Tag Archive: Sexual Assault

Forgiveness is Not Enough, When it Comes to Healing for Sexual Abuse Victims

interceding virgin mary

Guest post by MJ Lisbeth

Much has been made of the smaller-than-expected audience and sometimes-hostile reception Pope Francis encountered during his visit to Ireland. While commentators noted the contrast with the more enthusiastic greeting that awaited Pope John Paul II when he arrived in 1979, they did not make the connection between something Francis said and young Irish people’s drift away from, or even outright rejection, of the church.

At the Marian Shrine of Knock, he begged for forgiveness of the sins of members of the Church of Ireland who committed abuse of whatever kind and asked the blessed mother to intercede for the healing of survivors and to never again permit these situations to occur.

One can say that, although he did mention young people who were robbed of their innocence and children taken from their mothers, his appeal was still too vague. And, as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse by a priest, I feel that he placed too much emphasis on “forgiving” the “sins” of the perpetrator and not enough on the healing for the victims.

Then again, it may be that neither he nor the Church can do otherwise. For one thing, addressing the plight of survivors in a more specific way would open up the Church to even more scorn and more lawsuits than it already faces. But more to the point — at least from the point of view of survivors and the general public — clergy members, from parish priests all the way up to the College of Cardinals, simply are not equipped to help survivors move on from the abuse we have suffered.

What they, and the Pope, don’t seem to understand is this: those of us who have been sexually abused as children were traumatized. This is not the same as simply having one’s feelings hurt by a thoughtless word or some quotidian misdeed. It means that we have been changed, irrevocably, in fundamental ways. We lost our ability to trust, not only priests and the Church, but other people, even those with whom we have (or should have) our most intimate relationships. That is because, as modern research has shown, the stress caused by trauma affects our brains: It sensitizes the “reptilian” parts, which is more impulsive, and restricts the “limbic” area, which helps us record our memories and form our judgments from them. And, of course, that stress affects the body, manifesting itself in a number of health issues such as hypertension and diabetes.

So, while “forgiveness” of “sins” might give the perpetrator a clean slate, it does nothing to alleviate trauma and its effects in victims. If anything, asking (or, more precisely, guilt-tripping) a victim to “forgive” a perpetrator only re-traumatizes that victim. I know: whenever I’ve been asked to “forgive” someone who has caused me real harm — whether that priest in my childhood or an abusive ex-spouse or partner — it’s like another blow to my body, not to mention to my mind and heart.

As I’ve said, the Pope and most priests, as well-intentioned as they might be, simply don’t understand the difference between being sinned-against and being traumatized — and that the latter happens to children who are sexually molested by priests or taken away from their mothers. I think most of them can’t, in part because they don’t have the training that would allow them to do so. But even those who have such training, I believe, still operate under the belief that, when the victim forgives, he or she heals along with the victimizer. Too often, it just doesn’t work that way.

Really, all one can do after abuse is to prevent it from happening again. That doesn’t happen through “forgiveness” or “redemption.”  Only taking away the opportunities for abuse, for inducing trauma, can do that: priests (or any other adults) who abuse children must not be allowed access to them. And the abuse from my ex-partner stopped, not through “forgiving” him (as he begged me to do), but after an order of protection and the loss of his career.

Still, trauma remains. I work through mine every day. No amount of “forgiveness” can change that. I am sure other survivors could say the same — and feel exasperated or enraged, or both, by the Pope’s plea, even if he could not have acted in any other way.

Sexual Abuse Victims Have the Right To Be Heard — Whenever They Are Ready

catholic church sexual abuse problem

Cartoon by David Reddick

Guest post by MJ Lisbeth

When I heard about the Pennsylvania grand jury report on children sexually abused by Roman Catholic priests, my reaction was, “Only 1,000 kids? Only 300 priests? — over 70 years?”

I am not a lawyer or any sort of expert on laws regarding child sexual abuse (or on any other kind of law, for that matter). But I do know that in most states, it’s all but impossible for anyone over the age of 30 to bring charges against a priest or church for abuse suffered at age ten, fifteen or even twenty. Depending on the state, a victim can only file a suit up to a certain age or, perhaps worse, a certain number of years (usually five to ten) after the abuse.

This all but prevents most victims from bringing their perpetrators — or the churches or other institutions that harbored them — to account. I know; I am one.

More than three decades passed from the times I was sexually molested by a priest in the parish where I was an altar boy until the time I finally told someone: my partner at the time, as we were breaking up. Until then, I had experienced a failed marriage, a bunch of other failed relationships, difficulties with supervisors and other authority figures, substance abuse, suicide attempts, financial ruin and general confusion about my sexual orientation and gender identity — the latter of which I began to resolve only after telling my now-ex-partner about my abuse.

The abuse I suffered — or, I should say, the experiences of abuse I can recall most vividly and terrifyingly — occurred when I was nine years old. I had received my first holy communion about a year and a half before that, and I was confirmed only a few months after the last of those incidents. The reason I recall those incidents most clearly and terrifyingly, I believe, has to do with the priest who committed them and the time in my life in which he victimized me. I will not get into either of them here; instead, I will try to answer the question of why it took so long for me to talk about them — and why the statutes of limitations regarding such abuse needs to be lengthened.

