Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Find the Baptist pastor

Ricky Mill, a Southern Baptist pastor in Raleigh, North Carolina, went to court last Monday to urge leniency for David Chatham, who pled guilty on child porn charges.

What was the reason for urging leniency? According to pastor Ricky Mill, it was Chatham’s “dedication to Christ.”

Chatham, who was a high-level public relations specialist, had started going to Bible study groups after his arrest.

But before his arrest, he had spent 12 years looking at images of children being molested and sexually abused.

Twelve years.

According to the story reported in the Charlotte Observer, Chatham’s computers were “loaded with more than 3,400 images and videos of naked, molested boys and girls, toddlers and teens.”

3,400 images and videos.

How many kids were in those images and videos? Hundreds? Thousands?

How many kids are tormented by the memories of having their bodies used and abused for the sexual gratification of men like Chatham?

That’s David Chatham in the photo. According to the Charlotte Observer caption, his wife stands by while “he uses his cell phone one last time before heading into federal court.”

Before his arrest, Chatham was “a self-assured executive who could manage a crowd.” He hobnobbed with governors and city council members at charity events. He earned six figures.

But what did the money from his success go to support? The entrapment and abuse of children for the child porn industry.

But oh gee whiz… this public relations specialist started going to Bible studies after his arrest and has shown his “dedication to Christ,” says Southern Baptist pastor Ricky Mill. (Do you think Chatham may have made some significant donations to the church? I wonder.)

Ricky Mill is the “associate pastor of shepherding” at Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. It's a church affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. It's a church that shows 17 ministers on its “Meet the Pastors” page: David Horner, Mike Williams, Mike Erwin, Joel Leath, Leon Tucker, Joel McDaniel, Kevin Sweat, Matt Morgan, Dave Owen, C. Bug, Brian Frost, Steve Wright, Blake Hickman, George Tissiere, Ricky Mill, Bob Stancil, Eric Hamsho.

Not one of those 17 pastors is shown on the Southern Baptist Convention’s national online registry of ministers.

So imagine this scenario: You’re someone who was sexually abused by one of those Southern Baptist pastors when you were a kid. Twenty years later, you’re psychologically capable of dealing with it and you want to tell Southern Baptist officials about what this minister did. It’s too late for criminal prosecution -- that’s the usual scenario -- but you still think denominational officials should know so that others may be protected. How do you find the guy? You don’t even know what state he’s in. You write to Southern Baptist headquarters in Nashville, and they tell you they don’t have him on their list of Southern Baptist ministers.

So what do you do? Do you hire your own private investigator to try to find the guy? Or do you figure that, since he’s not on the Southern Baptist registry, then maybe you don’t have to worry so much about others? It’s already taken all your emotional energy just to get this far. Since no one in Southern Baptist circles is going to help you, and since he doesn’t show up on their registry anyway, maybe you decide to just let it go.

And so, the man continues in a position of trust as a pastor, with full access to kids, and with no one the wiser.

There isn’t anything unusual about this scenario. Lots and lots of Southern Baptist ministers don’t show up on the Southern Baptist registry of ministers. So if all you’ve got is a Baptist pastor’s name, good luck with finding him.

It’s bad enough that Southern Baptists don’t bother with keeping records on ministers who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse, but they don’t even keep basic records on the names of their ministers.

If Baptist leaders won’t do the job of exercising responsible oversight for ministers who bear the Baptist brand, then the very least they should do is to maintain a complete listing of the names of Baptist ministers and their locations. That would at least give abuse survivors, who are capable of speaking out, a fighting chance at finding their Baptist clergy perpetrators and of doing the job of trying to warn others.

It’s the job that Baptist leaders themselves ought to be doing and the job that they would do if they actually gave a hoot about kids.

Incidentally, a study done at a federal prison found that about “85 percent of men imprisoned for receiving or distributing child pornography and who did not have a known history of committing sexual abuse when arrested actually had committed a hands-on offense.”

