Willow Creek Megachurch Paid $3.25M in Lawsuits Over Sex Abuse of Disabled Boys

The settlement showed that despite agreeing to the financial payouts, the church “has denied and continues to deny all material allegations of negligence and damages in this case.”

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Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois reportedly paid $3.5 million in lawsuits over the sex abuse of two developmentally disabled boys.

The evangelical megachurch, which recently saw its entire elders board resign over unrelated accusations that former lead pastor Bill Hybels sexually abused women, made the payments in the lawsuits over several years, court records obtained by The Chicago Tribune show.

One payment of $1.75 million was apparently made in February, while another one of $1.5 million was made last year.

Former Willow Creek volunteer Robert Sobczak Jr., now 24, pled guilty in 2014 of abusing an 8-year-old with special needs at the church, alongside an older boy not connected with the church. A year earlier, he admitted to sexually abusing another disabled boy at the church, believed to have been 9 years old.

Willow Creek said that the experience was “heartbreaking,” and insisted that it has made changes.

“We have worked with law enforcement and security experts to learn how this happened and how we can ensure it never happens again,” the church said, according to FOX 32.

Cook County prosecutors had described in the lawsuits that Sobczak separately took the two boys to an isolated area of the church, where he molested them.

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What is more, the document shows that another church worker had raised concerns in January 2013 that Sobczak was “emotionally unhealthy.” The volunteer was allowed to remain with the program, however, and went on to abuse the second victim.

The second victim reportedly suffered “great mental and emotional harm” due to the abuse he suffered, and underwent therapy.

The settlement showed that despite agreeing to the financial payouts, the church “has denied and continues to deny all material allegations of negligence and damages in this case.”

When the child sex abuse charges first came to light back in 2013, the megachurch said in a statement:

“Willow Creek engages in a rigorous screening and training process for all volunteers and staff in our Special Friends Ministry that includes a detailed child protection application process, checking of references, a national background check, cross checking the sex offender registry, and offering training in child protection. Mr. Sobczak had completed and passed this screening process before he began serving with the Special Friends Ministry.”

Heather Larson, who would go on to become Willow Creek’s executive pastor, before resigning this August over the Hybels scandal, insisted back then that church leadership is “very concerned for the child as well as the family.”

“We take rigorous steps to protect our children,” she stated at the time.

Larson, along with Willow Creek’s entire elder board, resigned earlier in August, admitting that they should have believed the multiple women who accused Hybels of sexual misconduct and abuse this year.

The church initially sided with Hybels, who has continued to maintain his innocence in the face of all claims. It later admitted that its founder had “fallen into sin.”

“While Bill Hybels was our founder and pastor, he was human, broken, and self-admittedly sinful. We believe that his sins were beyond what he previously admitted on stage, and certainly we believe that his actions with these women were sinful. We believe he did not receive feedback as well as he gave it, and he resisted the accountability structures we all need,” said in a statement about the issue Missy Rasmussen, one of Willow Creek’s elders.

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Catholic Church Guilty Of Covering Up Sexual Abuse of Over 1000 Children in Pennsylvania

…priests forced a victim to pose naked on the cross while they photographed him using a Polaroid camera.

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  • More than 300 Catholic priests across Pennsylvania had been sexually abusing little boys and girls for over 70 years.
  • A thousand children were identified as victims in the investigation, but there are possibly thousands more.
  • The Vatican refrained from making any comments about the situation.

More than 300 “predator priests” across Pennsylvania were reportedly sexually abusing children for over 70 years, according to a new grand jury, who got internal documents from the state’s six Catholic dioceses dating back to 1947: Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton.

The grand jury states, “Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades.”

On Tuesday, Attorney General Josh Shapiro said the cover-ups and abuse were reported by other state grand juries and they reviewed the information included in the “secret archives” — referring to the reports that hid the abuse that church leaders did for decades.

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The jury report, consisting of 1,400 pages, described the gruesome details of some of the alleged abuse. A boy was raped repeatedly from age 13 to 15 and later suffered from severe spine injuries because of the priest who raped him. The boy later died of an overdose due to painkiller addiction.

In Pittsburgh, priests forced a victim to pose naked on the cross while they photographed him using a Polaroid camera. The report states that because of the cover-up, “almost every instance of abuse we found is too old to be prosecuted.”

In Pennsylvania, victims of child sex abuse have until they reach age 30 to file civil suits and until they are 50 to file criminal charges. The oldest victim who spoke to the grand jury was aged 83.

James VanSickle, 55, recounts the sexual abuse he suffered under the hands of a priest in Erie back in 1981, but because the statute of limitations had passed, the priest was not prosecuted for it.

As he testified before the grand jury, VanSickle said “This is the murder of a soul. We don’t have a statute of limitations on the crime of murder. We don’t go after victims . . . and question their ‘repressed memories’ or ‘recovered memories.”

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Many questions now arise about whether high-level church officials could still be covering up their criminal actions.

The grand jury called for a law allowing older victims to file a case against the church for the abuse they’ve suffered as children, in addition to ending such limitations for criminal cases.

The Vatican press office refrained from making any comments to the situation, as the attention is now focused on Pope Francis, with many Catholics waiting on how he would handle this situation of abuse to restore the Catholic Church’s integrity.

