Baptist state convention sued over rape at church camp

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Bert Perry's picture

You've got the need to do background checks, and then you've got privacy concerns--which more or less means the camp needs to independently run background checks, not just trust the church.  And then you've got the question of how serious the crime was--if it was one of violence or sex, he should never have been allowed.  The acceptance of "grooming" behavior--things like inappropriate duration of contact between an adult and an unrelated child--is, if proven, probably the ugliest part of this.  

Jim's picture

" ... requires participating churches to perform background checks on sponsors and cooks."

They need to run the background checks themselves

 

Bert Perry's picture

...as much as I appreciate how background checks are an inexpensive way of saying "our church/camp/whatever is on the lookout for bad behaviors", it's worth noting that there are some things they cannot do.  They cannot figure out whether a man's misdemeanor conviction is a real risk to kids (vs. say a violent felony), they cannot (as the lawsuit may have asserted) figure out if a person is in an un-Biblical but noncriminal relationship (say living in sin), and they cannot find out people who haven't been arrested for their sins yet.

In the same way, they are no substitute for being vigilant about how adults interact with kids.  If you look up characteristics of "grooming", top on the list is that the perpetrator seeks to spend time alone with the victim, and next is that the perpetrator seeks to touch the victim in ever more inappropriate ways.  If indeed the camp knew of this kind of grooming, but did nothing to stop it, they've more or less agreed to hand over the deed.

Jim's picture

Probable outcome:

  • The rapist: jail time
  • The Baptist association: big payout partially funded by ...
  • Insurance company: insurance payout
  • The 13 year old girl: emotionally / physically damaged for a lifetime
Joeb's picture

Even the best of efforts may fail if the Perp is his/her first time.  The only way other than that would be watching out for inappropriate behavior as Jim said, but you can't  be in all  places at once.  I think recently there was a youth pastor sentenced in Ohio for a relationship with s 16 year old girl in the church  and there was no apparent past bad behavior.

 The youth Pastor had a wife and was  the father of three young kids.  Maybe the argument could be made in not having so many young kids at once created and environment where the marriage was imploding because of the work rasing so many children close in age.  Not an excuse but the stress could have added to this Youth Pastors downfall.  Now the Judge have this young Pastor 10 years because he felt the Perp was delusional in using the excuse he having a. bad marriage made him believe he had a future with the victim.    

Again church members need to pay attention to these things and assist young parents with lots of young kids in close ages.   Especially if the Church encourages this kind of family planning. 

WallyMorris's picture

Churches, other Christian organizations, and secular organizations can do everything anyone can think of to prevent abuse and yet abuse can still happen. Everything can always be improved, and hindsight is always perfect. Insurance companies know that, regardless of the facts, emotion plays a big role in settling these cases. Juries tend to let emotion and pity/compassion be a major factor in decisions, which is why insurance companies do not want these cases going to a jury.

Our society, including Christians, is often hypocritical in sexual abuse cases. Today's world highlights and flaunts the sexual for just about everything and everywhere, then self-righteously condemns those who are involved in sexual sin. Those who promote the sexual for their own financial profit and lust would never consider their own role and responsibility in the increase of sexual abuse.

How many pastors still openly and bluntly confront the acceptance of over-hyped sexuality in our society by discussing clothing (for both men women), entertainment choices (music, movies, books, magazines), and even some church singles ministries which have become dating clubs with inappropriate sexual contact?

Before we self-righteously make a judgment about what happened in this situation, perhaps we should take a closer look at ourselves.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

T Howard's picture

WallyMorris wrote:
Our society, including Christians, is often hypocritical in sexual abuse cases. Today's world highlights and flaunts the sexual for just about everything and everywhere, then self-righteously condemns those who are involved in sexual sin. Those who promote the sexual for their own financial profit and lust would never consider their own role and responsibility in the increase of sexual abuse.

So, the adult who rapes and sodomizes a minor is less responsible for his/her sinful actions because the world openly promotes sexuality? Huh?!?

Mark_Smith's picture

Some church brought this guy to be their representative at the camp! 

