Instances of Other Types of Abuse
Within Our Evangelical World Today


The book ‘Preying’ proves that child sexual abuse is present across the denominations. The following webpage is designed to prove that professing evangelicalism today is regrettably also not a stranger to abuse of any other type.  The following lists could all be far longer, but are merely a repository of a few examples of different types of abuse so as to alert us all to the fact that our beloved evangelical circles are not immune to these dangers.

We are busy with other pages, but we intend to add further cases to each category of abuse below as time allows. The current categories are: Violence Against Children; Sexual Abuse of Adults; Violence Against Adults; and Financial Abuse of Congregants.

IMPORTANT NOTE: In every case below, sincere professing Christians genuinely thought the criminals exposed here were true Christians.  Indeed, every one of the abusers cited on this page were ministers – and were therefore able to convince believers that they were worth following!  Clearly we Christians ought to be very prayerful as to whom we allow to have authority over us, and careful to monitor their subsequent spiritual health.



Clergyman convicted of boy's murder The Rev. Javan McBurrows won't face the death penalty.

May 08, 2004|By Larry Fish INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

Five years after beating a small boy to death with a metal-edged carpenter's level, the Rev. Javan McBurrows was convicted yesterday of third-degree murder. ...

Third-degree murder carries a penalty of 20 to 40 years. McBurrows is to be sentenced within 90 days. ...

"The circumstances were such that reasonable minds could differ," Maloney said, on whether McBurrows intended to kill 4-year-old Michael Davis. Intent must be shown for first-degree murder. 

Michael was the son of one of the members of Third Christian Church in Philadelphia's Overbrook section, where McBurrows was pastor. 

The boy's mother persuaded McBurrows to take her son and two siblings into his Upper Dublin Township home because she was feeling overwhelmed. 

McBurrows, known as a strict disciplinarian, repeatedly beat Michael and other members of his household for breaking his long list of rules, according to testimony at the trial. 

On Jan. 9, 1999, Michael broke a rule about bathroom use, and McBurrows swung the carpenter's level like a baseball bat, hitting him between six and 10 times. 

Michael died in a hospital the next day. 

McBurrows immediately took his wife and his five children and drove to Georgia, where he was arrested. 

For most of the last five years, McBurrows has been in jail while his attorney tried to prevent his wife, Jane, from testifying against him. 

When the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that Jane McBurrows could testify, her husband built his defense around the argument that she was the one who beat the boy. 

But Jane McBurrows and their daughter JaKatie, 11, testified to McBurrows' history of abuse. 



Rev. Philip Curcio, a Pentecostal minister from Allentown, Pennsylvania, was charged with killing his six week old baby. Curcio told authorities he was deeply involved in studying a bible passage when Benjamin, strapped in a carseat indoors, began crying. He admitted to pushing the carseat violently against the wall, although his statement did not account for the baby's 19 fractured ribs. The infant had multiple recent bruises. The minister's wife told officers her husband previously had dropped Benjamin deliberately, had picked him up by his wrists to carry him, and had hit the baby on the head with a spoon. She said that after the minister had pushed the baby's stomach to "get air out," she heard a cracking noise in his chest everytime he breathed. Curcio stated: "I wanted to be a good minister and give my all." (Source: Morning Call [Pennsylvania], 8/25/87)


Fort Lauderdale evangelist Robert Lettman was sentenced to 15 years for causing the death of his two year old daughter Tanisha, after striking her with a belt. He admitted that he often "chastised" babies with a belt. (Source: Miami Herald, 1/15,24/87)


The New Bethany Baptist Church Home for Boys in Walterboro, South Carolina was raided in connection with mistreatment of children. Sheriffs deputies reported that four young students cried with relief and hugged them when they were rescued. Forty-three boys were taken into emergency protective custody by the South Carolina Department of Social Services after two boys ran away from the school and reported being beaten, handcuffed to beds, and locked in a small, unlit cell. School administrator Olin King had run another boys' school in Longstreet, Louisiana which had been shut down in 1981 on charges of child abuse. … Police photographed bruises on the legs of eight New Bethany students. One officer described them as "black welts." A logbook reported beatings, which were administered for such infractions as laughing, failing to march properly and talking back. A three-tiered disciplinary structure involved boys "on bondage" in a "chain gang" who did field work linked together by a rope; "bonded servants" who did chores but were allowed more freedom, and "sojourners" who were excused from chores and allowed to ride horses. … Little or no contact was allowed with the outside world or parents. (Source: New York Times, 6/3/84; Miami Herald, 6/4/84)



Robert Leroy Tolle, 65, minister, was indicted by an Orange County grand jury on charges of raping his daughter and stepdaughter between 1965 and 1970. A trial date is pending. Police ignored repeated admonitions over a period of 10 years by sisters to bring charges. Tolle has been convicted of lewd-behavior charges involving adult women in Utah. (NewsChief, February 19, 2002)
Tolle Indicted

For further reading:



PACE, FL. - A Panhandle minister faces a possible life sentence after he was arrested and charged with molesting children and young adults who lived with his family.

