Youth Minister Tells Why He was Falsely Accused of Sexual Abuse

Since news stories have a way of disappearing from cyberspace, I’m going to copy this story here. This issue is so relevant and I believe other people in ministry can learn from this man’s experience.

This story is courtesy of wkyt.com.

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A Bullitt County youth minister, once accused of sexually abusing a 15 year-old girl, says his name has now been cleared.

Now, Clayton Pruett says he just wants his life back to normal and a statement from the accuser’s mother, admitting she lied.

“It didn’t bother me that they accused me. It bothered me that people would actually believe this was true,” Pruett said.

Last December, 25-year-old youth minister Clayton Pruett was arrested in Bullitt County, charged with sexual abuse. He was accused of taking advantage of his position at the church, by trapping a 15-year-old girl in a room, making in-appropriate comments and touching her in inappropriate ways.

“That’s kind of what it felt like. This is a huge joke and then it wasn’t too funny when two guys came and arrested me,” Pruett said.

The alleged victim’s mother went to police with her story and spoke with local media.

Pruett was put on voluntary administrative leave from the church and suspended from his position as a substitute teacher and assistant coach at Bullitt Central High School.

Then in January, the charges were dismissed.

But is wasn’t over for Pruett. He decided to sue the alleged victim’s mother for the statements she made about him, statements he says she’s now taken back as part of a settlement to that suit.

The settlement order says the alleged victim’s mother admits she made false statements to detectives, attorneys, and the media and Pruett committed no crime. She also agreed to pay damages to Pruett of an undisclosed amount.

So why does Pruett believe the accusations were made to begin with?

“I think it’s because I had to discipline this girl repeatedly with her boyfriend,” Pruett said.

Pruett says he can now try to put it all behind him but says there’s one thing he’ll never be able to change.

“I just kind of feel like there will be people that will never hear the truth and will always think that guy’s guilty in the back of their mind,” Pruett said.

Detectives say they will pursue charges against the mother for giving false statements to police.

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Former Music Minister Timothy Mann Pleads Guilty to Child Abuse

I know that there are people seeking this information, so I am going to post this one as is. This story is courtesy of Gazette.net.

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By Patricia M. Murret

A former Baptist minister and youth choir director in Gaithersburg pleaded guilty last week to child abuse of a female youth choir singer that occurred over four years in the 1990s.

Timothy Chun-Chock Mann, 47, of Hoover, Ala., a former minister at First Baptist Church of Gaithersburg, and recent choir director at an Alabama congregation, will be sentenced on Sept. 29 in Montgomery County Circuit Court. Under Maryland code, sexual child abuse is a felony offense that brings a possible 15-year prison sentence.

Third-degree sex offense charges were dropped as part of Mann’s plea agreement, said Seth Zucker, spokesman for the State’s Attorney’s Office. A copy of a pre-indictment memorandum filed with the court’s assignment office and obtained by The Gazette shows that Mann agreed to plead guilty ‘‘to the sole count of sexual child abuse and the State and Defense will ask the Court to cap any period of executed incarceration at 7 years.” Sentencing guidelines for Mann, who has no previous criminal record, suggest 4 to 9 years in prison, according to the memo.

Mann’s attorney, Barry Helfand of Rockville, could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

The victim, now 29, was 14 years old when first abused in 1992, according to police. She reported the abuse to police in December.

Mann resigned in March from his job as choir director at Shades Crest Baptist Church in Hoover, after he told church leaders of the charges, according to Shades Crest Pastor Dennis Foust.

Mann joined the First Baptist Church, at 200 W. Diamond Ave., in 1991 as its minister of music and directed the youth choir, according to a police statement.

He ‘‘engaged in inappropriate sexual acts with a female youth choir member” between December 1992 and the summer of 1996, according to police. He left the First Baptist Church in 1998, a church administrator said. The abuse mostly occurred in Mann’s church office, according to police.

