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I received a copy of the second complaint against Sovereign Grace Ministries earlier today. We have been expecting this second amended complaint for some time now. As if the original complaint was not bad enough, this new complaint is beyond what I could have imagined. It is difficult to fathom these kinds of crimes committed under the facade of an environment that is so pro-family, so keen on being sexually pure, dressing modestly, having godly complementarian marriages, being so cross-centered, children’s hearts being shepherded etc. To read what you are about to read will no doubt be shocking.
If even 10% of the allegations prove to be true, it is horrific. I do believe the plaintiffs and have no doubt that 10% will be far closer to 100%. As weeks and months have gone by since the original filing, so many of us have been shocked to see the stance of Christian leaders who are friends with some of the defendants on this lawsuit. C.J. Mahaney continues to speak at churches and conferences – even overseas as recently as last month – as if he is a Christian in good standing with his peers. Do they need to see sexual acts done to minors in front of their eyeballs in order to speak out or take a stand against abuse? WHAT MORE DO THEY NEED before they take a stand and say enough is enough?
I must issue the strongest disclaimer right up front. If you have suffered abuse of any kind. Please be careful. I do not want to cause triggers for you. Why am I going to post some of the allegations? Because these survivors have not had a voice for years and years. Their voices have been squelched, they have been told to deal with their own sin (appalling!). These survivors were denied the opportunity to get civil authorities involved, were denied access to proper mental health care, were denied the opportunity to talk to their closest friends. These families have been alone and silent. That is not going to be the case anymore.
It saddens me to share the stories from the newly filed amended complaint, but if it prevents one more person to go through what they have gone through, then it will be worth it. The plaintiffs’ family members I have communicated with seem to be in one accord on this issue. They agree that the truth MUST be known.
One more thing before I continue. I would once again ask my readers to pray for these precious families, not only the families of the survivors, but also the families of the alleged perpetrators of these heinous crimes. Some are just now learning or coming to grips with what has occurred. You can be sure that families and lives are being tragically affected.
Some of the plaintiffs have now decided to disclose their identities. That is a brave and powerful step to take. People will now be able to put names and faces together. Some will be shocked when they see the names and recognize faces. That’s good. It’s time to realize these acts of violence were committed against real people, not just pseudonyms. Those who have remained anonymous are just as real as those who have revealed their names. We must not forget any one of the survivors.
Here are the brave plaintiffs who have decided to reveal their names:
Heather Thompson Bryant (formerly identified as Paula Poe)
Jessica Roberts-Thomas – *new plaintiff
Dara Sutherland (formerly identified as Robin Roe)
Renee Palmer Gamby (formerly identified as Norma Noe)
James Robert – *new plaintiff
Six other plaintiffs use a pseudonym: Jane Doe, Karen Koe, Karl Koe, Carla Coe, Grace Goe, and Donna Doe.
This is a key paragraph (screen shot) taken from the complaint:
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Ok, once again, please, be careful when reading this if you are triggered when reading abuse stories. I cannot stress that enough. I am only going to highlight from #32 to #56 of the lawsuit below. If you do not want to get triggered, please stop reading now.
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Beginning at #32 and cont.: Plaintiff Roberts, an elementary school child, was allegedly fondled by David Adams. Plaintiff Roberts told John Loftness, principal of the school, what happened and Loftness told Roberts to re-enact what happened. Loftness failed to report the incident to Roberts’ parents. He also failed to report the incident to authorities, but instead, directed Roberts to forgive Adams.
#35-36: 1986-1989 Roberts was later molested by Morales during his middle school years. The claim indicates went on to molest others including his daughter. Morales hugged Roberts and manually manipulated his penis. Roberts did not report this to anyone because he was afraid he’d be forced to reconcile and forgive.
#41: Daughter of David Adams discloses to her mother, Peggy, that she had been molested by her father from the age of 11 to 14 (1983-1986). The abuse: oral sex, digital penetration
#43-45: Peggy reports sex abuse to Dave Mays who reports to Defendants Ricucci and later Loftness. They failed to tell authorities of Adams’ prior sexual abuse. Peggy is told to let them handle it, that they will “take care of everything.”
#46 Peggy was not told of Adams’ abuse of Plaintiff Roberts.
