FRANKLIN, Ind. (ABP) — A former Southern Baptist pastor in central Indiana has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for molesting a 15-year-old church member in a relationship that began with him counseling the girl because she was not getting along with her mother.
Daniel Moore, 50, former pastor of New Whiteland Baptist Church near Franklin, Ind., pleaded guilty March 15 to felony child solicitation and sexual misconduct charges in exchange for a 10-year sentence. A Johnson County circuit court judge approved the plea bargain at a sentencing hearing April 8.
The girl’s mother, who is not being identified to protect the privacy of her daughter, said she was satisfied with the sentence because she didn’t want to put the now soon-to-be 17-year-old through the trauma of a jury trial.
In a victim’s impact statement, the mother said Moore started counseling the girl at her request. When she told the pastor she was monitoring who her daughter talked to and texted through her online account, the mother said Moore gave the girl a SIM card for her phone from another account.
After confronting both Moore and his wife about inappropriate notes, the mother said she received a call from the girl’s school in March 2009 reporting she was seen with a suspicious-looking elderly man. Searching her daughter’s room, the mother said she found other notes from the defendant to her daughter, including one that said, “I love you with the purest love of God.”
After going to the police, the woman, who had been an active member of New Whiteland Baptist Church for nine years, said just two church members called to see how they were doing. After that, she said, there was no more contact.
Entering the courtroom April 8, the mother said she was surprised how many people from the former church were there to support their former pastor. At the end of the hearing, she said, Moore’s stepdaughter said to her daughter, “I hope you rot in hell,” for her role in assisting in the prosecution of the case.
During her testimony, the mother said before two years ago, she probably would have been speaking in Moore’s defense. She worked with him in vacation Bible school, traveled with him on mission trips, accompanied him on visitation and witnessing to flood victims and was a leader in Sunday school. “I trusted him completely,” she said, which made his betrayal even worse.
The worst moment, she said, came when a detective came to her house to remove sheets from her daughter’s bed, and they came back testing positive with Moore’s DNA.
The mother said none of the defendant’s family or supporters testified at the hearing. Only she and her husband, the girl’s stepfather, took the stand.
In his letter to Judge K. Mark Loyd, the husband said he believed that Moore is a sexual predator who misused the Bible to seduce a child. He said while his faith in God has never wavered, the episode has shaken his faith in organized religion.
Not in attendance was Ernest James, senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in nearby Greenwood, Ind. James and other leaders of the church sent a letter to Judge Loyd filed March 24 in anticipation of Moore’s sentencing hearing.
Church leaders informed the judge that, at their invitation, Moore had worshiped among them for several months “quietly, humbly and essentially anonymously, as it is his desire to avoid drawing attention to himself and for his fear of embarrassment to the church.”
The letter described Moore as “tearfully repentant, remorseful, regretful and ashamed.” It said church staff and deacons pledged to help him in “continued healing and restoration” and to act as a group of support and accountability “both during and after his incarceration.”
James did not respond to a request for comment.
Ohio Christian school tells student to skip prom. (thanks JT)
FINDLAY, Ohio â€“ A student at a fundamentalist Baptist school that forbids dancing, rock music, hand-holding and kissing will be suspended if he takes his girlfriend to her public high school prom, his principal said.
Despite the warning, 17-year-old Tyler Frost, who has never been to a dance before, said he plans to attend Findlay High School’s prom Saturday.
Frost, a senior at Heritage Christian School in northwest Ohio, agreed to the school’s rules when he signed a statement of cooperation at the beginning of the year, principal Tim England said.
The teen, who is scheduled to receive his diploma May 24, would be suspended from classes and receive an “incomplete” on remaining assignments, England said. Frost also would not be permitted to attend graduation but would get a diploma once he completes final exams. If Frost is involved with alcohol or sex at the prom, he will be expelled, England said.
Frost’s stepfather Stephan Johnson said the school’s rules should not apply outside the classroom.
“He deserves to wear that cap and gown,” Johnson said.
Frost said he thought he had handled the situation properly. Findlay requires students from other schools attending the prom to get a signature from their principal, which Frost did.
“I expected a short lecture about making the right decisions and not doing something stupid,” Frost said. “I thought I would get his signature and that would be the end.”
England acknowledged signing the form but warned Frost there would be consequences if he attended the dance. England then took the issue to a school committee made up of church members, who decided to threaten Frost with suspension.
“In life, we constantly make decisions whether we are going to please self or please God. (Frost) chose one path, and the school committee chose the other,” England said.
The handbook for the 84-student Christian school says rock music “is part of the counterculture which seeks to implant seeds of rebellion in young people’s hearts and minds.”
England said Frost’s family should not be surprised by the school’s position.
“For the parents to claim any injustice regarding this issue is at best forgetful and at worst disingenuous,” he said. “It is our hope that the student and his parents will abide by the policies they have already agreed to.”
The principal at Findlay High School, whose graduates include Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, said he respects, but does not agree with, Heritage Christian School’s view of prom.
“I don’t see (dancing and rock music) as immoral acts,” Craig Kupferberg said.
Members of a fundamentalist American church group planning to stage a protest at the funeral for a Winnipeg man brutally killed on a Greyhound bus have managed to enter Canada, a spokeswoman told CBC News on Friday.
Canadian border guards are under orders to prevent members the Westboro Baptist Church, a controversial Kansas-based sect, from entering the country.
The group intends to picket the funeral of 22-year-old Tim McLean to tell Canadians his slaying on July 30 was God’s response to Canadian policies enabling abortion, homosexuality and divorce and remarriage.
Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day’s office sent an alert to border patrol to “look out” for people with signs and pamphlets consistent with the messages that the church promotes and to keep them out of the country.
Shirley Phelps-Roper, daughter of church founder Fred Phelps, said a group of church members was turned away from a border crossing at Niagara Falls, but a small group did manage to get into Manitoba overnight.
“They were looking for picket signs and they were looking for leaflets. Well, we don’t do leaflets, and the picket signs, you know, Fed Ex ships them overnight,” she said.
However, Phelps-Roper said the reaction the group has raised from some police and public officials has her questioning whether the planned protest will go ahead.
“The question to my mind [is] whether or not we ought to get them the heck out of that country, because that’s some crazy stuff when you’ve got your officials talking like they are in a back-alley brawl and not government officials who took an oath to obey the law and so forth.”
Phelps-Roper said she would advise church members not to go ahead with the protest if there is a concern they might be arrested or harmed.
A counter-protest against the church’s picket plans was launched on the social networking site Facebook on Thursday.
More than 700 people have since joined the group; postings indicate they plan to form a “human wall” around the family to shield them from the church protest, if it takes place.
Winnipeg NDP MP Pat Martin said the group should be “sent packing,” and should not try to show up in Winnipeg “for their own safety.”
“We’re not going to allow these people to compound the tragedy of the McLean family loss, and Canadians simply won’t tolerate these lunatics disrupting what should be a respectful service,” he told CBC News on Friday.
“Your freedom to swing your arm in the air ends when it touches the end of my nose,” he added. “What these people were going to do was hurtful, harmful and disruptive to the peace, order and good government that we guarantee to our citizens, so they have no place in this country.”
Yes, we know how demented and idiotic the westboro baptist church is, but it’s always fun to see the retarded crap phelps has to say. Phelps, being a pedophile, feels it necessary to shift attention away onto the lifestyles of others, such as the late Heath Ledger and his family.
-Thanks to Clint for this one.