Type to search

Church Investigations

Pastor Pleads Guilty to Sexual Abuse Three Years after Son Pled Guilty

Avatar photo

This week Joseph Burress, Sr., the 71-year-old former senior pastor of Victory Church, formerly Victory Baptist Church, in Rochester, New York, pleaded guilty to second degree sexual abuse. He had been charged with sexually abusing two children under the age of 14 and is scheduled to be sentenced on September 2 in Pittsford Town Court.

Burress is the father of Paul Burress, a pastor and martial arts enthusiast who achieved minor fame for his role in the 2014 documentary Fight Church, which explored churches that host fights and/or fight clubs, and train members in fighting.

Claims that Paul Burress had sexually abused minors circulated after the film’s release, and he finally pled guilty in 2018 to third-degree sexual abuse, a misdemeanor, after being accused of groping three women in a hot tub at his Henrietta home and being charged with four counts of forcible touching. He was sentenced to one year on probation with sex offender conditions.

Fight Church was a poorly rated film that drew critical viewer reviews, including one that saw the film as a window into American evangelicalism.

“It’s a study into how religion and aggression can feed on each other and this makes this a really timely (and very well made) piece,” said one viewer. “In particular for European audiences, this also sheds light on the sometimes baffling coexistence of religiousness and violence in the U.S.”

Access to MinistryWatch content is free.  However, we hope you will support our work with your prayers and financial gifts.  To make a donation, click here.

Another reviewer, who says Burress had abused her, criticizes the filmmakers for glorifying him. “Couldn’t have picked a worse person to represent Christianity,” she wrote. She also described his alleged abuse: “He knocked me out cold in front of my two year old daughter before I attempted to seek help.”

Joseph Burress made no comments during his court appearance last week, nor has Victory Church released a statement.

The church’s “Meet Our Leaders” page has been disabled, but its “Sports & Fitness” page is alive and well, complete with its “Victory Fit” and “Fitness Chics” programs, and groups for archery, Taekwondo, and Euchre.

Avatar photo
Steve Rabey

Steve Rabey is a veteran author and journalist who has published more than 50 books and 2,000 articles about religion, spirituality, and culture. He was an instructor at Fuller and Denver seminaries and the U.S. Air Force Academy. He and his wife Lois live in Colorado.