From: Elliott Finesse

Date: 2/27/96

They come in all ages, certainly, and all denominations: Baptist, Methodist, Evangelical Methodists, Jehovah's Witnessess, etc.

What seems almost universal is the ability of these "men of God" to fully rationalize their acts as harmless or simply a weakness on their part.

Even more outrageous is the near conspiracy by their respective churches and congregations to either cover up the incidents, pressure the victims into not speaking, or both. Another common thread is to characterize any accusations against them as an attack on the church or on God himself.

It is not as if they think these clergymen can do no wrong, it's that they don't care. It appears that, in some cases, religion has become an attractive option for the bigot, the hate-filled, and the morally vacuous.

Right now there are 1000's of devious and clandestine child molesting clergymen, priests, and Rabbis who haven't been caught. And what's worse, in a large percentage of the cases, the church tries to protect the guilty party.



LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Rev. Donn Moomaw, who was Ronald Reagan's minister for decades, resigned as pastor of Bel Air Presbyterian Church because of "sexual contact" with five women, the church disclosed.

Moomaw, 63, abruptly resigned in 1993, saying only that he had "stepped over the line of acceptable behavior" while pastor of the hilltop church. The disclosure Tuesday night ended two years of secrecy about his departure.

The unidentified women didn't file lawsuits against Moomaw or the church over Moomaw's sexual activities, which took place from 1983 to 1992, said the Rev. Charles Doak, administrator of the Presbytery of the Pacific.

Doak didn't say whether the women were members of the Bel Air Presbyterian congregation.

In a statement, the 1,700-member church said: "The prayers of the congregation continue to be with the Moomaw family. At the same time, we recognize the obligation within the Christian community to hold each other accountable."

Moomaw resigned after a group of fellow ministers confronted him, saying he had violated an informal agreement with them to stop counseling women seeking religious or personal guidance, Doak said.

Moomaw, a UCLA football lineman in the 1950s, wasn't present as a church official read the ruling against him before 1,000 people at the church. Moomaw had previously pleaded no contest to the charges brought before the presbytery's Permanent Judicial Commission.

The church prohibited Moomaw from performing any ministerial functions or counseling during his suspension, which ends in 1997.

Moomaw was named pastor of Bel Air Presbyterian in 1964 and soon was leading a growing congregation that included Ronald and Nancy Reagan. While governor of California, Reagan appointed Moomaw in 1968 to a four-year term on the state Board of Education.

Moomaw said prayers at Reagan's presidential inaugurations in 1981 and 1985.

Associated Press




VIENNA, Austria -- A cardinal accused of sexually abusing teen-age students in the 1970s stepped down Thursday as head of the Austrian Bishops' Conference amid growing demands from Catholic groups for an investigation.

But Cardinal Hans-Hermann Groer, the 75-year-old archbishop of Vienna, still remained silent about the allegations, first published 10 days ago.

Thursday's move indicated he probably also would resign as archbishop.

Fellow bishops initially expressed support for Groer, and newspapers in this predominantly Roman Catholic country were cautious with the story or even ignored it.

But as more people come forward claiming to have been abused, pressure mounted on Groer to break his silence.

On Thursday, Austria's biggest Catholic lay group, Catholic Action, demanded a church investigation of Groer. In addition, the main Catholic youth organization insisted on a statement from him to salvage what it called the church's "massively damaged" credibility. Earlier, the deans of four Catholic theology faculties had appealed to the bishops' conference to take a public stand on Groer.

The final straw for many Catholics appeared to be Groer's re-election Tuesday as head of the bishops' conference. Groer won only on the third vote, by a margin of 8-7. One bishop was sick and didn't attend.

A Gallup poll published Thursday by the weekly magazine News found 69 percent of regular churchgoers thought Groer should resign. The poll had a margin of error of three percentage points.

Even Chancellor Franz Vranitzky, who normally does not comment on church affairs, said Wednesday he "cannot imagine anything else but that the church, in the next few days, will go public with a clear idea of a solution."

There has been no official reaction from the Vatican. Groer, a staunch conservative named cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 1986, applied for retirement last year when he turned 75, but the pope left him in his post.

The scandal began with a report published March 27 in the weekly Profil. In the article, 37-year-old Josef Hartmann, a former seminary student, alleged that Groer, his religion instructor, had abused him repeatedly in the early 1970s.

