Groping Priest in NJ Back to Working With Kids Despite ‘Binding’ Promise; Archbishop Approves

How strongly does the Catholic Church believe in rooting out child abuse? This strongly:

Six years ago, to avoid retrial on charges that he groped a teenage boy, the Rev. Michael Fugee entered a rehabilitation program, underwent counseling for sex offenders and signed a binding agreement that would dictate the remainder of his life as a Roman Catholic priest.

Fugee would not work in any position involving children, the agreement with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office states. He would have no affiliation with youth groups. He would not attend youth retreats. He would not hear the confessions of minors.

But Fugee has openly done all of those things for the past several years through an unofficial association with a Monmouth County church, St. Mary’s Parish in Colts Neck.

1 gaxxpope ARISTIDE

But it’s OK — you see, Newark Archbishop John J. Myers approves. And as a man who, when it gets down to it, only has to obey God, he’s above any earthly “binding agreements.”

Fugee was charged with criminal sexual contact in 2001 after he was accused of fondling the genitals of a 14-year-old boy during wrestling matches on two occasions. At the time, the priest served as assistant pastor at the Church of St. Elizabeth in Wyckoff. …

[Since the binding agreement,] he has attended weekend youth retreats in Marlboro and on the shores of Lake Hopatcong in Mount Arlington, parishioners say. Fugee also has traveled with members of the St. Mary’s youth group on an annual pilgrimage to Canada. At all three locations, he has heard confessions from minors behind closed doors. What’s more, he has done so with the approval of New Jersey’s highest-ranking Catholic official, Newark Archbishop John J. Myers [in photo, via the Star Ledger].

The agreement, allowing the groping priest to escape more serious judicial consequences, was signed by Fugee himself; and also by the archdiocese’s vicar general, on behalf of Archbishop Myers.

What Do Angels Look Like? Expect Fierce Beasts.

Heaven may take some getting used to if you’re expecting angels to look like this.


Or like this.


Because in fact, the Bible and its most learned promoters say, the divine realm of god is populated by angels that may look something like this (but, glory be, with six wings each):


I learned this today from Dr. Tom Lovorn, pastor of God’s Storehouse Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia. The reverend doesn’t publish his Biblical insights in a photocopied church bulletin or on a dinky religious website, but instead kindly enlightens folks through an honest-to-god weekly column in the mostly fact-based Progress-Index newspaper in Petersburg, VA.

Today, Lovorn shines his light on Revelation 4:6-8, which reads:

“Round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast was like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within.”

Lovorn believes the creatures in Revelation are a special kind of angels called Cherubim. Surprise:

A cherub is not a baby angel with a bow, rather it is a fierce beast created to guard the holy things of God. …

The Cherubim seem to represent the pinnacle of all creation serving God. Maybe they were the prototypes of the individual creatures (bovine, lion, eagle, man) that God would make later since angels were created before God made the world and its inhabitants (Job 38:7). … They are a part of the mystery of God and the beings who serve him. In Biblical symbolism many eyes represent wisdom. These creatures, being full of eyes, are not dangerous to us; but they have all the wisdom they need to counter Satan’s wicked schemes.

Speaking of wisdom, the scholarly columnist is not your average professional horseshit peddler pastor. He has the highest academic degree, a doctorate (in theology). Between that and the Bible apparently being literally true, lesser-educated inferiors like myself clearly shouldn’t bet against Lovorn’s angel-related revelations.



“Unless you’re a physician or a dentist, calling yourself Dr. is generally a sign of low status and insecurity. It’s like using Comic Sans; to those in the know, it is a bad signal.” —Virginia Postrel

[topmost angel images via editingmyspace] 

Pastor Blew Members’ Cash on Jewelry, Cruise

Another paragon of virtue:

An associate pastor of a Fort Smith [Arkansas] church has agreed to pay back money that he received from a church member to invest but allegedly pocketed and used for himself.