So … even though the men had never been convicted on child molestation, when they got jailed on child porn, it was discovered that 85 percent had actually committed sexual abuse offenses.

Yet, Southern Baptist pastors like Ricky Mill urge leniency for a man convicted on child porn.

And as for David Chatham . . . he’s now in jail and blogging about his experience at From Shame to Grace.
______________________________

More information on the study about the incidence of child molestation among men convicted on child porn charges can be found in this New York Times article and in the Journal of Family Violence. Thanks to Baptist Planet for providing these links.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

I just read David's blog site. I'm now trying to figure out what I think and feel. I know we are called to be ministers of grace but that isn't always an easy calling.

Anonymous said...

Let me be sure I have the facts completely straight. David never touched nor abused any child did he? He only viewed internet porn? I think perhaps there is a huge difference there and after reading his blog he might have duly repented and is deserving of our prayerful support instead of blanket condemnation.

Christa Brown said...

Anon 9:06 p.m. said: "He only viewed internet porn?"

Only?!
Those are real children in those thousands of images and videos that were on Chatham's computer. Real children whose bodies were molested and abused for the sexual gratification of men like Chatham who paid to watch. Hundreds and possibly thousands of kids.

Thank God U.S. Attorney Jay Exum had enough sense to realize the necessity of very serious consequences for such conduct. He said that Chatham wasn't any "different from the droves of men he sends to prison each year for defiling children by watching them be abused."

Maybe Chatham has repented and maybe he hasn't. Who can really know what is in his heart and mind other than Chatham himself and God? And surely none of the rest of us should presume God's knowledge. So whether Chatham has "duly repented" or not is irrelevant. The consequences for such conduct should and must be severe. Otherwise, as a society, we send a message that the sexual molestation and abuse of kids just doesn't matter much. Very sadly, it's a message that Southern Baptist pastors and leaders send pretty consistently.

And frankly, I find the whole focus of attention on David Chatham's "repentance" to be misplaced. The focus should be on trying to find those kids and on trying to get counseling for them and help them.

Lydia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lydia said...

Let me be sure I have the facts completely straight. David never touched nor abused any child did he? He only viewed internet porn? I think perhaps there is a huge difference there and after reading his blog he might have duly repented and is deserving of our prayerful support instead of blanket condemnation.

September 22, 2009 9:06 PM


You cannot be serious! For 12 years this man watched children be raped and molested. HE LIKED IT. IT DID NOT REPULSE HIM. HE CARED NOTHING FOR THE INNOCENTS. ONLY HIS OWN FLESH.

For 12 years.

The point is that he gets saved AFTER getting caught and then a PASTOR comes and pleads for leniency. Why? Why not serve time for this heinous crime against the least of these. He can be a Christian in prison and if he is truly repentent he will WANT to serve his time.

I am never ceased to be amazed that folks do not think child porn is that big of a deal. You think he deserves a break because he only WATCHED them being abused and ruined? He helped fund it. He supported their abuse. He liked watching them be tortured.

They found pics of TODDLERS being raped on his computer.

Ricky Mills, pastor, doesn't have a huge problem with it, either.

And Christa is right about the kids always being thought of last if at all.

Christa Brown said...

Oh... and if that's you Plano-man -- i.e., Anon 9:06 -- I thought you bid us an emphatic "adieu" a while back. Just couldn't stay away?

Friends: Can you say "Prestonwood?"

Anonymous said...

Perhaps, you should educate yourself how anyone could escalate to this point. It starts with regular porn, and then escalates. The many men who spend countless hours looking at porn should know that it could escalate to this point and they should get help. Why don't you try helping instead of judging.

Anonymous said...

Ricky Mills never said he was okay with what the guy did.... he only offered a bible study. So, don't even begin to state that Ricky Mills was okay with his "problem." Just because you're trying to help somebody doesn't mean you agree with what they did. I'm don't agree with what David did AT ALL... but, PBC nor Ricky Mills should be bad mouthed...

Christa Brown said...

