Black Collar Crime Round-Up: May 27, 2012

Joseph F. Byrne • Jamie Duerre • Paolo Gabriele • Susan Grady
Rodney Marcus Grimsley • Richard O’Toole • Walter F. Smith III

Joseph F. ByrneAccused: Joseph F. Byrne, Roman Catholic priest (“with limited ministry”), St. Patrick’s Church, Falmouth, Massachusetts, and former pastor, Our Lady Comforter of the Afflicted, Waltham, as well as several other parishes in the Boston area, of sexual abuse of a child. A May 25th press release from the Archdiocese of Boston states: “The allegation concerns conduct alleged to have occurred in the early-1970s and was only recently reported… The Archdiocese immediately notified law enforcement of the allegation and has initiated a preliminary investigation into the complaint. Fr. Byrne will remain on administrative leave without any public ministry pending the outcome of the preliminary investigation.” Byrne already has a criminal record; in 2005, he pleaded no contest to charges of embezzling some $135,000 from the Waltham church, and received five years’ probation. Story: MetroWest Daily News, May 25, 2012; Archdiocese of Boston, May 25, 2012; Boston Globe, May 25, 2012; Falmouth Patch, May 25, 2012; Cape Cod Online, May 26, 2012

Jamie Allen DuerreCharged: Jamie Allen Duerre, 35, former youth pastor, First Assembly of God (member of the extremly fundamentalist and virulently anti-gay Assemblies of God USA), Burlington, Iowa, and member, Iowa Ministry Network (“to encourage and equip Pentecostal churches and leaders to fulfill the Great Commission”), with invasion of privacy stemming from allegations he secretly videotaped a naked 14-year-old girl getting ready to take a shower. Duerre has reportedly confessed. His wife, with whom he has five young children — and who appears to have removed several photos of Duerre from her own Facebook page since his arrest — “reportedly told church officials her husband ‘had a problem with pornography’ and ‘was upset that this one slip-up’ cost him his ministry credentials,” according to the Hawkeye. Duerre is currently free on $1,000 bail. Story: Hawkeye, May 26, 2012

Paolo GabrieleArrested: Paolo Gabriele, 46, personal butler to Pope Benedict XVI, Vatican City, accused of possessing and leaking secret papers exposing corruption within the Vatican (involving “intrigue, corruption and cronyism, including favoritism toward certain Italian contractors,” reports the Seattle P-I), in a scandal quickly dubbed “Vatileaks,” with Gabriele referred to as the “Italian Deep Throat.” Some of these documents allegedly formed the basis of the books, Vaticano SpA (2009) and Sua Santità: Le carte segrete di Benedetto XVI (His Holiness: The Secret Papers of Benedict XVI, 2012) by Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, whom the Vatican has threatened to sue. Per CBS News, “Nuzzi defended the publication [of Vaticano SpA] and said he wasn’t afraid of Vatican retaliation. In fact, he even taunted Vatican prosecutors to seek help from Italian magistrates to investigate the case, charging that it would be a remarkable turnaround given the Vatican had been less than helpful in the past when Italian prosecutors came asking for information for their investigations.” CBS also adds: “The arrest has come during one of the most tumultuous weeks for the Vatican in recent memory. On Thursday, the president of the Vatican bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, was ousted by the bank’s board. Sources close to the investigation said he too had been found to have leaked documents, though the official reason for his ouster was that he had failed to do his job.” Story: Seattle P-I, May 25, 2012; BBC News, May 25, 2012; CBS News, May 26, 2012; AP, May 26, 2012; Reuters, May 26, 2012

Susan GradyTestimony begins: Susan Grady, 43, member, Church of the Firstborn (a “strictly Bible-based … network of more than 100 churches in 20 states,” with “41 churches in Oklahoma, more than any other state,” notes Tulsa World), Tulsa, Oklahoma, and single mother of three surviving children; on trial for second-degree manslaughter in the death of her nine-year-old son, Aaron, in 2009. Aaron died of complications of diabetes after Grady failed to seek medical attention for the boy — who lost 16 pounds in the two months before his death, weighing just 52 pounds when he died — instead doing “what she had been taught to do and pray[ing] with church elders for her son’s recovery,” reports Tulsa World, which also notes: “Two other Oklahoma children whose parents attend a Church of the Firstborn have died in recent months without medical care, according to media reports. Troy Damelio, 4, died April 26 at his family’s trailer home in rural Lincoln County after being sick for a week, and Silas Benjamin Dobbs died hours after his at-home birth in December in Oklahoma City. His mother, Patricia Dobbs, 25, died 20 days later. No charges have been filed in those deaths.” Story: Tulsa World, May 20, 2012; Tulsa World, May 24, 2012; KJRH, May 24, 2012

