Friday, July 23, 2010

Destroying Evidence By Supervising Priest To Cover Up Sex Abuse - Asheville,. NC

July 22, 2010.

Deleting files on a computer does not totally destroy the files. With a little forensic knowledge coupled with the right tools, all of the data can be restored. Supervising Priest leaves board meeting to go to choirmaster's appartment to destoy sex abuse evidence.

Help reduce risk management issues by developing and implementing Code of Ethics policies and awareness training at your church and/or nonprofit. Call for training quote. 1-866-579-7475.

Read article below of alleged abuse.

Priest Destroyed Child Porn, Parents Say

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (CN) - When a Catholic church's choirmaster was arrested on charges of sexual abuse of a child, his supervising priest abruptly left a parish school board meeting and went to the choirmaster's apartment to destroy evidence of the crimes by deleting files from the man's computer, a girl's parents claim in Buncombe County Court.

The girl and her parents sued the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte, the Rev. John Schneider, and the choirmaster, Paul Lawrence Berrell. They claim that Schneider went to Berrell's apartment for the express purpose of deleting pornographic images of children from Berrell's home computer - some of which he had made himself. The Doe family claims Berrell, music minister at the Parish of St. Eugene, and music and choral teacher at Asheville Catholic School, is a serial child abuser whom the Catholic Church had moved from one parish to another each time his predations came to light.

Before in Asheville, Berrell had got into trouble for his relationships with minors in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, the Archdiocese of Boston and the Diocese of Memphis, the complaint states. All of these incidents were known to the Rev. Schneider, at St. Eugene Parish, yet Schneider not only allowed, but helped foster Berrell's proximity to minors, through assignments and promotions, the parents say.

Through this access, Berrell "singled out and groomed" their daughter for "his own improper sexual interests and gratification," the parents say. They claim that Berrell and their daughter had sex and oral sex repeatedly between 2007 and 2009, and that Berrell took numerous pornographic photographs of the girl, "depicting actual or simulated sexual acts. "Berrell was arrested in May 2009, and called Schneider while he was in police custody, according to the complaint.

Schneider took the call at an Ashville Catholic School board meeting, then immediately set out for Berrell's apartment to destroy any evidence he could find on the teacher's computer, according to the complaint.

The complaint states that Schneider "excused himself from and departed the Asheville Catholic School Board meeting; traveled to and entered Berrell's apartment at North Ridge Drive in Asheville, Buncombe County, North Carolina, where he attempted to delete from Berrell's computer numerous pornographic images of children, including, on information and belief, pornographic images of the minor child taken by Berrell; and then returned to the meeting of the Board of Asheville Catholic School."

The parents call this part of "a pattern and practice [of the Catholic Church] of knowingly employing sexual abusers," and "protecting" them. They seek compensatory and punitive damages for battery and sexual assault, negligence, fraud, emotional distress and breach of duty. They are represented by W. Bradford Searson and W. Scott Jones with Cloninger, Barbour, Searson & Jones, and Sean Devereux with Devereux & Banzhoff.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pastors - Enhance Your Mission Ministry Through Blogging

Is Your Church Truly "A Mission Church"?

If you are a church leader, shouldn't you be thinking about blogging? This issue keeps coming up in conversations I'm having with church and ministry leaders. Technology in the 21st century, is all about reaching out to people, connecting and networking to individuals through short and meaningful conversations. In today's fast pace world, connecting to many people at once is a sign that pastors can use to show their congregation that they care about protecting the graying members, yet reaching out to the now generation.

My consulting advice to church leaders....Yes, BLOGGING is one of many social media tools you should be using, discussing and praying about. In a down economy, blogging becomes a more viable tool to help spread your mission work to the masses and at the same time help strengthen your member's faith and spirituality one blog at a time. Below are five tips when considering blogging.

1. Blogs are a great way to connect with your congregation.
And... a great way for them to connect with you. There are all kinds of blogs and all kinds of ways to do a blog, but for Pastors/Priests/Ministers/Ministry Leaders blogging offers a unique platform for conversation that can create wonderful intimacy and connectedness.

