MO- Victims challenge Presbyterian officials
For immediate release: Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014
After a child porn conviction, they still hired him as pastor
He is now serving 30 years for child porn & illegal castration
Stop "cruel and intimidating" legal maneuvers, group says
They beg church officials to reach out to victims in churches & Scouts
A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is criticizing a Jefferson City-based Protestant organization for bringing six lawyers to a court hearing yesterday in Fulton to defend it in an abuse case involving a convicted and incarcerated offender.
Presbyterian officials from the Missouri Union Presbytery (573-635-9221) sent six lawyers to defend a civil child sex abuse and cover-up lawsuit against the church and Jack Wayne Rogers. Rogers is being sued by a Kansas City man who charges he was abused as a child by the former youth pastor in 2000. Rogers worked at the Presbyterian Church of Bellflower (MO).
Rogers was working at the church in 2000, 8 years after his 1992 conviction for the possession of child pornography. In 2003, Rogers pleaded guilty to additional counts of possession and distribution of child pornography and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. In 2004, he also pleaded guilty to illegally castrating another man. He is currently incarcerated in Florida.
Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), are blasting Presbyterian officials and urging them to stop what the group calls "vindictive and intimidating" legal maneuvers.
“The judge heard three uncontested simple motions, so church officials knew the hearing was neither complex nor contentious,” said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP Executive Director. “Still, Presbyterian officials brought in the big guns from Missouri's largest law firm in what we suspect was an effort to intimidate the victim. If that's their goal, we're confident they'll fail.”
News reports say that Rogers was a Boy Scout leader.
SNAP wants church officials to:
-- disclose how much they are spending to defend themselves in the Rogers case,
-- reach out to all congregations that may have welcomed or hired Rogers, and
-- make a public plea to local Boy Scout organization to reach out to other potential victims.
"There is no good, moral, or legal reason for this kind of legal overkill," said Barb Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP Outreach Director. "The only reason to send that many lawyers into a courtroom is to intimidate the victim and help continue cover-ups."
The victim in this case, Rev. Kristopher D. Schondelmeyer, is a now a Presbyterian minister living in Ohio. His goal in filing the lawsuit is to encourage other victims to come forward and get healing.
Schondelmeyer is represented by Kansas City attorney Rebecca Randles 816 510 2704 cell, 816 931 9901 office, firstname.lastname@example.org. The judge in the case is Christine Carpenter.
(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)
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.