Friday, February 6, 2015

Lutheran pastor in Edmonton resigns just before being arrested on child pornography charges

A backlog item:

As reported by Brett Wittmeier of the Edmonton Journal, October 17, 2014:

An Edmonton pastor has been charged with possessing child pornography following an investigation that began with a complaint to a church official.

Richard John Docekal, 58, was pastor of All Saints Lutheran Church — located at 13850 119A St. — in early September, when an individual brought allegations of child pornography to Don Schiemann, a regional president of the Lutheran Church-Canada.

Schiemann passed the complaint on to police the next day. The Internet child exploitation unit of the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT) opened a month-long investigation.

Docekal was arrested on Oct. 9 and charged with possession and distribution of child pornography. ALERT’s forensic teams are currently analyzing a significant number of electronic devices seized from Docekal’s home.

Police seized dozens of manual drawings depicting sexual assaults against children, said Sgt. Mike Lokken. There is no evidence that any sexual contact was made with any children.

“They were depicting some pretty horrific stuff in these images,” Lokken said. “Anybody that’s attracted to this material, it’s disturbing.”

According to a biography on an archived version of his former church’s website, Docekal had been pastor at the Carlisle neighbourhood church since 2007. The American-born pastor graduated from a Lutheran seminary in Fort Wayne, Ind., in 1994 and pastored in Oklahoma and Ohio before coming to Edmonton in 2001, gaining Canadian citizenship in 2007. Initially, he was a regional vacancy and supply pastor for the Lutheran Church-Canada.

According to his denomination’s website, he also served as chaplain of Faith Lutheran School in northeast Edmonton.

The Winnipeg-based Lutheran denomination released a statement Friday. Docekal officially resigned from the church and denomination on Oct. 2, a day after a meeting with Schiemann about non-criminal activities that were part of the complaint, which were “of concern regarding his role as a pastor.”

The denomination is co-operating with the authorities and Schiemann will provide pastoral care to Docekal’s former church...

...Docekal also worked with the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League, the Lutheran Layman’s League and the Good Samaritan Society. He spoke as a guest speaker about problems with cohabitation at the 2011 Getting Real About Sexuality conference at the Concordia University College of Alberta.
As reported by Caley Ramsay of Global News, October 17, 2014:

EDMONTON — A 58-year-old church pastor, who has been charged with possession and distribution of child pornography, says the charges are not what they seem.

“I would never harm anybody. I have never harmed anybody,” Richard John Docekal told Global News Friday.

Docekal, who is from Edmonton, was arrested and charged on Oct. 9 after a tip from the public sparked an investigation in early September.

Docekal was a senior pastor with All Saints Lutheran Church in Edmonton at the time of the alleged offences. But in a post dated October 6, 2014 on the Lutheran Church Canada website, Docekal resigned as pastor from the clergy roster.

Police say the charges relate to dozens of cartoon-like drawings of children, some depicting “horrific sexual assaults.”

Sgt. Mike Lokken, a member of the Internet Child Exploitation unit, said it’s not alleged the pastor made the drawings but did possess and distribute them.

“The charges stem around something that happened about two years ago … There’s no indication at this time that there were any contact offences.”

On Friday, Docekal spoke to Global News about the arrest, saying police seized drawing from him, which he described as fiction and art.

“I am not a predator,” he said. “I’m not a danger to anyone.”

Investigators say they have not yet found any photos or videos and they don’t believe Docekal created any child porn. However, they are not calling the drawings art.

“I would say it’s fair to say dozens of pictures,” said Lokken. “I can say that they’re not just children posing naked. It does depict sexual assaults of children.”

Lokken said officers have searched Docekal’s home and seized computer and mobile devices.

“We’re doing forensic analysis of those devices and that’s ongoing. We haven’t determined whether there will be any more charges...”

...A biography posted on the ZoomInfo website says “Rich” Docekal was installed as the senior pastor at All Saints in July 2007, shortly after he became a joint U.S.-Canadian citizen. He graduated from theological school in Indiana in 1994 before serving in parishes in Oklahoma, Missouri and Ohio.

He moved to Edmonton in 2001 and filled church vacancies in the region, including one in Fort McMurray. He is also listed as working with the Good Samaritan Society.

The biography adds that Docekal, along with his wife and daughter, “live the idyllic Canadian dream in Edmonton.”

Docekal has been released and is to appear in court Oct. 31.

Anyone who may have more information about this case is asked to contact police, Crime Stoppers or Cypertip.ca.
Lutheran Church-Canada issued the folowing statement on October 17, 2014:

EDMONTON – On Friday, October 17 the Alberta Integrated Child Exploitation Unit announced that Rev. Richard Docekal had been arrested on charges of possession and distribution of child pornography.

On the evening of September 8, President Don Schiemann of the Alberta-British Columbia District was informed of serious allegations against Rev. Docekal. Included in these allegations were suggestions of child pornography. President Schiemann immediately informed police of these allegations on September 9, and the Integrated Child Exploitation Unit began an investigation.

Rev. Docekal was also implicated in other activities which were of a non-criminal nature but which were of concern regarding his role as a pastor in Lutheran Church–Canada. As his ecclesiastical supervisor, President Schiemann conducted an investigation into these charges and found them warranted. Events culminated in an October 1 meeting, following which Rev. Docekal resigned both as pastor of All Saints Lutheran Church (Edmonton) as well as from the clergy roster of Lutheran Church–Canada.

Rev. Docekal was arrested and charged by police on October 9.

Lutheran Church–Canada’s Alberta-British Columbia District office has been cooperating fully with authorities as they investigate the allegations. Because the matter is now before the courts, Lutheran Church–Canada is unable to make further comments at this time, other than to pray for God’s guidance and mercy in what is a difficult time for many.

If you have any information about this case, Lutheran Church–Canada encourages you to contact Edmonton Police, Crime Stoppers, or Cypertip.ca.

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