Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Eleven years ago

In Sherwood, Arkansas, the principal of a Southern Baptist church school has been charged with sexual assault of a student.

Tim Ballard was the high-school principal for Abundant Life School, which is connected to Sylvan Hills First Baptist Church. He was also a coach there.

As shown in a police report, on March 1, 2010, the police received an anonymous phone call saying that Tim Ballard “had been accused of having a sexual relationship with several female students.” The caller gave the names of “some of the females” and “asked that something be done about it.”

The police then contacted Keith Brickell, the senior pastor of Sylvan Hills First Baptist Church, and Russell Eudy, the superintendent of Abundant Life School.

Pastor Brickell said that, on February 24th, superintendent Eudy told him about getting an email from a former student who “gave details to events ranging from her seventh grade year up to her senior year.” The email was sent on February 21st.

Both Brickell and Eudy told police that “this was not the first time they received a complaint against Ballard about inappropriate behavior with a female student.”

“Eudy stated the first was made eleven years ago and the most recent was made in September 2009.”

Eleven years ago!

From the statement in the police report, it is apparent that, in addition to the eleven-year-old report, Eudy knew about at least one more report that was made in September 2009.

Then he received this report on February 21, 2010.

And these are just the ones that are shown on the face of an initial 3-paragraph police report.

How much more did superintendent Russell Eudy and pastor Keith Brickell know? And why didn’t they go to the police with their information?

Even after Eudy and Brickell received the February 21st report, there would probably still be no criminal investigation if it hadn’t been for the anonymous phone call. After all, it was the police who contacted Brickell and Eudy, not vice-versa.

And without a criminal investigation, Ballard could have easily shuffled on to some other school in Baptistland. Who would have stopped him?

Police now say that, since Ballard’s arrest, several more have come forward with similar allegations.

How many more may have been wounded during the past eleven years?

According to its website, Abundant Life School has 465 students. Why wasn’t the safety of those kids the top priority for pastor Brickell and superintendent Eudy? Why didn’t they go to the police with their information?

Maybe part of the answer lies in the “no big deal” attitude that we’ve seen displayed in so many other Baptist clergy abuse cases.

Remember the boys of Benton?

In the Little Rock area, First Baptist Church of Benton is just up the road from Sylvan Hills First Baptist and Abundant Life School. Benton is just one example, but because it’s so close, I can’t help but think about the parallels.

First Baptist of Benton harbored a music minister who turned out to be a 20-year serial child sex predator with scores of victims. Nevertheless, six months ago, when he was finally convicted, some of Benton’s most powerful citizens wrote letters urging leniency for the minister.

Among those who urged no prison time was Greg Kirksey, a former 2-term president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.

In fact, Greg Kirksey was president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention eleven years ago, during the time that superintendent Russell Eudy says the first complaint was made against Tim Ballard.

Now let me be very clear . . . I am NOT saying that Greg Kirksey knew anything at all about Tim Ballard.

What I’m saying is that, when it comes to clergy sex abuse, there is a dismissive attitude displayed in Baptist life, and it goes to the highest levels, and the example set by Greg Kirksey in the Benton case is illustrative.

Imagine that, eleven years ago, Russell Eudy or some other leader at Sylvan Hills First Baptist may have been troubled by the complaint about Tim Ballard’s “inappropriate behavior with a female student.” What if he had turned to state denominational leadership, looking for guidance?

Given that, just 6 months ago, Greg Kirksey was still so clueless that he urged no prison time for a serial child sex predator, what sort of guidance do you think he would have given eleven years ago when he was president of the state convention?

Given that, just 6 months ago, Greg Kirksey set an example of urging no prison time for a serial child sex predator, why should we be surprised to learn that someone like Russell Eudy didn’t think it important to go to the police with a molestation report?

Given that, just 6 months ago, Greg Kirksey urged no prison time for a serial child sex predator, why should we think much has changed in Baptist leaders' "no big deal" attitude since eleven years ago?

Update: Police say “there could be 10 to 12 other victims.”


Anonymous said...

The correct date are:
2/21 Eudy received email
2/24 Eudy was places on leave "with pay"
3/1 A guy called Sherwood Police and reported that Ballard was put on leave and gave them the scoop.

