Snippets – How should churches handle known predators? Should mental illness be disclosed in congregational meetings? Can we see Stockholm Syndrome?

Lots of interesting discussion in the comments of the previous post.  Reader and commenter “Nickname” had this to say about the question of how churches ought to handle things when there are known predators in their midst:

Let’s say that when SGM leaders found out, they went to the perp and said, “We know what you did, and you need treatment. We will see that you get the very best treatment available for people who are attracted to children. You need to repent and ask God’s forgiveness, but you need to realize that you have forfeited the privilege of being included in church activities. You will not be allowed to be in places where children are present, for their protection as well as theirs. The child that you molested will never see your face again. You may write a letter of apology, but you will never be present in this child’s life. You must pay all expenses for this victim’s medical and psychiatric treatment, and we’ll begin a fund for that — deposit your first check within two weeks.  We will pray with you and help you with treatment. We believe that in Christ, we are new creations, but we also know that pedophiles are generally not cured. We know that only God can recognize genuine repentance, and we are not qualified to determine if your repentance is real.  If, in your case, you experience a miraculous recovery, you would certainly never wish for a child to be endangered or traumatized by your presence, so you will voluntarily identify yourself as a prior offender, and remove yourself from any activities involving kids. Adam and Eve repented and were forgiven, but they still lost the garden.”

And let’s say that SGM said to the victims and the parents, “This was NOT your fault. Nobody deserves to be abused, (even if we do believe that we’re all sinners who deserve wrath) and we will do everything we can to prevent anything like this from happening again. We’re gonna help you get treatment. We love you, and are so sorry that you have been hurt. You will never have to see that perp again in your life. We’ll pray for you, and ask God to help you figure out how, in time, to forgive this heinous act, but we know that can’t be coerced.  We’re not experts at this, but we’re going to learn how to be. How can we help make this easier for you?”

If they had done all that — they’d still be at fault for not reporting to authorities. But we sure wouldn’t be standing where we’re standing now.

Suppose that when the very first rumors of strange behavior surfaced, or the very first pedophile was arrested within the ‘family of churches’  they had said, “We need to find out more about this problem. We need to call in some experts and have them teach us, and talk to the kids and talk to the parents. Maybe nothing else has happened, but this is something we need to learn about.”  After all, they called in so-called parenting experts to give seminars, and even produced a video series about parenting.  Why not a class on how to form child protection policies, and how to deal with the situation if a  predator breaches the child protection policies?

What if they followed the example of Vienna Presbyterian Church in Virginia, who found out years later that a youth pastor had been a predator, and although they were advised by their insurance company to keep quiet, they apologized and tried to make things right?

And suppose that today, after the lawsuit dismissal, they said something like, ‘We realize that we have been spared a terrible trial due to a technicality, and we are freshly aware of God’s mercy. (Oops — had to throw in a little SGM-ese there.) We will do everything in our power to bring healing, restoration, and restitution to every one of these victims. Although we stated that our preliminary investigation has turned up no evidence, we will ask for help from someone who specializes in child sexual abuse cases, and leave no stone unturned until we are sure that everything in our power will be done to find and make public the truth. We want to become educated about this kind of thing. We’d like to be the pioneers in championing victims and identifying pedophilic tendencies, and start providing treatment for people who are at risk for offending before they ever commit an immoral act. We were wrong. We admit it, we regret it, and we will make sure that nothing like this ever happens again. We will try to ascertain the truth behind every allegation. clear the names of anyone who is actually innocent of charges, and cooperate with the prosecution of anyone who has actually committed these atrocities. We have x amount of dollars in the bank, and will use every dollar if necessary toward the purpose of restoring every dime these families lost due to our wrong behavior. We cannot presume to even ask your forgiveness; all we can do is offer our deepest apologies, repentance, and love for these victims.  Here is the way we will handle any further allegations of abuses from the past or in the future…..’

There’d be a standing ovation, and SGM could deserve some kudos from the RBD’s and the wider Christian world.

I may have missed something — does anyone else have educated info on what they really ought to say and do about this case?

The sad reality, of course, is that several of the churches within Sovereign Grace Ministries did none of these things.  If anything, they seemed to work overtime to conceal predators, cover up for them, and advocate for them, all the while judging the predators’ victims as being in sin for bitterness and a lack of forgiveness.  (See this post for links to survivors’ stories and an analysis of the mindset behind leaders’ weird responses.)

At the same time, though, some SGM churches take quite a different approach to how they handle the perceived sins of those struggling with mental illness.  From various readers, we have learned that this past Sunday, it was announced at one SGM church that a pastor was stepping down specifically because his wife was “mentally ill.”  Perspectives and opinions vary wildly as to the accuracy and truthfulness of the pastors’ statements about this situation, but in my view, the larger question is one of whether or not such a discussion in such a setting is even appropriate in the first place.

