As leaders of religious congregations, pastors, both men and women, are in a unique position of power that requires them to be trusted by those that choose to follow their ministry. Regardless of which religious bracket they fall under, these individuals are the de-facto leaders of groups of people all seeking the same thing; salvation and a relationship with their God. With great power comes great responsibility, and it would seem that most of these men and women serve their congregation without much praise, and more importantly, without controversy. Unfortunately, some of the individuals quickly become the subject of investigations after allegations of gross behaviour, leaving many wondering how in the world they reached their position of power in the first place. They are human, but these crimes are simply outrageous.
The Catholic Church seems to have a dark history with child molestation, and many people have suffered at the hands of these individuals who, while holding prominent positions in the church, are nothing more than a group of pedophiles. This is, of course, not to say that all priests or pastors fall into this category. Such a sweeping generalization is simply ridiculous. However, there have been far too many cases of child abuse and molestation to ignore. The modern landscape of society is slowly drifting away from organized religion, and when stories like these get out, it only serves to fuel the fire of living a life free from religion. Though these individuals led congregations of faithful people, they were nothing more than disgusting human beings who committed horrendous crimes.
15 Forest Gibson – Battery
Where there is smoke, there is fire, and for Forest Gibson, one allegation led to another, and a subsequent investigation revealed a terrifying truth. The youth pastor was initially alleged to have been inappropriate towards a teenage girl, and after she came forward, an investigation began, leading another teenager to accuse the pastor as well. As it turns out, Gibson had in fact been inappropriate with the second girl, and his sexual abuse with her lasted for around 2 months. The Argus Observer reports that the two met at a church camp, providing an even darker element to the atrocities that occurred.
The disgraced pastor would end up pleading guilty in a court of law, and the judge was not lenient on his sentence. Judge Susan Weibe would swing a swift and just hammer, sentencing this child molester to 8 years in prison. He will be up for parole after serving a minimum of three years.
14 Donald Lafferty - Paying People To Burn His Wife Alive
For just the small fee of $20,000, you can hire two people to murder your wife in Missouri! Apparently, this offer was far too enticing for pastor Donald Rafferty to resist, and, instead of just getting a divorce and moving to Hawaii, Lafferty decided that having his own wife burned alive was a far better option. Hawaii sounds much better to us, but it takes different strokes to make the world go around. As reported by Southeast Missourian, Lafferty offered the couple $15,000 up front, and then an additional $5,000 once the job was done. Needless to say, this blew up in his face, and his sentencing was a harsh one.
Lafferty received a whopping 50-year sentence for his crimes, assuring that this man will die behind bars. Aside from the attempted murder, Lafferty was also charged with defrauding his own mother! Apparently, Lafferty was able to corral nearly $90,000 from his mother.
13 Robert Lyzenga – Setting Up Cameras Inside Of A Women’s Bathroom
Now, we have already discussed a case where a pastor climbed up a ladder to watch a couple have sex, getting caught and sentenced in the process. Apparently, he wasn’t the only person interested in watching others, and Roberty Lyzenga got busted for peeping as well, though his crime stems from cameras inside of a church bathroom. So, according to the Indy Star, Lyzenga set up secret cameras that were disguised as air fresheners in the women’s bathroom at his church. From there, the video files were uploaded to his computer, after which he edited them for his own liking. Not only did he edit the clips, Lyzenga even captured still images for his viewing pleasure.
The cameras were discovered by members of the church, and Lyzenga was quickly turned in. Some of the videos and images that were captured were of children as young as 5, meaning that Lyzenga was in possession of child pornography. He would plead guilty to the charges, and he would be sentenced to four years in prison.
12 Roy Harriger – Incest And Child Molesting
As opposed to the other people on this list who have elected to either attack children or try and burn their wife alive, Roy Harriger decided to keep things in the family, and this monster was charged with molesting his own children, and eventually, his own grandchildren. His sexual abuse of his own family members would take place over the course of 4 decades, giving his own children a lifetime of torment and grief. Not only did Harriger abuse his own children, but he also sexually abused young women that he knew from church. At the age of 72, Harriger was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his disgusting acts.
Two years after his original sentencing, a second judge sentenced Harriger to several more years in prison stemming from another reported incident from another family member. Sadly, there may be more victims of Harriger that won’t come forward, but they may find some solace that he can’t harm another child again.
