Black Collar Crime Round-Up: July 31, 2012

Oliver Brazelle • Church on the Hill (Keith Woodhouse) • Luis Jose Cuevas
Timothy Ward Jackson • Michael Scott Norris • Sammy Nuckolls • Rafael Venegas

Oliver BrazelleFired: Oliver Brazelle, 78, music minister, former youth minister and member for nearly 50 years, First United Methodist Church of Sheffield, Alabama, following allegations he sexually abused at least three boys over some 20 years. Six people reportedly conducted “a secret investigation … into rumors that had been circulating for years in Sheffield, alleging that Brazelle was a pedophile who had preyed on at least 3 boys numerous times. The report said the alleged incidents took place at music camp, in the church basement, and even on the church bus,” according to Quad-Cities Daily, which also notes that an unnamed source says “that as many as three of his alleged victims are prepared to make public their accounts, and to testify in court as to how they say they were abused.” Brazelle, who is married, the father of three, and grandfather of four, has not been charged with any crime, but is, according to police, under investigation. Story: Quad-Cities Daily, July 30, 2012; WHNT, July 31, 2012; WAFF, July 31, 2012; WAAY, July 31, 2012; Quad-Cities Daily, July 31, 2012

Keith WoodhouseAdded to lawsuit: Church on the Hill (member, Conservative Baptist Association), San Jose, California, in the matter of Keith Woodhouse, 25, former church camp counselor and former daycare worker, Trace Child Development Center, also of San Jose (as well as “various positions in camp counseling, children’s ministry internships, Sunday school counseling, day care and after school activities”), who was arrested and charged in 2011 with 30 felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14 (two female students at Trace, reportedly aged seven and eight, although it is alleged “that Woodhouse molested and sexually assaulted at least 5-10 young female students under the age of 14,” say plaintiffs’ attorneys).

According to a press release from the law firm Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, Church on the Hill is accused of failing to report incidents of “sexually deviant behavior with children” to authorities, and of providing an “unconditional” “positive employee reference” for Woodhouse, “despite the alleged knowledge that he had previously engaged in multiple acts of child molestation while employed there. Based on this favorable statement, the lawsuit claims Woodhouse was subsequently hired at the CDI – Trace Child Development Center in San Jose where he gained unsupervised access to and, per his own admission to the police, sexually molested several minor girls as young as 5 years old.”

The church allegedly “terminated Woodhouse seven days after he sexually assaulted a minor female in a swimming pool and was later observed with children lying on his lap. It is alleged that Woodhouse was previously seen engaging in sexually deviant behavior with children such as kissing their shoulders and hugging them inappropriately.” The suit also claims that at Trace, Woodhouse “was placed in an unsupervised position to molest at least four small children due to the lack of adequate … hiring, training and supervision policies and procedures” at Trace. The suit, originally filed in November, 2011, has been amended to add Church on the Hill to the list of defendants. Meanwhile, Woodhouse’s next court date is scheduled for August 26, 2012. Story: Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, December 2, 2011; Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, December 28, 2011; Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard press release, July 25, 2012; San Jose Mercury News, July 26, 2012; Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, undated; Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, undated

Luis Jose CuevasNot guilty plea: Luis Jose Cuevas, 67, parish priest, St. Athanasius Catholic Church, Long Beach, California, to one felony count involving lewd acts with a child and eight misdemeanor counts of sexual battery. According to a police news release, in April, 2012, “the Long Beach Police Department received information from two female adults that reported being the victims of a sexual battery. The suspect was identified as 67-year-old Luis Jose Cuevas, a parish priest at St. Athanasius Catholic Church, located at 5390 Linden Avenue in Long Beach. Suspect Cuevas has served at this parish for the past seven years and has resided on church grounds during this time. Both women initially reported the incidents to the Archdiocese, and then subsequently filed the police report.

