‘What brings a person to ruin? It’s simple. It’s a one-word concept given to us in the Bible. It’s called “sin.” You see, one thing that people have in common is the problem of sin.’ . . . Pastor Bob Grenier, A Common Miracle
After reading story after story of misconduct, abuse, cover-ups, it makes me wonder – – – – did Pastor Bob Grenier actually read the quote he wrote above? It’s mind-boggling when one can clearly see sin in the lives of others, call it out, yet completely miss it in their own life.
Last week, I published an article about the impending defamation lawsuit between Calvary Chapel Visalia/Pastor Bob and Gayle Grenier and Alex Grenier and 4 others listed. Today I am spotlighting the Bob Grenier family and the abuse that Alex and others have alleged on the Calvary Abuse blog.
Things Julie Anne has in common with Alex:
raised by step-dads who abused us our entire childhood
step-dads played drums
lived in Oregon and California
have suffered spiritual abuse
maintain blogs dealing with abuse in the church
have been sued (or about to be sued)
family connections in Visalia
My mom was ‘saved’ in the Church Tent Jesus Movement days of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa (Lonnie Frisbee, Chuck Smith, etc). My real dad was a hippy drummer and he was ‘saved’ in the Tent as well. Both were druggie hippies saved in the very early days of the Calvary Chapel Movement.
Two years after the movement’s founding, Higgins and some of the core members of the movement bought 90 acres (360,000 m2) of land near Dexter, Oregon and built a new headquarters which they called “The Land”. The movement grew quickly until the mid-1970s when increasing competition and high turn-over rates likely slowed its growth.
It was at the Shiloh Commune where Gayle met Bob Grenier. Bob had recently been “saved” after being a drug dealer and drug smuggler. This is detailed in his book, A Common Miracle.
Bob and Gayle married when Alex was 5 years old. They left Shiloh Commune and moved to Eugene, Oregon, where Bob pastored Calvary Chapel Eugene for a brief period of time. Alex remembers his first instance of child abuse not long after they were married and recounts the story here: Jar of Change.
Bob eventually met Chuck Smith, founder of Calvary Chapel, and accepted the pastorate at Visalia, CA. This was around 1977.
I have personally witnessed and been the victim of the physical child abuse. We aren’t talking gray area here…clear cut State-defined abuse including, but not limited to: hitting with objects causing deep purple bruises on the lower back, backs of legs and buttocks. Drawing blood. Hitting in the face full force with the palm of the hand. Hitting in the face with a closed fist. Locking in a small closet. Kicking. Pushing into walls. Grabbing violently. Yelling and threatening and cursing. Beating over the entire body…head to toe…with the branch of a mulberry tree leaving cuts and bruises. The number of abusive acts are too numerous to count. The memories are quite painful. It was, literally, a living hell.
On the Calvary Abuse website, Alex mentioned being very uncomfortable around his step-dad:
Bob’s a creepy dude. I am 10 years older than Paul and while I wasn’t molested, Bob did make me shower naked with (him) [sic] many times which gives me the creeps and he also made it a regular habit of walking around the house naked with his genitals exposed to us throughout our childhood and teen years. Again, creepy and now knowing what I know it makes me sick.
And as every victim of child abuse knows, there is the perpetrator and usually an enabler who knows what is going on, but does not get involved and allows the abuse to continue, in this case, Alex’s mom, Gayle Grenier. Alex shares an incident he had with his mother here:
I confronted my mom around 7 years ago in my kitchen at our old home in Visalia about the abuse. I told her she shared in the responsibility for all the abuse that happened to us and I told her I blamed her for not protecting us. I told her she was an adult and should have put a stop to it. She broke down in tears and softened tremendously.
I didn’t see her again for around a couple of weeks. When she resurfaced she was in cold robot mode and soon after we never saw her again. She stopped seeing our daughter, her granddaughter and it was over. Bob took her away.
Folks, the residual effects of abuse continues to this day – it can last more than a childhood – and sometimes goes into adulthood and even through generations. In this case, a grand-daughter has lost her opportunity to have normal relationship with her grandma. Healthy grandparents usually play such an important role in the lives of their grandchildren – sharing wonderful times together, building their relationship, etc. Alex’s daughter apparently has none of this. In an abusive family system, the abuse takes center attention over relationships. Time is spent in denial, covering up, hiding, doing anything, but looking at the reality of abuse which is sitting right smack in front of them. What a waste and a tragedy. My heart breaks for the very innocent victims, not only Alex and his brothers, but for the grandchildren.
Here, Geoff (brother #2) describes in a letter to his mother, Gayle, about his experiences:
And now we’ll read from Alex’s younger brother, Paul’s account (full story here). Paul is the 3rd son in the family, Bob Grenier’s biological son. I have copied a portion here and added paragraphs to make it easier to read. Keep in mind, this is only a portion of the full text.
“I wanted to expound on what my brother wrote in regards to brutality. I haven’t commented publicly on this issue, but reading through these posts has brought up memories and feelings that I have tried to numb and forget.