A Culture of Authority

That priest took advantage of my vulnerabilities — I was in a new school and didn’t have a very supportive home life — half a century ago, in the late 1960’s. That time is often associated with the Sexual Revolution and other changes in society, but those things could have just as well happened in a different world from the one in which I grew up. It was a milieu (a word nobody in that environment would have used) in which authority was to be, if not entirely trusted, then unquestioningly obeyed. Young men did not protest being drafted to fight in Vietnam; some even volunteered to go. Anyone who dared to question, let alone resist, fighting in the war was branded as a coward or traitor — or with the most damning epithet of all: Communist.

(My uncle, who was even more progressive than I am now on issues of race relations, gender roles and sexuality, nonetheless refused to watch any film, television program or other show in which “Hanoi” Jane Fonda appeared. He kept up this embargo until the day he died.)

Most of the men in my world — my own father, uncles and grandfathers, as well as those of nearly every kid with whom I grew up — were blue-collar workers.  Many had fought in Korea or World War II; nearly all had military experience of some sort. And just about all of us were children or grandchildren of immigrants who believed that their gratitude for what America offered them could be expressed only as unquestioning obedience, which they conflated with loyalty. I did, too, for a long time.

Most of them were also Roman Catholics, and their attitudes toward secular authority made them all-but-perfect candidates to follow the flock of their Good Shepherd — or, more precisely, his representatives on Earth. If you are of my generation and raised Catholic (I went to Catholic schools), you were taught that your parish priests, and even more so the bishop of your diocese, were just that: your connection to God, as it were. That, in a church, where the Pope is considered infallible.

You may not have known about that last doctrine (officially defended under Pius IX, but asserted long before that) as a kid, but you probably knew — or, more importantly, felt — the weight of the trust and authority granted to your priests and bishops. It was even greater than any power your parents, teachers or other elders held over you. When you are living under such an imbalance of power, you realize early on that if you speak up against someone who is held in as high esteem as your principal, let alone your priests or bishop, your credibility cannot hold a candle to theirs.

That is, if you can even explain what happened to you.

Human anatomy, let alone sex education, wasn’t part of the fourth-grade curriculum in my Catholic school — or most others, I imagine — in 1967. Or, for that matter, most kids’ homes, including mine. Even today, many parents avoid talking with their kids about the body’s processes, let alone sex, for as long as possible. In many families, even today, that discussion never takes place. I know it never did in mine.

So, when our parish priest molested me, I didn’t even know the names of the parts of my body he was touching. It almost goes without saying that I had no vocabulary, or any other way, to describe the ways in which my body reacted: I had not experienced anything like it before. I also did not have words, let alone expression, for the unease I felt: I knew that what he was doing wasn’t right, but I didn’t know why, and I never could have defended myself against those who would have blamed me for it. (Remember, this was at a time when the usual responses to rape were: What was she wearing? What was she doing there, at that time of day/night?) I am sure others abused by priests when they were children could say something similar.

Given the repressive conditions I’ve described — one in which authority is not questioned, church leaders have absolute authority and children do not learn about their own bodies, let alone how they can be used against them — is it any wonder that most victims don’t recount their abuse by priests to anyone but themselves — if, indeed, they ever do — until they are well into adulthood? Or that some never speak up about it? One reason, I’m sure, that the Pennsylvania report didn’t name more victims is that some have taken their stories to their graves. Needless to say, some are in those graves by their own doing. And, I’m sure, many priests parted this vale of tears before their victims could confront them. Mine did, about two decades before I told anyone, although I didn’t realize it at the time.

Whenever they are ready.

Thus, as long as there are implicit as well as explicit rules and forces that enforce obedience and silence, particularly among children, victims need the freedom and the space to discuss their molestation whenever they are ready — whether at 20 or 40 or 80. Whenever it is, we can only hope that it’s before marriages fail, jobs are lost, families are broken up, substances are abused and lives are ended prematurely. Victims deserve the right to repair or reclaim their lives; there should not be a time limit on that.

Want to Share Your Thoughts on Donald Trump, Brett Kavanaugh, or #metoo?

your story matters

Are you angry over how Donald Trump treats women and how he denigrates them publicly? Do you have passionate opinions about the sexual assault allegations against Donald Trump or Brett Kavanaugh? Do you support the #metoo movement? Do you have a personal story to share about being sexually abused, raped, or sexually harassed? Are you appalled by Evangelical support for President Trump, Brett Kavanaugh, and the idea that what happened in high school — even sexual assault — shouldn’t disqualify a man from public office? Are you sickened by how Evangelicals abandoned any sense of moral authority, choosing instead to be shills for the Republican Party? If so, I want to hear from you.

If you are a woman and have something you want or need to say on these matters, I want to extend to you an invitation to write a guest post (or multiple posts) for this site. I think it is important for readers to hear from women on these issues. Guest posts can be any length, and can either be written anonymously or under your own name. If you are interested in writing a post but fear your writing/English skills are lacking, please don’t let that hinder your participation.  I have a first-rate editor who will edit your post, making sure the grammar and structure is correct. Your point of view will not be changed in any way. My editor is a progressive woman, so you can rest assure that she will do all she can to help you.  You may have noticed frequent guest posts by ObstacleChick.  OC is also a woman. Her recent letter to Evangelical women was posted as written with only a few minor grammatical corrections. She will tell you that I don’t alter content. It’s your story, and I want to provide a forum for you to tell it. You don’t have to be an atheist or agree with me to write a guest post.

