Structural Sin • Disputed Will • Embezzlement Bingo: News Roundup
This week’s headlines that affect churches and church leaders.
Structural Sin • Disputed Will • Embezzlement Bingo: News Roundup

Structural Sin

Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis Charged with “Failing to Protect” Clergy Abuse Victims

A Minnesota county filed criminal charges against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis for “failing to protect children” from an abusive priest. The Star Tribune reports that this is the first time in history a US archdiocese has been criminally charged for these offences. A priest in the archdiocese was convicted of sexually abusing two boys at his parish. Though the priest is now serving jail time, the complaint says that the archdiocesan leadership failed to protect those in the archdiocese from the abusive priest. The archdiocese is said to have displayed “an institutional pattern of allowing unsuitable priests to continue working in the church, and have access to children.” The archdiocese—rather than any specific individual—is charged with six gross misdemeanors related to the abuse.

Our Church Board Guide to a Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Policy is designed for church leaders to create an environment where children are safe from abuse.

Disputed Will

Florida Church Sues Prominent Politician to Claim Willed Property

A Tampa Bay Catholic church is suing a prominent politician for failing to transfer property it says was willed to the church by the politician’s late father. The deceased was a member of the faith community, and according to, left a house valued at $344,000 to be sold to pay for the deceased’s funeral expenses with the remaining funds going to the church. Instead, the politician transferred the house to her own daughter. The diocesan lawyer for the church said, “The church doesn’t like suing people, but we have an obligation as good stewards that when someone donates property to the church, we should do our best to honor what they wanted.”

Richard Hammar writes about protecting the validity of donor gifts to churches in his Church Finance Today article, “A Gift Freely Given?

Same Theft Twice

Church Has Instruments Stolen Twice in One Week

An Indiana church was the victim of theft not once but twice within the same week. The thieves stole the church’s instruments in the first theft—six guitars and two keyboards valued at around $7,000. Those instruments were replaced using money from the church’s general fund, according to WTHR. A few days later, several of the replacement instruments were stolen. The thieves appear to have broken a storm window in the church building to gain entry.

Make sure your property is the most secure it can be with our downloadable resource, Preventing Crime on Church Property.

Defamation Station

Church Executive Files Defamation Lawsuit against Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

The deputy executive director for missions for the Presbyterian Church (USA) is suing the denomination for “false and defamatory” statements. The denomination investigated him regarding “an unauthorized nonprofit entity and bank account that handled church funds,” according to WDRB News. The executive claims that church administrators found no evidence of wrongdoing but repeatedly published false statements about his conduct and refused to correct the errors.

Earlier this year, a pastor won a defamation claim against his church. In a Church Law & Tax Report recent development, "Church Board Guilty of Defamation," Richard Hammar writes about this and offers insight on the risks of spreading false or unsubstantiated information.

Costly Break-In

Thousands of Dollars in Equipment Stolen from Tennessee Church

Two thieves were caught on camera in connection with two break-ins at a Tennessee church. The thieves were seen carrying items from the church on Saturday and again on Sunday morning. “[It] gives you a sickening feeling and it also makes you feel insecure because you think it’s never going to happen to me, but it does,” said one church member to ABC6 News. The thieves stole around $20,000 worth of goods, including several pieces of electronic equipment, money, and some power tools.

Embezzlement Bingo

Three Accused in Embezzling Scheme Involving California Church’s Bingo

Three people in California have been charged for embezzlement involving insurance checks and a local church. One woman, Nadine Marcias, is accused of stealing more than 360 insurance checks from her place of employment, a dentist’s office. She then allegedly cashed those checks at a local church’s bingo hall, according to local CBS affiliate, KCBS. Prosecutors say that Marcias needed help from people within the church organization, and that both the church secretary and treasurer have been arrested on suspicion of getting a cut of the embezzled insurance funds. The individuals were caught after the dentist began to inquire with the insurance companies about the missing checks and shared his findings and suspicions with authorities.

Download our digital resource, Internal Controls for Church Finances, for a guide to help secure the financial health of your own ministry.

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This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is published with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations."

Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.


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