At a hearing Wednesday in Pulaski County Circuit Court, an attorney for Thomas James of Fayetteville, associate pastor at St. James Missionary Baptist Church in Fort Smith, said James will pay $66,500 to church member Renee Lee.


The Arkansas Securities Department accused James of taking money from Lee to invest in securities but instead depositing it into an account that he drew on for shopping sprees for jewelry, clothes and electronics and trips to various cities across the country, as well as an ocean cruise. [emphasis added]

The Securities Department also said in the complaint that James presented himself as a certified financial planner, certified investment management analyst and chartered retirement planning counselor, although no evidence could be found that he holds any of those designations.

James is thought to have taken other congregants’ money in similar fashion, and may yet face criminal charges.

This sort of fraud by clergy members is not uncommon. For previous cases covered on Moral Compass, see

Snake Oil Charmers, and
Pastor Crime Ring Involved in Petro Stock Fraud.

Jerkwad Pastor Jack Schaap Simulates Jerking Off; A Megachurch With a History of Scandals

I just found this video via Hemant Mehta. It’s footage from a Jack Schaap sermon called (I kid you not) “Polishing the Shaft.”

And if you think that title sounds kinky, wait’ll you see the reverend Schaap’s performance.

Would you let your children near this man?

Many did. Indiana-based Jack Schaap, 54, got some lovin’ on this blog last month, when it emerged that he’d sent hundreds of horny text messages to a 16-year-old girl who’d been referred to him for counseling. He eventually had sex with her many times, after telling the girl that that’s what Jesus wanted.

Keep in mind that Schaap — now behind bars for a dozen years — didn’t just lead some tiny backwater congregation. First Baptist, barely half an hour outside of Chicago, was called a “superchurch” in Time magazine decades ago, and can still draw upwards of 20,000 worshipers on a good Sunday. It is the 14th-largest megachurch in the country, and the biggest Independent Baptist house of worship you’ll find anywhere in North America.

Can you think of a simpler and truer indictment of organized religion than the fact that pastor Schaap’s flock remained not just obediently pliant, but in awe of him, while Schaap polished the shaft in front of thousands of children?

It’s worse than you think. The pattern’s been there for dozens of years, going back to Jack Hyles, Schaap’s father-in-law and predecessor. Read the astonishing exposé about First Baptist in the January 2013 issue of Chicago Magazine.

If you’re pressed for time, read just page four of that article. It’s a sickening compendium of sexual nastiness and violence associated with First Baptist: from adultery and physical abuse to child rape, from stalking and alleged torture to baby murder (yes, really).

These are the people who represent God?

Lecherous Pastor: ‘Here Kid, I Bought You a Dildo’

In Yuma, Arizona,

A youth pastor has pleaded guilty to a sex offense in connection to buying sex toys for a teenage girl. Robert Eric Warren, a former youth pastor, faces a maximum sentence of up to one year in prison plus three years probation.

The youth pastor is accused of buying sex toys for a 14-year old girl and taking them to her house when her parents weren’t at home. It’s unknown if the items he purchased were religiously inspired.

Warren is no longer with his erstwhile employer, Valley Baptist Church, and will not be allowed to be a youth minister again.


It’s possibly the best pastor-related sex-toy story we’ve come across since an Alabama preacher died with a dildo up his ass.

But we also really appreciated the one about the reverend from North Carolina who broke into a woman’s home and committed Grand Theft Dildo.

You’re welcome.

[image via Wikipedia]

Sect in Chile Burns ‘Antichrist’ Infant to Death

A three-day-old Chilean baby girl was thrown onto an open fire and burned to death in a religious ritual after a cult leader decided she was the antichrist — and that the end of the world was near.

Four people are under arrest. The baby’s mother, 25-year-old Natalia Guerra, is thought to have approved the sacrifice.

A police detective explained that

“They strapped tape around [the infant’s] mouth to keep her from screaming. Then they placed her on a board. After calling on the spirits they threw her on the bonfire alive.”

Authorities said the 12-member sect was formed in 2005 and was led by Ramon Gustavo Castillo Gaete [photo], 36, who remains at large.

