Over the course of a year, a pastor at an Alabama church sexually exploited a 14-year-old girl who was entrusted to his class for adolescents for sexual abstinence. [LegalVote]. The church was warned repeatedly: first about his use of his position at a former church to gain sexual favors from other women, and then directly confronted with a lewd e-mail that he had sent to the young woman. But they refused to investigate or reconsider his position. When he was finally caught kissing the girl, he was dismissed and has been convicted of statutory rape. Due to their irresponsible refusal to investigate the pastor when they were warned, the mother has sued the church on charges of negligence.
The church, disgustingly, is planning to fight in court and will not take accountability. They claim they have no responsibility for the actions of their employee, even though they were repeatedly warned about his predatory behavior, and then they argue this as a defense: "Anne P. lives with a single mother, and there is some likelihood that the girl was exposed to promiscuity at home that may have prompted her to seek out a voluntary sexual relationship with the youth minister."
Um. What the hell? First of all, this is overt victim-blaming. We have enough child molestors making the bullshit claim that the children "initiated" and asked to be fucked by a grown man. Do we need a church to take up the same bullshit argument on their behalf? Second, it’s absolutely irrelevant. What part of "statutory rape" do they not understand? The pastor’s sexual relationship with the girl was a crime no matter what the situation was, and the church has a responsibility to look into the allegations that he abused his position in the church for sexual favors. The insults they are hurling against the girl and her mother are simply prejudicial, irrelevant bullshit.
The D. Church’s behavior was clearly irresponsible and horrendously negligent. As an institution trusted with the care of children the Church MUST take every effort to investigate the background of members who would be spending time with children in order to protect its children’s safety. Yet rather than taking careful responsibility, D. Church has a history of employing sexually manipulative and predatory men in this position–while Rev. S. did not commit the kind of grave sexual abuse that Rev. D. did, he clearly saw his position as a safe place from which to try to manipulate women into sexual encounters.
D. Church was warned about Rev. D’s past sexually manipulative behavior. Sexual relationships with adult women certainly aren’t the same as statutory rape of a 14 year old young woman, but it does reveal a history of abusing his situation to manipulate women into sexual encounters. Even worse, they were confronted with direct evidence that he was sexually exploiting Anne P. Yet they did not even investigate the charges. I understand that they cannot simply take action without an investigation, but to not even begin the investigation is unconscionable.
Furthermore, I was disgusted to see what D. Church considers to be a defense: “Anne P. lives with a single mother, and there is some likelihood that the girl was exposed to promiscuity at home that may have prompted her to seek out a voluntary sexual relationship with the youth minister.” This is nothing more but the same old revolting blaming of the victim that has happened over and over again in sexual abuse cases. What part of "statutory rape" does D. Church not understand? It is Anne P.’s fault that Rev. D. abused his position of trust and power to manipulate and sexually exploit her, and the disgusting suggestion that D. Church is any less accountable because they think she might have been "asking for it" is revolting.
Furthermore, the mother’s failure to act may be reason for pursuing a claim of negligent child endangerment against the mother… but it is not any reason to absolve D. Church of its accountability for ignoring the sexually predatory behavior of its trusted employees.
D. Church should take accountability for its failure to act and the damage that has inflicted on one young woman. If they attempt to fight this in court, particularly on the basis of their revolting victim-blaming arguments, they will only further continue their pattern of revolting negligence and refusal to take accountability.