Eudy and Ballard are "buddies"

Brickell has not been there that long.

AS MANDATED REPORTERS why are they not in trouble for not reporting to police?

Anonymous said...

Correction to the previous said correction according to the police reports/news:
(I'm pretty sure that the previous statement just contained a typo and that they already know what /i will type... but just didn't realize that there was a typo in what they wrote.)
2/21 Email was sent to Eudy

2/24 Eudy reported that this is the date which he received the email AND reported it to the school board and Brickell... who held the school board meeting which placed BALLARD on administrative leave with pay (not Eudy... Eudy is still there... Tim Ballard was placed on leave). It was also reported that Eudy and Brickell tried to place a report to Child Protective Services, however they would not take the report because the person who had sent the email was now over 18 years of age.

3/1 An anonymous caller reported suspicions to Sherwood Police.

I just think that Ballard should be the one we are mostly concerned about, not Eudy or Brickell. Both are good men who were put in a horrible situation (in my opinion also victims of the Ballard situation). Maybe they did not make the BEST decisions when it came to taking action, but at least they took action. So many people are saying that "I saw all the signs there and knew all along." Well why did they never say anything? Because it was so hard to believe because he had everyone so fooled. I just really hope that Russell Eudy and Pastor Brickell are not victimized by Ballard's actions... enough people already have been.
One more thing... Eudy and Brickell were honest. The did not HAVE to tell the police about tha allegations made 11 years ago, but they did. They recognized their mistake and manned up to it, to bring about justice. (Unlike Ballard who is still pleading "not-guilty").

We should learn from this that more training and information should be given to ALL mandated reporters- not just those working in public schools or hospitals.

Christa Brown said...

"AS MANDATED REPORTERS why are they not in trouble for not reporting to police?

According to a news report, "as part of the investigation, police are looking into why the school did not come forward with information before."

Obviously, they should have gone to the police much, much sooner. Eleven years ago! But the laws on failure to report are seldom enforced, and even when police conclude someone violated the law, they're seldom punished.

Of course, just because the police let people off the hook for criminal penalties doesn't mean that churches and schools should keep people like that in leadership. For the school to keep Eudy in leadership sends a giant billboard-size message of "No big deal."

According to the church website, Brickell has been there since July 2006 - so about 3 1/2 years - long enough that he too should have done something. And he told the police that it was not the first time he had received a complaint. So he too should be held accountable, at least by the church. With multiple complaints against Ballard, shouldn't parents have been allowed to decide for themselves about where and with whom they trust their kids? Brickell should have told people.

To Anon 12:20 - The reason child predators can get away with repeated crimes against kids is because so many others turn a blind eye. That's the well-known pattern. Eudy and Brickell were men in leadership positions. They bore responsibility and they should be held accountable. Leaders are not "victimized" when they are held accountable.

And as for your statement that "they did not HAVE to tell the police...", you're wrong. Yes they did. To make a false statement to the police is also a crime. So if they had lied when the police interviewed them, that would have been an additional wrong. And let's not forget . . . it was the police who went to THEM, not vice-versa. We have reason to think that they would STILL swept this under the rug (and perhaps allowed Ballard to quietly move on to some other school) but for the fact of an anonymous caller who triggered the police investigation.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." I don't doubt that Eudy and Brickell are probably "good men," but they should still be held accountable.

Anonymous said...

I can tell that you are not a part of this school, so I respect your opinion. I agree about Brickell but Eudy is a different story. Although I think he is a great man, I really do. He made bad choices, over and over. To see what is happening now, I can understand why it was easier for him not to believe reports and his own suspicions. He didn't want the school known for this. Future parents when they research this school will now see all this. So again, he chose the reputation of the school over protecting his students. But make no mistake, EUDY should and I believe will be held accountable for his actions. I would hope the school would ask for his resignation. I mean come on...11 YEARS AGO!!!!!

Anonymous said...

My message above was to the other "Anonymous".

Christa Brown, bravo to you!

What a wonderful thing you do!

There is a facebook group you might be interested in. Search "Coach Tim Ballard Stories"

Christa Brown said...

"...he chose the reputation of the school over protecting his students."

