Church Youth Director Bradley Boda Charged with Sex Abuse

Church youth director and volunteer Bradley Boda has been charged on suspicion of two counts of sexual assault on a child, two counts of unlawful sexual contact, two counts of sexual exploitation of children, one count of attempted sexual exploitation of a child, three counts of enticement of a child, and two counts of indecent exposure. According to the linked article, police believe Boda used his positions as church youth director and volunteer at Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church in Longmont, CO to sexually assault boys as young as 11.

It is my hope that if anyone affected by this case should find this blog, you can find some help and additional insight about dealing with allegations of clergy sex abuse in the articles in the right sidebar of this site and under the Church Abuse tab.

Are You Interested in Upgrades to the Site?

I has occurred to me that it might be a good idea to share with you some of the things I would like to add to this site, to better serve you. The reason these things haven’t happened yet is simply an issue of funding. So I’m presenting them to you to see what you think.

The first thing I would like to add is a dedicated phone number for this work. Occasionally I talk on the phone to those who have written in. I would like to be able to do that on a regular basis. However, I cannot put my personal phone number on the internet. That means only a very few end up being able to take advantage of this potential.

I feel that being able to talk on the phone is far more effective than dialoging by e-mail. There is SOOOOOO much more I would like to be able to say and communicate, that I just can’t do with the restrictions of writing an e-mail. Also, it would be my preference to be able to pray directly with every person who contacts me. That can’t happen by e-mail. I pray for you all frequently, but it would be better to be able to pray with you — both to be able to be available at the time you need it, and so that you can be encouraged directly. Knowing in a vague way that I do pray is just not the same.

The second thing I would like to add is a toll-free number for that dedicated phone so that those who do not have unlimited long distance service on their phones can freely pick up the phone and give me a call. Part B to this would be to add international toll free service.

The next thing I would like to add to the site is podcasting. I have more material that I want to communicate than there are hours in the day. Literally, I probably have a good two years worth of writing material in my “must write” pile, if I were even able to write full time. But much of it would actually be better communicated — and more easily communicated — verbally by the medium of podcasting.

It has been suggested to me that people would also like video-casting. One thing I would like to be able to do, whether by video or audio (but most preferable would be video for this purpose), is a regular Bible study. I have a huge desire to do a series on Living without Distress, which I know would be a blessing to virtually everyone who regularly reads here. However, knowing the cost restrictions in adding these, I haven’t even looked into them. They may also not be cost prohibitive, but they are so far down the line I haven’t gone that far.

I also plan to add a monthly e-newsletter strictly for supporters of this ministry. If I am able to add podcasting, I have also thought of doing a special monthly podcast just for supporters. Supporters will receive a partners’ newsletter each month by e-mail with material that has not been published on the blog and previews of upcoming articles before the rest of the world sees them.

The fly in the ointment is financial. I am a single mom attempting to survive on child support alone. I am in school full-time, full-time mom (my ex lives out of state and has visitation every other weekend), and the rest of my time, outside of working in church ministry, is consumed in this work. Between writing articles, researching, communicating through the comments, answering e-mail, and helping people on the phone I generally spend hours a day here. This leaves no room for adding a job. This is something I wrestled with God about for quite awhile. But He ultimately affirmed to me that this work is most important.

Needless to say, child support doesn’t cover the bases. LOL! And I am unable to add any of these features I would like have to be able to better help you. However, if several people were willing to give a small amount each month, these would all be possible. None of them are very expensive individually.

Here are some estimates:

Dedicated phone – $35/mo
Toll-free phone number – $25/mo (This depends on call volume; the next higher plan is $50 per month. It also does not include international calls. Plans including international calls are higher. And, yes, people from all around the world contact me through this site.)
Podcasting — approx. $50-$150 at a rough estimate for equipment; the variable is the quality of equipment and I would prefer to use quality equipment to ensure that the sound quality is high. At this point it is still possible to find free hosting for podcasts
Video function — ??? I haven’t researched this one, since it is several steps out

What do you think? Let me know. If you would like to partner with this work, check out the details for making donations.

Why Won’t the Church Address Domestic Violence?

I have to give a round of applause to Michael Spencer of the Internet Monk blog for his piece yesterday on this subject. He did a great job and he’s taking some heat for it.

You have to read it, but he gives 10 reasons why churches and pastors won’t step up to the plate on the issue of domestic abuse in the church – and they are not only right on target but communicated in a way that strips all the veneer of piety right off the excuses. I love the fact that he’s daring to take on the issue, when he is 1) a man!!!! yeah!, and 2) not a victim. In a strange twist of illogic, victims who speak out are automatically discounted considerably because we are assumed to have an agenda of validating ourselves.

So check it out and be sure to let the iMonk know you appreciate it!

Pastor Craig Johnson Indicted for Failure to Report Child Sex Abuse

In an interesting side note to a child sex abuse case, pastor Craig Johnson from Taylor County, WV, has been indicted on charges of failure to report child sex abuse. Charges state that the alleged abuser told the pastor about his actions and the pastor did not report him to the authorities.

