A New Jersey minister has been accused of using oral sex to extract “evil spirits” from three men he was counseling.
Rev. Dr. William Weaver, of Linden Presbyterian Church, has been accused by Elizabeth Presbytery, which has jurisdiction over the church, of “multiple acts of idolatry and sexual misconduct,” dating back to 1999.
In January, he was due to face an internal church trial to hear the charges against him and face his accusers.
However, one day prior to the trial, Weaver, 69, renounced the jurisdiction of the church and moved to a gated retirement community in Lakewood, NJ.
All three men said that they had reported Weaver to authorities in addition to the church, but the Union County Prosecutor’s Office refused to confirm whether they were investigating Weaver, My Central Jersey reports.
The men each painted a picture of an apparent pillar of the community who, in private, sexually manipulated them during particularly vulnerable times in their lives.
A.J. Meeker, 37, said in a statement that he started seeing Weaver for counseling in 2000. At the time he was struggling with “abandonment issues, depression and anxiety,” and after joining Linden Presbyterian found Weaver to be “a kind and compassionate person who was very easy to talk to.”
During the counseling, which was held in Weaver’s bedroom in his manse, Weaver allegedly claimed Meeker was filled with evil energy, citing Native American rituals and blaming “individuals based around the Watchung Reservation.”
In order to remove the claimed evil, Weaver had Meeker lie naked on his bed, before placing coins and gemstones on his body, and ordering him to lie still.
Weaver then put his tongue in Meeker’s mouth and moved it around “to see if I had anything in my mouth or throat.” This then progressed to Weaver performing oral sex on Meeker.
“He would then ingest my ejaculate and then would spit up multiple pieces of plastic or metal into a Ziploc bag,” Meeker said. Weaver claimed these pieces were “hits,” created from his evil energy, and they needed to be removed.
Weaver would then hold Meeker and tell him “he loved me and he would protect me, and he would never let anything bad happen to me.” He also told Meeker not to tell people what they had done, as “nobody would understand.”
William Weist, 52, made similar accusations against Weaver. He said he sought Weaver’s help in his 30s, after witnessing the death of his wife’s son, saying he was at “an extremely low point.”
After initially discussing “Bible and Bible verses, and Jesus loves you, and all this stuff,” the counseling sessions “just evolved,” with Weaver allegedly introducing gemstones and discussions of “evil spirits.”
Despite these oddities, Weist felt he was improving after the trauma of seeing a dead body, saying, “I was able to now have those memories and not get upset by them, so I thought it was all helping.”
But things allegedly progressed to a similar place as Meeker, with Weist naked, ordered to remain still, and with Weaver telling him he would remove his “hits” through masturbation.
“I felt uneasy, but I took his word that this was necessary,” Weist said, adding, ““Feeling mortified was an understatement, but I didn’t want to say he was wrong, after he helped me to this point. I was so confused and upset I remember praying to God please let me get this over with!”
At his next session, Weist was told only oral sex would remove his “hits.”
“When it was over,” Weist said, “he showed me what looked to be a tiny metal ball and said that was what he got out of me.”
Weist says his low mental state was what allowed Weaver to take advantage of him: “I was so scared with everything that I was dealing with. I just felt scared, it was very raw.”
Weist says he suffered through several more sessions before he stopped attending counseling, saying it had left him feeling “so small and worthless, like a piece of trash in the street. I just couldn’t face what had happened to me.”
Jared Staunton, 36, said Weaver took advantage of him after his partner and father died just two months apart.
“I began to have a nervous breakdown right in front of him,” Staunton said. “It was at that moment, when I was completely broken and lost, that he took control over me.”
“Mentally I was gone,” he added, stating that he followed Weaver’s instructions because “all I could be was compliant.”
Staunton made similar allegations, including that Weaver kissed him on the mouth, examined his naked body, and told him “‘You don’t have to be afraid anymore, I’m your protector now.'”
Audrey Pereira, associate representative to the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter No. 779, where Weaver had served as chaplain, told My Central Jersey that Weaver was a “smart and cunning” man.
“We don’t know who else has been hurt by this,” she said. “God forbid there are more out there…. He did good on one hand, but he’s like a Jekyll and Hyde. On the other hand, he did this evil to who knows how many. It can’t just have been these guys, there has to be more.”
Rev. Leslie Dobbs-Allsopp, interim leader of the Elizabeth Presbytery, said in a statement that the presbytery took seriously the allegations against Weaver, and that they had received “allegations of multiple instances of sexual misconduct perpetrated by William Weaver” in April 2018.
“Mr. Weaver was placed on administrative leave while the Investigating Committee conducted interviews with multiple witnesses,” Dobbs-Allsopp said. “The allegations were found to be credible, and disciplinary charges were filed, and an ecclesiastical disciplinary hearing date was set.”
However, because Weaver renounced the jurisdiction of the church, “the disciplinary charges became public subject to the Presbytery’s sexual misconduct policy.”
Robert Fuggi, of the Fuggi Law Firm in Toms River, told My Central Jersey that Weaver’s alleged conduct could be considered criminal.
“[The victims] were misled, and he used fraud and he used other tactics, or techniques, to manipulate these people into being sexually abused,” he said. “It’s really horrifying that he took his position of a pastoral role, one they look up to, and he manipulated them.”
He added that the victims were “unwilling and unwitting” and “did not consensually engage in the sexual assaults, they consensually engaged in what they thought was a pastoral counseling session.”