Edward Warnakulasuriya • Curtis Wehmeyer • Walter Harrison Yocum
Formally charged; two new counts added: Broch Clyde DeGraff, 27, Mormon “priest” and former kindergarten and pre-K teacher and soccer coach, Liahona Preparatory Academy, a private Mormon charter school founded and owned by his father, Brent DeGraff, and stepmother, Kolleen DeGraff, Pleasant Grove, Utah; with one count of first-degree felony forcible sodomy and nine counts of second-degree felony forcible sexual abuse allegedly committed against two 16-year-old girls, with some incidents allegedly occurring on school property and others in the home DeGraff shared with his soon-to-be ex-wife.
DeGraff was married in 2007 (his wife also teaches pre-K and K at Liahona); the couple are the parents of a three-year-old boy and an infant girl (born about September 7, 2012). At the time of his arrest, KSL reported that DeGraff’s wife had filed a protective order against him; currently, KSL reports that his wife filed for divorce Monday, September 24th. It appears she has also moved out of the family home. A blog we believe belonged to the couple has disappeared, but a MySpace page is still accessible.
Considered a flight risk (he reportedly said he would flee to Mexico), DeGraff is still sitting in Utah County Jail on $50,000 cash bail. See ConBab, September 23, 2012, for more details, and for the story of the ugly custody battle over Broch DeGraff and his two younger brothers, during which Brent DeGraff spirited the boys away to Mexico and then, upon returning to the U.S., reportedly listed his ex-wife “as deceased on Utah school records” (she was, and is, alive). Story: Conservative Babylon, September 23, 2012; KSL, September 25, 2012
Arrested: Tony Ford, 36, teacher, Lancaster High School, Lancaster, South Carolina; football and track coach, Indian Land High School, Indian Land, South Carolina; and former youth director, Pleasant Valley Baptist Church, Indian Land; accused of engaging in a year-and-a-half-long sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl he met through the church, where the girl and her family are members. Ford, who is married, is currently free on a $15,000 bond. Story: WSOC, September 25, 2012
Not guilty plea: Paul A. LaCharite, 65, priest, formerly of St. James Episcopal Church, Somerville, Massachusetts, to charges of sexually abusing a boy, whose family were members of the church, for more than ten years. CBS Boston quotes Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone: “We allege that this defendant, holding a trusted position within the Episcopal Church, indecently assaulted and touched the victim over several years, only ending his 10 year long predatory abuse of the victim when the defendant left the church.” LaCharite has been charged with one count of assault to rape a child and three counts of indecent assault and battery on a child. Story: CBS Boston, September 7, 2012
Guilty plea: Tracey L. Taylor, 45, former bookkeeper, Corpus Christi Catholic Church, Carson City (and later Minden), Nevada, to one count of embezzling more than $75,000 from the church. In exchange for the plea, Taylor will get two to five years in prison, and must repay the church. Story: AP, September 1, 2012; Record-Courier, September 17, 2012
Sentenced: Edward Warnakulasuriya, a.k.a. W. Edward Julien Tissera, 54, Roman Catholic priest, formerly of St. Bernard’s, Tariffville (Simsbury), Connecticut, to one year, suspended, and three years’ probation following his conviction of sexually assaulting an 18-year-old male parishioner, according to the Simsbury Patch, which also reports: “The warrants states that the suspect applied holy water to the alleged victim’s forehead and gave him some to drink. On more than one occasion, the warrant says, the suspect also made the sign of the cross on his arms, legs and lips. According to the warrant, the suspect also had the alleged victim untuck his shirt and pull it up to his chest, then told him to unbutton and unzip his pants. After the blessing, the warrant states, the suspect touched the alleged victim near his genitals.” The Sri Lankan-born Warnakulasuriya, who was ordered to surrender his passport, may also be deported. Story: JournalInquirer.com (cache), September 20, 2012; Simsbury Patch, September 21, 2012; Hartford Courant, September 22, 2012
Indicted: Curtis Carl Wehmeyer, 47, Roman Catholic priest and former pastor, Parish of the Blessed Sacrament, St. Paul, Minnesota, on three counts of criminal sexual conduct aganst two boys, then 12 and 14, whom authorities say Wehmeyer showed “pornographic movies and provided alcohol and marijuana as he allegedly molested one and exposed himself to the other” in the camper trailer he kept parked at the church, reports the Star Tribune. Wehmeyer has been removed from the church and stripped of his priestly powers. Story: Conservative Babylon, June 27, 2012; Star Tribune, September 21, 2012
Charged: Walter Harrison Yocum, 35, former youth pastor, Cavalry Baptist Church, Bel Air, Maryland, with sexually abusing a then-15-year-old girl during during vacation Bible school this past July. An unsigned “Crisis Statement to the Church,” dated September 4, 2012, reads in part: “The Calvary Baptist Church family continues to deal with a significant amount of shock, heartbreak, sadness, and anger. Our former Youth Director, the head of our ministry to teenagers, has been terminated for indecent misconduct with a minor. Because we do not and will never tolerate any behavior that would jeopardize the well being of any of our people, especially minors, we will continue to fully cooperate with the authorities in all matters relating to their still ongoing criminal investigation.” Story: Baltimore Sun, August 30, 2012
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