Monday, December 17, 2007

More letters urging leniency for clergy pedophile

Many of you were rightfully appalled by the letter from Illinois Baptist Children’s Home director Doug Devore in which he urged no prison time for clergy pedophile Leslie Mason. Many other letters were submitted at Mason’s sentencing hearing. I thought you might like to see a sampling of them.

Recall that prominent Southern Baptist pastor Leslie Mason pled guilty to 2 counts of felony sexual assault on a teen girl in exchange for the prosecutor’s dismissal of 8 additional counts involving another girl. Initially, Mason pled “not guilty” in court even though he had previously admitted his guilt to deacons at Olney Southern Baptist Church, who found that he used his position of trust “to pursue and manipulate a 13-year old girl for sexual gratification and that he continued to use his authority to exploit and to maintain an atmosphere of fear and intimidation for a period of approximately seven years.”

WARNING: Reading these may cause retching. An empty stomach is advised.

A deacon of Fairfield First Baptist Church: “I believe in punishment, but I also believe in second chances…. Please take into account the many lives he has helped change for the better….”

Men’s Missions Director & Adult Sunday School Director at Fairfield First Baptist Church: “Leslie is a caring individual of the highest moral character who admittedly made a mistake. He has confessed to his mistake.... Please do not judge Leslie solely on this error in judgment, but please take into consideration all of the good works he has performed in the past….”
A dog may get one bite, but a minister doesn’t get one kid. When a minister has sexually abused even one kid, there must be serious consequences. He shouldn’t get a “second chance” in a position of trust where he might be able to abuse another kid. It is more than "a mistake" or an "error in judgment," and no amount of other “good works” can make up for the horrific harm that was done to the kids Mason abused. Ministers can’t buy dispensation for child sex abuse by visiting the sick at the hospital.

A youth worker: “I have had those situations when a girl had a crush on me. The girls come in to youth meetings wearing much less than is fair for us as boys and men….Only by the grace of God can I say that I didn't have wrong relationships.”
This guy has no business working with youth. His comments are downright scary. But tragically, based on some of the emails I get, his words reflect the attitude of many other Southern Baptist men, who seem all too willing to blame the young victims for the abuse inflicted on them by so-called men of God.

Minister of Music & Youth at Fairfield First Baptist says: "Leslie is a kind, caring and compassionate man who has a great strength of character. This character has been shown as…he has admitted his guilt.”
Another deacon at Fairfield First Baptist Church: “By confessing to the charges... he has shown character and faced responsibility for his actions."
Pastor of Fairfield First Baptist Church: “Les is remorseful...he is truly repentant….”
Let’s be clear about something: Child molesters don’t admit guilt out of a sense of “character.” Most cops will tell you that the typical child molester admits guilt for one reason only…because the admission will buy him a lesser sentence. If Mason had gone to trial on the 8 additional counts charged against him, and been found guilty, his sentence could have been much longer.
Minister of Education & Young Adults: “I believe Leslie to be a man of good character…. I know that we all can and do make mistakes….Leslie Mason made a mistake in judgment and I request your mercy and lenience.”
Clergy sex abuse is a great deal more than a mere “mistake in judgment.” It is distressing to see so many church leaders so minimize this horrific crime. But of course, look at the example set for them by their denominational leaders. Is it any wonder Southern Baptists have such a problem with clergy sex abuse and cover-ups?

Why don’t good Southern Baptists in Illinois rise up and demand accountability for the horror in how the Leslie Mason case was handled by their church and denominational leaders?

As “Lin” said on his coffeetrader blog, “When we are not outraged by this and allow those who make excuses for this behavior to continue in their roles, our children really are not safe at church.”
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Related post:
"Baptist children's home director urged no prison time for pedophile," 12/12/07

5 comments:

Phyllis Gregory said...

Christa,
I am afraid an empty stomach does not help. It all makes me sick to my stomach.

I am shocked and dismayed again by the lack of concern for the victim of sexual abuse. It truly shows that these babies, children, teens, men and women hold no value in the eyes of many, many church leaders.

How very tragic. It makes me very angry, but more than that, it makes me very sad.

Phyllis

Anonymous said...

I don't know Leslie Mason personally but I am familiar with the character of a person who molest a child multiple times. Offering support to the pedophile is fine but support him by visiting him in prison. The victim will be in a prison too, but it will be one that you cannot see.

If the pedophile murdered the victim, he would not be given a second chance to do it to others. Molesting and sexual abuse by clergy is murder but the victim is allowed to keep breathing. It is murder of their soul, their spirit.

Christa Brown said...

anonymous: You've done a good job of describing the impact of this crime. When a trusted minister sexually abuses a kid, it amounts to soul-murder. Yet, despite the grievous harm to the victim, what we see in case after case is that church leaders turn out to support the clergy child molester while the victim winds up being ostracized. E.g. Larry Neathery case in TX, Keith Geren case in FL, and the recent Leonard Smith case in NC.

Carrie Allen said...

HELLO!! LESLIE MASON HAS DONE THIS BEFORE! YOU NEED SOMEONE TO TELL YOU ABOUT IT FROM EXPERIENCE??? He deserves to be in jail . HE IS A REPEAT OFFENDER!
EMAIL ME carrieallen2008@yahoo.com.

Les, was once the youth minister of the church I attended about 17 yrs ago. Our church fired him for having inappropriate relationships with girls UNDER the age of 16! You people are STUPID for defending a child molestor!!!

Anonymous said...

i one hundred percent agree. I happen to be one town over from Fairfield Il, and I also went to the Children's home that Douge Devore runs. I never met the minister but the way the Home was run was despicable. As for the molester, It sickens me that all these people are sad for him instead of the poor girl who experienced his "mistake in judgement"

And as for the guy who blamed the girls for they way they dressed... omg... His arrogance and lack of responsibility sickens me. It just proves that he's been thinking about it himself but only refrains because of god.. The way they dress is none of his concern. If he can't control himself he obviously shouldn't be there.

I'd personally like to see people refrain from things like this because it's a vile thing to do to another human being, not just because they don't want to go to hell.