#56 This begins the story of Stephen Griney and Plaintiff Thompson: In the summer of 1984, ‘Stephen Griney, a teacher at the School and the head of childrens Ministry at the Church, came into the room where Plaintiff Thompson, then age three, was napping. He laid down next to her, began to kiss her neck and fondle her vagina. He told her she was “special.”‘
In the fall of 1985, Plaintiff was a kindergarten student. During the 1985/86 school year, Griney repeatedly “isolated Plaintiff Thompson, then age five, in the coat closet in the classroom. There, Griney kissed her on the mouth, used his hands and fondled her vagina, and rubbed his hands all over her body under her clothes.”
During the 1985/86 school year, “Defendent Lofness, Griney and a third person isolated Plaintiff Thompson along with two other girls attending the school. Defendants took the children to a room within the school, and directed them to take off their underwear. Defendant Loftness pulled a plastic rod along Plaintiff Thompson’s left leg and through her vagina. He then began to hit her bottom.”
Okay. This was bad enough. Friends, it gets worse, much worse. There are 218 entries and I only got to #56. What you will read (if you choose to do so) is church leaders in a concerted effort to cover up abuse, prevent parents from reporting, church leaders violating horrific crimes against children, church leaders conspiring together to keep the crimes under wraps away from civil authorities. You will also see leaders using their positions of authority telling victims to reconcile with their perpetrators. That sends shivers down my spine.
Below is the link to the full amended lawsuit. It is despicable.
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2nd Amended Lawsuit Filing May 14 2013
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Updated 5/17/13: See judge’s ruling here.
48 thoughts on “Second Amended Complaint against Sovereign Grace Ministries Filed Today”
I just read most of the new filing. I’m nauseated and disgusted, and there’s no way I can bring myself to pray for the defendants’ families right now. I have a hard time believing that these people were clueless about these allegations for all of this time.
I couldn’t finish reading it. I’m sick to my stomach.
The part about the boys sitting in a circle, talking about how it was “too late” for them to be pure? I know. Oh, I know. My heart breaks for them. My Momma Bear instincts are crying for blood on their behalf. Oh, if I had claws to with which to tear!!
I’m so disgusted with these evil men and anyone who supports them or is silent in the face of these awful accusations. I’m looking at YOU, Gospel Coalition! And Tim Challies! Are you so proud of your buddy CJ Mahaney now???
Words fail me… I am sick, disgusted, outraged. Julie Anne, is there a way to donate to help with legal expenses. What can we do? Yes, prayer of course. How would you go about getting the press to cover this? Can we take out ads to expose this in major newspapers? I am getting a small inheritance in June and would happily spend it to expose these evil, sick, twisted so called men of God.
Tragic and outrageous. Those who do not condemn this are guilty themselves.
Ugh. I know 3/4 of those people and one of them used to babysit my nephew and when he was a toddler and work in children’s ministry. I had no idea the extent of the charges against people like Larry T., Grant Layman, John Loftness (he’s the one that “counseled” me, badly I might add), Gary R.. These people used to teach us from the pulpit. I arrived in 1991–so after a lot of the abuse at CLC had already occurred. So these people were teaching from the pulpit all knowing that their colleagues had been molesting children and after molesting children themselves. One of those poor abused families was in my caregroup. Shocked–it’s worse than I thought, especially the charges against Larry Tomczak imprisoning a young lady, beating her and denying her food. What in the world??? Lord, have mercy.
Gail – You are sweet. I know some of the victims read here. They can contact me privately. And I already have your e-mail address. I’ll let you know if I get a response.
Speechless with disgust and outrage at the alleged perpetrators (and I only say ‘alleged’ so that Julie’s blog will not be subject to charges) . . . and I have only read this post, not the complete second amended lawsuit.
I want to praise every victim and survivor who has been bold and brave enough to lay charges. I want to encourage you and affirm you have done the right thing by speaking out and refusing to be intimidated by those who would silence you. God is on your side; He hates abuse and those who abuse, especially those who abuse children. What he says about millstones is perfectly apt.
Those who are condoning the defendants need to read 1 Cor. 5:11-13, and act on it. Inaction by bystanders is complicity with the crimes.