Across the country, Pennsylvania is believed to have steered the most number of investigations on child sex abuse.

The recent grand jury report was described by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro as the “largest, most comprehensive report into child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church ever produced in the United States.”

Source: Fox News

Youth Pastor Resigns 37 Years After Sexual Abuse of Children

They were ages 15 and 17, they said, when the alleged abuse began at a Southern Baptist church in Fort Worth

On April 8, Pastor John Finley stood before his congregation in Tennessee with an announcement. After 31 years at the church, he resigned.

He held a microphone and read from a piece of paper.

“I made some poor choices and was involved with two females in inappropriate behavior,” Finley said. “There was no sex. Both ladies were over 18. In the best interest of our church, I choose to resign immediately.”

But the women who sent a letter that spurred Finley’s resignation from Bartlett Hills Baptist Church near Memphis have a different story to tell.

 

They were ages 15 and 17, they said, when the alleged abuse began at a Southern Baptist church in Fort Worth. It was true he hadn’t had sex with them, but he’d done more than kiss them, they said. He touched one’s breasts and put the other’s hand on his naked erection, they said.

The alleged abuse began 37 years ago at Travis Avenue Baptist Church, where Finley served as the youth minister for five years. Travis Avenue is well known in the Southern Baptist community, with strong ties to Fort Worth’s Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

One of the women said she never told anyone about the abuse until college. The other tried once, telling a youth worker at the church. A rumor even reached a deacon. Still, Finley stayed at the church.

The Travis Avenue of today is pastored by Mike Dean, who arrived in 1991, five years after Finley left. He has worked with both women to confront Finley’s church in Tennessee and now wants his own church to acknowledge what happened, while also trying to make Travis Avenue a place of healing.

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 John Finley, former Travis Avenue Baptist Church youth minister, in the 1980s.

“That angered me, that we missed that opportunity to set this straight 30 years ago,” Dean said. “I was just angry that it happened and we couldn’t stop it or didn’t stop it.”

The story of Travis Avenue unfolds against a backdrop of the Southern Baptist Convention’s own recent reckoning with how it deals with abuse. In May 2018, Paige Patterson, head of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, was fired over mishandling reported sexual abuse. At June’s annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, which took place in Dallas, much of the conversation revolved around the treatment of women and how churches ought to deal with reports of abuse.

It took 15 years’ worth of attempts to reach out to Bartlett Hills to get Finley to resign, according to the women and their advocates. Bartlett Hills leaders maintain that the two women were adults when the incidents took place.

Finley’s wife, Donna, told the Star-Telegram there had been no more than kissing and that both women were adults. She said her husband would not comment and provided the name of his lawyer, who did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

“It’s been life-altering for me,” said Maria, one of the women who said she was molested by Finley. She’s 51 now and has asked to be identified by a pseudonym. “I believe that God has blessed me with a full life and a family and love and friends, but I don’t necessarily think this is the life, originally, that I was meant to have lived.”

The youth pastor

John Finley, now 62, became Travis Avenue’s youth minister in 1981, according to the church’s history book. In his mid-20s, he favored bright shirts with bright ties. The kids called him “John.” His favorites loved him and remembered him as quick with a joke and easygoing, just like a youth minister should be; the boys not in his inner circle bragged about dumping a toilet in his yard.

Sarah Beth — a pseudonym — said she was 15 when her abuse began in 1981. She’s 53 now and up to that point had attended Travis Avenue her whole life.

The first incident occurred on a youth trip bus, she said, when she thinks Finley thought she was asleep. She said he sat next to her and touched her breasts. She froze and waited for it to end.

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 John Finley, former Travis Avenue Baptist Church youth minister, left, on a choir tour in the 1980s.
 The alleged abuse went on from when Sarah Beth was 15 until she was 18, from 1981 to 1983, she said. She remembers one time when Finley rubbed her leg on a youth group trip to a Fort Worth buffet and arcade while she played a video game. Another time, she said, he pinned her against his truck door, kissing and touching her. Still another time, she remembers him touching her breasts.  Sarah Beth blocked out some of the alleged abuse.

“One time — and I’m not sure what age this is — I remember I was kind of watching it happen. It’s like I wasn’t even there. I was kind of ‘up here,’” she said, gesturing to the ceiling, “and I’m like, ‘Oh, is this happening?’”

As an adult, she said, having had normal relationships, she looked back and thought, “How was that enjoyable to him? I didn’t reciprocate.”

She went away to college in 1983. She’d never told anyone at the church what happened.

When Sarah Beth was at college, Maria, a girl two years her junior, came to Finley’s attention. Like Sarah Beth, Maria was a leader in her grade. She always wanted to do the right thing and considered herself a rule follower.

 

In August 1984, when Maria had just turned 17, the youth choir was on a bus trip to Colorado. Maria said the group was playing cards and trading seats, sitting on one another’s laps and lying down, and she wound up on Finley’s lap. She didn’t realize it was inappropriate — she had barely even kissed a boy then. So she didn’t think about it, she said, until Finley started touching her from behind.

“You know how when you’re nervous and you can feel your pulse just beating?” she said. “I remember that feeling, and I’m sure my face was red, my ears were red. I just couldn’t believe it was happening. Then he started just kinda raising his knee up underneath me, and I knew then that something was very weird and wrong.”