2. Multiply your time.
Blogging is a commitment to be sure, but it is also a great way to dialog and stay connected with many people. I don't know that it will reduce the number of your inbound phone calls, but it will extend your reach and impact. And if done well, it's a great way to keep you finger on the pulse of your community.

3. Who is better to get the message out?
Your community (and the broader online community at large) are already listening to someone - why not you?

4. Encourage engagement.
Well done blogs are a great way to stir up excitement and participation. Church newsletters are nice, but you might find it is easier to muster support and engagement for the Christmas thing (a technical term for "whatever") by inviting last years participants to guest-post on your blog about their experiences last year.

5. You might just like it.
You might find that through the journey you'll learn things about yourself, your church and your community that you cannot imagine today.

And somewhat selfishly, as a Christian engaged in the web, I think we need more good Biblical voices in the conversation. The world wide web is loaded with people, opinions and discussion. We need more voices for truth sharing wisdom, insights and struggles. Honest interaction. Sharing the good the bad and the ugly. I'm not necessarily saying they'll pick you over the latest celebrity hoopla, but why not give them a choice. Dispel the myths that Christians are Bible-thumping arrogant know-it-alls.

We need more solid disciples authentically sharing their journey and willing to engage with others.

Thus I encourage you to prayerfully consider, should You be blogging?

Periodic Review of Internal Policies Should Be Implemented to Reduce Theft.

By periodic reviewing, monitoring and testing policies, many attempts to commit fraud will be reduced. The reason people commit crimes are the result of motive, opportunities and means. Motive is the "reason to commit the crime" (finance, the money that was stolen), opportunity is, "a lack of internal controls and poor oversight and governance by those who have the authority to enforce" (no one to prevent the money from being stolen), and means is "the ability to commit the crime" (the ability to transfer money to a non authorized account). Call OWL Risk Management Consulting, LLC today to discuss implementing your risk assessment. 1-866-579-7475.

Friday, July 16, 2010
La Crosse, Wisconsin Church employee accused of embezzlement
A former employee at a North Side church is accused of embezzlement, according to La Crosse police reports.Ann Carson, 47, is accused of taking the funds from North Presbyterian Church, 1327 N. Salem Road, during the past decade by writing checks to herself, then logging them in account ledgers as paid to someone else, reports stated. An audit revealed a number of checks had been altered and cashed for large sums of money, but police did not release an amount.Carson, of Onalaska, was arrested Thursday and is expected to be charged with embezzlement when she appears July 23 in La Crosse County Circuit Court.

July 14, 2010.
A grand jury has indicted a former daycare director at a Lexington, Kentucky church on eight theft counts.
A grand jury has indicted a former daycare director at a Lexington church on eight theft counts.WKYT-TV reported 39-year-old Marcie King of Lexington is accused of taking more than $115,000 while working for Southern Hills United Methodist Church between 2006 and 2009.Police said the stolen money was used for weight loss programs, vacations and other personal spending. The station was unable to contact King and reported she was free on bond after turning herself in.

July 16, 2010.
Former Brookfield, Wisconsin pastor sentenced for theft of church funds.
The former pastor of St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Brookfield who was charged this year with the theft of $9,300 in church funds was sentenced Wednesday to 100 days in the county work release jail. Leonard Van Vlaenderen, 51, of Cudahy was convicted by Waukesha County Circuit Judge J. Mac Davis after Van Vlaenderen pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of felony theft.Davis left open the option that Van Vlaenderen could serve his jail term in Milwaukee County, where the priest lives and cares for his elderly mother and aunt.If Milwaukee County authorities agree, Van Vlaenderen could end up serving much or all of his jail term at home on electronic monitoring, officials said.Davis told Van Vlaenderen to report to the Waukesha County work release jail on July 28 unless arrangements are made by then for him to serve his sentence in Milwaukee County. Van Vlaenderen was accused of obtaining repayment from the church for computer equipment that had been purchased in March 2006 and August 2006 with a parishioner's credit card but was returned for refunds, according to a criminal complaint filed in Waukesha County Circuit Court.

