The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Monday, May 4, 2009
Cornerstone church controversy; Sex abuse victims respond
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell)
Zealous church members must find ways to express their faith that do not frighten or endanger kids and that don’t upset or scare parents.
It’s disturbing that teachers’ attention and resources must be diverted from teaching kids inside school to protecting kids outside school.
We are grateful that current students are being warned about the alarming misbehavior by church members. We hope, however, that former students will also be told about the former church music director Charles Miller, Jr. who molested kids. It’s good to protect those who are vulnerable right now, but it’s also crucial to reach out to those who may have already been hurt.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the nation’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 20 years and have more than 9,000 members across the country. 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 David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home), Peter Isely (414-429-7259) Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688)
Cornerstone Church Controversy Continues
Posted: May 3, 2009 06:18 PM CDT - Updated: May 3, 2009 06:51 PM CDT
By SCOTT HARRISON, firstname.lastname@example.org
COLORADO SPRINGS - Last week's complaints by parents against a local church apparently aren't the first. NEWSCHANNEL 13 has found evidence of accusations regarding Cornerstone Baptist Church, going back to 1993.
According to one news report, the accusations include baptizing kids without parents' permission; deceiving kids; forcing a child to disrobe before baptizing her; and sexual assaults of teenagers by a pastor's son. Church leaders did not respond to a request for comment from NEWSCHANNEL 13 Sunday, but in a statement Friday denied any wrongdoing.
NEWSCHANNEL 13's Marshall Zelinger first told you Friday that according to some parents, church members frightened kids by aggressively approaching kids going to and from school, preaching to them, and asking them to attend the church. In one case, a church member allegedly asked a child to enter a van. In the Friday statement, church leaders denied knowing the driver of the van.
Stories of such behavior don't surprise the Tubac family on Mesa Mountain Way. They say their 8th grade daughter Alisia (now a high school freshman) and a friend were approached by a church member a year ago. "He stopped us, and we were like, do you know him? He just asked our names, and started preaching to us, and made us pray. It was weird."
Alisia's mother, Virginia, says she called the church to complain, but never received a response. "After that, we never let them walk home from school ever again. I didn't appreciate them doing this."
According to the report mentioned above, Charles Miller, Jr. was the church's music director and pastor's son when he received a 10-year prison sentence. He pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual abuse of a child by a person in a position of trust. He was released a year ago, and now lives in Oklahoma.
Springs church, school clash over proselytizing
Posted: 05/04/2009 12:30:00 AM MDT
COLORADO SPRINGS — Representatives of a local Christian church tried to lure a seventh-grader at Russell Middle School into a church van last week, school district officials said.
As a result, the principal sent students home with a letter to parents asking that they instruct their children not to talk to strangers, and the district has beefed up security around the property at 3825 E. Montebello Drive.
The letter to parents did not identify the church, and the district — acting on the advice of its attorney — has declined to name it. But sources told The Gazette that it was Cornerstone Baptist Church, which is about 2.5 miles from the school and has gotten into trouble in the past for baptizing children without parents' permission.
Students at nearby Keller and Fremont elementary schools also have been approached by church members, and church proselytizing has been escalating in recent weeks at Russell. Still, officials were unprepared for what happened Thursday, district spokeswoman Elaine Naleski said Friday.
"We have never had a problem like this before," she said. "We are shocked by their actions."
A few weeks ago, officials at the school met with the church's leader to complain about members coming on school property to preach the Bible, Naleski said. But rather than stop, church members started proselytizing from public sidewalks outside the school.
The school will seek a no-trespassing order if church members resume harassing children on school property, Naleski said. But it will be up to parents to take legal action against the church if their children are approached in public areas outside the school.
Assistant pastor Ford Glover said Friday that Cornerstone would have no comment.
The church website's "doctrinal statement" that "we believe the church is a local, separated body of believers who are sent forth into the world to get people saved, baptized, and added to the church."
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests