Charges possible for leader of Victory Christian
BY JARREL WADE World Staff Writer
Thursday, September 27, 2012
9/27/12 at 7:20 AM
Charges are still possible and under consideration against Victory Christian Center Senior Pastor Sharon Daugherty related to a sexual abuse investigation that has already led to charges of failure to report child abuse against five other church staff members, Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris said Wednesday.
Harris said he could not detail any of his office's discussions about any possible charge against Daugherty while the investigation is ongoing.
"That would be unethical," Harris said.
On Aug. 30, Victory Christian staff reported having received allegations that a teenager was raped at the church on Aug. 13, according to court records. Reports from Victory Christian and from court records differ on the date Victory Christian employees were first told - either on Aug. 15 or 16.
Chris Denman, 20, was jailed on Sept. 5 and charged later on six counts of sex crimes against children, including the rape of a 13-year-old girl.
Denman's charges also involve two additional girls: a 15-year-old and a 12-year-old.
Israel Shalom Castillo, 23, is charged with making a lewd or indecent proposal to a child and using a computer to facilitate a sex crime. Charges against Castillo involve a fourth alleged victim - a 15-year-old girl.
Denman and Castillo, both members of the church, worked as janitors in the same department at the church, according to information provided by Victory Christian.
Police have said a possible third suspect has become part of the investigation but that more possible victims are not cooperating with investigators, making charges against another suspect difficult.
The investigation into the child-sex allegations led to the charges of failure to report child abuse against five Victory Christian staff members, including Daugherty's son and daughter-in-law. All five have been suspended from their employment at the church.
In an arraignment Wednesday, John Samuel Daugherty, 28, senior high youth pastor; Charica Dene Daugherty, 27, assistant senior high youth pastor; Paul Howard Willemstein, 32, associate youth pastor; Anna Alisa George, 24, high school outreach program director; and Harold Frank Sullivan, 73, human resources director, entered pleas of not guilty.
Their next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 31, when the court will be able to accept any possible plea deal or schedule a jury trial.
Sharon Daugherty told police investigators that she was told about the allegations but believed that her subordinates were appropriately reporting them, police said.
In a statement Daugherty delivered to her congregation at multiple services during the weekend, she said she was "briefly told of an incident" between an employee and a member of the church's youth group.
However, Daugherty said she wasn't given "any details on the specific allegations" but was told it was being reported.
"I was extremely disappointed to later hear of the delay in the time it was first reported," Daugherty said in her statement.
Victory Christian officials released to the World a detailed account of events in the two-week lapse before reporting the allegations to police.
The church's account says Daugherty learned of the incidents three days before anyone at the church attempted to contact law enforcement, although police did not become officially involved until almost a week after Daugherty was notified.
Harris said after the arraignment Wednesday that the investigation is ongoing at the church and that additional charges are possible.
"Everybody has to be treated equally," he said about the charges against the church staff.
Harris said the next step for his office is to work with the five church employees who have been charged with failing to report child abuse to "decide whether a jury trial will be necessary."
Harris has ties to Victory Christian Center, a 17,000-member-strong megachurch. Harris went to law school at Oral Roberts University, which supported Victory Christian in its early ministry.
In 1995, Harris was named Tulsa County's first director of Crimes Against Children, a district attorney's task force established before Harris was elected in 1998, according to Harris' online biography.
Harris also serves as a board member for Tulsa's Child Abuse Network, a program that brings multiple agencies together for child-abuse investigations.
Victory Christian Center timeline
Victory Christian officials, at request of the World, provided a detailed description of events from the church's two-week lapse in reporting to police allegations of sex crimes involving two employees.
Since then, two former employees have been charged with sex crimes related to children at the church and five employees have been charged with failure to report child abuse. Victory Christian has suspended those five employees, pending a determination of disciplinary action.
The church's description of the two-week lapse in reporting, edited for publication, is provided below.
Aug. 16: A girl told two youth interns that she had been raped on campus on Aug. 13. The interns alerted Anna George, the high school outreach program director, who immediately alerted Paul Willemstein, the associate youth pastor. They met privately with the girl during the evening service, and she detailed her story. They attempted to call the cellphone of the grandmother, who was also at the service, but there was no answer. Willemstein advised the girl to bring her grandmother from the service to the meeting and asked her not to leave without finishing the discussion. Instead, the girl and her grandmother left the church at the end of the service without speaking again to Willemstein and George.
Aug. 17: The girl attended a Victory Christian Center church service with her grandmother and did not participate in any of the youth programs. The staff members involved did not see or speak with her that evening.
Aug. 22: The girl returned again to the church. George saw her and brought her to Willemstein, but the girl expressed reluctance for Willemstein or George to inform her family members. After she left, Willemstein called her grandmother on his own.
That same evening, a girl from a church youth group shared with Charica Daugherty, the assistant senior high youth pastor, screenshots of a friend's electronic messaging that were sexual in nature. The messages were between a second female member of the youth group and Israel Castillo, an employee of the church. Daugherty printed the screenshots and showed them to Willemstein. Daugherty and Willemstein took aside the girl involved, called her mother to the church and reported it to her in person. After John Daugherty, the senior high youth pastor, finished preaching that night's service, he was shown the messages by Charica Daugherty and Willemstein. Willemstein said he would report Castillo.
Aug. 23: Willemstein informed Human Resources Director Frank Sullivan of the allegations regarding Denman and Castillo. That same day, in a discussion between Willemstein and John Daugherty and Charica Daugherty, Willemstein informed them that there was an additional situation involving a female member of the youth group and an employee. Details were not discussed, but Willemstein said he had reported him, as well.
Aug. 24: Sullivan met with Denman and Castillo and fired both. He also left a message with an individual who works with an anti-child-trafficking organization to seek advice on the most appropriate authority to contact.
That afternoon Sullivan also briefly told Pastor Sharon Daugherty of the incidents involving Denman and Castillo that led to their firing. Sullivan said the former employees were being reported but did not detail the specific allegations.
Aug. 27: Sullivan spoke directly with the child-trafficking expert he had tried to contact on Aug. 24. He advised Sullivan to call a police officer who was understood to work in sex crimes. Sullivan called and left a message.
Aug. 30: After exchanging voicemails with the officer, Sullivan connected with him. The officer advised Sullivan to call 911, which he did that same day. Sullivan also called the alleged victim's mother and reported the allegation to her, as well.
Original Print Headline: Charges possible for Victory leader
Jarrel Wade 918-581-8367
John and Charica Daugherty leave their initial arraignment at the Tulsa County Courthouse on Wednesday. The couple, both youth workers at Victory Christian Center, are charged along with three other church employees with failure to report child abuse. MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World
Victory Christian Center Associate Youth Pastor Paul Willemstein and Anna George, the church's high school outreach program director, arrive at the Tulsa County Courthouse on Wednesday. The two are among five church employees who are charged with failure to report child abuse. MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World
Victory Christian Center, a church with roughly 17,000 members, is at 7700 S. Lewis Ave. MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World