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British Baptist pastor faces up to 80 years in prison

Christa Brown writes about the case of Robert Dando:

  • Dando was very closely connected to the highest levels of Baptists’ worldwide leadership. He previously served as executive assistant to the president of the Baptist World Alliance. This was a guy who ran with the big dogs.
  • Dando “was embroiled in another child sex abuse scandal when he was a minister at Orchard Baptist Fellowship” in the United Kingdom. In 2001, when the leader of the church, Dr. Anthony Gray, was convicted of serious sex offenses against a 14-year-old boy, Dando said this: “All our youth work is carried out within proper guidelines.” Yet, we now know that Dando too was sexually abusing kids, and had been since at least as far back as 1995. (Do these guys run in packs?)
  • At the time of his arrest, Dando was the prominent senior minister of Worcester Park Baptist Church in suburban London.
  • Dando pled guilty to repeatedly abusing 2 boys in Virginia, starting when they were 7 and 8 years old. Virginia prosecutors said that, under questioning, Dando also admitted to sexually abusing boys in the United Kingdom.
  • Dando had plenty of access to kids. His wife was a national vice-president of the Boys’ Brigade, a Christian youth organization with more than 500,000 members in 60 countries. Dando also worked for a children’s charity in India.
  • Dando previously worked as a magistrate on a family court panel, which dealt with child care and child access proceedings.

Update: Dando target of UK investigation

Claire Fox of the Guardian writes:

A Baptist minister who admitted abusing children in the US faces a British police investigation after confessing to similar offences.

Reverend Robert Dando, 46, a senior minister at Worcester Park Baptist Church, pleaded guilty in Fairfax, Virginia, to four counts of sexually molesting the two young sons of family friends.

Dando sexually abused the boys between 1995 and 1999, from the ages of seven and eight.

Officials told Fairfax County Circuit Court one of the victims said Dando molested him by touching his genitals on 50 to 60 different occasions.

Fairfax County prosecutors have also revealed Dando admitted under questioning to touching young boys in the United Kingdom in a similar way.

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November 11, 2010 Posted by | children, Churches, Crime | , , , , | 2 Comments

On Sunday, victims of priest sex abuse to march on Vatican

Reuters reported Friday:

Victims of abuse by Roman Catholic priests will try to march on the Vatican on Sunday despite the lack of a police permit, to demand the Church do more to protect children and hold abusers accountable.

Bernie McDaid and Gary Bergeron, founders of http://www.survivorsvoice.org, told a news conference on Friday they would start a petition drive to ask the United Nations to declare systemic paedophilia a crime against humanity.

“We are not crippled. We are injured people who are willing to talk about it now. The guilt and the shame is in the cover-up,” said McDaid, who become one of the first abuse victims to meet with Pope Benedict in Washington in 2008.

Read the entire story here.

October 29, 2010 Posted by | Catholic, children, Crime | , | Comments Off on On Sunday, victims of priest sex abuse to march on Vatican

Haiti drops all charges against nine of 10 Baptist volunteers

Charges have been dropped against nine of the 10 Baptist missionaries who were arrested while trying to bus 33 child earthquake survivors from Haiti to the Dominican Republic on Jan. 29, a spokesman for Idaho Sen. Jim Risch told CNN, although the expedition’s leader, Laura Silsby, is still in Haitian jail.

Eight of the original 10 were released in mid-February and Charisa Coulter was released on March 8.

Background

The Risch spokesman said examining Judge Bernard Saint-Vil has completed his investigation of Silsby and it has been submitted to the prosecutor, who is expected to return his recommendation with regard to Silsby within a week.

In mid-March when bail for Silsby was rejected, Saint-Vil’s investigation turned upon whether there had been a Jan. 26 attempt by Silsby to bus child earthquake survivors out of Haiti. At that time, Saint-Vil brought the additional charge of “organization of irregular trips” against all 10 Americans, The Laredo Sun reported, “who were arrested in January, even though nine of them have been released on bail and have left the country.”

The prosecutor is now expected to return a recommendation within a week. He may recommend additional investigation or a finding of “guilty” or “not guilty,” U.S. State Department officials said.

