Charged: Joel Kent Hodges, 31, former “contemporary worship leader,” Gardendale-Mount Vernon United Methodist Church, Gardendale, Alabama, with felony solicitation of a child by computer and traveling to meet a child for sex, also a felony. Story: North Jefferson News, January 2, 2013; WBRC, January 17, 2013. Just a few weeks after Hodges’s arrest, Gardendale-Mount Vernon’s pastor, Terry Greer, was arrested and charged with the shooting death of his wife. See backstory here and here.
Charges dropped: Paul Burke Johnson, 76, pastor, Calvary Baptist Church, Dunn, North Carolina, and member, Board of Ministers, Campbell University Divinity School, who was arrested in March, 2011, on four counts of misdemeanor sexual battery after allegations of “inappropriate contact between Johnson and a woman in a nursing home,” according to WRAL, which reports that the charges were dropped because an arrest warrant had not been issued prior to Johnson’s arrest. Story: WRAL, March 26, 2011; WRAL, March 27, 2011; WRAL, March 28, 2011; WRAL, March 8, 2013
Sentenced: Manford Kapyola, 50, pastor, Faith Christian Church, Blantyre (Mandala), Malawi, to four years in a maximum security prison “after he was found guilty of indecently assaulting his nine-year-old granddaughter,” according to Malawi Today, which reports: “According to records at Blantyre Magistrate’s Court, on January 11 2013, the girl’s mother found Kapyola in a toilet with the girl. After realising that his world was crumbling around him, the pastor fled and went into hiding, but surrendered to police two days later to face the charge of indecent assault.”
MT adds that the victim “said Kapyola invited her to the toilet several times, but she initially turned him down. The girl said she later succumbed and granted him his wish. She said in the toilet, the pastor gave her a hug until her mother called her name from outside. She said he struck her on the thighs with his manhood. The girl also said Kapyola told her ’tisamanene kwa makolo’ (we should not disclose this to parents).” The church’s senior pastor, Matiasi Gama, “said the church had not seen the judgement [sic] and could not, therefore, take any action against the disgraced pastor.” Story: Malawi Today, February 18, 2013
Surrendered: Fr. Jaison Kollannur, Roman Catholic priest, Jomon Thomas, Raju Thomas and Tittu Thomas, all “office-bearers” of the Kerala Catholic Youth Movement (“the official State/Regional Organization under KCBC Commission for youth … affiliated to the National Youth Body ‘Indian Catholic Movement’ (ICYM)”), Kerala, India, on charges of human trafficking. The Deccan Chronicle reports: “According to police, KCYM had taken youngsters to Spain this year and to Australia last year under various programmes. Fr. Jaison had led the groups abroad. Several youngsters had gone absconding in Spain and Australia and taken jobs there. KCYM was also set to take youngsters to Brazil next year under Fr. Jaison.”
Kollannur, explains Eurasia Review, “who was secretary of the Kerala bishops’s council youth commission, was charged [in November, 2012] as part of a ring of five people who allegedly tried to traffic 42 young Indians to Houston, Texas, under the pretext of attending a student exchange program which ended in June. ‘The accused, including the priest, faked certificates to support that 42 persons were experts working in the education sector,’ said Amose Mammen, assistant commissioner of the police Crime Records Bureau in Kochi.” Story: Eurasia Review, December 19, 2012; Deccan Chronicle, January 20, 2013
Sentenced: Charles Laub, 44, Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), Humansville (Cedar County), Missouri, to seven years in prison following his conviction on one count of attempted rape. Laub “married” a set of 18-year-old twin sisters in a religious ceremony in 2001, then kept them in a state of virtual imprisonment.
The Daily Mail notes: “Laub was initially charged with forcible rape and sexual assault, but the rape charge was thrown out after one [of] his ‘sister wives’ said she could not remember if the 44-year-old had ever forced himself on her. … The court documents stated that the Staples twins were not allowed to refuse sex, and attempts to resist were met with force.” The Mail adds: “According to one of the wives, when she had attempted to take her daughter to a doctor for measles treatment, Laub told her: ‘God would approve of her dying rather than receiving treatment from a doctor.’” Laub fathered eight children between his two “wives.” Story: News-Leader, February 18, 2013; Daily Mail, February 19, 2013
Arrested: John K. “Jack” Lawlor, 54, Community Life Pastor, First Baptist Church, Everett, Washington; former “trainer in leadership and discipleship with other pastors and leaders,” Real Life Ministries, Post Falls, Idaho; former technical advisor, MurSea Missions (“a family formed corporation following God’s desire for us to reach the peoples living in remote islands, coastlands and waterways by providing humanitarian aid and religious outreach” — which notes his involvement with numerous church and school youth programs), Idaho / Washington; and Christian missionary to Brazil, the Marshall Islands and Fiji; in an online prostitution sting after allegedly responding to an ad on a website called Casual Encounters, then showing up to meet a 16-year-old girl and agreeing to pay her $200 to have sex with him at his home. The “girl” turned out to be an undercover police officer. Booked into King County Jail on commercial sex abuse of a minor, Lawlor was freed the next day on $50,000 bail. According to his bio now deleted from the church’s website, Lawlor is married and the father of two adult sons. Story: Seattlepi.com, February 20, 2013; HeraldNet.com, February 21, 2013
Sentenced: Samuel Lee Lyte, 72, former youth pastor, Mount Bethel Baptist Church, Big Spring, Texas, to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to aggravated sexual assault of a child, a 13-year-old girl he met through his church. The Big Spring Herald reports that Lyte was “indicted in November on charges of continuous sexual abuse of a child (first-degree felony), aggravated sexual abuse of a child (first-degree felony), indecency with a child (two counts, both second-degree felonies) and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence (third-degree felony).” The “About” section on Lyte’s Facebook profile says: “I love to make people happy. And to encourage backsliders to renew their relationship with the lord.” Story: KWES, October 30, 2012; Big Spring Herald, February 20, 2013
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