Friday, April 9, 2010

Packed courtroom for pastor-predator

In Indiana, Southern Baptist pastor Daniel Moore, age 50, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for molesting a 15-year-old church girl.

When the girl’s mother showed up for the April 8th sentencing hearing, she encountered a courtroom packed with church members who were there to support the pastor.

The mother had been an active member of the church for nine years. Yet, once she went to the police, only two church members had ever even called to see how she and her family were doing.

This was a case in which the pastor’s DNA evidence was on the girl’s bedsheets.

Yet, even with such irrefutable evidence, and even with the pastor’s guilty plea, rather than reaching out to help the girl and her family, church members supported the pastor. It’s a sad pattern that we’ve seen in many, many cases.

Here are some excerpts from the victim’s impact statement that the mother made at the sentencing hearing:

“As time went on, I could see that he lied to me by using God and the Bible, to make me believe him and trust him, just as he did with my daughter. He brainwashed her into trusting him and I can understand how easy it was for him to do that to a child, because he had me believing his lies as well. …

I felt physically and emotionally sick that evening when the detective came to my house to remove the bed sheet off of my daughter’s bed and that is when I began having nightmares. . . .

I had a complete breakdown after reading the Probable Cause Affidavit. I could not believe the mental hold he had over my daughter. He came into my house when I was not there, which I have to be reminded of on a daily basis every time I walk into my house and more so when I go into my daughter’s bedroom. Knowing that he had been there and what he had her do. The cleaning day at the church, while I was upstairs cleaning the baptistery, he was in the basement kissing my daughter.

I have had several things that have really thrown me back during all of this, but most of all was then results of the DNA testing from the bed sheet. It was hard to remain in control of myself when I was told that the sperm found on the bed sheet was an exact match to the Defendant’s DNA.

I feel so betrayed by this person who was supposed to be a preacher, OUR preacher for the past several years. I feel that he kept me so busy at the church that it caused me to be there on several occasions and my children as well and that because of being so active I did not fully see what was going on behind my back, the lies, the manipulation the deceit.”

Thank God this wise mother ultimately did see those lies, manipulation and deceit. Let’s imagine what this case would have been like in the more typical scenario.

What if the parents of this 15-year-old had NOT intervened? What if they simply never found out? (That’s the usual case.) Or what if they couldn’t bring themselves to fully believe something so awful? (That’s also common.) Or what if they accepted the faulty forgiveness theology that so many Baptist leaders preach -- as if forgiveness meant no consequences?

Then that 15-year-old girl would have been on her own to deal with the impossible. So she likely wouldn’t have dealt with it at all. And pastor Moore wouldn’t have been prosecuted. And he wouldn’t have a record. And he could have gone on to some other Baptist church where he could have easily found new prey.

Then, a couple decades later, that girl may have started thinking about it. And perhaps she would have eventually reached the point when she understood the harm of what was done to her and when she wanted to try to report the pastor so as to protect others.

That’s the typical scenario. Almost all experts recognize that, without parental intervention, most clergy sex abuse victims don’t speak of it for many years -- often not for decades.

But who would that girl be able to tell a couple decades later?

By then, it would likely be too late for criminal prosecution. And there would be no one in denominational authority who would give a hoot -- no one would take responsibility for looking into her allegations -- no one would even keep a record of her allegations.

She will be lucky if she can even locate the pastor at that point. No one in the denomination is likely to help her and the pastor may have moved several times by then.

But assuming she can locate him, what then?

Denominational leaders will wash their hands of it and say “not our problem.” They’ll tell her to “go to the church” to report him.

They know this doesn’t work, but it’s what they say anyway, and it’s flat-out cruel. It’s like sending bloody sheep to the den of the wolf who savaged them.

In this case, the victim’s family had been a part of the church for nine years. There was overwhelming evidence and a guilty plea. Yet, church members still supported the pastor and ostracized the victim.

Given this common pattern, can you imagine how much more hostile a church’s reaction might be if some outsider -- someone they didn’t even know -- brought to them an abuse report about their pastor? And if it involved abuse that happened twenty years ago?

For Baptist leaders to tell abuse survivors to “go to the church” is unrealistic and always has been. It’s a side-stepping system that fails to acknowledge the reality of human nature, that refuses any accountability for clergy, and that betrays the safety of kids.
_____________________

Related posting:
Church letter of support for pastor, 4/1/10

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is no surprise that a whole courtroom full ofchurch members are so easily deceived. Scripture warned us about the wolves and those who would be deceived by them.

