News stories of child molestation in the church cross our desk with alarming regularity. Recently prominent churches in the Midwest and South have been tragically shaken by allegations of criminal sexual conduct. Because of pending litigation and privacy issues, churches are reluctant to share the details of their experiences.
But Leadership Journal came across a story that has run the circuit of accusation, investigation, and resolution. Mike Woodruff obtained permission to write the story of a church on the West Coast that lived through this crisis. As Mike relays the pastor's story, we've interspersed the counsel of Dennis Kasper, an attorney specializing in church crisis management, who comments on the steps necessary in responding to charges of sexual misconduct with a minor.
The pastor's story: Mike Woodruff
Our youth intern is in jail, two boys are in therapy, and one family has left the church. What started out as the renewal of our middle school ministry ended in shameful tragedy.
I had no indication anything was wrong until the day our 25-year-old youth intern, Roy, asked for a meeting with the pastoral staff. As we gathered on that Wednesday afternoon nearly five years ago, our jaws dropped open and our mouths went dry as Roy began confessing inappropriate, make that horrific, actions, including smoking marijuana with a 15-year-old student and renting a hotel room so the two of them could drink beer and watch R-rated movies.
But the worst was yet to come.