Disgraced Lutheran minister admits to allegations
Page News and Courier
LURAY — The Bishop of the Virginia Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America issued a statement last week calling for “healing and wisdom” for “all who have been affected” by the arrest and indictment of the former pastor of two small Lutheran churches in Luray.
Bishop James Mauney of Salem asserted in his statement, which was read to the churches and sent to the Page News and Courier by e-mail, that “God’s love in Jesus Christ is with us at all times, especially in the midst of confusion, hurt and great sorrow.”
The bishop added that James Richard Daley, who had been the pastor of the Stony Man Parish in Page County since 2004, resigned from that post and from the ministry on July 18, two days after he was arrested by Page County Sheriff’s investigators on two charges of aggravated sexual battery of a child under the age of 13.
Daley, 70, has severed all ties with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Mauney said, adding that the Virginia Synod and the ELCA “do not tolerate inappropriate sexual behavior by members of the clergy.”
Mauney said that until further notice, the Rev. Nicholas Eichelberger, pastor of St. Mark Lutheran Church in Luray and Dean of the Page Conference of the ELCA, has been named interim pastor of the Stony Man Parish. The parish includes two small churches, Beth Eden Lutheran Church on Eden Road just outside of Luray, and Grace Lutheran Church on Grace Church Lane in central Luray.
Because Daley has resigned and the case is already under investigation by local law enforcement officials, Mauney said the Synod would leave the investigation up to local authorities rather than conducting its own investigation.
“We desire the safety and care of all children and are concerned about the child involved with these charges,” Mauney added. “We pray for the child and the child’s family through these very difficult days.”
A grand jury returned 12 separate direct indictments against Daley on July 22, each listing one count of aggravated sexual battery of a child under the age of 13. Daley is being held in the Page County Jail without bond pending a bond hearing at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 7 in Page County Circuit Court.
The allegations stem from accusations of “inappropriately touching a female child” who was being cared for by Daley’s wife, Margaret, at a day care center that was run out of the couple’s home on Blue Ridge Avenue in Luray.
Margaret Daley, 69, was also arrested on July 18 and charged with failure to report suspected child sexual abuse to the proper authorities and knowingly placing a child in danger, according to arrest warrants. She posted a $25,000 secured bond and was released pending a hearing in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.
Sheriff John Thomas said the Daleys were caring for as many as 18 children varying in age from infancy to 12 years at the time of the arrests. The Town of Luray has revoked Margaret Daley’s business license to offer “professional services” from her home.
Page County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ken Alger II confirmed last week that the 12 indictments returned against Daley stem from allegations made by one victim, but more than one had come forward.
Alger said this week that he could not divulge how many victims might be coming forward or whether any additional charges will be brought against Daley.
“This is still an ongoing investigation, so I can’t comment on any of that, but I can say we have talked to all of the children involved,” Alger said.
Alger also said he could not comment on any evidence that may have been taken from Daley’s personal computer or other electronic data equipment seized from his home during the execution of a search warrant on July 17, one day after his arrest.
A statement contained in the search warrant affidavit filed by Investigator Mike Wagoner of the Page County Sheriff’s Office states that “numerous allegations of sexual abuse were reported” as part of Wagoner’s investigation into “an alleged incident of child sexual abuse where [Daley] was accused of inappropriately touching a female child.”
The affidavit further states that when Wagoner and fellow Investigator Clay Nevitt, also a Page County Deputy Sheriff, interviewed Daley at 5:52 p.m. on July 16, Daley “admitted to the allegations that were alleged by the victim.”
At that point Daley was arrested on the initial charges and jailed.
Wagoner is the Internet Crimes against Children Task Force officer for the Page County Sheriff’s Office. In his affidavit, Wagoner said adults who are sexually attracted to children usually keep photos, videos, diaries, books and magazines depicting children in sexual situations or having sex with adults. They may also actively share such material through peer-to-peer data sharing websites and other Internet sources, Wagoner said, thus prompting a request to search Daley’s computer and other electronic data gathering equipment for such evidence.
Daley has served as a Lutheran minister in Page and Shenandoah counties since at least the 1980s, although the Virginia Synod’s website does not contain a complete service roster for him.
The Rev. Grace Cangiolosi, a semi-retired Episcopal priest who served churches in Page County during the late 1990s, remembered working with Daley through the Shenandoah Ministerial Association when Daley pastored St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Shenandoah.
“He was still there when I left in 2000, and had been there three or four years,” Cangiolosi recalled. “His wife Margaret ran a day care center out of the parsonage next the church at the time.”
Cangiolosi said Daley “seemed like a very nice man, and we worked together in the ministerial association. There was no reason to think anything was wrong.”
Daley also formerly pastured in Shenandoah County, where he was the longtime minister at Lebanon Lutheran Church in the 1980s before coming to Page County.