Tag Archives: G.R.A.C.E. Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment

A Grand Deception: The Successful Response of Sex Offenders

Liar liar pants on fire

Religion News Service

By Boz Tchividjian

“I’m ready to be put this all behind me and to continue reaching for my dreams of filmmaking and in music.”

Those were the recent words of Brandon Milburn, a former youth minister, as he pleaded with a judge for a lenient sentence after being convicted of seven counts of child sexual abuse involving two eleven year old boys.   His pleas were echoed by supporters who came to court to proclaim his innocence. One even remarked, “I do not believe he is a predator. I love Brandon; my children love Brandon. If Brandon was released today, he would be welcome to come and live in my home.”

Ultimately, the judge decided that Brandon Milburn should spend the next 25 years reaching for his dreams inside the walls of a prison.

Sexual offenders have perfected a grand deception that sadly seems to work all too well inside faith communities. This deception twists truth, minimizes abuse, and exploits guilt in order to create a fictional narrative that paints the offender as the victim and those who accuse and confront as perpetrators of injustice. Unfortunately, too many fail to realize that this deceptive narrative is fiction.

Finish reading 4 steps offenders use as narrative when caught: A Grand Deception: The Successful Response of Sex Offenders

Toxic Tuesday: Church Leadership Supporting Sexual Offenders Part 3

Toxic Tuesday biochem hazard

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:40

Can God’s word be applied to the issue of supporting alleged sexual abusers of children?

Does it take more faith to support an accused sex offender or to allow the law to do its job?

Do you give blind trust to someone just because you knew them in college, or know them through ministry avenues? Or do you think about how your leadership position in the church might influence the faith of a little child?

Do you support a family on the grounds they are long-standing members in your church or do you acknowledge you have no idea what may have taken place in their home, in their family, or in their family member’s life and decide to error on the side of safety for the children’s sake?

These are not easy questions to answer when placed in the position, by a friend or church member, of being asked for representation in a court of law.

I believe church staff and church leadership need to ask these questions and have policy in place before the situation arises.

Evangelical Christians are quickly gaining a status resembling that of Catholic dioceses which have earned reputations for ignoring, denying and hiding allegations of abuse; as well as, defending priests accused of sexually abusing children. If you doubt the seriousness of this statement look no further than Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment’s Facebook page: G.R.A.C.E. They have investigated and reported on numerous cases.

My thoughts on this subject have been all over the place so I will inform you that the rest of this post is a compilation of random thoughts.

An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all he is the greatest.” Luke 9:46-48

Children should never be placed in the position of sacrifice for the sake of the church or the accused in the name of protecting Christ’s reputation. Souls are at stake! Jesus came to sacrifice Himself for us so don’t place a child where only Christ can reside. Protect the children; don’t blame them. Over the years I have read that children’s false claims of sexual abuse at the hands of Christian clergy remains between 1.5% and 2 %. It is rare for young children to lie about sexual abuse.

In Matthew 18:15-18 Jesus teaches us how to deal with sin issues among believers.

  1. Go in private to the person and point out the sin/error/offense.
  2. If they do not listen take two witnesses to help confront them.
  3. If still they do not listen take the issue before the church.
  4. If none of these steps work the unrepentant person is no longer allowed fellowship in the church

This is done in love for the purpose of leading the person to repentance and providing reconciliation in the relationship. These verses DO NOT APPLY to sexual offenders or people accused of breaking local, state or federal laws. All allegations must be immediately reported to the local authorities. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Pastors, church leadership, church members, family and friends cannot be objective mediators or investigators in these cases. Sexual abuse of children is criminal in all 50 states and is NOT a private matter. It is a public/civil felony to be professionally investigated. Pastors and church leadership are not professionally trained to handle such issues; no matter how well-intentioned they are.

We find a prime example in scripture of a family member who attempts to keep sexual abuse quiet. Admitting such evil exists in the world has been difficult since the beginning of time.

In 2 Samuel 13, Absalom told Tamar when he realized she had been raped by her brother Amnon, “Keep silent my sister, he is your brother, do not take this matter to heart.”  Not much can make sexual abuse worse than silence from biological family or church family.  It is hurtful and it is dangerous; moreover, it isn’t the end to the consequences of the sexual abuse. Until justice is served there is potential for further disunity, additional sin and destruction. Continue reading 2 Samuel 13-18 to see how silencing the sexually abused for the sake of peace ended.

Romans 13:1-7 teaches us that the civil government is part of God’s design for His people and that we are subject to the authorities.  Since we are commanded to respect the government/authorities placed over us  we also need to respect their investigations of alleged child victimizers. With the aforementioned random thoughts in mind; we need to stay quietly and respectfully in the background until the process if finished.

