Black Collar Crime Round-Up: June 21, 2012

Damian Burkhalter • Joseph Ferrario / Joseph Henry • Francistown Johan Church of God
John Hegedus • Michael Brandon “Mike” Lenzini • James Schook • Ronald Weinland

Damian Blake BurkhalterAcquitted: Damian Blake Burkhalter, 47, former youth director, Glen Cary Lutheran Church, Ham Lake, Minnesota; peace officer, Anoka County Sheriff’s Office; on six counts of criminal sexual conduct leveled by a 15-year-old girl who, according to the original criminal complaint, “had disclosed during a therapy session that she had been sexually abused” by Burkhalter on mutliple occasions over the summer and fall of 2010, detailing behaviors that included oral copulation, digital penetration and attempted sexual intercourse. She said “she thought of him as a dad and would try to come up with religious reasons for him to stop, such as when being pressured for sex she would say that she wanted to ‘save herself for marriage.’ She stated that the suspect would reply that Joseph was in his forties and Mary was much younger.” The girl also said Burkhalter “wanted to adopt her and her sister.” In a statement following Burkhalter’s acquittal, Assistant County Attorney Steve Povolny stated: “While we of course are disappointed with the verdict, we do accept the jury’s decision.” As for Burkhalter, he is now divorced. Story: Citypages, June 16, 2011; County of Anoka Complaint (via Citypages), June 16, 2011; WCCO, June 14, 2012; Fridley Patch, June 14, 2012; ABC Newspapers, June 21, 2012

Joseph FerrarioSued again: Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu, by a man who claims he was sodomized as a child by Joseph Henry, a.k.a. J. Michael Henry, (d. 1974), former parish priest, St. Anthony’s Church, Kailua, Hawaii, and Joseph A. Ferrario (d. 2003), Henry’s successor at St. Anthony’s and later Bishop of Honolulu (as well as president, director & trustee, Hawaii Catholic Charities, and Hawaii state chaplain, Knights of Columbus). AP reports that the man claims “that as a child, he was sodomized in 1973″ by Henry, and, after reporting the abuse “several years later to Rev. Joseph Ferrario,” Ferrario “also sexually abused him.” SNAP adds: “Before Ferrario came to the parish, [the] boy reported the abuse by Henry to two other priests, who told him to keep quiet, the suit maintains.” This is the second time Ferrario has been named in a sex-abuse lawsuit; the first suit was filed in 1991 by one David Figueroa, who claimed that Henry began molesting him when he was in kindergarten; when “the boy was in his teens, the priest died, but Ferrario, his successor, continued the sex abuse for years, paying Figueroa for odd jobs in return,” reported Time magazine. “Figueroa alleges that the sexual entanglement continued even after Ferrario became a bishop, with trysts at church residences in Honolulu and Menlo Park, Calif.” Story: Time (via Bishop Accountability), August 19, 1991; SNAP, June 13, 2012; AP, June 13, 2012. See also: Bishop Joseph A. Ferrario Assignment Record, Bishop Accountability

ZimbabweAccused:Naphtary,” “Joe” and Rameki,” members of Francistown Johan Church of God (reportedly an Assemblies of God church), Francistown, Zimbabwe, of dumping the contents of two porta-potties into the yard of Gibora Sibanda, a woman “caught in the crossfire” of a row involving accusations of embezzlement and other corruption within the church. Bulawayo24 quotes Sibanda (described as “[v]isibly disgusted by the foul act of protest”): “They are my church mates. Our men are fighting over money and the war has now arrived right at my doorstep.” Story: Bulawayo24, June 16, 2012

