On several exCOG Facebook pages, Pinelli is NOT getting any words of praise dished out upon him. Quit the opposite. Many found him to be a distasteful and arrogant minister who was abusive to them when he was their pastor.
Others said that arrogance is what propelled him over into COGWA when it formed, where he carried on his old ways of mistreating people.
Before long we will see huge amounts of praise dished out for the greatest Christian the church has ever had. The accolades and the emotional syryp will be thick.
Pinelli was a former Worldwide Church of God minter who left during the changes to help start up United Church of God. Like most of the other top leaders in UCG, he left once a secure income was guaranteed him. In UCG, Pinelli served on the Council of Elders, a group of men who are not known for their most ethical and moral standards.
Ever since UCG formed it was rocked by one scandal after another.
The Bluefield and Princeton, West Virginia UCG congregations had to have been two of the most corrupt UCG churches ever created. It had a church member who embezzled huge amounts of money from the bank she was in charge of and who passed that money out freely to UCG members at the Feast time as gifts and built a church building for the UCG congregations. Then add to that, it had an ordained elderly man who was sexually assaulting young women in the church and UCG covered it up.
Below is that story about how Richard Pinelli covered up for the abusive COG man, forever preserved on SILENCED.
To: "Nathan Albright"
Subject: Re: [unitedchurchofgodia] Notifying authorities, or UCG?
Date: Mon, 30 Aug 2004 12:13:23 -0400
I wanted to answer your email but have been in Council meetings.
Thank you for passing along this information. Where people come up with these terrible charges is a mystery. We are not aware of any cases such as is being described by these gossips.
There was a recent case where an elder in his late 70s gave public hugs to a young woman in his congregation whose mother let him know that now that her daughter was older she had become uncomfortable with his hugs. Others in the congregation had no problem with his hugs. Upon hearing that his hugs made her uncomfortable he immediately stopped giving them. A follow-up determined that the hugs were innocent expressions of grandfatherly affection and there was nothing illegal and certainly not sexually improper in that case.
Several years ago there was an entire UCG congregation in West Virginia which seceded from the mothership after a local elder molested a young lady in the congregation. The local elder had a history of doing this sort of thing. He had repeatedly been admonished by church leaders to stop, but as is so often the case, he didn't because he knew they would never discipline him. Keep in mind, this was back around 2004 - 2005 when all the leaders of COGWA were still running United. Doug Horchak, Jim Franks, Richard Pinelli, Clyde Kilough, etc., were all aware of what had taken place with this elder and how he had molested a young girl.
Nathan Albright, who is not shy about publicly addressing problems in the COGs, sent Richard Pinelli an email about the problems created by the Council's lack of action to resolve the situation:
Dear Mr. Holladay and Mr. Pinelli The attached message concerns a lively thread about the alleged fondling of a young lady in [...] by a local church elder. The situation has led to a lot of discussion, not all of it friendly, and the situation needs to be dealt with, as some people are threatening to call the police on the situation. Some of us know some (or all) of the parties involved in this particular situation, and I hope that the case is dealt with fairly and faithfully (and, at this point, quickly). Nathan Albright
He received the following response from Richard Pinelli, head of ministerial services:
From: "Richard Pinelli" Add to Address Book
United takes these accusations very seriously and there has been an investigation.
It is our hope that people will not hear a rumor of some sort of impropriety, jump to the worst case conclusion, and spread libelous and untrue embellishments, in a matter about which they really know little or nothing, that could destroy the reputations of innocent and decent people.
This attempt by Pinelli to just shove things under the rug so enraged the family of the victim that her brother-in-law wrote the following response and posted it in a public yahoo group:
I have been an avid reader of this and 3-4 other forums over the last few months but due to the fact that it is now 2:30am and I cannot sleep, I have decided to make my first post. I grew up in the WCG/UCG along with approx 40 extended family members. My experiences in the Church couldn't have been better. Loving your neighbor, obeying God, serving your fellow mankind, a deep belief in Jesus Christ as our Saviour, and seeking first the Kingdom of God were not just subjects I heard in sermons but were the actions I saw practiced in the daily life of my extended family members. Last year, at the age of 24 I decided I wanted to live the way of life I saw work so well and that held out so much promise for an even better future and I was baptized. Like several on this forum I also held out a strong opinion that UCG was guided by wise leaders and that the church was headed in the right direction. I was disappointed to hear of groups or individuals leaving and could not understand why they felt the need to leave the organization. That has all changed in the last year… Because you see… the girl in WV that has been of much discussion on this forum is my wife's little sister, and is to me, the sister I never had.
There are three reasons why I've waited until now to shine some light on this very troublesome situation. First, the church asked all family members to not discuss the case until a decision was reached or else they would drop the appeal. Second, I really believed that the leaders of our church would take at least some just action to resolve the issue of an elder and sexual harassment. Third, after reading Mr. Pinelli's misleading response I felt it necessary to share some relevant facts in this matter.