Interested? Please email me expressing your interest via the Contact Form. I will then provide you with my private email address to which you can send me your post. All correspondence between us will be held in the strictest of confidence.

Thank you!

signature

A Letter to My Evangelical Christian Sisters

women for trump

Guest Post by ObstacleChick

Dear Evangelical Christian Sisters,

You were my classmates, my friends at church, my relatives. We came of age in the 1980s when MTV, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Magnum PI, and Shaker sweaters were all the rage. We permed our hair and used a TON of hairspray. Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign against drugs was targeted at us, and we were terrified of HIV and AIDS. Boy George and David Bowie showed us a gender bender look, and within a decade our gay friends started coming out of the closet.

I left Evangelicalism, but you stayed. As Southern Baptist churches ramped up their complementarian teachings and the Moral Majority increased its efforts, you became more conservative in your political beliefs. You rallied behind the anti-abortion movement. You denounced feminism as destructive to the family. You were vocal in excoriating President Bill Clinton for lying about his affair with Monica Lewinsky (technically a sexual harassment situation as President Clinton was in a position of authority over Ms. Lewinsky). Many of you attended Christian colleges, got married, had kids. Some of you sent your kids to Christian schools not unlike the one we attended, teaching Fundamentalist Christian doctrine and creationism instead of science. Others of you chose to homeschool your children.

Most of you I have not seen in person since I moved a thousand miles away to start a new life in 1994. As social media took off and expanded, we have connected in a virtual way. Where I probably would never have heard about most of you or seen what you were doing, now I can see what your lives are like, what you do for fun, what you think is important enough to post on social media. Darn, you all look old. I guess I do too.

When you posted about marriage being between one man and one woman, I saw it. Every time you posted about the evils and horrors of abortion, I saw it. I saw when you voiced your support for Donald Trump and when you made fun of the Women’s March. Those of you who remained silent through the era of the 2016 election – I saw you too. I like to think that you were conflicted, but I do not know for sure. When news reports showed children being separated from their parents in detention centers, I saw your posts talking about border control and following the law. Every time you post some pithy meme about putting “God” or mandatory prayers or Ten Commandments posters or plaques saying “In God We Trust” in a school, prison, town hall, or any other public property, I saw that too and wondered how we sat through the same history and civics classes yet you completely misunderstood the Establishment Clause (but then, history was my favorite subject and I was the history state champion for Tennessee Association of Christian Schools, and yes, I admit to being a jerk).

Now I see you, sisters, posting your support for Brett Kavanaugh, a man who has been accused of sexual abuse. You say you stand with Brett Kavanaugh. You post articles saying it’s a con job by the Democratic party to support the “communist/Satanic/progressive sacred cow” of abortion. You call his accusers unreliable, you say they are unreliable, you ask where their witnesses are. I was especially sad to see you, my friend, posting in support of Kavanaugh, my friend who cried in anguish to us in high school when you revealed that your grandfather had raped you throughout your childhood – does sexual abuse only count if penetration occurs? Is that the line? Everything else is just . . . boys being boys? My heart breaks for you, and I can’t understand why you, of all people, don’t stand in solidarity with other women who were sexually abused as teenagers or young women. None of you waited until you heard Dr. Ford’s testimony to call her a liar, a pawn of the Democrats, someone intent on “taking down” a conservative candidate just because of politics. You automatically assumed Kavanaugh was not guilty rather than listening to evidence and letting the whole situation play out.

Is the issue of abortion so important to you ladies that you are willing to turn your back on women who may have been sexually abused? Do you want forced prayers and Christian religious symbols so badly in the public forum that you denigrate women who come forward saying that Mr. Kavanaugh sexually abused them? Some of your posts blame “the left” for telling us which women to believe – the Democrats and Democrats only. I’m not sure where you came up with that information. I can’t help but see the irony – the inconsistency – in your condemnation of President Bill Clinton two decades ago and your support of Brett Kavanaugh today.

Let me assure you, I do not care what your party affiliation is or whether you have one. If you tell me that some man shoved his “junk” in your face without your consent, I will support you. If you tell me someone pushed you down on a bed, covered your mouth, and tried to tear off your clothes, I will support you. If you tell me that a stranger grabbed your posterior in the subway, I will support you. If you tell me someone raped you, I will support you. You do not need to show me your voting record. You do not need to show me your social media posts supporting candidates or issues one way or another. I will support you. Why? Because it is the right thing to do. Because I value your right to ownership of your own body. Because I value your right to consent. Because I believe you should be heard, your story, all of it, regardless of who else was involved.

Do I believe you would do the same for me? I do not know. Maybe it depends on the situation and who was involved. And that makes me sad. It reaffirms my disgust with the religion that I walked away from so long ago.

OC

IFB Preacher Bob Gray, Sr. Explains How He Excuses Sex Crimes and Adultery

the-hyles-rule

Bob Gray, Sr. is the retired pastor of the Longview Baptist Temple in Longview, Texas. Gray has spent his clerical career defending and standing behind men accused of all sorts crimes, malfeasance, and inappropriate conduct. One need only look at Gray’s resolute support of adulterer Jack Hyles (Please read The Legacy of Jack Hyles and The Scandalous Life of Jack Hyles and Why it Still Matters.) and his sexual predator son David Hyles (UPDATED: Serial Adulterer David Hyles Has Been Restored and Is All Forgiven for David Hyles?) Gray, a graduate of Hyles-Anderson College, believes, as did his god Jack Hyles, that if you didn’t see something, it didn’t happen. (Please read If You Didn’t See It, It Didn’t Happen and Sexual Abuse and the Jack Hyles Rule: If You Didn’t See It, It Didn’t Happen.) In his mind, unless there are two or more witnesses to Pastor Johnny fucking his secretary at the Motel 6 or Youth Pastor Billy Joe having sex with a church teen in his office, then they are innocent of all charges.

