Pastor Michael Vargo Nixa MO Charged with Child Abuse

I first saw this story yesterday and didn’t post it. However, I feel like I need to post it. At the same time, I want to underscore that no proof of the charges has been indicated in anything I’ve read about this one. The almost stark lack of information makes me wonder about the validity of these charges. Michael Vargo immediately resigned from the church when the charges were made. I hope anyone related to this story who knows of updated news stories on this subject will let me know so I can post them.

This story is courtesy of News-Leader.com

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Micheal Vargo, 35, of Nixa has resigned his position as pastor of Calvary Bible Church in Nixa.

Vargo, who was charged last year with felony child abuse, is scheduled for a jury trial Aug. 25, according to the office of the Christian County prosecutor.

Vargo’s wife confirmed on Tuesday that he had resigned, effective March 2.

A felony charge of child abuse was filed June 27, 2007, that alleged Vargo “knowingly inflicted cruel and inhuman punishment” upon a 16-year-old female relative in June 2007.

Deputies responded to the girl’s residence and interviewed her after receiving a physical abuse hotline call. The girl had written a request for help from school authorities.

According to Christian County Deputy Brad Cole’s probable cause statement, the girl had multiple bruises on her arms, legs and chest. He said he believed they were received in the week prior to June 22, 2007.

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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.

Another Thought on “God’s Perspective…”

In reading back over my post about God’s perspective on abusive church leaders, I was struck again by God’s choice of wording:

…they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.

I have long wondered at the particular venom church leaders within fundamentalist Christianity speak of homosexuals. In the unwritten “hierarchy of sin” homosexuality is the “big one.” Aside from the fact that there is no “hierarchy of sin” in the first place, I always wondered why this one particular issue rated such cruel teeth-bared name-calling, and complete denigration of the simple value of the humans involved. I noticed, too, the way homesexuals were spoken of was exactly the same way a white supremacist would speak of an African American, and the way I also heard Baptist preachers speak of Catholics and the Pope. It didn’t take a genius to see the attitude behind the verbage was motivated by extreme prejudice (an attitude specifically spoken against repeatedly in the Word, but that’s another issue), not protection of righteousness.

However, in looking again at this verse (Jer. 23:14) I find it ironic that God draws the parallel between these religious authorities and Sodom and Gomorrah. In church we are taught that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of homosexuality.* I know that God does not view anyone with the wild-eyed prejudice many preachers demonstrate toward homosexuals. What strike me about this is that these preachers who have such a rabid attitude toward homosexuals are viewed by God as being equal to those whom they hate, IF you use their own logic. Since God does not state the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was because of homosexuality, He is not making the analogy between church leaders and homosexuals. My point here is the interesting connection between these preachers’ judgment of homosexuals and God’s judgment of the preachers.

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*Actually, the Bible says Sodom and Gommorah were destroyed because they were “wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.” (Gen. 13:13) The Bible does not say it was because of homosexuality. Preachers have made the assumptive connection between the fact that there were homosexuals in Sodom and Gomorrah and the fact that God destroyed the cities, when the Bible does not say homosexuality was specifically the reason. This has opened up another “can of worms” so I’m going to address it in another post.

Pastoral Denial: Why it Matters and What it Says

In a situation like the one reported by the ABC News affiliate there are several serious ramifications and implications. First of all, while not all pastors are brazen enough to publically make a declaration supporting wickedness, this attitude is prevalent among church leadership toward the abuses of their peers.

Whose side are they on? If church leaders will stand up for and defend their peers who have been justly accused of criminal abuse, just whose side are they on? Think about it. If they will not stand up for righteousness and if they persist in standing up for guilty peers, they are literally STANDING FOR evil. Doesn’t that strike anyone else as having dangerous implications for the church?

I’ll go a step further. If they refuse to stand up for righteousness, when they know without a doubt unrighteousness has been committed, they are passively standing for evil. There is no fence to sit on here!

What are these pastors afraid of? If there was nothing for them to lose by standing up for righteousness, when supposedly their entire life is dedicated to truth and righteousness, they would not be taking the stance they are. Pastors, by the nature of their vocation, are communicators who speak for truth. Why is there such a stunning silence on the issue of unrighteousness within church leadership? It can only be motivated by fear that is stronger than their supposed fear of God (which, incidentally, is idolatry – and that’s a whole additional issue).