WallyMorris's picture

Amazing how people read certain conclusions into a person's comments (which I suspected would happen). Read carefully what I said - Never said the person accused in this story is "less responsible", only that our society is hypocritical concerning sexual issues and never considers its own role/responsibility. That is not diminishing the responsibility of the guilty individual, only highlighting that our society is not innocent in this area.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

Bert Perry's picture

Wally, I'd agree that our churches do a horrible job teaching modesty and sexual propriety, but it strikes me at the same time that there is a huge difference between accepting consensual immodesty and fornication and endorsing forcible rape.  It seems that you've wandered into a slippery slope fallacy there, as we really don't know whether acceptance of immodesty/fornication leads to more, or less, forcible rape.  There are actually studies that find a slight negative correlation between using pornography and rape, for example.

I am of course no advocate of pornography, and of course I am an advocate of teaching Biblically on issues of modesty and sexual propriety, but sin B does not necessarily derive from sins A and C.

You are correct, though, that what we have is the accusation--or really a reporter's description of the accusation--and not the adjudication of those charges.  That noted, the charges alone do illustrate something important; if it appears our ministries haven't done due diligence to prevent this kind of thing, life will not be pleasant when an incident occurs.

Joeb's picture

I think Bert is right just because you have fornication does not mean someone is going to graduate to forcible  rape.  Now pronography could lead one to Audultry or Fornication but to move to forcible rape would be a huge step.  

Now child pornography  could lead to sex abuse of a child that to me would be a more likely direct connection.  I do not know if there are any studies in that area but thank God it alone is a criminal act.

 

WallyMorris's picture

Not necessarily a direct correlation - But consider: My point is that the growing, open sexuality in almost every culture creates an atmosphere where those whose thinking and conscience has been twisted by their sin nature will do very evil acts. Of course the individual person is responsible, but those who promote and use sexuality are not innocent and, in fact, are hypocritical because they flaunt sexuality yet react with righteous condemnation at those who yield to sexual sin.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

Jim's picture

WallyMorris wrote:

Not necessarily a direct correlation - But consider: My point is that the growing, open sexuality in almost every culture creates an atmosphere where those whose thinking and conscience has been twisted by their sin nature will do very evil acts. Of course the individual person is responsible, but those who promote and use sexuality are not innocent and, in fact, are hypocritical because they flaunt sexuality yet react with righteous condemnation at those who yield to sexual sin.

Consider how inappropriate your comments on this thread could be viewed (it's about the context):

Me: My Mother died

Person X: How about those Patriots!

----

Context: an innocent 13 year old little girl - the precious daughter of a loving Mom and Dad - goes off to a Baptist camp. Intended to be a week of spiritual formation, friendship and fun

She is violently raped. Her life forever changed 

You: "My point is that the growing, open sexuality in almost every culture creates an atmosphere where those whose thinking and conscience has been twisted by their sin nature will do very evil acts. Of course the individual person is responsible, but those who promote and use sexuality are not innocent and, in fact, are hypocritical because they flaunt sexuality"

So insensitive. Sorry but you need this rebuke

 

WallyMorris's picture

Jim: My comments are not insensitive at all. I specifically stated that the individual abuser is responsible for his actions. Don't know how to make that any clearer. But I am also stating that we cannot ignore the growing open flaunting of sexuality in our culture that helps to create situations like this. Sorry, sir, but your comments are an over-reaction.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

JBL's picture

The way I see it, the conversation in this post and thread went more like this...

Jim:  Did you hear that a Baptist camp in Oklahoma is now being sued because a girl was raped by a staffer who wasn't properly background checked?

Bert:  Tough one.

Jim:  So easy to do a background check!

Jim:  Here's a plug for a background check company! $19.95!  Why cut corners!

Wally:  Might we consider if we live in a cultural milieu that desensitizes people to the atrocity of forcible rape?

Jim:  Insensitive!

