Inside the Investigation into Child Sexual Abuse at Sovereign Grace Ministries

February 18, 2016 Comments Off on Inside the Investigation into Child Sexual Abuse at Sovereign Grace Ministries

Inside the Investigation into Child Sexual Abuse at Sovereign Grace Ministries 
Elizabeth Dias  Feb. 16, 2016

How one reporter investigated child sex abuse at a major evangelical church

The February issue of Washingtonian Magazine featured an exposé of long-buried sexual abuse of children in a prominent evangelical church network, Sovereign Grace Ministries. Freelance journalist Tiffany Stanley, a 2015 National Magazine Award finalist, spent 10 months uncovering reports of child rape and molestation in Sovereign Grace churches over the last three decades, particularly at the then-flagship Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Her investigation, “The Sex Scandal that Devastated a Suburban Megachurch,” chronicles the inside story of crimes against children in D.C.-area Sovereign Grace churches, explores how church leaders including founder C.J. Mahaney did and did not respond, and recounts how victims’ mothers joined forces to seek justice.

Unlike the hierarchical Catholic Church, evangelical churches often function independently. But their influence is widespread—as Stanley points out, Wayne Grudem, an evangelical theologian at Phoenix Seminary, once described Sovereign Grace Ministries “as an example of the way churches ought to work….

In response to the Washingtonian investigation, executive director of Sovereign Grace Churches Mark Prater pointed TIME to a lengthy statement he made in 2014 denying that Sovereign Grace leaders “conspired to cover up” sexual abuse. “Yes, we have been the target of misinformed critique in both the secular and Christian media, and more will likely come,” he stated. “I pray that God gives us all grace to respond wisely and biblically. But regardless of the public discourse, we are strongly committed to ensuring a safe environment for the children in our churches….

(Tiffany Stanley) The Catholic Church has been taken to task over abuse for decades now. Evangelical ministries are now facing their own abuse crises. In the media, we’re hearing more about these stories. Some of these allegations confront abuse that is decades old. From just the past year, I’m thinking of reports about Josh Duggar of 19 Kids and Counting and Bill Gothard, a Christian homeschooling advocate. I’m also thinking about Buzzfeed’s recent story on Jesus People USA and Kiera Feldman’s 2012 investigation of abuse in a Tulsa megachurch. (Of course, other religions are not immune from sexual abuse scandals either.)

The sad reality is that sexual abuse is widespread everywhere, not just in religious communities. The statistics I saw were one-in-four girls and one-in-six boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18. The experts I spoke to didn’t say these statistics are worse in evangelical churches, but they did say that abusers could prey on trusting religious communities, which give them access to children. That’s why churches need policies in place to protect children and handle abuse when it happens. That means reporting suspected abuse to authorities immediately, instead of handling it internally. Abuse is a sin, but it’s also a serious crime….
http://time.com/4226444/child-sex-abuse-evangelical-church/

100,000 people (est) sterilized in the US, Bishop Waited Months to Report Priest

August 17, 2011 Comments Off on 100,000 people (est) sterilized in the US, Bishop Waited Months to Report Priest

North Carolina Eugenics Board Victims Fight For Justice (VIDEO)  By ALLEN G. BREED   08/15/11 WINFALL, N.C….

This most recent appearance in late June was before the Governor’s Task Force to Determine the Method of Compensation for Victims of North Carolina’s Eugenics Board….

Between 1929 and 1974, North Carolina sterilized more than 7,600 individuals in the name of “improving” the state’s human stock. By the time the program was halted, the majority of those neutered were young, black, poor women….

The word “eugenics” comes from the Greek for “well-born.”

By the early 20th century, most U.S. states had eugenics programs, and more than 30 enacted laws mandating surgical sterilization for certain individuals. It is estimated that as many as 100,000 people were sterilized in the country before the practice was discredited…. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/15/eugenics-victims-north-carolina_n_927065.html

Bishop in Missouri Waited Months to Report Priest, Stirring Parishioners’ Rage By LAURIE GOODSTEIN  August 14, 2011

In the annals of the sexual abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church, most of the cases that have come to light happened years before to children and teenagers who have long since grown into adults.

But a painfully fresh case is devastating Catholics in Kansas City, Mo., where a priest, who was arrested in May, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of taking indecent photographs of young girls, most recently during an Easter egg hunt just four months ago.

Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph has acknowledged that he knew of the existence of photographs last December but did not turn them over to the police until May….

Stoking much of the anger is the fact that only three years ago, Bishop Finn settled lawsuits with 47 plaintiffs in sexual abuse cases for $10 million and agreed to a long list of preventive measures, among them to immediately report anyone suspected of being a pedophile to law enforcement authorities….

A civil lawsuit filed last week claims that during those five months, the priest, the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, attended children’s birthday parties, spent weekends in the homes of parish families, hosted the Easter egg hunt and presided, with the bishop’s permission, at a girl’s First Communion….

The diocese was first warned about Father Ratigan’s inappropriate interest in young girls as far back as 2006, according to accusations in the civil lawsuit filed Thursday. But there were also more recent warnings.

In May 2010, the principal of a Catholic elementary school where Father Ratigan worked hand-delivered a letter to the vicar general reporting specific episodes that had raised alarms: the priest put a girl on his lap during a bus ride and allowed children to reach into his pants pockets for candy. When a Brownie troop visited Father Ratigan’s house, a parent reported finding a pair of girl’s panties in a planter, the letter said….

A federal grand jury last Tuesday charged Father Ratigan with 13 counts of possessing, producing and attempting to produce child pornography. It accused him of taking lewd pictures of the genitalia of five girls ages 2 to 12, sometimes while they slept. If convicted, he would face a minimum of 15 years in prison.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/15/us/15bishop.html

Bishops Won’t Focus on Abuse Policies
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
June 14, 2011….

In the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Bishop Robert W. Finn admitted last month that he allowed a priest who had taken pornographic pictures of parish girls to continue celebrating Mass and having access to children.

Bishop Finn also acknowledged he did not read a letter sent to his office a year earlier by a Catholic school principal warning that parents, teachers and staff members suspected that the priest, the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, was a child molester. Father Ratigan was arrested on May 19 on child pornography charges.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/15/us/15bishops.html

 

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