Van Vlaenderen used receipts from the purchases to request reimbursement from the church, the complaint says.The parishioner told police she had no idea Van Vlaenderen planned to seek reimbursement. He also was accused of using church funds to purchase a computer in March 2004 that was given to a Chicago resident, the complaint states.Van Vlaenderen has been under scrutiny since his arrest in December 2007 on a misdemeanor charge of possessing cocaine. He was convicted of that charge in 2008 and spent a year on probation. The church began reviewing its finances in December 2007, shortly after the arrest of Van Vlaenderen, who arrived at the church in 2002. An audit that the church conducted showed that the church lost nearly $128,000 over three years in thefts of cash from its weekly collections, and the audit found a correlation between the missing money and the tenure of Van Vlaenderen. Van Vlaenderen, who is on medication for clinical depression, said he was sorry for what he did."I apologize to the court, to my family, my friends, to the parishioners of St. John Vianney, all of God's people of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee for the hurt and disillusionment caused by my . . . clouded wisdom. Words cannot adequately express my remorse. I did wrong," he told Davis.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Thomas Jefferson High School Employee Arrested on Embezzlement Charges Finance Technician Allegedly Stole $279,000 from High School to Fund Gambling and Credit Card Debt

March 5, 2010

ALEXANDRIA, VA—Susan Thanh Litwin, 37, of Woodbridge, Va., was arrested today on allegations that she stole approximately $279,000 from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHS), a Fairfax County magnet school.

Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Shawn Henry, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office; and Colonel David Rohrer, Fairfax County Chief of Police, made the announcement after the charging documents were unsealed. Litwin is expected to make her initial appearance in federal court this afternoon.

“Theses are difficult financial times for many public institutions, and an employee who breaks that trust needs to be held accountable,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “We’re grateful for the help Fairfax County Police Department and the Fairfax County Public Schools provided to this investigation, along with the FBI agents who helped put together the evidence in this

According to a court-filed affidavit, Litwin served as a finance technician for TJHS since January 2007 and was responsible for receiving and depositing funds from various sources. These funds were used, in part, to support student athletics, classes, clubs, and other school activities. Litwin allegedly used the signature authority TJHS had given her to steal funds by writing checks to herself without authorization and by making counter-withdrawals from various TJHS bank accounts and depositing the funds into her personal bank accounts. From about March 2008 through January 2010, court records allege that she stole more than $279,000 through checks or withdrawals ranging from $2,500 to $35,000.

Churches, Schools, and Day Cares Embezzlements Are On The Rise

The month of July is rapidly becoming a busy month for employee embezzlement around the nation. There is a huge need for policy and procedure reviews and stronger internal controls to aid in reducing MOM (Motive, Opportunity and Means). For churches, schools and daycares increased training amongst the leadership will help to trigger and identify discrepancies in management.

OWL Risk Management Consulting, LLC specializes in policy analyses and risk management. Call TODAY 1-886-579-7475 to speak to a qualified consultant.

Thursday, July 1, 2010
Woman accused of embezzling from Okeene, Oklahoma church
Blaine County prosecutors have accused a former church treasurer of taking more than $176,000 from an Okeene church.Forty-eight-year-old Okeene resident Christine Mae Lorenz has been charged with two counts of embezzlement by employee. Lorenz posted a $2,000 cash bond and faces an Aug. 13 court appearance.

Authorities allege Lorenz took $127,748 between Feb. 1, 2005, and May 19, 2009, from one of the First Baptist Church of Okeene accounts, and $48,895 from another account during roughly the same period.
Lorenz's attorney, listed in court records as Matthew R. Oppel, wasn't immediately available for comment Wednesday.

Woman Accused of Embezzling $186,000 from North Carolina Church July 1, 2010.
An employee at a Thomasville church is accused of embezzling $186,000. Kathy Koonts Sechriest, born on Christmas Day in 1956, is charged with embezzling money from Zion United Church of Christ in Thomasville. Sechreist worked as a secretary at the church and lives nearby with her husband. Sechriest turned herself in to detectives on Wednesday. She faces charges of embezzlement of greater than $100,000, a felony. Arrest warrants show Sechriest is believed to have embezzled the money over the past five years.

