Tag Archive: Sex with a Minor

Black Collar Crime: Survivor of Evangelical Pastor John Schouten Tells Her Story

pastor john schouten

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.

In October 2018, I wrote a post detailing the resignation of John Schouten, pastor of Vineyard Grace Fellowship (VGF) in Newark (Heath), Ohio His congregation found out that he had a sex crime in his past. While neither Schouten or VGF named the crime, an email sent to congregants stated Schouten did something that was “wrong, evil, and illegal.” The use of the word “illegal” narrows the field to: rape, sex with a minor, sexual assault of a minor, and a handful of other underage sex crimes.  According to the Newark Advocate, since the incident occurred thirty years ago, the statute of limitations has passed and Schouten cannot be prosecuted for his alleged criminal behavior.

In December 2018, the Newark Advocate published a story that reveals exactly what it was Schouten did thirty years ago:

The former pastor of VGF Church stepped down from the church he founded because about 30 years ago he had a relationship with a minor while he was a teacher.

John Schouten admitted to the relationship when confronted by church elders after the church received an email about the relationship during the summer, according to Advocate media partner 10TV.

Two people reached out to The Advocate corroborating the story.

While a teacher with Liberty Christian Academy in Pataskala during in the 1980s, Schouten had a relationship with a female teenage student. The two had a child together, according to 10TV.

….

You can read my original posts here and here.

Previously, Schouten told congregants that he had committed “rebellious and sinful actions” in the past. He never admitted that what he actually did was commit a felony for which he should have went to prison. The “good” pastor waited until the statute of limitations expired before coming clean about his past criminal behavior.

Yesterday, Jodi Priest, the woman Schouten preyed upon, published her story:

I am a survivor of sexual abuse. Calling myself a survivor does not mean I have moved on from all the effects of my trauma. It doesn’t mean that feelings of shame, disgrace and unworthiness never rear their ugly heads. Calling myself a survivor just means that I am still here to fight those feelings. So many tragically choose not to. If you have been abused and are reading this, you are a survivor. So often we are called victims and we were, but we are survivors. You are not to blame in any way. It took me a long time to understand, and more importantly, to believe this. The following is my journey.

….

I was a good student and well-liked by the teachers. The principal, Dave, even asked me to babysit his kids. Toward the end of my 8thgrade year, Dave asked me to leave school with his sick daughter and watch her at his sister’s house across the street until his wife could get off work. Joe and his wife lived so close to the school that I could walk there. And so could a teacher who wanted to “check on us.” Joe came to the house, and while his niece was asleep on the couch, he kissed me for the first time. I was thirteen.

….

Starting the next year, the targeting and grooming began in earnest. He was intentionally leading me down a path, which brought us to the same couch. This time it didn’t stop with a kiss. Fourteen-year-old me had no idea what was happening to my body, or exactly why I had to wash blood from my cheerleading skirt before I left.

Over the next four years the abuse continued. I thought I was in a relationship with Joe. He told me he loved me often. I wanted to believe that we would eventually be together. My entire high school life revolved around this abusive relationship. Even when his wife became pregnant, he somehow was able to convince me that it was me he loved. By my senior year, he was arranging meetings two-three times a week. We would meet in a variety of places. The park, my home, his home, and even at the school. Because of his hold on me, I couldn’t decide what to do about college. Even though part of me knew this “relationship” was wrong and I wanted help, I couldn’t make myself become unavailable to him. Over those four years, in a sub-conscious plea for help, I told some of my friends the truth. When Joe found out that I had told, he threatened to harm me and to get me in trouble with the school if I didn’t say it had been a lie.

