First #MeToo, Now #ChurchToo: Sexual Abuse, Harassment, and Mishandling in the Church

#MeToo, #ChurchToo, Sexual Abuse, Harassment, Church


The hashtag #MeToo has been trending for quite some time on Twitter. Women who have been sexually harassed or abused have been identifying themselves as survivors of sexual harm, indicating it with the hashtag, #MeToo. But now, there is a new trending hashtag, #ChurchToo. The stories that you can read in one little tweet are heartbreaking.

I wanted to share some here, and also invite those who have been on Twitter to feel free to share more here if they like.

If you are new to Spiritual Sounding Board, this is a blog that deals with abuse in church or church groups. We have dealt with all kinds of sexual abuse: sex abuse of children, sexual abuse in marriage, sexual abuse by clergy, wives of pedophiles, church leaders who have failed to report sexual crimes, church leaders who have blamed victims for sexual crimes, and also spiritual abuse which often occurs when a church leaders are involved in any capacity (perpetrator, counselor, spiritual advisor).

If you have been harmed sexually, this is a safe place. If you would like to share your story in more detail, you can in the comments, or to me privately: Please feel free to comment using a pseudonym. This is your place to use your voice where it will be heard.

~Julie Anne Continue reading

Let’s Discuss: The Keepers, Netflix Documentary Series about the Murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik and Systemic Sexual Abuse

The Keepers, Netflix, Cathy Cesnik, Systemic Sexual Abuse, Catholic Church, Spiritual Abuse, Clergy Sexual Abuse


The Keepers is a new documentary series airing on Netflix. I have watched 5 of the episodes and it is excellent. If you have seen Spotlight, it is similar, however, the investigative reporters in this case are two grandmas who have spent the last three years compiling details of the case and trying to get answers as to who killed their beloved former high school teacher, Sister Cathy Cesnik in 1969.

Like the movie, Spotlight, the series uncovers systemic sexual abuse of female students at Archbishop Keough High School in Maryland by Father Maskell who was a counselor on campus. When I refer to the word “systemic,” I mean it is a whole system of cover-up and abuse. Father Joseph Maskell was not the only one who committed the crimes. His friends in high places also committed sexual crimes and helped to conceal the crimes: police officers, businessmen in the community, etc.

The first episode lays the groundwork for the story and introduces the main characters. Then, the second episode goes into repulsive, unimaginable sexual abuse descriptions. This episode is definitely difficult to watch and I would caution those who get triggered by topics of abuse to be very careful watching it. The second episode was the most difficult for me to watch, but this is important information to know how insidious these crimes were, not only sexually, but spiritually.

Because this documentary series is being discussed so much, I wanted to have a post specifically to address it, and especially to be a place where people can discuss how it may have affected them.

So, let’s use this post to discuss how the show may have affected us and try not to include spoilers for those who have not yet watched it.

Below, I have gathered a variety of links that may be of interest. I encourage you to check out the first link, especially. It is excellent.

Note:  While this sexual abuse scandal – also connected with the systemic abuse cover up with cases around the world uncovered by the Boston Globe Spotlight team occurred in the Catholic Church, Protestant churches are not exempt from these types of scandals. We know of the  Sovereign Grace Ministries sexual abuse scandal which is still ongoing. I am personally aware of several others that are “under the radar.” No one church group is exempt from systemic abuse.


Related Links

A website was set up for the movie here:  The Keepers. I am very impressed with the information presented at the site, from information about the series, to helpful resources for survivors, therapies, systemic abuse, how to help, etc.

The following links are related and may be of interest:

Second Amended Complaint Filed in Bill Gothard & IBLP Sex Abuse Lawsuit: 18 Victims in Lawsuit

Bill Gothard, Lawsuit, IBLP, Institute in Basic Life Principles, David C. Gibbs III, Sex Abuse, Sexual Grooming, ALERT

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Bill Gothard Added to Lawsuit; Victims Alleging Sex Abuse and Rape

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A Spotlight on Abuse and Death of VCY America Founder Vic Eliason

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After The Gospel Coalition Staunchly Defended CJ Mahaney in Sovereign Grace Ministries Sex Abuse Scandal, They Now Promote the Movie Spotlight (Sex Abuse Coverup)

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Attorney David Gibbs III Discusses the IBLP Lawsuit and Answers Important Questions

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Incest Survivor Shares Her Personal Thoughts about the Josh Duggar Case: “Truth and Reconciliation”


Sex Abuse, Incest, Truth and Reconciliation, Josh Duggar, 19 Kids and Counting, Purity Culture

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There is a Pedophile in My Family: The Tools I Gave My Children to Protect Them from Harm


Tools to Help Protect Children from Pedophiles and Sex Abuse

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NonFamily Sex Abuse Victim Expected to File Civil Lawsuit against Josh Duggar


Josh Duggar’s (nonfamily) sex abuse victim intends to file lawsuit against him.

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Victim of Bill Gothard’s Teachings Speaks out about Josh Duggar Scandal, Mike Huckabee: Bill Gothard’s Dangerous Agenda and Influence in Political Arena and Society at Large


Bill Gothard, Mike Huckabee, Sex Abuse Coverup, Political and Social Influence, and an Agenda

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Pastor Mike Sperou: Guilty on all 3 counts of sex abuse, sentenced to 20 years, while his devoted followers discount their own adult childrens’ testimonies of sex abuse


Update on an earlier story:

Pastor Mike Sperou of North Clackamas Bible Community Church found guilty on all 3 counts of sex abuse of minor under 12 and is sentenced to 20 years.


