Derek Gillett Pleads Guilty In Child Sex Abuse Case

Today is a very sad day for all concerned with the case of Derek Gillett, who reportedly pled guilty in Superior Court to charges relating to the alleged sexual assault of two teenage girls.

And how many lives are changed just like that.

All it takes to get a little clue is a look through the comments on my post “Derek Gillett Case” where, as of this moment, there have been 187 comments. A few are mine but most are supporters and detractors of Derek. Exchanges have been heated and dogmatic on both sides.

Friends of Derek have been staunch in their support and unshakeable belief in his innocence. These include faithful friends of the extended family, close personal friends of Derek, and teens and young adults who have looked up to Derek as an influential spiritual leader. For every person who has posted a comment, many more who feel the same have remained silent. How many people is that? I think I can safely say it is hundreds looking at the traffic I’ve seen here.

Two girls have had their lives forever scarred by the actions of one man. The families of those girls have been wounded. The men these girls will marry one day – if they are able to do so — will be affected by this incident, as will any children they bear. Sexual abuse leaves scars that last a lifetime. And those scars are frequently passed to future generations. In my family it goes back at least three generations; I’ve been praying for years that sex abuse won’t go on to my children, even though domestic violence has already touched and changed them. Three generations in my family alone; how many people is that? Yes, that is how devastating sexual abuse is, even if it’s “just one time.”

Further than that, every one of the people who have remained unswerving in their belief in Derek’s innocence have had that faith thrown back in their faces. We want to reach out to Derek and his family in their pain, and that is certainly not out of order. But we need to face the truth of the consequences of what has happened, too. We desperately want to ease the pain. It is normal to want to minimize the devastation, but it is very important that we do not.

For everyone who is reading this and has been touched by this event, please understand this is why I have this blog. This situation that you are experiencing right now is happening in churches all over our country, literally on a weekly basis. Multiply your hurt by thousands of other believers who are in the same place you are – or will be next week, or were last year, etc. That is more pain than I can even conceive.

But I’ve seen the wreckage. I’ve seen the people who go on in denial because it’s just too much to accept. It can’t be this bad. This has to be a one-off anomaly. The very sad result of that attitude is clergy abuse will keep on happening; and it does. Folks, it keeps on happening when we try to heal the wound lightly. Is that what we want for the church?

Then there are the people who just turn and walk away because another one who spoke for God at the same time committed acts no man of God could possibly condone. So what does that make of every sermon he preached, everything he stood for? There are now thousands of “former Christians” out there, spreading the word about the cesspool that Christianity is becoming.

Are they mistaken? Yes, they have made the error of confusing Christianity with God. God is not the problem. But Christianity has a very big problem. And it is not just clergy abuse. Clergy abuse is merely a symptom of the problem. If clergy abuse were an occasional, bizarre occurrence, perhaps we could lay the blame on a few individuals. But it is a systemic issue. Why? We need to ask this question if there is to be any hope of the Christian church healing.

For all of you who have been following this situation, my heart goes out to you. And my prayers are with Derek and his family in this painful time, as well as with the girls and their families.

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4 Responses

  1. i really personally still belive he did NOT do it! He had plenty of oppertunities my mom said that if he wanted 2 take me 2 the movies or something she would let me go. he had a pluther of oppertunities! he didn’t do it. he is the kind of person that would never do that he helped my entire family when my parents were divorcing

  2. I’m going to suggest something to you – any good that you received was a gift from God, not from a man. God can use anyone — even Balaam’s ass.

    Also, this is what I wrote to some others who wanted to believe he was not really guilty but pled guilty just to get home to his family faster.

    First of all, to [plead guilty when innocent] would require lying on the stand. How can a Christian justify that? Second, it would be a violation of the Word by calling evil good — agreeing with evil and saying it is true. Third, it reflects poorly on God’s reputation. Do we have the right to do that, even if it will get us home to our family faster? Fourth, I doubt anyone is naive about conditions in prison. “They say” that child molesters are treated worst in prison by other inmates (with the possible exception of former law enforcement officers). [Whether it is the minimum sentence or the maximum] – it is not good. And last, one of the most basic tenets of the Christian faith is trusting God. Why would a pastor lie instead of trusting God?

    — Danni

  3. Danni – many people in the community and from his congregation believe that he is innocent and that he plead guilty as a negotiation but not because he was really guilty. Apparantly Derek himself explained it this way – not admitting to the charges. I understand that he told a different story in court but many in his congregation are in deep denial. His wife is supporting his innocence as well.

  4. “amazed…”

    If Derek were actually innocent, by pleading guilty he has mistreated and abused the church. Pleading guilty shatters people’s faith and trust. Many people have walked away from the church and God because of clergy abuse. I know that Derek’s guilty plea has hurt MANY people and cause many to question their faith and their own ability to judge people or choose trustworthy companions and leaders. I know this because I have talked to them – not just because I’ve seen it happen before.

    Derek has testified with his own mouth that he has abused the trust of his friends and congregation. Whether or not he actually committed the crime, the result is the same. This is not an option for a man of God. With every action and word of his life he is representing God to people. That is why the Bible says that church leaders are to be blameless. That means without blame. A pastor who is innocent has no right to plead guilty for any reason. If he pleads guilty he is to be treated as if he is guilty. His word is to be believed, especially since he swore to tell the truth in court. There is no other option. Period.

    On the other hand, denial is practically universal in issues of clergy sex abuse. I completely understand why people deny the pastor/friend/family member they know and love could possibly be guilty. The thing that is hard for me is that I see this all the time and everyone says the same thing. They are sure this time their pastor/friend is innocent.

    The problem with that is it keeps people from healing and it piles blame on victims who should be able to find healing in the church. Instead the church is hostile to the victims and embraces the pastor who has pled guilty. To me this is so obviously wrong, and yet it is happening consistently, persistently. I know people personally – lots of people – who persist in believing a clergy member innocent in spite of gross, persistent and long-term abuse. People will believe whatever they are determined to believe, even if it is to their harm and the harm of others.

    Since Derek pled guilty, he is guilty. If for some reason he pled guilty when he wasn’t guilty, he is guilty of lying, of causing people under his influence to question themselves, their judgment, in some cases even the validity of Christianity. Worst of all, he is guilty of besmirching the reputation of God — something no pastor has any right to do.

    One other thing, with almost universal consistency, clergy who are accused of, and proven guilty of, sexual abuse persist in claiming they are innocent. If Derek is spinning this story as a guilty plea for some other reason while saying he is actually innocent, it would be CLASSIC. All this action does is underscore the almost universal fact that pedophiles are nearly impossible to rehabilitate. Denial negates absolution. There is no forgiveness (by God) and no reconciliation (with man) with denial, even if that denial is implied. If Derek were actually innocent, he would be reinforcing and affirming this idea by lying in court with a guilty plea followed by private assertations of innocence.

    — Danni

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