Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Baptist camp director charged with sex crimes

In North Carolina, a Baptist summer camp director is charged with sex crimes against children, reports WITN-TV. Stephen Carter, shown in the photo, is director of the Camp Cale Retreat, which describes itself as a place “where people meet Jesus.”

Carter was arrested on July 1. According to the Camp Cale website, Carter and his wife were “married 25 years on July 1st.” Some anniversary present, huh?

But here’s the thing I’m most concerned about. The Camp Cale website says that “Rev. Stephen Carter” previously worked as a “church planter for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, serving in the country of Belize.”

Do you think anyone in Southern Baptist leadership will make any effort to reach out to kids in Belize? To even try to see if there might be kids there who could have been hurt by this guy? To let their parents know? To offer them some help or counseling?

You know the answer to that. So do I. When it comes to clergy child molestation, Southern Baptist leaders have shown themselves to be a whole lot more concerned with image than with kids. They may talk about “precious children” but when it comes to action, it’s a different story.

This North Carolina camp story reminds me of the story a couple years ago when a camp leader at an Illinois Baptist camp was arrested for child pornography and indecent solicitation of a child. According to police, he “met both of his victims through a camp sponsored by the Illinois Baptist State Association.”

The press reported that the Illinois Baptist State Association “chose to contact less than one-fifth of the 67 churches that sent students” to the camp that summer. And even for the one-fifth of the "churches" they contacted, I wonder whether the church leaders ever actually told the parents of the kids who went to camp.

Southern Baptist leaders don’t have a good track record on reaching out to other possible child-victims when they learn about a minister charged with child molestation. Even in this country, it’s not something they do. So why should anyone imagine that they’ll reach out to kids in Belize?

By the way…. the Illinois Baptist State Association is the same Southern Baptist entity that forced its newspaper editor to resign after he published the story of a prominent pastor who was charged with criminal sexual assault on two teen girls.

Did you get that? They basically fired their own news editor for even writing about a pastor’s arrest on child molestation.

Furthermore, even after that Illinois Baptist pastor pled guilty, the Illinois Baptist Children’s Home Director wrote to the judge to urge that the child-molesting pastor should receive no prison time.

Do you see a pattern in these stories? I do. Where is there any genuine concern for the kids?

____________________

Updates: Baptist camp director on leave after arrest,” Associated Baptist Press, 7/16/09; “Former Baptist camp director charged with abuse found dead,” Associated Baptist Press, 5/25/10.

See also: "Allegations should be assessed," July 18, 2010.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

I know this man and his family, and I cannot believe that he did anything wrong. The kids at camp that day were 7 to 10 years old. There must be a very angry parent somewhere for them to make such an accusation.

There have been many people falsely accused and had their lives ruined, even though the charges were proven false in court. Child abuse is a popular accusation now. There was a child care center a few years ago in eastern NC where all of the staff were accused. They were all proven innocent, but their lives were ruined. Someone was angry and used false accusations to hurt another. When I was growing up, nobody would have dreamed of making something like that up.

I would have to see photographs or other undeniable evidence to believe Steve guilty of anything. You are talking about him as if he has already been convicted and sentenced.

You should go to Camp Cale's website and read parents' comments about Steve's wonderful work. "http://www.caleretreat.org/feedback.php"

Please pray and try to figure out why you are so angry.

Anonymous said...

For once someone is responding with some sense and not just bashing Baptist pastors. Christa has a tendency to pronounce someone guilty before they are even tried but at least she's energetic. As she says in the article, this story reminds her of something in another state and another location.

Well, this story reminds me of pastors whose lives have been ruined because of false accusations and people jumping to conclusions before something was proved. Many times these accusations are found to come from disgruntled parents or vindictive children or teenagers.

Maybe its time to slow down a bit with our rhetoric. Perhaps that is the reason those in leadership in the SBC are hesitant to jump on the bandwagon.

Christa Brown said...

"I know this man and his family, and I cannot believe that he did anything wrong."

We see this "I can't believe it" response all the time. It's normal. It's typical. For more examples, see here.

False accusations? Experts consistently say that fabricated sexual abuse reports constitute only 1 to 4 percent of all reported cases.

