4. Richard Rushton
Members at the Lighthouse Pentecostal Church in Jackson, Tennessee were starting to get a little weirded out by Richard Rushton and his videocamera. And with good reason.
For months, Rushton had been lugging his camera to church services. The only problem was that he seldom was holding it in the upright position, insisting on carrying it upside down on a tripod instead.
Despite several warnings from the church’s pastor, Donald Lance, Rushton refused to leave his camera at home, forcing Lance to call the police.
That’s when authorities raided Rushton’s home and discovered that, as Lance had suspected, Rushton wasn’t filming sermons, but was videotaping up the skirts of girls and women in attendance.
Prosecutors claim that their final case will likely include between 40 and 50 victims.
And it isn’t the first time Rushton has had a run-in with the law for his pervy ways. He spent nearly six years in a Florida prison for three different sexual offenses in 1995 and 1996. He’s also been a registered sex offender in Jackson since 2003.
His case will go before a grand jury in August.
3. Harley Michael Keough
When women showed up at the King James Baptist Church’s food bank in Gastonia, North Carolina, they weren’t really in search of the sort of hand-outs that the church’s 73-year-old pastor, Harley Michael Keough, had in mind for them.
But that’s just what they got.
Last week, six different women took the stand and testified that upon arriving at the church’s food bank, they were greeted by an overly friendly Keough who would lead them into the food bank’s storage room, and then promptly molest them.
One woman said she tried pushing away the pastor after he began groping her. Another said that after being fondled by the preacher, she didn’t cry or scream, but simply left the building.
Keough was arrested last November after one woman came forward and filed a complaint. That’s when five others also came forward and said he did the same to them. When asked why they hadn’t reported the assaults earlier, one woman said “I didn’t think anyone would believe me over a preacher.”
Keough tried to defend his sexual advances claiming that he was simply “loving” and ran a “loving church.”
Last Tuesday, Keough, who was originally charged with 10 counts of sexual battery, was found guilty on two counts of sexual battery. He received a 60-day suspended jail sentence and 18 months probation.
2. Jeff and Jeremiah Owens
You may have heard of Jeff Owens before.
As the head pastor for the Shenandoah Baptist Church in West Virginia, Owens recently made headlines when a YouTube video of one his sermons surfaced in which he says, “we need to stop burning flags and start burning fags. We need a hunt-a-homo week. We need to take ’em all out and shoot ’em with a scatter shotgun.”
Needless to say, Owens’ less than Christian remarks earned him a ton of backlash, and he even issued an apology for his vitriol.
But what most people don’t know about Owens, is that, while he was spewing such hateful statements about homosexuals and publishing books like “Character Lessons for Children,” his own son was busy sexually assaulting his teenage congregants.
Jeremiah Owens had his first run-in with the law in 2004, when he was arrested for raping a 14-year-old girl at the school where he worked as a janitor.
Though those charges were later dropped due to a lack of evidence, Owens found himself in trouble yet again in 2008.
This time, Owens, who was 22-years-old at the time, was accused of sexually assaulting two different girls, ages 13 and 15, who attended his father’s church.
Owens plead guilty in both cases.
Maybe daddy Owens would have done better to leave the gays alone and tend to the sexual shortcomings of his own child, first.
1. Trinity Baptist Church
Speaking of religious leaders who turn a blind eye to rape — we now bring you to the tale of the Trinity Baptist Church in Concord, New Hampshire.
This story begins in 1997, when 15-year-old Tina Anderson was brutally raped by a fellow churchgoer named Ernest Willis.
However, when Anderson reported the incident to pastor — it wasn’t Willis who was punished, but Anderson, because she became pregnant by her attacker.
Anderson was forced by her pastor, Chuck Phelps, to stand in front of the congregation of Trinity Baptist Church and apologize for becoming pregnant before Phelps and her mother had her shipped off to Colorado, where she was forced to live with another pastor and give up her child for adoption.
Concord police said they were never able to formally press charges against Willis in 1997 because the victim had disappeared and neither Phelps or her mother or any fellow congregants would tell them of her whereabouts.
It wasn’t until this year, thanks to a series of online posts left by friends, that Anderson, now 28, was finally found living in Arizona and her case was reopened.
As soon as Anderson came forward earlier this month, 51-year-old Willis was finally arrested on rape charges.
But despite Anderson’s story of being forced into hiding by Phelps, the former pastor has denied any wrongdoing, claiming that it was the police who dropped the ball on their investigation and never once tried to contact him about Anderson’s new residence.
Authorities in Concord are currently investigating Phelps’ involvement, but have yet to charge him with any crime.