Rev. Ronald Campbell Elmwood Park IL Pastor Investigated for Sex Abuse

My thanks to Pioneer Press for this article. I have abbreviated it some in order to make comments, so you may want to follow the link for the full story.

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By JOLIE LEE

The Presbytery of Chicago will convene an ecclesiastical court to rule on allegations the church made against an Elmwood Park pastor who has been accused of sexual abuse by a former congregant.

The Rev. Robert Reynolds, Executive Presbyter of the Presbytery, confirmed charges were filed against the Rev. Ronald Campbell, but declined to provide further details of the charges.

The charges were filed against Campbell on March 19, according to an e-mail sent by the Presbytery’s lawyer, David Strom, to the former congregant’s lawyer, Thomas McCauley. A copy of the e-mail was obtained by Pioneer Press.

The Presbytery is the governing body for 117 congregations in Cook, Lake and DuPage counties. Its court is not a legal proceeding, but will determine whether Campbell violated the Presbytery’s Child Protection Policy, which outlines definitions of abuse, reporting and screening procedures and training of staff and volunteers.

The policy also states, “Violation of this policy shall be considered grounds for disciplinary action, pastoral counsel, and/or possible legal action.”

Reynolds would not comment if Campbell would be forced to step down as pastor if found guilty.

Two years ago, Julie Lemley Hokanson, now 37, told the Presbytery she had been repeatedly molested and raped by Campbell from 1984 to 1988 when Campbell was the youth pastor at First Presbyterian Church of River Forest. Lemley Hokanson was 14 when the alleged abuse started…

It’s unclear if Campbell remains an active pastor at Elmwood Park Presbyterian Church now that the Presbytery has filed charges…

As of April 14, Campbell’s name still appeared on the church sign outside of Elmwood Park Presbyterian Church.

Campbell did not return messages left at Elmwood Park Presbyterian Church and Trinity International University, where he works as director of financial aid and director of admission for the divinity and graduate school. In an e-mail through Trinity spokesman Gary Cantwell, Campbell declined to comment on the charges.

The church charges have not affected Campbell’s position at the school, Cantwell said.

“We respect the Presbytery’s process,” Cantwell remarked. The school will wait until the end of the proceedings to make any decision about Campbell’s position at the school, he said.

Last month marked two years since Lemley Hokanson told the Presbytery of the alleged abuse. After Lemley Hokanson came forward, the Presbytery investigated the allegations and, in August 2007, gave Lemley Hokanson $100,000, without Campbell admitting wrongdoing…

At first look, it seems like a governing body such as this is what other denominations need to adopt. However, I do wonder why it has taken 2 years to still not reach a conclusion, and why, after some investigation, the Presbytery gave Hokanson $100,000 if there was no evidence of Campbell’s guilt. Something is questionable about that picture. Either they don’t know yet if Campbell is guilty, in which case they would have no reason to pay Hokanson money; or they do know Campbell is guilty, in which case they are delaying taking definitive action and leaving potential victims in danger while Campbell continues to pastor and hold positions of authority in a denominational clerical school.

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2 Responses

  1. An update to this is the insurance did pay, he was removed from the church, and lost his private job at a college. If you ever run into anyone having suffered sexual abuse by a Church leader, send them to SNAP.

    Snap was able to do in a week what this family was unable to do on their own in over 2 years. This is a difficult path to walk down. The guidance SNAP provides is incredibly helpfull.

  2. Great Blog!……There’s always something here to make me laugh…Keep doing what ya do 🙂

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