The story of the former pastor of the Bethany Slavic Missionary Church, Viktor Miroshnichenko, who, as proved by Californian court, had been corrupted his juvenile granddaughter in Sacramento for several years, has rattled all over America.
For members of Sacramento Slavic Christian community, this became far from the first case of illegal actions, including sexual abuse. For example, the son of Bishop Adam Bondaruk, who leads Bethany Slavic Missionary Church, was also accused of sexual harassment in Northern California and was punished for his actions. The case was tried by Sonoma County court almost two decades ago, but as far as I understand it, it is directly related to today’s events. Moreover, the leadership of the church is strenuously hiding the details of this scandalous story, so let’s bring it to the light and judgment of the public.
But before I talk about the sexual adventures of a bishop’s son, I would like to tell you about the delicate situation that I personally witnessed. It happened in the Slavic Bethany Missionary Church about 12 years ago.
At that time, some energetic Pentecostal Evangelicals under the leadership of the young missionary Valery Khimich began to organize educational seminars for the youth in this Slavic church in Sacramento. Оne of the series of school lectures called “Breakthrough”, was devoted to the doctrine of the Christian model of gender relations. The lecture was given by a famous Russian Protestant pastor and Bishop Vasily Botsyan. When it came to family planning, Botsyan neutrally and pretty professionally (as it seemed to me) listed the options for Christian methods of childbirth control, and also spoke about Catholic and Orthodox experience in this sphere.
This, of course, has seriously pissed off the conservative Pentecostal church brеthers, who categorically deny any form of contraception and adhere to the doctrine of “we give birth to how much God will give.” It is worth noting that the Episcopal couple Adam and Galina Bondaruk had 12 children, 4 daughters and 8 sons, three of whom were convicted in U.S. prisons for various crimes.
Whatever it was, but in the end of the lecture Bondaruk kicked Botsyan away from Bethany Church and took himself sexual education of adolescents. Although it is difficult to call enlightenment, after all, the inveterate Soviet religious partycrat Adam Bondaruk, as well as all his brethren, was not able to even speak out loud the word “sex”, therefore the bishop preached mainly about the sky, the stars and the Immaculate Conception from the Holy Spirit …
At a certain moment, an anonymous note came from the class back rows, which Adam Bondaruk ran through the eyes and, blushing, and gave the forum moderator Valery Khimich. The latter, “turning on the little fool” mode, read out the question of a young man who asked the wise bishop: “Is it permitted to have sex with a condom before marriage?” The audience immediately burst out laughing, and the tricky (or naive?) question hung in the air. Neither Bishop Bondaruk nor the youth leader Khimich ever honored the young Christian with the biblical answer to this burning question.
Why then did the “spiritual mentor” and the leader of thousands immigrant believers, Adam Bondaruk, blatantly ignore the intimate question from the audience? Was it really difficult to somehow answer or, at least, if the answer was not known, to apologize to Bishop Botsyan and ask him to return to the room to continue his lectures? But none of those happened and, I hope, you will understand the reason of it after reading this article to the end. That time I vaguely understood what was the matter, but I was lack of solid facts. Now I have them.
Soviet and American crimes of Pyotr Bondaruk
In order to understand the situation in which the Pentecostal sectarians had driven themselves, it’s worth getting to know the story of one of Bondaruk’s sons, 50-year old Pyotr. Pyotr Bondaruk is the third son of the “famous” Pentecostal Bishop Adam Bondaruk, was born in 1971. Pyotr has been repeatedly prosecuted for various crimes, both in the United States and in his home country, Estonia (Estonian SSR). According to the documents from Soviet law enforcement, say that Pyotr Bondaruk had a criminal past. Anyone can get acquainted with that dossier (even if one is not an Estonian citizen) by requesting the Bondaruk family’s case at the National Archive of Estonia, previously stored in the Ministry of the Interior of the ESSR, classified “Secret”.
On Pyotr’s family travel application (the immigrants were supposed to travel to Israel) there is a resolution of the OVIR (Migration service in USSR), which states that “except Pyotr Bondaruk, the convicts are not listed.”