It is a fact that an elder in WV has sexually harassed my sister-in-law. The "hugs" were accurately described in posts by Lindap, the elder would sneak up from behind, lock his arms directly under the breasts and then squeeze very tightly and lift for an extended period of time. There was indeed touching that could be categorized, at the very least as grossly inappropriate, and more accurately as molestation. I can absolutely guarantee you that such hugs would be grounds for severe discipline or reprimands were they to take place at one of our UCG Youth Camps. This situation involves an ordained official in UCG, are the standards less? This act of touching inappropriate body parts is in and of itself defined as sexual harassment in UCG's own Sexual Misconduct Guidelines (Section N reads: "No lewd touching or other inappropriate contact of a sexual nature is permitted with minors").
There will still be some who will defend this elder's actions as Mr. Pinelli did by describing them as "signs of grandfatherly affection" or by arguing that the elder meant nothing perverse by them. I already believe the prior paragraph alone, would require for UCG leaders to take some kind of action. But to those who are still skeptical let me provide the following evidence that has led me to believe his actions reflected his intent.
1. When confronted by my mother-in-law concerning his hugs, the elder did not apologize or show remorse for his actions. My family has yet to receive any form of apology. Think about this. If someone confronted you and told you something you had done was offensive and crossed the lines, and that was in no way your intent, what would you do? I'd say "I am so sorry, I never, ever meant it to be that way." Why hasn't the elder ever apologized to my sister &mother in-law?
2. Although it is true that the elder stopped the "hugs' with my sister-in-law after that confrontation, he has continued with the same type of perverted "hugs" with at least one other girl who is on record of having found it very offensive. This hits at the core of the issue. Mr. Pinelli makes it sound like all the problems have just gone away because the elder no longer hugs my sister-in-law.
Does he not care that this elder continues to practice this very inappropriate behavior with other young girls in the church????? And what does this say about the elder? Again I ask the question if you were told something you were doing was crossing the lines and you didn't have that intent, would you not stop that behavior immediately?
3. On several occasions the elder made perverse and suggestive verbal statements to my sister-in-law. What I am sure would be defended as "grandfatherly" jesting, clearly shows how he viewed my sister-in-law, a minor. This is just flat out wrong and did as much damage as the touching. I have seen campers kicked out of camp for making similar comments to females. Again, are our standards less for an ordained elder?
4. Mr. Pinelli says that "other girls in the congregation did not have a problem with the hugs." That statement could not be further from the truth. A deacon in that congregation had confronted the elder 4-5 years ago demanding that he immediately desist "hugging" his two teenage daughters. Other women from that congregation have gone on record that the elder had practiced the same behavior on them and that it was offensive. This was all documented and was presented to Mr. Pinelli in the original appeal. In fact, I doubt that there is any female still in the Princeton congregation (see pt 5), who would go on record as saying it was not offensive.
5. Some on this forum have demanded "firsthand evidence." Look no further than the Princeton congregation itself. After my mother- in-law was suspended, 2/3rds of the Princeton congregation quit.
These people had seen for years that what this elder was doing was inappropriate, and when they saw the church try to cover it up, they were so disillusioned as to quit UCG over it. Incidentally, the minister & elders family make up half the approx 10 or so people remaining.
It is likely that many of you will want to hear the other side of the story, and I think that not only prudent, but fair. The only thing I caution you on is, do not let anyone pull the classic defense lawyer maneuver of putting the plaintiff on trial. My mother-in-law is not a perfect person, no one is, and she quite possibly did not even handle this situation as perfectly as she would if she had to do it over again. But she is not the one who sexually harassed anyone, and she in no way deserved to be suspended indefinitely for refusing to meet the elder & minister alone.
In closing some of you are probably wondering what the family will do next since the church is obviously not going to do anything. Quite frankly, we all just want this to be over and get on with life, especially my sister-in-law. We are thankful that there is a just God in heaven who will indeed judge righteously. Our biggest challenge going forward will be to eventually forgive those who wronged my sister & mother-in-law and those who stood by and did nothing. But we must and we will.
I have heard so many times in sermons that we must love each as brothers and sisters in Christ. Academically I thought I always understood that concept, yet as I saw people in church over the years have considerable hurt I always shrugged my shoulders, sighed, and looked the other way. But when it's your own sister, it really is different. When you see someone you love deeply ravaged by emotional distress. Someone who starts blaming themselves with "it was my fault because I didn't say anything the first time he hugged me that way" and "I'm so sorry Mom, it's my fault that you are no longer part of the church", it most certainly excites more emotion than a shrug. When you see a vibrant teenage girl so weighted down with a situation that they fall ill and lay in bed for a summer that is suppose to be the best years of their life it evokes more than a sigh. And when you wonder how someone you care so much about can endure such things and not have a devastating impact on their spiritual life, it has finally turned my head and I will be Silent No More.
Thank you to the brothers and sisters on this forum who have kept my family in your thoughts and prayers. We will not forget it.
And so there you have it, Richard Pinelli doing God's work by trying to brush a sexual assault under the rug. Somewhere I have copies of the emails he sent to the family of the victim, where he threatened them with disfellowshipment if they ever went to the police. After the brother-in-law wrote the above message and publicly posted it, Pinelli crafted an apology that was not an apology (you know, the kind that says "I'm so sorry YOUR feelings were hurt", which is not a real apology where he could have taken responsibility for his actions) and emailed that to the victim....and still never offered to discipline the elder.