That was the headline in the November 5th Oxford Times.
One big problem: Robert Dando was a Baptist pastor, not a priest.
It’s bad enough that news reports sometimes don’t even mention the fact that a charged or convicted child molester is a Baptist pastor. Now we have a news story whose headline transforms the pastor into a priest.
The text of the story got it right, but of course, a whole lot of people just scan the headlines.
This is a dreadfully disturbing case, and in my view, it warranted a whole lot more media coverage than it got.
After all, consider these facts:
- Dando was very closely connected to the highest levels of Baptists’ worldwide leadership. He previously served as executive assistant to the president of the Baptist World Alliance. This was a guy who ran with the big dogs.
- Dando “was embroiled in another child sex abuse scandal when he was a minister at Orchard Baptist Fellowship” in the United Kingdom. In 2001, when the leader of the church, Dr. Anthony Gray, was convicted of serious sex offenses against a 14-year-old boy, Dando said this: “All our youth work is carried out within proper guidelines.” Yet, we now know that Dando too was sexually abusing kids, and had been since at least as far back as 1995. (Do these guys run in packs?)
- At the time of his arrest, Dando was the prominent senior minister of Worcester Park Baptist Church in suburban London.
- Dando pled guilty to repeatedly abusing 2 boys in Virginia, starting when they were 7 and 8 years old. Virginia prosecutors said that, under questioning, Dando also admitted to sexually abusing boys in the United Kingdom.
- Dando had plenty of access to kids. His wife was a national vice-president of the Boys’ Brigade, a Christian youth organization with more than 500,000 members in 60 countries. Dando also worked for a children’s charity in India.
- Dando previously worked as a magistrate on a family court panel, which dealt with child care and child access proceedings.
Meanwhile, in other news, a Baptist pastor in Missouri is charged with murdering the husband of a woman in his congregation with whom he had been having a sexual relationship. The pastor, David Love, even performed the man’s funeral.
According to the Kansas City Examiner, pastor Love had a longstanding "habit" of instituting sexual encounters with a female congregant. So this raises a question similar to the one raised with Southern Baptist pastor Matt Baker, who was convicted of murder last January: Why didn’t Baptists bust him sooner?
It shouldn’t take a murder for a pastor’s sexual abuse and assault reports to come to light. But tragically, that’s what it took with Baptist pastor Matt Baker.
Now we see yet another Baptist pastor charged with murder. And in the process, we learn that he reportedly had an ugly prior pattern for which no one held him accountable. Again . . . it shouldn’t take a murder charge to bring this stuff to light.
Related post: "Baptist World Alliance needs common voice on clergy sex abuse," 8/12/10
"Worcester Park Baptist minister facing UK child sex abuse investigation," The Guardian, 11/11/10.