As an adolescent girl, Rebecca Maxfield was sexually abused by the youth pastor at her Baptist church in Connecticut.
Several years later, she broke her silence. As reported in The Herald, Rebecca told her “most trusted religious leader,” Senior Pastor Jim Townsley.
But rather than receiving help, the nightmare continued.
“Like many victims of the clergy, Maxfield found herself suspected of having done something wrong.”
Senior Pastor Jim Townsley talked to the youth pastor, James J. McCoy, whom people called “Pastor Joe.”
- Pastor Joe “admitted to inappropriate behavior.”
- Pastor Joe “denied having done anything more than kissing and fondling.”
- Pastor Joe “suggested that the fault was with Maxfield.”
So, what did Senior Pastor Jim Townsley do after hearing those admissions? Not much. Apparently, Townsley didn’t think Pastor Joe’s “kissing and fondling” of a church girl was any big deal. And of course, that’s just what Pastor Joe admitted to.
Townsley didn’t report it to the police.
Instead, Pastor Joe was allowed to read a letter of resignation to about 200 people at the church. He “admitted having a relationship with a young female church member” and he “apologized and asked for forgiveness.”
So 200 more church-people knew about the abuse at that point. You might imagine that someone would do something to help Rebecca, right? Wrong.
One church member “accused her of lying.” And a family reportedly “left the church because SHE was not reprimanded enough.”
James J. McCoy (“Pastor Joe”) was allowed to simply move on. He went with his wife and kid to Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
And he almost got away with it.
Not until eighteen months later did a Connecticut police detective receive an anonymous phone call about McCoy. And the detective followed up on it.
McCoy was arrested, tried and convicted. Kudos to the police detective!
In talking to police, Senior Pastor Jim Townsley claimed that the church “attempted to deal with the problem in a biblical and caring but firm procedure.”
In other words, he justified the church’s handling of it.
Townsley also claimed that McCoy had “led him to believe that Rebecca had feelings towards him.” Huh?
So… if an adolescent girl has “feelings,” then she’s fair game for an adult married minister’s sexual abuse? Is that how these guys think?
I’d say the perps aren’t the only ones who are sick in the head.
But hey… apparently the congregation of Central Baptist Church sees nothing wrong with Senior Pastor Jim Townsley’s way of thinking. Apparently, they’re okay with such grotesquely irresponsible leadership. According to the church website, Jim Townsley is still the senior pastor.
No consequences. No accountability. No oversight.
That’s the Baptist pattern.