And, isn’t it interesting that the protectiveness SGM leaders have been willing to extend to pedophiles does not appear to extend to a pastor’s wife with (perceived) mental issues?

Finally, I received a couple of emails asking me to talk more about something I posted last night as a comment.  It’s my opinion that one of the reasons SGM pastors have behaved in controlling and even spiritually abusive ways toward members in the past is because many of them honestly buy into the idea that taking a hardline stand against certain issues is the way they can best “serve” and lead members.  I’d even go so far as to say I think at least some of these otherwise nice Christian guys who at points have seemed to have tremendously tender hearts for the Lord fall victim to Stockholm Syndrome during their SGM training.  Here’s the comment I posted:

I think the SGM system is set up so that everyone — from members to pastors — is conditioned to lord authority over those beneath them.  Parents are trained to submit themselves to pastors while demanding that their children submit instantly and joyously to them.  And of course, in order to be even considered for a leadership role, a man has to demonstrate total unquestioning submission to the men above him.

From what I’ve heard, the Pastors College curriculum for several years included a very grueling discipleship process, where each pastoral candidate and his wife were assigned a corresponding “discipler” couple who would then proceed to probe the candidate couple’s lives.  One woman whose husband had gone through the PC in the earlier 2000s (I’m thinking like 2002 or 2003) wrote me to describe what this was like.  She compared it to being cut open and having all her insides pulled out and laid out on a table, with everyone free to examine and point out everything that needed fixing.  It honestly sounded utterly awful.

But by the end of the 9 months, the couples who made it through the process had come around to be OK with it and even think it was great.  It occurred to me that it was not unlike how a kidnapping victim can fall prey to Stockholm Syndrome, where he or she ends up empathizing and willfully taking on the belief system of his or her kidnapper.

Is it any wonder that these pastors, who were themselves put through the wringer, would turn around and believe that it was their duty to “disciple” those in their congregations with the same hardline coldness and sin-sniffing with which they themselves had been discipled?

It’s really a classic case of the abused becoming the abusers.

1,349 comments to Snippets – How should churches handle known predators? Should mental illness be disclosed in congregational meetings? Can we see Stockholm Syndrome?

  • NameGoesHere

    Good job, Guy

  • Persona

    It’s Just the beginning 1346

    QB may not share the same views with Dr. Dobson but, QB shares a similar proclivity towards bullying, with the Bad Boys of SGM.

    (fyi, I had that vetted by my team of lawyers before I shared it)

  • Guy

    Not really “death threats”, but some real creeps tried to be stupid. Stupid is as stupid does.

  • It's just the beginning

    For those who wondered who QueenBee was (like I have) .. I don’t think it was anyone directly involved with SGM because of her mention of Dr. Dopson and Focus on the Family. I’ve never understood this stance, but it’s been a well-known fact around SGM/CLC that ministries like Focus on the Family were not “God’s best” because those issues should be dealt with by the local church. (so laughable now, but how many hundreds and hundreds of people remember and know what I’m talking about {Joy H. care to corroborate?])

    Anyway, my point is QueenBee does not sound like a long-time SGM loyalist….so I do wonder what skin she had in all of this?

    Oh well, it’s certainly not worth wondering about too much.

  • Dr. Pepper

    Didn’t Guy and Kris receive death threats against their family when the docs came out or shortly after it? If in wrong Kris and Guy could correct me.

  • Waters

    Thankyou, Guy….”buh-bye”, QueenBee

  • Glad i am out

    Persona, as long as you consulted w/ your attorney – sorry for the 300 bucks that cost you, but best to be safe where the Queen Bee is concerned… Those screen saves can really bite you in the arse!

  • Persona

    Glad i am out 1340

    My attorneys told me I could call him something else but, I thought it was too harsh.

  • NarrowistheWay

    Guy, thank you for taking a stand to protect the hearts on this forum.

    QueenBee said:
    “I have a compelling life history that brings a unique perspective to the discussion but I needed to make sure my legal bases were covered.”
    Ah, yes, sounds very Christian…..

    “The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the exiles of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit. The Lord sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground.”
    Psalm 147:2-6

  • Glad i am out

    Queen Bee, Persona called you a troll. Quick, do a screen save!

  • Persona

    Thanks, Guy. A troll is a troll.

  • Guy

    Queen Bee….

    You have irritated me. Go start your own blog. Buh-bye.

    Call your lawyer and find out if I can do this….

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Dear Sandy T,

    I also would like to welcome you, and thank you for posting.