Exactly! And it's because of men like that -- men who choose protecting image over protecting kids -- that so many kids wind up being molested and raped by men they trusted completely.

I think both Eudy and Brickell should be held accountable. Brickell was senior pastor. He was the shepherd of this flock. And look what he did ... he kept a wolf among the lambs.

Anonymous said...

There has to be more than is being reported. I have seen Dr. Eudy with the kids. I can't believe a student came to him and said they were being abused and he ignored it. We don't know what these earlier "reports" were. But I do know that we wouldn't even know about them if Dr. Eudy hadn't told us.

Christa Brown said...

Anon 11:04 - Open your eyes. According to the police report, both Brickell and Eudy told them about prior complaints involving "inappropriate behavior with a female student." So yes, you do know what those reports were about.

Can you imagine how that student who reported it 11 years ago felt? When she mustered all her courage to talk about it, and then nothing was done?

I don't know who you are, Anon, or what you yourself may have known. (Are you on the school's board of directors?) But the reason parents and people in the pews learned about this isn't because Eudy voluntarily chose to tell them. It's because a police investigation was already initiated . . . and at that point, church and school officials had to have known that it was only a matter of time before a reporter would see the police report, and that it would only get worse as the investigation continued. Once the investigation was underway, it was virtually inevitable that people would have found out soon anyway. So no one should credit Eudy or Brickell with any great thing for speaking up at that point. Remember . . . it was the police who contacted THEM, not vice-versa.

Anonymous said...

All I am saying is that a "report" could have been something like:

My cousin's uncle's brother said he heard Dick and Jane were doing so&so. When Dick and Jane were asked they both denied the accusation was true.

These girls, bless their hearts, had to feel very ashamed. Do you think if they had the courage to tell the highest rank in their school that they would have had the courage to tell their own parents. Parents that I'm sure would have had not covered it up!

All I am saying is we DON'T KNOW what was in these "reports".

Anonymous said...

Let me add...

No I am not on the school board. I'm am a parent of a 18 year boy who attended this school the better part of his life. We all heard the rumors which I believe might be being called reports. Yes, shame on me for not listening better to what I was hearing. If it turns out I am wrong about this too, I will be the first to admit it. But until there is proof that Eudy knew, I choose to believe that EUDY only heard the same unvalidated rumors as everyone else.

Don't try to tell the people that were right there that their thoughts are not valid. I have seen Eudy personally put the welfare of my son above anything else.

I believe in God, I do not believe in religion.

Christa Brown said...

Anon: Open your eyes and educate yourself. And if you're so confident of what you say, why don't you use your name?

Based on what you've said here, I believe Eudy could admit it to your face and you would likely find ways to minimize and dismiss it. He did admit it to the police, and you find ways to minimize it.

Most kids who experience this don't tell their parents about it, at least not at the time. That's not what always happens, but it's the usual pattern.

And often, far too often, even when kids do tentatively attempt to tell their parents, the parents also find mental ways to dismiss and minimize what they're hearing... to believe that the kid must be exaggerating or to believe that the kid must have surely misunderstood or misinterpreted the actions or all sorts of things. It's an extremely common reaction. Why? Because the parents also are trusting of authority figures, particularly religious authority figures, and because they don't want to believe the worst, and because it's easier, etc., etc. These are very common patterns, and even good people fall into them. It's why it's so important that reports of conduct that would constitute abuse should always be considered and assessed by outsiders. But eleven years ago, Eudy didn't give outsiders such as the police that opportunity. And so eleven more years worth of kids were put at risk.

Christa Brown said...

And one more thing ...
What's really sad here is that you flat-out acknowledge that "everyone else" heard these "rumors" -- i.e., what you minimize as "rumors." Yet, even though "everyone else" heard about it, no one had the gumption to seriously look into it and report it to the police and let trained professionals assess it. "Everyone else."

Can you imagine how some of those kids feel? "Everyone else" refused to see. Their whole faith community betrayed the well-being of the kids rather than opening their eyes to something that they didn't want to see.

Christa Brown said...

And one more thing ...
"These girls" don't need people like you to say "bless their hearts." Big whoop.

