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Wednesday, June 28, 2006                                                                                       View Comments

Pastor arrested for rape of congregant

A pastor was arrested in Cocoa Florida on charges he forced a member of his congregation to have sex. Police said the victim, a member of the congregation, believed the pastor to be her "spiritual advisor."

Police arrested 43-year-old Jesse French, the pastor of the Solid Life Ministries-Church of Disciples in Rockledge, Florida, on 10 counts of sexual battery and 15 counts of lewd and lascivious to a member of his congregation.

"She's been raised in a very tight very religious home and for someone to come in and turn something like this against her, it's just really appalling and unbelievable to me," said Detective Barbara Matthews, Cocoa Police Department.

Police said, three to four months ago, French told the victim that he needed to anoint her with oil, stating that God advised him to do so because the victim was tired. It was then, police said, French began by anointing the victim's arms and legs.

The victim told police that, around the beginning of March, French advised her that he needed to anoint her entire body. French allegedly told the victim to undress and he rubbed oil onto her body. It was at that time, police said, French sexually molested the victim and raped her.

"He finally convinced her, over a period of months, that she needed to be naked while he did this. Went from there to fondling her, to actual sexual intercourse," Matthews said.

The victim told police that they began having sexual intercourse, with French telling her he didn't need to wear a condom because he had had an "operation" and couldn't get her pregnant. French also allegedly forced the victim to fondle him.

Police said French wrote a letter to the victim, stating they needed to have three "one-hour "sessions" or "one three-hour session" in order to have the victim's "yoke" removed.

The first of their "sessions" was, according to police, June 19. The "session," police said, was sexual intercourse. The victim told police that, prior to that, she and French had sexual intercourse nine other times. The victim, police said, repeatedly told French that she did not want to have sex with him and that it was wrong.

"She kept telling him this was wrong, and he would quote scripture to her and convinced her this was God's will," Matthews said.

Members of the church locked the doors Tuesday and refused to make any official comment.

"No, we can't tell you anything. He's a good pastor," said an unidentified woman at the church. "We can't explain it."

Police are concerned that there may be other victims in French's congregation. According to police, since the bond, they have received two calls from anonymous women advising that they believed there were additional victims, but those victims have not come forward.

"He used a very deep belief system she had against her, and I just find it hard to believe this is his only victim," Matthews said.

French was being held in the Brevard County jail without bond. He refused requests for an interview. His attorney said French denies ever having sex with the woman.

French's previous criminal record: He was arrested a number of times for things such as battery, domestic violence, extortion, obstruction of justice, and violating injunctions or protective orders. Many of the cases were dropped, because victims or witnesses refused to cooperate.


Friday, June 23, 2006                                                                                       View Comments

Pastor Facing Abuse Charges Flees to Mexico

Multiple felony and misdemeanor charges were filed Thursday, June 22nd against 67-year-old Rev. Xavier Ochoa-Perez, an assistant pastor at St. Francis Solano Catholic Church in Sonoma. Unfortunately, Ochoa may have fled the country.

The complaint filed by the Sonoma County District Attorney’s office alleges that Ochoa engaged in lewd conduct with three boys over a period from 1988 to the present. The boys ranged in age from 12 to 16 at the time the abuse occurred.

Ochoa admitted to sexual abuse of a 12-year-old altar boy to Bishop Daniel Walsh on Friday, April 28th. Bishop Walsh, of the Diocese of Santa Rosa, immediately suspended Ochoa and contacted the diocese’s lawyer, Mr. Dan Galvin.

Mr. Galvin claims he did not immediately notify authorities because he believed Child Protective Services to be closed on weekends, and waited until Monday, May 1st to fax a letter to their office. Officials believe Ochoa fled to Mexico over that weekend.


Pastor arrested for sexual assault of 11-year-old

Detectives of the Hartford Connecticut Police Department's Juvenile Investigative Division today arrested Modesto Reyes, 52, of Ellsworth Street, Hartford, for the sexual assault of an eleven-year-old female. Reyes is a Pastor at the Iglesia De Dios "Cristo Te Llama" church at 889 Broad Street, Hartford.

On May 22, 2006 Hartford Police Officers responded to a complaint of a juvenile sexual assault that allegedly occurred several times inside the church located at 889 Broad Street.

