Multiple victims allege child molestation

Multiple victims allege child molestation

By Devin Zimmerman, April 18, 2017, Kokomo Perspective

(Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of stories concerning Temple Baptist Church Kokomo. In the coming weeks, multiple victims will tell their stories of alleged abuse – physical, mental, and spiritual – while attending the church and the church’s school, Temple Baptist Academy.)

It all began when Dawn Price posted a video to YouTube on Feb. 27, 2017.

Through a heartfelt reading of a letter she wrote to her parents at the behest of a counselor, Price detailed her painful childhood while choking back tears. In just under 15 minutes, she described the alleged sexual abuse she claims to have endured at the hands of her father, Donald Croddy, who sources say served in various capacities around children at Temple Baptist Church.

 

Adopted at the age of 5, and now 45, Price claims her father began grooming her shortly after she and her brother were brought into the Croddy home in Kokomo.

“You made naptime and playing house with daddy normal,” said Price in her video. “You took away my innocence. No child should know about sex or orgasms. You have no idea how you screwed up my sexual development.”

Price alleges the abuse ranged from inappropriate touching to Croddy making her watch him masturbate, until it eventually progressed.

“By the time I was 9 or 10, in the fourth grade, you wanted more,” said Price in her video. “This is when my abuse became full sexual intercourse. Later that night I told mom I was bleeding down there, and I was told it was just my period and was sent to school with a paper bag full of maxi pads. It wasn’t my period, and I stopped bleeding after few days. And it was never mentioned again.”

While she said the sexual abuse at the hands of her father stopped when she was about 12, Price’s video acted as a catalyst, with multiple victims coming forward to claim they were sexually abused by Croddy. More than that, multiple individuals claim Mike Holloway, the pastor of Temple Baptist Church where the Croddys attended church, knew about Price’s abuse and still allowed him to work within the church and around children.

Also, Price went so far as to provide screenshots of texts with her mother, Elfriede, which may be a confession that she knew about her husband’s alleged sexual abuse of Price. In one text, in response to Price saying the church may be liable for any potential victims of her father, Elfriede wrote, “… we have ask forgiveness we don’t bother you why now.” Elfriede also appears to go on to deny Price’s allegations soon after.

Multiple alleged victims

As of last week, three women went on the record with the Kokomo Perspective claiming Croddy had sexually abused them in his home. One chose to remain anonymous. Another elected to go by only her first name. Price elected to allow her story to be told with her name attached. All of the alleged victims that went on the record bare certain similarities. They are all beyond the statute of limitations in Indiana for criminal charges to be pressed against Croddy; however, they all wanted their stories told. And, commonly, they’d all kept their childhood experiences largely to themselves, until recently, for reasons ranging from a fear of Croddy to the belief that since he was so active at the church no one would believe them.

“I want it stopped, and I want him held accountable,” said Price. “I don’t want there to be any more victims. That’s my main goal, to make sure there aren’t any more victims. I feel like if I don’t speak out at this point, if there are more victims, then that’s my fault too.”

Aside from Price, the first victim to open up was Lisa, who declined to have her last name attributed in this article. Now 51, Lisa grew up in Kokomo but now lives out of state. Lisa said watching Price’s video “brought back the memories” of alleged abuse with Croddy.

Just a few years older than Price, Lisa began going over to the Croddy household when she was about 10. Coming from a troubled home herself, Lisa said she thought staying overnight with Price would be a good way to get away from her home life over the weekends.

“I thought, you know, I was going into a better home because it was a Christian home, and I didn’t ever expect to be touched in an inappropriate way by anyone in the home. But that kind of backfired,” said Lisa. “I didn’t say anything to Dawn because I didn’t want to ruin the friendship that we had, and I didn’t think she would believe me. So, I just kept it to myself.”

Over the course of what she estimates to be about a year, Lisa claimed Croddy touched her inappropriately “a few different times.” She said she remembers sleeping on the Croddy’s couch and waking up to Price’s father touching her.