Actually, Baptist pastor Ricky Mill did more than offer a Bible study. According to what was reported in the Charlotte Observer, pastor Ricky Mill took the witness stand to support Chatham's request for leniency, "to tell the magistrate how Chatham was different," and to talk about Chatham's "dedication to Christ." The witness stand in a courtroom is usually considered a public place. If Ricky Mill didn't want the media and bloggers to write about his public comments or to mention the fact that he is a pastor at Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, then Ricky Mill shouldn't have taken the witness stand to support leniency for a man who kept on his computer 3400 images and videos of kids being sexually abused and molested. Real kids. Kids who are left forever traumatized because men like David Chatham used his money to pay for other people to do that to the kids so that he could get sexual gratification from watching . . . from watching kids while they were being sexually abused.

Anonymous said...

"Chatham is a public relations specialist who knows the power of a compelling story and the need to get ahead of a negative one."

THAT is what this story is about. Chatham has the money to generate positive sentiment for himself before sentencing and to start setting himself up with a good image for when he gets out. If Chatham wasn't rich, we never would have seen this story at all.

It burns me that so much attention is being focused on Chatham. If he was truly repentant, he would subdue his ego and QUIETLY pray without ceasing for the countless kids who have been sexually abused in the kiddie porn industry - an industry that was supported by Chatham for the last 12 years. This should be about the kids, not Chatham.

Lydia said...

Ricky Mills never said he was okay with what the guy did.... he only offered a bible study. So, don't even begin to state that Ricky Mills was okay with his "problem." Just because you're trying to help somebody doesn't mean you agree with what they did. I'm don't agree with what David did AT ALL... but, PBC nor Ricky Mills should be bad mouthed...

September 23, 2009 8:24 AM

Excuse me. He asked for leniency from the judge for Chathan who just got saved. How is that helping KIDS?

Why should the judge discriminate FOR Christians in sentencing? Please explain that to me. Why should Ricky Mills ask for it?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps, you should educate yourself how anyone could escalate to this point. It starts with regular porn, and then escalates. The many men who spend countless hours looking at porn should know that it could escalate to this point and they should get help. Why don't you try helping instead of judging.

September 22, 2009 10:15 PM

No judging? Then how can they GET CAUGHT if we do not judge? How can they be put in prison if we do not judge?

I want to help the kids and protect other kids by sending a very strong message that this will nto be accepted EVEN if you have an 11th hour conversion.

You can focus on the 'born again after caught wealthy PR guy'.

john said...

"Dedicated to Christ" means we obey those in authority over us. If we break the law we are under a Divine mandate to pay the price. He did and he must pay.

Do people really think these pictures are not of real children? How can we have any willingness to let such a child abuser go free!

Forgiveness is great. But even God's forgivness requires accountability for sin. The consequences still exsist and must be accounted for.

Come on people! Let's stop misusing the Scripture and letting people who OWE a debt to society go sctt free. It just is not Biblical!

Christa Brown said...

Mr. Plano-man: I deleted your last comment. After a fair number of your obnoxious and rude comments, which I tolerated, you bid us "adieu" back on July 30 and said that you would not "participate any longer" on this blog. This was the same comment in which you said that some of your "influential Baptist friends" had told you that I was "just a kooky woman." Nice.

So ... since you said you wouldn't "participate any longer" on this blog and since you yourelf chose to bid us "adieu," I'm choosing to interpret that word with its original French connotation of a more permanent sort of good-bye.

gmommy said...