  • Are they afraid the reputation of the church will be damaged? Wake up call!! The reputation of the church is already in tatters. It can’t get much worse.
  • Are they afraid their own personal reputation will be damaged by association? Well, snuggling up close to known offenders is a sure way to soil your own clothes! The only possible way to prevent the tarnish of association is to disassociate.
  • Are they afraid their own personal indiscretions might be revealed if they dared to point the finger at someone else? Unfortunately, this is most likely true in at least a good number of cases. But, one thing is sure, if they refuse to separate from unrighteousness, their inaction certainly raises the question of whether they themselves have things to hide.
  • Another serious consequence of pastoral inaction in the face of abuse is that by taking the side of unrighteousness, they heap coals on the heads of victims. In so doing, they make nearly unbearable pain, profoundly more painful. Not only do they hurt victims tangibly, they also offend these victims – in the truest sense of Scripture.

    Mt 18:6 ~~~ But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

    Jesus used a child to illustrate His point when He said this, but the word “little” in the original language simply means “less” or “least” — it is not about age or size. It just means someone who is “less” — “less than the one in authority or one who is under that authority” would also be an accurate understanding of the meaning of the verse.

    Do you hear what Jesus is saying, applied directly to modern day pastors and church leaders? Would it be better if they were drowned? That doesn’t sound to me like Jesus would be even slightly tolerant of the state of today’s church on this issue.

Classic Example of Overlooked Clergy Abuse

Yet another news report of clergy sex abuse in Augusta, GA was recently published by an ABC News affiliate station. The truly appalling thing clearly revealed in this news report is the attitude of the senior pastor toward the youth pastor’s charges.

First, you have to understand, the youth pastor admitted to having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old in the church. In spite of this, the senior pastor of the church says he “isn’t concerned” about the issue because the charges are just allegations. Huh? If there were any doubt about the man’s guilt, perhaps there would be room for this pastor to stand by his employee. But in the face of admitted statutory rape the statement by this pastor is effectively calling evil good.

Church Employee Gene Young Accused of Sexual Assault

My thanks to keyetv.com for this story.

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Reporter: Seema Mathur

Police are looking for a man accused of sexually assaulting a young girl in an East Austin church.

The alleged assault took place at The Rock of Austin on East Martin Luther King Boulevard.

According to the police affidavit, Gene Young, 27, worked at the church, and knew the girl since she was 12.

Young is accused of starting a sexual relationship with her when she was 15, a relationship that went on for more than a year, ending last October.

The victim told police she had sex with young about 100 times in the recording studio of the church.

The victim, now 16 years old, recently told her pastor about the relationship.

“The pastor was shocked and disappointed because he had known this young man for a long time. His family was a member of the church, the suspect was a member of the church and he was definitely shocked and in disbelief that this would happen at his church,” Detective Gizette Gaslin with the APD Child Abuse Unit said.

Young was fired from the church. Police are looking for him and ask that he turn himself in.

Wisconsin Pastor Scott Hoppe Charged with Sexual Abuse

My thanks to todaystmj4.com for this article.

Mick Trevey
Katie DeLong

WALWORTH COUNTY – He dedicated his life to preaching and helping others.Now, one Wisconsin pastor is headed to prison. The final chapter in a case that shook a community.

A pastor convicted of sexual assault gets his punishment – but not before facing his victim.

This is a disgusting case. It involves a total abuse of trust. Scott Hoppe was hired to pray with teens. Instead, he preyed on them.

“He is a manipulative, sexual abuser. He would stop at nothing to get what he wanted and no expense was too great,” Victim Michelle Lincoln said.

Michelle Lincoln is the victim in this case. She’s okay with us showing you who she is.

She’s in college now, but when she was in high school, now 33-year-old Scott Hoppe convinced her to have a sexual relationship with him. It lasted several years.

“He’s slick. The damage that was done to our family is incomprehensible,” Michelle Lincoln’s dad said.

Michelle Lincoln’s family had no idea. In fact, they welcomed Pastor Scott Hoppe into their house. All that time, Hoppe was sexually abusing Michelle.

“He was one of those friends that had our house key. He would take care of our home when we were gone. He would take care of our pets when we were gone. When he would come over, he would knock once and come in. He called me mom,” Kathleen Lincoln, the victim’s mother said.

Because Hoppe was a pastor at Grace Church in Burlington, the victim said she would trust him, especially when he said things like God wanted them to be together.

“I cannot even walk into a church without remembering all the ways Scott Hoppe used religion to fulfill his own sexual desires,” Michelle Lincoln said.

Thursday, Hoppe took responsibility for what he did.

“I am ashamed that I acted in such a selfish and unloving way toward these people,” Scott Hoppe said.

Scott Hoppe will spend three years in prison.

One other thing about Scott Hoppe: he’s married with six kids. They’re between the ages of two and nine.

Hoppe also faces charges in Racine County. There are a whole list of charges filed against him there.

He’ll go on trial in February.