Thursday, June 26, 2008
Click here and read article.
You'll notice the 'Rev. Darrell Gilyard' is mentioned as one of his illustrious clients, as are some players from the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Bob Gray's name is notably absent.
If you'd like to see a movie about a lawyer who used to practice in Jacksonville, be sure to check out The Devil's Advocate.
Keanu Reeve's character, Kevin Lomax, tells Al Pacino's character, John Milton, that he used to work for the Duval County prosecution.
How did he get so good? Outside of being the son of the devil, Lomax used to eavesdrop on jury deliberations through a hole in the jury deliberation chamber.
Ironically enough, it begins and ends with a teacher on trial for child molestation.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
TBC's wikipedia survived without mention of the Gray incident, until recently.
Here's their current wikipedia:
Trinity Baptist College.
It does contain an inaccuracy that will probably be corrected, or result in it's getting pulled.
"In 1992, in order to cover up for Bob Gray, the church voted Thomas Messer to be the senior pastor of the church and later the president of the college."
Tom Messer was actually chosen by Bob Gray. Nobody really voted on him, although there are reports of a voting fiasco between Messer and a fellow named Mike Hamm. Apparently, Hamm won the first two elections, but technicalities were called in to question that forced a third vote, and a win for Tom Messer.
The phrase 'in order to cover up for Bob Gray' is surprising considering there is not an article referenced. Let alone a court testimony, or deposition quoted. I don't expect that will stay up too long.
Your guess is as good as mine, but when the wiki entry says 'the church', is it referring to the entire church body? Or, just the small group of pastors whose vote ultimately counts. And when I say 'pastors', I'm really referring to the main pastor (Gray) and his associate (Willinger). Not even the votes of deacons count as they are strictly in an advisory role.
If wiki is referring to the entire church body, no one, except friends of victims, and those who were insiders, would have had any idea what was happening with Bob Gray. So, that would not have even been an issue when Hamm and Messer were considered as potential pastors.
If the other two cases are not thrown out, perhaps we'll hear more about how Messer became pastor in the upcoming trial?
We shall see.
Still no wiki for Bob Gray, though.
I'm not really complaining about this one! Although, there's a vast difference between two adults being arrested for violating out of date sodomy and co-habitation laws, as opposed to those arrested for child exploitation. In one sense, I'd agree with the Southern Center for Human Rights regarding out of date laws affecting adults and their private sex lives.
On the other hand, this law takes up the slack where the SBC, and various independent churches, refuse to.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
How are those organizations, separate from the SBC, supposed to keep track of criminals fleeing from the SBC? There's not exactly a media blitz regarding the SBC scandal.
It's time for federal intervention. It's time to require certain precautions in religious, or non religious, organizations that also work with children. Failure to meet those standards should result in the revoking of their tax exemption.
In the eye of most independent Baptists, and probably Southern Baptists, the idea of churches paying taxes is somehow equated with persecution. I've never understood that! I think POWs who have been tortured, or even missionaries who have truly been persecuted, can tell the difference between 'persecution' and 'inconvenience'.
Paying taxes is an inconvenience, but not persecution. Until you're waterboarded for not paying your taxes, you are not being persecuted! It also amazes me when I see young Republicans, and libertarians, freely taking advantage of federal programs they wish to cut. Don't they realize that by taking these 'handouts', regardless of their rationalizations, they have become no different than the welfare mothers they criticize?
Churches are spoiled in this country. We've given them far too much latitude, and now they twiddle their thumbs while children are being molested. I think they've made themselves impotent when it comes to social responsibility. Their theology, and rapidly changing views concerning biblical prophecy, serves only to rationalize their social impotence.
Yes, if the Southern Baptist Convention were to act on their own and create a database, that would help the SBC. There would not be any need for federal intervention if churches took the lead to police their own.
They're not. They are too addicted to politics and self interest to do anything. I believe it's a waste of time to even ask them.
We've played nice, but I would encourage activists to take this to Congress. Especially if the administration experiences radical changes after the upcoming election.
What prompted this meditation was reading this article at The World According to Bruce.
He makes some valid points with appropriate suggestions.
Honestly, what is wrong with that suggestion? I don't think you can trust the SBC, or other organizations, to police themselves. In a sense, that's what we're asking them to do. We're asking them to create a database without the threat of government intervention.
Nothing's happening. I think we can protest, send them roses, play nice, play rough, they're just not going to listen! They need to be forced by rule of law. Yes, if they did so voluntarily, there would be no need for government intervention. But the religious right has betrayed the American family at every turn. It's time to strike back with the full force of government regulation.