Little incidents happened throughout the trip, she said: pointed looks, Finley rubbing his arm or leg against hers. To this day, she remembers his blue eyes and the puffy bags under them, staring at her.

When the bus pulled up to drop the youth group back at church, Finley helped unload suitcases. Maria went to get hers when Finley, she said, grabbed her arm.

“He looked at me with his big blue eyes and he’s like, ‘Hey, hey, I love you. You know I love you, right?’” she said. She felt furious. She hadn’t processed what had happened and she felt sure Finley was trying to cover himself.

Mark Leitch was a member of the youth group at the same time as Maria, an active member but not a favorite of Finley’s. On the bus home from that Colorado choir trip, he said, he saw Finley touch Maria’s bottom with an erection.

Leitch told his parents, who didn’t believe him. His girlfriend, he said, told her parents — and her father believed her enough to speak to others. One of the others was a deacon and the father of another 17-year-old in the youth group, who was one of Maria’s best friends.

Amanda — who, on advice of her attorney, has asked to remain anonymous — remembers her parents called her into the kitchen and told her to ask Maria if Finley was doing anything inappropriate with her.

Amanda and Maria went to McDonald’s. Over soda and fries, Amanda tried to get Maria to tell her if anything was happening.

By the time the church’s ice cream social rolled around a few weeks later, Maria felt like she had to tell somebody what was happening. She asked one of the youth volunteers — a younger adult — if they could talk.

They sat down on the steps on the side of the church, and Maria talked in circles, not making eye contact. She rocked back and forth. Finally she told the youth worker what happened on the choir trip.

Looking back, Maria thinks the youth volunteer didn’t know what to do. The woman’s first reaction, Maria said, was to ask if the man touching her was her husband. No, Maria said, and she told her who it was. The volunteer asked a few details, if it had happened since the trip.

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 John Finley, former Travis Avenue Baptist Church youth minister, playing pool in the 1980s.

“Thank you for telling me,” Maria remembers her saying. “I’ll check on this.”

The youth volunteer wrote a statement in January 2018 about what had happened. She said she had heard about rumors of Finley and Sarah Beth before Maria approached her. She said she approached Finley in his office in 1984 with the rumor about Sarah Beth and Maria’s accusation.

“He admitted to the relationship with [Sarah Beth] but that it was over,” she wrote. “As far as [Maria] was concerned, he told me it only involved a kiss, and that he would leave her alone.”

The statement was provided to the Star-Telegram on the condition that the woman who wrote it not be identified.

Finley, she wrote, said he would talk to the then-pastor of Travis Avenue, who is now dead. The youth volunteer didn’t know if he ever did. She declined to comment further.

The youth worker told Maria she’d spoken to Finley and that he promised the behavior would end. But the incidents, Maria said, continued, and by then, Finley had warned her not to tell or he’d get in trouble. At that point, she decided it was useless to press it further.

Maria said the abuse happened once or twice a week. Finley, Maria said, made a point of driving her home after youth events. He would grab her and kiss her and touch her in his car. With a few exceptions — once, putting her hand on his penis — she said, he usually touched her.

Sometimes, she said, he would express guilt. He’d kiss her and touch her in a parked car and then move back to the driver’s side, repeating, “I don’t know why I keep doing this. I’m a good person, I love God. I’m a good man. I just don’t do this.”

Maria said she thought, “How come people don’t see this? How come people don’t know this? Surely people see this.”

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Printed material for Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth from October 4, 1981 is shown in this photo.

John Finley left Travis Avenue Baptist Church in 1986. When Maria found out, she was working in a Fort Worth department store with a couple of other friends from church. When a friend told her, she ran to the back room and sobbed.

A 1989 directory from the Tennessee church John Finley would resign from almost 30 years later shows him smiling from a page of staff members in a red tie and a gray suit. He has the same tight curly hair the Travis Avenue kids remember. He’s listed as the church’s minister of education and youth.

‘I knew this day would come’

Away at college, Sarah Beth began telling some friends — several of whom have spoken to the Star-Telegram and confirmed her accounts — what had happened. In the early 1990s, she told her parents. Watching the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings — and Anita Hill being questioned as she testified about being sexually harassed by the soon-to-be Supreme Court justice — rattled her enough that her mother knew something was wrong.

“It felt like, ‘This lady’s saying stuff, and people aren’t believing her,’” she said. “And that’s on the national stage. What’s going to happen to me if I tell anyone?”

In 1994, Maria and Amanda drove to visit a friend’s new house in Fort Worth. Brad Ward had been a member of the youth group and had been told what happened to Sarah Beth. Ward asked if Maria and Amanda had heard about Sarah Beth and told them that she had been abused by Finley.

Maria started crying when she and Amanda got back in the car. She told Amanda that Finley had molested her, too. Through some friends, she got Sarah Beth’s number, and the women talked about their experiences.

After she heard about Maria, Sarah Beth called Finley. She confronted him about what had happened. She remembers him saying: “I wish you girls would leave me alone.”

Maria also called Finley. She asked, “Why did it happen?” She described his response as flippant. “It’s just one of those things, and I’m sorry,” he told her.

In the late 1990s, Sarah Beth wrote two letters to Finley’s church in Tennessee, one to the head of the deacon board and one to the personnel chairman. She can’t remember their names now, but she detailed the allegations against Finley and had a phone conversation with one of the men.