Today, Gray took to his blog to defend Catholic Brett Kavanaugh of all charges. I find it hilarious that Gray — who hates Roman Catholicism as only a Baptist can — is defending Kavanaugh. Much like the “liberal” Evangelicals he condemns, Gray has sold his soul for a mess of political pottage. All that matters to Gray is that Republicans continue to control the government and that right-wingers dominate the U.S. Supreme Court. Why? Abortion. It’s always about abortion. That, and those damn queers who dared to come out of the closet and demand equal justice and protection under the law. Gray, as a man, has been reduced to being a shill for the Republican party, a man willing to defend all sorts of vile behavior if, in doing so, the desired political objective is gained.

According to Gray, all these women hurling accusations against Kavanaugh, President Trump, and countless other men, are a sign of the coming end of the world. Gray writes:

In recent days we have seen those who oppose Christian values use a very potent weapon against those who stand for what is right. It is a weapon that has been used since the beginning of time. It is a weapon Satan mastered and taught throughout the ages. It was first used in the garden of Eden against God. It has continued to be used throughout history. The Bible tells us that a sign of the times is the increase of the use of this weapon. What is the weapon you ask? It is a powerful weapon of accusation.

In our political arenas we have watched as the liberals have used accusation over and over again in an attempt to discredit an individual with whom they disagree. In recent days we have seen it used against politicians, Supreme Court nominees, and others who stand for conservative principles. Unfortunately we have also seen it used among preachers and Christians. Many an individual has been damaged permanently by an accusation that has been made against them. Political contests have been determined by accusation which were made. Nominees for positions in the president’s cabinet have been altered because of accusation. Accusation can literally alter the course of history.

In the Garden of Eden Satan began his attack on God by accusing him of not telling the complete truth. Joseph was placed into prison and stripped of his position because of an accusation. Our Saviour was hung on the cross to be crucified because of those who accused Him.

Gray goes on to list nine things Christians should do when hearing of accusations against someone:

1. Accusation must never stand alone.

Please follow that statement carefully. Accusation must always be accompanied by several things.

It must be accompanied with the proper presentation. The Bible clearly tells us that we are not to bring an accusation against an elder. The presentation of accusation should not be in the public forum. Accusation should be presented in the proper fashion.

It must be given to the proper person. When we accuse someone publicly we are not looking for justice as much as we are looking to influence opinion. A public accusation does not fix a problem. A public accusation creates a problem because it changes public opinion without justice being carried out. We must only accuse to the proper authority or person who is responsible for finding truth behind the accusation.

2. Accusation should not be assumed as true.

There was a day when we all believed that a person was innocent until proven guilty. We are now living in a society where guilt is assumed until innocence is proven. A person’s reputation is destroyed because we assume them to be guilty based upon what seems to be a credible accusation. In some cases we assume it to be true even if the evidence is by an unreliable witness. We seem to like assuming guilt. It is wrong to accept accusation as truth.

3. The accuser should be on trial as much as the accused.

This is critical. People who have been accused are often times judged while the person who accuse them is allowed to freely make the accusation without scrutiny. When an accusation is made the first person that should be scrutinized is not the one accused. It should be the one who made the accusation. What was their motive for making this accusation? What was their agenda in making this accusation? Did they make the accusation to the proper person in the proper manner? These are questions we should be asking when someone accuses.

4. Public accusation should never be considered reliable.

A person who makes a public accusation almost always has an ulterior motive. It is foolish to believe that someone who would use accusation to destroy a person’s reputation should be trusted.

….

5. We should not allow a person’s reputation to be changed by accusation.

Someone who has done much good is accused and suddenly we think bad of them. We don’t know the facts. We don’t know the reason they were accused. We know nothing other than what we have heard. To change our opinion of the one being accused merely because there is an accusation made is foolhardy.

….

6. Do not be the judge or the jury when you hear of an accusation made.

In fact, don’t be the private investigator either. May I just simply put it this way? Mind your own business. If it’s not your business to carry out justice then keep your nose out of it. You are doing no one a favor by deciding that you are going to be the one who investigates the person who has been accused. Do not make a judgment unless it is your area of judgment.

7. Defend the accused.

This is not popular, but it is the right thing to do. A person who has been accused should be defended until they have been proven guilty. Tragically we are cowards when it comes to this. Someone with whom we have had a friendship with for years is accused and we get as far away from them as we can to protect ourselves. What a cowardly way to behave. Stand by your friends when they are accused. I would rather be wrong in defending an accused friend, than to be right in having attack them before knowing the truth.

8. Apply Philippians 4:8 to all accusation.

It commands us, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Most accusation would not stand up to that criteria so therefore we should not even entertain it in our thoughts. One reason to avoid receiving accusation is the danger of allowing your mind to think on the wrong things.

9. Never Never NEVER spread accusation.

If you spread accusation you are as guilty as Satan of accusing one of your brethren. Satan is the accuser…not just the false accuser. He is the accuser of the brethren.