    In the Old Testament, when a thief stole something he had to pay back double, or four or five times over. How much more now under the New Covenant, as we cry out for justice, will the Lord give back many times over for what was stolen from us. I pray that you, your daughter, and entire family will know the overflowing joy and glory of God that makes it up to you many times over.

    I know somebody poor who was injured by a careless driver, and while they live a normal life with no pain, the injury will always be there such that they must be careful (for example they will not ski). It is a loss, but the insurance payout was wonderful and they are on their second extended trip abroad. I pray that God gives back so bountifully of His Holy Spirit riches that it makes up for all the loss.

    I also want to add that I am no expert but have read up on trauma, because of some people I’ve had to minister to. One thing the books say is that traumatic events get burned into the memory (well, I suppose they can also be repressed) such that you remember the light, the sounds, the smell in the room, the look on a face, the tone of voice. Trauma heightens memory. Often a bitter person can remember in vivid detail every word of a conversation with the one betraying them. They can picture the clothes, the room, the eyes, the sneering mouth as if it is playing on a video in front of them. I thought your daughter’s account to be believeable for the very fact that she remembered things like a boa. If she was making it up and wanted to sound more plausible, the charges might have had less or different details. Even if the brain mixed up anything, and the boa was at another location, it is those sorts of little things that reveal genuine abuse. Anyway, I am so sorry. Thanks again for commenting.

    MaryMelissa- my church has several adopted kids, often in families that had a few biologicals first. They all have terrible struggles. Don’t blame yourself. To be abandoned and suffer hunger and neglect causes very deep damage, even if only for a year or two. In some foreign orphanges it is/was essentially torture. I will pray for a miracle for her.

  • StateTheObvious

    QueenBee #1334 said: ” Having been advised that there have been credible death threats against family members of SGM pastors and others linked to the plaintiffs”

    Please clarify:

    1) Are you saying that you’ve actually been informed that the PLAINTIFFS have made death threats? Or are you claiming to have been informed that family members and others accused BY the plaintiffs (“linked to”) have had threats made against them?

    2) By that statement alone, which I do not believe but by all means prove me wrong, you really ARE close to this case to have been informed of such private matters!

  • merlinus

    Yes, given the introductory scenario, that is how it should have been. Yet, the SGM leadership chose to circle the wagons and stand thier ground to defend thier postions and faulty doctrine of beleif yhat the sheep are not capable of having a true personal relationship with God unless they the “humble servants, appointed by god” assist the poor ignorant sheep to come to Him.
    I am furious! I am betrayed! I have been lied to for years and years by men who only sought to preserve thier postions (careers) within the religious system.
    SGM leaders, D**n you, dam you all to hell! You, who were given an opourtunity to stand up for those who could not speak for themselves, chose instead to attempt to preserve your own position within this religious institution rather that to be counted with the outcast and the sinners. You are well deserving of the judgement that will be on you if you continue in your hard heartedness toward the little ones who needed your protection.
    You seek to claim the scriptures to support you? The scriptures will condemn you, for there are numerous witnesses against you, and the Holy Spirit will on that day say to you, “Depart from me, for I never knew you! You workers of iniquity”. And on that day there will be a great mulititude who cry out, “Great are you Almighty One! Who is, and was, and will ever be! Great are your judgements, righteous and true!”

  • QueenBee

    Never again in #1214 wrote “Queen Bee, you reported a personal situation of a counselor who falsely implanted memories in clients which is apparently the cause of your viewpoint in this case. If we use your logic, we have to question whether you ever had that experience, right? You could be making it up to defend SGM.”

    Unlike you and I’m certain everyone else on this blog, I consulted with my attorney prior to commenting on this blog. I have a compelling life history that brings a unique perspective to the discussion but I needed to make sure my legal bases were covered before proceeding to disclose certain elements of that story. I choose to retain my anonymity and privacy in large part to protect others who are intrinsically linked to my story. Having been advised that there have been credible death threats against family members of SGM pastors and others linked to the plaintiffs, I think it prudent to protect and vigorously defend those who do not choose to have their privacy ripped from them.

    Kris, you need to beef up your privacy policy for this blog. Your published policy primarily refers to the privacy policy statement required by Google of its Adsense publishers. You should be guaranteeing that names, email addresses and any other identifying information which you, as the administrator of the site, have sole access to will not be disseminated unless subpoenaed or court ordered to do so. The Communications Decency Act gives you immunity from libel and defamation published by your users (assuming you are not actively involved in the conversation) but it does not give immunity for invasion of privacy of non-public figures.

