Religious News 2.24.15

Former police officer and current pastor accused of child sex crimes

The indictment filed Dec. 16 in Deschutes County charges Worley with 37 counts, including two counts of rape, 20 counts of sexual abuse, 11 counts of sodomy, one count of attempted sodomy and three counts of using a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct.

In the latter three counts, the documents state Worley “did unlawfully and knowingly induce (the victims) … to engage in sexually explicit conduct for a person to observe.”

According to the indictment, the alleged abuse occurred between Sept. 1, 2002 and June 30, 2004 while the children were under the ages of 14 and 12.

Deschutes County prosecutors would not reveal how Worley knew the alleged victims but did say they did not believe Worley was a pastor during the time of the alleged incidents. However, prosecutors told KATU they are concerned there are more victims.

Worley was booked into the Multnomah County Jail on Dec. 30, and on that day he posted a tweet that reads, “Stormy weather has arrived. About to find out two-things: who our real friends are and how our God glorifies himself. #Psalm35 #GlorytoGod.”

Worley is active on social media as well as his blog, called Pastor Jamie’s Blog, where he spreads the message of Jesus and offers advice on how to lead better, more spiritual lives.

In one blog post he writes:

What kind of witness for Christ are you? Are you an effective one? Here’s a better question, do you feel that you share the love of Jesus for the world with the world in a valuable way? I’m going to go out on a limb, using only my personal experience in conversations with believers of all ages and maturities, and say that you’re either thinking, “no, not really.”

According to biography on the blog, Worley is married with four kids and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Mississippi as well as a Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies from Multnomah Biblical Seminary in Portland, Oregon.

He writes that his favorite book is the Bible and that his passion is to “spend my life seeking the lost and equipping the found, all for God’s glory.”

The On Your Side Investigators went to Powell Valley church on Monday, but it was closed. Messages were not returned Monday.

Worley’s family declined to speak to a KATU reporter on Monday.

“It’s really devastating,” said Lily Prosch, a former member of the church. “Pastors are trusted individuals so why would you think to second guess a person like that?”

Prosch’s mother used to be a secretary at the church and she said her son still attends youth group there.

Prosch believed Worley also led prayer groups for youth at Sam Barlow High School in Gresham.

“That scares me,” Prosch said. “My son is a student at that school and I would hate to think that (Worley) would have any further access to my child.”

KATU left several messages for the Gresham-Barlow School District Monday. Messages were not immediately returned.

“If there is anybody else out there that was hurt by this man, please feel free to come forward and stand up for yourself and what happened, and say this isn’t right, and I’m not going to allow this to happen,” Prosch said.

Officer Worley: His “conduct was not a good faith error”

The On Your Side Investigators uncovered Worley used to be a police officer with the Tillamook Police Department.

He worked at the department from Sept. 1, 2005 to November 3, 2006 but his badge was revoked in 2007 for ongoing misconduct, according to City of Tillamook records obtained by the On Your Side Investigators.

“After considering the totality of circumstances, it appears that Worley violated agency policy, and was untruthful or deceptive on more than one occasion,” according to 2007 police review board meeting minutes.

The document states Worley engaged in “unethical writing of citations,” inappropriately responded to a restraining order, destroyed marijuana in the field, used the Internet excessively while on duty, created “sexually explicit advertisements,” and made unwanted sexual advances to a woman in a 911 dispatch center, among other things.

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A funeral is a rough time for the family and friends of the deceased.  One would think even a bigoted homophobe might still their tongue during this time of grief-if not for the departed loved one, then at least for the mourners. Sadly, a pastor in Colorado halted the funeral for a 33-year-old lesbian:

The Denver Post reported that hundreds of mourners had gathered to pay their last respects to Vanessa Collier when New Hope Ministries Pastor Ray Chavez brought the proceedings to an abrupt halt.

The funeral could only go forward in his church, Chavez said, if mourners removed any visible evidence that Collier was a lesbian, including photos taken with her partner, Christina, which he insisted must be edited out of the video.

The funeral-goers refused Chavez’s terms and the pastor canceled the ceremony altogether 15 minutes after it was scheduled to start. Fortunately the family and friends gathered were able to move the funeral — flowers, programs guests, casket and all — to another location nearby.

Many of the mourners felt that Chavez’ refusal to allow the ceremony was unduly cruel, a final insult to a woman from a marginalized community.

“It was humiliating,” said Collier’s longtime friend Victoria Quintana to the Post. “It was devastating.”

“A church turning away a funeral. Who has ever heard of anything like that happening?” said another friend, Jeanette Arguello.

Collier died alone on Dec. 30 of a gunshot wound. Police told the Post that it is currently unclear whether the incident was an accident or suicide.