….

10. Identify yourself with the accused.

This is one that I wish every Christian would follow. I would rather be identified with someone who has been accused than someone who is guilty of being an accuser. I run to the side of the accused. I identify myself with the accused. Christ was accused and I identify myself with him.

….

Well, there’s a load of bullshit. Is it any wonder, given Gray’s ten rules, that he repeatedly has defended adulterers, child molesters, pedophiles, and even murderers? Why, Jesus was falsely accused and so are good men who are having their lives ruined by accusations of sexual misconduct. I wonder what Gray thinks of pussy-grabber-in-chief, Donald Trump’s “alleged” rapes, sexual assaults, and adulteries. Just an innocent man falsely accused by women who want to destroy God’s chosen ruler?

Men such as Bob Gray, Sr. disgust me. His words reveal that he knows nothing about sexual assault and the sheer bravery required of women for them to go public with their accusations. And he sure as hell doesn’t know or doesn’t WANT to know, that very few of these allegations are later proven to be false. In other words, Bobby, you ought to be standing with these women. Instead, you defend and support their abusers and attackers. Shame on you for doing so.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Republicans Need Jesus Says Comedian Neal Brennan

neal brennan

Atheist comedian Neal Brennan was on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah last night. Here’s what Brennan had to say about the GOP — God’s Only Party — and their supposed support of Christian family values.

Black Collar Crime: Dallas Theological Seminary Graduates Man Knowing He Was a Child Molester

jon warnshuis

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.

Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) recently settled its fourth lawsuit over its enabling of child molester Jon Warnshuis. DTS, an Evangelical institution, graduated Warnshuis knowing that he had, in the past, sexually molested church boys. Sara Coello, a reporter for The Dallas Morning News, writes:

An evangelical seminary in Dallas has settled a fourth lawsuit claiming that it knowingly allowed a child molester to graduate, enabling him to have access to boys he’d rape years later as a North Texas pastor.

Dallas Theological Seminary required that Jon Gerrit Warnshuis undergo counseling before receiving his diploma in 1992 — but didn’t report the allegation to law enforcement or tell future employers, according to the lawsuit.

Nearly a decade later, Warnshuis was convicted in Denton County for sexually abusing three boys. He is serving a 40-year prison sentence and will be eligible for parole in 2021.

His victims sued the seminary, as well as Oak Hills Community Evangelical Free Church in Argyle and Warnshuis, claiming that the school created dangerous conditions for future congregants by granting Warnshuis a diploma.

“Warnshuis was thus cloaked with all the powers, appearances, and indices of a Man of God that permitted him to infiltrate the community earning the trust of the victims, their families, the congregation and the community at large,” the latest lawsuit said.

That lawsuit, filed in January, was settled in August. The two other victims sued in Dallas County in 2008 and 2009 and settled their cases in 2010. The terms of the settlements with the seminary were not disclosed in any of the cases, and the church was dropped as a defendant in all three. Another settled in Tarrant County in 2005.

The victim who filed the latest lawsuit will use the money to pay for therapy, attend college and marry his fiancée, said attorney Tom McElyea, who represented all three victims in their civil cases.

“More than anything, the lawsuit gave him a chance to have a voice,” McElyea said.

Warnshuis was set to graduate from the seminary in May 1988, but was kept from graduation after allegations were made against him. The morning of his commencement, a man told school president Donald Campbell that Warnshuis had molested his 13-year-old son and asked that he get counseling and be separated from young boys, the 2009 lawsuit alleged.

An attorney advised Campbell that Texas law did not require him to report Warnshuis to law enforcement, Campbell testified. Seminary officials required him to attend sessions with Richardson psychologist Stephen Ash.

….

“Dr. Ash stated that Defendant Warnshuis was unable to be involved with minors or teens and that Defendant Warnshuis should give up the ministry altogether as it relates to teens,” McElyea wrote in the 2008 lawsuit.

Ash wrote a letter to the school in 1991 claiming that Warnshuis had addressed the root of his problems — his father’s death — according to a 2009 deposition. The letter has since been lost, and it’s unclear whether it was intended as an endorsement of Warnshuis’ safety or an update on his progress.

….

Oak Hills church officials say they followed a normal hiring process for Warnshuis, calling the seminary before inviting him to become their pastor in 1996.

Seminary officials testified that they have no records of that call and emphasized that Warnshuis could have been hired without the school’s certification.

As a pastor, Warnshuis spent much of his time with the congregation’s boys, even inviting them to sleepovers at his home.

“I was only really happy when I was working with the boys,” Warnshuis wrote in an undated letter to his mother, according to a 2002 Star-Telegram article.

One boy’s father told the newspaper that he’d directed his son to Warnshuis for spiritual guidance in the late 1990s. That night, the pastor molested the 13-year-old for the first time, the boy’s father said.

“I had peace and fulfillment, only to turn on them and betray them,” Warnshuis wrote to his mother, the Star-Telegram reported.

Investigators believe Warnshuis could be responsible for sexually assaulting several more children, both in North Texas and California, where he lived before enrolling in the seminary.

….

You can read the entire sordid, disgusting story here.

Jon Warnshuis’ rap sheet and incarceration record. Warnshuis has been in prison for seventeen years. He will be eighty-years-old when he is released in 2041.

2005 story on the first lawsuit against Dallas Theological Seminary.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Pastor Joshua Clemons Sentenced to Four Years in Prison

joshua clemons

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.

