Pastor Charles Dickerson Facing Seven Counts of Sexual Abuse

My thanks to abc30.com for this story.  A more detailed story is also available at FresnoBee.com.

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KFSN — Pastor Charles Dickerson is facing seven counts of sexual abuse.

Eight women and four men are sitting on the jury.

Dickerson still holds his position as Senior Pastor at Pearly Grove Baptist Church in Southwest Fresno.

The prosecutor said during opening statements the molestation happened over several years because the children were afraid to report it.

The defense points out the accusers have recanted their statements saying the abuse never happened.

Art Corona, Prosecutor: “That children many times will not report incidents of sexual abuse or other abuse because they are afraid of the problems that it will cause to their parents.”

Glenn Lostracco, Defense Attorney: “I plan to call witnesses who will talk about Charles’s schedule. The hours he works. How often he’s out of town. He’s not the kind of guy that lays around the house waiting to molest children.”

Thursday attorneys will begin presenting their evidence.

The girls are expected to testify during the trial.

(Copyright ©2008 KFSN-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)
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Church Youth Worker James Downs Found Guilty in Sexual Abuse Case

“Predators are not what we think. They are common, regular people who appear trustworthy and come with references and validations,” she said. “Remember, right now a child is being abused by someone they trust.”

My thanks to KTAR.com for this story.

James Downs, a former church youth worker in Laveen, has been found guilty on charges related to the sexual abuse of three male children under the age of 15.

Downs, 34, was found guilty on 28 counts, including 14 counts that call for life in prison with no possibility of parole for 35 years – meaning consecutive prison sentences exceeding 500 years.

He is accused of abusing the children between June 2001 and September 2006.

“By committing these horrid crimes, this defendant grossly violated the trust he was given,” said Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas on Wednesday. “I am hopeful that these convictions, and the fact that this offender never again will be able to harm a child, can bring greater peace and healing to all involved.”

The defendant and victims attended New Destiny Christian Church.

Darla Gooden, the mother of two victims, made a statement Wednesday at the Maricopa County attorney’s office.

“Predators are not what we think. They are common, regular people who appear trustworthy and come with references and validations,” she said. “Remember, right now a child is being abused by someone they trust.”

Downs’ sentencing is scheduled for February 8.

The Devastation of Desolation

There’s a powerful little word in the Bible I’ve never heard a single sermon about. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a preacher mention this word in any context, even in passing. Yet, it is cataclysmically powerful. That word is “desolate.” What a barren and painful picture is painted by those eight little letters!

I think the “poster child” for desolation is Tamar, David’s daughter. Her story is found in II Sam. 13. She was raped by her brother Amnon. When Absalom, another of her brothers, heard about it he was angry. But he made a major mistake, which was complicated by David’s error. Absalom told Tamar to say nothing about what had happened to her. At first he took no action against Amnon, though the Word says Absalom hated Amnon because of what he had done to Tamar. And in one tiny little verse, David’s response was just anger – no action, no vindication and nothing at all to alleviate his daughter’s pain. The Word says “Tamar remained desolate in her brother’s house” (II Sam. 13:20).

Tamar remained desolate. Can you see her, living as an abandoned relation in her brother’s home for the rest of her life, watching her brother’s family go on as normal while her life is broken, devastated and forever marred? Can you imagine her grief, frustration and pain over the fact that her father and her brother will not stand for her? Can you feel her anger and bitterness as she sees her attacker seemingly living an unfettered life, not required to give an accounting for what he had done?

Look at the reality in which Tamar lived. At the time of her rape she was almost certainly a teenager. She was a privileged young woman with nothing but the best ahead of her as the king’s daughter. Amnon stole her life and her future in a culture where a woman’s worth was found only in marriage and motherhood. As a “used” woman, even though it wasn’t her fault, she had no value and no future as the incident was handled. Then Absalom shuffled her off to a corner of his own home – for all his “kindness” in providing for her, she still may have became the unpaid babysitter and housekeeper.

A couple years after Tamar’s attack, Absalom conspired to have Amnon killed because of what he had done to his sister. But there was no justification for Tamar. This action was taken “under the table” in a seemingly random act. Those directly involved knew the killing was retribution for Tamar’s attack and David knew this after the fact. Yet, it seems more about avenging the family honor than about bringing justice to Tamar. In spite of the fact that Amnon was killed, there is no indication anyone offered comfort to Tamar.

After Absalom killed Amnon he went on the run. Did his family have to run with him? Or did he leave his family behind? Do you think his family may have blamed Tamar for their circumstances? We don’t know, but it is quite possible.

We also do not see that Tamar’s father, David, ever offered her consolation. The passage mentions that David was “comforted concerning Amnon, seeing he was dead” (II Sam. 13:39) but what about his daughter? As the head of the family and the leader of the country, David had both the responsibility and the power to make things right for Tamar. At his word, Amnon would have received the punishment he deserved and Tamar would have been vindicated. Her father had the power to make a future for her – don’t you think the king could have found Tamar a good husband and restored her reputation in spite of what had happened?

Tamar’s life is a recipe for desolation – hurt, injustice, and endless hopelessness. Desolation is not a guaranteed result of circumstances like Tamar’s, but without some source of hope and consolation it is a fact of daily life for many people.

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This is copied in its entirety in my articles section.