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Monday, February 4, 2013

Youth Pastor Watch

Posted by on Mon, Feb 4, 2013 at 8:25 AM

SOUTH CAROLINA: "A former youth pastor at a Huntersville church was convicted of child sex crimes by a Mecklenburg County jury Thursday. Thaddeus Stephen MacMoran, 27, was found guilty for a statutory sex offense against a person either 13, 14 or 15 years old, a crime against nature and four counts of taking indecent liberties with a child. 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."

OKLAHOMA: "A former Coalgate youth pastor will spend the next 10 years in prison for sex crimes against a young girl. 28-year-old Dustin Werneburg pleaded guilty Thursday to two of the eight charges against him in a plea deal with prosecutors. Police arrested Werneburg last November in Blanchard, Oklahoma, where he was working as a teacher's aide. He resigned last August as the youth pastor at First Baptist Church in Coalgate when a parent came forward, and police began looking into inappropriate text messages he had exchanged with a female youth group member."

NORTH CAROLINA: "Theldon Williams Jr., 44, faced a judge Tuesday, charged with one count of statutory rape and one count of indecent liberties with a child. Warrants state the child was 14 at the time of the relationship, which authorities say took place during the course of a month's time this past fall.... 'He is actually a minister—to have him on statutory rape? We are just trying to figure out what's going on with the case,' said Errico Moore, a family member."


Comments (22) RSS

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SRJ 22
I approve of YPW because of the sanctimonious self-importance of all too many members of the religion biz. Like that douche who made a point of writing "Pastor" by her signature on the bill where she refused to tip the waitress (whom she later had fired), and like those who drive around with "Clergy" stickers on their cars, as if it meant "9-11 First Responder" or something...

A friend of mine who has a counseling practice (and whose fellow counselor is a former minister) will not take on clergypeople as clients because they are so rotten about paying their bills!
Posted by SRJ on February 8, 2013 at 6:59 PM · Report this
Couldn't the churches have screened out these guys from youth pastor duty based on their frightening child molester faces?
Posted by J.R. on February 4, 2013 at 5:17 PM · Report this
Fenrox 20
Ugh, I liked it better without faces.
Posted by Fenrox on February 4, 2013 at 2:40 PM · Report this
@18 - If you plea, you've agreed to plea to a charge. You will have some sort of record. It may be a lesser charge, but that's proof that the prosecutor did not have the evidence to prove that the crime, as filed, was committed. As for dropping of the charges from church pressure, I can't think of one prosecutor that would ever want to appear soft on sex crimes, so I don't think that's a likely scenario. If charges are dropped, it's more likely that police and prosecutors were in a hurry to try and account for a crime, and they fixated on one person to take the fall. There's a great NY Times piece from this weekend about why police lie under oath. It happens. A lot. If people aren't convicted, they shouldn't be linked by photo to crimes that no one could prove they committed. Especially sex crimes. It could, and likely will, ruin any prospect they have at trying to move on with their lives.