Last February, I reported the story of Joshua Clemons, youth pastor at Crossroads Community Church in Parker, Colorado, and his alleged sexual assault of a church teenager. In July, Clemons pleaded guilty to one count of sexual exploitation of a child. On Friday, Clemons was sentenced to four years in prison for his crime. After his release from prison, Clemons will have to serve ten years of intensive supervised probation.

Clemons also faces an October 19, 2018 sentencing in another case after he pleaded guilty to second-degree assault—strangulation and attempted sexual assault of a child.

ABC-7 reports:

Clemons pleaded guilty in July to one count of sexual exploitation of a child – video/20+ items and one count of attempted sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust – victim age 15-18 in the Douglas County case. Six other counts were dismissed in exchanged for the guilty plea.

Clemons, who worked as a pastor at the Parker church from 2006 through September 2015, had been accused of having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl who had long been in his program.

The relationship carried on as the girl went to college at Colorado State University before ending toward the end of 2016, when the alleged victim said Clemons began to show up at her new church and she threatened to get a restraining order, according to police documents.

Clemons also pleaded guilty in late July to second-degree assault—strangulation and attempted sexual assault of a child in the Denver case. He is scheduled to be sentenced for that case on Oct. 19. The sentence is expected to run consecutively to his sentence from the Douglas County case, a spokesperson for the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office said.

Black Collar Crime: Catholic Priest Charles Hanel Accused of Groping Teen Girl

charles hanel

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.

Charles Hanel, pastor of Queen of Apostles Church in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, has been charged with second-degree sexual assault of a child. A thirteen-year-old church girl alleges that Hanel groped her during confession. Queen of the Apostles is a Roman Catholic congregation.

WISN reports:

Hanel’s attorney, Jerome Buting, said his client has never, and would never, do what he is accused of in the criminal complaint. Buting said the one-sided complaint is only part of the story and that they look forward to clearing Hanel’s name and reputation.

“This is a single accusation of an adolescent girl against a priest who has faithfully served the people of this archdiocese for 35 years without a hint of any inappropriate conduct with a minor, let alone a girl whose father is right outside the confessional door,” Buting said.

 

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Orlando Martinez-Chavez Accused of Sexual Assault

orlando martinez chavez

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.

Orlando Martinez-Chavez, pastor of Iglesia Pentecostal Lirio de los Valles church in Jersey City, New Jersey, has been charged with sexually assaulting a ten-year-old church girl.

NJ.com reports:

A Jersey City church pastor has been charged with sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl church member and fondling a relative — and a source said the pastor has threatened at least one other victim with deportation if she told anyone.

Orlando Martinez-Chavez, 47, was charged on July 27 and he was arrested on July 30, according to a criminal complaint.

….

He faces charges of sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child, and criminal sexual contact.

Martinez-Chavez’s troubles started a month earlier, according to the source, who requested anonymity for fear of retribution. Martinez-Chavez was removed from his position on June 26 after he was accused of sending graphic pictures and videos to a 32-year-old woman who attended the church, the source said.

The Rev. Joseph Andino, who oversees the Assemblies of God churches in northern New Jersey, could not be reached for comment. An official with the Iglesia Pentecostal Lirio de los Valles church, in the Heights neighborhood, declined to comment.

The 10-year-old victim is now 15, and she told authorities that Martinez-Chavez reached inside her pants and touched her genital area in November 2012, the criminal complaint said. The pastor’s relative also came forward with the allegation that the pastor — who is married and has three girls, ages 4, 10 and 18 — fondled her breasts over her clothing, the complaint said.

Another alleged victim, a 15-year-old girl who says she was sexually assaulted by Martinez-Chavez two years ago, is too traumatized to come forward, the source said. When confronted by the girl’s mother, Martinez-Chavez threatened to have the family, which is undocumented, deported, the source said.

The alleged victim and her family, former congregants, left the church and moved out of state almost immediately, the source said.

Martinez-Chavez had been with the Jersey City Heights storefront church for six or seven years, the source said.

“I think there are a lot more victims,” the source told The Jersey Journal. “They are scared. They were threatened. These people are all illegal immigrants. He targeted them because he knows they are afraid.”

….

 

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor David Croyle Charged With Sexual Assault

david croyle

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.

Last week, David Croyle, pastor of Family-Life Church in Kittanning, Pennsylvania, was charged with sexually assaulting a fourteen-year-old boy,

Trib Live reports:

Kittanning Council does not have the authority to remove a councilman from office despite charges he engaged in sexual contact with a disabled 14-year-old, Council President Kim Chiesa said Friday.

On Thursday, Council Vice President David John Croyle, 60, was arrested and charged with felony counts of statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, unlawful contact with a minor, aggravated indecent assault of a person with a mental disability, corruption of minors and related charges.

Croyle is the editor and publisher of the Kittanning Paper and senior pastor at the Family-Life Church on South Jefferson Street in Kittanning.

….

Representatives of the Family-Life Church, Applewold Council and East Franklin Township Fire Department either refused or did not return requests for comment.

….

Later that year, according to court documents, the victim told police he first met Croyle while filling out an employment application at the Kittanning Paper. The victim told officers the application indicated he was 14 years old. The victim told police he next heard from Croyle through the social media application Grindr. That contact led to an exchange of phone numbers, which eventually led to the victim and Croyle exchanging nude images, according to court documents.

