TN--Sex abuse victims blast Baptist ministers
Sex abuse victims blast Baptist ministers
They “change their tune” in child abuse case
Group says they should be investigated & charged
It says one preacher “clearly filed false police report”
SNAP: “Now law enforcement must act to deter deceit”
In new court document, minister radically contradicts himself & police
Holding a sign and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, a nationally-known clergy sex abuse victim and advocate will
--disclose a new 15 page court record of sworn answers by a Jackson area minister,
-- urge law enforcement to investigate and prosecute he and an ex-pastor, and
-- prod anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered child sex crimes by a convicted sex offender and church member who is accused of more crimes to call police, protect others, expose wrongdoers, deter deceit and start healing.”
TODAY, Friday, Nov. 7 at 2:45 pm
On the sidewalk outside the Madison County DA’s office, 225 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr., Jackson, TN
A Missouri man who is the long-time leader of an international support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org). He and his brothers were molested as a child by a priest. One of them grew up to become a priest and molested children himself.
In an unusual and controversial move, three years after he reported suspected child sex crimes by a church volunteer to police, a Jackson minister went back and tried to “water down” his formal report. SNAP calls the move “an apparent, clumsy and likely illegal effort to protect himself and his congregation from a civil child sex abuse and cover up case” which was filed against him and his church weeks earlier.”
SNAP is urging Madison County DA Jerry Woodall to investigate the two very different accounts and possibly charge the minister for making a false police report.
(Read the police report here:
In 2006, Pastor Mark McSwain of First Church in Bemis reported to police that a church volunteer, Chad Lutrell, was inappropriately touching young girls and kissing one on the mouth. He also said that Lutrell was stalking and harassing adult women.
Three years later, however, in 2009, McSwain backtracked from his original statement. McSwain approached police again, this time telling an officer that Lutrell kissed a child on the cheek, not on the mouth. McSwain also denied that Lutrell had inappropriately touched children, and claimed that Lutrell only sent one adult woman an inappropriate email and follower her home.
“It seems suspicious that Rev. McSwain changed his tune so dramatically, especially after three years, and in such self-serving ways,” said David Clohessy director of SNAP. “We hope prosecutors will consider filing charges against McSwain for making a false police report.”
“The pastor clearly is trying hard to protect his reputation and his church’s reputation from negative news coverage and civil lawsuits,” said Clohessy. “There's really no other possible explanation for his bizarre behavior.”
Last May, Lutrell was arrested for stalking women, after three victims came forward to police. And in 2009, Lutrell was convicted of sexually abusing a ten year old girl. He is a registered sex offender. http://www.wbbjtv.com/news/local/Sex-Offender-Now-Facing-Stalking-Charges-206462401.html
First Baptist church is now being sued for Lutrell’s crimes.
At the time of McSwain's first police report, an officer suggested that McSwain ask the victims if they’d like to file a complaint. But the pastor replied that he was “trying to follow Biblical guidelines at this point and did not know what would be done.”
“That's dead wrong. There's nothing 'un-Biblical' about reporting known or suspected child sex crimes to police,” said Clohessy. “It is very 'Biblical' to protect innocent children from harm. McSwain should be investigated for potentially breaking state mandatory reporting laws.”
“Current and former employees and members of First Baptist who knew about or suspected Lutrell’s abuse should be harshly punished for refusing to promptly call police,” he said. “This kind of punishment is the best way to deter such reckless and irresponsible misbehavior in the future.”
SNAP is urging every individual “who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes at First Baptist” to “speak up, protect kids, call police, get help, expose wrongdoers and start healing.”
The victim is represented by attorney Adam D. Horowitz of Ft. Lauderdale, FL (305-298-7713 cell, firstname.lastname@example.org). The church is represented by Wayne Kline of Knoxville.
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.