Saturday, October 20, 2007

Child porn costs ex-pastor 5 years

I missed this one (there are so many). Richard Sweat was sentenced to five years in federal prison for having child pornography videos on his computer. He claimed his wife or father-in-law planted the videos because his marriage was about to end. What a jerk.

What bothers me about this story are the character witnesses. A parade of supporter stood by his side to claim Sweat was a good man and could not have committed the crime he was committed for. It is what I've come to believe is a knee-jerk reaction among some religious types. The circle their wagons around a man of God while closing their minds to logic and reason. For instance, Sweat made an allegation that his wife had planted the videos, yet he provided no evidence to prove his claim. Other pastors should have seen this for what it was, cowardice.
Sweat's character witnesses included a lawyer, two ministers, a business vice president and a teen from his youth ministry. They described a life of good deeds, from working with Boy Scouts to letting a homeless man live in his garage and interrupting a restaurant dinner with his boss to counsel a couple fighting at a nearby table.
Source: Jacksonville.com: Metro: Story: Child porn costs ex-pastor 5 years
Great. Sweat is a swell guy. I get it. But he likes child porn too.

25 comments:

Rob said...

I was a boy scout under Richard for 4 years. I can honestly attest that he had oppurtunity to hurt or molest children and never did. He was never shady. There was never any incling of anything illegal. What I can say that he did do was help every single person that he ever came in contact with. If I never met him, I would probably be in jail. He is probably one of the best people I've ever met. These are the kinds of things that the character witnesses were saying, and I wish I could have been one of them. It just happened that he was a pastor, but trust me....religion did not affect my nor any other's opinion of him.

Listen, I know what you're saying about hypocricy and the church and I know plenty about it. I lived in Orange Park too. But you don't know Richard. And to defame him like this is wrong. The facts of the case are debatabe, certainly not beyond reasonable doubt, but even if he is truly guilty, he is not just a good guy, he was a great guy, and he never hurt anyone. In fact, he changed probably hundreds of people's lives including mine for the better. But none of that matters, because even if he's found not guilty in appeal, which is likely, his life is ruined by people like you who make ignorant judgements of him.

Even assuming that he was guilty, the pictures on the computer were from the 70s and 80s. No one who was taking the pictures was paid by him. Literally no one was hurt in the situation. Yet, he has to serve 5 years and is convicted of a "violent crime"? I know him, and society would be better with more people like him it because even if he were guilty, and that's a big if, he never hurt anyone, rather he helped everyone he ever came in contact.

It's one thing to decry a pastor who molested kids, which is terrible and wrong, and should be punished severely. But it's entirely different when there is porn found on a computer that may or may not have been loaded by him. 5 years? Really? and public humiliation and scorn from people like you? Sorry, but it's not right. And if you disagree, you just don't know him or the facts of the case well enough.

Anonymous said...

My name is Bernhard Meier and I met Richard in Spring 2007. I grew up in Switzerland near Zurich and moved to Jacksonville by my own in October 2006. I didn't know anybody at all. basically the first "normal" Person I met was Richard S. Sweat, once you met him you know all about him, he is an outgoing and open minded individual. Like Rob said, he helps, not hurts. Without him my whole adventure would have ended much sooner. But I just want to add something to your resume of the Trial. Those Files were never opened. NEVER OPENED, do you understand? And another thing, you were mentioning the religious background of the Character Witnesses. You got it all wrong, if you ask those people, 50% of them would now deny the existence of a biblical god or even of any god. Richard's ex-in-laws are the people who abuse their own god's name to reach their goals of life, including preventing a legit divorce of their daughter with Richard S. Sweat, just to look good in front of their church members. Oh by the way, God bless the American legal system :). Guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Anonymous said...

wow deep thoughts huh. i think you need to think harder. did you know him have you ever met him, do you go to church. you write something about someone youve never met before, youve done alot of research havent you. lol i grew up with this guy, hes every ones best friend, hes the best person ive ever met, he cares more about other people than himself. i was there at the trial for the whole thing and heard all the evidence. which was not convincing me any different. hes helped when ive been down this just a pot hole in the road it will be repaved. also get your facts straight before you start typing.
clayton moore

Mojoey said...