  • MaryMelissa

    Sandy Thompson, thank you for sharing. I know how hard it is to have a daughter go through a hard time in life specially when it involves drugs. My teenager daughter left our house when she was in high school and has never come back. Terrible things have happened to her but she refuses our help unless is in her terms which is to bless a lifestyle of sex and drugs which is too painful to watch, and now she has 2 beautiful little girls. She talks at times about having miscarriages, and being rape but we do not know really happened to her after she left the house, her stories change often. What it doesn’t change is her hatred to the family and me specially. She refuses professional help. We attended church all our lifes (CLC for the last 10 years), she is now 26 years old and only visited CLC a couple of times so we cannot blame anything on CLC but maybe we made mistakes in raising her. What we do know is that she is a result of her choices. We adopted her when she was 2 years old, we really don’t know how much damage had already occured. You have to be grateful to God that your daughter turned around, that is a real miracle. We can rest in the fact that God saw it and let’s pray that truth will come out and any one that had anything to do with hurting your family and especially H will be punished.

  • Stunned

    Sandy, thank you for coming here and sharing. I cannot (and do not want to) imagine what seeing your daughter suffer has done to you. I admire that you are not in a mental hospital. I cannot say I could be that strong. I, also, admire your husband and you for having the restraint not to pummel those who have hurt your girl. She needs both of you healthy and out of jail so I think you did the right thing by her. (When I found out what my dad did, I called the police and told them that if anything ever happened to my dad, they should come looking for me. I figured that a “pre-confession” might prevent me from doing anything stupid.)

    I wish you and Heather and Chuck had never been through what you were. I do believe that you and your family are ministering to people even now, whether Chuck has a pay check to do what he is doing or not. I don’t know if he is a teacher or not, but I think most churches could use a good bible teacher in it for a bible study. (No idea why that came to mind.)

    I have been praying for your family for a while now and I will continue to do so.

    May God bless you all as you walk through this harrowing time,

  • Nickname

    The Stunned Fan Club has members far and wide. She writes with more compassion than anyone I’ve ever read — but you haven’t seen compassion till you’ve seen it on her face. It is, indeed, stunning.

  • Bill Frank

    @ Sandy Thompson…. would also like to thank you for stopping by and commenting. You have already answered some questions some were asking here regarding the abuse that has been charged here from your dear daughter. Anyone who cannot understand that you & your husband fully believe & support her accusations is simply too dull to begin with.

    Am so sorry to have read of both the stuff that your daughter has reported happened to her and for the eventual trauma it has brought on your family and husband’s work in ministry to the local church. Along with others here, you have my prayerful support going forward. God bless you all richly.

    Stunned @ 1264…. thanks for posting the Matt Redmond blog piece. I have subscribed to it now for myself. I admire this guy a great deal…. and thank God for him. Another great essay there, gang, if you haven’t read yet.

  • Bridget

    Thank you Sandy. Praying for all of you in this case. I’m sorry for all the pain and pray for peace and joy to overtake you all.

  • Persona

    Lemongrass 1318

    We saw the Thompson’s in the lobby of CLC the day they came. I didn’t know that they were there to confront anyone but, we witnessed their presence at church, that day.

    They were warmly greeted by several former members, if not by former pastor-associates. It must have been a pretty surreal day for them.

  • OutThere said:

    I did not have kids in the CLC school, but I knew many who did. I knew of a couple of people who’s kids were either asked to leave or were told they could not re-enroll the following year. Why? I don’t remember the details, it’s been so long ago, but as I recall it had to do with asking too many questions about why they had to do certain things, and not cooperating.

    Fine, I understand that a school affiliated with a church is going to expect the students to adhere to the beliefs of the church. But…these were children (and in that environment especially, teenagers were still children, too). They were booted out of the school where their friends attended, AND, as a result, no other local church school would take them…for asking “why” or saying things like “that seems like a stupid way to do things.”

    Interesting you mention this but really not surprising since this is what a lot of SGM Pastors do with adult members. If you ask (too many) questions then a lot of the time you are “asked” to leave. Thus it kind of figures they would also do this with children.

  • Soarin'

    Sandy/”momma bear”

    Thank you for sharing. I am so sorry for what you and your family have gone thru. I am so glad you and your husband are supportive of your daughter. I am in awe of her courage-to step out of the shadow and into the light! Thank you Heather!

  • Greg


    I’m glad to see you here, though under difficult circumstances. I really enjoyed working with your husband in follow up ministry. I was sad when your family left and confused because he was unable to tell me why.

    For the Thompsons, Woods, and anyone else here who had their ministry destroyed by SGM, I am wondering if there is something we can do to support each other in prayer, especially in regards to restoration of callings.

    I am at a point where I need to move on and resume doing the things God called me to do. That can be an emotionally difficult process. I am wondering if others are facing the same hurdles. I am always looking for good things to come out of this mess.

  • Lemongrass

    Sandi, thank you and I do understand. I appreciate your response and will continue to pray for this whole situation.

