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Friday, February 15, 2013

Youth Pastor Watch

Posted by on Fri, Feb 15, 2013 at 9:49 AM

SOUTH CAROLINA: "The former youth pastor of a South Carolina church was sentenced to 15 years in prison Friday after he was convicted of having sex with a teen girl. In February 2011, 38-year-old Stephen Berry, of Jonesville, was charged with second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor.... New Life Baptist Church, in Union, said that Berry resigned from his position as associate pastor on February 2, 2011. The church said it had never received any complaints about Berry before these allegations. About a month after his first arrest, Berry was jailed a second time and charged with lewd act on a minor. Prosecutors said that charge is still pending."

TEXAS: "A former youth minister convicted on child pornography charges apologized to his victims and his family Friday before being sentenced to 30 years in prison followed by a lifetime of supervision. Joe Tapia III, 47, read his apology in front of U.S. District Judge Frank Montalvo as his family, including his wife and son, watched from the gallery.... While serving as youth minister at San Jose Catholic Church, Tapia admitted, he recorded video and took photos of two children while they were changing clothes before a church performance. He used those images to solicit other sexually explicit images of children."

OHIO: "Bail of $100,000 cash or surety was set Wednesday for a youth pastor charged with felony sexual battery involving a 15-year-old girl. Michael D. Mohler, 26, of Dogwood Drive in Monroe Twp. is accused of an inappropriate relationship with a girl and sexual conduct in August, Troy police and Miami County sheriff’s deputies said. He was identified as “Mic” Mohler, resident pastor, on the First United Methodist Church, Troy, Web site.... Detectives reported Mohler said he became involved with the girl through the church and began mentoring her when she came to him for advice about her boyfriend."


Comments (15) RSS

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CAN YOU PLEASE STICK TO ACTUAL CONVICTIONS? It's a pretty dickbag move to post photos of those charged and not convicted. You're pulling a Nancy Grace/Fox News, and it's not cool.
Posted by AnonymousCapHiller on February 15, 2013 at 10:03 AM · Report this
@1 Wow, relax. 2 of the 3 were convictions. And it's not like he dug this information up and hunted down pictures of them. I can guarantee these pictures have been plastered all over the news in their area. He's not outing it. They're in jail.
Posted by KateRose on February 15, 2013 at 10:27 AM · Report this
@ 1... You can stow that "actual convictions" crap IMHO. Having worked with both abused kids and kids and adults who have abused, I can assure you that given the difficulty of actually getting charges filed against an accused molester/rapist of kids, it is safe to say these guys are guilty. A sad fact is that by the time a molester is charged for the first time, he has already racked up dozens of victims. It is not uncommon for these men to have two hundred victims by the time they are convicted. I know this because I have set in on many treatment sessions where abusers make a list of their victims and the details of their abuse of each victim. My job is to maintain professional detachment as I hear such lists being made. It ain't easy but it is necessary to the process. The fact that convictions don't always follow charges does not mean that those charged need to be known to their communities. Before charges are made a detailed investigation is made and innocent men being charged is extremely rare. It's damn hard enough to get the guilty ones to court.

Thank you, Dan
Posted by kwodell on February 15, 2013 at 10:37 AM · Report this
correction... I meant to say that those charged do need to be known to their communities.

Also, I was reminded that the same churches who try to portray gays as the source of pedophiles are the very churches who are often home to abusers who have wives and families so they blend right in and are thus above suspicion. Ignorance is the abuser's best friend.
Posted by kwodell on February 15, 2013 at 10:49 AM · Report this
My point is proven in #3's comment. "Going to lead to a conviction..." That's the problem with linking photos of people who are only ACCUSED of a sex crime. You create a public conviction by assumed guilt. I used all caps because when Dan relaunched YPW, he asked what we thought, and I let him know then. I also want to make sure you get that I 100% do not mind that he publicly shames those who are convicted. They took advantage of youth from a position of power, not cool.

@4, I either challenge the work that you are claiming to do, or I think that you exist in some alternate reality where prosecutors do no wrong. Either way, it's dangerous. Our household works on both sides of the issue, with both victims and the accused. There are undoubtedly horrible stories, of terrible shit that has happened, and it never gets easy to hear. On the other hand, I've seen over zealous prosecutors bent on being seen as tough on sex crimes try to railroad innocent people. Proven innocent people. With EVIDENCE. Who then have to try and pick up the pieces of their lives and move on, while simultaneously having to deal with a public assumption of guilt. With their pictures plastered all over, forever to be tied to a heinous crime that never took place. It's a fucked up slippery slope of public shaming that needs to stop. Prosecutorial zeal happens. It's well documented. If you think that it's "damn hard" to get guilty sexual predators to court, then you are not very effective at your job, or you have a prosecutor who can find holes in your investigations that indicate sloppy/ineffective work.