Ben Affleck doppelganger Ramon Gaete

Ben Affleck doppelganger Ramon Gaete

At first blush, the sect members didn’t seem like the gullible type.

‘Everyone in this sect was a professional,’ [detective] Ampuero said. ‘We have someone who was a veterinarian and who worked as a flight attendant, we have a filmmaker, a draftsman. Everyone has a university degree.’

Police said Castillo Gaete, the ringleader, was last seen traveling to Peru to buy ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic brew plant that he used to control the members of the rite.

Previous Moral Compass mention of ayahuasca here.

[image via Mail Online]

Dirty Collar: Priest Indicted for Child Porn

Yesterday, on a sunny and otherwise normal Wednesday in the St. Louis Archdiocese, the formerly unthinkable* happened: Father William F. Vatterott was indicted by a federal grand jury for possession of child pornography.

Father Vatterott possessed the child pornography between June 2010 and June 2011. He is expected to appear in federal court to answer the indictment later in the week or early next week.

U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan noted that the St. Louis Archdiocese cooperated with the investigation.

Vatterott and sexy seminarian. Image via St. Louis Review.

Vatterott (right) and sexy seminarian. Image via the St. Louis Review.

Points to the other members of the Archdiocese for keeping their cool in front of the po-po. However, it’s now time to scramble, guys… who’s got the electromagnet?!

The investigation into Vatterott and his attempt to get shivved in the showers of the Missouri State Penitentiary began in 2011:

In June 2011, two teenagers contacted the Archdiocese alleging inappropriate behavior by the Catholic priest. Although no physical contact was reported, Father Vatterott was accused of participating in illicit electronic correspondence with the teenagers. One of the teenagers also came forward with allegations involving underage drinking and additional inappropriate behaviors that have not been publicly disclosed at this time.

A subsequent investigation found the Catholic priest to be in possession of at least two images featuring an unidentified nude underage male.

Vatterrot’s previous assignment was as pastor at Holy Infant Parish in Ballwin, which I’m not touching despite its obvious hilarity.

* Now banal

Orthodox Bishop Goes Down in Lurid Sex Scandal

Powerful Serbian bishop Vasilije Kačavenda organized orgies at which he and others raped underage boys and girls.

That’s among the sensational allegations that have been leveled against the holy man in recent months, culminating in Kačavenda’s tendering his resignation the other day, and the Orthodox Church accepting it.


One news report speaks of “a crush of lurid accusations that seem better suited to Caligula’s court than an Orthodox diocese.”

A key witness is Bojan Jovanovic, a former theological student, who claims he saw numerous orgies that had been organized or backed by the now-74-year-old bishop; and that Kačavenda personally asked him to supply young children for the sex parties. The lustful participants allegedly included other Christian-Orthodox clerics as well as prominent Serbian businessmen.

“They tried on many occasions to put me in a compromising situation myself or to pull me into their circle,” Jovanovic says. “[The bishop] also suggested that I should use the school where I was teaching science to bring him children up to the age of 10, but of course I refused.”

Three years ago, rumors started swirling around a photograph that showed the bishop in his extravagantly-gilded home with male stripper Dejan Nestorovic, who admitted to having a personal relationship with Kačavenda. Nice touch: In one snap, the two were posing next to what appears to be a Christmas tree.

After a Serbian newspaper recently obtained a grainy video purportedly showing Kačavenda in flagrante delicto with young men in various locations (you can look for snippets online if you’re so inclined), the walls came tumbling down.

Dusko Tomić, a lawyer in Bijeljina, says he has collected statements and other evidence from numerous sex-abuse victims claiming to have been molested by the bishop.

Among the people trying to get their story out are relatives of Milić Blažanović, a theology student who reportedly rebuffed advances from Kačavenda. Blažanović later died under mystifying circumstances in a remote monastery — when a bomb exploded in his room. It would be an odd way to commit suicide, especially for a usually cheerful young man with no known history of depression, but that’s the conclusion investigators reached — that Blažanović killed himself. The official finding didn’t stop unsubstantiated rumors that the bishop had had a hand in his death.

