AZ -- Sex Abuse victims/advocates want church to act
For immediate release Sunday, April 22, 2018
Statement by Tim Lennon of Tucson, Volunteer President of SNAP’s Board of Directors (415-312-5820, tlennon@SNAPnetwork.org)
The founder of a large nondenominational church in Arizona admitted to having sex with girls in his charge when he was a married youth pastor at a Baptist Church in California. The victims came forward following a February news report about another youth pastor at the same Modesto parish who had been accused of sexually abusing a minor.
In response to the allegations, Les Hughey, who is the senior pastor at Highlands Church in Scottsdale, issued a statement saying that "I sinned and harmed the most important relationships in my life… ." The minister characterized the sex as"consensual relations with fellow college-aged staff."
SNAP applauds the brave survivors, emboldened by the #MeToo movement, for speaking out about Pastor Hughey’s actions. While those who have come forward may not have been minors, a minister holds a position of power over those who come to him for guidance such that no sexual relationship with those in this care can be truly considered consensual.
As survivors, we urge Highlands Church leaders and parishioners to insist that Pastor Hughey resign from any position of authority. While we have no knowledge that the minister has continued to cross appropriate boundaries, it is unfortunately true that many who have done so continue to do so.
The damage caused by this type of behavior can be devastating, even fatal, for the victims. No church that cares about the members of its community should risk allowing someone who has crossed this boundary to remain as a pastor.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 25,000 members. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.