No one answered at Sechriest's house when FOX8 went to ask for her side of the story, and many friends said they didn't know she had been arrested. Family members who did not want to speak on camera told FOX8 that they were the last to know that she was arrested. Some church members who did not want to be identified said they questioned why Sechriest worked late at night at the church and why she suddenly had extensive landscaping in her yard. The pastor at Zion United Church of Christ did not return calls for comment. Sechriest was released on $100,000 bond, which records show she paid in cash. The judge also ordered Sechriest not to harass, assault or threaten any members of the church. Her court date is set for July 21

FAMU officials accused of embezzling - July 11, 2010.
Two Florida A&M officials have been indicted by the federal government for conspiring to embezzle Housing and Urban Development Department money. U.S. Attorney Pamela Marsh said Wednesday that Eugene Telfair and Robert Nixon were indicted on charges of conspiracy, theft from an organization receiving federal funds, and embezzlement. Telfair, president of the FAMU Federal Credit Union, and Nixon, the director of FAMU's Institute on Urban Policy and Commerce, allegedly conspired to steal about $134,250 between 2005 and 2008. The indictment said Telfair and Nixon wrote one another checks and created fraudulent personal services contracts. Telfair is also alleged to have created false tax documents.

Charter School Operators in California Appear in Court on Embezzlement Case July 10, 2010.
The operators of a charter campus in the San Fernando Valley made their first court appearance today on charges of embezzling more than $200,000 in school funds.Yevgeny "Eugene" Selivanov, 38, and his wife, Tatyana Berkovich, 32, who run Ivy Academia charter school, are accused of taking the money between 2004 and 2009.They are charged with five felony counts of misappropriation of public funds, embezzlement by a public or private officer and filing a false tax return, along with a misdemeanor count of failing to file a statement of their economic interests for 2008, according to the criminal complaint.Selivanov is additionally charged with six counts of misappropriation of public funds, embezzlement by a public or private officer, money laundering and filing a false tax return, while Berkovich is also charged with a misdemeanor count of conflict of interest.If convicted as charged, Selivanov faces a possible maximum prison term of 14 years and two months, while his wife faces up to nine years behind bars, according to the District Attorney's Office.

The Tarzana couple started the school in 2004. Ivy Academia has four campuses, in Woodland Hills, West Hills, Winnetka and Chatsworth, and bills itself on its website as "one of the highest performing charter schools in California."The couple also own a private "for public" preschool, Academy Just for Kids, which shares a campus with the charter school, according to the District Attorney's Office.The complaint against them alleges that a school district auditor "identified several areas which appeared to involve commingling of public with private funds and failure to accurately report financial transactions in the school's accounting records."Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Hilleri G. Merritt ruled that the two will be allowed to remain free on their own recognizance on the condition that they make arrangements to be booked by June 18. They are scheduled to be arraigned July 19 at the downtown Los Angeles courthouse.The judge also ordered the couple not to use any Ivy Academia charter school or support funds or credit cards for personal use, including groceries, restaurant meals, gifts and clothing, and not to open any new bank accounts, credit cards or credit lines on behalf of the school."We expect that they will be fully exonerated in this matter and be able to continue to serve the students," defense attorney Janet I. Levine said outside court.In a statement released after the couple were charged Thursday, Levine said they are "educators and innovators, and are confident that any fair and complete review of the facts will show they acted honorably, ethically and legally in administering Ivy."In a letter sent to Ivy Academia parents, the school noted that the charges "will in no way interrupt Ivy's day-to-day operations" and that Selivanov and Berkovich will "continue to work at the school."The Los Angeles Unified School District's Office of the Inspector General began an audit of Ivy Academia charter school in June 2006 as one of several charter schools to be audited.The case was referred to the district's Office of Investigations in August 2006, then to the District Attorney's Public Integrity Division in May 2008. The state Franchise Tax Board also investigated the case. Charter schools are operated with public fund