This is not Bruce's opinion, by the way. These are my opinions inspired by reading his article.
He mentions other things that are worth considering:
Would you believe I've pondered that one, myself? I don't even have kids, but it occurred to me that's an open invitation in organizations that have been lax with protecting children from sexual predators.
Or, how about:
I visited a Mormon church that did not believe in separating children from parents. Suffice it to say, it was a very noisy service! That said, it would be difficult for a child predator to be alone with a child in a church that refuses to separate children from their families.
Bruce brings up other good ideas worth exploring.
Click here and read the article.
Friday, June 20, 2008
The majority of the church believe him, except of course, the police who regard Pastor Virtue as a 'wolf in sheep's clothing'.
This would be a good time to visit SNAP's website. Specifically, their 21 points on how to conduct yourself if your pastor, or priest, is caught in a sex scandal.
Number fourteen is rather appropriate:
14) Support the accused priest PRIVATELY.
Calls, visits, letters, gifts, and prayers - all of these are appropriate ways to express your love and concern for the accused priest. Public displays of support, however, are not. They only intimidate others into keeping silent. In fact, it is terribly hurtful to victims to see parishioners openly rallying behind an accused priest. You may want to publicly defend a priest, collect funds for the priest's defense, and take similar steps. Please don't. Express your appreciation of the priest in a direct, quiet ways. Even if the priest is innocent, somewhere in the parish is a young girl being molested by a relative or a boy being abused by his coach or youth leader. If these children see adults they love and respect publicly rallying around accused perpetrators, they will be less likely to report their own victimization to their parents, the police, or other authorities. They will be scared into remaining silent, and their horrific pain will continue.
I think that sums it up. It would have been better had Pastor Virtue (gotta love that name!) said something like this:
"Although I am innocent of the charges, child abuse is still a major problem in this country. Abusers should be confronted and have their day in a court of law. Since I am innocent, I welcome this opportunity and I pray for those, in this church, who have history of abuse in their lives." Or, something to that effect.
Instead, we get Elmer Gantry! Church leaders have been forcibly ejected from the sanctuary. There's more drama than an episode of Dallas!
It's a pity they can't all be like Jack Graham of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. After Prestonwood's pastor, Joe Barron, was arrested in a sting, allegedly for pursuing sex with a 13 year old (actually, police officer posing as one), Graham took to the pulpit and, according to a report, 'acknowledged pain but praised God for purifying the church. He exhorted his congregation to uphold Christian standards of morality. And he even thanked reporters for their coverage'.
Pastor Virtue, by contrast, declared that members had an 'illegal meeting' and used that as an excuse to throw out a pastor, and some members, whom he believed conspired against him.
I'm pleased that Trinity Baptist Church, in Jacksonville, has not stooped to those methods. The situation is disturbing at my former church, but, as the story of Pastor Virtue demonstrates, things could be worse.
Pastor Virtue has minister forcibly removed from church.
Chief Pastor Jack Graham comments on Prestonwood situation.
SNAP's guidelines on 'What to do when your priest is accused of abuse.'
Friday, June 13, 2008
Click here to read article in context.
You know, after reading the comments made by SBC officials, I don't think they're avoiding the issue as much as others might think.
If Trinity Baptist Church were to have issued just half of the report that the SBC did, I would be amazed. That's what I'm just not getting about all the victims (or rather, those who represent them) dissing every apology offered by the Roman Catholic Church, the SBC, the Presbyterians, and other groups.
It's generally: "Too little, too late!" While the other victims who accept an apology, such as those who met with the Pope, have been described as 'a few small, cautiously-selected and highly-favorable audiences'.
Victims of clergy abuse, and child abuse, come in many stripes, and not everyone necessarily sees the same things through the same glasses. For some, it's an earth shattering event just to hear religious leaders finally admit that what we knew was truth all along.
It's understandable that SNAP does not want the hierarchy in any denomination becoming complacent regarding this issue, but I think it's more complex than that.
Let's look at what Southern Baptist leaders are saying, as represented by the quotes from the article in Ethic's Daily:
While an SBC database might seem like a good idea "on the surface," leaders said, it would be impossible to ensure that all convicted sex offenders that ever had a connection to a Baptist church would be included. Since sexual predators often migrate from one denomination to another, listing only SBC ministers would afford only partial protection.
There have been cases of predators moving, not just from one denomination to the next, but into organizations set up to fight against abuse. Think about it: if you are drawn to that illegality, what better cover could you ask for?
This is one reason why citizens are discouraged from doing their own investigations into child abuse. It mucks up the works. How do you know the difference between a citizen truly trying to fight a wrong? Or a predator seeking cover, and perhaps, some pointers?