  • Sandy Thompson

    Lemongrass #1318 Everything Heather posted about in Spiritual Tyranny was truthful- yes. And no I will not be, and rather CANNOT be discussing our family’s case. What I will say is that Chuck & I have been 100% behind Heather, and have been actively involved with the investigation. There are evidential details that you will never hear about unless this goes to trial. Because of the criminal investigations, they cannot be disclosed. Though your questions might seem innocent & of no consequence in answering, I simply cannot right now. Please understand & respect that. Thank you.

    As much as this ‘momma bear’ wants to defend her cub, I cannot right now. As much as I want to prove to you all how truthful she really is, I have to wait and let law enforcement do their jobs. Where I wasn’t able to protect my baby girl, it is very painful seeing her go through this process. As a family we decided, with confidence, for her to go public with her name & we do not regret it. We are proud of her & stand behind her.

    Thank you all for your loving support & encouragement. Please continue to pray for our family, especially Heather, as she boldly takes a stand & tells the truth. We knew how much Heather would be scrutinized for her allegations, and yet we felt the truth needed to be exposed. And let me assure you: Chuck & I BOTH are a part of this process. And we know in time the truth will prevail.

    I will likely not be commenting from here on out to protect our case and to protect this ‘momma bear’s heart.’ Hopefully one day soon you will know our entire story. God bless you all!

  • Lost in (cyber) Space


    Here is my new e-address: lostatsurvivorsATgmailDOTCOM

    Again, thank you! Hearing from you in some strange way brings a small degree of peace. I have just been sick since reading the SAC where the atrocities committed against Heather were described. I am so sorry for the devastation this must have caused. I pray that God restores the years the locusts have eaten and brings you and your family into lush green pastures of peace and rest.

  • old timer

    What always got me throughout the years with pdi/sgm was how people disappeared. They were supposedly, absolutely wonderful godly men one Sunday and the next Sunday they were gone….and we weren’t supposed to question what happened to them or why they had disappeared. Just like in Russia during Lenin’s sovereign reign.

    And that included your family, Sandy T. Glad you are here and will be glad to read anything you want to share. Like I wrote a little ways back….the suffering we suffer through with the Lord bearing us up—-never returns void. It produces a sweet fragrance of love and kindness to those who need it. But, it also gives us a backbone and stamina to stand up for the Truth–especially in the midst of darkness and evil.

  • Luna Moth

    Hey there, Soarin’. (I am too, these days.) Hey there, Acme! Love you too.

    Welcome, Sandy. I am glad you are here. I am so sorry to hear about what happened to your family. May God bless you all.

  • Lemongrass

    Sandy 1302 – I believe I was talking about another person knowing your daughter. We were always led to believe that your family left CLC to go with Larry. Did you guys leave because of what happened to your daughter?

    The testimony that I linked to was back in 2010. In it, it says that your daughter accompanied by you and her dad went back to CLC to confront a molester. Did that happen? Did you really go to a Sunday service to do that? Had you already gone to the police? Since it happened several years ago was a criminal case ever opened? If so, can you discuss what happened with the investigation?

    Since the allegations have been discussed so much in public I think these types of questions are appropriate.

  • Lost in (cyber) Space

    Dear Sandy,

    Thank you for posting and bringing clarity. I was one of your babysitters in 1988-89. I have wept many tears over the things that happened to Heather. I am so sorry you have experienced such trauma at the hands of “ministers of the gospel”. I loved your family so much and was sad when you left having had no idea why. I left for Solid Rock at the beginning of 1990 and would ask about you guys/look for you at events, etc. I agree that Chuck was one of the most compassionate pastors I ever met. I will set up an email address and post it so we can connect if you would like.

  • Pam Palmer

    This is a comment that I just posted on JA’s blog :
    Julie Anne:

    Thank you for posting about all of this. The tactics and pressure that Houston’s First Baptist Church exerted on Amy Smith are deplorable. It is never a “conflict of interest” for a concerned Christian to encourage awareness of child sexual abuse and the cover-up of it, that has gone on in some of our churches.

    I am planning on standing with Amy Smith and SNAP and linking arms with them at this Awareness Event outside of the SBC meeting. As the mother of one of the SGM survivors/plaintiffs, I want to publicly support Amy and SNAP as they seek to raise awareness about the problems of sex abuse cover-up, which has occurred allegedly within the SBC at Prestonwood Baptist.

    I am also choosing to stand outside the SBC during its meeting, because of the T4G statement, which some of the top SBC leaders made, who as I understand it, will be in attendance and/or speaking at the SBC meeting — Al Mohler and Mark Dever, specifically. In this T4G statement, they openly honored C.J. Mahaney, and in relation to our lawsuit on the alleged sex abuse cover-up in SGM, declared that “no such accusation of direct wrongdoing was ever made against C.J. Mahaney”. They have since altered this statement surreptitiously and removed this phrase.

