First Television Interview from Two Survivors/Plaintiffs of Sovereign Grace Ministries Lawsuit

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This report was just released.  It was reported that victims are still coming forward and criminal investigations are currently taking place.

Renee, Pam, and Dara, you did a great job in this interview.  Your message was so clear.  Big hugs to you, ladies.  Thank you, thank you, for speaking up.   ~ja

Renee Palmer Gamby was just a toddler when she says she was molested by a male babysitter from her church. Covenant Life in Gaithersburg was the flagship church of the Sovereign Grace Ministries denomination until this past December, when it pulled out.

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Renee’s mother said that when she called their pastor about the abuse, he told her not to call police. Instead, Renee said she was required to meet with her alleged perpetrator and forgive him.

Renee and her mother said they thought they were the only victims. But years later, they found story after story on the “Sovereign Grace Ministries Survivors” blog. And now several are going public in what they hope will be a class-action civil lawsuit.

“We are alleging that a group of men, pastors, conspired together to cover up ongoing sexual abuse of children,” said Susan Burke, civil lawsuit attorney.

The suit alleges decades of brutal sexual and physical abuse of young children–boys and girls– from the 1980s on, at both Covenant Life Church, and Sovereign Grace Church of Fairfax.

The Covenant Life plaintiffs allege beatings, rapes, including a gang rape, and molestations at the church-run elementary school and at other church functions. During the abuse, the school was housed at the Frost Center in Aspen Hill, and Sunday services were then held at Magruder High School.

One alleged abuser is Stephen Griney, a former Bible studies teacher who also headed the children’s ministry. The suit details a gang rape where adults wore masks and the victim was an 8-year-old girl.

The lawsuit also names four current officials of the Fairfax church, again, alleging an orchestrated cover-up of child sex abuse incidents and failure to report them to police.

The accusations also say children were forced to meet and forgive the accused, and pastors failed to notify other families– so the perpetrators went on to prey on other children.

One of those alleged perpetrators is Nathaniel Morales, a Covenant Life member currently jailed on criminal child sex abuse charges in Montgomery County.

“The pastors were on notice. He had other victims,” explained Burke. “They had been told by the victims that Morales had molested them and they did nothing about it.”

Another of the accused predators was then-Covenant Life pastor and school principal John Loftness. The suit claims he repeatedly molested two young girls, one a 5-year-old. Loftness is now the pastor at Solid Rock Church in Riverdale, Maryland, which is not named in the suit.

ABC7 went to Solid Rock Church, but were told Loftness was out all week. Loftness did post a letter to church members, denying ever abusing a child, or shielding any pedophile.

Dara Sutherland said in 1987, when her then 14-year-old sister accused their father, David Adams, of having molested her for three years, their mother went to police. And she says the pastors punished the family instead.

“Basically threw us out of the church, supported the pedophile and provided him with an attorney,” said Sutherland.

Today, Sutherland says David Adams, who did serve jail time for child abuse, is still active at Covenant Life, and manages a children’s music band.

Read more: http://www.wjla.com/articles/2013/05/sovereign-grace-ministries-class-action-civil-lawsuit-involving-child-sex-abuse-88894.html#ixzz2TUvAZuO1

27 comments on “First Television Interview from Two Survivors/Plaintiffs of Sovereign Grace Ministries Lawsuit

  1. For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. Mark 4:22, ESV.

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  2. I commend these brave people for speaking out and shining the light of truth onto this matter.

    I noticed in reading the 2nd amended complaint that it alleges that the conspiracies to keep this matter under wraps is ongoing. I hope that a positive finding in this civil case will lead to criminal charges for conspiracy.

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  3. It seems like the day is the day of reckoning. Victims feel safer to come forward and they’re coming in droves. It is happening all over. Thank God for the exposure! But what sadness at the same time. Sadness to see how imbedded this is in the ‘church’. How brazen the lies. I used to work a Christian based hotline, and I have heard quite a bit. But honestly, I am stunned at this. I want all you precious children to know I carry you in my heart and hold you up to the Lord, as I am sure many are.

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  4. Eric, the reporter said that a criminal investigation is underway right now. Nathan Morales has been criminally charged already. I suspect we will see more. This is outrageous. I’ve read it is the biggest case of its kind in evangelical churches in the last century. Why this does not get more press is beyond me.

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  5. Julie Anne, thanks so much for all your hard work and your deep love and concern for victims of abuse. I’m so glad that this stuff is finally being exposed and I trust that in the near future it will get the national exposure it deserves.

