National--Offending Mennonite church staff are listed on website
For immediate release: Tuesday, April 5, 2016
For more information: David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, email@example.com), Barbra Graber (540-214-8874, firstname.lastname@example.org), Barbara Dorris(314-503-0003, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org, Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, email@example.com)
Sex-offending church workers are listed for first time on website
Admitted, convicted & credibly accused clergy & employees are exposed
Mennonite/Anabaptist officials who cover up abuse will also be tracked
Exposing abuse “helps survivors heal, protects the vulnerable,” group says
A support group for survivors of sexual abuse is announcing the release of a list of credibly accused, admitted, and convicted sexual predator Mennonite and Anabaptist clergy and employees.
Called the Mennonite Abuse Prevention (MAP) list, it aims to be a collection of the names and photos of Anabaptist and Mennonite clergy and church workers who have been credibly accused of sexual misconduct, abuse, assault, and/or harassment. Officials who cover up abuse will also be tracked.
The list includes men who now live in Oregon, Pennsylvania and Canada and two whose whereabouts are unknown. One now works as a counselor.
Members of the Anabaptist Mennonite Chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org) compiled and released the list because, they say, Mennonite officials are not taking “meaningful action to effectively stop predators, or make this information easily available to church members or the public.”
Currently, the list only displays five names, but its compilers plan to add more names in small installments, as their research is completed and more documentation received.
"While some offending Mennonites have been named and archived in denominational or independent publications, these announcements are not easily accessible to church members and researchers who seek a better understanding of sexual violence in Mennonite settings,” said MAP list researcher and SNAP Mennonite member Stephanie Krehbiel of Kansas City, Missouri. "The MAP list is designed to make the small print larger, to create transparency around sexual violence in Mennonite institutions and communities, prevent more such violence and to help survivors still struggling with their experiences discover that they are not alone.”
Anabaptism began during the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, and today includes a complex network of churches and communities including Mennonites, Church of the Brethren, and the Amish. Known for their pacifism, there are more than one million Anabaptists worldwide in loosely affiliated denominations and conferences that vary in the conservatism of their faith. While the MAP list currently lists primarily Mennonite offenders, its creators are collecting information on offenders from other Anabaptist groups as well.
Hosted on the international SNAP website SNAPnetwork.org, the MAP list follows a model already established by similar websites that document sexual abuse in other faiths, including BishopAccountability.org, Pokrov.org, and Protectjewishkids.com.
To be placed on the MAP list, offenders must have been named elsewhere through established media sources, internal institutional documents, court records, or any combination of the above.
While SNAP members have been compiling and researching the MAP List for some time, its initial release was spurred by the January arrest of former Eastern Mennonite University vice president Luke Hartman for solicitation of prostitution. Hartman’s charges were dismissed on a technicality on March 29. Lindale Mennonite Church pastors and board of elders admitted in a letter to the congregation on March 20, that Hartman had abused another member of the church. Lindale officials knew of the abuse in August 2014 but apparently told neither the police nor their congregation, and Hartman remained in his position as vice president at Eastern Mennonite University until his arrest in January 2016.
“We want Mennonites to understand that the closed and secretive way that these officials are handling these abuse allegations is part of a much larger pattern of predatory Mennonite church workers and complicit institutions,” said Krehbiel.
"Where there is secrecy, denial, and lack of transparency, sexual violence thrives,” said SNAP Mennonite leader Barbra Graber of Harrisonburg, Virginia. "Despite growing evidence that such approaches re-traumatize victims and enable further abuse, most Mennonite churches and institutions still attempt to manage abuse situations quietly, internally, and at risk to public safety. The health and wellbeing of Mennonite faith communities will be better served when information about who is committing that abuse and how it is being addressed becomes accessible."
Anyone who has information and evidence of sexual abuse in Anabaptist Mennonite churches is urged to contact SNAP. Documentation concerning legal actions taken, dismissals from posts and/or media coverage may be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to MAP list, P.O. Box 442632, Lawrence, KS, 66044.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is the world’s oldest and largest support group for sexual abuse victims and their loved ones. SNAP was founded by victims of Catholic priests in 1988 and now has more than 21,000 members in over 79 countries. Even though “Priests” is in its title, SNAP is open to religious and nonreligious persons who were sexually violated by anyone inside or outside a faith community. The Anabaptist Mennonite Chapter of SNAP was established in early 2015.