I want to talk a bit about what it is to be brutal. Brutal is making your children watch while one of your brothers is beaten, punched and kicked. Brutal is laughing at your child after you have beaten and humiliated him in front of his family. Brutal is hitting your child with a wooden log all over his body. Brutal is making your children go in the backyard and “pick the switch” that they will be whipped with all over their backs and buttocks. Brutal is making your child count out loud the number of times they will be hit. Brutal is making your child thank you and tell them how wonderful and responsible it is that you just beat them.
Brutal is locking your child in a small, dark closet. Brutal is punching your child in the face and then kicking him out his home because you are so afraid that it is going to be front page news that you are a child abuser disguised as a Pastor. Brutal is then kicking that child out and laughing at him because you have cut him off from his mothers and brothers. Brutal is not letting your wife talk to her son for 10 years. Brutal is threatening the rest of your children that they will be cut off if they talk to their estranged brother.
Brutal is telling your child to put their hands behind their backs and that it is ok because you aren’t going to hit them. Brutal is then hitting that child in the face so hard that they fall to the ground. Brutal is humiliating, degrading, and psychologically torturing your children for hours on end and then calling it a day and expecting everything to go back to “normal”. Brutal is ruining your son and soon to be daughter-in-law’s wedding day because you refuse to take family pictures with your estranged son and behave like a grown, civilized adult.
Brutal is making your child eat an entire pack of cigarettes and swallow them and laugh at them as they vomit and cry because they tried smoking in high school. Brutal is telling your children you don’t love them. Brutal is telling your children you wished they were never born and you never planned on having them. Brutal is beating one child so badly that they are scared and whimpering like a small animal, and then having another one of your children sit on your lap and profess how they are your favorite and how much you love them. Brutal is watching your older brother and sister-in-law in agony over the fact that they might lose their newborn baby boy.
Brutal is watching your brother call your Mom to come down and your Mom not responding. Brutal is hearing from others how sad your Mom is that she doesn’t have a relationship with her children and grandchildren. Brutal is then seeing your Mom in public and having her walk right by you like she didn’t know you from Adam. Brutal is hearing that your youngest brother called one of his older brothers on Mother’s Day (not a great day for us) and having him glibly ask how his Mother’s Day is going.
in this article:
Updated note: Paul, later in his court declaration disclosed much more alleged sexual abuse he incurred by his father, Bob Grenier. The court document is posted here and is very, very graphic. Please be forewarned.
I have spoken privately to some about it. I most recently spoke to a class action child abuse attorney along with my brother, Alex, and sister-in-law, Amy, about what was done to me. I would prefer not to share such a horrific thing I lived through but I continue to be attacked and maligned by Bob, Gayle, and Robert. I feel that at every turn I have tried to take the high road and be as gracious as possible. I have been backed in a corner and have no choice but to make a public statement.
I will say this and say it once. I was raised by the Bob the monster. I survived it. I was raised by a drug addicted, abuse condoning, abhorrent mother. I survived it. I grew up with a mentally disturbed younger brother. I survived it. I have been slandered and maligned by Bob’s inner circle. I survived it. I can promise you this: anything Bob, Gayle, and Robert throw my way. I will survive it and be stronger because of it. Bob could not break my will and spirit when I was a child and he nor anyone else associated with him will be able to do so today.
Bob, Gayle, and Robert want a fight. They’ve got one and a worthy opponent in me. Dysfunction breeds dysfunction. If I have to spend the rest of my life defending myself against them and keeping them out of my life I will do it. And I will survive that too.
I remember Bob dragging my mom to the back bedroom often and then locking the door and then the screams, yelling, crying that ensued.
Geoff says he saw Bob smack her around, Paul says he saw Bob on top of her choking her.
Regarding the allegations of abuse from his sons, I distinctly remember that Bob told the Board that he had gotten very angry at Geoff, and had hit him in the face. Bob seemed very repentant, and even asked us if we thought he should step down from the ministry. In questioning him, he said that it had only happened once, that Geoff deserved discipline, but that he had lost his temper and unfortunately struck Geoff. Knowing what the boys are now alleging, I shudder to think that Bob was only using his sorrow as a way to say he had told his Board, and that he was told not to step down. Bob also told me many horrible things about Geoff, Alex and Paul, to justify their estrangement – my response was to advise him to not be vindictive, to forgive, to ask for forgiveness and to seek reconciliation. I believe Bob’s hard heart toward his sons, has led to great harm to the Church, the name of our Lord and to his personal ministry.
Bob and Gayle Grenier – were shown in the above accounts as abuser and enabler, leaving a path of destruction and abuse in the lives of their sons, Alex, Geoff, and Paul. Bobby/Robert Jr., however, seems to have followed in the footsteps of his father, exhibiting troubling signs of abuse and discounts the testimonies of his brothers, siding with his father and mother. This is indeed a very complicated internal family mess. It is important to note, however, that countless outsiders, including a long-time church board member vouched for the abuse, others filed police testimonies or accounts, and at Alex’s blog, there are quite a few comments from outside witnesses who validate the complaints of Alex, Geoff, and Paul. The stories I have highlighted only involve abuse within the family.
I have just scratched the surface of this story, sadly. Sometimes abusers keep abuse solely within the family. In this case, we find accounts of abuse extending outside the family into Bob Grenier’s “work” environment as Pastor of Calvary Chapel Visalia. The next post in this series will detail personal accounts of the abuse which extended outside the family and into the church and work environment.