House foreclosure at stake in Connecticutt nursery school embezzlement case. July 10, 2010.
A nursery school that is suing a former bookkeeper accused of embezzling more than $150,000 will be allowed to initiate a foreclosure on the woman's house if it wins the lawsuit, according to the school's attorney. Superior Court Judge Terence Zemetis has granted a prejudgment remedy of $250,000 in a lawsuit brought by the Guilford Nursery School against Joan Kathryn Ames, requiring Ames to set aside $250,000 in assets.A writ of attachment orders Ames to put up her Whitethorn Drive home to satisfy the prejudgment remedy."It has the practical effect of preserving whatever her equity is in the house for us," he said. Ames, who was the school's bookkeeper for about 30 years but no longer works there, was charged with firstdegree larceny in September. She has not yet entered a plea and is due back in court Monday.Initial police investigations alleged that Ames, formerly known as Joan Ames Berkowitz, embezzled $50,000. But further audits accuse her of embezzling at least $150,000 in five years.Licari said last week he is still receiving bank records related to the case and that the law may permit the Guilford Nursery School to be reimbursed three times the amount embezzled. That's why Licari initially asked the court to require Ames to secure $450,000 in assets.However, after discussions between Licari and New Haven lawyer William F. Dow III, who represents Ames in her civil and criminal cases, "the court entered a prejudgment remedy pursuant to an agreement between the parties for $250,000," Licari said.The decrease in the request of the prejudgment remedy amount "has no direct bearing upon ultimate value of our case or with the confidence we have in our client," Licari said. "The judge didn't order that. It's not a function of any analysis by the court as to ultimate value of claim."Ames' house appears to be worth more than $250,000, Licari added, but the court has also granted a motion for Ames to disclose other assets.Dow and Ames could not be reached for comment.The Police Department began an investigation into Ames' bookkeeping in fall 2009, after receiving a complaint from the nonprofit North Guilford Nursery School. As bookkeeper, Ames made all deposits and handled accounts payable, and court documents state she issued checks to herself using school accounts for money she was not owed and tried to conceal the withdrawal.

Frankfort, Kentucky woman pleads not guilty to embezzling $40,000 July 1, 2010
Frankfort, Kentucky woman pleads not guilty to embezzling $40,000 from day care center
A Frankfort woman pleaded not guilty Wednesday to embezzling $40,000 from a non-profit child care organization in Lexington for which she worked.Mary Tincher, 39, is charged with felony theft by deception of an amount more than $10,000. Tincher is accused of electronically transferring funds to her private bank account from Child Development Centers of the Bluegrass over seven months. Child Development Centers, 465 Springhill Drive, provides speech, occupational and physical therapy to children with disabilities. The organization also runs a day care program for children with and without special needs.Tincher was hired as a financial employee in August. She declined comment after Wednesday's arraignment.Tincher is scheduled to return to Fayette District Court on July 22 for a preliminary hearing. She was released from the Fayette County jail after posting 10 percent of a $5,000 bond.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Virginia Church Treasurer Charged with Embezzlement

July 2, 2010

The former treasurer of Bradley Street Baptist Church in Bristol, Va., was charged last month with embezzlement, accused of writing checks to himself worth $14,000 from the church’s bank account. Randall C. Sargent Jr., 53, of Droke Lane in Blountville, Tenn., was charged with four counts of embezzlement, an unclassified felony akin to grand larceny.

Bristol Virginia Police Sgt. Steve Crawford said Sargent was the unpaid treasurer of the church for more than a decade. The current charges date to April 2008, according to court records, though Crawford said additional charges are pending, some for thefts dating back five years. Police are still waiting for subpoenaed credit card and banking records from Bank of America and Crawford estimated the final total could be as much as $30,000. Sargent did not return a message left at his home Friday.

In March, a member of the church’s board of directors went to police after noticing some irregularities in the banking records. Sargent was the authorized signer on the church’s checking account and exclusively responsible for counting the money and paying the bills.
In April 2008, according to criminal complaints, Sargent issued himself a $3,000 check from the church’s bank account and cashed it at Carter Bank & Trust in Bristol, Va. Then in September 2008, Sargent wrote check number 5384 for $3,500, issued to cash, and cashed it at Blue Ridge Bank & Trust in Bristol, Va., according to the complaints.