    C.J. Mahaney is the former President of Sovereign Grace Ministries and former Senior Pastor of Covenant Life Church, and was leading at the helm, during the bulk of the cases currently listed on our lawsuit. He also was directly listed in several of the Factual Allegations on our Second Amended Complaint, as being allegedly directly involved with the knowledge and cover-up of several different sex abuse cases. Therefore, as a symbolic gesture, I am going to be standing outside of the Convention center with SNAP, this Tuesday, in protest of these SBC pastors’ support of C.J. Mahaney and their lack of support for the survivors of sex abuse from SGM.

    I also want to applaud the efforts of Peter Lumpkins, who is planning on bringing his “Resolution on Sexual Abuse of Children” at the SBC meeting. This issue of child sex abuse in our churches, which has traumatically affect my own family, is obviously close to my heart — and I welcome the support from Peter, as he takes this eloquent stand to bring about change in the way our Christian institutions handle ministries or pastors mired in sex abuse scandal. When there is a sex abuse scandal in a church or ministry — protecting the flock and protecting the little lambs should always be our priority.

  • It's just the beginning

    @CRW, #1301: good legal question .. I’m not a lawyer, but what you said sounds right: in order for a criminal case of conspiracy or cover-up can be made/proven against SGM and certain pastors, the sexual abuse would have to be proven. (the civil suit I think wouldn’t necessarily require that)

    But don’t forget there ARE at least two men mentioned in the lawsuit that have either been convicted (DA) or are currently being tried (NM) of sexual abuse/child molestation.

    If the account of Plaintiff James Roberts (JR) is 100% true, then DA sexually abused him [which DA was never brought up on charges for (yet)] … concerning SGM/pastors, JR reported the abuse against him to the CLS principal JL, a CLC pastor at the time. And if JL never reported it to the police, but instead covered it up (after all the alleged abuse took place on church property during a Sunday church service!) — then I believe there is a case to be made for criminal conspiracy. Add to the horror: DA then went on to abuse his daughter for 3 years AFTER the alleged incident with JR.

    These thoughts infuriate me: if JL knew about DA’s alleged child abuse against JR; never told even DA’s wife (to watch out/protect her children); never reported it to the police; and then DA went on to abuse his daughter AFTER all of that—if JR’s allegations are 100% true, then I hope and pray that JL receives the legal penalty he deserves. (likewise, if JR’s allegations are false, I hope JL is equitted and JR receives the legal penalty for lying/making derogatory false allegations)

  • Persona

    Sandy 1302

    Greetings and thanks so much for giving us so many back-stories. It is helpful to hear from the principals of each case, especially an ex-CLC Pastor’s wife.

    I am so grieved to hear your lives were so greatly mangled by one organization or rather, one man’s decision to ‘rule the world.’ When your family left CLC we had absolutely no idea of the reasons why or what ever happened to you.

    I’m thankful that you and the Woods were able to encourage one another. We attended one of his church services years ago and he has such a sweet spirit, with an obvious love for the Lord and His church. Your husband was the same. I truly hope you find a ministry to exercise your God-given gifts.

    Wow, think how many tears has God collected from the abused and neglected of SGM…it is astonishing to me how many people have been affected.

    I do have one question. Was 2000 the year the events happened to your daughter? I am trying to piece together whether CJ’s 2000 decision to modify and/or eliminate Celebration East, was due to that incident.

    I believe that was the year he curtailed further family participation in the conference.

  • Darren

    Perhaps the quote below doesn’t solve anything, or provide salve for any wounds that painfully linger. But it reminded my of this recent season in our lives. I’m not sure how all the SGM mess will work out in the end. But in the meantime, a passage from a decade-old book gave me a little comfort that others have found it challenging to deal with serious issues in their churches:

    “I have never been involved in a church discipline action that has come out well. When all was said and done, everyone – including me – seemed soured by the business. Those who received the discipline felt they were misunderstood, mistreated, that the church acted without grace or love. Those who had been hurt by the offender felt the church had tiptoed, kid-gloved, pampered the wrongdoer and had insufficiently upheld their cause. Many watching from the sidelines have thought that we have either soft-pedaled righteousness or trampled grace. We have acted too harshly or too cautiously; we have been legalistic, or we have failed to take sin and holiness with biblical seriousness. We’re Pharisees, arrogant and accusing and rigid – or we’re Sadducees, arrogant and accommodating and slippery-soft. We’re crusades or kowtowers. Almost everyone is angry about the outcome. Some in their anger withdraw their services. Some stop giving. Some stop coming. I have yet to lead the church through a disciplinary action where all the above, in some measure, did not happen.
    “For years I put this down to my own inadequacy, my callow youth and shallow experience, my sometimes patched-together knowledge of Scripture or makeshift interpretations of it, my fumbling grasp of original languages, my half-baked wisdom, my thinly mustered courage and thinly veiled frustration, my slipshod ability. All of that may be true. But in recent years, I have been less inclined to think the problem lies in these things – in me.”

