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….”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.
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 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.”
"Baptist children's home director urged no prison time for pedophile," 12/12/07