“He just mainly fondled my breast and stuck his finger where he shouldn’t have stuck his finger at,” said Lisa. “He never tried to have sex with me or anything. It was just the fondling of the breast and putting his finger where he shouldn’t have.”

Eventually, Lisa said she would lie to Price when asked to come stay the night at her friend’s house. Instead of asking permission of her mother when approached by Price, she claims she simply would tell Price her mother wouldn’t let her.

Aside from Lisa and Price, a third woman claiming to be a victim of Croddy’s also went on the record about what she said she experienced at the hands of Price’s father.

This woman, now 44, first met Price when she was 5 years old and lived across the street from the Croddy family. At first, she said, nothing happened with Croddy except for behavior, in retrospect, that was inappropriate.

“When I was 5 nothing happened. Except looking back, there was a lot of stuff … he would be in his underwear around us, and, like, we would play doctor kind of things. We would be his nurses,” said the source. “I don’t remember him ever touching me at that point.”

However, years later, she claims Croddy touched her inappropriately.

“The one time he touched me, he touched me between my legs,” said the source. “I was about 13 years old. At that point in time I never went over there again. He did bribe me with jewelry. He went and bought Dawn and I best friend necklaces to keep me quiet. I was so afraid of him, and he was this big person in the church and respected in our neighborhood that he had me scared enough I never told.”

However, prior to that, she also claims Croddy touched her buttocks “a lot” and would encourage her and Price to “go skinny dipping in the pool” at about the age of 13 as well.

After a time, Price and the women’s friendship ended, but she said she doesn’t want anybody else to go through what she did. She claims her experiences left a lasting impact, and she didn’t tell her mother until she was an adult because Croddy started to take her younger siblings to Temple Baptist Church.

“He pretty much ruined my life,” said the woman. “I never trusted anybody, and I still don’t trust men. I’ve tried to kill myself. I finally have gotten to a place in my life over the last 10 years where I’m a productive member of society. But it took a lot of counseling to get through that, and I truly hate him. What he did was horrible.”

A final source also came forward to tell her story about her experiences in the Croddy household while staying the night with her childhood friend.

Lori Coffman, who lives in Kokomo and met Price in the sixth grade, said Croddy came up to Price’s room in the middle of the night when the pair were sleeping on a makeshift bed on the floor. She said Price’s father then would lay between the young girls, when Coffman estimated she was about 12.

“He would rub my back or my leg or my hip or my side, but he never went into my panties or touched my chest. Because, I think, I was good at warding him off,” said Coffman.

The now 41-year-old said she knew the contact wasn’t appropriate, even at such a young age.

“My mom would rub my back. My dad would rub my back, but not like Don would rub my back,” said Coffman.

The next day Coffman said Croddy made her and Price rub Croddy’s legs because he said they “ached.”

While the above-listed individuals were willing to go on the record with the Kokomo Perspective, Price said there are allegedly more victims of her father’s. She said she’s personally spoken with two other victims who weren’t ready to speak with the media, but she did disclose that one lived in the same neighborhood as Croddy, and the other came into contact with Croddy through the church.

Who knew?

One source of angst for Price is that Holloway, the pastor at Temple Baptist Church, knew about Croddy abusing her.

According to her, on Monday, Aug. 26, 1991, she was traveling around town with her father and her then-fiancé Andrew Thornton. At the time, she was 19. Thornton was 21, and the pair were set to be married in just five days. In the final phase of preparing to move to Thornton’s hometown in Texas after the wedding, the group was in the process of helping Price take care of final arrangements prior to the move, like closing her bank account.

Price claims that as she exited a local credit union, she came upon her father repeatedly striking Thornton. As she said she later found out—and Thornton corroborated the claim in a separate interview—Thornton had confronted Croddy about his alleged abuse of Price.

“Dad said, ‘I don’t approve of this marriage. We’re going to the church, and I’m telling the pastor right now.’ I was like,’Why?’” said Price. “And Andy said, ‘Because I told him I know what he did to you.’”

 

Not long after, the group located Holloway in Temple Baptist Church for an impromptu meeting, according to Price and Thornton. Price said she told Holloway her father was fighting with her fiancé because she told Thornton about her childhood abuse.

