The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.
Cameron Giovanelli, the president of Golden State Baptist College — an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) institution operated by Pastor Jack Trieber and North Valley Baptist Church in Santa Clara, California, stands accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting a church teenager when he was the pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Dundalk, Maryland. As of the writing of this post, no criminal charges have been filed. Giovanelli’s name has been scrubbed from Golden State’s website.
On May 11, 2018, the victim, Sarah Jackson, posted the following on Facebook:
There’s much about this video that irritates the living hell out of me, especially the fact that the pastor “investigated” instead of immediately calling law enforcement. If the allegations against Giovanelli are true, then he sexually assaulted a minor girl while he was in a position of authority over her. This action, in most states, is criminal. I also don’t like the fact that the pastor used the word “consensual” in describing the relationship between Giovanelli and the victim. Again, in most states, the relationship, legally, could not have been consensual. And the general IFB verbiage about ministry, loyalty, and the appeal to authority and personal experience, were, at least to me, unnecessary. I do give Shiflett credit for one thing: he was willing to publicly call out Cameron Giovanelli, Jack Trieber, and Golden State Baptist College. Kudos for speaking the truth and letting the shit land where it may. Shiflett says in public what many of us have known for years: the IFB church movement tends to cover-up criminal behavior out of fear of damaging their “testimony.” Here’s to hoping that the light that Shiflett turned on the IFB movement will lead to the exposure of other sexual predators who have been hiding in plain sight for years.
I received an email from Pastor Shiflett about this post. He clarified his use of the word consensual and shared with me that his investigation was for his own peace of mind since Giovanelli was a friend and the former pastor of Calvary Baptist Church. He made it very clear that if such things happen at his church to a minor, it is immediately reported to law enforcement. Shiflett, as you can imagine, has received a flood of emails, comments, etc. Most pastors would not do what he did, so he deserves a lot of credit for doing the right thing. That said, it should continue to trouble everyone that way too many pastors are either sexual predators/abusers or they go to great lengths to cover-up misconduct in their churches. Imagine how much better it might be for sexual abuse victims if their pastors not only listened to them but acted morally, ethically, decently, and responsibly on their behalf. Instead, abuse victims are often told to shut-up or are blamed for what happened. It is for this reason, that I continue to post Black Collar Crime stories, regardless of the threats and abuse hurled my way. Why? It’s the right thing to do. I know this blog has high traffic numbers, and leveraging this traffic to expose alleged sexual abuse seems, at least to me, to be something I can and must do. On this point, I stand with Pastor Shiflett.
Golden State Baptist College released the following statement:
It has come to our attention that allegations of inappropriate conduct have been made against Cameron Giovanelli, a member of our staff. Upon receipt of the notice of the allegations, we immediately placed him on administrative leave of all activities and responsibilities, to conduct a thorough and honest investigation. During the course of that investigation, Cameron Giovanelli tendered his resignation to the ministry and his resignation has been accepted. All responsibilities of any nature whatsoever, were permanently and immediately terminated with receipt of his resignation. There were no allegations of wrongdoing of any nature that involved the ministries of North Valley Baptist Church or Golden State Baptist College. Please keep our ministry, the Giovanelli family and all others involved in your prayers.