"Christa has a tendency to pronounce someone guilty... "

Actually, I have never pronounced anyone guilty. Instead, I have consistently urged that Baptists should do what other major faith groups do and estabish independent trained review boards to responsibly assess clergy abuse reports. I wrote about the whole "Innocent until proven guilty" thing here. If Baptists follow the standard of letting a minister stay in the pulpit until he's proven guilty in a court of law (which is effectively what they're doing), then that's a clergy standard that's lower than just about any other major faith group in the country. Dangerously low.

"Maybe its time to slow down a bit... "

No. It's not time to slow down. It's time for Baptists to come up to speed with the sorts of safeguards that other major faith groups have already started implementing. It's long past time for Baptist leaders to get off the sidelines. The safety of kids is what's at stake. It is NOT time to slow down.

Phyllis Gregory said...

Let me only say -- there were plenty of people who thought they "knew" my parents. They were Mr. and Mrs. Baptist church -- chairman of the deacons -- GA director -- Sunday School teachers. But they still sexually abused me. No one knows anyone and you especially don't know what goes on behind closed doors.

Anonymous said...

You know why I check back everyday on this website? Because there is a new Baptist PERV busted everyday. Unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

And if you think there are a lot of Baptist perverts, just imagine how many Catholic pervert priests there are. Maybe you should also print something about the Methodist, Episcopalian, and Pentecostal perverts so noone feels neglected.

Christa,

Reread your article. You basically are considering him guilty and then inadequately linking his situation to another one you remember from someone. That's weak journalism.

heffalump said...

The first two comments show plenty of ignorance...
If we are responding based on personal experience, I know NO ONE whose life has been "ruined" because of sex abuse allegations. I do know MANY who have been abused. Conservative Christians (especially Baptists) jump to defend the adults in the situation, to "defend" God's name, and ignore the human cost of such efforts. God can protect His name all on His own...and He is more interested in mercy than sacrifice...mercy towards the victims instead of their sacrifice.

If in fact false allegations have been made, then those making false allegations have lower character than what the actual abuse requires. I don't WANT to believe that any Christian would sexually abuse a child, and neither do I WANT to believe that any Christian would seek to "destroy" someone's life through lying, anger, and wicked imagination, and put their children through it too! FACTS are on the side of a sex abuse epidemic, rather than a sex abuse accusation epidemic. FACTS do not depend on my personal feelings.

As far as Ms. Christa Brown being angry, well yeah she has plenty of room for righteous anger. Against her abuser, against SBC occlusion, and against anyone who chooses to be so ignorant that he would sacrifice innocence for reputation.

Michelle said...

Yeah, everyone LOVED Scott, the guy who raped me and was caught red-handed sadistically raping blind autistic kids.

Hell, *I* loved him.

Michelle

Lydia said...

Hmm, there was enough evidence for him to be charged and that says quite a bit. I am not sure the folks speaking here understand what it takes to get a charge of sexual molestation. They seem to think it is easy.

What these folks do not realize is that perverts are some of the slickest folks around and they COUNT ON YOUR NOT BELIEVING any accusations.

They are also not familiar with that the instances of false accusations are quite low. He mentions the story that ran in the WSJ years ago as the norm. It most certainly isn't. As a matter of fact 1 out of 5 children will be molested in some form. Let us err on the side of protecting kids. Unless you think they are of lesser importance than adults?

My question is why is he no longer a church planter for the IMB?

If our anonymous friend wants photos of sexual molestation before he/she will believe it, what does that say about him/her?

It says the protection of children is no on their list of concerns. Because there will NEVER be photos of sexual molestation of a child.

Sexual perversion is rampant in our churches and para church organizations. I will say once again that a policewoman in my SS class says that churches are the best places for pedophiles to be safe for a long time. By the time they are caught they have many victims and have moved on several times.

Folks like these commenters scare me as much as perverts do because they will fight to protect them without pictures of actual sexual molestation. Very sad for children.

And why is Christa bad for blogging about it when the news ran a story on it?

Anonymous said...

Please pray and try to figure out why you are so angry.

July 15, 2009 12:13 AM

Please pray and find out why you are NOT angry that children might have been molested. There are charges and that means it is something that must be investigated. Yet that makes YOU angry. What about the children? Does that NOT make you angry they might have been exploited.

