The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Thursday, April 7, 2011
Minister charged with sex crimes; clergy 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, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
We applaud these brave young victims. We also applaud Tommy Joe Pitts' wife. She became suspicious of his abusive behavior and confronted him about it. She did what every adult should do- protect innocent children. She put their safety ahead of her own interests. The citizens of Oklahoma owe these courageous young victims and this woman a debt of gratitude for coming forward and revealing this minister's bizarre behavior and having the wisdom to work with law enforcement.
Criminal charges are not convictions. Accused church officials often hire the best defense attorneys available. Now more than ever, it is important for anyone who has seen or suspected misdeeds by Pitts to contact law enforcement. Anyone who has been harmed by Pitts should come forward, call police and begin healing.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 23 years and have more than 10,000 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 - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, email@example.com), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
Authorities claim pastor used sexual abuse as punishment
Tommy Joe Pitts, 51, was charged Wednesday in Major County District Court with nine felony counts in connection with the sexual assault of three girls. He appeared in court Wednesday afternoon.
BY ANN KELLEY Oklahoman
Published: April 7, 2011
FAIRVIEW — A young girl told authorities a Fairview pastor used sexual abuse as punishment.
Tommy Joe Pitts, 51, was charged Wednesday in Major County District Court with nine felony counts in connection with the sexual assault of three girls ages 8, 9, and 12.
The complaints include two counts of first-degree rape, four counts of lewd molestation and three counts of rape by instrumentation.
Pitts appeared briefly in court Wednesday afternoon with his attorney, Fritz McGee. His bail is set at $1 million.
His wife was in the courtroom. She called the sheriff’s department March 31 to report Pitts molested three girls and was threatening to kill himself. Pitts was arrested after he deliberately drove into the path of a tractor-trailer rig, authorities said. The vehicles did not strike each other and Pitts was not injured, authorities said.
Pitts’ wife said she became suspicious of Pitts when he insisted on spending more time alone with the girls and confronted him about the alleged abuse on March 31.
The 12-year-old girl told authorities when the girls broke a rule Pitts would give them a choice of punishment. He offered the option of getting a spanking or touching his genitals.
Investigators claim they’ve documented more than 70 instances of sexual assault against the three girls.
Pitts, an ordained minster with the Assemblies of God since 2007, was pastor at the Midway Assembly of God in Fairview.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests