MO--Church blasted for hosting ex-House speaker
For immediate release: Thrsday, July 23, 2015
For more information:
David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP Director (314) 566-9790 cell, firstname.lastname@example.org
Victims blast Arnold church
Ex-House speaker will talk there
Controversial politician pled guilty to assault
A controversial former lawmaker who pled guilty to assault will speak at an Arnold church and an abuse victims’ group is protesting the event.
Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are writing officials at First Baptist Church about an upcoming appearance by former Houses Speaker Rod Jetton.
“It hurts victims of sexual violence to see predators given positions of prestige,” said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP’s director.
“This kind of callousness is one reason many who are sexually victimized stay silent,” said Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP’s outreach director. “Many crime victims feel speaking up is futile because so many violent men are charismatic and won’t ever really be appropriately disciplined.”
Rev. Kenny Qualls, Rev. Brad East, Rev. Bob Caldwell
First Baptist Church
636.296.2703 Ext. 108
Dear Rev. Qualls:
We’ve learned that you’ve invited disgraced ex-House Speaker Rod Jetton to your Men’s Prayer Breakfast next month. For the protection of the vulnerable and the healing of the wounded, we strongly beg you to rescind this invitation. It sends very troubling messages.
The message some women will basically hear is “Don’t worry about reporting violence. The perpetrator will get little or no punishment and bounce right back into a position of power, prestige and prominence.”
The message some men will basically hear is “Don’t worry if you’re violent towards women. You’ll get little or no punishment and bounce right back into a position of power, prestige and prominence.”
No one should be sending those messages, least of all a church community.
We’re sure you know that Jetton, according to Wikipedia, was accused of "recklessly (causing) serious physical injury" to a woman during “sadomasochistic sex.” He is accused of “hitting her on the head and choking her, resulting in unconsciousness and the loss of the function of a part of her body” in 2009. The woman said that she began ‘fading’ in and out and remembered losing consciousness several times” after drinking a glass of wine that Jetton had prepared for her. The woman reported the case two days after the incident.”
In 2011, he pled guilty to misdemeanor assault.
Please don’t claim this invitation is about “forgiveness.” We can forgive a drunk driver but shouldn’t give him school bus keys. We can forgive someone who commits violence but shouldn’t give him a gun. We can forgive someone who assaults someone but shouldn’t give him a speaking role in a church.
It seems beyond the pale that a church's men's group would invite an abuser of women to an event.
Maybe Jetton has turned his life around. (On his website, however, he doesn’t mention his guilty plea, only mentioning that he was not convicted: http://secondactstrategies.com/team/RodJetton). Even so, giving him a position of prestige rubs salt into the wounds of victims of sexual violence. And it discourages and deters others who have seen, suspected or suffered such violence and are considering reporting it to authorities.
Again, we urge you to disinvite Mr. Jetton. And we urge you to explain to your flock, your staff and the public why. Thank you for your consideration.
David Clohessy, Director, SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, (7234 Arsenal Street, St. Louis MO 63143), 314 566 9790 cell (email@example.com)
Barbara Dorris, Outreach Director, SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (6245 Westminster Place, St. Louis, MO 63130), 314 503 0003, bdorris@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.