Youth Pastor Clayton Pruett Cleared of Sex Abuse Charges

This is such a great story I had to copy the entire thing. I think he handled it with dignity and grace, as well.

This story is courtesy of WHAS11.com.

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(WHAS11) – Clayton Pruett got a little piece of his life back.

Clayton Pruett said, “It feels great it can show everybody what we’ve known all a long.”

A signed statement tonight says that sex abuse allegations against a Bullitt county youth pastor were all made up.

The mother of the accuser signed that statement today, clearing the name of Pastor Clayton Pruett.

The mother is Debra Johnson and until recently she was a member of the Bullitt County School Board; she’s been charged with a felony before.

She’s now left town and is living in Arkansas.

Several months ago the charges against the pastor were dismissed because the detective didn’t show up in court.

Now the pastor has a signed statement from Johnson saying she retracts the sex abuse claims.

Pruett was handcuffed, arrested and booked, charged with sexually abusing a teenage girl at his church.

The Bullitt County youth pastor at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church always maintained his innocence and now says he has proof.

Clayton Pruett said, “It’s been so tough because you don’t escape this you live with it everyday now I feel like I can put it to rest.”

This settlement order was filed in court today.

In the statement it says Debra Johnson’s complaints to police about Pruett abusing her daughter were false.

It also says Johnson regrets having made such statements.

It goes on to say Pruett has committed no crime.

The document is signed by Johnson.

Clayton Pruett said, “I think plain and simple, they wanted to show who was boss and they wanted to do things their way.”

Pruett says he thinks Johnson was mad because Pruett was trying to show her daughter how to conduct her behavior at church.

Johnson’s attorney would not comment after the document was filed.

I talked to Johnson shortly after she was elected to the Bullitt County School Board.

In 2000, Johnson plead guilty to a felony charge in California of leaving town with her children without telling anyone.

She says she was fleeing an abusive relationship.

Pruett will preach this Sunday at Pleasant Grove; the topic – forgiveness.

Clayton Pruett said, “I think you have to live your sermons before you preach them, and I’m glad that we handled this and let the legal system handle it.”

Over the weekend the board members at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church unanimously voted to give Pruett his duties back as youth pastor.

He’s already gotten his job back with Bullitt County schools as a substitute teacher and wrestling coach.

We tried to talk to the Bullitt County Sheriff’s Department to see if Debra Johnson would face any charges for filing a false police report and to see what evidence they had against Pruett to arrest him in the first place.

Lt. Col. Coy with the department said they could not comment on the case at this time.

Debra Johnson has not returned our calls.

Running the Race, and Fighting the Fight

Sunday in church one of my pastors used this video clip to illustrate a point. I was particularly struck by it. Watch the clip and then read why.

I was a bit discouraged Sunday as I went to church. Not a big deal but there were a couple things weighing on my heart.

First, I hate to watch people be offered truth and deliberately turn away from it. On one of the threads actively progressing on this blog right now, a church is tearing apart. I went to bed Saturday night and God got me back up to go tell them something. However, it was clearly and coldly ignored. Only one person “heard” it. It’s hard to see that happen. Not because it is a personal rejection – but because I know it was a rejection of what God said, and they don’t realize that. But I can’t make people’s choices for them.

There is also another upcoming clergy sex abuse case we’ve been watching, hoping this time it will actually make it to trial. It is the case of Chester Mulligan, which is scheduled for trial in September. He was charged in 2004 and his attorney has successfully played court dodge-ball for the past four years, leaving Mulligan’s alleged victim hanging in the breeze with her life on hold. I have to walk the careful line of what can legally be said. In most of these situations I don’t know innocence or guilt, but in this one I do. And it is very difficult to sit still and watch.