Other people, too, have recently slung accusations against Kačavenda, including a Bosnian Muslim girl who said the bishop had forced her to convert to Christianity and then raped her when she was 16.

Kačavenda napušta svoj tron | Društvo |

Tomić, himself a follower of the Church, is incredulous over what he’s learned, and predicts that other careers will sustain damage in the sex-scandal fallout.

“When I read all the information and all the reports from different people that he abused, from people to whom he did much harm, I’m shocked as an Orthodox believer and as a human being that this kind of person is still present in public life. Kačavenda became a politician. And let’s not forget that he is a general of the Serbian Army. Let’s not forget that he’s a close friend of [Serb Republic President Milorad] Dodik and a lot of influential businessmen and entrepreneurs. All of them are in big trouble now.”

Kačavenda’s friendly relations with people in high places go back decades. He was said to be close to Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić, later accused of genocidal war crimes (each man is sometimes referred to as the “Butcher of Bosnia”).

Kačavenda denies all charges of sexual abuse and other crimes. On Monday, he threatened to sue those who had “smeared and slandered him.”

The Church, in accepting his resignation, never mentioned the scandals, stating instead that the bishop was stepping down for health reasons.

That’s not to say that Church leaders aren’t vigilant about fighting immorality. Serbian Patriarch Iriniej recently has been vocal in his opposition to a planned gay-pride march in Belgrade, saying that such an event would cast a “moral shadow” over the country.

[top image via zokstersomething; bottom image via Novosti]

Christians Offer Human Sacrifices: Their Own Kids

It’s not a new case, but this one just came to my attention in the wake of the news about Herbert and Catherine Schaible. The Schaibles, if you’ll recall, are the fundamentalist Christians from Philly whose kids keep dying because mommy and daddy believe in prayer, not doctors.

They would get along fabulously with Susan Grady, a mother from Oklahoma. Last year, Grady was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for refusing to call a doctor for her son Aaron. Instead, she prayed and prayed, but God didn’t listen. Aaron, who had complications from diabetes, died, two months shy of his 10th birthday.

Susan Grady [photo] told detectives that she did not consider taking Aaron to the doctor. She told them that “I was trying to live by faith and I felt like God would heal him,” according to the affidavit.



Two and a half years isn’t much for knowingly causing your child’s death, but it’s better than what the Schaibles got after their first kid died — nothing but probation. Their youngest, still a baby, paid the price for the court’s soft-hearted verdict: he’ll join his older brother six feet under when the autopsy is done.

I hope the parents will buy him a pretty headstone. Maybe an engraved Bible verse from Genesis 22 would be nice.

Living (& Dying) in a Country Called ‘The Savior’

One reason I’d have a hard time living in El Salvador is because of its name. Would you want to live in a country called ‘The Savior’? I’ll admit it would be a fine name for a church, a hospital, or possibly a large dildo. But a modern nation?

Another reason why El Salvador doesn’t greatly appeal to me is because its government is exactly what you’d expect of a country with that name — a conservative cabal of overwhelmingly Catholic theocrats, interspersed with a few believers in more liberal “liberation theology.”

The country has, as its patron saint, the Transfigured Jesus, “the Divine Savior of the World,” and believe me: if, by accident of birth, you were a citizen of El Salvador, you’d know it. Vatican-flavored Catholicism is the law of the land, which means, among other things, that abortions are always illegal. Doesn’t matter if the woman was raped. Doesn’t matter if mother and fetus face horrific medical complications. The powers that be will courageously let them die if that’s what it takes, because hey, God (or the Savior) intends it. Que será será.


It could happen soon to a pregnant 22-year-old Salvadorian woman named Beatriz, who has lupus and kidney disease.