11 Travis Ray Smith – Assaulted Young Women
This here, my friends, is an example of someone who got the O.J. Simpson treatment. Before he was finally put away for being an awful human being, Travis Ray Scott had already been on trial for the same charges, though he was able to get off due to a mistrial. Fortunately, the trial was brought up against him again, and this time, Travis Ray Smith wouldn’t be able to escape these charges. On numerous occasions, it was alleged that Travis Smith had sexually molested several young women, and he had even been charged with forced sodomy. These allegations stem from the events that took place during the late 1990s.
Once Smith was on trial again, a jury went to deliberation to seal his fate, and while they were deliberating, Smith just went ahead and pleaded guilty. Smith would be sentenced to spend the next four years of his life in prison.
10 Dennis Myers – Inappropriate Child Content
This is easily one of the most disgusting wastes of human flesh on this list, and his sentencing came on the heels of being in possession of child pornography, trafficking a teenager across state lines for sexual activity, and sleeping with a teenage girl. Needless to say, Myers, having one of the more atrocious lists of crimes, was a controversial figure once he was apprehended. Myers had a history of sexually abusing young women, and he left a trail of victim’s behind him. Imagine dropping your kid off at church only to find out that the youth pastor who is in charge of your kid is a massive pedophile. It’s absolutely disgusting that he wasn’t busted sooner.
Once he was taken to trial, there was little doubt that Myers would ultimately be convicted for his laundry list of sex crimes. When the dust had finally settled, Myers received a 30-year sentence, and this will hopefully keep him behind bars until he breathes his final breath.
9 Richard Mick – Molesting A Young Boy And Girl
Admittedly, when we first saw that these sexual acts took place in a place called Sandusky, we couldn’t help but have thoughts about disgraced football figure Jerry Sandusky, who, as you know, was subject of one of the most infamous cases in college football history. Richard Mick, formerly the pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church, was charged with molesting both a young girl and a young boy on multiple occasions.
Just last year, Richard Mick was found guilty of the charges that had been brought up against him, and he was sentenced to serve the rest of his life in prison. Aside from the charges that he was convicted for, Mick also has several other charges that are being levied against him, all of which stem from sexually related crimes. Unlike some of the lighter sentences that we have covered on this list, Mick’s lifetime sentence is the harshest, though it is completely deserved.
8 William Best – Assault Against His Own Young Family Member
This is only the second time on this list that we have covered someone who has committed crimes against his only family, and much like the other man on this list, William Best was charged with sexually assaulting a family member. After he was arrested, his victim came forward to tell police her story, and they were able to acquire DNA evidence against Best. Once the ball got rolling, it didn’t take long for Best to get what he had coming to him, and he was immediately fired from his position at the church.
When he was first arrested in 2014, William Best was held on bail of over $2 million. All in all, William Best was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the disgusting crimes that he committed against his family. Best’s victim was just a teenager when the sexual abuse occurred, and when he finally went on trial, Best pleaded guilty to his charges.
7 Billy Howard – Molesting A Mentally Disabled Woman
Talk about a truly dysfunctional and disgusting family. In Ashe County, North Carolina, a story broke back in 2014 that a pastor by the name of Billy Howard had committed unspeakable crimes against a mentally disabled woman who was in his care. Howard was arrested after an investigation that had begun the year prior found him being the person that we all fear our children will come across one day. This disgusting human had several charges levied against him, including felony second-degree sexual offense, and three counts of sexual battery, as reported by My Fox 8 in North Carolina. If this wasn’t heinous enough, Howard’s wife, Dianne, is no stranger to controversy herself.
The same news publication also reported that Dianne had once been arrested on embezzlement charges, and this stemmed from Dianne taking from her victim’s social security. Birds of a feather flock together, and these awful people are two of a kind.
6 Tyrone Banks – Assaulting Three Teenage Girls
Though he never held the full title of pastor, Tyrone Banks was the associate pastor at a church located in Alabama, and a few years ago, Tyrone was arrested and locked away for committing crimes against children. Several teenage girls from the church’s congregation came forward, alleging that Tyrone Banks had abused them. Initially, it was reported by WIAT that Banks was arrested for raping and sodomizing a girl who was just 13 years old. After this sexual abuse came to light, two more young women bravely stepped forward to reveal that Tyrone had sexually abused them as well.
