Over the years we’ve covered our share of anti-gay clergymen and politicians who were caught engaging in just the kind of activities that they habitually railed against in speeches and sermons. But such stories have fallen off in recent years. It was almost as if these guys were finally getting the message that if you want to rant about homo- and extramarital sex, you really need to stay away from minors, airport restrooms, and women who aren’t your wife. Turns out they haven’t gone away after all; they’ve only withdrawn into that modern fleshpot, the Internet, which seems like such a private place, hidden from view. Except when it’s not. Three cases in point:
I. Reverend Dave Reynolds was the pastor of the Cornerstone Bible Fellowship in Sherwood, Arkansas—that is, until he was arrested on seventy counts of distributing, possessing, and viewing child pornography. Described as “vehemently anti-gay,” Reynolds was one of those pastors who wasted no opportunity to denounce homosexuality, pornography, adultery—the usual suspects. But all the while he was amassing a giant collection of child porn, some of it quite extreme, involving children of all ages and both sexes. As always, one is struck by the sheer obsessiveness of Reynolds’ little hobby, and also by his defense in court. Unable to deny the existence of the numerous photos on his computer—it’s all in the Cloud!—when asked if he had engaged in viewing the material, he replied that he had “not knowingly done so.” Perhaps there’s a ocular disorder of some kind that could render this statement true, but tell that to the judge. Bond was set at an eye-opening $250,000.
II. Staying in Arkansas but moving from the sacred to the profane, District Judge Joseph Boeckmann of Cross County was forced to leave his job when a state commission announced that it had discovered some 4,500 (and counting) photographs of nude male defendants on his computer. These were not just dirty pictures that the judge had downloaded from the Net, but photos he had taken himself of young men who’d come before his bench. Boeckmann’s M.O. was to give defendants his private phone number and sentence them to “community service” at his home. The latter would consist of allowing the judge to administer paddlings to their backsides or other sexual acts in lieu of a stiffer penalty. The photos show the young men naked and bending over after receiving their treatment. In return, the judge would agree to make life a lot easier for the defendants by paying off their fines or expunging their convictions. (Most were for minor crimes, such as traffic violations.) As for his defense, once again the Internet had foreclosed any plausible deniability, which didn’t stop Boeckmann from declaring his innocence, claiming that the photos were used “to corroborate participation in community service.” Hey, it was a service, and the judge is part of the community, right?
III. From Arkansas to Ireland, where there’s a town called Armagh with a Catholic Church that once had a priest named Rory Coyle. The latter lost his position when it came to light that he was an active user of Grindr and that he participated in casual hookups and even the occasional orgy. What’s interesting is that Coyle wasn’t the kind of priest that the movie Spotlight spotlit: those sexually frustrated men who furtively diddled the choirboys and used their power to secure their silence. His targets were guys over eighteen that he courted the new-fashioned way: with salacious screen shots and sex chat. What got Coyle into trouble was his sermons, which were full of fire and brimstone about homosexuals and their sins—which got under the skin of one of his tricks, who blew the whistle on the priest. Commented the whistleblower: “He’s just a hypocrite, denouncing gay people from the pulpit and then shagging guys when no one is looking.” Does this mean that Coyle might have gotten away with this secret life if not for his homophobic sermons? That would be a nice twist of irony indeed.