SC--State’s largest church loses three men
Two face recent charges of child sex crimes
The 3rd, the head pastor, was fired for “alcohol abuse”
Group urges “independent investigation” into “network”
“Independent churches are ripe for wrongdoing,” SNAP says
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims and their supporters will
--blast officials at a state-wide mega-church where two volunteers were recently charged with abuse and the ‘founding pastor’ has been fired for “unfortunate choices and decisions,"
--urge anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered child sex crimes, cover ups or other misconduct there to call secular authorities, not church officials, and
--warn church-goers that abuse and cover up is sometimes more prevalent in independent mega-churches that are often started and dominated by powerful personalities and lack any real “checks and balances” that are usually found in more established denominations.
Wednesday, August 10 at 3:15 pm
On the sidewalk outside the NewSpring Church, 5101 Ashley Phosphate Road, Unit #135 in North Charleston (843-766-7747,charleston @newspring.cc)
Two-three individuals who belong to a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), including a Missouri woman who is the organization’s long time outreach director
Three times in recent months, staff at a rapidly-growing mega-church with 18 branches in South Carolina have been ousted. Two were accused of child sex crimes while the ‘founding and senior pastor’ was let go for “alcohol abuse and other unfortunate choices and decisions."
In April, a youth group volunteer at NewSpring Church reportedly fondled and kissed a boy. And in May, a different volunteer at the same church was arrested on similar charges.
The church is the largest member of the South Carolina Baptist Convention (claiming 30,000 weekly worshippers) and is part of a ‘network’ with locations in seven of the state’s largest cities: Charleston, North Charleston, Rock Hill, Myrtle Beach, Sumter, Inman, Columbia, Spartanburg, Greenville, Powdersville, Lexington, Anderson, Clemson, Seneca, Greenwood, Aiken, Hilton Head and Bluffton. The network says it “has served more than 45,000 church leaders around the world” (NewSpringNetwork.com). The Florence branch is at 1100 N. Cashua Drive (843-407-7986).
Until July, Rev. Perry Noble was head of the network. But he was ousted for his “alcohol addiction and his attitude toward his marriage” though he denied any adultery or sexual wrongdoing.
The first alleged offender is Leo LaSalle Comissiong, 20, of Florence, according to Florence Police Major Carlos Raines. The second is Chaz Mckinsey Wood, 23, of Piedmont, according to the Anderson County Sheriff's Office. Comissiong’s alleged crimes happened in February and Wood’s reportedly happened in January. Comissiong is charged with third degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor. Wood is charged with one count of criminal sexual misconduct with a minor.
NewSpring’s executive pastor is Rev. Shane Duffey. Its’ public relations director is Suzanne Swift (864-328-1632). Justin Rhodes works at the Florence church.
“No matter what courts or church officials do or don’t do, we urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups in churches – especially these mega-churches where ministers are given exalted status – to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling law enforcement, get justice by calling attorneys, and be comforted by calling support groups like ours,” said SNAP’s Barbara Dorris. “This is how kids will be safer, adults will recover, criminals will be prosecuted, cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.”
Barbara Dorris 314 503 0003 cell, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org, David Clohessy 314 566 9790, 314 645 5915 home,firstname.lastname@example.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.
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.