Towards the end of my senior year, a classmate informed the principal that she heard a rumor about our “relationship.” Dave called me at home one evening in early May 1988. He said he needed to talk to me and asked me to meet him at the school. My father was not at home, and my mom would not allow me to go alone. When we arrived at the school, he asked my mom to wait in the lobby while he talked to me in his office. He told me he knew about my “relationship” with Joe. He told me I had a choice to make. If I admitted to the sexual relationship, I would get my diploma and Joe would just get fired and not go to jail. If I denied it, and he had to prove it, then I would not get my diploma and Joe would go to jail. At this time, I thought I loved him. I was scared and didn’t know what to do. I was hardly ever in trouble, and now I was being threatened with not graduating and being responsible for Joe going to jail. Of course, I now know this is not something an abused, seventeen-year-old girl should be faced with. The principal was required by law to report this to the authorities regardless of what I chose. I admitted to the relationship. Dave never asked me for any details. He left me alone in his office for a long time. My dad had arrived at the school, and my parents were the ones who came back in to get me. It was decided that I would not return to school. I would be taken to the Heritage USA compound in North Carolina, founded by Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, until after school let out. I had to cancel my prom plans, miss my graduation ceremony, and leave all my friends abruptly. I was not allowed to call anyone to tell them anything. I later found out that no one was told what happened. I just disappeared, no one could get a hold of me. Not only was it before cellphones, but students were also explicitly told not to try to contact me. The teachers were told that Joe had been fired, and if anyone asked any questions they would be fired also. Dave and other leaders chose to break the law by not reporting. Defending family and reputation was more important than protecting me. The abuse was kept a secret from everyone, and the silence spoke volumes. The shame and unworthiness I felt came to the forefront and wouldn’t be leaving any time soon.

….

In November 1988, I made plans to move in with my older brother. The week before I moved, Joe called me and wanted to see me again. Because I still wanted to believe that he loved me, I agreed, and the abusive relationship started again. Five months later I found out I was pregnant. When I told Joe, he asked me 2 questions: “Is it mine?” and “Will you have an abortion?” The answers were yes and no. That was the last time I talked to him until after the baby was born.

Please take the time to read Jodi’s gut-wrenching, heartfelt story. It’s a long read, but worth the time spent reading it.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor John Schouten Impregnated Christian School Teen

pastor john schouten

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.

In October 2018, I wrote a post detailing the resignation of John Schouten, pastor of Vineyard Grace Fellowship (VGF) in Newark (Heath), Ohio His congregation found out that he had a sex crime in his past. While neither Schouten or VGF is willing to name the crime, an email sent to congregants stated Schouten did something that was “wrong, evil, and illegal.” The use of the word “illegal” narrows the field to: rape, sex with a minor, sexual assault of a minor, and a handful of other underage sex crimes.  According to the Newark Advocate, since the incident occurred 30 years ago, the statute of limitations has passed.

Yesterday, the Newark Advocate published a story detailing exactly what it was that Schouten did:

The former pastor of VGF Church stepped down from the church he founded because about 30 years ago he had a relationship with a minor while he was a teacher.

John Schouten admitted to the relationship when confronted by church elders after the church received an email about the relationship during the summer, according to Advocate media partner 10TV.

Two people reached out to The Advocate corroborating the story.

While a teacher with Liberty Christian Academy in Pataskala during in the 1980s, Schouten had a relationship with a female teenage student. The two had a child together, according to 10TV.

….

You can read my original post here.

Previously, Schouten told congregants that he had committed “rebellious and sinful actions” in the past. He never admitted that what he actually did was commit a felony for which he should have went to prison. The good pastor waited until the statute of limitations expired before coming clean about his past criminal behavior.

 

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Pastor Chauncey Walker Accused of Having Sex with Church Teen

chauncey walker

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.

Chauncey Walker, youth pastor at Word of Life Ministries in Wichita, Kansas, stands accused of having sex with a teen church girl. Based on the following news story, it also seems that the church’s pastor Robert Rotola Sr. did not report the crimes when he learned of them. The alleged crime is bad enough, but, as Rotola’s words show, some pastors are only interested in protecting their church’s name. He will get a chance to defend his words in court. The victim has sued Word of Life Ministries, Pastor Rotola Sr. and his son Robert Rotola Jr, seeking damages in excess of $575,000.

The Wichita Eagle reports:

A former Wichita youth pastor — in jail and facing trial on sex-crime charges involving a 15-year-old church member — admitted during a recorded phone conversation to having sex with her.

“She was 15 when it started, and it progressed from there,” former Word of Life youth pastor Chauncey Walker says in the recording. He had sex with the girl the first time at Ground Zero, the Word of Life youth facility, he said. According to the charges, it happened about five years ago.