“Holloway looked at me. Then he looked at Andy. And he looked at my dad, and he said, ‘Is it true? Did you do what she’s claiming?’ said Price. “And [Croddy] said, ‘Yes, I did, but that’s in the past.’”

Even though Thornton and Price eventually divorced, with Thornton remaining in Texas and Price eventually settling in Ohio, he corroborated her account of that day’s events in 1991. In his recollection, he even said he believed Holloway already knew about Croddy’s past abuse of his daughter.

“He was aware of it that day for sure, but he was aware of it before that because he basically said, ‘I’ve dealt with Donald on this. It’s been forgiven,’” said Thornton. “He basically said bad things about Dawn as well, like she was a bad kid in high school or whatever, so I’m not going to take her word for any of it. He basically just disregarded what she was saying and went with the person that’s donating money to the church is the way I felt.”

According to both Price and Thornton, Holloway asked Croddy if he would be able to not “cause a scene” at his daughter’s wedding. However, he allegedly told the pastor he wasn’t sure if he wouldn’t. So, the pair claim Holloway canceled the wedding just days ahead of time. As a result, they eloped and moved to Texas together.

Since Price’s video has come out, others have come forward to make various claims about interactions with Holloway that made them believe the pastor was aware of Croddy’s alleged tendencies.

Mary Bell was raising multiple teenagers while attending Temple Baptist Church. According to her, Holloway warned the mother of three that Croddy was a pedophile in either 1997 or 1998 when her children were participating in a church fund raiser.

According to Bell, the children were broken down into groups for the fund raiser, and some were assigned to work at the Croddy household. However, Bell claims she was pulled aside by Holloway at the church and told not to allow her teenage daughters around Croddy.

“They would work with people around the church and their homes, and we chose the Croddys,” said Bell. “All three of my children were teens at the time working for the Croddys outside. When I went back to the church Mike Holloway pulled me away and said that I should not have my children over there at that house because he is being accused of being a pedophile. So, I need to get my children away from him. So I did.”

Others maintain that after the alleged events just prior to Price and Thornton’s wedding in 1991, Croddy was allowed to be around children in various capacities within the church.

Tabitha Dodd, a former fifth-and sixth-grade teacher at Temple Baptist Academy, said she had seen Croddy help around the church day care, playground, and other activities where children were present as recent as 10 years ago.

“He would be at the church in various capacities whenever the preacher needed help. He would do stuff, I can remember, with the fall festival,” said Dodd. “He would do the tractor rides and different things whenever the men would help out in the church … He would do stuff with the day care kids in the back. The day care has a playground in the back of the church.”

Allegations

Since posting her video online, Price said she’s taken further action. She claimed to make a report with the Kokomo Police Department, and department officials confirmed that an investigation is ongoing.

Those with information relating to the allegations made in the investigation are encouraged to call the Kokomo Police Department Hotline at 765-456-7017.

The Kokomo Perspective attempted to speak with Holloway about the allegation that he knew about Croddy’s alleged sexual abuse of his daughter and still allowed him to work around children. In response, Temple Baptist Church issued the following statement:

“Concerning the allegations that have recently surfaced, we are currently looking into the matter. We have cooperated with and will continue to cooperate with the authorities. We have no further comment at this time.”

Multiple attempts to contact Croddy were unsuccessful.

Price provided a text from her mother, which showed that since her video was released her parents had been kicked out of Temple Baptist Church.

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  • commented 2017-04-20 14:49:46 -0500
    I was a member of this church from 7th grade until I graduated High School and was able to escape on my own. I was never sexually abused here but I was emotionally, spiritually and verbally abused on a regular basis. All under the guise of being a better Christian. I hope that through this, justice is served and the people who knew are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. BTW, the statement that Holloway made on the churches facebook page is full of lies that can be confirmed by any one who is willing to stand up and speak the truth. Croddy was not removed from children’s events nor was he prevented from being around children. He drove the tractor hay rides for the kids every fall. He mingled in the common areas and regularly was playing and joking with young people from toddlers all the way up to high schoolers.