NC--Savvy mom & cops nail youth pastor for nude photos
For immediate release, December 9, 2016
Nude photos of a man found on a boy's cellphone have been traced to a Raliegh North Carolina youth pastor. We are grateful to the boy’s mom and to law enforcement for quick action. Now, it’s time for church officials to step up aggressively, by reaching out to others who may have seen, suspected or suffered the cleric’s alleged crimes.
Tyler Simkus Smither of Raleigh, who’s with Harbor United Methodist Church in Masonboro, apparently sent the Florida child the inappropriate pictures. He’s now behind bars.
We’re grateful that Rev. Russ Nanney called police when he learned of the offense. Too many ministers put their comfort and careers, and those of colleagues, ahead of kids’ safety. They try to avoid “scandal” and “embarrassment” (and litigation) by keeping abuse reports secret. Hopefully, more in leadership posts are beginning to understand that this is self-defeating and immoral. We hope other clergy will follow Rev. Nanney’s excellent example and immediately involve the independent, unbiased and experienced professionals in law enforcement in cases like this, rather than try to talk of “forgiveness” and sweep them under the rug.
We call on Rev. Nanney and every other person who works at or attends Harbor United to work hard to find and help others who may have been hurt by Smither. That’s their moral and civic duty.
Smither also volunteered with Murray Middle School and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes group. So officials with those institutions, and New Hanover County Schools, have the same duty. We hope Valita Quattlebaum and other school staff use their resources to help law enforcement successfully pursue Smither.
Time and time again, we see credibly accused sex offenders get off on legal technicalities or get short sentences. That’s another reason vigorous outreach is sorely needed here.
No matter what secular authorities or church officials do or don’t do, we urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups in churches, schools or other institutions to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling law enforcement, get justice by calling attorneys, and be comforted by calling support groups like ours. This is how kids will be safer, adults will recover, criminals will be prosecuted, cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.
(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)
Smither also volunteered with Murray Middle School students participating in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes group, New Hanover County Schools spokeswoman Valita Quattlebaum said. She said he began volunteering in January 2015 and was under staff supervision when with students.
AFFIDAVIT: MOTHER TRACED NUDE CELLPHONE PHOTOS TO NORTH CAROLINA PASTOR
Thursday, December 08, 2016
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WTVD) -- Court records indicate a Florida woman who found nude photos of an adult male on her son's cellphone was able to trace the sender's telephone number back to a New Hanover County youth pastor.
The StarNews of Wilmington reports that, according to an affidavit, the mother had a parental control option on her 11-year-old son's cellphone. She was notified by Verizon that an unknown number was contacting her child. When she searched the number on Facebook, she found it was linked to the page of Tyler Simkus Smither.
WWAY-TV reports that . . .
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.