There have been cases of police abuse against children. We don't see a lot of people storming the bastille demanding accountability there! Probably because they're afraid of getting arrested on bogus charges.
Check out this report:
POLICE SEXUAL ABUSE OF TEENAGE GIRLS.
What about Republicans? Our biggest defenders of so-called 'family values'?
Check this out:
STOP REPUBLICAN PEDOPHILIA!
That list is pretty long! It includes the late Strom Thurmond, formerly on Bob Jones University's board of directors, for having sex with a 15 year old. She eventually wrote a book about it.
It's interesting the connection between Republican pedophilia and fundamentalist ministers. One could argue the problem began when churches began linking up with political parties.
Here's a list of Democratic pedophiles, but the Republicans are still the winner when it comes to numbers:
The point is: it's everywhere!
The Southern Baptists are asking local churches to police their ranks. And they're doing so in the strongest possible language.
From SBC 'must expose' sexual predators:
Southern Baptist Executive Committee President Morris H. Chapman delivered his report moments ago, spending most of the time addressing the subject of child sexual abuse.
“One sexual predator in our midst is one too many,” he said to applause. “… We have a huge responsibility to our Lord, our nation, our church family and potential victims. Sexual predators must be stopped. They must be on notice that Southern Baptists are not a harvest field for their devious deeds.”
Sexual abuse, Chapman said, “is a growing crisis in our nation.” Southern Baptist churches, he said, “must be on watch and take immediate action”
The denomination, he said, must not turn a “blind eye” to the issue and must state categorically that child sexual offenders “will … not find refuge in our churches.” Ministers caught in such a sin and crime “must understand they will not ever be allowed to minister in Jesus’ name” and will be reported to local authorities, Chapman said.
“We must expose them,” he said.
“Never let it be said that we are anemic in the fight against sexual abuse. To say so is a false accusation,” he said.
“We must never rid ourselves of the problem” by knowingly allowing an employee to go to another church, Chapman said.
How are they to do this?
Southern Baptist churches should take to provide the highest degree of protection against sexual predators, and having considered a wide variety of options, recommends the Dru Sjodin national sex offender database, maintained and provided by the United States Department of Justice and publicly accessible without charge, as the best resource for such use, and has posted a link to it and other worthy resources on SBC.net
That database lists all child sex predators, whether Southern Baptist or not, who have been convicted.
What about predators who move from church to church?
“The Executive Committee strongly encourages local congregations to devise policies and execute strategies (1) to be diligent as they choose and supervise their ministers, employees, and volunteers, (2) to be vigorous in their investigations of known or suspected sex abuse within their ranks, and (3) to be honest and forthcoming in revealing the facts to their sister congregations when asked about former ministers, employees, and volunteers.”
All systems are flawed, but if the church which sponsored my alma mater, Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville, Florida, had made public statements like these, I would have been pleased.
I'm not a Southern Baptist. If this organization is as corrupt as some believe it is, why bother with the pretense of trying to reform them? If they're so corrupt, valuable time is being wasted. Just admit 'Icabod' is written over the door and abandon them! End of discussion.
Ironically, I'm probably the only one applauding the SBC for their report.
It shouldn't come as a surprise, though.
Here is the statement I made in my short video, Don't Go In The Church:
"Until church officials recognize the seriousness of the problem and confront this horrid evil. . .don't go in the church!"
The Southern Baptist Convention has acknowledged it has a problem! Great, they admitted it. Now, all eyes are on the local SBC churches who get caught up in these scandals. Let's see how they handle it.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Considering that Trinity Christian Academy was already being scrutinized for not doing anything about suspected child sex predators lurking on campus, I was surprised this obvious link was ignored by the local media.
Actually, I've heard harsher stories, from a credible source, about kids raising rabbits only to be forced into killing them for the purposes of dissection. I doubt that's happening anymore, what with all the other negative publicity the school has received.
I totally missed this article that appeared on PETA's website on May 31, 2007. Apparently, PETA sent Trinity Christian Academy a letter asking them to make 'humane education a priority at Trinity Christian Academy.'
They also enclosed a "Kindness Kit".
The 'Kindness Kit', according to the article, contained: "handy tips, educational videos, and information on how to teach kids to interact with animals—like not killing bunnies in the frickin' classroom, for a start.'
Teacher Abuses a Rabbit for His Students.
