My Larry Nassar Testimony Went Viral. But There’s More to the Gospel Than Forgiveness.

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Jim's picture

The reason I lost my church [I presume this is her local church] was not specifically because I spoke up. It was because we were advocating for other victims of sexual assault within the evangelical community, crimes which had been perpetrated by people in the church [her local church or broadly "the church"?] and whose abuse had been enabled, very clearly, by prominent leaders in the evangelical community. 

JBL's picture

My understanding is that Rachel attended one of the Sovereign Grace Ministry churches, whose central leadership was caught in sandal five to six years ago.  So there could have been both local and denominational victims and perpetrators to advocate for or speak out against.

John B. Lee

M. Osborne's picture

Perhaps this wasn't part of the article when it was first published? It's there now.

[Editor’s note: Denhollander clarified that she and her husband did not attend a SGM church, but a Louisville, Kentucky, church “directly involved in restoring” former SGM president C. J. Mahaney. She said that she and her husband “left because we were told by individual elders that it wasn’t the place for us.” CT previously reported how Mahaney and SGM were accused of covering up abuse within the church network in a 2012 lawsuit; they denied the allegations and argued that courts shouldn’t second-guess pastoral counseling decisions. A judge dismissed the suit in 2014, though a former SGM youth leader was convicted of abusing three boys in a separate case.]

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

Bert Perry's picture

I've been following this to a degree, and what strikes me is how almost everybody involved dropped the ball until Rachael Denhollander took some of the evidence and made it impossible to ignore.  Part of it was hard work; reading medical journals about the procedures Nassar claimed to have been doing and presenting that.  Part of it was extremely easy; pointing out that the breasts have nothing to do with the connective tissue of the pelvic floor, and hence Nassar's own excuses were absurd even to the medically untrained.

Lesson for us; picking up the ball and running with it can be the difference between 20 years of abuse involving hundreds of victims, and getting the perpetrator some well earned jail time while the number of victims is low.

Regarding the church issue, here's a primer on the case of C.J. Mahaney.  I tend to agree that he's got some apologies and restitution to make before he ought to be sharing a podium with people like Al Mohler.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

TylerR's picture


She is clearly a very well-taught, intelligent and articulate woman. It is pathetic so many Christian leaders in local churches are incapable of handling sexual abuse in a way that emphasizes both forgiveness and justice. What about justice for the victims? That means you turn the matter over to the authorities, and do everything in your power to see a fair and thorough investigation and, if there is probable cause to believe the suspect committed the crime, you commit yourself to doing everything possible to see justice done.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government.

Ron Bean's picture

The church, school, or any other institution that responds any report of sexual misconduct by conduction an "internal investigation" are asking for trouble. 

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Bert Perry's picture

Jim wrote:

Victims' father tries to attack Larry Nassar in courtroom

Call me vindictive, but this is one place where I'm sad the deputies made the tackle.  Nassar's lawyer, Shannon Smith, also beclowned herself by  voicing doubt he'd assaulted that many people after her client had been convicted--as if finding 12 or so new people to assault each year would be difficult for a doctor working behind closed doors.

Yeah, yeah, I know we've got rule of law and the 8th Amendment, but no way would I ever vote to convict a guy who tried to beat up the jerk who assaulted three of his daughters.  And to hint at what Ron noted; if a church tries to handle clearly criminal conduct in-house, they are not only risking civil and criminal penalties.  They are risking a visit from the father, husband, or other loved ones, and the church house doesn't have metal detectors.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Larry Nelson's picture

"CHARLOTTE --A father who rushed Larry Nassar during his sentencing Friday was held in direct contempt of court, but will not be fined or detained.

"There is no way this court is going to issue any type of punishment due to the circumstances of this case," Eaton County Circuit Judge Janice Cunningham said Friday. 

Randall Margraves was detained Friday morning after he attempted to attack Nassar following the conclusion of statements from two of his three daughters who said they were assaulted by Nassar.

Eaton County Circuit Judge Janice Cunningham said she can't fathom what Margraves was experiencing, given that he was hearing some of the details of his daughters' victim impact statements for the first time Friday.

Cunningham said she had the option of issuing a fine or jail time for Margraves, but decided against it with a warning: 

"I cannot tolerate or condone vigilantism or any other type of action that basically comes down to an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," Cunningham said."