What they needed in the past, and still need in the future, are responsible adults who will have the courage and gumption to take action in the face of ugly allegations. They need people who will care more about the safety and well-being of kids than about anything else. So far, that's not what they got there in your community.

Anonymous said...

Unlike you, I am not saying I am right, I'm saying WE do not KNOW.
(although I think you might know everything)

Unlike you, I feel everybody has the right to their opinion, and I respect that, even yours.

You seem to be somebody who thinks that anybody who does not agree with you is wrong.

As for as my name, I could list that, half the girls names, and several witnesses names. But once again, I have too much respect and admiration for the people involved to do that.

I do appreciate the cause you support however this is a problem everywhere, not just with the Baptist.

I'm done here, have a good day.

Christa Brown said...

And one more thing, Anon:
You might notice that the police took action based on nothing more than an anonymous phone call. Meanwhile, you're still making excuses for Eudy on the basis that it was just "unvalidated rumors."

The police are the ones who should have been allowed to sort out whether there was any validation or substantiation for the information. Not Eudy. Not you. And not "everyone else" who apparently also had information.

Anonymous said...


All I said was "WE DO NOT KNOW" what the earlier reports were.

I am quiet aware of all the dates and what led police to the school.

I know that police should have been contacted on the 21st,immediately after the email was received.

But what you keep arguing with me about is the fact that I said WE DO NOT KNOW what the earlier reports were. And we don't...

Christa Brown said...

You know what the police say they were. But no one can open your eyes for you.

Furthermore, what kids need are adults who have the gumption to take action even when they don't KNOW. If adults wait for certainty - and wait until they feel like they KNOW - then they often wind up leaving kids at risk. In circumstances like this, it's important to take action even when you don't KNOW. The police should have been allowed to sort it out.

Anonymous said...

Anoymous, if you know so much then start naming the names. You don't know squat and I bet you are part of the school trying to cover up and do damage control. Either put up or shut up!

ALS Parent said...

Well if you don't like the other parent you won't like my comment. I have 2 children in Abundant Life and with Coach Ballard gone, I would not even consider removing them until I know the facts.
And most of the older kids do know the names of those involved. The high school is very very very small.

With that said, I have to say I have read many articles and comments on those articles. This is the only time I have seen the comments attacked by the author. Very unprofessional.

Anonymous said...

ALS Parent,
Comments like yours and some of the Anonymous ones are a good example of why someone like Ballard was able to keep doing what he was doing for so long.

If you're not even considering removing your children from that school, here's what I have to say to you - "Very unparental."

Joel said...

Rumor has it that Abundant Life and Mr. Ballard are receiving several large donations for legal fees. Maybe this is a bigger cover up than anyone could have imagined.

Anonymous said...

I have a question...

Is it not customary for children of accused sex offenders to be removed from the home pending investigation? Or better for the children maybe the accused leave. I read somewhere he had 3 daughters attending that school, and was not paying tuition for any of them.

Christa Brown said...

"Rumor has it that Abundant Life and Mr. Ballard are receiving several large donations for legal fees."

Well... I certainly wouldn't be surprised if this is true. It's a pattern we've seen in other cases. There is often immediate financial assistance and emotional support for the accused, but seldom any help at all for the victims. Even AFTER ministers are criminally convicted, it's not as if anyone connected to the church or denomination offers to help the wounded with counseling costs. And they sure as heck don't make any sort of outreach effort to try to find and help others who may have been wounded. How many do you think there may have been there at Abundant Life during the past 11 years?

Anonymous said...

How many? My guess is at least a dozen and probably more, and they knew about a lot.

And to think people paid good money to send their children to ALS, believing it would be safer and better than a public school. A public school superintendant would be gone fast with a scandal like this.

Junkster said...

I just now read the comments on this post, and I have to ask -- do you wear a wig? I can't imagine how you haven't pulled all your hair out from constantly dealing with the blindness you encounter all the time.

You have repeatedly said that one of the reasons an independent review board is needed to assess allegations of abuse is that the members of a church, when faced with these situations, have a natural human tendency to side with their leadership and their institution. The comments here attempting to defend the indefensible are classic examples of this tendency.