Information obtained by Detective Cheryl Gogins of the HPD's Juvenile Investigative Division confirmed a female victim at full term pregnancy that gave birth on May 24, 2006. Through cooperation of the now twelve-year-old victim and DNA evidence obtained by Hartford Police, the suspect Modesto Reyes, was identified as the biological father of the victim's baby.

Reyes was arrested by Hartford Police without incident at his home on June 21, 2006 and charged with four counts of Sexual Assault in the First Degree, four counts of Sexual Assault in the Second Degree, and four counts of Risk of Injury to a Minor. Reyes' remain in custody on a judge set bond.

Anyone with information about this incident, or possibly other victims of sexual assault by Reyes is asked to contact Detective Cheryl Gogins of the HPD Juvenile Investigative Division at 860-527-7300, extension 5645.

Information will be kept anonymous.

link | link

Thursday, June 22, 2006                                                                                       View Comments

Pastor to stand trial on porn charges

A Slippery Rock Township PA minister accused of downloading and sending child pornography over the Internet will face trial.

District Judge James Reed yesterday dismissed 11 felony charges against Robert D. Schmidtberger, 51, of Rose Point Road, at his preliminary hearing, but held 187 felonies against the pastor for court.

Schmidtberger has been pastor of the Rose Point Reformed Presbyterian Church for 12 years.

Although Schmidtberger told Reed he is moving to Mercer County, the judge allowed him to be free on his own recognizance, under the condition he no longer is allowed to teach children.

That stipulation was requested by assistant district attorney Kate Fee-Baird.

The hearing, which lasted almost two hours, was recessed for about an hour after it started, while the judge and attorneys reviewed child pornography images that allegedly were found on Schmidtberger’s computers.

Attorneys agreed 11 of the counts of sexual abuse of children for possession of child pornography, all felonies, could be dropped.

Reed explained after the hearing those were dismissed because it was questionable whether the people in those particular pictures were juveniles.

Schmidtberger also faces three other counts of sexual abuse of children for dissemination of videotapes, photographs, computer depictions, and three counts of illegal use of a communication facility.

He was arrested in May after state police investigated his computer practices and allegedly found child pornography images in e-mails and chatrooms.

State Police Cpl. John P. Stepansky of Butler, a computer crimes investigator who filed the charges, was the sole witness.

Amidst continuos objections administered by defense attorney Thomas W. Leslie, Stepansky described for the court how he discovered the alleged pornography crime and the technical skills he used to seize the information.

At one point, Reed interrupted Leslie’s objections and asked, “Are you trying to break down the witness, or me?”

Stepansky repeated information he alleged in his affidavit, that Schmidtberger's screen name was “shysmilesviix” and that it was registered to his account at RD 4, Box 490, RPC (Rose Point Church), New Castle.

His account, through Armstrong Utilities, was assigned to him at a box number which police found was the Rose Point church address before the new 911 addressing. Through an Internet search, police then learned Schmidtberger was its pastor.

Stepansky said he found Schmidtberger’s house, then obtained a search warrant from District Judge David Rishel.

He seized four computers, about 50 CD-ROMs, 15 of which contained numerous images of child pornography and 21 zip discs, he said.

The CDs seized contained at least six e-mails with attachments of child pornography, with headers indicating they had been sent to the AOL screen name "RobthePastor."

He read aloud one e-mail between “RobthePastor” and “Pastor Ron,” where “RobthePastor” admitted to having had sexual relations with a 16-year-old high school girl.

Stepansky testified that he was alerted to Schmidtberger's computer practices via the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which was contacted by America Online.

AOL routinely monitors e-mails for attachments or embedded images that contain child pornography, he said, and AOL provided information about Schmidtberger's phone number and address.


Pastor arrested: web sex charges

A Tyrone GA youth pastor was arrested by Peachtree City police on Wednesday after making arrangements on the Internet to meet what he thought was a 14-year-old girl for sex.

Pastor Robert Kyle Amerson of the Abundant Life Worship Center in Tyrone was arrested at his home in Fairburn by Peachtree City police and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

Officials at the church had no comment on Wednesday afternoon for 11Alive News.