As Michelle says, many people love perverts and do not know they are perverts. They don't have horns and a pitchfork. they disguise themselves as angels of light.

Anonymous said...

If you know this man, you need to go to him. You need to tell him that HE MUST COME CLEAN. Read to him Galatians 5 and Rev 21 and make it clear that he will NOT inherit the kingdom if he has done this..even once. Thinking he can repent later and save himself from the consequences of the law or the consquences of sin will not work.

If he insists he is not guilty, you have done your duty as a brother in Christ by him.

But read 1 Corin 5 and understand this is serious business in the Body of Christ. If you do not do the above, then you might be guilty of hurting the 'least of these' and a millstone around YOUR neck.

John said...

My daughter's xhusband sexually assaulted their 4 year old daughter. The state of Tennessee did NOTHING but spend a lot of tax dollars and further tramatize my granddaughter. He died before any justice could be done. He knew I was looking for him along with a host of others.
No it is not easy to have someone charged with molestation let alone convicted.

gmommy said...

Unbelievable.
Now someone demands pictures of a kid being molested before THEY will believe abuse occurred?

As if he/she being convinced a child was sexually abused is more important than the possibility that even one child was taken advantage of sexually by someone...especially a person in a position of trust???
As if he/she NOT believing will make a child any less wounded by this man or other predators????
It's not about YOU!!

Just start a legal defense fund for this guy and all the other clergy sexual predators who have such a hard life while they molest countless victims year after year!! You make them feel more powerful! They become more bold when you won't consider the innocent lives they destroy!

PLEASE don't think of the walking wounded who desperately need your help, who need money for decent counseling, who need to experience love and concern and inclusion so tomorrow they can just get out of bed and HOPE for healing!

You want pictures of children being sexually abused?? IT'S CALLED PORN!

Unbelievable... cold, insensitive, WILLINGLY ignorant, blind people.
Yep...let's all make it our business to convince THEM while more children are sexually abused everyday and fellow ministers cover up for them or send them on to the next Baptist church of horrors.

Junkster said...

I hate the increased security and longer lines at airports that we have to put up with ever since the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks. But to help ensure my own safety and that of everyone else, I accept the inconvenience and even the possibility that I might unjustly fall under suspicion while at an airport. I would rather be pulled out of line at the airport terminal and be stripped searched and falsely accused of being a terrorist than have airport security ignore what they considered a potential threat, because so much is at stake.

Perhaps part of the price of protecting children from sexual predators is the possibility that someone innocent might occasionally be falsely accused. If so, I think that anyone falsely accused would reflect the spirit of Christ if that person accepted that price, knowing that God knows the truth and will one day right all wrongs and vindicate those who suffer wrongly.

I would not want to be falsely accused of anything, nor would I want to see anyone else falsely accused. I hate it when people think badly of me, even when I've done something to deserve their disapproval, much less when I haven't. But if helping protect children from the life-long scars of sexual abuse meant that my reputation could potentially be ruined for my life, I would like to think that, by God's grace, I would chose to suffer personal harm and humiliation as one falsely accused rather than make it easier for even one child to suffer that horror at a genuine abuser's hand.

After all, although He didn't deserve it, Jesus allowed Himself to suffer shame and even to become sin, the thing He hates most, in order to save us from sin's power and penalty. Wouldn't someone who loves Him and the children He loves be willing to suffer unjustly, if that's part of what it took to help ensure the safety of His little ones?

Christa Brown said...

Junkster: Such wise words. I appreciate your clarity of thought.

Gmommy: You hit the nail on the head, and it was a nail I hadn't even quite seen yet. With all their "I won't believe it unless..." they think it's about THEM and their own feelings. It's amazing how people such as this are the very ones who remain so uncomprehending of why kids don't tell and of why kids suppress the mental images and reality of what they experienced until much later in life. People such as this can't even deal with the mental POSSIBILITY that a trusted minister may have done such a thing... and they have to look for all sorts of ways to protect their safe little "bubble-world" (another expression I think I probably lifted from you, gmommy). If, as adults, they can't even deal with the mental possibility and have to construct all sorts of walls to keep their world feeling safe and intact, why can't they understand how much infinitely more difficult it is for the kids who have to actually experience the physical reality and trauma of being molested and raped by trusted ministers? Is it any wonder that their brains find ways to psychologically suppress it - and to find weird mental ways to try to deal with it - and to try to pretend even to themselves that it wasn't such a big deal - so that they can continue to even barely function in the world without completely shattering into bits and pieces?