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 John Finley, former Travis Avenue Baptist Church youth minister, center, is pictured with members of the youth group. Faces of the other members have been blurred to protect their identities.

From Sarah Beth’s point of view, she’d done what she could. They’d been warned.

The church would be warned again. Scott Floyd is the minister of counseling for Travis Avenue and serves as the director of the master of arts in counseling program at B.H. Carroll Theological Institute in Irving, Texas. Sarah Beth went to him for counseling in 2003 about what had happened to her, and he learned there was another woman who had been abused as well. He heard Maria’s story separately and said he realized there were similarities between the two.

“It disturbed me a lot, and I struggled with it,” Floyd said. “I felt like I needed to do more than just try to help them individually.”

He got the women’s permission to do research. He spoke to Mike Dean, the Travis Avenue pastor, who agreed to let Floyd do anything the women were comfortable with. Floyd spoke to others who had been members of the youth group at the time. And then, with the women’s permission, he reached out to two officials at the church with a letter laying out his findings — and to Finley himself with a letter and phone call.

“The first thing he said to me is, ‘I knew this day would come,’” Floyd said. Floyd provided details about the allegations against Finley on the phone. Finley, he said, denied nothing.

Finley said there was no intercourse, there had been only two girls and that he was repentant. He also said he had not worked with children since being at Travis Avenue (according to the old church directory and Finley’s resignation statement, this is untrue: He worked as a youth minister at the Tennessee church before becoming the pastor).

 At Floyd’s urging, Finley agreed to get counseling and allow Floyd to check in with the counselor, Floyd says. Floyd said Finley went to several sessions.

“What I was hoping to do is make other people aware of what he had done in the past,” Floyd said. “I was trying to contain the likelihood he could do anything else.”

Finley would stay at the church until 2018.

What more can our church do?’

On April 3, 2018, just after he resigned from his position as the student minister of Tennessee’s Bartlett Hills Baptist Church, Nick Daniel received a package that had been FedEx-ed overnight to his home address.

When he opened it, he found a letter detailing five years’ worth of alleged sexual abuse by John Finley at the Travis Avenue church in Fort Worth during the 1980s. Finley had hired Daniel at Bartlett Hills.

“This day will serve as a line of demarcation for those receiving this document,” read the letter, written by Amanda and Sarah Beth and approved by Maria, dated April 2, 2018. “It will mark the day each of you became aware that your Executive Pastor committed sexually criminal acts and now have a responsibility to act in order to protect your church and its congregants.”

Daniel was shocked. John Finley had been at Bartlett Hills for 30 years. But the accusations in the document were detailed — and there were enough to make him doubt Finley, Daniel said.

Five other Bartlett Hills officials received identical letters the same day.

The next Daniel heard, Finley had resigned — with a statement different from what the documents said had happened.

“For me personally, it becomes a struggle,” Daniel said. He is now working at another Tennessee church. “I worked with this man for eight years, I never knew any of this. It makes you question your own ability, your own discernment.”

Spurred by the #MeToo movement and its spillover into the church world, Sarah Beth and Maria had decided they were ready to try again. This time, Amanda — their old friend from youth group — took on a role as their advocate.

In January 2018, both women said, they filed reports with the Fort Worth Police Department.

The report filed by Sarah Beth alleges that Finley sexually assaulted her several times from the time she was about 15 to the time she was about 17 years old. The report says Sarah Beth told police Finley kissed her on multiple occasions. Once, while fully clothed, he lay on top of her on the floor, kissed her and became aroused, the report said. On another occasion, Finley put his hand under her shirt and rubbed her breast, Sarah Beth told police.

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John Finley, former Travis Avenue Baptist Church youth minister, is shown in the 1980s.

Maria provided the Star-Telegram with a portion of the report she said she filed with police. It does not identify Finley but says Maria reported that she was assaulted by her youth minister on and off for two years, beginning around 1984. The report alleges the youth minister touched her buttocks, then pushed his knee into her groin. It also alleges the youth minister kissed her, fondled her breasts and asked her to kiss and touch him.

In the letter to Bartlett Hills, Amanda put herself forward as the advocate who would be the point of contact with the church. Ted Rasbach, chairman of the personnel committee at Bartlett Hills, responded to Amanda and declared himself the spokesman for the church.

In an interview, he said he and the other recipients immediately took the letter to Finley. Finley, he said, “acknowledged he had committed inappropriate behaviors but that they were not with minors.” Rasbach, who has been at Bartlett Hills since the early 1960s, thought Finley had been a wonderful pastor. He’d never heard any allegations against him of inappropriate behavior until the letter arrived.

“The communications in the letters had no basis in facts,” Rasbach said.

On April 8, Finley read his resignation speech to the church, saying as much. Backlit by the chancel’s purple lighting, he told the church that he had been involved in “inappropriate behavior” with two women, both over 18, over 30 years ago in another church. “Nothing like this has happened in our church,” he said.

As he walked off the chancel, a congregant called out, “John, John, please don’t do this. We’ve all made mistakes.”

Rasbach provided a transcript of Finley’s remarks.