I believe what I wrote in the comments to my post is true – an innocent man does not need to hide from a courtroom and intimidate his followers into silence, or censor their input for fear they may see something negative about him. Those actions are facts that are openly visible for anyone who knows him to see and are not subject to my opinion. They do not look to me like the actions of an innocent person – my opinion here. An innocent man does not need protecting. A guilty man does not need protecting. God does not need protecting. So why the deep, dark secrets?

I am also aware that on the other “end” of this computer there are real people facing extremely serious situations. I get private e-mail from some. For those, all alone, this is worth everything.

Anyway, back to my video clip. I think anyone who deals with issues of abuse and Christianity gets discouraged from time to time. Even if you know beyond the faintest shadow of a doubt that God has called you to walk in this path, some days it seems like an impossible task. Like the kids in the video. Yeah, maybe I can make it to the 10 yard line. Ok, maybe with just us guys, I could get to the 20 yard line. With nobody on my back, to the 50. But, have you seen the other team?

And that’s just it. Have you seen the other team? We want to think the other team is dressed in red and black and carries pitch forks. But they don’t! The other team is often called “pastor,” has a seminary degree, or has the same last name as I do. The enemy isn’t at the gates; the enemy is within the gates! Satan is a deceiver, and the very best deception of all is to infiltrate the good guys and pose as an angel of light.

Sunday afternoon I had to write a hard e-mail. For the very first time, I was profoundly grateful God had me walk the path He did when I had to walk out of my marriage against the strong opinions of my pastors. God told me then I had a choice; and, yes, I later doubted myself. I could go alone with just me and God (that’s what it felt like anyway and that is certain what the choice was). Or I could put my pastors’ words above God, which would be idolatry, and I could stay in my marriage and I could die from cancer.

When I wrote those words in my e-mail I cried. Because I knew why God let me walk that way alone three years ago. Because sometime later someone else would be in the same place and some other pastor would give them the same wrong advice. Some other day, some other woman’s life would literally be on the line. And it would matter than much.

Yes, sometimes I feel like Brock carrying 160 lbs on his back blindfolded 100 yards down the field by himself. Some days I’m mad because there are pastors and church leaders and denominational leaders out there piously sending people to literal death sentences at the hands of an abuser or to metaphorical life sentences from sex abuse because they’d rather either deliberately or unknowingly hold hands with the enemy. I love my pastors dearly. They fall into the unknowingly camp. They are precious (and to give credit where due, one of my pastors would not have an abused woman stay under the same roof with an abuser; just either not divorce him or never remarry). Other pastors are not innocent. They know better but they are vested in their wickedness because it is to their advantage, both financially and positionally, to keep their opinions.

But God’s eyes are on the broken ones Jesus came to save in their today’s as well as their eternal tomorrow’s. Someone has to be the ones who will carry them to the finish line. And if the so-called leaders won’t then who will? It will have to be those of us who have walked there, had those wounds, witnessed Jesus’ healing, and know the path out.

Jesus’ model of ministry wasn’t in preparing sermons, attending business meetings, planning new buildings, deciding on the Sunday School curriculum for spring quarter or what program to do for Christmas. He just lived in the trenches, on the way, side-by-side, in the dirt with hurting people, where they were, in their lives, where they hurt. He got his feet dirty, His clothes sweaty, His hands soiled – every day. He cried. He cared and He lived it 100%, every day. He didn’t go to the office every day and preach about it on Sunday, hallelujah.

He washed feet. And that’s what He’s called me to do; us to do. If those feet are wounded, we carry them on our backs, like Brock. And if the people who wear the name “minister” don’t do ministry, so what? We are all called to minister. It’s not in a label and it never was.

Pastor Michael Lee of Pataskala OH Charged with Child Sex Abuse

Pastor Michael Lee of Pataskala, Ohio, has been charged with one count of gross sexual imposition, a third-degree felony, for allegedly sexually abusing a five-year old boy over a three-year period. The linked article reports that Lee subsequently failed a lie detector test, to which he voluntarily submitted.

