MO- Predatory ex-minister is “outed” in historic “first,” SNAP responds
For immediate release: Monday, June 30, 2014
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
For perhaps the first time ever, a local Protestant church body is exposing an ex-minister as a credibly accused child molester, even though there are no criminal charges, no civil lawsuit and no admission by the alleged predator. SNAP is applauding the move. We also applaud the brave victim who helped us prod church officials to do this.
Today, Presbyterian officials sent out a news release (below) announcing that child sex abuse allegations against Michael Walker Jackson, who was a minister in Presbyterian churches in this area and in Georgia, are “credible.” Until today, perhaps a dozen or two dozen people knew this. Now, because Presbyterian officials are acting with compassion and courage, hopefully thousands will know to keep their kids away fromJackson. We hope that hundreds of parents – in Missouri and Georgia – will ask their kids if Jackson may have hurt them.
We applaud the Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy. They could and should have done this sooner. But kids are now safer. We hope their colleagues in Georgia take this simple, prudent step too. Child molesters thrive on secrecy. And their employers, past or current, owe it to parents, the public and their staffs to disclose the truth about child molesters every time they can.
We hope that other denominations follow the Presbyterians' lead. The safety of kids trumps the comfort of adults. It's ok to worry about being sued for “outing” a child molester. But responsible leaders won't let that fear prevent them from something even more troubling: being part of the secrecy that predators want, need and use to hurt more children.
We in SNAP met with a Presbyterian committee about a year ago and begged them to tell the public that the accusations against Jackson are credible. Again, we are relieved that they have done this. We believe Jackson's victim or victims will also be relieved.
While being investigated by church officials, Jackson gave up being a Presbyterian minister. He is believed to be living in Georgia now.
Jackson's victim in St. Louis was represented by attorney Ken Chackes (369 3902). No lawsuit was filed, however.
MORE DETAILS ABOUT THE CASE
In February 2012, a St. Louis man reported to local Presbyterian officials that he had been repeatedly molested as a child (starting at age ten) in 1984 by Rev. Michael Walker Jackson at Dardenne Presbyterian Church in Dardenne, MO. He said Rev. Jackson abused him for at least four years, even after Jackson had moved to the northwest Georgia town of Dalton.
At one point, around 1989, Jackson flew the boy to visit him for two weeks, molesting him both in Georgia and in Panama City, FL. After returning home, the boy tried to commit suicide. While recovering, he told the police of the abuse he had suffered but no charges were filed.
Then, church officials began investigating and they sent Jackson’s lawyer the charges that they intended to file against Jackson. Next, Jackson “renounced” his ordination/ministry (though denying the abuse). So he has been “stripped of his ordination,” according to the church investigating committee chair.
Jackson was dismissed from Giddings-Lovejoy in Jan. 1989 and months later he started working in Albany Georgia at Covenant Presbyterian. That church’s pastor, Rev. Paul Luthman, “remembered an incident in which a young man was over at (Jackson’s) apartment alone and ‘the mother objected,’” according to the report. Jackson was “told at that time that under no circumstances was he to have any child - male or female – alone with him in his apartment.” Luthman “later heard from the police about the same matter.” Jackson “left Covenant very abruptly’ in Nov. 1989.
In a 28 page “Investigating Committee Report,” church officials claim they notified the FBI and Georgia law enforcement officials about the allegations against Jackson. And in a July 2012 letter to Cave’s attorney, Georgia Presbyterian officials acknowledge that they had also received an “allegation of inappropriate boundary violation from a Georgia child from the late 1980s.”
SNAP was concerned because, since Jackson “voluntarily” stepped down, he can easily misrepresent the circumstances around his removal and make himself appear safe to children and vulnerable adults.
Recently, Jackson worked as a chaplain at Greenleaf Center Inc. in Valdosta GA (912 247 4357), a hospital “providing individualized psychiatric and substance abuse treatment for adolescents and adults. He was ordained in 1982.
Jackson’s lawyer is Christopher Townley of Rossville GA (706 861 6003).
Church officials involved in the case include Rev. Terry Epling (314-772-2395 x123), Elder Stephanie Foltz (618-210-8465), and Elder Kathy Landis (all in St. Louis) and Rev. David Garrison, Rev. Rebecca Blackwell (888-384-6554, 770-382-6280) and Elder Velma Tilley (in Georgia).
While in St. Louis, Rev. Jackson was active in Boy Scouts, soccer and the Big Brother Association. The latter association made a report about the allegations to its national organization.
Rev. Thomas Sale (270 830 6238) was the Dardenne pastor when Jackson worked there.
Church officials have paid Cave a $5,000 “donation” to help with counseling.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Church discloses “credible allegations” against ex-minister
In a letter dated February 20, 2012, attorneys notified the Presbyter of Giddings-Lovejoy of allegations of sexual abuse by the Rev. Michael WalkerJackson in the mid to late 1980’s when Mr. Jackson served as a minister in the Saint Louis area. This presbytery and Cherokee Presbytery in Georgia (where Mr. Jackson was a member) formed a joint investigation committee which began its work on March 29, 2012. Mr. Jackson, his employer, and civil legal authorities in Georgia (where Mr. Jackson lives were notified of the allegations and of the churches investigation.
Mr. Jackson renounced the jurisdiction of the church in a letter received on July 5, 2012. Once a minster renounces the jurisdiction of the church, that person is no longer a minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the denomination has no authority over that person.
In October 2012, unsatisfied with the outcome of the investigation, the Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy formed an administrative commission to “reach a determination of truth related to the accusation.” It is the determination of this commission that the allegations are credible. If anyone has additional information regarding this or other allegations connected with the Rev. Michael Walker Jackson you are asked to contact your local authorities.
The Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy is a regional council of the Presbyterian Church (USA) with 84 congregations in southeastern Missouri and 6 counties in Illinois with more than 17,000 members.
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.