The very people who can't even deal with the mental possibility or the bare imagining of it are the same people who are often the first to blame kids for "why didn't they just tell someone sooner?" Why can't THEY understand that the actual physical reality of it is about a gazillion times WORSE than the mental imagining of it that THEY are trying so desperately to protect against because even THAT is too much for THEM to handle?

Anonymous said...

Christa,

I hestitate to write and ask this question since I see how rabidly some of your posters react to anyone who questions or dares disagree, but I thought I would give it a shot anyway. Please note that I am not asking for a fight and would like a simple answer from you since I consider you to be more of an "expert" on the issue of abuse.

Here is the question: Do women who have been abused tend to hold on to their memories and feelings longer than men who have been abused?

The reason is that I was abused by a youth worker when I was 15 but I don't have the hate, viciousness, and vindictiveness that so many of your posters seem to have. I have a pretty normal life by most standards and don't harbor huge feelings of hate toward anyone.

I would appreciate a civil answer and not some condescending platitudes.

Thy Peace said...

Every human being is different. Also each abuse situation is different. Also the support environment is different, that is after the abuse has taken place.

All these factors contribute to the recovery of the abused.

But more importantly, one has to confront the abuse, that it indeed has taken place, in their own minds first. Lot of people go in denial, and then it surfaces years later. And then one goes through this anguish again, if repressed earlier. For some this anguish is repeated many times, even if not repressed. It is just that the healing the mind, soul and body needs is slowly taking place or some cases not taking place.

The anger you see is the effect of years of stone walling, lack of empathy of abused or the victims.

Lot of times, just acknowledging that an abuse has taken place is enough to cement the start of a recovery for people.

Who can map out the various forces at play in one soul? I am a great depth, O Lord. The hairs of my head are easier by far to count than my feelings, the movements of my heart.
– Saint Augustine

Anonymous said...

Thy Peace,

Thank you for your gracious answer. It is much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

"The reason is that I was abused by a youth worker when I was 15 but I don't have the hate, viciousness, and vindictiveness that so many of your posters seem to have. "

How is that comment not hateful, vindictive and vicious? I am asking seriously and do not want to start a fight.

Phyllis Gregory said...

Dear Anon: If you were abused by a youth worker and have no hate, viciousness, and vindictiveness more power to you. Hopefully, that means you have had therapy to help you work through any negative feelings you might have toward yourself or toward your abuser. If not, I personally feel you are in denial because you cannot admit that this violation really did bother you. I think for you to read and write on this blog means you are searching for answers.

Anonymous said...

I am Gene Scarborough--one of your biggest supporters--AND I contributed money which says more.

Christa, you have every right to be angry and I would be too!! Your "rightous indignation" is shedding much light on the problem Baptist want to ignore. Keep up the good work!

HOWEVER, the report on our Camp Director may be a little premature. He has many people in NC who are doubting the validity of the complaint. Please check out the Biblical Recorder website for my comments and many others.

Should he be proven guilty, I will gladly rejoice with you. BUT there is the possibility he has been falsely accused. If this be the case, I will rejoice even more!

Let's all remember that people do get falsely accused.

My own daughter was investigated recently over bruises on her son't arm given by his father. That part was true. The Director of the Methodist Daycare he attended did not bother to check with his father or my daughter BEFORE contacting Child Services. That might have solved things right away--a la, "if you find a brother in sin, go to him privately."

This "do gooding" Director instigated "Hell" for all the children and their parents. They went to the schools and "called out" each of her children, thus intimidating them and scaring them to death.

Next, they contacted each of us parents on both sides to give us a scare and questions about "is this true."