Bert Perry's picture

Most of us don't do, or coach, gymnastics, but here's a good article from a gymnastics coach that anyone who works with kids ought to heed.  More or less, if your activity uses strongly authoritarian control tactics like preventing parents from watching activities, control of food, or training to the point of overuse and the like, you're becoming the "bad cop" to which an abuser can respond by being the "good cop".  There are a tremendous number of soul-searching articles lately for obvious reasons that we ought to heed.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jay's picture

That article that Bert linked to is condemnatory in the extreme.  Here's a piece:

By March of 1999, though, it became clear that something had gone disastrously wrong. The couple’s only daughter, Ann (her middle name), started having night terrors and became frightened of the bathroom. Down the street, Jacob, the 15-year-old babysitter, was acting out so intensely that his mother confided to Kate about how worried she was. Kate says she pressed the mom to ask Jacob (not his real name) about his behavior. Eventually, he did what the church had taught him: He confessed an awful transgression. According to Kate, he told his mother he had been “inappropriate” with Ann, who was three when the abuse occurred...

Distraught, Jacob’s mother confessed her son’s sin to church pastors, and they arranged a meeting so she could admit the wrongdoing to Kate and Edward and request their forgiveness. At the meeting, the parents recall, one of the pastors paraphrased the Bible, telling them, “You shouldn’t bring a Christian to court.” The church leaders, they say, wanted to mediate. Sovereign Grace Church of Fairfax denies discouraging the family from going to the authorities and says they recommended reporting the matter.

But Kate was unsettled...She and Edward decided to call a doctor and social services. An inquiry found evidence of sexual abuse, and that triggered a police investigation...

By the end of the ordeal, Jacob was charged with “object penetration” and “aggravated sexual battery,” according to court records. He pleaded guilty to one count of sexual battery and received probation and counseling.

But while the legal system was at work, a different kind of justice was being meted out at church. Kate says the pastors at SGC Fairfax seemed angry at her. She felt bullied into skipping court hearings. Once when Edward spoke with a pastor about an upcoming court date, he says, the pastor berated him for his “carnal desire” to see Jacob suffer.

Kate and Edward were angry, and struggling to forgive Jacob, but church leaders kept pushing the families to move on. According to Kate, the Fairfax pastors reminded her that everyone was a sinner—Jacob had done wrong, but so had Kate and Edward by not letting go of their bitterness.

“The pastors refused to listen to what happened to [Ann], and they kept telling me I was making a big deal out of nothing, Kate recalls. “I told them I will not speak to you about this at all, any longer, unless you refer to this as when my daughter was raped, and if you can’t say ‘when my daughter was raped,’ then you’re saying she wasn’t.”

I have seen these kinds of stories in real life over and over again - the family brings an instance of abuse to the church, the church covers it up and hushes everyone, someone leaves without explanation or a fig leaf covering, and then the mess goes to sleep for a while.

Until finally the light of day breaks through and all the mess comes out and then the church is left holding the bag under the guise of 'forgiveness' or 'restoration'.  I could name all sorts of names, and many of those men still occupy their pulpits

I am sick of it.  We need to handle these stories better.  We need to know what to do when someone reports abuse.  We need to discipline the abuser out and get them to the courthouse instead of disciplining or shushing the families and looking away. 

We're supposed to look out for all our neighbors.  We're supposed to love our neighbors as ourselves. Why is that so hard?  Is it because we are afraid of the PR hit in the news?  Isn't it better to deal with this while it's fresh and show that we are better than MSU, Penn State, etc?

Help me understand all this, friends.  Why does this happen?  Why is this so hard?  I don't get it.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin 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

kirkedoyle's picture

 I choked up when I saw that father.  I believe I would have done the same.  I'm hoping some good came out of it as you can see his daughter start to smile when he asks the judge for time alone with him.  I hope she remembers how much her dad loves her and that there are men in this world who are willing to fight for her protection.  

Bert Perry's picture

Coming from the Detroit News; another group of people that were aware of the crimes of Larry Nassar; the FBI.  40 more young ladies were molested before Rachel Denhollander put their feet to the fire.  Given that Nassar worked in multiple states, yes, they should have had a hand in this, and quite frankly, even a visit from the FBI, either at MSU or at his house, would have put the fear of God into numerous other agencies that were busily ignoring this.  Some people who dropped the ball need to lose their jobs here, or even be imprisoned.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.