bargain Nelson reached with Hill County District Attorney Mark Pratt.
Pratt said Nelson posed as a teenager while talking to the 13-year-old online and convinced her to meet him in a parking lot in Whitney.
The girl’s mother went looking for the girl and found her in a car with Nelson. Nelson fled, driving recklessly through the parking lot of a Whitney business, but the girl’s mother got his license plate number, Pratt said.
That led investigators to Waco and Baylor, where Nelson was enrolled as a first-year student at the seminary.
Nelson must serve at least 10 years in prison before he can seek parole.
One of Nelson’s attorneys, Rob Swanton, declined comment, and his other attorney, Phil Frederick, did not respond to a request for comment.
WAYNESBORO — A Stuarts Draft man who prosecutors say traveled to Haiti as a Mennonite missionary to sexually abuse “multiple children” — some as young as 5 years old — pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg.
James Daniel Arbaugh, 40, entered a guilty plea to the charge of traveling in foreign commerce to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor.
Arbaugh, of Stuarts Draft, will be sentenced in June. He faces a maximum of 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Arbaugh admitted to “engaging in illicit sexual conduct” with more than 20 boys while traveling in Haiti as a Mennonite missionary between 2008 and 2017, according to assistant U.S. Attorney Jeb Terrien.
The defendant would regularly visit remote towns and villages throughout the Caribbean nation, where he would “evangelize and show Christian-themed movies” to the residents, according to Terrien.
During these missionary visits, Arbaugh would befriend children in the communities and “groom” them to satisfy his sexual desires, the prosecutor said.
In all, he sexually abused 21 or more boys who were between the ages of 5 and 17 when the abuse took place.
Arbaugh was initially arrested by a U.S. Homeland Security special agent in November after disclosing to a Harrisonburg counselor the abuse he perpetrated in Haiti. Under Virginia law, health care providers, including licensed counselors, are mandated to report suspected child abuse to social services. The Department of Social Services contacted the Harrisonburg Police Department, which initiated the investigation and contacted federal agents.
When first contacted by police last year, Arbaugh allowed officers to look at his laptop, which included a photo of a 5-year-old boy, according to law enforcement sources.
Arbaugh told police the boy was the son of a pastor at a Haitian church, the sources said. After further questioning, he reportedly confessed to molesting the boy, according to police.
The case against Arbaugh was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative that began in 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. The program coordinates federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children through the internet, as well as those who travel overseas to prey on vulnerable boys and girls. The initiative also works to identify and rescue victims of chronic abuse and slavery.
Virginia missionary pleads guilty to widespread sexual abuse in Haiti ROBLONGLEY The News Virginian Feb 7 2018
Catholic Church: Priest accused of abuse in Ireland sent by church to Malawi AMABHUNGANE AFRICA 07 FEB 2018 MICHAEL O’FARRELL and COLLINS MTIKA
Pedofilia in Cile, ‘il vescovo Barros guardava’. La lettera di un abusato sfida il Papa 8 febbraio 2018
Church settles abuse claims over paedophile priest who taught in Newry Allan Preston February 8 2018