The first young woman who came forward was actually raped inside of the kitchen that was located in the church, while the second was raped in his home. Despite only being an associate pastor, Tyrone’s crimes against these young women remains just as disgusting. Associate pastors do not hold the same responsibilities as head pastors, but they are essentially being groomed to run their own congregation one day. Thank God that this man was finally caught, and that he can’t harm anymore young women.
5 Joseph Hall – Assaulting A 12-Year-Old Girl
Often times, sexually related crimes are not reported right away, and we have seen victims of such crimes wait until they feel the moment is right to finally report this conduct to law enforcement. In the case of Joseph Hall, his crime against a teenage girl was reported 20 years after the abuse had taken place. Joseph was arrested at his home in North Carolina as his neighbors watched this pastor be taken away in handcuffs. Despite their confusion, I’m sure that these people were far less sympathetic when they learned that Hall was being charged with a staggering 14 counts of sex crimes with a girl as young as 12, as reported by WSOCTV. The incidents took place in the 1990s, beginning in 1994, and lasting through the rest of the decade.
Despite these even happening before he was ordained, it remains mind-boggling that this piece of trash was allowed to be ordained. He was able to hide his disgusting behavior for nearly two decades, and he was eventually caught and taken away.
4 Larry Berkeley – Intoxicating And Molesting Teenage Boys
What in the world is it with pastors/ priests and raping boys? Sadly, this has been a long-occurring thing in the church, and while some pastors/priests are good men, there have been a shockingly high number that have assaulted young boys. Arrested while living in Tennessee, disgraced pastor Larry Berkley had a litany of charges that were brought up against him. Berkley allowed young men to come into his home to drink alcohol and smoke marijuana, and he was accused of raping young men who were over the age of 14, but still minors. These young men were supposed to be able to trust Berkley, and instead, they found themselves in danger of being molested and raped.
As recently as a month ago, Berkley was once again in court, as the law continues its case against him. He has accounts stemming from incident in Tennessee and Arkansas, and things don’t look too good for the man. Should he be found guilty, hopefully Berkley feels the full wrath of the law in either state.
3 Damian Bonner – Lewd Molestation
Now this, folks, is a truly disgusting church that was run by people who had no business leading a congregation. As reported by News On 6, the youth pastor of the church was beat up by a member of the congregation for sending inappropriate texts to his daughter. The church’s pastor, Damian Bonner, was urged to investigate this, and he neglected to. It was then brought to light that Bonner was in fact molesting that same girl. Eventually, more women would come forward, and Bonner was arrested.
For the crimes that he committed, Damian Bonner was ultimately convicted of the charges, and he was sentenced to spend the next 23 years of his miserable life in prison. So often, we see people walk after being found innocent, though there are times when the person should be behind bars. It is refreshing to see a conviction like this, and the world is a better place with Bonner being around to endanger the life of children.
2 Jeremy Grinell – Peeping Tom
Unlike most of the people that we have come across on our list, former pastor Jeremy Grinell was charged with being a peeping tom after he was discovered to be spying on people while they were having sex. After pulling this off successfully, Grinell went back on a subsequent night for a second helping, and the male victim from his first foray into voyeurism was the one to catch the pervert in the act. After being caught, Grinell was arrested, and he was then charged with surveilling unclothed persons, according to M Live.
Grinell was brought before a judge, and he was charged with two counts of the crime. While some people will try and maintain their innocence until their moment of sentencing, Grinell went ahead and pleaded guilty to one count of the crime. In his statement, Grinell even named both of the victims that he watched have sex. Give him credit for being forward about the ordeal, but not too much credit, because, you know, he’s a creep.
1 Chris Phillips – Soliciting And Theft
Ah yes, this disgraced pastor went ahead and pulled off the old twofer. We as humans all have certain physical needs that need to be met. Unlike priests, pastors are in fact allowed to get married and sleep with their partner. So, this story involving a pastor soliciting sex from a prostitute really makes you wonder what happens behind closed doors. This was also a case of both parties being charged with crimes. As it were, Chris Phillips not only decided to pay for pleasure with a prostitute, but he also stole money from his church in an attempt to keep her quiet, otherwise known as being victim to extortion. The pastor gave her nearly $90,000 to keep her mouth closed, and the money was from his own church.
She would eventually be found guilty of extortion, and she was sentenced to 3 years behind bars. Phillips, on the other hand, ended up pleading guilty to embezzlement charges. As if this wasn’t crazy enough, the prostitute’s boyfriend was the one receiving the money, and he was sentenced to a year behind bars as well.