Doctors say Beatriz could die if she continues with the pregnancy, but have not yet treated her because they fear that if they end the pregnancy they might be prosecuted under the country’s total ban on abortion…

The country’s penal code states that anyone seeking or carrying out an abortion could be given a long prison sentence. This means both doctors and Beatriz would be at risk of imprisonment if a termination is carried out.

The medical staff is in a bind: the law gives them no power, no leeway, no discretion. There’s no Good Samaritan statute.

Beatriz’s case reminds me of that of a Brazilian nine-year-old who, in 2009, got pregnant with twins after she’d been raped by her father. Her pelvic structure and uterus weren’t developed enough to expel the babies if she’d tried to carry them to full term. Doctors decided to terminate the pregnancy and save the girl’s life.

The Catholic Church in Brazil was livid. Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho reportedly excommunicated the girl’s mother, the doctors, and other people involved in the abortion. (No word on whether the father was punished too.) The way the Church saw it, the moment the daddy’s sacred sperm combined with the girl’s divine eggs to form the Precious Miracle of Life, the prepubescent rape and incest victim was catholically obligated to carry the twins to term — and to die in the process.

Rather than rage about it all, the Monty Python team, decades ago, found a better way to deal with these absurdities (see below).

Of course, neither anger nor comic relief will save Beatriz’ life. Only the pious Salvadorian men in charge, and the Catholic authorities they serve, now hold that awesome power. May they use it wisely.

Mommie Dearest: Mother Beats Seven-Year-Old Son to Death for Failing to Memorize Quran

I’ve wanted my two young daughters to learn to recite the Sneetches, by Dr. Seuss. Also, Tom Lehrer’s the Elements.

The girls do pretty well, but not perfectly. Although they fall short, and frequently miss words and lines, surely it would be a bit unreasonable for me to beat them to death for not performing better.

But change the book, and suddenly the need for kids to study the text deeply and perhaps even learn it by heart is deemed crucial by the most pious of the faithful. So crucial that if junior fails, physical punishment may be in order. And, in rare cases, death.

So I give you … the mother who beat who beat her seven-year-old son to death for failing to learn the Qur’an by heart — and who then burned his body in an attempt to hide her crime.

Upon hearing her sentence (life in jail with the possibility of parole),

Sara Ege, 33, collapsed and had to be helped sobbing from the dock after being told on Monday she would serve 17 years before she could be considered for parole.

Cardiff crown court heard that Ege treated her son Yaseen “like a dog” when he struggled to memorise passages of the holy book of Islam. She beat him on the hands and his body until he collapsed on the floor of his bedroom and died.


Ege used barbecue lighting gel to set fire to the boy’s body to try to conceal what she had done. Initially emergency services believed he had been killed in a fire at the family home in Pontcanna, Cardiff. But a postmortem revealed he had died before the fire had begun and had suffered multiple injuries to his body caused by three months of physical punishment.

Did no one notice? Yes, but no one helped. Every adult in his life failed the boy, starting with his own mother.

A teaching assistant at the boy’s school noticed that his handwriting was deteriorating and discovered he was using his left hand because it was too painful for him to use his right. On another occasion Ege was called into school because [Yaseen] was in too much pain to sit. She moved him to a new school.

And soon it was too late.

Ege initially felt twinges of remorse when she beat Yaseen all over his body. Now and then, she’d promise herself she’d stop, but the anger was a rush — a form of letting go.

As her violence spiraled more and more out of control, Ege’s sense that she was responsible for her own actions gave way to religion’s most delusional and fatal side:

She claimed she had been urged on by the devil and bad spirits. At one point she believed the stick she used to punish her son was possessed by an evil spirit.

She hadn’t done it — the devil had. But the court didn’t buy it, and it’ll be 2030 or later before Sara Ege is a free woman again.


P.S.: It happens among (so-called) Christians too:

Obey the Lord and Beat Your Kid to Death

Baby Starved To Death Because He Would Not Say Amen

Battle of the Books

Now that’s worth a try.

Twitter _ Biblebabble_ Want christians to understand ...