As reported in the Denver Post, there were a lot of things that Slone apparently didn’t tell the church when he was hired.
He didn’t tell them about his 1986 child molestation conviction in Oklahoma. Or about the fact that he himself admitted to sexually abusing 5 boys, ages 12 and under. Or about the fact that some of the boys were children in the church where Slone taught Sunday School. Or about the fact that the Oklahoma prosecutor said Slone had molested other children, in addition to the 5 he admitted
Last month, this information came to light when someone sent anonymous letters to church deacons and local newspapers.
Slone resigned as pastor, even though some church members asked him to remain.
So now that the truth has been brought to light by others, Slone says he hopes that “the truth will set me free.”
But what about the boys he molested? Are they “set free”?
That’s what I keep wondering about.
Those boys would be in their early thirties now. They might have children who are the same age they were when Slone molested them. Do their own children’s faces remind them of the confusion, anguish, and quiet terror they felt at that age?
I wonder whether all of Slone’s victims are even still alive. Given the strong correlation between sexual abuse in childhood and suicide in adulthood, I can’t help but wonder whether one of Slone’s victims may have tragically chosen such a terrible means to be “set free.”
Or perhaps some of Slone’s victims are now accustomed to being “set free” from psychic pain with drugs and alcohol. Those addictions are quite common among clergy abuse survivors.
Do you think Slone even knows what became of his victims? Does he care? Has he sought them out to try to help them?
Slone himself received counseling, which started during his one-year stint in prison. I’m guessing that at least part of his counseling came at taxpayer expense, and I don’t begrudge that one bit. Counseling for child molesters is a good thing, if for no other reason than because it may help to protect other kids. Some experts say that previously convicted child molesters are the least likely to re-offend. Why? Because they were finally dealt some consequences for their conduct and because prison time often comes with mandatory professional counseling.
But what I’m wondering about is counseling for his victims. Did they ever receive adequate counseling? Were they able to afford it? Or did trying to heal themselves drive them into bankruptcy, like some other clergy abuse survivors?
Do you think Slone ever offered to pay the counseling costs of his victims? A child molester can never undo the harm, but if he were genuinely remorseful, wouldn’t he at least attempt to ameliorate it?
Do you think any of Slone’s Oklahoma victims knew that he was pastor of a Southern Baptist church in Colorado? I wonder whether seeing their perpetrator in the pulpit made them feel “set free.” Or did it make them feel as though no one cared about what this man did to them as kids?
Slone says God has “transformed” his life.
But I wonder whether Slone’s victims would have thought Slone was “transformed” if they saw him taking kids to baseball games and football games. Or would they worry desperately about what he might be able to do to those kids behind the mask of pastoral trust?
Most of all, I wonder whether anyone else even wonders about Slone’s victims. Or are the victims just forgotten?
Do all those church members who are “very supportive” of Slone ever wonder what became of his victims?
Do the church members who want to “forgive him and let it go” ever wonder about Slone’s victims?
Slone even reaps praise now for “learning how to stand up and tell” about his past.
Do you think his victims are now able “to stand up and tell” about what Slone did to them as kids? Or are they still mired in the shame and self-blame that are the long-enduring hallmarks of sexual abuse?
Of course, even if Slone’s victims wanted “to stand up and tell,” who in Southern Baptist circles would actually listen to them? Who would care?
Slone continues to have the support of his faith community. He doesn’t have to bear his burden alone.
But what about his victims? Do they have the support of a faith community? Or did they see enough of the faith’s falsity that they forever guard against it?