Can you imagine what the judges and court folks think of'Christians'. That we think so little of victims? But lift up perverts who all they have to do is say 'sorry' and the tears flow for THEM. It is sicko

john said...

This makes me as mad as that place I use to preach against. The people who showed up are not a church. They are a group of mislead, misinformed, misuided sheep who fell in line with the wolves. No wonder the church is loosing her position in the community. It has become poluted and compromised.

gwfrink3 said...

Bless you, John.

The Man in the Pew said...

For so many to so blindly follow another, I believe that would qualify as a cult, even if their religious doctrine was the same as what I believe.

I am completely disgusted by this and it makes me ashamed to be classified as the same religion.

Anonymous said...

Oh my heart is broken for this girl and her Mom. When I saw that he got 10 years I was relieved...although the sentence is much too short, but I thought "at least this girl got some justice".

Then I read on...a packed courtroom...FOR THE PEDOPHILE??? Only 2 people kept in touch after the Mom went to the police?? How? Why? I don't understand. He was convicted! His DNA was on her sheets. And there is support for him? How heartbreaking. And the Mom is dead on about how this pedophile kept her busy and manipulated the situation that way.

It makes my situation seem so trite. Excommunicated from my Baptist church AFTER I withdrew my membership and after unproven allegations of immorality were tossed around publicly as the only reason I would have withdrawn my membership...to cover sin. So trite, but still bullying. Not to mention my sweet 15 year old daughter came home from a public sporting event last night with head down and eyes filled with tears because her former Christian school friends and their parents and even one of her former teachers ignored her completely and actually moved from the bleachers to get away from her. Are you kidding me? And not one of these people ever reached out to get the truth. Not that the truth matters to them I guess...the case in this blog entry was proven...BY DNA and still the victims are shunned.

Swept under the blood-rug...secret files...letters written so pedophiles don't have to do the time...collective shrugging of shoulders...bullying... These churches should pobably start making ammendments to their constitutions and by laws so that at least prospective members will know what to expect should they ever become the victims of such heinous crimes.

Cheryl

Anonymous said...

Cheryl,

Thank you for your post. I am the mother of the victim in this story and your post made me cry. All the work I did at that church with the children and following his arrest, parents would not even let their children look at me. I can't say that does not still bother me, because I love working with the children, it just hurts me to think what their parents have told them about me. I do wonder what would happen if it had been their child. This has been the hardest year of my life. I stand behind my daughter.

When my husband read in his statement - can you really blame a 15 year old for the actions of a 50 year old man - Moore's daughter was standing there shaking her head yes. They will never accept that he is the only one wrong in this case.

Prior to the Judge taking the bench, Moore was in the courtroom shaking hands with the church members - thought I was at Sunday morning service there for a minute and not in a courtroom. Then one of his supports that seemed to be a girl in her late teens came over to him, sat down on his lap and hugged him for several minutes. I could not believe he allowed that to happen right there in the courtroom, but hey, he knew he was on his way to jail so what did it matter. He will never change.


My daughter was 15, but she was also brainwashed into believing him. Remember being 15. Someone showing so much attention to you, telling you that they loved you and that you were the love of their life. He made her feel like she was on top of the world before he took advantage of her.

My daughter is doing great now. It took about 6 months to get her somewhat back to normal. She still has her ups and downs with the entire situation, but she has a large support group of friends and family and she is in counseling.

Thank you to all that read this and truely understand it. I thank God daily for the witnesses that took the time to make phone calls when they did not even know that they saved my daughter for further danger.

I am truly hurt from my prior church. I never would have thought that anyone would turn their back on me so quickly.

Anonymous said...

Southern Baptists = Southern cult

They don't do anything about preachers who molest kids. They're full of bigotry, hate for women, and meanness. They demand obedience and submission. Why would anyone want to call themselves a Baptist?

Anonymous said...

This is Chery again...

To the Mom of this precious young girl...tears are flowing for you. I am just so, so sorry for all you have been through. What you have been through is literally heartbreaking. The pain is physical and paralyzing, BUT you were strong and you exposed this man and IT MATTERS.

Oh, I don't even know how to express what I want to say to you...stay strong...you are so courageous as is your sweet daughter. People like Christa and those who are a part of this website know the truth and fight for it. Christa is tireless and she doesn't give up. Keep going Christa.