Once the allegations surfaced, he conceded, he wasn’t honest at first about her age “because, I’ll just be honest — I didn’t want to go to jail.”

An adult relative of the teen recorded his conversation with Walker on Aug. 9 or Aug. 10 and reported it to police before Walker’s arrest in August, says an attorney representing the alleged victim. The attorney provided The Eagle with the recordings and identified the voices.

….

In a separate phone conversation around the same time, also before the arrest, the alleged victim told the senior pastor at Word of Life Church, Robert Rotola Sr., that she was offended because she felt he was protecting Walker.

In the recording with the alleged victim, Rotola Sr. denied he was taking Walker’s side, adding: “Yeah, it’s a scumbag move (a youth pastor having sex with a girl), and people can’t be in the ministry that do that,” he said. “But he removed himself before (inaudible) a chance to do that. I don’t know what else to do.”

Rotola Sr. told her that if her relative reported it to police, he wanted a “heads-up” so he could alert his staff and be prepared for media questions. The alleged victim said several times during the conversation that she was not going to report it.

Neither Walker nor Rotola Sr. knew that the conversations were being recorded. Under Kansas law, only one party needs to consent to recording a conversation.

The senior pastor never conveyed a desire to report the allegations, and “the only involvement he had was try to cover it up,” says Jonathan McConnell, an attorney for the alleged victim.

The attorney for Word of Life Ministries, Ross Hollander, gave this statement Friday: “My clients prefer to plead the details of their case to a jury rather than to the media. They acknowledge that the lawsuit alleges tragic conduct. They place their faith in the legal process where they can present their side of the case.” In a court document, they have denied allegations that they are at fault.

The alleged victim is suing Word of Life Ministries and Schools Inc., Rotola Sr. and his son, church school administrator Robert Rotola Jr.

She is seeking damages of more than $575,000.

The alleged victim and her family attended the church; at one point, she went to Life Preparatory Academy, a school run by Word of Life.

….

The court document laying out the allegations in the lawsuit says that after a woman who was hosting foreign exchange students reported that an exchange student at the Word of Life school received inappropriate text messages from Walker, Rotola Jr. said he would “take care of the situation.” When the host mother later found journal entries by the student about inappropriate relations with Walker and showed the journal to Rotola Jr. and Rotola Sr., the older Rotola took the journal and removed the foreign exchange student from the home, the lawsuit says.

Rotola Sr. “threatened to remove the host mother’s other foreign exchange student if (she) continued to push the matter,” it says.

Word of Life lists several campuses and a main address at 3811 N. Meridian. It employed Walker as youth pastor at Ground Zero, where he led activities for young teens, the lawsuit says. He also served as the girls soccer coach at the Word of Life school.

The recording of Walker is part of the criminal case against him, McConnell said. Walker, 48, has remained in jail since August after being charged with aggravated indecent liberties and two counts of criminal sodomy. He faces a trial on April 9.

….

According to the church’s website, its vision is:

Word of Life Church has embarked on a unique journey. We have experienced several church mergers enabling us to combine efforts, join facilities, and adopt one vision to become much more powerful together than apart. Two are better than one; and multiple campuses all joining their parts together make for one strong and effective part!

By combining talents and callings, we are advancing the ministry of Christ more quickly. Partnering to do outreach and missions has produced major results for the Kingdom! Our missions plan, entitled “Vision 2020”, launched in 2006, has now seen over 3,050,000 people become followers of Christ around the world. Vision 2020’s goal is to win 20 million.

“Walking out our Christianity with others” is a much higher paradigm than “Going it alone”. We are sharing LIFE with the lost and doing so in harmony, unity, and strength .

We are one church with multiple campuses. All of our 140+ campuses have made a covenant to see the mission of Vision 2020 come to pass. Word of Life is serving many individuals and families with a highly acclaimed Counseling Center, Preschool & Childcare, Elementary & Secondary School, and Bible Institute. Our weekly church services include dynamic worship, teaching and small groups. The kids love children’s church! We also have weekly services for teens, young adults and more.

It is our honor to serve the Lord Jesus in the city of Wichita as Senior Pastors of Word of Life Church Wichita since 1989.

Pastor Rob and Debbie Rotola