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  6. I too am shocked that this hasn’t received more press. The sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church has been all over local, national, and world news (though it’s died down a bit recently). This really isn’t any different. As Christians, we were appalled by what went on in some Catholic churches. Some would even say, “well, if they allowed the priests to marry.” And I have to say, I think I may have been guilty of saying that once or twice myself. Here we have a very similar thing happening in a large organization of Protestant churches. Sure, it may not be as big as Rome, but this is still a very large network. Where is the righteous anger in this case? Hopefully as the case grows, and as more of us share the story via facebook, twitter, blogs, etc, it will gain attention. It should. I for one, am standing with the victims.

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  7. Silly me, I didn’t finish one of my thoughts in my previous comment. Some would even say, “well, if they allowed the priests to marry, this wouldn’t be a problem.” And I have to say, I think I may have been guilty of saying that once or twice myself. It’s not so much that they weren’t allowed to marry, it’s that they were perverted pedophiles in the first place, They just may not have victimized anyone yet. But then they did, and it was covered up. Here we have a very similar…

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  8. Unless I am missing something, the continuing silence by the likes of Piper, Mohler, Dever and Duncan is palpable. The only evidence I can find is to the effect that these and other evangelical “heroes of the faith” have circled the wagons around Mahaney. All their assumptions appear to me to be in favor of Mahaney, with no thought given to the detailed, and therefore credible, descriptions of the most horrendous, life ruining, acts of pedophilic predation perpetrated by leaders in Mahaney’s churches.

    I can understand men standing by their friend, but their silence, and especially their failure to take positive action on behalf of victims, is a running, leprous lesion on all of evangelicalism. Whereas some evangelical leaders hoot and howl at disclosures of pedophilic predation by priests in the Catholic church, these super heroes of evangelicalism are silent and worse than silent when it comes to their own.

    It may be supposed that some will be tempted to say that all these allegations are only allegations, so that we need not concern ourselves; but that would evidence a hardness of heart towards victims that would cause me to wonder if the ones taking refuge in such a position are even followers of Jesus. We can withhold final conclusions vis-à-vis the defendants pending the outcome of the legal process, while still praying for, speaking out on behalf of, and even reaching out to, the victims.

    The argument will doubtless be made that all these circumstances are an aberration, that such things don’t tend to happen in evangelical churches. I beg to differ. Evangelicalism has proven to be just as susceptible to scandal as Roman Catholicism. The very legal structures and organizational principles embraced by evangelicalism promote the kinds of abuses addressed in the SGM lawsuit. Evangelical organizations tend to be founded on an authority structure, typically with a single man effectively wielding unaccountable authority. No wonder so many sociopathic, or at least narcissistic, men are “called” to evangelical pulpits. Once installed, they can feel good that they are simply emulating John Piper’s arbitrary, narcissistic god (I refuse to capitalize the word god here) who’s primary motivation is his concern for his glory. No, the satan may be primarily concerned for his own glory. The God I worship is Love.

    May God be thanked for the many evangelical pastors, including those who comment on this blog, who truly pastor without having fallen prey to the temptations inherent in the personal authority and power conferred by evangelical ways of doing church.

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  9. Excellent comment, Gary W. All you have to do is look at these leaders and see what makes them speak out against someone. I have observed. They speak out against those in their midst who stray on theological issues. Pedophilia in church among church leaders is a non-issue to them because CJ passed their theology test. I’ve been saying this and will continue to say it. Their idol is their brand of doctrine and anyone who lines up with their beliefs gets a free pass.

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  10. Bad doctrine or good doctrine, sin is still sin, evil is still evil, and abuse is still abuse. I’ll ultimately leave it up to God whether or not these people are true Christians. At the end of the day though, NOBODY should get a free pass when it comes to abusing children. They still have to face the consequences for what they did, and they still SHOULD be seeking to protect those who cannot protect themselves (ie, the children). There are plenty of people I’m sure that would pass my own “theology test” that I would still want to see locked up for a very long time.

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  11. JoeJoe said: There are plenty of people I’m sure that would pass my own “theology test” that I would still want to see locked up for a very long time.

    Same here, JoeJoe. That’s because doctrine is not our god.

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  12. NOONE should get a free pass when it comes to abusing ANYONE.
    As more speak up, I hope more realize the importance of speaking up.