John B. Lee

Bert Perry's picture

WallyMorris wrote:

Not necessarily a direct correlation - But consider: My point is that the growing, open sexuality in almost every culture creates an atmosphere where those whose thinking and conscience has been twisted by their sin nature will do very evil acts. Of course the individual person is responsible, but those who promote and use sexuality are not innocent and, in fact, are hypocritical because they flaunt sexuality yet react with righteous condemnation at those who yield to sexual sin.

....is the slippery slope fallacy, Wally.  As I've noted above, willingness to engage in consensual sins does not necessarily translate into willingness to perpetrate non-consensual sins.  Otherwise, we would have to make the argument that seeing a girl in a two piece swimsuit would necessarily lead to mass murder.  (that would be called reductio ad absurdum)

If we are to call ourselves a people of the Logos (Word), we need to use sound logic.  It is also worth noting that, as Jim notes, people can and do get hurt and offended when bad arguments are made--they are almost necessarily being accused, implicitly or explicitly, of something they had no control of.   That can easily be slander.

WallyMorris's picture

I'm not talking about the girl - I'm talking about the abuser. Read my previous comments. I specifically stated the individual abuser. I'm not talking about the girl flaunting her sexuality. I'm talking about the wider culture using sexuality for everything. I never said or implied the girl was partially responsible. Those who think so made that assumption without asking me. Whether an argument is bad or good depends on many factors. The argument that our culture is increasingly pushing sexuality into everything can't be reasonably dismissed. This obsession with sexuality creates an atmosphere that makes abusers more comfortable abusing people, especially those whose sin nature is exerting tremendous influence in their life. Seems pretty obvious to me. Although others like to refer to the slippery slope, I'm not talking about a slippery slope, only the creation of a cultural attitude that makes abusers more comfortable abusing people. Again, seems obvious to me. If someone wishes to reject that observation, that's fine. But to react emotionally, as some have done, reflects exactly what insurance companies are afraid of: emotional reaction apart from the facts. I never made the argument that observation leads to mass murder - That's overstating what I'm saying. Don't attribute arguments or conclusions to me that I never made, even if you think I am making them or if you think they are the logical result of what I said..

Frankly, some of the comments here seem to reflect our culture more than the Bible. Culture influences all of us, and today's culture always wants to blame the individual abuser (who should be blamed - I shouldn't even have to say that, but apparently I do) but wants to ignore how the wider culture is morally perverse and openly immoral. The wider culture does not want to see its own sin and hypocrisy. Our culture does desensitize people to sexual sin. The acceptance of sexual relationships outside of marriage and homosexual marriage are 2 examples. That, of course, does not make sexual abuse OK, but it certainly does not mean that everyone else is innocent.

 

 

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

Bert Perry's picture

...it's still the slippery slope fallacy, Wally.  You've failed to make the connection between consensual sin and non-consensual victimization.

Besides, when you start talking about immodesty, you are almost guaranteed to be talking about the woman's role, specifically that of young women.  That's why Jim called you out, and think about it a moment; name a garment commonly worn by middle aged men in the Midwest that really "gives way too much information."  Except for a few wearing speedos to swim or cycling in cycling shorts, our torsos are generally covered in a loose sheath of opaque fabric from the neck to the hems of our pants, no?  

Kevin Miller's picture

I've been reading the thread, and I can understand where both sides are coming from. Wally is simply trying to point out a "big picture" problem in the course of discussing this particular attack. However, I can also see how his "big picture" doesn't necessarily correlate to the particular attack and could be seen as a slippery slope. Suppose the attack had been a robbery at gunpoint at the camp. I could then come on the thread and talk about how hypocritical the church is about material matters. We are so materialistic in this society and we are always wanting more than what God has given us. That statement is certainly true. But I think Wally might be going a bit too far when he says "But I am also stating that we cannot ignore the growing open flaunting of sexuality in our culture that helps to create situations like this." Should I say that the open flaunting of our possessions creates situations in which people rob us at gunpoint? When we as Christians live in a society with pervasive materialism and even practice materialism ourselves, that does NOT mean that we are partly responsible when people decide to rob others at gunpoint. The person who has been robbed could easily feel their attack is being downplayed if a another person puts some of the blame on societal materialism in general.