I get it. Richard was a nice guy. so why did he download kiddie porn?

Nice people can have dark secrets. Nice people can have dark desires. Nice people can and do commit horrible crimes.

A jury determined Richard violated the law. Yet you faithful friends continue to talk of his innocence.

I don't know the guy. I cannot judge his guilt or innocence. I can react to the crimes he has been convicted of, and that is what I do here at Deep Thoughts. I react to pastors who get busted for abusing their trust.

Live in denial if you must.

Anonymous said...

(R)Amen, mojoey. Nice people do bad things, and really all you are doing is reporting convictions--not passing judgement.

Delusion runs deep with these folks. This is why friends and family don't sit on juries.

BTW, I hate to be the first one to go here, but I have to--This guy's name is "Dick Sweat?" You have got to be kidding me. If it weren't for the fan club responses, I would have thought you made this guy up.

Excellent blog--keep it up.

Fritzy

Anonymous said...

RE MOJOEY

First I would like to commend Rob, Clay, and Bernhard for speaking out on his behalf. I too am a long time friend of Richard's. Richard has done and will do the same for us.

Mojoey--

"He claimed his wife or father-in-law planted the videos because his marriage was about to end. What a jerk."

If the point of your blog is to just call people names then you should return to your day job. Calling someone a jerk or demeaning their personal character is extremely childish and ignorant. Especially when you are getting away from the discussion at hand and provoking others to result to name calling as well. Besides for a 40 something I would have expected you to have a far more extensive name calling vocabulary.

And you don't get it. Richard was not just a "nice" guy. He was the type of person, who after reading such blogs as this that take cheap stabs at his personal and professional character in the event that you needed help he would pick you up and dust you off and buy you lunch. Thats the kind of guy he is!

Moreover, you should get a back ground of what the in-laws were like and how neurotic they are. Should we start with his wife's long time battle with body dysmorphia and bulimia? Hmm sounds like a pschologically sound mom to me. Or maybe how the pastor and his wife, supposedly messengers of Gods word, would not even as much say hello to, or shake hands with someone of the homosexual orientation.

Yes a jury may have proven him guilty. But were you aware that not one of those jury members had been divorced and all very conservative in their views.

I do agree with you that "nice" people do "bad" things. But the same can be said for good people being proven guilty when they are truly innocent. We see this all the time with our justice system. Like humans it is not perfect either. So neither you or you lone supporter should act as though you have no skeletons in your closets.

RICHARD WILL APPEAL WHEN HIS APPEAL TIME COMES AND HE WILL PUT ALL THIS TO REST AND MOVE ON WITH HIS LIFE.

Anonymous said...

wow, it is so funny to me that so many people seem to only see what they want to see, you people that claim that richard has helped you for the better..............sure has'nt kept you from bashing stephanie and her family, richard always said to turn the other cheek.did you know steph personally, or did you hear all of these things from richard.........very deceiving how people can be when they want to warp you brain and richard was def good at that. after continuing to hear what a loser mom she was from him for so long i'm sure steph began to beleive it. if richard thought that steph was so unstable how come she was the only parent with hannah 99% of the time. he had no problem leaving them to go and "disciple" one of his boys for hours on end in his locked door office. i know none of you witnessed any of her issues first hand right? ............thats right, she was always with hannah at home because richard was to preoccupied with his "ministry".
you know .....as i sit here and look at my beautiful newborn baby i can't deny that richard is a big part of why i am where i am, i'm not saying that richard never affected my life for the better or let me re-say that, what the Lord Jesus Christ has done through richard.i came to a much deeper relationship with the Lord under his preaching however the Lord can use and will use anyone! i am so thankful that unlike so many people my life does not revolve around a man who is so not worth all of this. if he is so innocent and he claims he is and if he is so much of the man of whatever god he seems to be worshiping why not let God be his judge since obviously a jury saw fit to convict him.let him and the whole thing go. live your life and move on, why are you so hellbent on this? i have enjoyed a life free of richard for the most part besides the occasional convo here and there.

karen said...