Profil and two other publications later carried accusations from other former students, most unnamed, that Groer had sexually harassed them when he taught at an all-male Catholic high school at Hollabrunn, 40 miles north of Vienna.

The reports said Groer had fondled the genitals of some of his charges.

Bishop Johann Weber, a moderate who leads the Graz diocese in southern Austria, will take Groer's place as head of the bishops' conference.


Transmitted: 95-04-07 00:40:34 EDT


Charged with 14 sexual assult counts, Martin J. Louis, 53, of the Cleveland diocese, pleaded guilty to 1 count of rape and was sentenced to 5-25 years in prison. A 20 year old woman testified at his sentencing that Louis first molested her when she was 10 following a First Communion party in 1982, taking her to her bedroom for bedtime prayers. Louis had repeatedly raped her, threatening her with hell and telling her, "This is what all priests do," convincing her that her parents knew and approved.

A Euclid mother also told police she caught Louis fondling her daughter, aged 9, and told 2 priests but did not contact police until last year. "If it had been another person on the street, I would have been on the phone to police, but I thought the church could handle it."

A study done of Chicago priests revealed that out of 56 investigated, charges against 39 were "founded." What did the church do?

The report excused the behavior by saying

N.Y. Times, 6/16/92.



By SANDRA GONZALES Mercury News Staff Writer

Just days before his trial was to begin, a former youth minister at Santa Clara County's largest church congregation has pleaded guilty to eight felony charges of child molestation.

Pablo Gerald Boas, 30, faces a maximum of three years in prison when he is sentenced March 7, under a plea agreement negotiated by his lawyer and the district attorney's office. If he had gone to trial and been convicted, Boas would have faced up to 15 years if found guilty.

Boas formally entered his guilty plea late Wednesday. Neither he nor his attorney could be reached for comment.

Boas was an associate pastor at Jubilee Christian Center until he resigned in 1992. Authorities charged him with molesting four boys from the church, aged 10 to 15, at his Milpitas home over three years. During the encounters, Boas slept with the boys in the same bed and fondled them over and under their clothing, according to court documents.

Boas first went to work as a janitor at the church where his longtime friend, David Earnest Brimmer, 41, served as an administrative pastor.

Brimmer, who has a national reputation in the charismatic movement as a brilliant administrator and organizer, also is charged with several counts of felony child molestation and goes to trial next week.

Until their resignations, Brimmer and Boas were respected leaders in their 6,500-member church.

Bernal said he now does background checks on any candidate considered for a leadership post in the church.

Bernal said the molestations came to light after he confronted Boas about accusations some boys had made against him.

MERCURY CENTER ID: me13931m Transmitted: 95-01-21 05:18:05 EST



By SANDRA GONZALES Mercury News Staff Writer

To many of the young boys at San Jose's largest church, David Brimmer was a role model, a father figure to whom several single women entrusted their sons.

He lavished them with gifts and entertained them by taking them shopping, to dinner and on various outings.

But it was the sleep-overs -- a constant stream of boys staying at Brimmer's Milpitas home -- that started the whispering among the 6,000-member congregation of Jubilee Christian Center.

Brimmer, who once enjoyed a national reputation in the charismatic movement as a brilliant administrator and organizer, now faces ugly accusations of child molestation. And last week, though he denies the charges, Brimmer went to trial in Santa Clara County Superior Court.


The 42-year-old former administrative pastor at Jubilee is charged with 15 felony counts and one misdemeanor count of child molestation. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 20 years and eight months behind bars.

Pablo Boas, 30, a former youth minister at the church and a sometime roommate of Brimmer's, pleaded guilty last week to eight felony counts of child molestation.

Brimmer maintains the accusations of several boys who testified last week are "absolutely not true," said defense attorney Peter A. Furst, who reserved his opening statements for this week but challenged the boys' testimony during cross-examination. "He has never wavered from his position."

Prosecutor Ray Mendoza, however, described Brimmer as a powerful man -- the church's second in command -- who preyed on boys whose parents believed the church to be a sanctuary.


From 1989 to 1993, authorities say, Brimmer molested six boys, then ages 11 to 16. The prosecution says he fondled them, gave them sexual massages and performed mutual oral sex during sleep-overs at Brimmer's house, where they often shared the same bed.

