Truth, Justice and Church Sex Abuse

Finally, the truth comes out and justice prevails.

Over the last several years, Marianne and I have ministered through Nathan’s Voice to five families devastated by abusive church leaders at Sovereign Grace Ministries and it’s network of churches – including Covenant Grace.

Now one of the abusers has received a 40 years sentence, after years of denial, cover up and shunning of his victims by the leadership structure at SGM. See Child Sex Abuser from Gaithersburg -area Sentenced to 40 Years in Prison.

House2House Ministries and Magazine

Lies, Cover Up and Abuse

Let this be a warning to all who respond to leadership abuse in the Body of Christ with the same kind insular mentality that “circles the wagon” through denials, cover up and attacks to preserve their own power, influence and ministries.

Just like what we saw over the years with SGM, the so-called “apostolic workers” and their “Beyond Cult” over at House2House Ministries (including Felicity Dale, Jon Zens, Milt Rodriquez and Keith Giles) have done the same thing.

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The Cult of Giftedness

Steubenville and the Misplaced Sympathy for Jane Doe’s Rapists, by Megan Carpentier.

This article addresses a disturbing phenomenon: In America, we have a cultish worship of those who are charming, gifted and inspiring. They are given every benefit of the doubt, and then some.

So it always goes… sympathy and excuses by some for the gifted predator, shame for his “wayward” victim.

As an aside:

Thanks for bearing with us as we take a week or so to focus on these issues. In the Body of Christ, we should be better than this. Unfortunately, we often aren’t.

Christ Chapel Sexual Abuse: An Update

shameLast Friday, a Federal judge rejected Christ Chapel’s claim that under the First Amendment its pastors could, in essence, sexually abuse others with legal impunity – and no court had authority to stop them.

As a result, the court ruled that a Federal lawsuit may proceed against Christ Chapel, which alleges a pervasive pattern of sex abuse at the church.

That suit was filed on behalf of one victim and her husband, and alleges employment discrimination through sexual abuse, exploitation, harassment and a hostile work environment directed against women in general and victims of abuse in particular.

Although many victims of abuse, at the hands of several men on staff at Christ Chapel, are alleged in the lawsuit, Virginia has a two year statute of limitations. Thus, not all of the victims could actually join in the lawsuit (some of the abuse happened as long a six years ago) as actual plaintiffs asserting claims against all of the alleged abusers.

Nonetheless, the one named plaintiff and her husband were able to set forth in the complaint the history of abuse against multiple women by multiple men on staff at Christ Chapel – based on an alleged overall pattern of sexual exploitation and overall hostile environment at the church – on behalf of all the victims.

Addendum:

After failing to get the sex abuse allegations dismissed, Christ Chapel Assembly of God – a large church in Woodbridge, Virginia – agreed to come to satisfactory terms with the plaintiffs and settled the lawsuit.

The factual case against Christ Chapel primarily was investigated and assembled by Nathan’s Voice, a ministry created several years by our local fellowships to help church abuse victims.

I want to personally thank and acknowledge the help of countless people, as well as the courage of the many victims, in helping with the investigation and eventual successful outcome of this case. I believe that because of this case, it is highly unlikely that sexual abuse will ever be tolerated again at Christ Chapel.

There were times I was moved to tears as I got to know many of the victims and their families, and witnessed their compassion and resolve. It gave me the strength needed to devote over a year to this case before finally handing it over to a litigation law firm for final prosecution.

If any further issues or questions surface regarding Christ Chapel, the complaint (Todd v. Christ Chapel, with all the factual background) and related documents are a matter of pubic record and can be obtained from the Federal District Court in Alexandria, Virginia. You also can open the full complaint here.

See Christ Chapel: Pastoral Sex Abuse for more information.

~ Jim Wright

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Abusive Church Leaders (Part 4) – Civil and Criminal Law

Abusive Church Leaders (Part 4) – Civil and Criminal Law

So you’ve tried to follow the procedure of 1 Tim. 5, as discussed in Part 3 of this series, by investigating and exposing church leaders who abused their positions of power and trust.

But what if you were rebuffed?

Or what if – despite public reprimand, confession and repentance – you reasonably fear that they may continue preying on others or the church is not providing restitution for the harm you’ve been bearing? Scripturally, do you have additional options?

More specifically, is it ever proper to seek help from the courts and secular authorities to deal with pastoral sexual abuse or churches which allowed it to happen? After all, doesn’t 1 Cor. 6 say we should not sue another brother?

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Abusive Church Leaders (Part 2) – How Should We React?

How should we react to an unrepentant pastor who’s used his position of trust and power to prey on women – often after turning to him for spiritual counsel and support during vulnerable times in their lives?

All the theory in the world is great. But one thing I’ve learned from experience is this: Those who want to help these women find justice and closure, and protect others, need an unflinching resolve to stand toe to toe against these predators.

Typically, a predatory pastor is not accustomed to being questioned or challenged by anyone. He often will try to deflect accountability either through intimidation or a charm offensive – or both! These men are master manipulators, and it takes a God-given strength of will to stand firm, force answers, stop the abuse, and expose their evil as a warning to others.

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Abusive Church Leaders (Part 1) – My Personal Angst

Much to my dismay, God keeps bringing people to my door who have been abused by a pastor or other trusted church leader.

Over the last year, I’ve taken on three cases against abusive pastors. Two involve significant embezzlement and fraud by pastors in different churches. A third involves extensive sexual abuse and misconduct by around half a dozen men on the pastoral and ministerial staff at Christ Chapel Assembly of God in Woodbridge, Virginia.

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The Storm

The Storm

There is something in the prophetic personality that loves the thunder, the lightning and the storm.

I get a kick out of standing outside and watching the dark, billowing clouds roll in. We feel God’s majesty in turmoil, and know that He often uproots before He establishes.

I think we feel His mercy more deeply, but also differently. Because our personalities are especially attuned to His power and redemptive judgment, we more fully appreciate His grace.

That’s why we embrace the oppressed and battle tyrants, while relishing the storm.

~ Jim

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