Please pray for both families and especially for Richard and Stephanie's daughter. I haven't known Richard for very long, but from what I do know, he is a good guy and I don't think he is capable of what he was accused of. The facts were that many people had access to this computer. Plus if you think about it, computers get pop-ups all the time and the files were not opened. Juries are human, and juries can be wrong. The judge himself said he didn't think Richard was a threat. I'd believe a judge over a jury any day, because the judge has more experience in what justice really is then a group of people locked in a room debating right before a holiday. It's easy to judge when someone sees a headline that says, "pastor downloads porn". But in Richard's case, I think the man is innocent.

Anonymous said...

I was in Richards youth group while I was in high school and also into college, I grew up at that church and was also at Richard and Stephanie's wedding so I knew both of them very well or so I thought. But what we have to remember is that people only let you see what they want you to see, how well do we really know the people around us? While the facts of the case may be questionable or not (I personally believe that Stephanie would never be a part of something so hateful as "planting" porn on her own husbands computer)the truth is that Richard did not belong in a position of leadership. I saw him numerous times at a bar where he was intoxicated and looked directly at me and said not a word and while I realize some people may read this and say well you were at the bar too I was also not in a leadership position at a church.
Also to the person who commented about Richard never being with his daughter...I never saw Richard with her. He also never did any activities with the girls in the youth group but he never waisted a chance to take a trip with the guys...

Anonymous said...

I was also in Boy Scouts with Richard as well as having interacted with him in a church setting and socially. I know the other people who also claim to know him.

Richard was a nice, outgoing guy. He had a lot of friends and made those around him happy. He also was controlling and manipulative and had a thing for hanging out with boys much younger than himself. Neither one proves he did or didn't do this...but I know when the allegations came out, a few of us that knew him weren't exactly shocked.

You can see what you want to see, but what I saw for years was someone who had a very dark side under the friendly exterior. I hope I'm wrong, for the sake of all the young boys that trusted him.

Yrie said...

I personally knew Richard for over four years. This man dedicated his life to carry out God's work and to tell lost people of the good news. I had many struggles in my life and Richard was always there to encourage me. I remember when i lost my bible, Richard gave me a new one the next time he saw me. He was a great guy who didn’t deserve what he got. I don’t know how those videos got on his computer but i know that it was not him. I know a person by the name of Michael Barlown, who spent a lot of time in Richards’s office without supervision. After all the problems started, me and my friend Stevo went to his house just to visit him. As I entered his room, I saw the corner of a pornographic magazine underneath his bed. I didn’t mention anything to him, but it made me wonder how many young teenagers spent time in Richards’s office with out supervision. His office was almost always unlocked and his computer was always available. Richard was a youth pastor who not only delt with Christian youth, but with lost youth as well. Youth that struggled with sex, drugs, and many others problems. Maybe his wife was responsible; maybe it was a lost teenager who decided to look at pornography in his office, I know one thing and that it wasn’t him. If you don’t know Richard personally (Mojoey), than you shouldn’t comment on something you don’t know, it makes you look foolish. Your getting only one side of the story and in order to get both, you would have to meet Richard personally. Richard is a great guy. I try to keep him in my prayers as often as possible.

Anonymous said...

Man you are way off base because if you would do your research you would know that his wife has suffered from bulimia for years and most people with this are victims of sexual abusers!!!! Wonder who sexually abused her???

Anonymous said...

i typed a comment a while ago i am clayton moore i never thought it would go this long him being away. i have to say if it wasnt for richard i wouldnt be the man i am today. i serve in the united states army i am combat arms with the first cav division. ive taken all the life lesson hes taught me as i was growing up and used them in my life. i am now happily married. im almost done with school, things i never thought id accomplish. hes been a great mentor and a good friend. ive been in iraq now for a while i read alot and think about things back home. but i have less time to focus on this stuff with rich i have my own family now. i know hes been a big part of my life in me becoming the man i am today. i say thank you richard

Mojoey said...

