Monday, January 3, 2011

What if it had been her own kid?

That’s Sue and Tommy Gilmore in the photo. This is an update to yesterday’s post.

Take a good look at that woman: Sue Gilmore.

As a young church girl, I was made to apologize to her. And I did.

That’s right. Her husband, minister Tommy Gilmore, sexually abused me, repeatedly and severely, but in the end, I was the one who apologized. I stood there in front of Sue Gilmore in her husband’s office at the church, and I flat-out blubbered. I literally begged her to forgive me for what I had done.

“It was all my fault,” I said. That was what he had instructed me to say. And so I said it.

As a kid, I actually believed it.

But she was a grown adult. She was a mother. What in the world was she thinking?

She stood there stone cold. She glared at me and said only four words: “I’ll pray for you.”

And I just kept blubbering.

That pathetic image of my adolescent self is seared in my brain . . . along with so many other dreadful images. And all of them arrive with a soundtrack of Bible verses and religious chicanery.

That woman – Sue Gilmore – has a son and daughter of her own. If some minister had done to her own daughter what her husband did to me, what would Sue Gilmore have said then? I wonder.

Tommy Gilmore should have been criminally prosecuted. But because so many other so-called good Christians covered for him – other Baptist ministers and even his wife – he wasn’t. She herself was part of the cover-up.

The reason the two of them are spaced far apart in that photo is because I cropped out one of their grand-kids who was seated between them. So that raised another question in my mind. What if some minister sexually abused one of Sue Gilmore’s grand-kids in the way that her husband did me? What would Sue say then?

Thanks to the person who directed me to this more current photo; thanks to the person who provided the info about Gilmore being shown on TV at FBC-Orlando; and thanks to all of you for your thoughts. The psychic pit of rot that is the residue of clergy sex abuse never really totally goes away, does it? But we carry on. We survive. And sometimes we even thrive. Now if I can just claw myself back out of this pit, I know the sunshine will stifle the stench.


Jim said...

I hope Sue keeps a close watch on her granddaughter and does not allow her to be alone with Gilmore. Child molesters do not recognize family boundaries. Just ask Paul Williams' son.

Wendy said...

This literally makes me nauseated. Reading about how Christa had to APOLOGIZE to Gilmore's wife leaves knots in my stomach. I feel so much sadness and pain for that young girl who was forced to say SHE was sorry for being raped.

As a mother of four children, I cannot understand it. Mothers are supposed to have a heart for children. Their love, care, compassion, and nurturing should extend to all children, not just those they birthed. I can't comprehend the thought of watching a teenage girl apologize to ME for crimes my husband perpetrated against her. My heart would break into.

People say you don't know what you'd do until you walk in someone's shoes. Make no mistake, if I'd walked in Sue Gilmore's shoes, I would have picked up the phone and called the police, taken Christa to the police station myself, and paid for her counseling. I would have spent the rest of my life trying to make amends to her, if she'd let me.

Unfortunately, it wouldn't surprise me at all, if Gilmore has sexually abused and sexually harassed family members. I'm sure he's left a trail of victims in his predatory path.

Debbie said...

You can be sure he has already molested his granddaughter/or will. They NEVER stop. If he has a daughter, she was most likely his victim too. Wives are the worst.....they side with the husband in most cases. They are sick people as well.
Christa, I am so sorry no one believed you when you were young. But keep telling people, someone will eventually believe you and do something about it. The Lord knows the truth and HE will see to it. He is a Shield around about you and the glory and lifter of your head.
This so called pastor will pay for his deeds, you can count on it.

Christa Brown said...

Many thanks for your supportive thoughts and words. However, I want to be very clear about something -- they DID believe me and that's what makes their refusal to do anything about it all the more troubling. They believed me. They just didn't think it mattered.

At the church of my childhood, they believed me . . . and they also believed him. He himself had already made self-incriminating statements, like telling another minister that he was afraid a member of the congregation had seen him in "a compromising position" with me. The fact that they believed it is why they insisted he leave their church . . . and why they told me not to talk about it. They got him off their own premises, but then they simply allowed him to move on to a bigger and more prestigious church, and they watched his career grow and grow while he continued to work as a children's minister . . . and they did nothing to protect others. But it wasn't because they didn't believe me. It was because they didn't think it mattered enough to bother with protecting others or because they were flat-out cowards (and because Baptists have no system in place that facilitates warning other churches).