Floyd W. Linder Jr., 54, was arrested by sheriff's investigators and charged with 9 counts of capital sexual battery and 3 counts of sexual battery. Sheriff's investigators also obtained warrants charging 2 additional counts of sexual battery 15 years ago when Linder lived in Pensacola.

Linder, pastor of Pace Apostolic Church, was being held without bail at county jail.

Santa Rosa County sheriff's spokesman Jim Lyle said Linder has been investigated several times for sexual abuse since the 1990s, but he was able to keep his victims from talking by threatening to kill his wife. But Beverly Linder died in May of a stroke and Floyd Linder was arrested after detectives again interviewed his alleged victims, Lyle said.

Linder's victims ranged in age from 5 to 24 years old when they were assaulted, records show. But Sherell Farmer, Linder's stepdaughter, denies her stepfather assaulted anyone. "I live right behind him. There's no way," said Farmer, 33 and the oldest of eight girls and one boy raised by the Linders. AP 10/1/2000

Pace pastor pleads not guilty
Child molester preacher sentenced; Pace pastor gets 20 years


FORT WORTH - Five women agreed to drop their sexual-misconduct lawsuits against the founder of a Baptist church in exchange for his admission to some of the affairs, according to court papers.

The lawsuits against Ollin Collins, founder of Harvest Baptist Church and a former board chairman of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, were dropped after Collins acknowledged that he "engaged in an adulterous relationship" with three of the women. But all five women retained the right to sue Collins again their attorney said. "We had asked him to apologize to the church and agree not to be in the pulpit until Sept. of 2000, and he refuses to do that," he said.

Four women and the family of another filed lawsuits in state district court contending that Collins had used his position to force them into "lewd, lascivious, obscene conduct."

Harvest Baptist Church, with 3,500 members, fired Collins in Nov.

The church and the women agreed to a settlement in which the church and its insurance company would pay $400,000 to the women and their families, the Star-Telegram reported. The church has paid about $100,000 of the settlement and will sell a piece of property to cover the cost said an attorney for the church. AP 4/22/99



In 1971 [Gary] Heidnik formed the "United Church of the Ministries of God" of which he was an "ordained minister". The church served as a tax shelter as well as a way to meet and sexually abuse retarded women from a local institute.

On May 17, 1978 Heidnik was arrested after the mentally retarded sister of his girlfriend was found chained in his basement. That proved a forewarning of his future behavior.

By 1986, Heidnik fully committed himself to deviant behavior and came up with an idea to capture and keep women as his "sex-slaves". He procured his first victim, a part-time prostitute, on Thanksgiving Day. He kept her in a pit in his basement and fed her only bread, water and dog food. Soon three more prisoners were added to his harem. By February 1987, one of his "sex-slaves" starved to death after hanging from the rafters for several days. A replacement "recruit" proved not to be submissive enough and was promptly killed. Heidnik hooked her to electrodes, forced her to stand in a pit full of water, and electrocuted her.

Heidnik proceeded to dismember the two dead girls and stashed body parts all around his house. He ground pieces of their flesh, mixed it with dog food and fed it to his other captives. On March 22, 1987, one of the captives escaped, told authorities about Heidnik's torture chamber, and led them to the site.

During Heidnik's trial, his defense attorney tried to blame his psychosis on LSD experiments allegedly performed on him by the military during his tour of duty in the 60's. The jury did not buy it and on July 3, 1987, condemned Gary Heidnik to death. On December 31, 1988 he overdosed on Thorazine and fell into a comma from which he later recovered. ...

On July 7, 1999, Heidnik, 55, was put to death by lethal injection by the Commonwealth of Pensylvannia [sic]. His final meal consisted of black coffee and two slices of cheese pizza. Heidnik spent the hours before his death alternately resting and pacing in his cell. He was visited by his daughter who later did not witness the execution. His only request on the last day of his life was for a radio to be played outside his cell and that it be tuned to country music.

After his death Governor Tom Ridge issued the following statement: "Twelve years ago, Gary Heidnik kidnapped six women. For four months, he imprisoned them in chains, in the filth and stench of a hole dug under his home. He raped and tortured those poor women, in ways that are too depraved and brutal to describe. He killed two of them, Sandra Lindsay and Deborah Dudley.

"So horrible were his deeds, a jury of twelve Pennsylvanians determined unanimously that he must forfeit his life. Tonight, he paid that price. In doing so, he suffered far less than the women he tortured and killed. Our thoughts and prayers tonight are with them."