    — Mark Buchanan, “Your God Is Too Safe”

  • Matt (aka Papist)

    State @1307 You are right. In criminal law there is a thing known as a rape shield. That is when a rape victim’s past sexual acts or actions cannot be used against her. If she was raped it doesn’t matter what she did in the past. Rape is rape.

  • acme

    Thank you, Never Again (#1305). This is true of Heather’s posts on Spiritual Tyranny as well — and so many others. Stop blaming the victims and their families for these abuses — and stop requiring unattainable virtue before someone can be believed.

    Thanks, LunaMoth, for the shout-out earlier. Love you!

    Anne CLC 1986-2007

  • StateTheObvious

    Typical SGM “spinning” once again: Discredit OL by exposing “her sins.” What’s sad is that it would likely be an angry family member doing this. It makes CL look pretty bad. Maybe Gruyf 1281 IS CL?!

    Nothing that poor child has done to cope with her trauma could discredit her. Nothing. If anything it lends credibility to the fact that something horrific has happened to her. People deal with trauma in different ways. Some “spin out of control”, others stuff it inside and appear normal but are living day-to-day, etc.

    And if the L family really wants to try to make O look unstable, they’re just keeping themselves in the limelight too, so they can expect a wave of questioning & scrutiny themselves.

  • Pam Palmer

    Stunned and Happymom: Thanks guys! :) I want to attend that GRACE seminar also. That is exactly what our churches need. I hope that pastors and other leaders all over knock down Boz’ door with requests for many such seminars.

  • Peppa'

    We don’t know what Gruyf meant by them saying more information may be coming out. Lets atop speculating.

  • Bob

    Thanks queen bee for your comments. Finally a voice of reason and thought amongst a bunch of irrational though understandable emotion. You are courageous.

  • Never Again

    Gruyf #1281 – Do you think dredging up dirt on the plaintiffs makes what the defendants allegedly did okay?

    If these plaintiffs are troubled souls who’ve acted out badly, I would not be surprised. In fact, I think it would be expected, more validation of their claims than not.

    According to the SAC, there was at least one other witness who was aware of the situation at the time. A poster here claimed to be an aunt and backed up the claim. The plaintiff says she went to the pastors multiple times beginning at a young age. She apparently has some written communication to back her claim.

    If even one of those things corroborates her story, it doesn’t seem to me to matter what sort of mental, emotional, or behavioral problems she might have.

    That may be a case of getting the cart before the horse.

    This is a typical defense strategy.
    A. Plaintiff is mistreated.
    B. Plaintiff develops troubling issues due to mistreatment.
    C. Defendant uses plaintiff’s issues to claim she is unstable and therefore an unreliable witness with an agenda.

    This needs to go to trial.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    CJ demanded total obedience. 100%. That was how the corporation was run. It was a dictatorship, not a democracy or even oligarchy of the As.

    Josh was under CJ. Josh had to obey, 100%. Josh pulled out finally. I think we should cut Josh some slack for now. Yeah, he probably should have spoken up and left sooner, but those strongholds are hard to break.

    By the way, I too am a member of the “stunned” fan club. I thought about taking a train to Philly just to meet her. Maybe someday :)

  • It's just the beginning

    @Gruyf, #1281: you said the following:
    “Some information about Olivia might be coming soon. All is not as it seems.”

    Can you elaborate? Do you know something .. or is this hopeful thinking?

    Is it something about CL’s reaction to this story (like his utter denial)?
    Or is it something specific about O. L.?

  • OutThere

    Lemongrass 1300 – agree, caution is very important. The fact that Brent implicates Josh doesn’t lead me to think, rhetorically, “How could Josh?!” but rather, “Hmm, how could Josh go along? Really?”

    I don’t know Josh at all, so maybe the idea that he would go along makes total sense to those who do know him. But from the outside, this aspect of Brent’s theories seems puzzling. I’m not saying there wasn’t any sort of conspiracy – I have my own experience with these leaders (not Josh, though) to know such a thing is completely plausible – they’ve done it before on so many other levels. But I also find myself wondering if sweeping conclusions are being drawn based on a couple of pieces of information, none of which is an email to Josh from the others saying the dad is a child molester, let’s discuss…

  • It's just the beginning

    @Lemongrass, #1300: Amen! (about the first half of your post..nothing against the second part, just a huge AMEN on the first half!)