When he get out in five years I'm sure you message of support will be an inspiration. I'll hold my breath until then.

Icon sentthis said...

i still have nightmares about richard. notice all the male character witnesses speaking up for him. but of course some one as nice as a boy scout leader could never have an affinity towards young men. i guess its cool if the videos were from the 70s right? i was in one of his troops and he would only be nice to the more physically fit, and attractive boys. he would become best friends with them and have them over for sleep overs all the time. he would always brag to them about his newest video games and new sound system in his car and they could come play with his stuff anytime. he would give his favorites presents and tell the other boys they should try to be more like his favorites. he would always chew his fingernails of until they bled and try to talk to us about masturbating. it was very uncomfortable. he was always eager to brag to us about his big python and recommend us to shave our pubic areas like him. it was no surprise to me when i heard the allegations against him.

Anonymous said...

there is so much more to this f'ed story than u even know or would ever want to know. The fact is richard sweat was a manipulative control freak. It is my personal opinion that the only reason he ever took a position of leadership in the church was to have power over people. I was in his youth group for many years and spent a lot of time with the guy, probably more time with him than his wife ever got a chance to. Btw im a male..which brings me to another point. richard had very little to no interest in the girls of the youth group. he was always off spending time with the boys, especially his select group of favorites that everyone knew he had and no one denied. As his trial loomed richard became a very volatile drunk. He made some very destructive and abusive comments and threats to many of the same people he used to witness too. No one will ever no if he was truly guilty or not, but the fact is the court of law and jury of his peers did find him guilty, even after the sob stories from his character witnesses. And believe it or not the evidence was there. In fact several of my close friends were interviewed by federal agents. The worst part of this story and the fact that still causes me to loose sleep occasionally is the fact that many people are so brainwashed that they can not see this for what it really is. I am glad that i ran across this website and that there are people out there that can still think for themselves. Richard has so many people manipulated and it is truly sad. The church that he claims set him up is not exactly the greatest church but i dont see how it is even plausible to believe that they framed him. Richard sweat is a con artist. I believe that the man seriously gets off on manipulating the way people think. I am so saddened by the people who cannot think for themselves. Every word that I have spoken comes from my personal experience with richard. I was very close with him and he was a huge influence on my life I was almost one of his chosen inner circle boys that he spent so much time with, but i never was because i would always think for myself and i dont think he liked that. Richard Sweat plays the role of a very good guy very well but if you know him well you know that the man has a very dark side looming underneath the front that he puts on.

Jacquelin said...

I was friends with Stephanie when we were both in high school, and I moved away before she met Richard. I was in the youth group in the early 90's. My heart goes out to her, anyone who knows her know how kind and loving she is. One year for my bithday I didn't get anything from anyone (including my family) and she got me a basket of soaps and a cake and made everyone sing happy birthday to me, She really touched my heart. I don't know who is guilty, it's not really my job, it's the courts. But my prayers do go out to her daughter.

Anonymous said...

I can believe that Brother Steve set him up. When I was a kid I was being molested by my father, I told Brother Steve this because I was scared. My father was beating me and touching me where he shouldn't have. When I went to the youth leaders, and then Brother Steve, they asked me not to come back again because I might put ugly thoughts into the other youth's heads. Yeah he seems very godly to me too!

Alex Santamaria said...

Mojoey....

He's out and started his own business and doing extremely well. We all still believe his innocence. You, sir, can GFY.

Mojoey said...

Alex Santamaria - I think I win here. He served his time and is now a convicted sex offender who can never work with kids again. Game over.

Anonymous said...