John HegedusProbation revoked: John Calvin Hegedus, 34, former teacher, Holy Name Catholic School, San Antonio, Texas, who in 2009 pleaded guilty to one count of online solicitation, for which he was sentenced to 10 years’ probation with deferred adjudication. The Weekly Vice provides the details: “A Guadalupe County Jury indicted Hegedus after he allegedly used text messages and email to seduce the boy and then traveled to the boy’s home to sexually assault him. Police say Hegedus sent the boy nearly 100 messages on Easter Sunday before going to the boy’s home in Seguin, Texas to carry out the assault. When Hegedus arrived at the boy’s home, police were waiting for him.” The Vice adds: “Hegedus allegedly knew the victim for over two years, having first met him during his time as a seminarian at a church in Seguin, the boy’s hometown.” The Seguin Gazette reports: “The district attorney’s office filed a motion for adjudication in January 2012 accusing Hegedus of failing to remain suitably employed, failing to report to the probation office, failing to pay supervisory fees and other violations of the conditions of probation.” In December, 2010, KGNB noted that Hegedus was sentenced “not without some warnings from 25th Judicial District Judge Dwight Peschel, who told the former teacher that if he didn’t successfully complete his 10-years of probation, then he could be facing up to 20-years in state prison. The probation sentence was mostly because Hegedus had never been in trouble with the law before. But Hegedus will still have to register as a sex offender in the state.” Story: Weekly Vice, July 8, 2009; KGNB, December 10, 2010; Seguin Gazette, June 21, 2012

Michael Brandon LenziniSentenced: Michael Brandon “Mike” Lenzini, 34, former youth pastor, Crossroads Church, Alma, Arkansas, to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to seven counts of first-degree sexual assault, stemming from an ongoing sexual relationship with a girl in his church youth group. The Times Record reports: “Lenzini told police the relationship with the juvenile started as a result of his ‘marital issues.’” As a result of his plea deal, “Lenzini was sentenced to 25 years in prison on the first count and 30 years suspended on each of the remaining counts. While the suspended sentences will run concurrently to each other, the total of 30 years suspended will run consecutive to Lenzini’s prison time. [Prosecuting Attorney Marc McCune] said Lenzini must serve 25 percent of the 25-year sentence — a little more than six years — before he is eligible for parole.” He must also register as a sex offender and, adds the Press Argus-Courier, “is not to have Internet access, nor any contact with the victim or any unsupervised contact with anyone under 18 years of age … not related to him. He was released on a $7,500 release bond to await a bed in the state facility.” Story: Times Record, June 14, 2012; Press Argus-Courier, June 18, 2012

James SchookTrial delayed: James Schook, 64, Roman Catholic priest; former pastor, St. Ignatius Martyr Church, Okolona, Kentucky, indicted in 2011 on seven felony counts of second- and third-degree sodomy allegedly committed against two boys during the 1970s and 1980s. Schook was scheduled to go on trial May 29, 2012; that date has been postponed indefinitely due to his diagnosis of stage 4 melanoma. Schook is currently free pending trial; further proceedings are expected to resume in December, 2012 — despite Schook’s prognosis of having only “months” to live. Story: Archdiocese of Louisville, June 30, 2011; Courier-Journal, June 13, 2012

Ronald WeinlandGuilty: Ronald Weinland, 62, end-times / doomsday Christian minister, self-proclaimed “prophet” and founder, Church of God – Preparing for the Kingdom of God (COG-PKG), Cincinnati, Ohio / Union, Kentucky, of tax evasion. The U.S. Attorney’s Office reported that his indictment in 2011 alleged that Weinland “attempted to evade taxes in the amount of $357,065 over a period of five years starting in 2005. Robert Weinland’s alleged acts of evasion included filing tax returns, understating his gross income, using church funds for personal expenses and failing to claim those funds as income on his income tax returns, and failing to report the existence of a bank account in Switzerland. He also allegedly failed to report any interest made on that account as income.” At trial, reports Cincinnati.com, “Weinland’s defense attorneys told jurors … that their client deposited church money in Swiss bank accounts because he believed society was in its ‘final days,’ and that before Jesus Christ returns, the U.S. financial system would collapse. Weinland’s website claims the beginning of the end of earth as the human race knows it started on May 27 [2012] — just eight days before the start of the trial. … But under cross examination by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert McBride, Weinland began to appear ill at ease as he tried to explain why he deducted such expenses as a stay at The Venetian hotel and casino in Las Vegas, tickets to the Blue Man Group, and shopping trips to Nordstrom.” Sentencing is scheduled for September 24, 2012. Story: U.S. Attorney’s Office, November 10, 2011; WLWT, June 5, 2012; Cincinnati.com, June 13, 2012

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