During the summer of 2016, the victim told police, Croyle invited him to his residence on South Jefferson Street. When he arrived, the victim told police, Croyle led him to a bedroom for a sexual encounter. After the encounter, the victim told police, he was instructed to stay silent lest Croyle lose his job.

A second encounter occurred later that summer, the victim told police, and was again told to remain silent about it.

Croyle’s church bio page says:

David J. Croyle is the senior pastor of Family-Life Church, which owns and operates Family-Life TV in Western Pennsylvania. He hosts a regional daily television program “Share” and also an international weekly prayer call-in program called “Family-Life Sunday Night.” Viewers in 30 countries participate via the Internet at www.familylifetv.com. A graduate of Armour Baptist Seminary [unaccredited] located in the state of Washington with a Bachelor’s degree in Bible, he is also a graduate of Carolina Christian University [unaccredited] with a Master of Science degree in Psychology and Counseling. He is certified by the National Christian Counselors Association as a Temperament Therapist and Licensed Pastoral Counselor. He has authored three books.

Croyle’s bio page also states:

He preached his first sermon at the age of 14. He has traveled thousands of miles in ministry and lives to be a blessing to those around him. Meet him this week in person at Family-Life Church or via the Internet!

 

Black Collar Crime: So Much Crime, So Little Time Issue

black collar crimes

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.

james ronnie messer

Pastor James “Ronnie” Messer Charged With Rape

James “Ronnie” Messer, pastor of Crossway Worship Center in Morristown, Tennessee, was arrested and charged with aggravated statutory rape and sexual battery by an authority figure.

Knox News reports:

The girl’s sister reportedly told police the 17-year-old girl rode with the pastor to the Crossway Worship Center, after their plans to go swimming in the Hartford area were derailed by swift and muddy water.

The pastor reportedly led the girl through the Worship Center’s rear entrance to a room across from the men’s restroom where he raped her.

The pastor told police he thought the assault against the underage girl was consensual, according to the report.

The good pastor thought the assault was consensual. Since when is having sex with minor church girls who are under your authority EVER consensual?

mark aderholt

Southern Baptist Missionary Mark Aderholt Charged With Sexual Assault

Mark Aderholt, a former employee of the South Carolina Baptist Convention and International Mission Board missionary, has been charged with sexually assaulting a seventeen-year-old girl.

The Baptist Press reports:

Aderholt, 46, was arrested July 3 in South Carolina and booked into the Tarrant County, Texas, jail July 9 on charges of sexual assault of a child under 17, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. He was released today (July 10) on bond.

The IMB told Baptist Press today (July 16) it learned in 2007 of allegations Aderholt had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old in 1996-97 while he was a 25-year-old student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He served with the board from 2000-08.

The IMB conducted an internal investigation in 2007, and the matter was set to go before the board of trustees, “which, at that time, was the only group with the authority to terminate a member of our missionary personnel,” IMB spokesperson Julie McGowan said in written comments. But Aderholt resigned on his own “before the Board could vote on the recommendation from the investigative team that included both men and women.

….

The IMB’s 2007 investigation, including two days of interviews with the alleged victim, led an IMB team to conclude at the time that Aderholt “engaged in an inappropriate sexual relationship” with a teen in 1996-1997, that the victim “suffered as a result” and that Aderholt “was not truthful” with the IMB “about the full extent of the relationship,” according to correspondence to Miller from IMB general counsel Derek Gaubatz published July 13 by the Star-Telegram.

The Southern Baptist International Mission Board investigated, concluded the allegations were credible, and did what all good Southern Baptist church leaders do: NOTHING! In fact, Aderholt continued to be a missionary and work in several capacities for the SBC until he was finally outed over his alleged crime.

Here’s a Star-Telegram feature article by Sarah Smith about Aderholt’s alleged sexual misconduct. Here’s another Sarah Smith article about Aderholt.

Imam Ahmed Raza Murders Boy With an Iron Rod

Imam Ahmed Raza  allegedly beat a young student of his to death with an iron rod. The Express Tribune reports:

A minor boy died after being subjected to physical torture by an imam at a mosque in Shalimar on Tuesday.

Police identified the victim as Abdul Ahad, who would go to the mosque where he was taught by the imam of the mosque, Ahmed Raza.

Reportedly, a few days ago Raza had beaten the child with an iron rod. When the child returned home, his condition deteriorated. His family admitted him to Kot Khwaja Saeed Hospital from where doctors shifted him to Lahore Mayo Hospital.

However, despite medical intervention, Ahad succumbed to his injuries. A police team transferred his body to the morgue for an autopsy. They also collected forensic evidence and recorded eye witness statements.

After the incident, the accused fled the area. The victim’s family lodged a complaint against the imam. Police apprehended Raza from Gujranwala and are investigating the matter further.

brian kenyon jr

Pastor Brian Kenyon Jr. Accused of Video Voyeurism

Brian Kenyon Jr, pastor of Deltona Church of Christ in Deltona, Florida, was arrested and charged with video voyeurism after a congregant reported Kenyon Jr. took a photo up her dress.

WFTV-9 reports:

The victim said she was meeting with Kenyon in his office, along with his children, and he asked her to put his youngest child into a car seat. The victim said that when she bent over, she felt skin against her leg, turned around and found Kenyon bent over directly behind her.