People simply can't face the fact that those they know and trust are capable of monstrosity, and even when it is plain for all to see, they can't accept that their leaders would not immediately act to right a wrong. Yet, all the while, they themselves may know about or suspect there is a problem, and do nothing themselves. It is utterly shameful.

I do not know how you endure the frustration of dealing with this over and over.

God bless you and your work.

Anonymous said...

Gotta love this comment on the Associated Baptist Press site"

Let's be fair
written by Slick, March 24, 2010
"An alligation is not a conviction. Let the investigation proceed and a trial if warrented. If the evidence is there, prove it in court. An alligation absent substantiation is not proof of guilt."

Anonymous said...

It is truly amazing how far 'adults' will go to excuse their own blindness when it comes to protecting kids!

Hint: Err on the side of complete safety. Dog every rumor and don't shoot the victim because it cannot be proved right away. And don't treat the alledged victim as a criminal in the meantime!

This problem is becoming pervasive in Christendom. WAKE UP. Amazing how the secular world gets this but "Christians" don't.

Anonymous said...

"People simply can't face the fact that those they know and trust are capable of monstrosity, and even when it is plain for all to see, they can't accept that their leaders would not immediately act to right a wrong."

Maybe some of these adults commenting here don't think this sort of sexual perversion with teens or kids is a big deal. Ever think of that?

Or perhaps they cannot believe something until they see it first hand. (Sexual predators love this part)

I mean, why care about the kids future? You might ruin a man's future.

Chuck P said...

Christa, great work and God bless you for your devotion to getting the truth out!

Christa Brown said...

"If the evidence is there, prove it in court."

Slick's comment embodies the Baptist way on this. Until a Baptist minister or Baptist leader is criminally convicted and put in prison, he can stand in a Baptist pulpit and work in Baptist schools. No one in denominational leadership is going to stop him. No one will even warn people in the pews. It is a terribly, terribly lax standard.

And I know some of you are probably sitting there thinking "But isn't that the American way - innocent until proven guilty?" The answer is "no." It's not the American way. And it's not the Christian way. "Innocent until proven guilty" is a criminal law presumption intended for application when the decision is whether a man should have all liberty taken away and be put in prison. It's NOT a standard for whether a man should be able to continue as a minister or a teacher. Except that, in Baptistland, as a de facto matter, it actually IS the standard.

Chuck P: Welcome to the blog!

Anonymous said...

Slick apparently attends Abundant Life. Your spelling and English are terrible. Go figure.

Christa Brown said...

"I'm more than a little bit concerned about whether it was adequately addressed or appropriately addressed over the years," says prosecutor.

Chuck P said...

Oddly enough, the Coach B stories page appears to have vanished from Facebook...?

Post NotShowing UP said...

They shut the page down because it was "reported", wonder by who?? LOL They got me on a technicality, i had it as a business and not a group. I have been reporting the "we miss coach Ballard" and "join if you want coach Ballard back" but they are still there listed as a business.

Here is a link to the new page, invite all your friends!

Chuck P said...

I'm glad to see the new facebook page. I figured that someone in the local area felt threatened by Free Speech... ;)

Anonymous said...


OMNIBUS HEARING set for 10/07/2010 at 09:30 AM in CIRCUIT COURTROOM 420, 1ST DIVISION

JURY TRIAL set for 10/27/2010 at 09:30 AM in same court room.

Mr. Alexander will postpone as long as he can!

A Former Student said...

Look, I was a student there 15 years ago. Coach B was fairly new in his career there. And, for all you people saying, "Oh, he was a good man" or "He's innocent until...," allow me to set the record straight:

1. He had "special" girls then. He used to have them (these were 8th-graders) sit on his lap during PE. He'd tickle them and put his hands all over.

2. He taught my health class, as well as PE. He took off his shirt during class to "exhibit" the muscle groups; at the time, he was very muscular. Then he flexed for his "special" girls while they giggled. It was inappropriate, at best.

I was innocent and young. I didn't really understand all the implications of what he was doing.

We did try to talk to the administration. Yes, that would be Eudy & Co. We were told that we were "rebellious" and "not submitting to the authorities placed over us." And, if we continued, we'd land in detention. So, many of us girls avoided "Cotch" because he was creepy.

And, as I said, this was 15 years ago.