“I was angry when I saw that,” Maria said. “I was like, ‘How can you sit here and lie? You have the opportunity to come clean.’ ”

Amanda sent an email the day after Finley resigned, demanding that the church correct his resignation speech. Rasbach asked for police reports. Amanda promised to travel to Tennessee with other documents and obtain the police reports. Maria would travel with her, ready to tell her story to the entire congregation. Ultimately, Rasbach replied that the committee decided a visit would be unnecessary.

“We’re not sure what the two ladies are wanting, at this point,” he said. “John Finley has resigned. What more can our church do?”

 

Moving forward

Donna Finley, John’s wife, picked up the phone at the couple’s Tennessee home on July 3. More than anything, she wished this whole thing would go away.

“I can tell you for certain it was no more than kissing,” she said. Referencing Sarah Beth, who signed her real name to the letter to Bartlett Hills, Donna Finley added, “She should be over this. She cannot live her life trying to destroy my husband.”

Donna Finley said her husband would not comment and deferred comment to his lawyer, Jeffrey Jones, an attorney based in Bartlett, Tennessee.

Jones did not respond to multiple emails and phone calls over the course of the last week. The Star-Telegram sent Jones a list of 34 questions regarding each accusation Maria and Sarah Beth made against Finley, as well as recollections others had of interactions with Finley over the nearly four decades of his time at the Travis Avenue and Bartlett Hills churches.On Sunday, July 8, Pastor Mike Dean informed his congregation at Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth of what had happened. He put out a statement from the church, outlining that the church had learned about the allegations in 2003 and had worked since to help Sarah Beth and Maria warn the Tennessee church.

“Our first instinct is self-defense, and yet I knew we needed to resist that,” he said in an interview. “This is something that happened. It happened here at our place.”

The church has more safeguards in place than it did in the 1980s: background checks, windows between rooms, a two-adult policy for staff working with children. And the youth minister copies his wife or another worker when texting a student.

He hopes that Travis Avenue can help other churches deal with such circumstances in the future and use the situation to minister to abuse victims in its own congregation.

In December 2017, before confronting Bartlett Hills, Amanda had sent an email through the Southern Baptist Convention’s website asking how to turn in a pedophile. She never got a response. She wrote an email to the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission — the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention — and presented the situation. She asked for guidance.

“Specifically engaging in this matter is not in the scope of our role, authority or ability,” Lauren Konkol, the commission’s team coordinator, wrote in an email back to Amanda on Feb. 3. “Within Southern Baptist churches, the local church is the highest authority, and we as a denominational organization have no authority to remove or rebuke any local pastor.”

Konkol deferred response to the commission’s vice president for public policy and general counsel, Travis Wussow.

“We’ve been grappling with what is our responsibility, what is our mandate,” he said. “But what autonomous doesn’t mean is we are autonomous from every authority.” Criminal justice, he said, belongs to the state to execute.

The autonomy of the local church — a backbone of the Southern Baptist Convention, which is technically a voluntary association of local churches — can be a sticking point in rooting out abuse. The SBC itself is hesitant to publicly rebuke pastors and churches.

A proposed database of offenders, which has been talked about since 2007, has been repeatedly defeated. In 2008, the SBC executive committee announced it would not support it, citing the “belief in the autonomy of each local church.”

After this year’s convention and its focus on abuse, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention has been tasked with studying the viability of creating one. No church has yet been kicked out of the SBC for mishandling abuse, but Roger Oldham, spokesman for the SBC’s executive committee, said it could be done.

“Who has the authority to go to a church and say: ‘Your pastor has a problem?’ There isn’t an authority within our convention with the legitimacy to do this,” said a lawyer familiar with the SBC, who required anonymity to speak freely. “Southern Baptists as a whole have to look at each other and say: ‘Let’s do something about this.’”

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 A 1982 Travis Avenue Baptist Church Youth Choir tour belt.

After Finley’s resignation, Amanda sent an email to Mitch Martin, executive director of missions for the Mid-South Baptist Association, a Tennessee-based network of Southern Baptist churches, outlining what Finley had allegedly done and the discrepancies in his resignation speech. In an email to Amanda, Martin promised to “discourage John from pursuing vocational ministry” and, if a church came asking about him, he would “tell them that I cannot in good conscience recommend him.”

Martin told Randy Davis, president of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, that Finley had resigned and that there had been accusations made against him. Davis said he didn’t know the specifics. He hasn’t informed other churches about Finley, he said, because he doesn’t have enough firsthand information. He said he wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to alerting the churches in the Tennessee Baptist Convention’s network to an abuser, though.

“It is pressing the envelope of church autonomy, but I believe we need to become more involved in informing our network of churches how they can understand their responsibilities in vetting someone,” he said. “We’re desiring to be very proactive in helping churches to deal with these things openly.”

Long-term effects

Maria never dealt with her emotions until she wrote her impact statement to send to Bartlett Hills. For a while, she felt like nobody cared. For years, she carried blame and self-loathing for what happened. 

Mark Leitch, the boy on the bus who tried to alert his parents to what he saw happening with Maria, is 51 now and still living in Fort Worth. He’s carried the incident with him ever since, as well.

“As a young man, I felt like I should have done something to protect my friends,” he said. “I just hurt so bad that I didn’t do anything.”

Sarah Beth feels like the alleged abuse — though it was physical — affected her more psychologically and emotionally than physically. As an adult, she asked herself how the abuse kept happening. She was disappointed when she found out recently that a youth worker had been told what happened to Maria and that there had been rumors about her, yet Finley remained at the church.

