SC—Newspring Church must do outreach on child sex abuse case
For immediate release: Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Statement by Amy Smith, <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests leader,
Florence church youth volunteer kissed and fondled teen boy, police say
By Eric Walters, April 29, 2016, WBTW News 13
FLORENCE, SC – A youth group volunteer at a Florence church has been arrested for sexually assaulting a minor.
According to Florence Police Major Carlos Raines, a 15-year-old boy claimed Leo LaSalle Comissiong, 20, of Florence kissed and fondled him through his clothes.
The incident happened in February at the NewSpring Church on North Cashua Drive, Raines said.
Comissiong is charged with criminal sexual conduct with a minor, 3rd degree.
A spokesperson for NewSpring Church, Suzanne Swift, released the following statement regarding the case:
On Sunday, April 24, 2016, a NewSpring Church staff member saw Leo La Salle Comissiong III enter an unoccupied room with a 15 year old. The staff member immediately entered the room and questioned Comissiong. Comissiong denied any wrongdoing at that time. Because we take the safety of minors very seriously, we never allow adults to be alone with children or teens while on a NewSpring Campus. NewSpring Church questioned Comissiong again, and at that time removed him from volunteering in any capacity at NewSpring. After a separate conversation with the student, NewSpring staff contacted law enforcement. Since that time, NewSpring has fully cooperated with authorities and in this investigation.
NewSpring Church will continue to corporate with this investigation and we are praying for everyone impacted.
Perry Noble is the lead pastor of Newspring Church, a Southern Baptist megachurch headquartered in Anderson, South Carolina.
We are glad that law enforcement was contacted. Now, Perry Noble and Newspring Church have a moral and civic duty to aggressively seek out others who may have suspicions or knowledge of Leo Comissiong’s crimes and beg them to call law enforcement. With Newspring’s vast resources, we hope they will will spread this news and use church bulletins, pulpit announcements, and church websites to aggressively seek out others who Leo may have hurt.
This is how kids will be safer, other victims could be found and assisted in healing, 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)
Contact - Amy Smith (281-748-4050 cell, email@example.com, David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, firstname.lastname@example.org), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747,email@example.com)
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.