Former pastor wants reporting charges dismissed

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Kevin Hoffman
Thursday, September 22, 2011
— A Walworth County judge could decide next month whether to dismiss charges against a pastor accused of not reporting knowledge of a club where young boys performed sex acts on each other.

The attorney for Joseph Fultz, 46, of Milton in July submitted three motions questioning the validity of five misdemeanor counts of failing to report child abuse or neglect.

Fultz, a former pastor at Grace Evangelical Free Church in Walworth, knew about the abuse and told the children not to tell anyone, according to the criminal complaint.

Fultz is scheduled to appear in court Monday, Oct. 3.

Six boys between the ages of 5 and 12 performed sex acts on each other between the spring of 2009 and March 30, 2011, according to the complaint. No adults were involved, but police believe Fultz knew it was happening.

Police said Associate Pastor Wayne Rohde told Fultz three children were once caught in the bathroom fondling each other during a youth group meeting.

Fultz told police he contacted the superintendent of the district church and another pastor to discuss the incident, but they agreed not to report it because of the children's ages.

The abuse also took place at Faith Christian School in Williams Bay, Fultz's home, his church and a Fontana resort, according to the complaint.

Faith Christian School has since sent letters to parents claiming the "sex club" did not exist, and Fultz never was affiliated with the school other than being a parent.

The letter does acknowledge two 5-year-old children might have once touched each other inappropriately during a bathroom break after gym class.

Defense attorney Steve Harvey filed a motion claiming the charges violate Fultz's rights guaranteed by double jeopardy. He argues the charges should be dropped or, at the very least, reduced to just one count.

Another motion claims the complaint doesn't present enough facts to warrant the charges. The third motion for dismissal calls the charges discriminatory.

Fultz said two other officials had an obligation to report the abuse. They were never charged, and District Attorney Phillip Koss said they were not "similarly situated."

Koss responded to the motions, arguing the multiple charges resulted from different children involved. He's asking the court to reject each motion.

Judge Robert Kennedy offered to remove himself from the case.

Kennedy told Harvey in a letter he was the judge who approved the arrest warrant, meaning he already believed the complaint showed probable cause.

Harvey claims the complaint is insufficient. Both Kennedy and Harvey agreed the judge could rule fairly on the motions.

Last updated: 6:17 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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