In March 2010, Sargent wrote check number 5631 for $6,000, made out to himself and cashed at Carter Bank & Trust in Bristol, Va., court records stated. The next month, he wrote check number 5638 for $1,500, issued to himself and again cashed at Carter Bank & Trust.

Crawford said the leadership of the church is currently unclear. The board of directors disbanded and the pastor resigned, in part over the embezzlement investigation. No one returned a series of messages left on the church’s machine over several weeks. Crawford called it a mid-sized congregation, though he was not sure exactly how big. The church’s funding comes exclusively from its congregation’s tithes and offerings.

At the time of his arrest, Sargent was an accountant with Charles Bridwell CPA and Associates in Gate City, Va. The company did not return a Friday call seeking comment. There is no set sentencing parameters for unclassified felonies.

Sargent was released from the Bristol Virginia Jail on a $3,500 secured bond and is scheduled to appear in General District Court at 9 a.m. July 22.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Guns in Church? Jindal Signs Louisiana Bill into Law

The Internet is abuzz today over word that Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal has singed that allows people with concealed-weapons permits to bring weapons into churches and other houses of worship.

The bill does not allow people to simply walk into a church packing heat, however. According to the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, individuals must pass a background check and undergo eight hours of training per year if they want to bring weapons to houses of worship; the idea seems to be that they would serve something like a de facto security force.

In addition, the head of the religious institution - be it a church, synagogue, mosque or anything else - must announce to congregants that the weapons are being wielded for security purposes.

The bill, which will reportedly go into effect on August 15th, is the brainchild of Republican state Rep. Henry Burns, who argues that houses of worship in rough neighborhoods need the protection that a concealed-weapons security force could provide.

The legislation also extends the period to have a concealed weapons permit from four to five years and gives houses of worship the option to hire off duty police or other security forces. It was one of hundreds of measures signed into law by the Republican governor.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Are All REALLY Welcome??? – Protecting from Known Sex Offenders

by Michael Boutot

"All are welcome" is a common phrase on many a church sign and Web site. But what happens when a convicted sex offender is at the door?

Church officials and legal advocates are grappling with how -- and whether -- people who have been convicted of sex crimes should be included in U.S. congregations, especially when children are present:

-- Last month, a lawyer argued in the New Hampshire Supreme Court for a convicted sex offender who wants to attend a Jehovah's Witnesses congregation with a chaperone.

"What we argued is that the right to worship is a fundamental right and the state can only burden it if it has compelling interest to do so, and then only in a way that is narrowly constructed," said Barbara Keshen, a New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union attorney for Jonathan Perfetto, who pleaded guilty in 2002 to 61 counts of possessing child pornography.

-- On Monday of last week, the Seventh-day Adventist Church added language to its manual saying that sexual abuse perpetrators can be restored to members only if they do not have unsupervised contact with children and are not "in a position that would encourage vulnerable individuals to trust them implicitly." Garrett Caldwell, a spokesman for the denomination, said the new wording in the global guidelines tries to strike a balance between protecting congregants and supporting the religious freedom of abusers in "a manifestation of God's grace."

-- On Thursday of last week, a law took effect in Georgia that permits convicted sex offenders to volunteer in churches if they are isolated from children, HB 571 (read more here: Permitted activities include singing in the choir and taking part in Bible studies and bake sales.

The Rev. Madison Shockley, pastor of Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Carlsbad, California, which publicly grappled with whether to accept a convicted sex offender three years ago, said he hears from churches several times a month seeking advice on how to handle such situations.

"The key lesson for churches is this: The policy, however it winds up, must be a consensus of the congregation," Shockley said. "I talked to so many pastors who decided they're going to make the decision because they know what's theologically and spiritually right -- and that's absolutely the wrong thing to do."

Shockley's church will soon commission a minister to address the prevention of child sex abuse; the church also distributes a 20-page policy on protecting children and dealing with sex offenders. He declined to say how the church handled its admission of a known abuser in 2007, citing the congregation's limited-disclosure policy.

Beyond the thorny legal questions, theologians also find that there are often no easy answers to the quandary of protecting children and providing worship to saints and sinners alike.