The fact is that the Soviet Union controlled over soviet citizens’ departure abroad, especially departure for permanent residence. The supervisory authorities (in this case the Ministry of the Interior of the Estonian SSR) issued a certificate about criminal history of the citizen. As we can see, this document reveals that Pyotr Bondaruk was yet a criminal in Soviet Union.
In 1994 Pyotr was detained by the California Highway patrol on charges of driving a commercial vehicle (registered to Leonid Bondaruk) with a significantly high blood alcohol level. Pyotr admitted his guilt, he was fined and got a 3-year probation period.
Just three years after the incident Pyotr Adamovich Bondaruk violated the conditions of the probation period, again driving the car while drunk. That time he did not confess in his misdemeanor and got on trial, in which he was found guilty and sentenced to a fine and 4 days in prison.
Moreover, as it turned out, it was not the first time when Pyotr Bondaruk had problems with Highway patrol. In his court case there is information about previous offenses, committed by him.
Thefts in Russian store of Sacramento
The next time the son of a famous pastor was caught, stealing food from the Russian store ARBAT European Market in North Highlands in 2002. According to court documents, which were at the disposal of Slavic Sacramento, Pyotr Bondaruk and his accomplices, Pavel Kvitko and someone Konstantin, stole on a large scale from the shop in the middle of the day. One of such thefts occurred in September 2002. Two friends of Bondaruk filled in with products a full cart, distracted retail assistant’s attention and ran off with loot. A 30-year old Pyotr Bondaruk was behind the wheel of the car, which was used for escape.
According to the testimony of the owner of the ARBAT European Market store, Yevgeny Kovalenko, the thieves used a similar scheme dozens of times. However, the criminals were captured by a video surveillance camera, and soon they were discovered and arrested by local police.
Here is what the victim Kovalenko told in the police report:
“My family owns a grocery store, which mainly
sells goods from Russia and Eastern Europe.
Store employees discovered the loss of several baskets and the lack of goods. The store is equipped with a video surveillance system, through which they saw several men entered the store and wandered around without purchasing anything. The staff decided to watch those men when they entered the store again.
At 19:07 on Friday, the 20th, a cream-colored Lincoln Town Car drove up to the store (this is recorded on video). The driver, whom I know as Konstantin, and the passenger from the front seat, whom I know as Pavel, went into the store separately. Then the passenger from the back seat, known to me as Pyotr Bondaruk, moved to the driver’s seat.
Konstantin immediately took the basket and began putting various goods into it, while Pavel was walking around the store, took a few small things. Then they met and talked among themselves. After that Konstantin put down his basket not far from the front door and Pavel took the line to the cashier.
They let one of the customers ahead. Then Pavel asked shop assistant for some goods in deli department. When she turned away from the door, Konstantin went through the cashier, took the basket, he had put earlier, and left the store.
I made claims to Pavel, but he said that he was not familiar with Konstantin, although I knew that they had come together.
Pyotr backed up the car to the store and Konstantin sat on the front passenger seat. Then they drove off at high speed, left Pavel in the store. I called the Sheriff’s Department and tried to convince Pavel to wait for the police. He told me not to touch him and that he did not know two other men.
I went out after Pavel and saw the Lincoln was turning the corner. Pavel went to a nearby store and knocked the door. The store owner let him in and locked the door behind him. I was waiting for the arrival of the police on the street. Before their arrival, I saw Pavel leaving the store through the back door and getting in the Lincoln.
A few minutes later I saw Konstantin and Pavel arrived in a white Lexus. When I tried to approach them, they left.
During the summer these three men visited our store several times a week. We believe that they did it (stole our products) at least 30-50 times. According to our calculations, the losses from each their visit ranged from 50 to 100 dollars.
The suspects live in the area, and I’m going to find and pass on more detailed information about them to the investigators, such as names and addresses. I also have a video of the theft on the 20th.
The suspects live in this area, and I’m going to find and pass on more detailed information about them to the investigators, such as names and addresses. I also have a video record of the theft on the 20th.
When the police arrived, the suspects fled, and I was asked to contact the police station for a police report.”