  • Sandy Thompson

    In case you don’t make the connection, I’ll spell it out! I am Heather’s mother.

    Lemongrass @1270 – you said, “I would like to point out that those two plaintiffs are friends. I have no idea how close they are, but I know that JR attended HT’s wedding festivities. This information is important when these kind of allegations are made. I know that the Celebration incident was lied about. I’m not saying that I know it was completely made up, but I do know that part of those allegations were made up. Please read HT’s story in her own words. I’m not sure how an attorney wouldn’t vet her better. Attaching her story to the case does cast a cloud over the whole thing.”
    No offense (PDI speech) but you really don’t know what you think you know. Chuck and I invited OUR friends and family, and Gerry and Terri who lived with us when Heather and Brian were small, to the reception celebrating the upcoming wedding in KC, MO. As it happens at some receptions, some who were not expressly invited come, because they love us as a family. Two or 3 families brought their older children who “knew” Heather but they were never “friends”. (To make it clear – we welcomed them and were very glad to see them after so many years.) Chuck has an incredible memory. For example, he can still remember the phone number of the original Ledo’s pizza place he went to 5 decades ago. Likewise, Heather has inherited her father’s ability to remember things in great detail. (A God-given gift) (Please pass the Ginko biloba for me.) How could you possible KNOW that the Celebration event didn’t happen? I was wondering, being a VERY light sleeper, how she could have gotten up and left during the night without me waking up. But, I remembered that there were times when our kids shared a room with Gerry during Celebration at the age frame in which this could have occured. I am sure someone WILL come forward to corroborate the story, but even if no one EVER does, I believe that it happened. I believe every little detail she says about every rotten, disgusting, shameful event that stole her innocence and totally ruined our life as a family. (from boa to masks!)

    What happened to her also robbed the church of one of the most compassionate and sincere pastors to ever grace the doors of CLC. Chuck has been robbed of his calling to ministry (as we wait and pray for God to lead and direct us to return to a ministry of His choosing.) We have been through so much turmoil, we could/should write a book on what the (alleged) pedophiles caused in OUR lives. Of course what they did to the children is absolutely the primary concern to us all but the poison spread far and wide. “A little leaven DOES leaven the whole lump”! just as the mom who is sadly estranged from her son due to a pedophile says. The moms are affected greatly also. Not even going to go THERE! Chuck is praying about coming out with his own statement about all the goings on. He, too, feels betrayed on SO many levels by these men. He gave them the BEST (years of his life). His love and dedication to Jesus and the sincere care for so many of you here. We even talked about having a church just for us survivors. Just know that we hold you all in our hearts!

    On the Barry Wood note. Both our families moved to Virginia at the same time. We didn’t know them per se but developed a wonderful relationship over the years. We had our own little “home group” as we met every MOnday night at a local restaurant to pastor ecah other through the pain and sorrow we both had experienced at the hands of PDI. (Pretty Darned Intolerant – was our name for them) In case you didn’t know, Barry grand-father and father pastored that church (If I remember correctly (Ginko biloba or Chuck, please). Barry then literally BUILT the church building with his own hands. What happened next, you already know. PDI swooped in and, like vultures on fresh kill, devoured and spit him out! All of us have pride to a certain extent, sin of some sort to a certain extent, which is why the scripture that “God is at work in us right up until the day of Jesus” is so comforting. Remember that slogan “Please be patient with me, God isn’t finished with me yet!” What happened tho the truth of that button?

  • CRW

    >Legal Question<
    [There are a lot of conversations rolling so this might not get noticed, but here goes.]

    I'm thinking about the logical process of a court deciding whether SGM is "guilty" of anything or not and a question continues to nag. It sure seems to me like there were/are some objectionable practices in SGM, especially in terms of handling abuse and molestation. However, in order for that to be decided in a court of law, wouldn't the actual occurrences of abuse need to be proven first? I know it's a trigger for many here when it's suggested that any of the plaintiffs might have made false or exaggerated statements and I'm not assuming that (I know folks here have gone through some rough stuff to say the least!). But a court isn't going to take what anyone (even a child) says at face value, so doesn't that mean that, **in order for a court to say that SGM is guilty of a conspiracy to cover up abuse, it must first prove that the abuse did indeed occur?** Substantially proving the latter seems, at best to be an intensely involved process, and at worst seems potentially futile in some situations.

    I don't have any legal training/background and honestly haven't spent much time learning about the details of this case. It may be there is a simple answer that i'm simply missing, and this issue may have already been discussed (if so, sorry for the broken record!). Can anyone here give an informed explanation of this legal dynamic?