"My own theology of forgiveness is not that it's a blanket statement -- 'You are forgiven; go and sin no more,' " said the Rev. Joretta Marshall, professor of pastoral theology at Texas Christian University's Brite Divinity School. "Part of what we have to do is create accountability structures, because damage has been done."

Sometimes, legal and religious experts say, crimes are so severe that convicted offenders must lose their right to worship.

New Hampshire Assistant Attorney General Nicholas Cort argued in court documents that Perfetto should not be permitted to change the conditions of his probation to attend a Manchester congregation, because "restricting the defendant's access to minors was an appropriate means of advancing the goals of probation -- rehabilitation and public safety." Barbara Dorris, outreach director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said it may be possible for convicted offenders to attend services if "proper safeguards are in place" but that offenders "forfeit many rights when you commit this kind of a felony." In other cases, the wording of laws has made it difficult for offenders who want to worship to be able to attend church legally.

In North Carolina, lawyer Glenn Gerding is representing James Nichols, a convicted sex offender who is contesting a state statute that made it illegal for him to be within 300 feet of a church's nursery. He was arrested in a church parking lot after a service.

"Technically, a person could go to an empty church and violate the statute if that church has a nursery," said Gerding, whose client was convicted in 2003 of attempted second-degree rape and released from prison in 2008.

In Georgia, the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights successfully argued for the removal of a legal provision that would have prevented registered sex offenders from volunteering at church functions, said Sara Totonchi, executive director of the center.

Experts say churches need to abide by state laws and be prepared to handle the possible presence of sex offenders, which could mean ministering to them outside the church building.

Steve Vann, co-founder of Keeping Kids Safe Ministries in Ashland City, Tennessee, said that children's safety must be paramount but that giving convicted abusers social support could help reduce additional offenses.

"We talk about covenant partners," he said, using his ministry's phrase for chaperones. "They're not just there to watch what the person does. They're there to assist the person in spiritual growth."

Andrew J. Schmutzer, a professor at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, is editing a book titled "The Long Journey Home," which includes essays from theologians and ethicists about how churches can both address sexual abuse and predators.

"The churches are on the cusp of trying to figure out what they can do," he said, " without scaring the public and without breach of confidentiality."

This is not an issue that will be easily resolved. And before we cast harsh judgment against those churches with strict policies, ask yourself how you would feel as the parent of a young child to have a known sex-offender in your church. What would you do? How would you act? Yes, we forgive…but there must be consequences for sin. We place significant consequences on those who desire to be in ministry, should we not expect consequences for those who violate the rights and freedoms of those most innocent, our children?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Volunteer Management for Nonprofits or Ministries

by Ophelia Livingston

In America, volunteers and volunteer organizations are a way of life. Volunteers give their time, talents, and treasures in many ways. Parents frequently volunteer to help at their child’s school, with extracurricular activities, or church groups. Children learn about volunteering from their parents, their teachers, and their peers as many public, private, and parochial schools require service of the students to foster civic responsibility. Young adults become involved in organizations to support their beliefs, such as evangelism, outreach, literacy, or poverty reduction.

Whether you are starting a nonprofit or ministry which will operate solely with the use of volunteers or an established entity with a paid staff who are complimented by volunteers, it is important to enlist the service of volunteers as a valuable resource- a resource that requires maintenance and management. Volunteers as a resource can save the organization money and increase cost-effectiveness, while they expand the organization’s capabilities, improve the quality of service, and improve community relations. However, these advantages require a significant investment and commitment by the organization in time, money, and staffing.

In order to create a successful volunteer program, nonprofits and/or ministries must practice due diligence in “volunteer management” through the establishment of policies and procedures for the program. When creating your nonprofit or ministry the following policies should be addressed:
-Recruiting volunteers
-Interviewing and screening for placing volunteers
-Orientation and training of volunteers
-Supervising and evaluating volunteers
-Retaining and recognizing volunteers
-Maintaining the records of the program
-Writing program reports
-Evaluating the program
-Advocating and educating the staff on the important roles of volunteers

Once a nonprofit or ministry has established the guidelines for the volunteer program, it is now ready to undertake the task of volunteer recruitment. Upon beginning to recruit volunteers, you must keep in mind the need for diversity within your program. To adequately reflect the needs of a diverse population, volunteers should be a diverse group of people as well. It is important to reflect the community that will foster a growing the client base.