Here is the letter sent to Mr. Clayton Lindstam:
May 31, 2007
Clay Lindstam, Administrator
Trinity Christian Academy
800 Hammond Blvd.
Jacksonville, FL 32221
Dear Mr. Lindstam:
PETA is the world’s largest animal rights organization, with more than 1.6 million members and supporters dedicated to animal protection. We have recently been inundated with calls from Jacksonville-area residents who are deeply upset by the incident involving a biology teacher who intentionally fed a live rabbit to a python in front of students at Trinity Christian Academy. Video footage of the rabbit’s demise is currently circulating on the Internet.
The fact that snakes hunt and eat other animals for survival in the wild is no excuse for this sorry spectacle. The domesticated rabbit used by the teacher was deprived of what any prey animal has in a natural setting: the chance to escape. The little black rabbit had no way of defending herself; she was grasped tightly and deliberately held in front of the python in order to "bait" the snake. Far from being an "educational experience," this demonstration only taught the students that it is acceptable to be cruel to others and take pleasure in watching them suffer and die. In this era of school shootings, lessons of compassion and empathy have never been more crucial. Violent spectacles—such as this one—have no place in the classroom.
We urge you to make humane education a priority at Trinity Christian Academy. We will be sending you a free copy of Just Choices, a humane education program for middle- and high-school students. Just Choices encourages students to explore new ideas and reevaluate old ones while developing a strong understanding and appreciation of historical and contemporary social justice movements. Through this program, students learn how their actions affect others, and they become inspired to take on social issues with passionate civic engagement. The program reinforces reading comprehension skills, civic responsibility, and analytical thinking and reasoning. It also meets U.S. national standards for education in several areas.
Please let us know what measures Trinity Christian Academy is taking to ensure that similar incidents of cruelty do not occur on school grounds in the future so that we can inform our members. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss this case further with you. I can be reached at (number deleted by CHRISTIAN SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL).
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Stephanie Bell, Cruelty Caseworker
Domestic Animal Issues & Abuse Department
NOTE: For full effect, check out the actual letterhead, with the appropriate image of a white rabbit on the top.
PDF of letter to Lindstam.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Hey, can't say I'm not cheerleading the SBC when they take a step in the right direction, though!
That said, there are other crimes Southern Baptist ministers, and those of other denominations, have fallen into besides child molestation and it's resulting collusion. Perhaps SBC officials are afraid if they start a database in one area, there will be calls for creating data bases in other areas? A data base for ministers who robbed their congregation? A database for those who have committed adultery or visited prostitutes? Where will it all end?
There actually is a system in place to deal with molesters and other crooks, though. It's called '911'.
It's an outside system that simply requires we take the first step. In order to use it, we have to stop being mousy with questions like, "Will God be glorified if we call the cops on our child molesting pastor?"
SBC officials will be dancing around eggshells for years on this issue! It's time for families to take the initiative and stop giving these people the moral credibility they don't deserve. That said, it would not surprise me if the reason families are not taking the initiative is because child abuse is so prevalent in our society.
What credibility can you have if you take a bold stand against the SBC, but haven't done anything about Uncle Ernie?
SBC says 'No!' to database.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Here are some excerpts:
"Plantiff admits that it was in 1987 that she first told her father of the abuse she claims to have suffered and that Gray was the one who abused her. Plantiff did not file her lawsuit, which was based on the abuse she suffered, until July 2007."
"Plaintiff claims Trinity Baptist Church misrepresented facts about Gray's behavior to others. . .
"Specifically, plaintiff claims:
"another alleged victim lied to the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, now the Department of Children and Families, about abuse she suffered as a child and did so at the urging of church leaders (a claim that conflicts with her prior, sworn deposition testimony).
"Additionally, Plaintiff claims one teacher was threatened for questioning why students were called out of class to visit with Gray and that another employee was terminated when her husband reported in 1992 that he had learned that Gray had abused a student years before."
Wow! Where is that employee? I wish she'd speak up. I kept hearing stories like this these last few years. In fact, I have asked about one teacher whom I believe might have known way back in the 1980's. That teacher has either vanished into time, or just doesn't want to be bothered. I am surprised the statement about the terminated employee made it into Denise's claim in the first place! If the lawyer does not have sworn testimony from those past employees, why would opinion and, hate to say it, 'rumor', be introduced into an official court transcript?
The deposition spoken of, where the plaintiff claimed that another alleged victim lied to the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, is Case No. 16-CF-2006-07704-AXXX-MA. I might post it at a future point, but it is a huge file! It was taken on April 19, 2007.
Here are some excerpts from that victim's deposition:
Q: That interview with HRS, was it just a one time interview?
Q: And what did you basically tell them? Is that nothing happened?
A: It was real quick.
Q: Did you say nothing had happened?