One young man, now 20, recalled meeting Brimmer for the first time in the summer of 1988.

Brimmer gave him a ring, the young man said. But he testified that he later rejected the ring and the other gifts Brimmer gave him.

As a high school student, the young man said, he had no life other than with Brimmer.

After the allegations surfaced, the young man testified, he was hospitalized for attempting suicide.

Also in court last week, mothers of several boys testified they had admired Brimmer and considered him a mentor to their sons.

Another single parent said she at first considered Brimmer an answer to a prayer for entering her son's life.

Several parents said they had still wanted to protect Brimmer when they first learned what he had done.

But outside court, the mother of another boy said the ordeal

she said of Brimmer.

The woman said she is suing the church, which she no longer attends.

Pastor Dick Bernal said the case stunned the church.


Transmitted: 95-01-30 05:25:03 EST


By BILL ROMANO Mercury News Staff Writer

For the first time, former San Jose minister David Brimmer has publicly told his story of what happened when youngsters shared his bed overnight.

And the story is: Nothing happened -- nothing immoral or inappropriate.

The onetime assistant pastor at Jubilee Christian Center, now facing felony charges that he molested young boys from his congregation, took the witness stand in Santa Clara County Superior Court and proclaimed his innocence.

During eight hours of testimony that began Thursday afternoon and continued all day Friday -- an ordeal he called the most "nerve-racking" experience of his life" -- Brimmer acknowledged befriending the boys and occasionally allowing them to sleep in his bed. But he said his actions were well-intentioned and he flatly denied that any sexual contact occurred.

Once known nationally within the charismatic movement as a brilliant administrator and organizer, Brimmer is charged with molesting six boys from 1989 to 1993 while serving at the city's largest church, which has a membership of 6,000.

Prosecutor Ray Mendoza has charged that Brimmer fondled the boys, gave them sexual massages and performed mutual oral sex during sleep-overs at Brimmer's home. In addition, authorities suggest Brimmer seduced the boys with gifts.

Pablo Boas, 30, a former youth minister at the church and a former roommate of Brimmer's, has pleaded guilty to eight counts of felony child molestation.

Brimmer, who was discharged from the church after the allegations surfaced in 1993, has maintained his innocence. This week he gave his first detailed public statement on the case as he testified in the courtroom of Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Lawrence F. Terry.

The 42-year-old ex-pastor, who is balding and has a thick fringe of brown hair around his ears, wore a gray business suit to court Friday. He spoke in an even, steady voice as he calmly fielded questions from his lawyer, Peter A. Furst.

Characterizing himself as a naturally "generous person," Brimmer acknowledged he had given gifts to some of the boys -- he said he also gave gifts to adults in the congregation -- but insisted that they were not inducements or rewards for sexual favors.

The giving of gifts, he explained, 'is biblical principle, a biblical dynamic. It's better to give than receive, something any Christian would practice.'

It was also true that he allowed young guests to sleep in his bed, because he did not always have a spare bed and it was the most comfortable place for his guests to sleep, Brimmer said. He acknowledged that he sometimes gave them massages, friendly hugs and occasional pats and squeezes on their backsides.

But none of the physical contact was intentionally intimate or meant to arouse himself or others, Brimmer said emphatically. Hugs and other physical gestures were not unusual in the church setting either, nor was gift-giving, Brimmer said. They were practices that other pastors engaged in as well, he added.

Brimmer told Furst that he never considered any of the physical contacts he had with the youngsters as immoral or "out of the ordinary."

Asked whether he ever "worried about the impression" his behavior might have had on outsiders, Brimmer replied:

"Why not?" Furst inquired.

If convicted, Brimmer faces a maximum penalty of 20 years and eight months in prison. The trial continues Monday.


Transmitted: 95-02-04 05:26:12 ES


By SANDRA GONZALES Mercury News Staff Writer

A former minister at San Jose's largest church remained unrepentant Monday, refusing to accept blame as he drew a 19-year prison sentence for molesting young boys from his congregation.

David Brimmer, 42, bowed his head, clasped his hands and appeared to be in prayer when Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Lawrence Terry imposed the sentence.

Brimmer has maintained his innocence since the charges against him surfaced in 1993. He did so again on Monday, blaming court-appointed defense lawyer Peter Furst for what Brimmer called "careless" and "inadequate" representation.