Another aspect of diversity for your consideration is the fact that volunteers have diverse needs that the nonprofit or ministry will need to address. Most importantly, the nonprofit or ministry will need to recognize the diverse time commitments that many volunteers will be able to make. Thus, volunteer opportunities need to have flexible time schedules.

Whether the nonprofit or ministry is undertaking generic recruitment, a widespread call for all volunteers; or targeted recruitment, a request for individuals with a specific skill, there are three techniques most commonly employed.
1. Individual Contacts- This is most effective on a one-to-one basis through a network of existing volunteers, professionals, or other key people within your local community.

2. Organizational Contacts
- This method involves the use of other organizations, such as volunteer centers, schools, service clubs, judicial court systems, and online volunteer portals.

3. Media Contacts- The use of the media to recruit serves two purposes, to recruit volunteers and to create publicity for the organization and its role within the local community and surrounding areas.

Remember that once a potential volunteer has been recruited the real work begins. The recruitment process for the volunteer program should involve the following “Volunteer Program Kit”:
1. An application form
2. A standardized interview guide that meets all of the compliance and regulatory mandates.
3. A written screening procedure guideline
4. Written procedures for acceptance and rejection of potential volunteers
5. A Volunteer Contract
6. A mandatory orientation program
7. An assignment procedure form
8. Development of a personnel file that includes all of the above.

Your volunteers are important organizational assets and another essential segment of volunteer management is retention of these valuable resources. It is important to continually make efforts to remain in consideration of each volunteer’s safety and security needs, social needs, and esteem needs.

Retention of volunteers requires a staff dedicated to the philosophy of using volunteers to accomplish the organization’s mission. Everyone within the nonprofit or ministry plays an important part in retaining volunteers, and your ministry and board members must cultivate this attitude. Personal consideration of each volunteer’s needs and nonprofit/ministry strategies to meet those needs can forge a bond between the volunteer and the nonprofit/ministry that is stronger than any bond based only on monetary compensation.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Rape Case: Sign for Need of Improved Safety Procedures at Churches

Written by Leah Jones   
Monday, 28 June 2010

Christian Web News - The recent rape of a staff member at an Oklahoma City church demonstrates the need for congregations to improve their safety procedures, says a church security expert with 30 years of experience in police and security work.

"One of the things we teach churches through our training is the vulnerability of their employees, especially during the opening and closing of property," said Jeffrey Hawkins, executive director of the Christian Security Network (CSN) ( "It's usually a lone, vulnerable person, such as a secretary, and that's asking for trouble.

"Last year we saw savage beatings, sexual assaults and other crimes – all during the opening or closing a church."

According to news reports, on June 22 the woman in Oklahoma City was raped and sodomized behind the church building seconds after arriving for work. The suspect, a part-time employee who did odd jobs at the church, has a lengthy criminal record, including burglary and violating a victim's protective order.

Hawkins said such cases emphasize the need for thorough background checks of everyone who is employed by a church or volunteers for one of its ministries. Churches that fail to adequately protect their employees and members from such criminals also are leaving themselves open to lawsuits, Hawkins said. "Even OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) rules stipulate every employer must provide a safe and secure environment for all their employees," he said.

The Oklahoma City tragedy follows the recent beating death of an 80-year-old woman near Wynne, Ark., at her church when she entered alone one morning. Hers is one of five murders among more than 35 violent incidents on church property during the first six months of 2010. Last year 50 violent incidents occurred nationally, including a dozen murders, Hawkins said.

The Christian Security Network ( is a national organization dedicated to the advancement of security, safety and emergency planning for Christian churches, schools, ministries and missionaries.

Call or email Ophelia Livingston to schedule a review of your safety and security policies and procedures.  Ophelia is founder of OWL Risk Management Consulting helping ministries develop and strengthen their safety and security programs.  1-866-579-7475 or