A: They asked me questions and I basically just didn't answer their questions.
Q: Did you---did you deny abuse?
A: I - I can't remember verbatim what we discussed.
Q: What is the --- all right. Other than that conversation you've told me about, and you're not sure about the date with HRS, have you had any other conversations with either HRS or what is now called the Department of Children and Families?
Later in the deposition:
Q: Did somebody come out. . .
A: I just --- HRS called me on the phone and asked me questions about Bob Gray.
Q: Did you --- did you tell them about french kissing---
Q: Why not?
A: At this point, I was not ready to deal with it.
Q: Do you---as you look back on it, do have have any idea what initiated HRS contacting you?
A: I've heard that someone contacted HRS to contact me.
Q: Who have you heard did that?
A: I actually think I read it on the forum and I believe it was a guy named (NAME DELETED BY CHRISTIAN SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL)
END OF EXCERPTS
This is a sore point for me, and a good moment to emphasize why you should never give out phone numbers where adult survivors of clergy abuse are concerned. I also contacted the HRS in those days, and they wanted phone numbers if I believed a child's life was in immediate danger. At the time, Gray was in Germany, totally outside the jurisdiction of the HRS. As far as I knew, in my limited scope, since Gray was not at Trinity, children were probably not in danger during that era of Trinity history.
Remember, I didn't know then what I know now about abuse, and how, if not confronted, it breeds an environment for other abusers. That said, they only wanted a phone number if I believed children were in immediate danger. Since I did not believe that was the case, I did not give out any phone numbers. Even now, as I see what can happen when a victim is outted before she, or he, is ready to talk, I would still err on not giving out phone numbers.
Look at the fruits of that decision! Look how it impacted the case!
She wasn't ready to talk, and that made it into the record and created the impression she was 'lying'. Giving out the phone number of a victim, before that victim is ready, is the most irresponsible thing a so called 'supporter of victims' can do.
There are people who believe that the woman quoted in this deposition 'lied'. I've never taken that view, and still don't. Victims of any kind of abuse need to realize that when they tell someone, that person will take the news harder than the actual victim who has been abused. Be very careful who you tell!
Supporters need to realize that they are simply that: supporters. They are not white knights trying to rectify a wrong situation. Like the upcoming movie about the clumsy superhero, Hancock, a supporter of victims can sometimes make things worse by jumping the gun and shooting from the hip.
That was very irresponsible of that person to give out the phone number of this victim.
I might write about this at a future point.
Or, maybe not.
When I think about some of the irresponsible actions on the part of those who claim to support the victims, it makes me very disappointed. I try not to get angry. I tell myself, "This is not your battle."
When I read the spin, from the latest decision regarding Denise Green's case, that this victim 'lied to the HRS', I, as a supporter of victims, feel betrayed and I'm not even a part of the case!
Didn't anybody even think about how an adult victim would respond to a visit from the HRS out of the clear blue?
Didn't anybody read the victim's deposition before filling out the court papers?
Didn't anybody. . .think?
This isn't my battle. . .but I still can't help feeling a little angry. . .
Click below to read the latest decision regarding Denise Green:
Denise Green, 6/5/2008 10:06:44 AM
Friday, June 6, 2008
Southern Baptist Convention: Protecting Our Children.
This document addresses the problem of child abuse in general, and then works it's way into other manifestations like clergy abuse, etc.
"When it comes to addressing this sin, churches too often are reluctant to turn the offenders over to the law. They often have a misunderstanding of grace and justice, believing that it is unloving or unforgiving to hold an offender accountable before the law. For some reason, many conclude that somehow justice is wrong."
Kudos to the SBC for publishing this document. Obviously, a document will not protect children and I must apologize for insulting your intelligence by even making that statement. However, I'm getting the feeling the subject of child molestation and abuse has been overwhelmed by those thinking that anything the SBC , or any organization, does is not going far enough.
That's like starting a long trip with an annoying, "Are we there, yet?"
Some are upset they didn't take a jet plane to their destination. Others become upset that there are too many bathroom breaks. Some are upset because the driver won't let them behind the steering wheel. It would be nice if one person praised the driver for finally getting everyone in the car and starting the journey. Even if that person isn't going on the trip!
I'm not, due to philosophical differences, going on the trip with the SBC, but I do applaud them for finally stating their intentions in a very loud and colorful manner. At least, someone finally got out the map!
The reasoning is sound. Sources are verifiable. Suggestions appropriate. There are no scapegoats or easy answers. It does not hide from the fact that each and every one of us bears a responsibility.
Just want to make sure this report doesn't get ignored.
Save the PDF to your hard drive for easier reading.