Don't confuse this with any sort of idea of victim blaming, or not believing minors, or any other knee-jerk reaction. I'm a firm believer in the process, and I think that creating a public assumption of guilt defeats the entire presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

Posted by AnonymousCapHiller on February 15, 2013 at 11:02 AM · Report this
rob! 7
@4, the flip side of your argument is that people already under confinement for child abuse will invent dozens of additional crimes, with the complicity of therapists, in order to stay within the safer confines of the few in-prison treatment programs rather than be put with the general population:
...For sex offenders, who occupy the bottom of the prison power hierarchy, the Butner unit was a safe haven in the federal prison system. One child-pornography convict, Markis Revland, told the judge at his civil-commitment hearing that when prisoners discover a sex offender among them “they’ll go to great lengths to stab that person.” He requested treatment at Butner after being raped at knifepoint in a Kansas penitentiary. He was encouraged by the psychology staff at Butner to “get it all out,” and came up with a hundred and forty-nine victims. Like other patients, he kept a “cheat sheet” in his cell so that he could remember his victims’ ages and the dates that he’d abused them. There was no evidence for the crimes, thirty-four of which would have occurred during a time when Revland was incarcerated. At his hearing, the judge concluded that his crimes were the “product of his imagination, not actual events.” After having been held in prison nearly five years beyond the expiration of his criminal sentence, Revland was allowed to go home...…

Child sexual abuse is fucked up. So is its prosecution, punishment, and treatment.
Posted by rob! on February 15, 2013 at 11:02 AM · Report this
@6 ... My experience has been that prosecutors are not as over zealous as you stated. Of course they do exist, but in my nearly 20yrs at my job I have yet to see it. I do not believe that everyone accused is guilty and I have been involved in investigations where it was apparent early on that the accused was in fact innocent. I am not advocating witch hunts. Competent investigation does not rely on a single accusation leading to charges being immediately filed. At least not in my experience. Not without overwhelming evidence. Abusers are almost never accused after their first offense. There is a trail of victims and a pattern of circumstances that is discovered during an investigation and all of this happens before charges are filed. In my experience. It is an often long process. Admittedly a very flawed process. This is why it is factual that abusers are seldom convicted until they have been suspected or sometimes charged several times before they are finally stopped. This history can span years or decades. Innocent people rarely fit the profile of an abuser when there is competent investigation. It happens, but again, I have never seen it. Investigation techniques have come a long way since the injustices of the past such as the McMartin fiasco.

@7 ... There are certainly cases like you mentioned. As you stated, there was no evidence for the crimes in your comment. I am talking about cases that are investigated and confirmed with the victims that the abuser lists as part of treatment. Nothing is just taken for granted as being factual. Abusers are adept manipulators and liars. Everyone who works with them is aware of that.
Posted by kwodell on February 15, 2013 at 11:49 AM · Report this
@8 There have been enough witch hunts that your blanket statements and certainty about cases you have no direct knowledge of is disturbing.
Posted by cracked on February 15, 2013 at 1:09 PM · Report this
The Texas guy filmed some kids, and "solicited" sexually explicit photographs of kids. Okay, fine - guy has a problem. I'm aware of that. However, does the guy really have 30 years in prison and lifetime supervision afterward kind of problem?

30 fricking years?!? Plus supervision. That's a really big sentence for a bunch of photographs.
Posted by Gamebird on February 15, 2013 at 3:47 PM · Report this
@ 4 - "A sad fact is that by the time a molester is charged for the first time, he has already racked up dozens of victims. It is not uncommon for these men to have two hundred victims by the time they are convicted."

Cite your sources, please. Your first sentence implies that all molesters have at least 24 victims (two dozen - the minimum required for you to use the plural form of "dozen") and you go on to state that it's "not uncommon" for them to have two hundred victims. "Uncommon" is defined as "not ordinarily encountered" so your statement would mean that it is ordinary ("the regular or customary condition or course of things") for child molesters to have "two hundred victims."

According to only 10% of child molesters claim to have molested children to whom they were not related. The CDC puts the numbers even lower. According to their Child Maltreatment Facts At A Glance page, only 3.8% of children who are maltreated were victimized by an unrelated adult (although it should be noted that the CDC was not looking solely at child sexual abuse).

Even if you are telling the truth and in your experience, all child molesters are serial offenders (do you work with the victims of Catholic Priests, by any chance?) the numbers simply don't bear you out. You discredit what you have to say by underpinning your opinions with wildly incorrect claims. Less hyperbole will lend you much more credibility.
Posted by MiscKitty on February 15, 2013 at 4:27 PM · Report this
OutInBumF 12
@10- Would you like your little girl or boy photographed naked by some pervert, then posted to the internet? I didn't think so.
Plus please recall- these are christianist pervs. Their hypocrisy alone deserves at least 5 years for the misery they've laid at others doorsteps in the name of Jeebus.
Posted by OutInBumF on February 16, 2013 at 12:27 AM · Report this
@12 Let's say guy #1 takes pictures of my kid. Several days later in a completely unrelated incident, guy #2 punches my kid in the face and gut, shoves them down and stomps on my kid's arm, breaking it. Both guys are caught, confess, and are convicted. Guy #1 gets 30 years plus lifetime supervision. Guy #2 gets a maximum of five years for felony assault and battery (or aggravated assault), no supervision when he gets out.

I wouldn't be happy about the pictures, but I'd be way more unhappy about the person who actually hurt my kid.
Posted by Gamebird on February 16, 2013 at 8:18 AM · Report this
@12: I too think the sentencing of these crimes is excessive, but then I'm Swedish and in general the sentences here are much shorter than the ones in USA, but there is still a logic to sentencing guy#1 to 30yrs + supervision while the second one gets 5yrs. You see, guy#2 might very well never offend again, while guy#1's crime is a precursor to molestation and rape and indicates a pathology that we today simply don't have a cure for, he is always going to be ticking bomb waiting to go off.
Posted by Friendstastegood on February 16, 2013 at 1:01 PM · Report this
ops, I meant @13...
Posted by Friendstastegood on February 16, 2013 at 1:04 PM · Report this
In Germany and the US, studies have shown that sex offenders, esp. offenders who targeted children, have comparatively low relapse rates compared to other criminals. Treatment while in prison should even lower those rates.
In case you read German:
Posted by migrationist on February 16, 2013 at 2:06 PM · Report this

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