The same people who say "he ONLY viewed"innocent children being raped and molested...he didn't touch them himself are the same blind and dumb idiots that think a sexual predator only strikes once.(one of the many arguments for allowing a CONFESSED child molester to remain on staff at BBC)
What's wrong with you people?? Are you perverts yourself trying to rationalize this obsessive, compulsive need to get "high" and be sexually gratified by watching innocent CHILDREN being raped and scarred for life????????????? What kind of person is that stupid?
Don't try and put a sex addict in the same box with an alcoholic or even a drug addick!
This guy has been leading this secret life a long time. These guys are EXPERT manipulators and liars. They are completely desensitized from real shame and remorse.
It's ALL about them. They ENJOY the attention even this sick perversion brings them. They may be OCD about "recovery"...for a while. But do you think he can get those images out of his mind? Those images get him off....you idiots. In his mind...he is raping those children. He needed "his drug" 12 hours a day. Do you realize how many times a day this guy was masturbating b/c he was obsessed with child rape! That's what excited him. He wasn't interested in normal relations with his wife!!!
I'm no longer a big fan of James Dobson but he was talking about sexual addiction when no one else was.He told about how these addicts endanger their own children to get their fix.
This PR pervert guy is having a ball with his blog and with all the attention and support he is getting.
He is a liar...he has lived a double life for a LONG time. He enjoys children being raped and traumatized for life.
If we could put a blog for victims and a blog for the perps side by side...I have no doubts about who would get hit with more criticism.

Anonymous said...

Ricky Mills did not need to testify for Chatham. Nor did he need to ask for leniency. Nor did he need to talk to reporters.

He chose to do all these YET he could have easily stood by this man with no fanfare. No media attention. He profanes the Name of our Lord by asking the civil authorities who are there to protect us to give this pervert a lighter sentence. Thank God the judge ignored him. The judge probably knows a PR move when he sees one. Or perhaps he understands cheap grace where there is no consequence for even the most heinous sin and abhors it.


Are last minute conversions after being caught turning into a big circus now. Why not give it some serious time when he faces the loneliness of prison (except for being allowed to blog!) and quietly minister to him there. Because that brings no personal glory for him or his church.

Does Ricky Mills not understand that little girls were sobbing while being raped and Chatham enjoyed that? He paid for it and supported it. And he did so for 12 years.

Yet Ricky Mills takes the public road and gets his name in the paper posing as a great man of God. Problem is Ricky Mills is getting the credit. Not God.

Question: What would we think of a judge who would grant leniency because an Iman testified that the man became a devout muslim. Would we be impressed?

Christa Brown said...

Mr. Plano-man: I've deleted several of your comments. I've told you that I accepted your choice to bid us "adieu" as a permanent good-bye. I've tried to be nice. Now I'm telling you directly: You are not welcome here. Please do not come back.

Anonymous said...

Prestonwood/plano man,

The pharisees had power and position. They were not the victims. They were in charge. If you read scripture you would know that. Ricky Mills is one of the Pharisees using his position to ask Caesar for leniency in sentencing a pervert that enjoyed watching kids be raped for 12 years. What a great witness to the world! Kids be damned. Born Again Christians should not have to serve the full sentence! It is one of the perks of being Born Again at just the right time!

But thanks for commenting so we can see what SBC folks are really like inside.

I guess you are right. Never mind that Chatham watched little kids be raped and tortured. Paid for it and supported it for 12 years. That is probably not so bad to you.

Christa Brown said...

"But thanks for commenting so we can see what SBC folks are really like inside."

So that Anon 9:39's comment will have some context, and so that newcomers to the blog can better see a little bit about what some "SBC folks are really like," I've cut and pasted the last two comments from Plano-man below. (For those who have followed the blog for a while, you know we've been through a number of rounds with Plano-man -- there is more than this behind my decision to accept Plano-man's "adieu," and to hold him to it.)

From Plano-man:
"It is indeed the Plano man coming to visit again. I heard about this post and thought I would check it out. Seems things haven't changed much but at least you posted a site that does talk about grace. And I do believe there is a difference between viewing images on the internet and actually committing the act."

"Good morning o glorious Pharisees. This is Plano man from Presontwood... Just wanted to check in and see your asinine evaluations of everything. I'll be sure to post daily and at least they will get to read my comments before you delete them. Hope you all have a good day and keep believing that thinking something is the same as doing it."

Anonymous said...