In my adulthood, when I again tried to deal with it, I have every reason to think that Baptist church and denominational leaders believed me all over again. After all, the Baptist General Convention of Texas put his name in their secret file of ministers who have been reported for sexual abuse BY CHURCH OFFICIALS. In other words, he was in that file, not merely because of what I said (indeed, they don't really care about what victims say) but because a report had been made by church officials (either from my childhood church or some other church) or because he himself had confessed to it. So again . . . they believed it . . . they just didn't think it was important enough to warn people in the pews. They simply kept his name in a closed file cabinet.

I always thought the most troubling part in all of it was the realization that they believed me -- they knew what I was saying was true -- but they just didn't think it mattered. Make no mistake about it -- there are MANY Baptist officials who know that there are Baptist ministers who molest and rape kids -- and they understand full-well the porous unaccountable system that allows such ministers to church-hop to new prey -- but they just don't care. They don't care enough to do anything about it.

Wendy said...

"A cult is a religious perversion (that) distorts the biblical word of God by perverting the truth into a lie." -Ben Alexander

Tommy Gilmore perverted the truth into a lie, as have countless other Baptist clergy predators. Even worse, Baptist officials colluded, harbored, excused, defended, and covered it up. Baptist churches and officials are notorious for standing by their predators.

Baptists are a cult, if there ever was one. I, for one, will never be part of their cult again.

Anonymous said...

His wife is older now and surely must see how she's protected a monster. Even with all the indoctrinaton of the Baptist cult under her belt, older women are not stupid. They were once young girls and know how much power an older man could have over a young girl. But they can choose the powerful man over having to sacrifice what they thought they had to protect that innocent girl and others he will come to possibly influence.

At some point, they are no longer another victim of his. They are in cahoots. If he did go on to hurt others, she surely helped make that possible.

As for church leaders who find themselves in a similar situation as what happened to you at your childhood church-do you know of any where a pastor tried to keep track of an abuser and actually made phone calls or something to try to warn other churches?

Wendy said...

Either Sue Gilmore is in denial or she accepts her husband's sexual abuse of women and children. Either way, she's making a choice.

People in denial make a choice to stay there. Denial doesn't excuse her from blaming her husband's victims and covering up the abuse.

Regardless of her reasons, she'll be held responsible - for not intervening when she discovered her husband had raped a girl in their church; for not going to law enforcement and church officials to ensure that other children and congregants would never be exposed to her predator husband; and for not protecting her own flesh and blood.

In the field I work in, we call these people "co-perpetrators". Ultimately, they end up doing as much, if not more, harm.

XaurreauX said...

I was speaking to a psychiatrist friend of mine some time ago about the phenomenon of child predators in positions of authority brainwashing their victims into thinking that the abuse is the victim's fault. She said that this is standard operating procedure for predators.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps they have been sexually abused...ever think of that? And she is an enabler.

Wendy said...

Sure, I've thought of that. If that's the case, I would have compassion for Sue Gilmore for that particular reason ONLY.

But being sexually abused herself wouldn't EXCUSE her for sitting there glaring at 16-year old Christa Brown, while Christa apologized to HER for being raped by HER husband. It wouldn't excuse her for allowing her husband to advance his career in other prominent churches, where he worked with (and probably abused) countless other women and children.

As a matter of fact, I would hold a victim of sexual abuse MORE accountable. They know precisely the damage it does.

Jim said...

Christa, did you hear that David Tolliver, Executive Director of the Missouri Baptist Convention resigned yesterday "due to immoral behavior with a woman." It was reported in the Associated Baptist Press today. Interestingly, it was also posted in the Baptist Press (SBC press), but not as a headline story. I found it strange that the two articles between which it was sandwiched, featured pictures of the story subjects, while the article about Tolliver's resignation was text only. Wonder if that has anything to do with Frank Page (SBC CEO) making Baptist Press part of the SBC Public Relations and Marketing department. It's hard to print the news when your first job is making the organization look good.

Christa Brown said...

Thanks for the news, Jim. I had missed that story on David Tolliver. Here's the ABP article on it.

And as for the Baptist Press . . . my impression is that it has LONG been little more than a public relations tool for the big-dogs of the SBC, including the Executive Committee. I often wonder how a lot of those hard-working people in the pews would feel if they realized how much of the offering plate dollars they give to God actually go toward funding what amounts to little more than a public relations tool for the promotion and propaganda of the big-dogs. In my opinion, even calling it a "press" does disservice to the word.

David said...

Regarding wives. The wives always know, no exceptions. Even when the husband has a secret dungeon in the woods, they know.

They also help, protect and facilitate. They bring children to their pedophile husbands the same way a mother bird brings worms to the chicks.

Anonymous said...

When I get smart enough to use my google acount I'll contact you...

I just learned of this site today and I'm so grateful.... also a victim and been searching help and relief.... I'm so glad I found you!