The blog entry that Christa posted that told my story was titled "We Nod and Whisper I Know" (in February I believe) To this Mom...we do nod...we do know. We stand with you even if it is in this small way. Stay strong.

Cheryl

Anonymous said...

I really have to wonder what the church's reaction would have been had it been a 15 year old boy instead of a girl

Anonymous said...

The 'church' did not know, just as the parents did not know, what was happening. It is all very sad. Some members are very good people and do not have any ill feelings against the girl and her family. While not condoning what happened, this man did many good things. People cannot forget the caring for 20+ years and being there for family tragedies, funerals, etc. Some members tried to reach out but were turned away. Prayers for everyone involved that God will help all.

Anonymous said...

It is the cult of maleness that comes from wrong teaching about Eve. They believe that Eve deceived Adam. Not what the scripture teaches that EVE was deceived...admitted and blamed Satan.

Adam willfully sinned and rebelled. (He had more knowledge of God and had even seen some creating in the Garden)


This wrong thinking is sometimes subconscious but you see it all the time in church circles. So, it means the 50 year old man was enticed against his will by a15 year old.

So, what they are ultimately teaching is that men are ruled by their passions and should not be trusted for any leadership positions.

After all, they cannot have it both ways.

BTW: That place is NOT a church. The lack of justice coming from supposed Christians is appalling.

Anonymous said...

"While not condoning what happened, this man did many good things. People cannot forget the caring for 20+ years and being there for family tragedies, funerals, etc."

Hitler's secretary, Trudle Jung, said he was the nicest, most compassionate man she had ever worked for.

Your point was?

Anonymous said...

My only point was that it is hard to forget the good, past actions but NOT saying it was right, the girl's fault (it was NOT the girl's fault), or lifting him up - I'm not. His actions hurt many people and made them cry/feel sad for the young girl, her family (please know that some members have not forgotten you), everyone.

Once police action had been taken last year and it became known, he was no longer the pastor - immediately.

It is still God's house and the people have been there for me (prayers/caring) through many many years of illness as they have been for many others (including paying rent/utilities, giving food, saying prayers for them, whatever was needed and still do). Yet, one is to believe they are all bad people?

I was taught by Southern Baptist parents to go to the Bible and pray for guidance in any situation. So, I re-read this morning Ephesians Chapter 4, all of it, but especially the last two verses. The chapter helped me and perhaps it can help others.

Christa Brown said...

"I was taught by Southern Baptist parents to go to the Bible and pray for guidance in any situation."

I was taught the same thing, and it was that very part of me -- that profound belief in biblical authority -- that a Baptist clergy predator twisted into a weapon against me.

"I re-read this morning Ephesians Chapter 4... especially the last two verses. The chapter helped me and perhaps it can help others."

Perhaps it can also hurt them. These two verses -- Ephesians 4:31-32 -- have repeatedly and rather endlessly been used by Baptist preachers and denominational leaders to shame clergy abuse survivors into silence and to cover-up the horror of what clergy-predators do. When I think about all the stories I have heard in which these very verses were flung in abuse survivors' faces, I feel only revulsion at the way in which so many so-called Christians distort these verses for their own self-serving ends.

In my experience, there is nothing kind, good, tender-hearted, or even decent in the way many Baptists fling these particular verses. They use them to RE-victimize the already-wounded.

Anonymous said...

"It is still God's house and the people have been there for me (prayers/caring) through many many years of illness as they have been for many others (including paying rent/utilities, giving food, saying prayers for them, whatever was needed and still do). Yet, one is to believe they are all bad people? "

A building is God's House? Jesus Christ sent the Holy Spirit and the 'temple' is now in US where God resides.

There are no sacred buildings or furniture.

"I was taught by Southern Baptist parents to go to the Bible and pray for guidance in any situation. So, I re-read this morning Ephesians Chapter 4, all of it, but especially the last two verses. The chapter helped me and perhaps it can help others."


They should have taught you context and how to interpret what you read. Who is speaking. Who is he speaking to and what is the occasion. Start there.

A better passage for this situation would be all of 1 Corin 5.

Your interpretations are actually more toward giving the Pharisee a pass. After all, what else could he have been while doing his deeds? A believer with good fruit?

Elisabeth said...

What about Eph. 4:29-30? Can't have Eph. 4:31-32 without the verses prior! And I tell you this, that pastor definitely didn't follow Eph. 4:29-30!