Bondaruk Pyotr lied to the detective, saying that he had nothing to do with thefts. However, later in court he confessed in a crime, and the accusation of theft against him was reclassified as a “minor offense”. In addition, Bondaruk was obliged to compensate the damage and he was forbidden to appear in the store ARBAT European Market.
In the case of a theft from a grocery store in Sacramento suburb, there is a file of law enforcement against Pyotr Bondaruk, which summarizes the episcopal son’s immigration case. In particular, it states that Pyotr violated the conditions of the probation period (apparently assigned to him in the case of rape in Sonoma District, Northern California, which will be discussed below) and was detained for two months, and was also sentenced to public work. The enclosed certificate states that Bondaruk was arrested by Immigration and Naturalization Services on November 23, 2003, and had been held under arrest until October 2004.
By decision of the immigration court, the accused was allowed to remain in the United States.
The sexual crime of Pyotr Bondaruk
In 1998 Pyotr Adamovich Bondaruk was accused by a California court of sexually abuse a girl in one of Doran Park campsites, Sonoma County (Northern California). The park is located on the coast of Bodega Bay, 60 miles north of San Francisco and 100 miles west of Sacramento.
According to the victim who spoke out against Bondaruk – let’s call her Kate Brown – in the spring 1998 she rested with friends on the ocean coast. On the incident eve, Kate and her boyfriend headed to a nearby camp in order to get to know their neighbors, among whom Pyotr Bondaruk was. For some time the company of tourists was drinking and having fun. At some point someone Melissa with her boyfriend went for a walk and when going back to the tents, she heard a loud voice: “No! Leave me alone!”, – the remark that her friend Kate spoke out with anger. Looking back, the girl noticed Pyotr Bondaruk tied behind Kate.
The boyfriend of the witness made a remark to Bondaruk, and all those present asked him to leave the territory of the camp.
“She doesn’t want to see you here,” said Kate’s boyfriend. – Don’t you see, she is angry? Please leave us.”
Bondaruk left them alone but after a while he came back again – this time crawling out of the bushes- participants of the events testify. The annoying suitor was again kicked away. Soon Pyotr came third time and tried to “shoot” cigarettes; the guys said that they did not smoke, and once again highly recommended to leave them. Pyotr got very angry then.
The guys asked Bondaruk four times not to interfere with their rest, but, according to the witness, the man seemed not to understand what they wanted from him.
In court Kate Brown described in details the latest clash with Bondaruk, when he began to pester her with his sexual fantasies. The incident occurred when she fell asleep on the beach for a minute. As the girl said, at some point she and her boyfriend, lying on the sand, “pecked her nose”, and Bondaruk took advantage of the moment and unbuttoned her jeans shorts, got under the pants and began to play with her vagina. When Kate woke up and realized that it was not her boyfriend, but a stranger, Bondaruk partially pulled his hand out of the victim’s underwear. The girl immediately pushed the rapist away and shouted to leave her alone.
The victim rushed into a standing nearby tent and, bursting into tears, woke up one of her friends to help her boyfriend to deal with the impudent son of the bishop. Meanwhile, the victim’s boyfriend drove the rapist off the beach.
According to the witness, before the incident Bondaruk was heavily pumped with vodka.
Arrest and investigation
The police officers who arrived at the crime scene could not find Bondaruk, since he was hiding on the tree for about four hours. Eventually, Pyotr was caught and delivered to the local police department, where during the interrogation the suspect admitted that he indeed “touched” the victim. This is according to detective Robert Monroy, who works in the sexual crime unit of Police Department Sonoma Couny.
“I asked the accused: “Did you put your fingers into the victim’s vagina?”. And he replied: “I just groped it. I just touched her in front.”
“I asked him if he touched her between her legs. He replied: “Yes,” – said in detective’s testimony.
When the investigator asked Bondaruk if there was a direct contact with the victim’s skin or whether there was clothes between his hand and the victim’s body, Bondaruk replied the second. In other words, Bondaruk refused to finally admit his guilt.
When the detective asked once again if the suspect had touched the victim’s skin, Peter Bondaruk replied – “Maybe”, adding that he mistakenly took the girl for another one.
The court appointed bail for Bondaruk in the amount of $30,000 but the defense subsequently petitioned to reduce it to $5,000. The judge granted the request, and the defendant’s family, who came to the court session, paid the bail.