A jury found Brimmer guilty of 14 felony counts of lewd conduct with minors, following a three-week trial earlier this year.

Brimmer, who was forced to resign from his position at Jubilee Christian Center after the allegations surfaced, was convicted of molesting six boys, ages 11 to 16, over a three-year period ending in 1993. Most of the sexual contact took place in his home, where the youngster had been invited for sleep-overs.

Brimmer's former roommate, Pablo Boas, also a former youth minister at the church, pleaded guilty to related charges -- eight felony counts of molestation -- and faces three years in prison when he appears in court today for sentencing.

Before imposing sentence Monday, Judge Terry told Brimmer there was no evidence to indicate he had received anything other than a fair trial or that Furst had performed incompetently.

Furst, who left the courtroom without comment after the hearing, told the judge only that he disagreed with Brimmer's claims about his representation.

During the hearing, Furst argued for a lighter sentence and described Brimmer as an "intelligent, well-educated man" who contributed much to the community. "He is not beyond redemption," said Furst, who said he will file an immediate appeal.

Prosecutor Raymundo Mendoza, noting that Brimmer failed to acknowledge any guilt, asked the judge for the maximum prison sentence of 20 years and eight months.

Parents of the victims also spoke in court Monday, saying the ordeal had shaken their religious faith and left their sons so depressed that they still require weekly therapy sessions.

Terry also noted that Brimmer had acted deliberately and showed some sophistication in choosing his victims.

After the hearing, two of the boys in court said they were relieved the case was over.

But some of Brimmer's friends who attended the hearing held steadfast in their belief of his innocence.


Transmitted: 95-04-04 05:48:55 EDT


Mercury News Staff and Wire Reports

A former youth pastor at a San Jose church was sentenced to three years in prison for molesting boys in his congregation, one day after the same judge sentenced another minister in a related case.

Pablo Boas and David Brimmer, both former pastors at Jubilee Christian Center, were charged with molesting several young boys over a period of four years, from 1989 to 1993. The men were friends and onetime roommates.

Boas, 30, pleaded guilty to eight counts of molestation. He was sentenced Tuesday by Judge Lawrence Terry. Brimmer drew a 19-year sentence Monday.


Transmitted: 95-04-05 06:29:31 EDT




DAYTON, Ohio -- A priest accused along with Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago in a sexual abuse suit has resigned from the priesthood, it was reported today .

Ellis Harsham, former head of the Catholic campus ministry at Wright State University, resigned to pursue other career goals and "perhaps do some teaching," the Dayton Daily News quoted his lawyer, Tom Miller, as saying.

Harsham and Bernardin were named last year in a $10 million suit filed by Steven Cook of Philadelphia, a one-time seminary student.

The suit contended that Harsham, when he was a priest at St. Gregory seminary in Cincinnati in the mid-1970s, repeatedly engaged in sexual acts with him and delivered him to Bernardin, then archbishop of Cincinnati, for the same purpose.

Last Feb. 28, Cook dropped Bernardin from the suit, saying his memory was "unreliable."

In June, Cook's suit against Harsham and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati was settled out of court.

Harsham -- who had denied the charges as had Bernardin -- was then placed on administrative leave.


Transmitted: 94-10-14 14:00:56 EDT

In Massachusetts Former Priest, James R. Porter is accused of sexually assaulting at least 70 boys and some girls 30 years ago and the number of victims may be as high as 250 or more. Porter is accused of raping the victims when they were 10 and 11 years old. One victim Dennis Gaboury, 41 who flew out to Boston to press charges said

Gaboury was raped as an alter boy. The priest took him into his office, locked the door, sat him on his lap, and raped him for nearly 2 hours. Father Porter warned:

Victim John Robitaille, now 43 said

How did the church react? The Diocese of Fall River complained about "the unfortunate manner in which allegations against a former priest have been made public." The diocese of Boston offered to refer the victims to other priests for counseling.

The Catholic Church, especially, has a long track record of shielding priests from the law. They have paid out nearly 1/2 billion dollars in civil damages and punitive damages for gross misconduct in shielding priests and even allowing them to continue their conduct.

* Origin: Hayward, CA//510-786-6560//28800 (1:215/130)