Background checks are necessary but not always beneficial. Why? Background checks processed through law enforcement computers only catch criminals who have been charged; not molesters or pedophilic offenders who have never been caught or reported or are too smart to get caught.

In a 1992 study published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, sex researchers K. Freud and R. I. Watson found that the average pedophile victimizes between 20 and 150 boys before being arrested.[i]

Dr. Anna Salter in her best-selling book, Predators: Pedophiles, Rapists, and Other Sex Offenders, Who They Are, How They Operate, and How We Can Protect Ourselves and Our Children reports the same statistics.

This is an alarming number and it tells us churches may have pedophilic offenders working or volunteering in children’s and/or youth ministries who have not YET been caught. This is one more reason to protect the children by making sure they are never alone in a room, hallway or bathroom with one person. There should always be two adults present; not two teens, and not an adult and a child—two adults.

If you or your church has supported a sexual offender through an investigation or trial have you expressed repentance or regret for declining to protect or believe the children?

Did you ever ask straight forward questions or request names and phone numbers of previous family members and former employers to consider their side of the story compared to the accused? Did you ever, with your own eyes, see medical records/diagnosis’s? Did you seek guidance from specialists in the field of child sexual abuse such as Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment?

If you didn’t seek information; why didn’t you?

Are you teachable in this area that plagues the church? If you are instructable I urge you to contact G.R.A.C.E. for help in training your church to protect the little children from the evil that roams in this world; harmful hurtful perpetrators.

Un-teachable churches are nothing more than shelters for victimizers who have the free reign to abuse children on church property, in their vehicle, during church outings, at summer youth camps, or on overseas mission trips.

Are we moved by past friendship, loyalty, sympathy and fear for the accused or by the distress, pain and heartache of the children? Make certain your compassion is properly placed and driven by love of truth and justice for sweet innocent children.

Current news articles paint the Christian community at large as turning their backs on the victims while supporting the adult standing accused. This is tragic but what I find even more disturbing is the church calling the children liars.

Matthew 19:13-14

Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Sexual abusers are found in every walk of life: Every gender although mostly the male gender, every sexual orientation, every religion, every race, every color, every country, every socioeconomic class, any profession, or any size of town.

Sexual offenders have no identifiable markings, speech or body language to alert us to their true character or motives. This is one more reason pastors are not qualified, nor are they legally authorized, to investigate felony crimes.

If you or your church has mishandled past abuse disclosures or erred on the wrong side of a sexual abuse case involving an investigation or trial I strongly recommend you contact Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment. They exist to help the body of Christ protect children and minister to abuse survivors. You will find resources for the church and for individuals on their website; Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment @netgrace.org.

 Matthew 18:10

“See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.”

Read also:

Church Leadership Supporting Sexual Offenders Part 1

Church Leadership Supporting Sexual Offenders Part 2

[i] K. Freund & R.I. Watson. “The Proportions of Heterosexual and Homosexual Pedophiles Among Sex Offenders Against Children: An Exploratory Study.” 18 34, Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy 34-43 (1992).

Toxic Tuesday Headlines: My Bed, My Pew, My Life

Toxic Tuesday biochem hazard

“Allowing a volunteer with known past abuse allegations to continue serving is beyond stupid, it’s handing him the keys to the door of abuse.” ~G.R.A.C.E. Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment

Some churches are a toxic wasteland where child predators walk and work among the hallways, classrooms and bathrooms. Predators are bio hazardous waste that needs to be found, collected and kicked to the curb for segregated garbage collection and delivered to a secure sealed location.

Many of our churches are not ready to protect children from such evil.

Why?

They don’t understand how molesters and pedophilic offenders think or act and they don’t understand how children fall prey to abuse. This makes church leaders and workers unable to protect because they don’t recognize the signs of abuse or the extent of the abuse and often when abuse happens they don’t believe the victim. The part that frustrates and sickens me most is when church leadership is informed of abuse allegations but they don’t report it to the authorities or disclose it to the congregation.

“We must never place greater value on the words & promises of sex offenders than the bodies and souls of children.” ~G.R.A.C.E.

Here is one such example recently making headlines:

A divorced man was hired by a small congregation in a small town for the position of senior pastor. This man had no contact with his own biological child; in fact, his parental rights were removed. Add to this the fact that he was forced out of his last ministry, in a neighboring state, due to allegations of improper conduct with a child. (A sexual crimes investigation by the local sheriff’s department for victimizing a six year old girl.)