Joeb's picture

I may have misunderstood you Wally but legally speaking (the laws of our country) the girl can be in her birthday suit and engage and change her mind and say no and if the male pursues and forces himself on her it is still rape Wally. Spinx used the excuse I was to hot to trot so no did not apply.  He got 5 years Wally.  So even if the gal is dressed very very seductively it is still rape Wally. That's the most common defense the Defense Attorneys use beside it being consensual.  

Now I do agree with Wally that the environment degrades women as sex objects.  What's the old saying sex sells. So Wally you right on as far as our society making women sex objects that are there for ones personal pleasure to an extent.  As Bert stated this shows more up in the ponography end then actual rapes.  Hope I didn't misquote you Bert.  

Bert Perry's picture

Joe, keep in mind that the charges are the forcible rape of an underage girl.   Probably best not to confuse the issue by bringing in cases where both participants were of age, and were moreover already hot & bothered.

(crazy thing about those harder cases is that some courts are saying that consent can be withdrawn even during the act...which is all the more reason for young man to keep it in his pants and wait to marry a girl who takes 1 Cor. 7 seriously.  But that is a side note)

Back to the topic, I am 100% for discussions of modesty and Biblical notions towards courtship, dating, and marriage....but not here.  Again, the simple fact of the matter is that when we discuss these things, we are inevitably discussing them for the benefit (we hope at least) of young people in general, and young ladies in particular.  So if we say these things are in part at fault for an atrocity like this case, we are in effect blaming the victim.  

Joeb's picture

I guess what I'm trying to show is the victim is never to blame period.  Especially the young ladies. Of course victim blaming is one of the king pin allegations against Fundamentalist/Evangelical Christians in these past years.  Even though  this issue is a pertinent  one in the above' s churches, educational institutions and parachurch organizations in the past it seems the above tribe has finally seen the light to this idiocy.  Now finally the above Tribe is calling the cops Johnny on the spot.  Good for all of us. 

So this is a very positive move forward except that one mission agency who we have discussed in the past seems to still want to delay do their own investigation and ignore the right thing to do to protect their Male Missionary sex perps ( Right up to 2015 /2016).  Yet the sending churches go right along and everything is hunky dory with no major protest. As always this group has done everything Undercover just like they practiced blatant racism up to the mid to late eighties and maybe beyond.

 The other institution accused of victim blaming and other things never operated undercover they put all there positions right up front.  Not walking the fence to gain support from both sides in a deceitful way to help their churches and institutions survive   

I and the rest of us may not agree with their positions but they make no bones about it and truly practice what they preach.  More honoring to their Lord in my book.  Good for them.  Sooner or later the other will get spewed out of the Lord's mouth and their churches and related institutions will go into decline.  Just a matter of time.  Taking Baptist out of ones name won't help one survive if you are deceitful. The chickens will eventually come home to roost. 

Jay's picture

Jim is right.  There may be times and places to decry how sexualized America has become (even on SharperIron), but not in the middle of a report of a 13 year old girl being raped.  The two are two totally different topics and bringing them both into this story is insensitive and cruel, not just to the victim, but to anyone else out there who has been sexually assaulted.

Wally, there are dozens of people who read this thread that are not members of SI.  Please be cognizant of that in the future.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

WallyMorris's picture

A few comments and questions (and no matter what the responses are, I will not comment further, therefore letting others have the last word):

No one posting here knows what happened at this summer camp. To talk as if we do is arrogant. Sexual abuse situations are complicated and sometimes not what they seem on the surface. If anything happened to this girl that was wrong, then the responsible people should be punished.

This Christian camp may or may not have been negligent. If so, then it will have to face that. If not, then it almost doesn't matter. Reputations can be ruined by misunderstanding or lies. Public opinion usually doesn't care about the facts or the truth. Emotion determines everything. Why is an individual or organization punished even when it has done nothing wrong?

We live in a culture that is openly sexual about almost everything, yet self-righteous in its condemnation of what it believes is sexually inappropriate. Of course, beliefs about what is inappropriate are changing rapidly. The only thing left that is wrong is telling someone that something is wrong, or being insensitive about what what the cutlure says is sensitive.