Those who are condoning the defendants will be heavily judged by God, and by all sensible people whether they be true Christians or unbelievers who uphold the principles common human decency and truthfulness.
There is no millstone big enough for these hypocrite perverts. I had to quit reading after the first group.
I actually do feel compassion for the perpetrator’s families. And I have a message for the wives:
I want you to know how sorry I am about your situation – both for you and your children.
You are not the only Christian woman who married a pedophile. I did too. I left him more than a decade ago because I knew that someday I would end up on headline news, just as you have. I am so sorry for the embarrassment and humiliation you’ve suffered.
Each of us makes our own decision. I stayed a long time with my husband too. I’m probably about your age. I hoped that my love would fill that empty place in his heart. It didn’t. I had fasted and prayed during my entire marriage. We tried years of counseling and even an in-patient treatment center. My husband got a masters in marriage and family therapy from a Christian university. It didn’t help.
One day, I found out about a new incident, and I realized I had to get out for the sake of my children and everyone around us.
I felt the Lord saying, “You are like a bird in a cage. But see? I have opened the door. You may fly out or stay in. But that door won’t open again.”
I flew out. And I am so happy I did. I asked my husband to leave – exhibiting a strength and toughness I never knew I had. I got him out of my home, out of my church, out of my neighborhood, and out of my town. I did not hate him; but I knew he was a walking disaster area.
Yes, the first couple of years were hard financially, but God was faithful. My children suffered at first, but they have turned out as lovely whole people. They are winners in every sense: personally, academically, and spiritually. They don’t have the level of damage in their lives that their father does. They love him but see his limits. I told them the truth when they turned 21. (They hadn’t been victims themselves and hadn’t known.)
I want to give you hope that if you want to fly out the open door, that life is wonderful out here. Yes, you will hurt a lot for a year, maybe two. But the joy of living without the burden of a pedophile in your life is incredible.
• I thought God could never use me again. But he has.
• I thought I would never be in ministry again. But I am — even more than before.
• I thought people at church would condemn me. But they didn’t. They surrounded me with love.
• I thought I would never be financially solid again. But I am. In fact I have 10 times the assets I did when I was married, and my retirement is nearly fully funded.
• I thought I was disqualified for God’s best. But I know now I am a daughter of the Lord, and am blessed.
• I thought my children would be damaged and hopelessly dysfunctional. They aren’t. They tell me that they feel the same as everyone else. In fact, they look at their friends’ mothers and see a lot more dysfunction there.
• I thought I would never have any honor. I’ve been put on many corporate and non-profit boards and served in far more leadership positions in church than I did when I was married.
• My children are proud of me for what I did.
I hope this has given you hope.
Whatever you decide, the choice is truly yours. I am thrilled I was set free. My life is incredibly happy. There are much worse things in this world than divorce.
Anon 3 – Thank you for reaching out to specifically the perpetrators wives as one who has been there. You have given wonderful words of encouragement and hope. I was very moved by your story. Thank you so much. I pray that your comment will be read by the wives who need to read it.
I hope they will read it too. This is the first time I’ve ever told my story publicly, but God seemed to be prompting me.
I’ll scope around and see if I can get it in the right hands Again, thank you. Your comment was so heart-felt – truly! Not so many have walked in your shoes. I’m glad you are doing so well. You were very courageous.
wow wow wow. We knew it was bad. But this is just unfathomable.
Anon 3, I hope your courage inspires some of the people involved. I hope that they are able to walk forward in faith and receive as much support as you did.
Unfortunately, the piece about fearing the church condemning them already has happened, and is a major part of why this has gone on so long in SG.
Don’t even know what to pray. Praying for justice. Praying for healing.
Praying for those, like me, who have attended CLC in the past (and Fairfax and wherever else the alleged atrocities have occurred) but had no clue any of this was going on until it went public, that we will be able to sort out our faith and still see God as who He really is. It is still difficult for me to listen to anyone preaching, post SG. This latest news adds a whole level of skepticism. I pray that none of us will ever blindly follow a leader again, and that we will listen for the Holy Spirit always.
I’m guessing the woman Larry Tomczak abused for so long was a family member under his care. If he kidnapped her, there would still be time for a big criminal case. A lot of these cases are likely past the statute of limitations for criminal cases, unfortunately. I do hope they can win their civil case, however. If you read the whole filing, it sounds like there could potentially be enough victims for a whole other case. That is really awful to think about! How many children were hurt?