“Why didn’t anyone check into that?” she asked. “I feel like the opportunity has come up to help other people — to either prevent something or help people who have been hurt. I’m trying to do what I wish someone would have done for me.”

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 This photo shows Fort Worth’s Travis Avenue Baptist Church in the 1980s.

Pastor Charged With Sexually Assaulting Unconscious Parishioner

“Pastor” Freeman said “We insert things into people” and “you don’t ask what happens [during deliverance]…

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 “Pastor” Meally Morris Freeman 

A Minnesota opportunist who calls himself a pastor sexually assaulted a 28-year-old woman after she became unconscious during two “anointing sessions”  and has now been charged with two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct that could land him in prison for 15 years and a fine of $30,000.

A criminal complaint against Meally Morris Freeman, the 55-year-old “pastor” of Grace Mountaineer Tabernacle Church in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota said the woman accusing him of criminal behavior saw him as a “spiritual father” when she went to him for spiritual guidance starting on Sept. 20, 2017, according to Fox 9.

In January, however, she told police that Freeman sexually assaulted her at the church which led to his arrest on Tuesday.

MMF2

She explained that during an anointing session at the church, the pastor anointed her with oil and advised her that she was in need of “deliverance” that would require a one-on-one session with him.

Trusting the spiritual guidance, the woman said she attended a one-on-one session with Freeman and he gave her small cups of ‘oil’ to drink. Soon after they began to pray, the woman says she lost consciousness…

When she woke up, the woman explained that her underwear was wet and there was oil on her stomach and near her breasts. The pastor told her he had “anointed all places, but that he didn’t see all places,” and informed her she needed a second session that would take place after Bible study that night. The woman said in their second deliverance session she became unconscious again but when she woke up this time her pants and underwear were hanging ripped at her ankles and her shirt and bra were pulled up over her chest.

She said the pastor, who was spraying a water bottle filled with oil on her private areas, also inappropriately touched her genitals and anus.

It wasn’t until she shared what happened to a friend that the woman realized she was sexually assaulted. 

The woman eventually confronted Freeman and recorded their conversation without him knowing. Freeman did not deny touching her genitals, but instead discussed the “deliverance process.” He admitted he anointed her breasts with oil and told her, “We insert things into people” and “you don’t ask what happens [during deliverance], you don’t go into details and that deliverance can be very tempting.”

The woman said at another meeting a church elder, Freeman and his wife [who should be arrested too] told her not to report the incident to police.

This disgusting so-called pastor Meally Freeman was arrested by Brooklyn Center Minnesota  police Tuesday around 4 p.m. and is in custody at Hennepin County Jail.

MMF3

This is an absolute mockery of God and His Kingdom…. Psalms 118:8 says It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man; it’s funny how Christians seem to overlook that verse.  If you need “deliverance” from sexual sins make a decision to live above all evil and  JUST STOP DOING IT, then you’ll be delivered! James 4:7~ Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Many unfavorable “church” situations can be avoided if Christians would obey whats written in the bible instead of just reading it. 

 

Arkansas Church Musician Rapes and Kills 3 Year Old

Another sickening story and another innocent life is taken.

A 3-year-old girl was killed after investigators said she was severely beaten at her home near Forrest City, Arkansas. St. Francis County Sheriff’s Office said Deonte Miller a local church musician and live-in boyfriend of the girl’s mother is responsible. Arkansas police arrested Deonte Miller, accused of murdering the 3-year-old that “was bruised from the waist up” and appeared to have “had a cord tied around her neck.” Police say he possibly raped the girl because blood was found to support such allegation.  The girl’s mother said she received a call from Miller on Friday morning, urging her to rush home.  When she got home, her daughter was unresponsive.  The woman called police, who rushed the child to a nearby hospital while giving her CPR, Fox13 reported. Doctors put the girl on life-support, but she died hours later at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis.

Deonte-Miller

Miller is charged with capital murder. Deputies said the 20-year-old suspect who also has a criminal history admitted to them he was babysitting his girlfriend’s children when he hit the child and gave officials at least five different accounts of how the girl was injured.

The girl’s mother said she doesn’t believe Miller, who she’s only known for six months was responsible. 

 

Does Pope Francis Go With The LGBT Flow?

Why didn’t the Pope just say, “Denounce homosexuality because it’s evil and against God.” God said, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come* from the presence of the Lord

According to Rome (CNN), A victim of clerical sexual abuse stated that Pope Francis told him that God made him gay and that his sexuality “does not matter.”

Juan Carlos Cruz, a survivor of sexual abuse, spent three days with Pope Francis at the Vatican in April, in which he discussed his sexuality and the abuse he suffered at the hands of a Chilean priest.
Juan Carlos Cruz, a key whistle-blower in Chile’s most famous case of clerical sex abuse describing his encounter with the Pope to CNN, Cruz said: “You know Juan Carlos, that does not matter. God made you like this. God loves you like this. The Pope loves you like this and you should love yourself and not worry about what people say.”
Vatican spokesman Greg Burke told CNN on Monday: “We do not normally comment on the Pope’s private conversations.”
Popes speech
 Why didn’t the Pope just say, “Denounce homosexuality because it’s evil and against God.” God said, “Repent ye therefore, and be convertedthat your sins may be blotted outwhen the times of refreshing shall come* from the presence of the Lord;
The Roman Catholic Church's Official Teaching on Homosexuality
Excerpted from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity [Cf. Gen 19:1-29; Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:10; 1 Tim 1:10], tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”[Cf. Persona Humana] They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved. 
Read more at http://www.beliefnet.com/faiths/catholic/2002/01/the-roman-catholic-churchs-official-teaching-on-homosexuality.aspx#8I1zEPmHkciDHkFH.99

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition. 

