Thursday, November 7, 2013

Kudos to Boulder law enforcement!

Robert Phillip "Bob" Young
This week in Boulder, Colorado, police served summons on two pastors and two elders at an independent evangelical church after an “investigation revealed the officials failed to report a youth pastor” who allegedly sexually assaulted a child. “A fifth church official, who is currently out of the country, will be served a summons when he returns to Colorado.”

Luke Michael Humbrecht
Five grown men -- all of them leaders at the Vinelife Church -- and according to police, not one of them chose to do the right thing when one of their clergy colleagues was accused of child sex abuse. In fact, police point to evidence that the youth pastor had “repeatedly confessed” to the church officials, and investigators believe the five church officials “knew about the crime.” Yet, they failed to report it.

Those church officials who now face charges are:

Edward Charles Bennell
• Robert Phillip ("Bob") Young, executive pastor
• Luke Michael Humbrecht, pastor
• Edward Charles Bennell, elder
• Warren Lloyd Williams, elder

Warren Lloyd Williams
Police say they will release the identity of the fifth church official at the time he receives the summons. However, 9-News reported that the accused youth pastor, who now faces six felony charges, is the son of one of the church’s senior pastors. The accused youth pastor is named Jason Allen Roberson, and the church's website shows that its senior pastor is named Walt Roberson. A photo gallery of senior pastor Walt Roberson along with the rest of Vinelife’s staff is here.

Jason Allen Roberson
(Boulder County Sheriff's Office)
According to news reports, the abuse began when the girl was fifteen. She is now 23. As reported by 9-News, when she reported the abuse to church officials, “the church launched their own investigation and made Roberson go through counseling before returning him to his position as youth pastor.”

In other words, it’s still another case of a church that tried to handle clergy abuse allegations internally without involving outsiders. It's a recipe for disaster that leaves kids at risk of terrible harm. As we’ve seen far too often, “without outsiders, you get cover-ups and cronyism.”

Because it was apparent that the church was going to continue to allow Roberson to have access to kids, and because she feared the church was not taking the matter seriously, the victim finally went to police. Thank goodness she did.

And thank goodness for Boulder law enforcement. “Duty to report” laws are on the books all over the country, but they seldom get enforced. Kudos to Boulder police for going after, not only the accused perpetrator, but also the many other church officials who knew and kept quiet.