“During the investigation, a third victim came forward. This victim, a 17-year-old female, reported repeated incidents of inappropriate touching that occurred over a two-year period involving the same suspect. On July 19, 2012, the Long Beach Police Department presented the case to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office… On July 23, 2012, the suspect was arrested by Long Beach Police, with the assistance of the United States Marshal’s Office, at a residence in the City of San Jacinto. …

“The Long Beach Police Department believes additional victims may exist and asks that anyone who has had similar contact with the suspect, or information regarding someone who has, to contact the Sex Crimes Detail’s Tip Line at (562) 570-7878. Anonymous tips may be submitted via text or web by visiting www.tipsoft.com.” Cuevas, who remains in custody on $1,000,000 bail, is scheduled to appear in court again August 7, 2012. KTLA notes that in a statement “that was read at the church’s weekend masses,” it was announced that “the archdiocese took action to remove Father Cuevas from all ministry and he will be living privately pending the outcome of these matters.’” Story: Long Beach Police Department, July 23, 2012; KTLA, July 26, 2012

Timothy Ward JacksonSued: Apostolic Overcoming Holy Church of God and Timothy Ward Jackson, 49, former pastor, Abundant Life Apostolic Overcoming Holy Church of God (a “local church” of Apostolic Overcoming Holy Church of God); and former pastor, Outreach Cathedral Ministry Apostolic Overcoming Holy Church of God; Detroit, Michigan, currently serving a 40-year prison sentence following his six-count conviction of raping a 13-year-old girl from his church; by his victim, who, the complaint states, “brings this action … for repeated acts of sexual abuse she suffered while a young member of Defendant Abundant Life AOH Church of God,” in the amount of $25,000, “interest thereon, attorney’s fees, costs and such other relief as [the court] deems just and proper.” Also named in the suit are George W. Ayers, who the suit claims is “the International Presiding Prelate of Defendant Apostolic Overcoming Holy Church of God” of Alabama; Phillip Wright, identified in the suit as “the Presiding Bishop of the Northern District of Apostolic Overcoming Holy Church of God,” of Illinois; and John Jackson, said to be “an overseer in the northern district for Apostolic Overcoming Holy Church of God,” also of Illinois. Story: Conservative Babylon, April 18, 2012; Complaint, July 23, 2012 (via Courthouse News Service)

United StatesConvicted: Michael Scott Norris, 46, former youth pastor & Bible camp counselor, Open Bible Church, Portland, Oregon, on ten counts of child rape and molestaton committed against a 10-year-old girl and her 11-year-old brother, whom he met at his church. In April, Norris was sentenced to 25-to-life after pleading guilty to 11 counts of production of child pornography involving the same children. Sentencing for the rape charges is scheduled for September 4, 2012; Norris is expected to receive 35 years, to run concurrently with the sentence he is now serving. Story: Conservative Babylon, February 1, 2012; Conservative Babylon, April 7, 2012; Columbian, July 30, 2012

Sammy NuckollsJury trial waived: Sammy Nuckolls, 33, Southern Baptist traveling evangelist from Olive Branch, Mississippi, and LifeWay Christian Resources camp pastor, charged with 13 counts of video voyeurism in Mississippi. Circuit Court Judge Gerald Chatham is scheduled to issue a ruling September 14, 2012. Nuckolls has already pleaded guilty to video voyeurism charges in Arkansas, for which he was sentenced to five years’ probation and sex-offender registration and ordered pay a $750 fine. Story: Conservative Babylon, April 1, 2012; Conservative Babylon, April 4, 2012; Conservative Babylon, April 13, 2012; Conservative Babylon, July 1, 2012; Desoto Times Tribune, July 28, 2012; Associated Baptist Press, July 30, 2012

Rafael VenegasCharged: Rafael Venegas, Roman Catholic priest, St. Anne’s Church, Santa Monica, California, with one count of sexual battery and one count of furnishing alcohol to a minor, a 20-year-old female “and not a parishioner of St. Anne’s,” according to the Santa Monica Police Department, which notes that an investigation was begun July 1, 2012, after the woman “reported that the incident occurred on the property of St. Anne’s Parish in September 2011.” Venegas was charged July 26th. “On Monday July 30, 2012, Venegas, accompanied by his attorney, turned himself into the Santa Monica Police Department where he was booked on the above listed charges. He was released after posting $20,000.00 bail. His arraignment date is scheduled for Friday, August 3, 2012 in Division 147 of the LAX Court. Anyone with additional information is asked to contact Detective DeRyck at (310) 458-8944, Sergeant Jacob at (310) 458-8460 or the Santa Monica Police Department (24 hours) at (310) 458-8495.” Story: Santa Monica Police Department, July 30, 2012

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