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.  Read more at http://www.beliefnet.com/faiths/catholic/2002/01/the-roman-catholic-churchs-official-teaching-on-homosexuality.aspx#8I1zEPmHkciDHkFH.99

And here are some other bible verses not included in the above excerpt from the Catholic Catechism regarding God’s stand regarding homosexuality: 

Leviticus 18:22 – Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it [is] abomination.

Leviticus 20:13 – If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood [shall be] upon them.

Romans 1:26-28 – For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.28 And even as they did not like to retain God in [their] knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;  

 

 

South Korean Megachurch Pastor Accused of Raping 5 Women After ‘Order From God’

Could it be that this man Lee Jae-Rock has had an encounter with T.B. Joshua who spends a significant amount of time in South Korea?

Pastor Lee Jae-Rock of the 133,000-member Manmin Central Church in Seoul, South Korea, has reportedly been banned from leaving the country after five women accused him of rape.

Manmin has denied the accusations, according The Korea Herald, arguing that former members are starting “false rumors” against Lee out of jealousy.

The 74-year-old pastor is facing legal complaints from five women who say that he sexually assaulted them from the late 1990s to 2015, local broadcaster JTBC reported.

The women, who weren’t named, say that they were in their 20s at the time of the alleged rapes. The victims say that Lee forced himself on them several times, telling them that he was carrying out an “order from God.”

In its denial, Manmin (which means “all creation”) stressed that Lee has long been “stressing the importance of sexual ethics.”

The megachurch, which held its first service in 1982, claims on its website to have 133,000 members with some 10,000 “branch and associative churches” around the world. 

“Manmin has experienced such an astounding and rapid growth only in 30 years because, amidst God’s abundant blessings, there are always the messages of life proclaimed by Rev. Dr. Jaerock Lee, marvelous manifestations of the fiery works of the Holy Spirit, and the unceasing prayer of its members,” the website states.

Lee, founder of Manmin, has also been ordained as pastor at Annual Assembly of Jesus’ Sungkyul Church of Korea. He has led pastors conferences and Gospel crusades around the world, including events in New York, Los Angeles, Japan, Israel, Argentina, Germany, Tanzania, and India.

There are numerous allegations that “Lee Jae Rock sounds like a great spiritual healing evangelist and does preach biblical sermons at his large public crusades, but underneath the surface is in reality a heretical teacher. Unfortunately, information about the heresy and highly questionable character of Lee Jae-Rock is rare in English (though a number of books and websites in Korean do expose him.)

He was excommunicated as a cult leader from his own denomination (Church of Holiness) in May 1990 and from the Korean Christian Association (Han Ki Chong) on 30th of April 1999 because of his unbiblical teachings.

Lee Jae-Rock (also known as Jaerock Lee) claims to have received revelation just like the Apostle John. He claims his body has sinless blood (due to a blood transfusion in 1992). He meets with the prophets, apostles and patriarchs. His spirit is at the left side of God’s throne. He will be the judge on the last day and all the angels submit to him. And he has made many more such claims.

In Korea a documentary video was aired exposing Lee Jae-Rock’s bizarre claims and gambling activities. A number of his followers stormed the TV facility to prevent the broadcast. At least 600 South Korean riot police were called out to end the occupation. The Manmin church had earlier reportedly obtained a court order preventing MBC from screening a story about Lee Jae-Rock’s sex life”.

This article tells of Lee Jae-Rock’s visit to Israel with promises of performing “signs and wonders” and ridding the country of the swine flu. Could it be that this man Lee Jae-Rock has had an encounter with T.B. Joshua who spends a significant amount of time in South Korea? Perhaps T.B. Joshua has “fortified” him with a demon.

 

Church of England Vicar Is Caught On Video Smoking From A Crack Pipe And Watching Porn

Mr Stennett Kirby, whose brother is a minister, can be seen snorting coke…

Rev-Stennett-Kirby-main_article_image

The Church of England is said to be investigating after a newspaper published a video appearing to show a vicar from East London taking cocaine and watching explicit videos from his church owned home.

He is seen staring at a TV, apparently watching porn, and adds: “It f***ing turns me on when I have this and I watch that.” Stennett Kirby, vicar of West Ham Parish Church in East London since 2007, then makes a crude mouth action reference and refers to women in a lewd way.

The vicar and his pal also discuss hiring a follow and he says: “I wish I could. If I had money, I would. I’ve only got £10 left.” When his friend tells him he prefers prostitutes to having a relationship, unmarried Mr Kirby — on sick leave from work — agrees.

In a video released by the Sun on Sunday, the footage also apparently showed Rev Stennett Kirby talking about buying poppers which gives users a head rush from a shop in Soho.