“The defendant is a threat to the society, especially for young girls,” – said in state prosecutor Jamar’s statement.
As noted in court documents, the offender “penetrated a foreign object into the victim’s genitals for the purpose of sexual pleasure, when the victim was in a sleepy state, as the rapist was aware of.”
Initially the district prosecutor’s office accused charges against Bondaruk under two articles of the Penal Code: sexual penetration without the knowledge of the victim and beating a person. Apparently, running away from the girl’s boyfriend on the beach, Pyotr also fought with him. However, during the trial, this charge was dropped.
At the pre-trial hearings Pyotr refused to plead guilty but then, nevertheless, agreed to be punished without admitting his guilt – which, however, is considered equivalent to confession in American jurisprudence.
It worth noting that in the US justice system there are several options for the case outcome. The first one, “guilty” – the suspect admits his guilt and bears the penalty imposed by the court. The second one, “not guilty” – the suspect does not plead guilty and he is appointed to a jury trial at which witnesses and experts from both the defense and the prosecution can speak out. Also during a speech in front of the jury the evidence is presented, cross-interrogation takes place, the results of examinations are published, etc. And finally, the third one is to accept punishment without admitting the guilt, “no contest” or “no contendere” (Latin). In fact, this is actually the same as the first option but in this case the suspect does not admit his guilt publicly. Driven into a dead end, Bondaruk chose the third option, which is very convenient for ambiguous cases.
And finally, the third option is to accept punishment without admitting guilt, “no contest” or “nolo contendere” (Latin). In fact, this is the same as the first option, only in this case the suspect does not voice his guilt publicly. Being driven into a dead end, Bondaruk chose the last option, which is very convenient for ambiguous cases.
Punishment or God is not made spot of
The court found Pyotr Bondaruk guilty in violation of article 289 (d) of the California Penal Code, rape.
The maximum penalty under this article is 8 years in prison, however, due to assistance to the investigation and voluntary confession, he was sentenced to 6 months in prison and a fine $1500, as well as payment of restitution in amount of $910 to the victim. In addition, Bondaruk was forced to pay the court and prison costs in amount of $1000. Since Bondaruk was not a U.S. citizen, he was also threatened with deportation: he spent about a year in an immigration prison.
According to the court records, Bondaruk worked out 90 hours on a voluntary basis and went through a special rehabilitation program. Another 3 years he remained under the supervision of the local law enforcement. He was forbidden to drink alcohol, take drugs and posses weapons. Soon, as mentioned earlier, Bondaruk violated the conditions of his probation period, which is also reflected in his case.
Bondaruk was also obliged to give a blood sample for the DNA database of the US Department of Justice and to get registered in the federal database of sex offenders, in which they can be found throughout their live time. The presence in this database obliges the offender to get registered in local law enforcement upon arrival from places of imprisonment, and also does not allow him/her to live closer than a certain distance from schools, parks, kindergartens and other similar places.
This shameful episode, by the way, played a significant role in extending the prison term of Pyotr Bondaruk in the more recent case of mortgage fraud, for which he also got sentenced for 5 years in the Federal Prison of California. But that’s another story.
God, whom Bishop Adam Bondaruk preaches, is never decried. Soon after an unpleasant story in Sacramento, Vasily Botsyan moved to Seattle, where he organized his own church, which became as popular as Bethany or even more. Apparently, this church was once visited by another son of bishop Adam Bondaruk, Benjamin. In this community he met a girl he felt in love with, and one day their marriage was consecrated by none other than…Vasily Botsyan. We do not know what instructions Bishop Botsyan gave to the young couple before the wedding, only one thing was clear: the elder Bondaruk had no choice but to join this celebration.
After a little research I had only one question for the followers of the Bethany Slavic Missionary Church: are you really sure and confident that pastors like Bondaruk and Miroshnichenko, covering their sexual crimes, sexual crimes of their children and seducing their congregation, contribute to strengthening of moral values and ideals among your children?
“God is not made spot of; for whatever seed a man puts in, that will he get back as grain. And the truth comes out,” – says the ancient wise book.