Presbytery of Chicago finds Rev. Ronald Campbell Guilty of Sexual Abuse

In a surprising move, the Presbytery of Chicago found the Rev. Ronald Campbell guilty of sexually abusing an underage girl for four years during the late 1980s.

Since the statute of limitations has expired on his crimes, the woman he assaulted as a child was not able to have Campbell tried as a criminal. However, she persisted in pleading her case to the authories of the Presbyterian Church. She was a 14-year-old member of First Presbyterian Church of River Forest when the abuse began.

While Campbell initially denied wrongdoing, it was discovered that he had a tattoo of the victims initials enclosed in a heart on his upper buttocks (not a brilliant bulb, here). The six-member church panel was unanimous in their decision finding Campbell guilty of sexual abuse, and of misuse of office and lying to church officials. He has been suspended from ordained office in the church for a minimum of four years. After that time he can reapply for ministry, but only after he has taken steps toward rehabilitation, healing and reconciliation.

The victim was paid $150,000 by the church in 2007 to prevent any civil suits against the church or Campbell.

The most notable positive thing about this which I would like to highlight is this — this is what all churches everywhere should be doing. And Baptist autonomy provides no exception.

While I am very pleased that a church has taken this action, I am also somewhat disappointed with what I see as some significant holes in their action.

First, the victim had to fight the church for two years to get them to take action at all.

Second, the perpetrator has been barred from ordained ministry for a limited duration of only four years. In my opinion, the commission of this crime should have a permanent sentence of lifetime exclusion from ordained ministry in a church.

Third, I feel that the judicial body has deliberately left a loophole in making the stated disbarrment for “ordained” ministry. This means that any church could hire this man for any other position in a church – which means that this man, who has been convicted by a church tribunal as a sexual predator, can still have the run of any church building with their blessing.

Campbell, does in fact, have a secondary career on staff at a denominational institution of higher learning. Nothing is indicated in this article about whether he will continue in his position on staff there.

Fourth, I would like to know whether they will warn other churches of their findings and make sure that any churches who attempt to hire Campbell will know of his conviction. This would demonstrate their seriousness regarding the matter.

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One Response

  1. Thanks for posting this story on your website. As the victim of this abuser, I share your concerns about the holes in the church’s response, but am glad that the ecclesiastical judicial process was applied and a conviction handed down. The Presbytery read the charges and conviction at their quarterly meeting in December, but most details of the case that have been communicated to the community have been done through the press, not the local church. Full disclosure and honest conversation within the local congregation is a necessary but missing part of this process. Thanks again!

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