DSS investigators went to the home and "observed" as well as asking numerous questions. To make a long story short here is the truth:

Dad told our hard-headed grandson not to ride his bike so wrecklessly. He didn't pay any attention. Dad grabbed his arm as he raced by and pulled him off and to his side to have a eye-to-eye discussion of his foolishness. His grab simply left a bruise which WAS NOT followed by a bruise to his behind--which, in my opinion, he deserved.

They were embarassed and we all went through Hell over the several weeks of the investigation. It wasn't nice any more than this investigation isn't nice.

Personally, I am of the opinion their Constitutional Right to Privacy was seriously violated and they might have good grounds for a lawsuit.

I think it would be wiser, at this point, to let the law do its job and simply waith with a little more patience before we show his face and story to the public.

FURTHER--should he be found innocent, then spend just as much time on the web page citing this as you did participating in the possible false accusation phase of this investigation.

Sometimes we can do harm by acting too quickly just as we do good by exposing the horrible act of child sexual abuse.

Keep up the GOOD WORK--just don't embarass yourself by acting too quickly. We could all be fooled and that is real. Equally real is the awful possibility that we could hurt a good man with no intent to harm a child!

Gene Scarborough
Bath, NC

Christa Brown said...

"Should he be proven guilty, I will gladly rejoice with you."

I never, ever rejoice over these cases. Far too many kids and families are being terribly wounded. There is nothing to rejoice over.

Furthermore, I did not "participate in a possible false accusation." I linked and commented on the news about an already-publicly-reported indictment -- an indictment that was reported in at least 3 news sources.

Michelle said...

Dear Gene,

I was not abused in the Baptist church, but the Adventist church. I do, however, have familial ties with the Baptist church, have relatives that work as ministers in Arkansas, are enmeshed in alot of politics, etc.

I nannied for two children at one time, age 2 1/2 years and 6 months. One time the elder gave a little girl a black eye and in my horror (I was right beside him) I grabbed his arm so hard and wheeled him away, supporting the little girl with my other hand, that I gave him a bruise. I was horrified, and felt responsible for so many things: that the little girl got a black eye, that I wasn't watching them closer, that I gave my little charge a bruise.

If I'd been investigated for that, I would have been putty. It would have been AWFUL. I still wonder if in the aftermath I did good by the little guy or if I hurt him more. I was genuinely at a loss of what to do. He sent a little girl to the hospital, but I know he was confused about other stuff and just wanted his space when he did it. Sometimes it is SO hard to know with kids, there isn't a manual.

My experience is that when there are news articles about sex abusers other people come forward about abuse by the same person. For this reason I strongly feel that this article should remain. If it is found that this man is not guilty (obviously I know nothing about it) that is something to deal with then, but I know from personal experience that those closest to the situation will not see this with clarity. If people publically defend this man it is harder for others to come forward. I know this from experience. My best friend defended the Adventist church to me in tears, she didn't know what to think and that hurt me so badly! I felt betrayed. It HURTS when people still defend the perpetrator to my face. He confessed! Yet still people doubt.

You might check out this site for what I feel is a similar situation:

http://www.topix.com/forum/city/coos-bay-or/T277GLSD7GFS1HO7J

Perhaps seeing this from the perspective of someone outside the organization named, you can see more clearly how this hurts the victim in question. I went to the boarding academy at Milo and based on who is talking on there am pretty sure it is someone from my own class that is being named as an abuser. I certainly didn't get on with everybody but there's nobody I would name as an abuser with my information. The whole situation saddens me, I don't want that burden on ANYONE I know from Milo. But it has to be there to seek truth and continue to pursue justice for children.

The lawyer who took this case represented me in my case. From talking with him privately I know it is a very strong case. It is SO hard to be the accuser and to stand by with mouth legally sealed as everyone defends the abuser. It hurts beyond words. I've dealt with it personally.

Michelle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Old Gene is feeling a little abused ladies--slow down just a little!

I sympathize 100% with your anger. Someone hurting a child drew from Jesus the clear comment: "It would be better that he have a mill stone around his neck and be cast into the sea."

Best I know that equals to our present day electric chair--NOT the easy needle in the arm. A slow death where one knows he has no road back to life--just enough time to confess his sins and beg God's forgiveness. That seems appropriate to me! In this respect I am totally on your side.

Would it not be wiser to, at least, have some caviat as a reminder that in our legal system a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Just a suggestion!