Christa, Don't know if you saw about the below. Surprised I didn't see mention of it on your site. Here you go:

http://www.kspr.com/news/local/59322732.html

It's about the Kanakuk Kamp counselor molesting those teen boys.

Anonymous said...

Just thought I would check in after lunch to see the love expressed on this site. Its reaffirming to know that you have all worked through your guilt and scars and are now evaluating other people's faith.

Keep up the good work. Its so Christ-like.

Plano Prestonwood Man

Anonymous said...

Praying that the Feds shut the sites down period. The hypocrisy that in this case is ridiculous. Christian or not. I get spammed so ever to often...what about the young male that has much less discernment and resolve. I read the other day that only 1 out of 2 males under the age of 25 THAT DO NOT THINK that there is anything wrong with looking at porn.

Anonymous said...

David wrote the following quote in his blog on September 17th:

"If we can remove people like me, who escalated to child pornography without actually being pedophiles, we can make a dent, I believe."

I think you folks should be more forgiving and pitch in and help David in his efforts to rid the world or porn.

Anonymous said...

"If we can remove people like me, who escalated to child pornography without actually being pedophiles, we can make a dent, I believe."

I think you folks should be more forgiving and pitch in and help David in his efforts to rid the world or porn.

September 24, 2009 2:40 PM

Chatham made his living in PR. Like Jonathon Edwards, why don't we wait a few years to see if his last minute conversion was real. WE are to be as wise as serpents and gentle as doves.

There is nothing wrong with following the advice of the civil authorities and having him put away for the full length of time for such a crime. He can grow in his NEW faith there if he is serious. Many from his NEW church can minister to him there quietly without the fanfare of the press and blogs.

So how do I know he is really a huge advocate of stopping child porn or just a very good PR guy? 12 years of watching little kids get rapped vs 9 months of being Born Again after he got caught? Can we please have some very basic wisdom?

Grace does not mean cheap grace. Forgiveness does not mean we ignore the civil laws and consequences of sin toward the least of these.

I do worry about the immaturity and lack of wisdom of so many professing Christians.

I prefer to help those who are actually rescuing these children and get no PR for their daily grind. Then I can be sure they are not doing it to rehabilitate their image.

Anonymous said...

I think you folks should be more forgiving and pitch in and help David in his efforts to rid the world or porn.

September 24, 2009 2:40 PM

Maybe you can be the first one to allow him to babysit your kids when he gets out.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

David Chatham does not give a crap about ridding the world of child porn. What he cares about most is his reputation. He is a PR guy. Reputation is everything to him. He is twisting his sick deeds to become someone known as an anti-child porn crusader. David, you're not fooling anyone for a moment. Remember this guy was a star player at one of the area's top PR firms. Did they advise him on how to deal with this? Did they set up the piece in the N&O given their CEO was a journalist. The whole thing stinks... can't write anymore, shaking with rage.

Anonymous said...

As someone who has worked with, assessed and treated sexual offenders let me say that the comment that "It starts with regular porn, and then escalates." is wrong, very wrong. That is the same logic as saying it starts with consensual sex with and adults and escalates. A person has to be sexually aroused by what the material. You do not just turn into a pedophile. Whatever moral beliefs you have about pornography please stop using it to minimize, rationalize and justify people viewing children being raped. - JD

Anonymous said...

Sorry about the messy version, submitted it before I meant to:

As someone who has worked with, assessed and treated sexual offenders let me say that the comment that "It starts with regular porn, and then escalates." is wrong, very wrong. That is the same logic as saying it starts with consensual sex with an adult and escalates. A person has to be sexually aroused by the material. You do not just turn into a pedophile. Whatever moral beliefs you have about pornography please stop using them to minimize, rationalize and justify people viewing children being raped. - JD

Christa Brown said...

JD: Appreciate your knowledgeable expertise on this - thanks for commenting.

Elisabeth said...

I've had an on and off problem with porn. I don't see how I would ever view child porn though. With me, the problem was because I would never acknowledge even to myself my bisexuality, so I would every so often get into looking at lesbian porn.

