MO--Protestant whistleblower quits at college; SNAP responds
For immediate release: Thursday, May 28
A Bible college professor has quit his job over a clergy sex abuse and cover up case. It’s heart-breaking.
Doug Lay is a hero. He should be recognized and treated as a hero by both St. Louis Christian College and First Christian Church of Florissant. He has been brave and caring throughout the entire Brandon Milburn ordeal, seeking the truth and comforting Milburn’s victims. I am honored to know Doug and am deeply proud of him for his integrity and courage. A small group of others at FCCF – including Dawn Varvil and Titus and Kari Benton – have also acted heroically during this tragic situation.
Lay says that SLCC officials Dr. Guthrie Veece and Mike Chambers did not pressure him to resign. But we believe that Veece and Chambers could and should have done more to expose the selfish pressure put on college staff by FCCF staff. We believe that Rev. Steve Wingfield has used his muscle to try to intimidate whistleblowers at least three times now (first, through an unsuccessful restraining order bid, then through an unsuccessful lawsuit and now through informal pressure on the college).
Reasonable people may disagree about what Wingfield knew when and how he responded (though we wholeheartedly agree with Lay, Dawn Varvil, Titus Benton and others who firmly believe that FCCF staff should have been more honest and responsible by calling police and warning congregants sooner).
But no one can deny that children were sexually assaulted because of the witting or unwitting actions and inactions of Rev. Wingfield and his employees. Having put kids in harm’s way (likely unintentionally) and having kept kids in harm’s way (perhaps unintentionally), FCCF staff have a duty to aggressively reach out to others who were hurt at FCCF.
It’s not enough for current or former members or staff at FCCF or SLCC to pat Doug, Dawn, Titus and Kari on the back or say nice things to them. People associated with these two institutions should take brave, public and effective steps now to help the wounded, expose the truth and deter more wrongdoing. They must openly challenge Wingfield and his staff and prod them to explain and defend their indefensible cover ups in an open, unscripted meeting with questions and answers.
Finally, it’s possible that Milburn or FCCF staff could be charged with more crimes – abuse, intimidating witnesses, destroying evidence, endangering kids, or failing to report suspected abuse. So we urge every person who may have any knowledge or suspicion of possible wrongdoing at FCCF to do their moral and civic duty by calling police or prosecutor immediately. And we urge anyone who was hurt by Milburn in any way to come forward and get help from independent sources.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has 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)
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.