If the tables were turned and someone claimed that you had sexually assaulted them as an act of revenge, or any plethora of reasons, I'm sure you wouldn't want you picture with the term "rapist" plastered all over the internet without your chance to prove your innocence in court.
Posted by AnonymousCapHiller on February 4, 2013 at 11:05 AM · Report this
theseamster 18
@15 - Excellent thought, but one possible issue: there could easily be a decent number who are guilty but not convicted due to reasons such as plea bargain or dropping of charges from pressure from the churches, etc. In which case, all the more important that these cases get some level of attention. But that's a tough one, to be sure.
Posted by theseamster on February 4, 2013 at 10:50 AM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 17
I like it because it shows that it's not just the Catholics who have creepy clergy.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on February 4, 2013 at 10:34 AM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 16
This news writes itself.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on February 4, 2013 at 10:09 AM · Report this
While I get what you are trying to do, you should refrain from posting pictures about those who have no been convicted. Especially given the family quoted saying: "we are just trying to figure out what's going on with the case." If he isn't convicted of a crime, you have just played the vigilante-media-justice roll made popular by Nancy Grace. What if he's not the guy, what if there was no relationship, what if the abuse is a fabrication or vendetta? There are plenty of scenarios that could play out, and you linking his picture and speculative crimes could help ruin his future. Perhaps practice Youth Pastor Watch with some discretion, and if you want to post, at least stick to those actually convicted.
Posted by AnonymousCapHiller on February 4, 2013 at 10:02 AM · Report this
@6 Yeah, what you said. I was thinking that when I wrote "take every means necessary," but it doesn't hurt to be more explicit. Good work.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on February 4, 2013 at 9:39 AM · Report this
I was always shocked at youth pastor watch, and I think it's useful to highlight the link certain aspects of religion with dangerous activities, but I am against restarting this feature if it means anyone has to do research on youth pastor crimes for an extended period of time.
Posted by AndyInChicago on February 4, 2013 at 9:28 AM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 12
I thought Youth Pastor Watch stopped because it worked, and the kids were all safe. You mean all this time, those youth pastors have been out there. Doing things. With nobody watching?
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on February 4, 2013 at 9:17 AM · Report this
Indecent liberties? crimes against nature? are these real, legally coded things? Seem very vague & wishy washy.
Posted by Foonken2 on February 4, 2013 at 9:17 AM · Report this
Puty 10
How about an epic reflection on youth pastors for the newspaper version of Slog that you don't even have time to write? "Youth Pastor Watch: A Decade Of Molestation" or some such thing?
Posted by Puty on February 4, 2013 at 9:14 AM · Report this
theseamster 9
Dan's from Chicago so remember: vote early, vote often.
Posted by theseamster on February 4, 2013 at 9:09 AM · Report this
--MC 8
The only effective way to get rid of Youth Pastor Watch is -- for these situations not to happen. Keep your control issues and your parts to yourselves, youth pastors.
Posted by --MC on February 4, 2013 at 9:08 AM · Report this
I voted in favor of YPW, but like @4 said, all of us loyal Slog readers already know about the horrifying predator-filled church programs. You need to find a way to expose YPW a greater, unenlightened audience.
Posted by digitalwitch on February 4, 2013 at 9:08 AM · Report this
Sir Vic 6
@5 I'd add that YPW is a reminder that organizations that deal with children need to conduct background checks and have procedures in place that reduce the possibility of harm to children. It's just too easy for predators to take advantage of poor oversight and no guidelines.
Posted by Sir Vic on February 4, 2013 at 9:06 AM · Report this
I think YPW serves a couple of very important public goods. One, is it warns people about leaving their children with nominal authority figures who may turn out to be child molesters. And two, it's a reminder that merely claiming to have moral authority does not mean you do, or that a church does. In fact, it's a poignant example of the worst kind of hypocrisy. A church wishing to present itself as a paragon of public virtue and morality should take every means necessary to assure that every adult or child will be safe under its aegis. Words, trappings, and Bibles mean absolutely nothing in this regard. Only actions matter.

But, personally speaking, I already know that horrible people exist, who do horrible things, in great quantity. I'm sort of already inured to the horror. So, publish away, but I'm not sure I'll really notice anymore. Hypocrisy is funny, but the same old jokes lose their edge over time.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on February 4, 2013 at 8:56 AM · Report this
nocutename 4
You're pretty much preaching to the choir here. But if you must. Straight Watch Rights is missed, but please retire those "every child deserves a mother and father" stories--they make me cry and give me nightmares.
Posted by nocutename on February 4, 2013 at 8:50 AM · Report this
Their shortcomings should be published far and wide.
Posted by PaulBarwick on February 4, 2013 at 8:43 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 2
Funny thing is, we worry so much about the safety of children in schools, where statisitcally speaking, a child is much safer in school than anywhere else, especially a church. Yet, we never worry about church safety for kids.

I can not find the stats now, but I remember reading a pretty solid statistical report claiming that the most unsafe place for children is in a church or with a religious leader, based upon victimization rates.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on February 4, 2013 at 8:39 AM · Report this
Also, Straight Rights Watch.
Posted by Chicago Fan on February 4, 2013 at 8:35 AM · Report this

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