Paul Thompson, one of those originally charged and pastor of Eastside Baptist Church in Twin Falls, Idaho, told Baptist Press last week that Silsby “has been a consistent minister to the other inmates” during her time in jail, sharing Creole Bibles. He also said, “The church in Haiti continues to visit Laura on a regular basis, bringing her food, water and other necessary items,” Thompson said, adding she has had enough water and food to share with fellow inmates. Haitian law requires that prisoners be fed by outsiders, he explained.

It is a cautionary case. Silsby was warned repeatedly during the days preceding arrest of the 10 that she was headed for legal difficulty. There was not one orphan, the Associated Press determined, among the 33 children the group was attempting to transport to the Dominican Republic.

The children have apparently all been restored to their families. UNICEF and others agree that an approach which keeps families together when that is possible, reduces the likelihood of inadvertent harm and helps make it more difficult for child traffickers to take advantage of a natural catastrophe to prey on children.

April 16, 2010 Posted by | children, SBC | , , | Comments Off on Haiti drops all charges against nine of 10 Baptist volunteers

Joyful Haitian parents take back children they entrusted to Baptist group

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that all but one of the children “were given back to 22 families.” And the remaining child awaits verification of parents’ identities, while Laura Silsby remains in jail.

March 17, 2010 Posted by | children | , , , | Comments Off on Joyful Haitian parents take back children they entrusted to Baptist group

Laura Silsby: New charge filed & bail rejected

Laura Silsby is still in jail because Examining Judge Bernard Saint-Vil has concluded there is evidence of another attempt by her to bus child earthquake survivors to the Dominican Republic on Jan. 26.

Saint-Vil brought the additional charge of “organization of irregular trips” against all 10 Americans, The Laredo Sun reports, “who were arrested in January, even though nine of them have been released on bail and have left the country.”

The Haitian law restricts travel out of Haiti that and was signed in 1980 by then-dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier. It carries a penalty of 3-6 years. The other charges the 10 may face, the Sun reported, are criminal association, with a penalty of 3-15 years, and kidnapping of a minor, with a penalty of 3-9 years.

Silsby was warned repeatedly during the days preceding arrest of the 10 that she was headed for legal difficulty. There was not one orphan, the Associated Press determined, among the 33 children the group was attempting to transport to the Dominican Republic.

Saint-Vil also rejected a petition for bail, and if he completes his investigation next week, as expected, will submit his findings to the attorney general for review. The attorney general will have five working days to return an opinion before Saint-Vil can announce whether he will go to trial.

March 14, 2010 Posted by | children, Crime, SBC | , , , | Comments Off on Laura Silsby: New charge filed & bail rejected

Why is Laura Silsby still in jail?

Anne-christine d’Adesky, who was one of several who warned Silsby she was headed for trouble, has been investigating:

I posted my Special Report on this affair last week, which contained allegations that Silsby’s team was being offered help by certain Dominicans and Haitian helpers to cross the Dominican border with children they planned to pick up, possibly in exchange for money. I have more to share about those allegations, and what I’ve been able to learn.

As Silsby-watchers know, Haitian Judge Bernard Saint-Vil is still detaining Silsby today, but released her best friend Charisa Coulter yesterday. He did that only after holding closed sessions to re-question Silsby and two Dominican real estate agents Jose Hidalgo and his partner Rob Chenvert, and another individual about their knowledge and version of events. When asked why he won’t release Silsby, the judge told a reporter he has discovered ‘discrepancies’ in Silsby’s accounts, and is reviewing certain documents. To even a casual reader, that means something isn’t adding up.

For many reasons. Read the rest here.

March 10, 2010 Posted by | Religion, SBC | , , , | 1 Comment

Legal expert expects new charges or release for Silsby

Mayra Joli, licensed to practice law in the U.S. and the Dominican Republic, was interviewed by the Idaho Statesman after Charisa Coulter was released on Monday, leaving only one of the original 10:

Q: What is the likelihood that Laura Silsby will be released?

A: It would be unconstitutional for one to stay behind on the same charges after all the others have been released. There would have to be new charges against her.