Rodney Marcus GrimsleyCharged: Rodney Marcus Grimsley, 42, church musician, Zion Watchtower Baptist Church, Richmond, Texas, with aggravated sexual assault of a child after being accused of molesting a 13-year-old female congregant during a break between Sunday services. Grimsley allegedly lured the girl inside the church and kissed her, and then, reports Click2Houston, quoting a sheriff’s deputy, “as things got a little more involved, they moved to a secluded room within the facility,” where Grimsley sexually assaulted her. Grimsley, who is married with children, has reportedly confessed. He is currently being held on a $175,000 bond. KHOU notes: “Grimsley’s criminal record includes prior convictions of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and auto theft, both out of Harris County.” Story: Click2Houston, May 24, 2012; KHOU, May 24, 2012; Chron.com, May 24, 2012

Richard O'TooleArrested again: Richard Thomas O’Toole, 73, former director and church counselor, First Unity Church, St. Petersburg, Florida, previously convicted of unlawful sexual acivity with a minor and lewd or lascivious battery committed against a 12-year-old boy (who, according to the Tampa Bay Times, “came forward after rumors spread among members of First Unity Church … that O’Toole had made sexual advances toward several young boys”), and sentenced in 2010 to 21 months in jail 10 years’ probation; charged with violating probation after his probation officer reportedly found pornography (per the Tampa Bay Times: “a pornographic video, a pornographic image on a computer jump drive and a pornographic sculpture, according to an arrest report”) in O’Toole’s home, just seven months after his release from jail. The Times adds: “At First Unity, O’Toole had convinced some members that he was a doctor specializing in adolescent psychology. He counseled several church members, including children. But during the ‘counseling’ with youths, the subject of masturbation and sex often came up.” Story: Tampa Bay Times, March 4, 2008; Tampa Bay Times, July 7, 2010; Tampa Bay Times, November 14, 2010; Tampa Bay Times, May 26, 2012. See also: Florida Department of Law Enforcement – Sexual Offender / Predator Flyer.

United StatesLawsuit dismissed: Walter F. Smith III, priest, St. Francis Episcopal Church, Rio Rancho, New Mexico, who filed a defamation suit against four parishioners who accused him of pedophilia. Per Courthouse News Service: “Pedophilia allegations did not hurt a former priest’s reputation, so he cannot sue for defamation, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled. While working as a priest at the St. Francis Episcopal Church in Rio Rancho, N.M., Walter Smith III faced opposition from members of the parish and vestry, an administrative group of lay parishioners. One of the vestry members, Will Durden, compiled and published a packet of documents that included an anonymous letter accusing Smith of several acts of pedophilia. The packet also included other personal attacks against Smith, documentation about the parish’s financial problems and claims against Smith’s leadership. After the documents were presented to the church standing committee, Smith heeded his bishop’s advice and summarized the claims for a congregation gathered at a Sunday service. Smith filed suit in 2006 after the individuals behind the packet offered to make copies of the documents for inquiring parishioners. He named Durden and fellow vestry member William DeVries as defendants along with their wives in the parish, Denise Durden and Marion DeVries. The Durdens and the DeVries moved in 2007 to dismiss the case, reasoning that Smith could not support a claim since he kept his job and his reputation did not suffer. Smith countered that false accusations of pedophilia against a religious leader are always defamatory. After a judge in Albuquerque dismissed the case, the New Mexico Court of Appeals reversed, finding that evidence of mental anguish and humiliation amounted to injury. But the New Mexico Supreme Court took a different view. ‘We conclude that a plaintiff must first establish the prima facie case for defamation – which includes proof of actual injury to reputation — before a jury can award damages for mental anguish, humiliation or any of the other recoverable harms listed in [the statute],’ Justice Patricio Serna wrote for the court. ‘Because we acknowledge that the requirement to show actual injury to reputation may not have been clear prior to this opinion, however, we remand in order to allow plaintiff the opportunity to amend his complaint to raise other theories for recovery which may more appropriately provide redress for the injuries he alleges to have suffered,’ he added.” Story: Courthouse News Service, May 24, 2012

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