A Michigan church embroiled in the controversial case of a teacher who molested an eighth grade student has hotly denied that it supported the pedophile, and has now been vindicated by court documents.
Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Rose City publicly and unequivocally disputed the victim's family's claim that it posted bail for the child molester, Neal Erickson, before he was sentenced to 15-30 years in prison in July. The church's congregation council released a statement saying they wish to make it known that "our congregation did NOT post his bail, nor were any church funds ever used to assist Mr. Erickson."
And Gary Klacking, the Ogemaw County clerk, is backing up the church's assertion.
Speaking with TheBlaze over the phone on Monday, Klacking said Toni Erickson, the former teacher's wife, posted Erickson's bond. When asked if Erickson was in and out of jail -- whether there may have been multiple people who helped to secure his temporary freedom -- Klacking said this was the only time bond was posted.
"I looked at [the paperwork] this morning and she posted it," Klacking said. "I can tell you that for sure."
He provided a copy of the bond sheet over email on Tuesday (TheBlaze has redacted sensitive information, like the Erickson's home address and the victim's first name):
The claims against the church drew national attention last week when the victim's father, John Janczewski, asked Glenn Beck on radio if he could believe that on top of everything else, a church "literally half a mile" from their home bailed out the child molester from jail.
"Prince of Peace Church," Janczewski identified it, his wife later adding that it is a Lutheran church. "It's just unbelievable."
Glenn Beck and many of his listeners were understandably disgusted, and spoke out against the place of worship.
So how did the confusion happen?
TheBlaze spoke with the church's pastor, Dan Stoneback, and asked if he had any idea why the family would believe his church aided the child molester.
Pastor Stoneback said he had "no idea...none whatsoever," and that "no one was more shocked or more surprised" than he was at the claims.
When asked about the issue in light of the church's denial, John Janczewski explained that the family has been under "so much stress" between the trial (and educators from the school requesting leniency for Erickson), their house being set on fire, his wife's battle with cancer, and his own fight with multiple sclerosis that they can't recall who told them the church posted Erickson's bail.
The family is now squaring off against the local school board in Rose City over the continued employment of the teachers who requested leniency for Erickson.
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