Read the rest here.

March 9, 2010 Posted by | SBC | , , , | Comments Off on Legal expert expects new charges or release for Silsby

Not one orphan among the 33

“There is not one orphan” among the 33 Haitian children a group of U.S. Baptists attempted to take across the border into the Dominican Republic, the Associated Press has determined.

This contradicts the account of Laura Silsby, and is attended by accounts of distraught parents who feel misled and want their children back.

February 21, 2010 Posted by | children | , , | Comments Off on Not one orphan among the 33

The 10 still-jailed Baptists in Haiti were warned [repeatedly]

A power outage reportedly prevents Haitian Prosecutor Josephe Manes Louis from delivering to the judge his now-completed recommendations regarding whether to release 10 Baptists who were arrested for child trafficking. Sad though their plight is, they were warned, repeatedly:

Their arrest was tragic but not, as Southern Baptist Convention Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission chief Richard Land claims, “outrageous.” More recently, he has reportedly become thankful for “whatever the US govt did” to free the 10.” Land, however, dwells in an alternate reality where the U.S. is “winning” a war in Iraq, telling Southern Baptist state newspaper editors, “that’s not something you’re reading about.”

Failures of due diligence can have a very high price indeed.

February 16, 2010 Posted by | Churches, Religion, SBC | , , , , | Comments Off on The 10 still-jailed Baptists in Haiti were warned [repeatedly]

Baptist missionaries’ legal adviser has trafficking issues

Update

A man offering legal advice to most of the 10 Baptists, Jorge Puello, “may have a string of legal charges against him in the United States as well as a warrant for his arrest in El Salvador for sex trafficking, records show.” The New York Times reported Saturday:

The man, Jorge Puello, was brought into the case from the Dominican Republic as a lawyer to help the 10 Americans arrested last month for trying to remove 33 children from the country after the earthquake without government permission.

A Web site that was abruptly taken down on Friday described Mr. Puello and his cousin, Alejandro Puello, as law partners.

. . .

Salvadoran police say they want to question Mr. Puello in connection with a sex trafficking ring that was broken up last year in which women and girls from Central America and the Caribbean were lured into prostitution through offers of modeling jobs. The suspect police are seeking is named Jorge Anibal Torres Puello, which Mr. Puello said was not his full name.

. . .

Public records and court documents in the United States also indicate that a person with the same name and birth date is considered a fugitive and is wanted by the Miami police, the United States Customs and the United States Marshals Service. The name and birth date are also the same as the man being pursued by the police in El Salvador and for whom Interpol has transmitted an arrest warrant.

An order is listed in the United States national crime database for a man with that name and birth date to be arrested on sight and reported to United States immigration officials. Those records say he is wanted in connection with crimes including bank fraud in the United States and Canada, and theft of American government property. Police records say he has violated parole.

The Miami Herald reported Saturday:

Salvadoran police say photos that surfaced Friday show the legal advisor to American missionaries jailed in Haiti may be the lead suspect in a human trafficking ring involving child prostitution in El Salvador.

Police say they are waiting for fingerprints to determine if Jorge Anibal Torres Puello is also wanted in El Salvador on charges of promoting prostitution among children in what has been one of the nation’s most vexing social problems

The Idaho Statesman reported:

While investigators in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Florida look into Jorge Puello’s past, the families and representatives of several of the 10 jailed Americans he has been working for say they don’t know how he became their advocate in the ordeal.

Puello, is suspected of leading a trafficking ring involving Central American and Caribbean women and girls, and says it is a case of mistaken identity. The New York Times reported Friday:

When the judge presiding over the Haitian case learned on Thursday of the investigation in El Salvador, he said he would begin his own inquiry of the adviser, a Dominican man who was in the judge’s chambers days before.

The judge in the case has recommended release of the 10 Americans, but that does not settle the issue. The Christian Science Monitor reports:

The judge’s opinion still will be reviewed by prosecutors in the case. The prosecutors’ decision could take up to five days to be issued, Haitian judicial officials said.

February 12, 2010 Posted by | SBC | , , , | Comments Off on Baptist missionaries’ legal adviser has trafficking issues