USA--Ten sex-offending church workers are listed on website
For immediate release: Monday, May 2, 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)
Ten sex-offending church workers are listed on website
They’re from CA, PA, VA, OH, KS, OR, IN and Manitoba, Canada
Each is an admitted, convicted or credibly accused clergy or church employee
Group vows to “expose more who commit sex crimes & misdeeds against kids & adults"
Victims challenge Mennonite officials: “Burden of stopping predators shouldn’t fall on us”
A support group for survivors of sexual abuse is adding five more names to their recent on-line posting of what they call “sexual predators” in Anabaptist Mennonite institutions. The organization promises to keep expanding the list “for the protection of others.”
Called the Mennonite Abuse Prevention (MAP), their posting includes names and photos of Anabaptist Mennonite clergy and church workers who have been proven guilty of, have admitted to or been credibly accused of sexual misconduct, abuse, assault, and/or harassment.
Members of the Anabaptist Mennonite Chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org) have posted 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.”
Seven of them have been criminally charged and five of them pled guilty. Six of them worked in schools and five were ordained ministers. One of them has been sued civilly and the employer of another one, a high school, was sued for enabling crimes.
The whereabouts of two are unknown. One now works as a Christian counselor.
Of the five “new” names, one is a photographer in Virginia, one is a travel agent in Kansas, one will soon get out of prison in Oregon and two—in Pennsylvania and Ohio—may not be working now.
The newest names added include:
--Paul G. Landis of Pennsylvania who offended against several women while he was President of Eastern Mennonite Missions in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
--Tony Okuley of Bluffton, Ohio, a former business professor at Bluffton University, who filmed students and was convicted on child porn charges in 2007.
--Fernando Marroquin who molested a female babysitter while he was a Spanish professor at Goshen College in Indiana. He now has a photography business in Virginia Beach.
--Matthew David Yoder of Oregon who pled guilty to three counts of second-degree sex abuse in March 2014. One of his students at Western Mennonite High School in Salem, Oregon filed a civil suit against the school and the Pacific Northwest Mennonite Conference in March of 2015.
--David Rhodes who was a choir director at Hesston College in the 1980s and nineties and was accused of abusing male students. He resigned in the early 90s, and still lives in Hesston where he has run a travel agency.
The first group of five offenders are listed below, with their last known location:
Andrew Eggman, Porterville, CA
David B. Eller, Mt. Joy, PA
Marco Funk, Gretna, Manitoba, Canada
Steven J. Geyer, Reading, PA
Jess Jay McCall, Portland, OR
"While some offending Mennonites have been named once or twice, mostly in small church publications or smaller news outlets, their names are not easily accessible to parents or the public,” said SNAP Mennonite member Stephanie Krehbiel of Lawrence, KS. "The MAP list protects the vulnerable by making the small print larger. It heals the wounded by helping them see and understand that they are not alone. It also creates transparency around sexual violence in Mennonite communities, which will ultimately help those who want to understand and prevent more sexual violence and cover ups in the future.”
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 belief in pacifism and non-violence, 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 seeking 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 and cover ups 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 or court records.
“We want Mennonites to understand that the closed and secretive way that officials are handling the most recent abuse allegations [regarding Luke Hartman/Lindale Mennonite/Eastern Mennonite University], 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 to the public."
Anyone who has seen, suspected or suffered sexual abuse in Anabaptist Mennonite churches or families or knows of pending cases in the present or in the distant past 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. Check the SNAP website for a confidential and anonymous Survivors Support Group near you. A Harrisonburg, VA group meets the first Thursday of every month. Call 540-214-8874 for location and information.
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.