Psychiatrist Paul L. Warner, who worked at the Christian Mental Health Center in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, was disciplined by the state Board of Medical Examiners for sexually exploiting two patients. Between 1972 and 1977 he had sexual intercourse with two female patients, including one whom he had hired in order to maintain a long-term affair (à la Elmer Gantry). He had been active in evangelical Christianity for 30 years, and taught Sunday school. (Source: Minneapolis Tribune, 2/5/86)



Rev. John Janney Sr. pleaded guilty to molesting three male foster children, following a wild attempt to elude authorities by fleeing to another state, during which time he tried to murder his wife and commit suicide. [He was] a pastor of the Calvary Bible Baptist Church, Bridgeton, New Jersey." (Source: Bridgeton Evening News, 12/26/85)


Rev. Donald Lewis Clark, pastor of a [United Brethren] church in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, committed suicide after being confronted with evidence that he had killed his two wives to collect on their insurance policies. His first wife Phyllis died in October 1981. His second wife Ronaele died in April 1983. (Source: Milwaukee Journal, 6/4/83)


Rev. Robert Tisland, a Baptist minister, died at the hand of his wife Lucile, a battered woman who was regularly beaten, kicked, choked, and abused, submitting to it out of religious conviction. Lucile needed permission to leave the house or drive the car and was never allowed to carry more than 25 cents. During her trial Lucile testified that she had memorized, at her husband's behest, five guiding principles: a woman must obey her husband, view her husband as if he were God and his words as if they were spoken by God, ignore her own feelings and thoughts, view marital problems as a sign that she was not submissive enough, and suffer, as Christ did, in order to help win her husband's salvation." (Source: Minneapolis Star and Tribune, 3/8/84)


Rev. Edward Fairley, a Baptist minister affiliated with the Calvary Baptist Church in Garfield, New Jersey, was convicted of abducting his wife at gunpoint from her workplace on one occasion, and of stabbing her repeatedly with a kitchen knife in October 1983. She spent three days in critical condition and underwent surgery for a punctured lung. Judge Frank Donato, Superior Court, Paterson, gave Fairley five years behind bars, rejecting a stiffer sentence because of Fairley's service as a minister and his lack of a previous criminal record. Fairley acted as his own attorney, lacing his defense with biblical references and claiming temporary insanity. (Source: Newark Star-Ledger, 8/1/84)


Rev. Loduca, a Lutheran pastor from Monahans, Texas, confessed to murdering his wife Mary, although the strangulation was arranged to look like a suicide. Detective work uncovered that the murder victim was a classic battered woman who had reached out in vain to at least three other ministers. Loduca confessed that he murdered his wife to retain his ministerial status. Divorced ministers are usually not tolerated in the Lutheran Church. (Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 7/3/86; 8/86)


Southern Baptist Rev. Grady Young of Port Angeles, Oregon was convicted of the shooting death of his wife Elva Mae, although he had arranged the murder to look like a break-in robbery. The murder weapon was found hidden in his home. Prosecutors said Young ambushed his wife of 38 years because he had grown tired of her and couldn't risk damaging his church position by divorce. (Source: Spokane Spokesman Review, 4/2/87)


Rev. Calvin Haywood, minister of music at Mission Baptist Church, was charged with fatally stabbing his young wife, Terri Lynn, 18 times in the couple's bedroom one week after she gave birth to a son. The minister first claimed someone else did it, then said he was the victim of a satanic force. (Source:
Brownwood Bulletin [Texas], 6/4/87)


Rev. Larry McKinney of Batesville, Mississippi shot his wife to death, wounded his stepdaughter, then shot himself. He was pastor of Nelson Chapel Baptist Church in Pope. (Source: Jackson Clarion Ledger [Mississippi], 8/26/87)


Matt Baker, dubbed by prosecutors as the "murdering minister", was convicted Wednesday in the April 2006 drugging and suffocation death of his wife. Jurors in 19th State District Court deliberated more than six hours before finding the former Baptist minister guilty of the murder of Kari Baker. Neither Baker nor his mother, Barbara baker, showed any emotion as Judge Ralph Strother read the verdict. On the other side of the courtroom, Kari Baker's parents, James and Linda Dulin, embraced, while other friends and family members sobbed silently into clenched fists. Baker ... is eligible for probation but faces up to life in prison. ... The defense rested its case early Wednesday without calling Baker to the stand. (Source: Waco Tribune-Herald, January 21, 2010.



Ex-Pastor Found Guilty In Embezzling $1M From Church

Thursday September 30, 2010 2:20 PM
UPDATED: Saturday October 2, 2010 8:00 AM  

A ex-pastor faces up to 90 years in prison after being convicted on Wednesday of embezzling more than $1 million from his former church. 

A Franklin County Common Pleas judge found David Thompson guilty of several charges, including theft, money laundering and tampering with records, 10TV News reported.
Thompson was convicted for embezzling money from The World of Pentecost Church, located at 3431 East Main Street, between 1998 and 2007. 

Prosecutors said Thompson spent church funds on luxury cars, a pool, a boat and hair treatments, 10TV News reported. 

He testified earlier this month that he used money from the church's building fund for his lifestyle, but said it mostly went to run the church. 

Thompson is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 1.