“Now where is the scandal in this?” ~Doug Wilson
Steven Sitler, Christ Church, Moscow ID, New Saint Andrews, Pedophile
When I was tweeting about my upcoming visit to Moscow, I received a tweet from Heather Wilson. At the time, I didn’t realize she was related to Doug Wilson, but later I received an e-mail from Heather and figured out she was indeed connected with Doug Wilson. Heather is married to Nathan, or ND, Doug’s son.
My first response was, “Cool!” I wish I could have met with Doug Wilson in person, but at least this was an opportunity to gain some understanding from inside the Kirk. I loved that Heather not only tried once, but twice to connect with someone who has obviously spoken about her father-in-law in a negative light. (You can see a bit of her spunk in the tweet above.) She had no fear and wanted to give me an opportunity to ask questions. I looked forward to meeting her.
In full disclosure, I sent Heather a draft copy of the following summary to make sure I articulated her words accurately.
We met at a local coffee shop, Bucer’s Coffeehouse Pub, which coincidently is owned by Pat Greenfield, the mother of Natalie Rose Greenfield. As you may recall, Natalie has spoken out recently about how Doug Wilson and elders at Christ Church mishandled her sexual abuse case in which Jamin Wight sexually violated Natalie beginning when she was 14 yrr old.
Heather easily noticed me waiting at the counter. We sipped our drinks and conversed at an outside table on Main St. in downtown Moscow. We got to know each other a bit, compared family sizes, ages, school backgrounds, etc. Heather was very easy to talk with and I thought if I had met her at my church, I could easily be friends with her. She’s just your normal easy-going mom raising her family just like we all do, with normal busy-ness, interruptions, etc.
We talked about a number of issues that have been part of the controversy, but Heather simply said that she wasn’t really up on the details, and was not in a position to talk about them. Fair enough.
We then moved on to the Steven Sitler case. To quickly summarize the Sitler case, Steven Sitler was the pedophile who sexually abused several children in three different states. He was convicted for only one case (the parents of the other victims refused to report) and sentenced to life in prison; however, that sentence was later reduced in a plea deal. He served 20 months in prison, and was sentenced to a life term.Doug Wilson was instrumental in the plea deal, having written a letter to the judge indicating he felt Sitler had fully repented and requested “that the civil penalties applied would be measured and limited.” Doug Wilson also officiated in the marriage of Sitler to Katie Travis and, to this day, defends his decision.
If you haven’t seen the timeline on the Sitler case, please do check it out. It is very helpful, easy to read, and the information is backed up with linked primary source documentation.
I had a few problems with the Sitler situation. No, big problems. I felt it was wrong for Iverson, an elder and trusted family friend of Katie’s, to match her up with Sitler. I told Heather that no one in their right mind who cared about and was acting as guardian for a young lady would ever match up a pedophile with anyone, let alone a young woman under his care. When you take the responsibility of caring for someone, you don’t put them in harm’s way. This was an accident waiting to happen.
I appealed to her as a mother and asked if she would be okay with someone matching up her daughter with a pedophile. She indicated she would not. We were in agreement on that point. However, she did say that she was not privy to the details that led to Katie being matched up with Steven, or how Katie fell in love with and wanted to marry him, so maybe there was information that might better explain things.
We moved on from that topic to another issue that deeply concerned me: that Doug Wilson officiated the wedding of Steven Sitler and Katie, knowing full well his pedophilia past, knowing full well Sitler wanted children, and knowing full well that if Sitler did anything wrong again, he would likely be sent back to prison for life.
I discussed that I didn’t believe there was wisdom in Wilson officiating the marriage. I also told Heather that Wilson was giving Katie and their future baby/babies a life sentence, meaning either Steven would end up in prison, or isolated from his children, or under strict supervision, 24/7. Additionally, Katie would bear a lot of the burden of keeping her children safe from their own father, and would even have to chaperone her husband. This was not a good way to start a marriage or for any marriage, for that matter, and I felt that Wilson failed his job as shepherd when he officiated the wedding.
From Heather’s understanding, Doug Wilson claimed that Sitler was repentant. Katie was an adult; they loved each other and consented to be married. There was nothing in the Bible that said they could not marry. There was nothing in civil laws preventing them from getting married. Wilson was their pastor, and while he counsels people, they were still free to make the own decisions, even if the decisions were foolish, and against Wilson’s counsel.
(Heather noted that it is ironic that people online complain that Wilson is very controlling and used this as an example to show that he doesn’t control people, even if they go against his advice – in general, not specifically referring to the Sitler scandal.)
I mentioned that Wilson could have told them it was not wise to get married, and Heather said we don’t know if he did or didn’t say that as Wilson refuses to discuss private pastoral counsel. I told her that he could have refused to marry them based on the obvious projected outcome, and this might have helped them to reconsider getting married.
I mentioned that Wilson could have counseled Sitler to get a vasectomy in order to relieve the burden of Katie having to chaperone her husband. Heather replied that she did not know if Wilson counseled this or not to Sitler.
We then discussed the likelihood that Sitler would have gotten married anyway, and then the issue Heather presented was: who would care for this couple if they got married in a different church? Would the pastor understand the danger Sitler presented to the congregation? Would Katie get the support and help she needed?
So, in Heather’s mind, having Doug Wilson, Sitler’s current pastor, preside over the wedding meant that Wilson could have direct oversight of the couple, even knowing that this would be a difficult task for the elders and the church body to undertake. Wilson and elders could make sure that Sitler was attending church each week and have accountability. The women in the church could make sure Katie and baby would get proper support.
Heather continued saying that Christ Church body knows the Sitler case. Sitler can’t hide there, but he and Katie will be shown love and still be held accountable; whereas, if they were married and going to church elsewhere, it is believed that Katie and Sitler could slip through the cracks, possibly re-offending or be in inadequate physical, emotional, and spiritual care.
I’ve read a LOT of Doug Wilson’s comments regarding his handling of this situation and most of his comments are defensive, without much clear explanation. Even though I strongly disagree with how Wilson has handled this case and believe this couple never should have been married, at least Heather’s explanation gave me more insight to the thought process from Doug Wilson’s perspective, and I thought some might be interested to understand.
Our meeting ended well. We definitely disagreed on how Doug Wilson handles things, but on other topics, we are probably similar. If I go to Moscow again, I would be happy to have coffee with Heather again. I found Heather to be a very warm and caring individual. I appreciated hearing things from Heather’s perspective and for the time – 3 hours! Thank you, Heather!
- On “the scandal in this” For anyone who might send their child to New Saint Andrews College, MoscowID.net
- Seeing Through the Fog: A Pastor’s Hate Unmasked, April Kelsey
- The dangers of keeping things in the church, Katie Botkin
- The Last Meeting, Natalie Rose Greenfield – “Doug sat with one leg crossed and intently told me I needed to stop seeing this guy, repent of my sexual sin and find the path of righteousness.”