    Silence in the face of evil is itself evil:
    God will not hold us guiltless.
    Not to speak is to speak.
    Not to act is to act.
    ~~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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  13. I know Gary W. and I don’t usually agree but I have to agree with Gary’s and JoeJoe’s posts in their entirety.

    I have previously stated that the silence of others as it pertains to CJ and others in this situation could be attributed to friendship. That is not a viable reason to keep silent in the face of what I read in the amended complaint. The level of detail contained in the victims statements make it very very highly unlikely that these accusations are fabricated.

    They do a grave disservice to the victims, believers, and non-believers by continuing to utilize guys that sanctioned such behavior to preach in churches and conferences.

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  14. Whereas some evangelical leaders hoot and howl at disclosures of pedophilic predation by priests in the Catholic church, these super heroes of evangelicalism are silent and worse than silent when it comes to their own.

    “I THANK THEE, LOORD, THAT I AM NOTHING LIKE THOSE FILTHY ROMISH PAPISTS OVER THERE…”

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  15. Excellent comment, Gary W. All you have to do is look at these leaders and see what makes them speak out against someone. I have observed. They speak out against those in their midst who stray on theological issues.

    “Correct Theology” or Purity of Ideology(TM)?

    Justified by “God Hath Said” or The Inevitable Dialectic of Marxist-Leninist History(TM)?

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  16. Thank you, Ang. Dietrich is one of my favorites and I welcome those words in my life right now. Just a few words but very profound and weighty Wisdom. If only all would practice them we would not have these kinds of “cases” or, even, the ongoing, daily, misery due to abuse of some sort or another, in most people’s lives. As abuse happens at all levels and degrees, all day long. So you could say that hell is doing its job all the time, everywhere, when righteousness isn’t. But if it weren’t for the “enablers”, it all would not go far. As most victims’ dilemmas is the silence from others, as witnessed here. If it weren’t for that, this would be an open and shut case. I have said for a long time, “Silence when words are called for is cruelty”. I know that fear is a powerful thing and that some keep quiet for that reason, but one must be honest with oneself and not cloak the silence in anything that it isn’t. Because anything that is, knowingly, hid in darkness is that – darkness. No matter the ‘reason’ for the silence (darkness).

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  17. “The very legal structures and organizational principles embraced by evangelicalism promote the kinds of abuses addressed in the SGM lawsuit. Evangelical organizations tend to be founded on an authority structure, typically with a single man effectively wielding unaccountable authority. No wonder so many sociopathic, or at least narcissistic, men are “called” to evangelical pulpits. Once installed, they can feel good that they are simply emulating John Piper’s arbitrary, narcissistic god (I refuse to capitalize the word god here) who’s primary motivation is his concern for his glory.”

    This true statement is so contrary to Jesus’ teaching that “The greatest among you will be your servant.” (Matthew 23:11) I love the way HUG makes the connections between certain political ideologies and the way some churches operate today. Jim Jones did the same thing. Superficially, he was the pastor of a Pentecostal church. But his real religion was socialism. I think the reason some churches (such as SGM) are such a big fail for love, is because their ideologies aren’t really Christian after all. It’s just a thin “Christian” veneer on something evil.

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  18. Ang,

    I’m afraid you may be right. It could be that these churches are leaving because they feel some of the leaders have forfeited their right to leadership by engaging in the abuse and cover-up, but that they still have the same doctrines and ideology in general, such as patriarchy and the authority of pastors and leaders over their congregations rather than pastors and leaders being servants of the church. We can only hope that by leaving the organization that they will allow different, servant leaders to speak into their lives where they didn’t have a chance before that could help set them straight. We can only hope.

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  19. Ang – They have been so brainwashed with their type of theology, I do not see how they can change. If you read SGMSurvivors, they talk about seeing changes, but these are core doctrinal issues that have been ingrained for years. I’m not convinced that things will change that much.

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  20. Wesley, will you please walk yourself to Twitter and tweet this to @Frank_Turk with whom I have wasted too much time conversing:

    They do a grave disservice to the victims, believers, and non-believers by continuing to utilize guys that sanctioned such behavior to preach in churches and conferences.

    Excellent comment. But I’m afraid this kind of common sense will be too difficult for some of these celebrity leaders to understand.

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  21. HAHAHAHA – – I’m late at going to Twitter this morning and didn’t realize what you meant when you posted this. Go Wesley!!! LOL. Thanks for tweeting. I’m following you 🙂

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