Satan is a masterful destroyer. Because of sexual sin, organizations of all types have to implement policies to protect individuals and the organization. The policies, training, procedures, and, let's be honest, the headache of trying to prevent sin combined with the cases of actual abuse and molestation that occur anyway give me amazement that we still have parents willing to send their children to Christian camps and Sunday School and that we still have people willing to volunteer for these ministries.

Churches trying to help people involved in abusive situations face tremendous challenges, Biblically and from the culture. Individuals who have been abused often face lengthy healing from that abuse, difficult but not impossible. Then we have those who have been convicted of sexual crimes who wish to attend our churches. What do we do with them? Our church has both the abused and, occassionaly, those who have abused atttend services. To turn anyone away violates the gospel message, yet we have to be very careful and honest. Our culture wants to treat abusers as pariahs for the rest of their life, yet the Bible tells us to help them.

Any honest discussion of sexual ethics (either on this website or elsewhere) should include the topic of inappropriate clothing. People should not be blamed for being sexually abused because of the clothing they wear. However, if a female is wearing very little clothing, then complains about men looking at her, is she completely innocent? Pastors are afraid to bring this subject up because someone will call us “insensitive”. Again, the influence of culture on our thinking.

Anyone who thinks my comments are “blaming the victim” are grossly misreading and misunderstanding my comments. I am fully aware of what rape is and the laws about consent. I am simply pointing out the hypocrisy of our wider culture on this issue. This comment thread is as good as any to do that.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

Joeb's picture

Wally like I said I may disagree with you on some issues but I have the utmost respect for you, because you don't operate undercover ie saying one thing and doing another.   

Now the issue of reporting when how etc. there is no leeway period or different interpretation Wally.  Once the allegation is rasied by a young lady or young man you call the cops right away.  Any other action is illegal and obvious sin at this point.    The Pastors Elders or Managers are not the ones who try to determine the validity of the allegation No excuse by any Christian. Even if it appears false.  That's the Criminal Investigstors job and the Prosector to determine that not a Pastor or elder. If the victim and his/her family  refuses to cooperate and  and pursue prosecution  that's between them and Law Enforcement not the Pastors and elders     

Now if the location is in a one stoplight county and law enforcement is heavily tied to the church or organization then it only takes the brain power of a circus chimp to figure out you report the matter to a State Law Enforcement Agency.  In Pa the State Police regularly rotate in and out of barracks and in the rural areas they are the Police.  

It was my agencies guidelines that if an allegation was made against an IRS Employee we had to card a case.  Many of times I conducted an investigation knowing up front it was false.  I handled all threats against IRS Employees which there were a lot of them.  These cases had no jury appeal unless blood was spilled so for the most part no one got prosecuted.  Of course if  it was in Wyoming where the US Attorney's were looking for work it was a different matter.  

In all instances threat or misconduct allegations the employees were required to report all of them and it was not their job to make a judgement call it was mine and mine only along with my management not the IRS Employee or Manager.  Same goes with Sex crimes no biblical excuses or theological arguments one can raise or argue.  This belongs to Ceaser not the church.  

If one does not like a Perp marked as a sex offender to bad that's the law of the land.  Using that as an excuse not to report is outright sin to.  Again it's not the churches judgement call.  

 

Note: For all you Law and Order Crowd Re: immigration to do other due to the sex offender registry would put you in a hypocrite status.  

Bert Perry's picture

Wally, nobody's saying you intended to blame the victim, but that is certainly the implication of bringing up the topic of modesty in this discussion.  Like it or not, most lectures about modesty are aimed at young women like the victim here, not at middle aged men like the perpetrator.   It's a natural inference.  And again, you've utterly failed to make any connection between the sin of "uncovering nakedness" (modesty in the 1 Tim. 2:9 really refers to the opulence of attire, not the coverage) and the sin/crime of rape.  

Let's keep our thinking caps on here, brother.  