I feel sick to my stomach after reading the amended lawsuit. Having said that, I’m not especially surprised – I said from the very beginning that I thought things would get very ugly before the truth came out.
However, the (to me) unfathomable question remains: how ugly does it have to get before prominent names in the Evangelical world publicly distance themselves from Mahaney et al? It beggars belief that these men continue to receive such public support and endorsement. Yes, they are legally innocent until proven guilty, but how anyone on their right mind can consider it in any way appropriate for them to continue in public ministry at this time is beyond me.
Reblogged this on Speakingtruthinlove's Blog and commented:
“Be sure your sin will find you out”
Crimany. I’m not connected in any way to SGM, having only learned of these cases recently, but this is indeed even worse than I had initially known. While defendants are indeed “innocent until proven guilty” in the eyes of the law, one thing I didn’t know before (probably simply because of my limited knowledge of the case) is that one defendant had already been proven guilty and served jail time! And yet he was still allowed access to children?!
Furthermore, even if (and that is an enormously big IF) some allegations weren’t completely factual, one would think that due to the nature of the allegations the wise thing to do would be to restrict an alleged molester’s access to children. If (again, big IF) the defendant were proven wholly innocent, then I would think that previous positions could be restored (though I would say that the wise thing to do in the case of a truly innocent defendant would be to allow for great transparency and accountability. It’s just wiser). It just makes sense to be more cautious when it comes to these kinds of crimes. If a person is accused of molesting kids, then any, and I mean ANY contact they may have with children, should be supervised VERY closely.
It appears to me that SGM SEVERELY lacked wisdom in this. And that is about as big an understatement as I can make. Even if there weren’t other abuses, that ALONE would cause me to seriously question if this were a good church to attend. This whole thing makes me so mad, and I don’t even have any connection to it, other than the hurt I feel for a fellow Christian brother or sister who has been victimized in one of the most ugly ways. And all of this at the hands of people who are supposed to be Christians! It’s completely attrocious! These crimanals deserve to be banned from ever pastoring again at the very, very least, and to be thrown in jail for a very, VERY long time at worst (though I understand this is a civil suit, not criminal, I still think they deserve jail time. Personally, in my oppinion though, I believe somebody who has been convicted of rape of a young child should have the possibility of execution as punishment, but that is just my oppinion).
Congratulations on your courage in the Lord! Thank God for your commitment to follow Him. More people need to hear your testimony.
Anon3, thank you for that. I have two questions and if you don’t want to answer, that’s fine.
1. My mother stayed with her husband (now deceased), a pastor who sexually abused his/her children. She has since said that she didn’t know and was sorry, but that is it. Her behavior hasn’t changed and the whole thing was swept under the rug as if nothing happened. My life has been a minor travesty (even though I was able train/teach at college in between collapses) and my mother ignores it except to occasionally bemoan my poor physical health. I can’t find a way to have a relationship with her because of it. Do you have any recommendations?
2. Was your husband reported to the police? When I was a young adult, I agonized over doing so but didn’t because there was no support for it and I was not sturdy enough on my own. I’ve had nightmares that what my father did to me, he did to others because of my weakness.
I don’t understand why this not all over the news. I can’t even imagine the evil here. The alleged acts must be real because of the detail described. What is the matter with people?! It’s no wonder I trust no human authority.
VV I am completely puzzled, too. Look at all the press about Gosnell. Do people not realize the ramifications of sex abuse and spiritual abuse? Sometimes life long mental health issues. Sometimes suicide. I am livid and have been tweeting and tagging like a woman gone mad.
Not to mention the fact that the alleged behaviours are about as far removed from godly conduct as possible, yet people like CJ are still held up as examples to learn from. The level of naivety (or more likely cynicism) is staggering. I am genuinely surprised that people like Piper have apparently turned a blind eye to this (I’m no Piper fanboy – I just thought he was at least a little wiser than this).
Correction from my earlier comment. I learned that my nephew was not babysat by one of the people mentioned in the lawsuit. I just didn’t want to leave that out there. I am moved by the amount of caring and concern I see here for the victims. Julie Anne, thanks for your work in building a community.