Protesters gathered outside New Hope Church on Tuesday, shouting “Give us an apology!” and “Shame on Pastor Ray!”

Once again, we see that religion is elevated in importance over the lives of actual human beings. As so often happens, when that occurs, human beings suffer.

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I’ll admit it: I’ve fallen for some of the satire produced by sites like The Onion or World News Daily. Sometimes the “stories” they report on seem quite believable (often when the stories are about conservative idiotology).  Just ask Joe the Plumber:

The most recent bout of buffoonery comes in the form of a post claiming that an Egyptian scientist has found indisputable proof that Moses and the Exodus from Egypt is a historical truth rather than a Bible story meant to teach metaphorically.

Joe’s writer, if you can call him that, isn’t so much astonished by the fact that Exodus has been proven by a scuba trip to the Red Sea, but that mainstream media, namely CNN and the New York Times, hasn’t reported on it:

If the mainstream media isn’t reporting on a story like this, one might ask why, rather than assuming the story to be true. But not good old credulous Joe.

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Chicago-area imam charged with sex abuse at Islamic school

The longtime head of a suburban Chicago Islamic school has been charged with sexually assaulting a woman who worked there, and a civil suit filed Tuesday accuses him of abusing that employee and three teenage students. The legal actions shed light on an issue that even many Muslims say is too often pushed into the shadows within their communities.

Mohammad Abdullah Saleem, 75 – who founded the Institute of Islamic Education and is regarded as a leading Islamic scholar, or imam, in the United States – is charged with felony criminal sexual abuse. Prosecutors said he abused the 23-year-old woman, an administrative assistant at the Elgin school, in a series of escalating incidents over months.

The civil suit accuses Saleem of abusing that employee, as well as three female students at the school as far back as the 1980s. The lawyer in that case, Steven Denny, said Saleem took advantage of both the trust accorded to him as a religious leader and of the tendency of Muslims to remain silent on matters of sex and sexual abuse.

“This place was ripe for abuse,” Denny told a news conference.

It took special courage, he added, for his clients to come forward within a culture that discourages even casual contact – never mind explicit sexual contact.

The suit says a fifth person was abused when he was 11 by a male staffer at the school, not Saleem. It accuses the school of failing to protect children, many of whom lived on campus. It asks for more than $1.5 million in compensation, saying the victims are psychologically scarred.

It will come as no surprise that Saleem denies the allegations against him. Hopefully this case will lead to greater discussion of sexual assault in the Muslim community, as it is currently a taboo subject.

At Denny’s news conference, a statement from the 23-year-old woman called on Muslims to speak up about sexual abuse. She said, “I will no longer stay silent.”

The chairman of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, to which the school does not belong, says he examined the facility’s bylaws and found they granted Saleem almost absolute decision-making power. In light of Saleem’s arrest, Mohammed Kaiseruddin said Islamic schools nationwide should rework their bylaws to allow greater oversight.

Nadiah Mohajir, director of HEART Women and Girls, which raises awareness about sexual abuse in the Muslim community, called Saleem’s arrest “a wake-up call” that presented an opportunity to address a topic that’s been taboo for too long.

“The shame and stigma surrounding sexual abuse is even higher in Muslim communities, with its emphasis on purity and modesty,” she said.

Kaiseruddin said the matter illustrated that Muslims were not immune to a problem that has plagued the Roman Catholic Church.

“We found out that Muslims are burdened by the same (issue) other faiths are burdened with,” he said.

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I’m sure many USAmericans think arranged marriages only occur in foreign countries. This story about a young woman sold into marriage for $25,000 might shock them:

At 20 years old, a young woman was slated to be sold into marriage to man twice her age. For $25,000, in installments no less, her perspective groom was able to buy her. It would’ve been more, except that she had been sexually abused as a young child. As a result, her future husband got a “discount” as it were.

It sounds like something out of Saudi Arabia or some parts of Africa, doesn’t it?

Except it wasn’t. Her name is Jennyfer Deister, and she was a member of America’s blossoming Christian fundamentalist homeschool movement — the rest of the story, though, stands as is.

The Daily Mail reports that she was sexually abused in one of the four foster homes that she was passed through, before she was finally adopted by real-world cultists. Her family sold her to a man twice her age for $25,000. She said that she could’ve netted as much as $50,000 on the open market, but she was “damaged goods” as a result of her sexual abuse.

Jennyfer had no say in who she married, but says that her husband-to-be was a decent man.

I don’t care how decent he is. No one should be forced into a relationship and no one, but NO ONE, should be treated like property to be bought and sold. That’s disgusting. It’s also biblical, so this practice has some precedent.

Religious News 2.24.15