The hiring church knew this background yet did not contact the ex-wife or the former church to hear their what, how, why, when or where perspective. They believed his spin on the situations and they loved his preaching. What more did they need to know?

Fast forward:

This church believed in their pastor so strongly that they allowed him to attend church camp during the summers, staying in the dorms/cabins with young boys and allowed him to travel with an international evangelistic team, to preach and work in orphanages in foreign countries. They also allowed him to stop teaching the adult class during Wednesday night services to teach the class for 2-5 year old children—alone. Yes, you read correctly. He taught this class solo, by himself, no helper, unaided—while the church leadership did not take into consideration his background of past allegations.

I’m angry! Shaking, crying, furious, appalled, sickened—my head hurts and I want someone to answer for this wrongdoing; this offence—this crime against children and in my book the church is a guilty partner in the crime.

Why?

Did anyone ever consider protecting the children?

In today’s society there needs to always be safety in numbers for the children’s protection. No one should ever be alone with children.

Again; fast forward:

In April 2012 this man was arrested on allegations of aggravated criminal sodomy of a child and aggravated indecent liberties with a child. He was held on a $500,000 bond, which no one provided bail for, so he remained incarcerated for over two years after waving his right to a speedy trial. He then waited while delaying his trial on more than one occasion.

His day in court was coming and there was no holding back the judgment of the Lord. (See previous post: Reversal of Destiny)

This man was told numerous times over the last thirty years to safeguard his ministry by not being alone with children.

Alone he was with a class of 2-5 year olds. [i]

I must stop and ask; what man wants to be alone with little children and have to take care of changing dirty diapers?

But that’s not all.

He was alone in a classroom which had no windows and he allegedly locked the door while the children were in the class.[ii]

He was alone doing unthinkable things while describing to the children what Jesus would do and say when he returned while acting out what would happen. He (Jesus), “Would touch people upon his return.”[iii]

The mother of one of the victims discovered an “awfully quiet” classroom one Wednesday night. “She went to the door of the classroom and it was locked.” “I knocked three times on the door. It took the defendant several minutes to come to the door and he would only open it enough that I could see him. He said the children were working on a craft and it was a surprise for the parents.” “I never saw any crafts that were being worked on,” she told the court.[iv]

Another mom told in detail what the defendant did to her son; it was more than showing or touching.

Being present for the guilty verdict was emotionally overwhelming for me; yet necessary.  Those in the courtroom were told to keep all emotions and reactions to themselves for the sake of the jury who had worked tirelessly on the outcome of someone else’s future. We were instructed by the judge to leave the courtroom if we felt we could not abide by his rules. One sweet momma had to do just that. I chose to stay in the courtroom. I was about to listen to the pronouncement I had waited what seemed like a lifetime to hear.  I understood and respected the judge and his reasoning yet found it almost impossible to follow. Years of waiting for necessary evidence, necessary non-family witnesses while knowing this man was having full access to children, yet unable to do anything about it due to the constraints of a former family court judge, weighed on my heart and mind thousands of times over the years.

I felt like a water balloon filled to four times its capacity but not allowed to bust, spill, leak or burst. Blood pulsated through my veins like hot lava while burning hot tears streamed down my face from searing bloodshot eyes while I attempted not to shake or let slip any groans or sobs.

I can’t imagine how the other moms in the courtroom felt. I’m sure we each reacted in our own way just like we each utilized different coping mechanisms through our individual circumstances involving the same perpetrator.

In two weeks the defendant will be sentenced for his guilty verdict. It is likely the minimum time will be 25 years without the possibility of parole. The defendant can be sentenced under ‘Jessica’s Law’:  Among the key provisions of the law is classifying lewd or lascivious molestation on a person under the age of 12 as a life felony, and a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison and lifetime electronic monitoring of adults convicted of lewd or lascivious molestation against a victim less than 12 years old. The statute also requires that if an offender is sentenced to a term of years, he or she must be given lifetime probation following the imprisonment. Jessica’s Law is being applied to cases involving clergy, teachers and coaches; molesters and pedophilic offenders who seek employment in professions where they can target and prey upon child victims.

“Boundaries, limitations and refraining from complete trust are demonstrations of Christian love towards offenders who profess repentance.” ~G.R.A.C.E.

[i] Allen Smith, “Children testify about alleged abuse by former Independence pastor”, Independence Daily Reporter, June 3, 2014

[ii] Smith, “Children testify about alleged abuse by former Independence pastor”

[iii] Smith, “Children testify about alleged abuse by former Independence pastor”

[iv] Smith, “Children testify about alleged abuse by former Independence pastor”