(Purchasing poppers – a liquid which induces a head-rush high – is not a crime.)

Clear footage showed the 64-year-old priest sitting on his sofa, saying “I feel really good now” after reportedly taking cocaine.

The video also shows Rev Kirby, who has been a vicar of West Ham Parish Church since 2007, watching [allegedly] pornography with a friend.

The Church of England told the Sun on Sunday it was investigating the footage, while a spokeswoman told the newspaper: “We take this matter very seriously.”

In other footage Mr Stennett Kirby, whose brother is a minister, can be seen snorting coke. His pal says taking it off the back of his hand is easier. Seconds later Mr Kirby says approvingly: “That is good.” Our revelations bear similarities to the case of “Crystal Methodist” Paul Flowers.
The shamed minister and former Co-op Bank boss was suspended from the church in 2017 after he was filmed in a car counting out £300 to buy cocaine and crystal meth in a drug deal. Mr Kirby lives in a £1.5million house owned by the Diocese of Chelmsford.

Rev Kirby, who is unmarried, has reportedly been placed on sick leave.

A spokesman for the Church of England said: “We are taking this matter very seriously.

“Revd Stennett Kirby has withdrawn from all ministerial duties and a disciplinary investigation is already under way.”

SHAME

Priest Jailed For Second Time For Sexually Abusing Boys

The victim described how he was made to feel like he was passed between the pair like a “toy borrowed from a friend”.

Ifor Whittaker court case

A former Church of England priest who sexually abused boys has been put behind bars for a second time.

Colin Pritchard changed his name to Ifor Whittaker after he was handed a five-year sentence at Northampton Crown Court in 2008 after admitting abusing two children in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, between 1979 to 1983.

The 73-year-old was jailed for 16 years at Hove Crown Court in February 2018 after being found guilty of abusing a third boy between 1987 and 1991 while he was the vicar of Sedlescombe in East Sussex, police said. 

He was convicted of seven offences including inciting the child, aged between 10 and 14, to commit gross indecency and buggery.

A jury also found him guilty of conspiring with fellow vicar, close friend and convicted pedophile Roy Cotton to commit acts of indecency.

The pair had already been arrested by Sussex Police in 1997 on suspicion of sexually abusing children and were released on bail.

Cotton retired in 1999 and the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the case. He died in 2006.

These details emerged in a critical independent report by Roger Meekings in 2012 which revealed how Cotton had been convicted of indecent behaviour with a child in 1954 while training for the priesthood.

He was thrown out of theological college but then readmitted and ordained in 1966 – the same year he attended with Pritchard.

Catholic perveersion

It was also in 2012 that the force began investigating this latest case, after the victim said he was sexually assaulted by Cotton when he was the vicar in the nearby Sussex village of Brede.

The victim settled a civil claim with the Diocese of Chichester over Cotton that year.

Officers only learned he was also abused by Whittaker when they revisited the investigation in 2014, the force said.

The victim told how he believed Whittaker watched while Cotton carried out his assaults because he would appear in the room immediately after.

He said he was then taken to Whittaker’s vicarage by Cotton to do gardening but was actually plied with drinks of coke laced with alcohol.

Whittaker would sexually assault him and say no-one would believe him if he spoke out.

The victim described how he was made to feel like he was passed between the pair like a “toy borrowed from a friend”.

Whittaker was arrested in 2015 and questioned again in January 2016.

A video statement given by the victim in 2014 had to be taken again in November 2016 when the recording was found to be faulty. He disclosed more details of the abuse during the second statement.

Whittaker, of Sutton, is already a registered sex offender for life.

Judge Paul Tain ordered him to serve 15 years in custody and one year on extended licence. He cannot apply for parole for 10 years.

 

Catholic Bishop Resigns Over Claims Of Celebrating Mass With A Pedophile

“To date, clerical abuse victims here have been let down, not just by the church, but also by the authorities.”

John McAreavey resignation
According to Press Association, a Catholic bishop in Northern Ireland has resigned following claims he celebrated Mass alongside a priest he knew was a pedophile.

Dr John McAreavey was Bishop of Dromore. Diocesan secretary Fr Gerald Powell said he had resigned with “immediate effect”.

Fr Malachy Finnegan has been accused of sexual abuse by 12 people.

The bishop said: “Following media reports which have disturbed and upset many people in the diocese and further afield, I have decided to resign with immediate effect.

“I shall make further comment in due course.”

The former teacher at St Colman’s College in Newry from 1967 to 1976 is also allegedly linked to a catalog of physical and emotional abuse against pupils. He died in 2002.

Amnesty International has called for a public inquiry into clerical sex abuse.

Amnesty’s Northern Ireland director Patrick Corrigan said: “To date, clerical abuse victims here have been let down, not just by the church, but also by the authorities.”

Solicitor Claire McKeegan, of KRW Law, who represents a number of Fr Finnegan’s alleged victims, said she had received calls from numerous further witnesses since a settlement by one of her clients was made public recently.

She added: “The message is clear: victims demand a public inquiry into clerical abuse in Northern Ireland without any further delay.

“The victims and survivors deserve to speak about the horrific abuse that took place and be heard in a public forum tasked with sufficient powers to get to the truth.

“This case has brought to the surface yet another pedophile priest who was never investigated or exposed by the church or the police.”