Joeb's picture

There is consequences for the victim and/or family if they refuse to cooperate or pursue a prosecution.  The consequences are guilt for a life time.  If the Sex Perp reoffends and kills the prior victim and/or family have to live with the fact that their inaction lead to another victim being hurt.  That's why it is important for the Police Officer to handle the matter and not the Pastor.  

The Pastor can play the Dutch uncle if the Police Officer approves but other than consoling the victim and encouraging her/him to do the right thing that's it. The Pastor Elder etc should not interject or object to what the Officer asks the victim or the family to do to make the case and gather evidence.  

As far as this matter the thread is based on was everything done to screen the Perp.  If not that's an issue. Especially if the person has a record. If nothing showed up what  can be done except banning older men non family members from being alone with young girls and boys on the property. What do you do  teach  the kids to yell violation violation if it happens.   What else can be done.  It's like a lone wolf terrorist attack nothing can be done and no body has eyes in the back and of  their heads.  

Are prayers should be going out to all involved.  

Wally focusing on how the ladies and gals dress to much and addressing it from the pulpit all the time and is very unhealthy.  In fact legally to harp about the women all the time in church or in an institutional setting could easily be construed as sexual harassment or discrimination if the men are not getting the same attention.  

The ladies should be trusted and the Mothers trusted with their daughters. What happens in the world dressing wise is not a Christians business unless it violates the law  Even if a young lady where's a skirt to short for your tastes in church graciously lovingly handle it   You don't come down like the short skirt Police.  

Christ ate and drank with the sinners.  If were talking eating and drinking with the sinners these days that means going over to your neighbors barbecue and drinking a coke while he has a beer and talking sports investments vacations and other stuff.   Show your neighbor your a regular Joe and loving  neighbor.  Also having you kids playing with his kids even if your neighbor's daughter is wearing a bikini top.  That's the world we live in reaching out to them doesn't mean you participate in their sin but you meet them where they're at including  if their rapping in the intercity.  Then if some kind of problem comes up they come to you for advise and support and you have an opportunity.

 I know a young couple in our church the  wife's family was saved just like that.  Her father was befriended by a neighbor who went to a local IFB church  and that's how he was saved and the rest of the family tattoos and all on the kids   Her husband is a BJU grad and they have a beautiful family  

By the way the Pastor takes a lot of grief on the church for being liberal  He allowed a non IFB Pastor to take his pulpit  he had a Christian Country Folk Music Couple have concert and sin of all sins he allowed mixed bathing with the youth.  For fellow IFBers the Pastor was a sinner per the Internet.  I say bravo this Pastor is doing everything right.  

To show you how dumb I'm about  things  I was in Ocean City NJ at the beach with my friend with both our wives on the beach  Our wives stepped away and first thing my friend  says isn't the Bird watching great Joe   I said you say what ?  I guess the seagulls and terns can be beautiful   My friend said not those birds the gals in the bathing suits idiot  True story Bert. Of course you would expect that out of me   

Truth be said I'll take being on the water and duck hunting then being with all the scantally clad young ladies you can get.  Nothing makes my blood boil more then triple of black ducks cupping their wings and coming into my decoys and me leading them with my Remington or my Condor Over Under.  Oh my Lord heaven on earth.  

Bert Perry's picture

Pray for me as I send a note to a family that is dealing with either the seduction or rape of a family member.  The "evidence is cold", but still within statute of limitations if there's a crime as far as I can tell.  Goal is to encourage them to report if it's reportable, and simply to comfort/encourage them if not.  I was chatting last weekend at a potluck when a relative of the victim just started talking with me about it.

Brothers, let's just say that if you're halfway approachable, you're going to be surprised how much you hear.   Best estimate is 15-25% of young people are violated somehow.  Maybe it's somewhat less in your church or area, or it might be average or worse than average.  But if you're reaching people for Christ, you will probably hear it at some point.

Jay's picture

It's been my experience that this kind of sin/crime is a lot more prevalent than I ever thought it was when I was in undergrad studying for ministry.  Unfortunately, I don't think it's getting better any time soon, either.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

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