The French practice the "guilty until proven innocent" approach as opposed to our British attitude. Is this what you are practicing, in reality? Think about how you might feel if you know you are innocent, but every media outlet is portraying you as guilty.

In my view--without the caviat--this is the position you are assuming. I'm just saying there is the possibility people are proven innocent.

Will they get just as much coverage in that case as at this point? I think they should, but media tends to cover the wreck as if the driver were drunk when later facts show he had taken a dose of cough medicine--quite a difference, but not as bold a headline--or even printed!

Just don't loose the fairness of Christ alongside his harsh penalty for anyone hurting a child--physical or spiritual!

Gene Scarborough

Christa Brown said...

"Innocent until proven guilty" is a criminal law standard for whether a person should be deprived of liberty and put in prison. It is NOT a standard for whether a person should be allowed to carry the high trust of being a minister or to continue to work with kids.

Encompassed within that criminal law presumption are extraordinary protections for the accused. For example, courts of law exclude the jury from considering various sorts of evidence even when it is the sort of evidence that experts would routinely take into consideration. Also, a person who is criminally accused must be proven guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt." In other sorts of cases, the proof can be greatly less -- akin to "more likely than not."

Ordinarily, a person who is acquitted in a court of law is not "proven innocent." Rather, he is not "proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt" in accordance with the procedural and evidentiary protections that our system affords for the criminally accused. That system is designed on the assumption that it is better for 10 guilty men to go free than to convict one innocent man. In other words, in our country, we ASSUME that many who are in fact guilty will nevertheless walk free of their crime in a court of law.

These are realities that most other major faith groups in this country have already recognized. They don't wait for a minister to be convicted in a court of law before they will make an administrative assessment of whether or not he should be allowed to carry the high trust of a minister or work with kids. It is extremely sad and very dangerous that Southern Baptists would continue to tolerate such a low standard for Southern Baptist clergy -- "innocent until proven guilty" in a court of law -- essentially allowing men to remain as ministers so long as they aren't criminally convicted. Kids deserve better. Families deserve better. And people in the pews deserve better.

Michelle said...

Gene,

Our legal system definitely does protect the guilty. I haven't Christa's experience with law, nor have I the wish for that experience, but I DO know that when I went to the police about what had happened to me, they laughed (nervously, I suppose). When I came forward about my abuser stalking me while he was on probation, they said there was nothing they could do. When I further came forward about my abuser having a job at a children's education store (where children are encouraged to spend time) they said I had waited too long to come forward, and couldn't send Scott back to jail for that reason. Out of my settlement I had to pay my abuser for his time in being deposed and sending in his open records. He was paid before I was. So were the pastors that protected him.

I don't think that's right for use in the civilian world. I am not a lawyer, and because of what I experienced, would rather be a dump truck driver than a lawyer (Sorry Christa). The scales are tipped. I couldn't deal with that on a regular basis.

It takes alot for someone to be charged. I know that. In the original investigation with my abuser (there were, I believe, 4, the 4th culminating in his incarceration) the police investigator specifically said "I believe he is guilty but cannot prove it." Scott continued to rape me for, based on my poor memory as a nine-year old which isn't good with time, about 4 months after that. ALL of his abusing at the Oregon School for the blind happened after that. I can't believe that it would be right that your friend, even if cleared by police as there being "no proof" should ever go back into ministry. I KNOW you'll disagree with me there, but I hope you'll understand where I am coming from.

Michelle said...

And Gene,

Thanks for coming here. It was only five years ago that I argued the same thing, even with all my experience. Your heart is wrapped up in this, as is mine, and there may be no seeing eye to eye (as Kristi astutely said in one comment) but I don't think that bars friendship and trying to understand each other across our differences. My pain is deep. I try to argue dispassionately but rarely do. What I would continue to argue, and will to my death bed, is for a more stringent code for those who have abused or accused of abusing. I don't ever want to take a chance with my kids, when I have them. Or my precious, precious nephew who turns six in just 8 days.

Anonymous said...

This camp director, Steve Carter, committed suicide this week. Make of it what you will.

Christa Brown said...

Here's the article about his apparent suicide - which I previously added as an update under the posting itself.