Rob, it’s time to weed out the true Christian leaders from the frauds. These guys who abandon the weakest and most vulnerable do not deserve any position in church leadership whatsoever. Our model to follow is Christ. How would He handle this?
I have no doubt he would show compassion to the victims and would not mince words in denouncing the behaviour of the perpetrators and those who place their reputation above the life and well-being of “these little ones”.
Amen, Rob. I wanted to reach through the pages of that lawsuit and grab those precious children and take them to safety. I also wanted so badly to use my feet in a way that would inflict great bodily harm to a certain part of the male anatomy to those who violated those young children.
VV I am completely puzzled, too. Look at all the press about Gosnell.
Simple. Gosnell was an ABORTIONIST, not one of God’s Predestined Elect with Perfectly-Parsed Doctrine (Humbly, of course). One of THEM, not One of Us.
Culture War Without End, Amen.
I’m guessing the woman Larry Tomczak abused for so long was a family member under his care.
1) God’s Predestined Elect?
3) Penis instead of Vulva?
4) Simple. He was a MAN, she was a woman, she was his property to use as he saw fit. Justified by and covered up with God-talk and Perfectly-Parsed Doctrine.
Addendum to previous:
4a) She is “family member”, thus he being a man is Paterfamilias and she as all family members is his property to use as he sees fit. Very Roman.
J A I don’t tweet, personally, but know you do. Looks like Jared Wilson could use some friendly support after tweeting about SGM lawsuit. Another guy is thinking this is the second lawsuit and “the first found nothing”.
I would like a way to bring more attention to this case as well. The only way I can think of for me is to link this story on Facebook. I have a small audience, but it’s an audience nonetheless. Maybe one of my friends with a larger audience will pick it up and pass it on. I have no influence over what news the media puts out, but I can do this (I just wish it could be more). Christians and non-Christians alike need to see what an aboration and attrocity this is. I’ll be sure to post a link on my timeline when I get a chance.
Thanks, Dave, I’ll check.
Thank you, JoeJoe.
After reading the entire complaint, I am at a complete loss for words.
Wow…. I am sitting here and I really don’t know what to say. I am angered and outraged on so many different levels–as a father, as a husband, as a Christian, as a part of a local church, as a person engaged in eldering ministry, as a male, as a human being.
I have difficulty believing these allegations are trumped up because of the level of detail involved in recounting what occurred even after extensive periods of time. I have difficulty believing that men who are husbands and fathers would knowingly allow such things to go on and then call themselves leaders, pastors, apostles, fathers, husbands, and men.
JA I don’t stand by my statements that this is not a doctrinal emphasis issue or an egal. or comp. issue. This is a depravity and perversion and human evil issue. I have difficulty believing that people that would engage in such activities and/or protect those who do from the consequences of their actions and even direct people to continue to put themselves in an environment where they are subjected to such actions are converted or competent to engage in Christian ministry on any level.
I am well aware that we are not all in agreement about church polity so please excuse my use of terms that you may find disagreeable. I just thought that after defending these guys publicly I in the past I needed to be consistent and condemn their actions just as publicly. I will remember these families and individuals who had their childhoods snatched from them in prayer.
Sickest sh*t I have ever read.
Some of the criminal offenses may still be within the statute of limitations in some jurisdictions. With sexual abuse of a child, the statutes are sometimes complex and include a period of time after the victim has reached adulthood. Some jurisdictions have somewhat open-ended time limits for some offenses. The specific acts and jurisdictions need to be researched before reaching a conclusion about whether time has precluded prosecution. In addition, in some jurisdictions, a willful cover up of a crime can extend the time frame.
Dear dear Patrice,
I am so sorry for the abuse you suffered at the hands of the man who was supposed to love you and protect you. And I’m grieved that your mother didn’t have the strength and conviction to walk out of the marriage.
Please do not feel guilt that you couldn’t stop your dad. No one can stop pedophiles. Their recidivism rate is 98%. You were just a child. Your father had emotional and physical power over you. Do not blame yourself for what he might have done to others. That is between him and God.
You asked about having a relationship with your mother. I would say, no, not if she sweeps the truth under the rug (and most of them do).