And the pastor that sexually abused me as a young adult had used the weapons that "He was 'helping' me because he was showing me what a 'normal' relationship between a man and a woman is" and "Maybe the only reason why I had struggles with attractions with women was I hadn't met the right man yet." Of course, in his book, a lesbian or bisexual could not be a Christian.

I am now trying to fully come to terms with my bisexuality - and I do know that a bisexual can be well adjusted and monogomous. Hope that will help me no longer being tempted to look at porn. Even porn between consenting adults is, by definition, degrading.

Anonymous said...

David Chatham does not give a crap about ridding the world of child porn. What he cares about most is his reputation. He is a PR guy. Reputation is everything to him. He is twisting his sick deeds to become someone known as an anti-child porn crusader. David, you're not fooling anyone for a moment. Remember this guy was a star player at one of the area's top PR firms. Did they advise him on how to deal with this? Did they set up the piece in the N&O given their CEO was a journalist. The whole thing stinks... can't write anymore, shaking with rage.

September 25, 2009 3:16 PM

And he will have plenty of help from silly cheap grace professing Christians who follow right along with their mega church pastors. Many of whom are conned every day by mega church pastors advancing themselves in the marketplace for cheap fame blaspheming the Name of our Lord for profit.

They will flaunt their new convert in the press to make themselves look great without really knowing the state of his heart because they refuse to wait and see IF the fruit becomes evident. (That would take too much time)

Never mind those kids who are raped and molested. This is about growing huge churches were grace is cheap and the road is broad.

Ricky Mills, I have to wonder if you would plead leniency for a poor derelict charged with the same crime? The PR guy was a master stroke for your church. Never mind that Chatam working to now protect kids he watched being raped for 12 years is like the fox guarding the hen house.

gmommy said...

Elisabeth,
I think it takes guts to talk openly about your porn temptations and sexuality here. Porn IS degrading no matter what the circumstances. I think it also hinders you from being in a healthy relationship in several ways. I'm so sorry that minister used his position to degrade and hurt you. If he took advantage of your confusion and vulnerability...I'm sure it was a pattern for him. I wish there was justice in the world...or at least with "church people".

20/20 or some similar program did a show on the people who get into porn. The focus was on younger vulnerable girls who get caught up in it. I shouldn't have watched it b/c it haunted me for so long afterward. I cried about this one girl. Her face haunted me and I prayed for God to rescue her. The reporter talked to her right after she taped a "scene" for a movie. Tears were falling down her face...she had been traumatized... yet she laughed and told the reporter she had a blast.
Porn just doesn't do anything healthy for anyone involved.
I agree that Ricky Mills did nothing to advance the message of Christ. He probably has more compassion and empathy for the guy in jail for being obsessed with child rape than he ever would have for a victim of clergy abuse.
There should be some shame and outrage in this whole screwed up story. But it's not there at all.

Christa Brown said...

"And the pastor that sexually abused me as a young adult had used the weapons that 'He was 'helping' me because he was showing me what a 'normal' relationship between a man and a woman is.'"

There's one more example of the twisted, sick thinking of a sexual predator. "Normal" = exploitation and abuse. "Helping" = exploitation and abuse. And the fact that it's a pastor makes it 1000 times worse. He probably even tells himself that his view of things is "biblical."

"I wish there was justice in the world...or at least with 'church people'."

Yeah, me too. But to me, it seems as though the LEAST likely place for any care, concern, or justice is with "church people." I don't know what any of it means anymore. Clergy predators use "biblical" authority to abuse their prey and then other church and denominational leaders use "biblical" authority (i.e., "local church autonomy") as an excuse to do nothing.

"There should be some shame and outrage in this whole screwed up story. But it's not there at all."

Nope. To the contrary, Baptist pastor Ricky Mill is probably telling himself what a righteous good man he is because he showed Christian forgiveness and compassion. And as Anon 3:54 said, "Never mind those kids who are raped and molested."