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.
Yesterday, I posted a story about alleged sexual crimes of Shannon Griffin, an IFB pastor’s wife and a kindergarten teacher at Jordan Baptist School in Burbank, Illinois. Today, the Chicago Tribune reported an alleged conversation between Shannon Griffin’s husband, Thomas, and a church member by the name of Mike Mollo:
Parents at the school said they sent their children to the private school because they trusted the Griffins. Now they are feeling betrayed.
“He said, ‘Dad, you got to see this,’” parent Mike Mollo said. “He pulls his phone out, and it’s a bunch of pornographic videos of her doing things to herself.”
Mollo’s two children went to the school, and his family belonged to the church.
“The second I saw that video, the very next day, I pulled my kids out of that school, and we stopped going to church there immediately,” he said.
He said explicit images of Griffin began circulating among students. Photos were provided to CBS 2 by an adult.
Mollo said he went to police and confronted his pastor, Griffin’s husband.
“I called the pastor, and I said to him, ‘You better get in front of this.’ I said, ‘All these kids are passing videos around of your wife.’ And he said, ‘It’s not my wife. It’s not her. We’re just going to pray about it. Let the lord take care of us,’” Mollo said.
Mollo said he feels beyond betrayed by what happened.
“You pay that kind of money to send your kids to a school to where you can trust these people, and they go and do this?” he said. “Betrayed is an understatement. Violated, betrayed, angry. There’s no words to describe what I was feeling.”
Note carefully Thomas Griffin’s response to Mollo: “It’s not my wife. It’s not her. We’re just going to pray about it. Let the Lord take care of us.”
First, Pastor Griffin lied. He and his wife have been married for twenty-eight years. I am sure, by now, he knows what his wife looks like naked, and otherwise.
Second, clergy in the state of Illinois are mandated reporters, as are school teachers. Pastor Griffin was legally obligated to immediately report his wife to law enforcement. So were any school officials who heard rumors or knew about Shannon Griffin’s sexual misconduct. Sometimes, doing the right thing is hard, but Pastor Griffin had a duty to protect church and school children from his wife’s predatory behavior.
Third, it is absurd that Pastor Griffin, instead of doing what was legally and morally required of him, wanted to pray about the matter and leave it in the Lord’s hands. This is exactly what more than a few IFB preachers are known for: covering up criminal behavior. Griffin is a graduate of the late Jack Hyles’ college, Hyles-Anderson College. I can’t help but see a connection between Pastor Griffin’s response and the pernicious teachings of Hyles.
Pastor Griffin just wants to put his wife’s misconduct in the Lord’s hands. Sadly, Jesus has never, ever called law enforcement to report one of his children. Instead, he forgives their “sin” and wipes their slate clean. This is why sexual abuse allegations CANNOT be left in the hands of pastors and churches to investigate and control. In IFB churches, in particular, protecting the testimony of the church is far more important than protecting and caring for those who have been victimized by pastors and congregants alike. Cover-ups abound.
Fourth, how is it that Pastor Griffin has not, at the very least, been suspended or put on leave? His comments reveal that he does not have the best interests of the church and the school at heart. (And at some level, I understand his desire to protect his wife and their three children.) According to several news reports, Shannon Griffin was doing at least some of the things she is accused of for six years! Six years! Jordan Baptist Church is not a huge church, attendance-wise, and the school only had a hundred or so students. I find it hard to believe that no one heard any rumors about Mrs. Griffin’s alleged criminal behavior over the past six years.
It will be interesting to see how this story plays out. The overwhelming majority of Black Collar Crimes series stories feature male perpetrators. When it comes to female wrongdoers, there’s often a double standard. An adult male teacher has sex with a teenage student and it’s rape. Let a female teacher do the same with a teen boy, and it is considered every boys’ wet dream.