While there is no way to say whether charges in this case are accurate – they are merely allegations at this point – this case highlights a serious issue in the church. All church leaders are mandated reporters. There is no guarantee of privacy for someone who confesses abuse of a minor to a clergy member, contrary to common misconception. Nor is a pastor excepted from this obligation if he hears of alleged abuse from someone besides the perpetrator but truly believes the person to be innocent. ALL allegations of physical and sexual abuse of a minor are required by law to be reported to authorities — without exception. Allegations of abuse by neglect get a little more fuzzy, but it would be better for a pastor to err on the side of caution in favor of the child’s welfare.

The Word says the government authorities are ordained by God for the preservation of good and protection against evil. Even if we have differences of philosophy on many levels, we need to remember that God inspired these words in the Bible during a time when the government specifically referenced was at least as corrupt as ours today. We must not live in fear that the government will “destroy families” if we report alleged evil. God has ordained government for our good and we are commanded to submit to every ordinance of man.

What we are seeing happen in reality is that children in the church are among the least protected in our society because abusers have a safe haven under the church’s misunderstanding that “preservation of the family” is paramount over the safety of the individuals in it. The Bible is full of admonitions to stand against oppression and affliction. That is the primary expression of true religion.

But today’s church seems to live in fear of all governmental authority and the result is willful disobedience to God. The truth is that there are an abundance of believers who work in the social system, even at the highest levels. And there are an abundance of believers who are foster parents for children who are removed from homes during investigation. God can be trusted with our children’s safety when we obey Him. But we cannot be trusted with their safety when we disobey Him by failing to report abuse allegations.

Youth Minister Joshua O’Bannion Arrested for Child Sex Abuse

Youth pastor Joshua O’Bannion of Gilbert, AZ, was arrested September 9 for alleged sexual contact with a 14-year old in the youth group at Christ Life Church. According to the linked article, Bannion subsequently admitted to three incidents of sexual contact with the girl.

It is my hope that if anyone affected by this case should find this blog, you can find some help and additional insight about dealing with the issue of clergy sex abuse in the articles in the right sidebar of this site and under the Church Abuse tab.

Church Culture That Fosters Clergy Sex Abuse

There are some interesting findings in Baylor’s study on the prevalence of clergy sex abuse, that can give insight into both the reasons for this abuse and how we can prevent it.

Our general ignorance of the existence of the problem is significant. While all of us have seen cases here and there of clergy sex abuse, we tend to think of it as first, a Catholic Church problem, and second, as something rare and unusual. The findings by Baylor’s study show that “In any given congregation with 400 adult members, seven women on average have been victims of clergy sexual misconduct since they turned 18…” If you think about that, in reference to your own church, that is not a rare or unusual event. (On a side note entirely, if we would take the same type of statistical information about child abuse and domestic abuse and apply it to our churches we should get another wake-up call. Abuse in the church is a wide-spread, common problem, not a rarity.)

In Baylor’s study, they found some interesting correlations about the particular culture of modern churches which make church members vulnerable to abuse by church leadership.

Lead researcher Diana Garland said, “Research showed 92 percent of those sexual advances were made in secret, and 67 percent of the offenders were married to someone else.”

“This is not simply an affair. It is an abuse of power,” Garland said.

According to the linked article, some of the ways church members are made susceptible to abuse include:

  • Warning signs ignored. In some instances, congregations “see it happening and don’t know how to name it,” she said. Religious leaders may be observed acting inappropriately in public as well as private settings, but the congregations lack the ability to categorize and process what they witness.
  • A culture of “niceness.” Particularly in the context of religious communities, people are expected to be nice to each other—be careful not to hurt anyone’s feelings, give others the benefit of the doubt, overlook incidents that might cause embarrassment and generally avoid confrontation. That culture can cause victims, family members and friends to remain silent about the abuse of authority by spiritual leaders.
  • Ease of private communication. In the past, family members knew when letters arrived in the mail addressed to other family members, and phone messages often were posted in public places. With e-mail and cell phones, religious authorities can conduct intimate conversations with members of their congregations without anyone knowing about it.
  • Lack of oversight. Religious leaders seldom have to report to anyone for their time, and they are able to move freely within a community without being suspected of any inappropriate activity.
  • Multiple roles. In addition to their appropriate role in providing comfort and spiritual direction in times of crisis, some religious leaders enter into longtime counseling relationships with individuals that can create vulnerability and dependency.
  • Trust in the sanctuary. “We call it a sanctuary because it’s supposed to be a safe place. We trust leaders to tell us the truth,” Garland noted. But some clergy abuse that trust, using their “positional power” as religious authorities to prey upon members of their congregations.

These are all issues the church and church members need to take note of and make adjustments in church policies accordingly. We have a moral and Scriptural obligation to take back the “sanctuary” of church and make it safe for all members to be free to worship God there.

Former Pastor Charles Carfrey Sentenced for Sex Abuse

Pastor Charles Carfrey, of the Lord’s House Church in Buckeye, AZ, was sentenced to two years in prison and lifetime probation under a plea agreement sentencing related to charges of sexual conduct with a minor.

It is my hope that if anyone affected by this case should find this blog, you can find some help and additional insight about dealing with the issue of clergy sex abuse in the articles in the right sidebar of this site and under the Church Abuse tab.