Deputies said the victim noticed Kenyon was holding his cellphone and it had a red light on.

Deputies say when the woman and members of the church confronted him about it he called it a misunderstanding and said he had “pornography problem.”

When they confronted the pastor about it again 11 days later, deputies say the pastor had some sort of spiritual awakening and confessed to the act saying a “dark moment” came over him.

They say he claimed to delete the photo. He was promptly dismissed from the church.

kathryn goff

Church Secretary Kathryn Goff Steals $20,000 From Beverly Hills Community Church

Kathryn Goff, the secretary for Beverly Hills Community Church in Beverly Hills, Florida was arrested and charged with stealing $20,000 from the church.  The Citrus County Chronicle reports:

Between June 2017 and April 2018, Goff, a paid employee and not a member of the church, allegedly addressed 38 checks to herself from the church’s bank account, totaling $19,426.59.

As secretary, she was allowed to write checks, but not sign them. An investigation by Citrus County Sheriff’s Office detectives determined that she would write checks with realistic amounts and record their payees in church logs as utility or service companies. Then she would take the checks to the bank and fill in her name as payee, writing in the memo line that it was for extra duties that the church never asked her to do.

kenneth marshall

Evangelical Youth Leader Kenneth Scott Marshall Indicted on Child Sex Crime Charges

Kenneth Scott Marshall, a volunteer youth leader at Cornerstone Fellowship Church in Cobbs Creek, Virginia has been indicted on child sex crime charges.

ABC-13 reports:

The Mathews County Sheriff’s Office found out about the accusation in June. Deputies said it involved a 15-year-old boy and Kenneth Scott Marshall, 36. Marshall worked with young people at Cornerstone Fellowship Church. During the course of the investigation, deputies conducted several interviews and collected evidence that they found supported the allegations.

Prosecutors presented evidence to a grand jury on July 16 which led to two indictments against Marshall. The indictments were for Aggravated Sexual Battery of a Minor through the Use of Mental Incapacity or Physical Helplessness and Forcible Sodomy of a Minor through the Use of Mental Incapacity or Physical Helplessness.

The church released the following statement:

Scott Marshall was a volunteer working with the youth at the church. Upon learning of the allegations in June, which did not occur at the church, he was immediately removed from his volunteer position and from any contact with our youth pending the outcome of the sheriff’s investigation.

pastor fernando hernandez

Evangelical Pastor Fernando Hernandez Accused of Sexual Abuse

Fernando Hernandez,  pastor of It’s a Challenge Church in Brownwood, Texas stands accused of repeatedly molesting several young girls.  Brownwood News reports:

According to the documents filed, an investigation began November 23, 2016 when the Brownwood Police Department was advised of a possible sexual assault. During a subsequent interview, the child told investigators Hernandez put his hand down her pants and touched her genitals. The child stated “this happened every time she went to Hernandez’s home,” according to the report. Hernandez also allegedly told the child not to tell anyone or he would go to prison.

On July 18, 2018 another child made an outcry of abuse. In the affidavit, the child reportedly told investigators Hernandez assaulted her by touch and exposed himself, asking the child to touch his genitals. The child’s mother told investigators she had “always wondered why (Child Victim #2) acted strange towards Hernandez.”

The affidavits also report testimony with a member of Hernandez’s family who said they do not leave children alone with Fernando due to past allegations of sexual abuse.

Based on the aforementioned news report, it sounds like Hernandez has a history of putting his hands where they don’t belong. Yet, despite knowing this, people continue to attend his church and consider him a man of God. Nobody’s perfect, right?

According to a page titled Fernando’s Dream, Hernandez is a “doctor.” This page states:

In 1990 Fernando began working in the community of Plainview and Brownwood Texas. He worked with the schools in these communities in doing assembly presentations and also offering an after school program he developed called “It’s A Challenge!” He began to reach out to many students and changed many of their lives with these assemblies and programs. He showed the students that they had a greater purpose than getting involved in drugs, gangs and violence, that they too could dream a better life for themselves.

In 1991 and 1992, Dr. Hernandez was awarded “The Volunteer Award” for the outstanding service of his assemblies and “It’s A Challenge” programs that literally helped hundreds of students transition from middle school to high school and caused the high drop out rate to decrease in those areas. By 1994 Fernando was helping thousands of BISD students weekly in his volunteer service and “It’s A Challenge” program.

Fernando began to get national recognition for his positive student programs. In 1998, encouraged by his family, friends and other prominent people within the community, Fernando exposed his life’s story worldwide. In 2001, Fernando and his student life changing programs were featured in HOME LIFE a prominent family magazine publication.

Today, Both Fernando and Lorena went back to school to obtain their Masters and Doctorate in Christian Theology. Thet continue to personally help countless thousands of people by sharing their story of poverty to triumph. They help students by sharing with them about making right choices and giving them inspiration to hope and dream for their lives. They talk about choices and consequences. They challenge students in a powerful, thought provoking way. They deliver a powerful message to students to never give up, to reach their destiny, to stay in school, to go to college, to get a degree and to make their dreams come true! Their message resonates with the students to stay away from drugs, alcohol and violence, to respect others, to respect teachers, principals and the authorities. Their message is not just a slogan or token cliche but a powerful dream which is guaranteed to burn in the hearts of young people to truly “fight to do what’s right!”

I wonder if that “fight to do what’s right” includes fighting to keep your hands out of the pants of children?