Black Collar Crime Round-Up: February 1, 2013

Broch DeGraff • Meredith Howard • Thad MacMoran • Christopher McKenzie
Efrain Umana, Sr. • Curtis Wehmeyer • Dustin Werneburg

Broch DeGraffNot guilty plea: Broch Clyde DeGraff, 27, Mormon “priest” and former kindergarten and pre-K teacher and soccer coach, Liahona Preparatory Academy, a private and extremely conservative Mormon charter school founded and owned by his father, Brent DeGraff, and stepmother, Kolleen DeGraff, Pleasant Grove, Utah; to 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, both Liahona students, with incidents allegedly occurring both on school property and in the home DeGraff shared with his soon-to-be ex-wife (with whom he has a three-year-old son and an infant daughter).

The Daily Herald reports: “During the last court hearing in December, Broch DeGraff waived his right to a preliminary hearing and appeared to be considering a plea deal,” but instead pleaded not guilty — which means DeGraff is most likely headed to trial. The Herald adds that DeGraff’s lawyer has filed a motion to sever — generally, a request to divide a case into separate cases; in this case, two, as there are two accusers — which could result in DeGraff facing two separate trials: “The severance would put a forcible sodomy charge, a first-degree felony, and four forcible sexual abuse charges, second-degree felonies, in one case and the other five forcible sexual abuse charges in another case.” See following ConBab links for more details, as well as the story of the ugly custody battle over DeGraff and his two younger brothers. Story: Conservative Babylon, September 23, 2012; Conservative Babylon, September 25, 2012; Deseret News, December 10, 2012; Daily Herald, January 9, 2013

Meredith HowardSentenced: Meredith Howard, 40, former teacher’s assistant, John Knox Child Development Center, operated by the John Knox Presbyterian Church, and former daycare worker, “Mothers’ Day Out program,” Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church, Tulsa, Oklahoma; to 12 years in prison after pleading no contest to abusing two children, one at each facility. At John Knox, she digitally penetrated a 19-month-old girl; at Kirk of the Hills, she broke the thigh bone of an eight-month-old boy. Story: Tulsa World, February 17, 2011;, November 5, 2012; Tulsa World, February 1, 2013

Thaddeus Stephen MacMoranSentenced: Thaddeus Stephen “Thad” MacMoran, 27, former youth pastor, Lake Forest Church, Huntersville, North Carolina, to 18-1/2 to 23 years in prison followed by lifelong registration as a sex offender and GPS monitoring, following his conviction on one count of statutory rape and four counts of indecent liberties with a child. The Winston-Salem Journal notes: “MacMoran was a student ministry volunteer with the Lake Forest Church teen ministry. But a spokesperson for Lake Forest Church said the crimes occurred at another church, before MacMoran became a volunteer at Lake Forest.” The Huntersville Herald adds that MacMoran had been “a volunteer at Lake Forest since July 2010. He led a small group of eighth-grade boys during Wednesday night student ministry meetings called Discipleship Nights.” Story: Herald Weekly, January 5, 2012; Mecklenburg County Sheriff (arrest record), January 17, 2012; Winston-Salem Journal, February 1, 2013; Statement Regarding Thad MacMoran, Lake Forest Church (undated)

Christopher McKenzieNot guilty plea: Christopher Bryan McKenzie, 48, Sunday school and childcare volunteer, Rock Harbor Church (which uses a great number of words to dodge around its bottom-line message that it’s anti-gay), Costa Mesa, California, to charges of sexually abusing four boys, two of whom he is believed to have met through his church. At the time of his arraignment in December, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office detailed the charges against McKenzie: “10 felony counts of lewd acts upon a child under 14 years old, four felony counts of using a minor for the distribution of obscene matter, and two felony counts of distributing pornography to a minor with sentencing enhancement allegations for substantial sexual conduct with a child and committing lewd acts upon a child under 14 years old against more than one victim. If convicted, McKenzie faces a maximum sentence of 45 years to life in state prison. He is currently being held on $1 million bail.” A pretrial hearing is scheduled for March 15, 2013. Story: Orange County District Attorney, December 3, 2012; Daily Pilot, February 1, 2013

Efrain Umana, Sr.Sentenced again: Efrain Umaña, Sr., 57, former pastor at various Assemblies of God churches in and around Lincoln, Nebraska, and most recently pastor at Templo Monte Horeb, Council Bluffs, Iowa; to 30 years following his no-contest plea to first-degree sexual assault on an 11-year-old girl. Umaña — who in court documents reportedly told the girl upon her protest that “her body belonged to God” that “This is what love is” as he was raping her and allegedly threatened to kill her — is already serving multiple concurrent sentences for sexual assault. The Omaha World-Herald reports: “Flipping through Umaña’s lengthy pre-sentencing investigation, [Douglas County District Court Judge J. Michael Coffey] said it was ‘pretty pathetic’ to have to read the report, ‘especially for someone who was able to bear the title of reverend.’ … Molly Keene, an assistant Douglas County attorney, told Coffey that the victim, now an adult, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and is still afraid of the defendant. ‘She has trouble forming relationships with men because of what the defendant did to her,’ Keene said.” Story: Conservative Babylon, September 11, 2009; Conservative Babylon (“’This is What Love Is’ … ‘I Will Kill You Next Time I’ll See You!’”), October 7, 2009; Conservative Babylon, January 28, 2011; Conservative Babylon, February 1, 2011; Conservative Babylon, October 8, 2012; Omaha World-Herald, February 1, 2013

Curtis WehmeyerSentenced: Curtis Carl Wehmeyer, 47, Roman Catholic priest and former pastor, Parish of the Blessed Sacrament, St. Paul, Minnesota, to five years in prison after pleading guilty to three counts of child sex abuse committed against two brothers, 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, as well as 17 counts of possession of child pornography. The Star Tribune notes: “Wehmeyer also was ordered to provide a DNA sample for registration as a predatory sex offender, and he will be on conditional release for 10 years after prison.” Story: Conservative Babylon, June 27, 2012; Conservative Babylon, September 25, 2012; Star Tribune, February 1, 2013

Dustin WerneburgSentenced: Dustin Ray Werneburg, 28, former youth pastor, First Baptist Church, Coalgate, Oklahoma (where his late father was a deacon); teacher’s aide, Blanchard Middle School, McClain County, Oklahoma; and husband and father of three preschool-age children; to 10 years in prison plus 30 years suspended, after pleading guilty to two (out of eight original) charges of child molestation. The church was aware of previous allegations against Werneburg, but did nothing. Story: Conservative Babylon, January 23, 2013; KXII, February 1, 2013


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Filed under Black Collar Round-Ups, Catholics Gone Wild, Mormons Amok

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