He is presently free on $5000 bond awaiting trial under the restriction of having no contact with the alleged victim and anyone under the age of 18.

Christian School Principal Mark Evan Brown Arrested For Child Rape

This story just goes from bad to worse.

On Wednesday, July 23, 2008, 37-year old Mark Evan Brown was arrested and charged with third-degree child rape for allegedly encouraging a 14-year-old female student to run away from home and providing her with a room at Highland Christian School in Arlington, Washington, where he is the principal. Police allege that Brown and the girl have exchanged over 700 text messages and phone calls. News stories offer varying information. Some say school officials “stand behind” Brown and he has been placed on administrative leave pending the investigation. Others say he has been fired.

However, that is just the tip of this particular iceburg. You see, Brown is no stranger to the school room or to allegations of sexual misconduct. In 2004, school officials at Concrete High School in Skagit County contacted Child Protective Services when allegations surfaced about Brown having sexual contact with several female students. Brown was released from his contract as wrestling coach at the high school and was promptly hired by Highland Christian School in 2005. Nothing has been mentioned about whether Highland obtained a background check on Brown prior to hiring him, but they do not required their staff to be certified.

And it gets even richer. Brown’s ex-wife divorced him in 2004 when she discovered inappropriate text messages between Brown and a cheerleader at Concrete High School during that dust-up. It seems she knew to be suspicious. She herself began dating Brown when she was 14 and he was 26, and married him when she was 20 against the wishes of her family. She claims their own relationship began the same way, became sexual when she was far from consentual age, but she nor her family reported it.

The primary issue I would like to point out in this story, however, is the actions of this Christian school. What did this man who has a history of alleged sexual misconduct with teenaged girls do when his actions were exposed at the public high school? He went straight for the Christian private school. Did they do a background check? Unfortunately many still do not – even the ones that say they do. And pedophiles know this!

This is why the church is one of the best and brightest targest of pedophiles — because it is just such an easy one. Looking godly is one of the simplest cons around. And with cute looks, lots of charm, and just the right words, someone who is an alleged sex offender such as Mark Evan Brown has it made.

Pastor George Lowe Pleads Guilty to Child Sex Abuse

By Christa Brown
07-26-2008

SNAP members handed out flyers at a Virginia courthouse yesterday, urging a stiff sentence for admitted Baptist preacher-predator George Lowe.

Ben Marsh is the courageous man who brought Lowe to justice.

Lowe molested Ben two decades ago when Ben was a 15-year-old church boy who had gone to Lowe for counseling.

Several years later, when Ben reported the incidents to a church deacon, he was quoted scripture about Christians not taking other Christians to court.

Then, when he was about 20, Ben contacted the police. But no charges were filed.

Time went by, and Ben struggled with the psychological fall-out from what was done to him by that Baptist minister. It had a profound impact on his life, as clergy abuse does with most people.

Last year, Ben again contacted police. This time, they put a wire on him and Ben went to Lowe’s office to discuss the things that happened years ago.

Lowe’s recorded statements gave police the evidence they needed for indictments. (And Virginia has a better statute of limitations than many states.)

Lowe pleaded guilty to two counts of taking indecent liberties with a child. My guess is that he pleaded guilty in order to avoid prosecution on 7 more counts that were initially charged.

Lowe now faces a possible penalty of 10 years in prison. Sentencing is set for August 25.

The people of Virginia owe Ben Marsh a debt of gratitude. It wasn’t church leaders who worked to protect their kids. It wasn’t Baptist officials who worked to protect their kids. It was a brave and persistent clergy abuse survivor named Ben Marsh.

Kudos to Ben!
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See Ben’s picture as a kid in the school band, and read Ben’s own survivor story here.

Write to the judge and urge the maximum sentence for child molester George Lowe: Judge Gordon Willis, Circuit Court, P.O. Box 69, Stafford, Virginia 22555.
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Article used by permission from Christa Brown at Stop Baptist Predators.