This is one of those cases that leaves you shaking your head, thinking that you couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried. But this is good. I have a happy update to report.  Earlier, I posted about the story of Pastor Mike Sperou who was arrested for sex abuse charges.  The article is here: Pastor Mike Sperou Will Have His Day in Court: Seven Women Come forward with Sexual Abuse Allegations.  To briefly recap, this story is closely connected with my friend (and friend of SSB), Pastor Ken Garret, who previously attended Sperou’s church, North Clackamas Bible Community, where two of his daughters were sexually abused. A total of seven women came forward and reported sex abuse to authorities.

Seven women had reported their sexual abuse to authorities; however, Oregon’s Statute of Limitations prevented Sperou from being tried for 6 of the cases.  However, the one remaining case was within the Statute of Limitations. The court hearings occurred the last two weeks. Two days ago, Sperous was charged, tried, and convicted of all three counts of first-degree sexual penetration of a person under the age of 12. This earned him a sentence of 20 years.

The following is a screenshot showing the picture on the front page of TheOregonian/OregonLive. Reporters, Rick Bella (who covered most of the story) and Steve Duin, did a stellar job of capturing what it felt like to be sitting in the court room with cult leader defenders on one side of the room and supporters of the sex abuse victims, family, friends, and former members on the other side. Can you imagine the tension in that room?




This is a remarkable story in that the six women who were not allowed to take their cases to court, were allowed by the judge to testify (as well as other former members, including Ken).  Their voices were heard. I am so proud of these women who chose to report their stories and go public.

This article, Steve Duin: Memory and moral suicide in Happy Valley, I found especially revealing in that it showed the insidious relational dynamics of the cult:

She usually wore Calvin Klein boxers and a t-shirt, she said. Her pastor and spiritual mentor came to bed in boxer shorts, and frequently hugged the long pillow – that he dubbed “Sally” – that separated them. Asked how long this bizarre sleeping arrangement continued, the 30-year-old Mitchell said, “Until now.”

SAY WHAT?!!!!!!


In this same article, we read how parents refuse to believe their adult daughters who said they were sexually abused. The parents essentially disowned them as they continued to defend and protect their brazen and unapologetic “pastor” leader. Folks, this is what we see with narcissists. There is an inner group always looking out for the leader, defending him, building him up, denying reality, even to the expense of abandoning relationships with their children.

Christ does not do this. Cults do!

Later, we read from Ken Garrett as he is quoted:

“Moral suicide,” Garrett calls it. Thirty years ago, Sperou’s disciples “never dreamed that allowing and cherishing a lie would corrupt their entire character,” he said. “Where they would actually sit in a courtroom, look in the faces of the daughters who came to them and said they were molested, and call them liars. They never dreamed they would end up here. Now that they’re here, they’re numb.”

Congratulations to Ken and Sharon. Congratulations to these brave 7 women:
Emily Bertram, 33
Shannon Clark, 28
Bryn Garrett, 30
Jennifer Olajuyin, 32
Amy Robinson, 35
Rachel Schackart, 29
Jessica Watson, 33
You are heroes. Your voices have been heard and justice is now being served.
I’m so grateful to you for standing up against this tyrant.  BRAVO!!!!

I encourage you to check out the other outstanding articles from OregonLive reporters, Rick Bella and Steve Duin:


Owen Strachan Speaks out against Fifty Shades of Grey and Says that Christianity Disciplines Abusive Men


Owen Strachan speaks against Fifty Shades of Grey and attempts to show how complementarians do not abuse their wives, and says that Christianity disciplines abusive men

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Pastor Mike Sperou Will Have His Day in Court: Seven Women Come forward with Sexual Abuse Allegations


Pastor Mike Sperou of North Clackamas Bible Community will get his day in court: indicted on three counts of first-degree unlawful sexual penetration of a child under the age of 12

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From Silence to Exposure: Why did Homeschool Leader Michael Farris Speak Out Now?


Michael Farris speaks out against teachings of two fallen Homeschool Movement leaders, Doug Phillips and Bill Gothard, but why now?

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Standing Together for Victims of Abuse in the SBC and SGM


Standing together for victims of abuse in the SBC and SGM

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Sovereign Grace Ministries Sex Abuse Lawsuit and Tullian Tchividjian

Update on the Sovereign Grace Ministries sex abuse court case and Tullian Tchividjian’s clarification of his related statements concerning his “breakup” with The Gospel Coalition.

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The Gospel Coalition’s Joe Carter, Publicly Attacks Sarah Palin for her Use of the Word, “Baptism”


Joe Carter of The Gospel Coalition publicly attacks Sarah Palin for her use of the word “baptism” in the context of a NRA political rally.

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As the Sovereign Grace Ministries World Turns

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Earlier this week, I mentioned  a conversation I had at regarding Albert Mohler and an article he wrote.  The conversation diverted to C.J. Mahaney and his connection with Mark Dever (founder of 9Marks).

Here is my comment challenging Dever’s involvement with Mahaney when Mahaney took his leave of absence from his church, Covenant Life Church.  And yea, I think I was a little miffed. I copied it directly, typos and all (sorry!):

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