Amerson is being held in the Fayette County Jail, and will make his first court appearance on Thursday afternoon.


From Amerson's introduction on the Adundant Life Worship Center website:

Hobbies: Hanging with my wife, Anything sports related, Golf,drawing, cars...

Why do you do what you do? I do it because I have been given a passion to see young people's lives changed, in spiritual and personal ways, and I
think that is why God put me here.

Friday, June 16, 2006                                                                                       View Comments

'Miracle baby' pastor held in UK

Kenyan evangelist Gilbert Deya, accused of child trafficking, faces deportation after his arrest in Scotland this week.

Mr Deya denies accusations that he ran a child trafficking ring on the pretext of praying for his followers to conceive via miraculous powers.

Reports say Mr Deya was arrested at the Edinburgh Sheriff Court, where he had gone to assist with a paternity case.

An official there reportedly recognised him as the wanted man. He is now in the custody of UK immigration officials.

Police in Kenya had issued a warrant of arrest for him after his wife, Mary, was arrested in Nairobi in September and charged with involvement in child trafficking.

She was arrested after she arrived at a hospital with a newborn baby to which she claimed to have given birth.

Doctors who examined Mrs Deya, 57, said her claim of recently having given birth was false.

Extradition request

Kenyan police allege the Gilbert Deya Ministries is an international baby-snatching ring and last year asked the UK government to extradite Mr Deya.

They say their investigation revolves around the disappearance of babies from Nairobi's Pumwani Maternity Hospital and involves suspects in Britain, Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya.

In 2004, the Kenyan authorities took 20 of Mr Deya's "miracle babies" into care after they were found to have no genetic link to the women claiming to be their mothers.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006                                                                                       View Comments

Youth minister charged with sex crime

WATERLOO Iowa --- A former youth minister at a Waterloo church has been arrested for having sexual relations with a 15-year-old girl at the church.

Michael Raymond Ross, 28, of 1845 Easton Ave., was arrested for sexual exploitation by a counselor and simple assault for incidents that happened between November 2004 and November 2005.

Bond was set at $9,750.

Ross is a licensed pastor through the First Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan.. and was director of youth ministries at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Waterloo from March 2003 until December 2005.

He became acquainted with a 15-year-old girl who was a member of the church youth group in early 2004. As their relationship progressed, he began inviting her over to his home to watch movies and eventually began giving her massages, according to court records.

In December of 2004, after she turned 16, Ross went to her home, and she masturbated him, records state. They had sexual intercourse in December 2004 and February 2005, records state.

The simple assault charge stems from a November 2005 incident where he forced her down on his bed and had her lie next to him, records state.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006                                                                                       View Comments

God would not allow the lions to hurt him

KIEV, Ukraine -- A lion killed a man who climbed into its enclosure at the Kiev zoo, police said Monday.

The lion attacked the 45-year-old Ukrainian late Sunday after he used a rope to climb down into an enclosure with four lions, said police spokesman Volodymyr Polishchuk.

Ukrainian TV channel NTN broadcast interviews with witnesses who said the man told them that he believed God would not allow the lions to hurt him.

Polishchuk said the man, who was not identified, was acting aggressively and one of the lions seized him by the throat. The man died at the scene.

Zoo officials could not immediately be reached for comment


Friday, June 02, 2006                                                                                       View Comments

Pastor sought on sex charges

Authorities were looking for a Statesville NC pastor Thursday who was charged this week with sexually assaulting minors.

The Iredell County Sheriff's Office has three warrants pending against Carl Edward Nixon, 64, charging him with taking indecent liberties with minors, said Detective Sgt. Bill Hamby.

Nixon told congregants at Believers Faith Center on Sunday that he needed to step down for a while because of allegations against him in Wilkes County, Hamby said.

That county has a warrant charging him with assault on a female, Hamby said, in connection with a recently reported incident involving an 18-year-old.

Two women in Nixon's Iredell County church, now 29 and 24, then came forward with their stories, Hamby said.

They told the Iredell County Sheriff's Office that he made inappropriate contact with them more than 10 years ago, the detective sergeant said, when they were 11 and 14 years old.

Nixon's church, on Brookview Road just north of Statesville, also runs a Christian Academy that teaches preschool through 12th grade.