I realize i'm pretty late on this conversation and i'm not even sure where I would like to begin. I guess I will start by saying that I attended Lake Shore Baptist Church for many years on end. I choose not to reveal my name because too many people would know who I am. I'm gonna start with how things were before Richard came to the church. I can clearly remember Stephanie NEVER attending a service,I always heard for YEARS of this "Stephanie" but never saw here. Then I remember her coming one Sunday morning and playing the piano and I thought she was so pretty and sweet. She was very quiet, sheltered and extremely soft spoken. Now Stephanie was attending church regularly. The youth department was dry and consisted on 4-6 youth. Then the current youth director left and then we had to fend for ourselves. I remember many many nights sitting in the stairwell with the same tiny group of kids and that was our "Wednesday night youth group" No parents, no teachers, nothing. Then Richard came, Richard and Stephanie were like the modern day Prince and Cinderella. A fairy tale... Richard became the youth pastor and things quickly changed. I have a memory of going to the Mouzons home for "youth prayer night" I clearly remember NO tv's being in the home and NO computers. It was not allowed in their home. I thought that was odd and remember telling my mom about it.(I am about 15 at the time). I remember riding in the car with both stacy and Stephanie (in both of their cars at separate times and on several occasions). Stephanie only listened to Christian music where as Stacey listened to your typical 95.1 music at the time but we were not allowed to tell her parents that we listened to it (Her father is the pastor) because it was not tolerated what so ever. I stopped going to church as much as I did because Stella (The pastors wife) was leading youth choir and I did not like her. She was mean and I remember running out crying because of her on more then one occasion.( I am not a child at this time I am about 15 years old and too old to have my feelings hurt like a small child would). Flash forward to Wednesday nights with Richard. The gym was now the home for us youth and Richard invited anyone, he never turned anyone away and he never judged anyone. He was the perfect youth leader. He was up to date on the happening things and tried to incorporate those things into our youth groups. The "trouble kids" that before Richard had been turned away by members of the church were now involved and off the streets. I watched several "trouble kids" turn their lives around because they now had somewhere to go other then running the streets and doing drugs, drinking, sex and so on. I do how ever remember things getting kinda weird. I remember one night Richard saying that he had a rough past and he used to drink but he had left that alone for years and so a lot of kids felt some kind of connection with him. Kinda like "Well if he was not as good as he is now at one point then I also can change my life". Richard was really big on saving yourself for marriage and I remember teen agers crying because they would admit they had sex and then we all decided to not have sex and wait...I also remember pretty much every time Richard would pray he would pray for people who were addicted to porn. Which even as a 15 year old I thought that was odd. I eventually left the church because things got to weird for me. Steve (The pastor) has always creeped me out. I can't tell you why he does but he does...it's one of those "gut feelings" where you can't pin point it. Things were always weird....always. Before Richard and after Richard. But did Richard do what he is accused of? I'm not sure, to this day I don't know. My gut tells me that something is going on with Stephanie and her family and I think the mouzons have some dark family secrets that Richard knew about and they needed him out. What better way to get rid of him then this way?

Anonymous said...

Mojoey, nobody "wins" here. Many, many lives were wrecked here, including Richard's. Even if you believe he is guilty, and even if you think he just got what he deserved, a deep thinker would understand that this is not a game. Maybe write some book reviews or something...evaluating a man's soul is out of our league.

Mojoey said...

You take yourself and this pedophile much too seriously. The man is simply a convicted pedophile who happened to make his living as a pastor.

Anonymous said...

But he's not just a convicted pedophile. He was someone's son, friend, husband, father. Are you just a blogger? People do bad things but that doesn't make them just their actions. As people who have to live on this eart we need to learn to forgive and look at people for who they are and not just what they have done!

Mojoey said...

Of course he is not just a convicted pedophile, but he gets to where that badge, along with hypocrite and liar, for the rest of his life. If those who know him forgive him, then that is fine. I tend to forgive those who are worthy of forgiveness. I think it's the right thing to do. Some are not worthy, but that is ok too. Forgiveness should be linked to action though...

Then there is justice... he deserves justice too. I know most of you think he was setup or that he is the victim of some other actors actions, but the facts are simple. He's been convicted of a horrible crime involving the exploitation of children. Forgive me if I am not charitable.