I would find a loving Christian woman who understands abuse to be your adopted mom. It’s impossible to have a deep and meaningful relationship with a person who ignores the elephant in the room.
Your second question was if my husband was reported to the police. Yes, he was. He’s had extensive therapy for many years in court-approved programs but is considered a treatment failure.
Abuse is not your fault. You were the victim. You could do nothing to cause it nor to cure it.
I’d recommend that you get into a group of sexual abuse survivors so that you have a safe place to discuss your past and how it affects you today. I think that with loving support you will be able to find a better life.
Thank you, Wesley, for acknowledging that this is not simply a doctrinal issue. Ironically, there is a lot of talk within SGM about the connection between orthodoxy and orthopraxy. They preach on that stuff.
For those of us who eventually realized something was off but were never up close to the alleged abuse being brought to light, it was difficult to see clearly until we left that the problem wasn’t simply a matter of doctrine. If you didn’t know what was occurring behind the scenes, it just felt like a controlling but very “biblical” church environment.
They did a VERY good job at teaching doctrine, or shall I say, indoctrinating. I can’t tell you how many sermons I’ve heard over the years at SG churches about “solid teaching” and “biblical” this and that. For so long, I sat under that preaching (including some of the defendants) and was led to believe that if anyone had a life struggle, a sin issue, etc., they just needed to see God’s sovereignty the way “we” saw it.
The same inappropriate, oppressive overemphasis on sin that is described in the lawsuit, forcing victims to immediately look at their own sin rather than simply listening and advocating for them and speaking love to them was practiced on a micro level in all areas of SGM. This is the air they breathe. You share that you had a tough day over coffee with a friend; they ask you about your sin. You share intimate details about a conflict at work or within your family with your small group; they ask you to look at your own sin- even if the conflict doesn’t involve you at all and you are simply needing to vent or cry. It’s still connected with your sin. Must be. You have a concern about leadership? And you express that concern? AND you’re a woman? Yep, definitely sin.
Maybe after reading this latest iteration of the lawsuit, this will connect the dots for people who may have perceived criticism of SGM as overreacting.
Wow, Anon 3, thanks for your kindness and clarity! I have had the grace of a good therapist who has helped me through much, so there are only these last few stray hairs to sweep up.
I do know the abuse was not my responsibility, but feel bad for others who likely were recipients. Part of the over-responsibility is oldest kid syndrome, I think lol I am SO glad you reported your husband. Goofily, that makes me feel better.
Finding an older woman in everyday life—great idea. I’ll start looking.
Thanks again, very very much! God keep you as sturdy and lovely as you are.
Anon 3: I have made your original comment here into a post. Thank you for sharing your story here. I hope it will help/bless many. You have such a great heart. ~ja
“A millstone around the neck”. Not the ankle. Being sent somewhere you do not want to go headlong, and with speed, is “better” than to fall into the hands of the living God. Not sobering enough for some.
Hi Julie Anne, Thought you would want to hear this, posted at TWW
Marge Sweigart on Thu May 16, 2013 at 12:10 PM said:
Bill O’Neil, co-counsel for the plaintiffs, will be on the Janet Mefferd radio program today at 4:15 pm. He will be talking about the Second Amended Lawsuit.
Being sent somewhere you do not want to go headlong, and with speed, is “better” than to fall into the hands of the living God. Not sobering enough for some.
Even if you’re Hyper-Calvinist Predestined Elect, with your Get-Out-of-Hell-Free card signed by God before the creation of the world?
(Extreme Predestination beliefs have their side effects, including some which really bring out the Dark Side; Islam’s also been suffering from them for some time.)
dear sister, in the middle of reading your first comment i had to stop and weep. .
Thank You for your words of encouragement and for telling your story. .
after dropping this comment i’m going off to cry and talk to our Father for awhile. .
blessings to everyone here,
David: I made a post out of Anon 3’s comment: https://spiritualsoundingboard.com/2013/05/15/being-married-to-a-pedophile-a-wife-speaks-out-and-offers-hope-to-other-wives-of-pedophiles/
Go check out the comments there. I carefully titled the article in the hopes that others wives of pedophiles would be blessed by Anon 3’s words. Wives have found the site and have commented. How wonderful is that?!