We’re here outside the St. Louis area Presbyterian headquarters because of the bravery of Gary Cave, the crimes of Rev. Michael W. Jackson, and the inadequate response by Presbyterian officials.
We applaud Gary Cave for having the courage to disclose his abuse, the wisdom to get legal help, the persistence to deal with church officials, and the strength to stand with us today, using his voice to help others. Kids are already safer because of his bravery.
But kids would be even safer if Presbyterian officials – here and in Georgia – would step up and show similar courage by publicly announcing that they have at least two credible allegations of child sex crimes against Rev. Jackson.
Why must it fall on Gary to warn the public about this predator? Why must he beg victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to step forward, so that Jackson might be prosecuted and kids might be protected?
To recap, a previously secret, 28 page internal Presbyterian Church “investigation report” acknowledges that church officials
--have gotten two separate allegations of child sexual abuse against the minister,
--reported the accusations to two law enforcement agencies, and
--have “stripped” the minister “of his ordination,” their “most severe” penalty.
Yet the minute Jackson resigns, church officials walked away.
Presbyterian officials can’t arrest Jackson. They can, however, beg others with knowledge or suspicions of his crimes to call law enforcement. But they’re staying silent.
Presbyterian officials can’t impose any more church penalties on Jackson. They can, however, publicly share what they know and believe about him, so that others might be warned and protected. But they’re staying silent.
Jackson faces no criminal charges or civil suits, as best we can tell. But at the very least, he’s a credibly accused child molester, twice over. And Presbyterian officials are sure enough of his crimes that they paid money to his victim and were preparing a church proceeding against him. They should tell the public this. But they’re staying silent.
And by the way, it’s worth noting that Jackson is acting like predators often do, moving to another state, abruptly quitting one church job, getting another job with access to vulnerable children, and resigning as soon as the church charges against him were spelled out.
We join with Gary in criticizing Presbyterian officials for being secretive, moving slowly and abruptly ending their investigation just because Jackson renounced his ministry. And we join with Gary in begging anyone who has seen, suspected, or suffered crimes in Presbyterian churches to come forward to secular authorities.
To their credit, the Presbyterians gave Gary $5,000. They met with him. They talked with his sister. And they vaguely and verbally said that in January, they’d start a new committee and start making phone calls to find others who were sexually assaulted by Jackson.
That’s a start – a slow, minimal start. But we must ask: So again, why won’t Presbyterian officials be more forthcoming, pro-active, and compassionate? Why won’t they publicly share what they know about Jackson, so that more abuse might be prevented?
And where’s their urgency?
At one point, St. Louis Presbyterian officials wrote that one of their letters was “intentionally delayed so as not to interfere with Holy Week.”
At another point, Georgia Presbyterian officials wrote “The mailing of this letter has been delayed so as to arrive after Easter.”
Recently, St. Louis Presbyterian officials claimed that they would set up a new committee and call some church members in St. Charles and asked if any of them were hurt by Jackson. But again, it’s the quiet approach. And again, it’s been postponed, this time because of Christmas.
Meanwhile, Jackson lives and works among unsuspecting families, colleagues, neighbors and even relatives who have no idea that he faces two credible child sex abuse allegations and suddenly quit the ministry when the church charges against him were about to be filed?
And meanwhile, church officials know that Rev. Jackson recently worked at a hospital “providing individualized psychiatric and substance abuse treatment for adolescents and adults.”(Could a child molesting clergyman find a better set up than this?) How will Presbyterian officials feel if evidence surfaces that Jackson molested more kids in recent months while they quietly and slowly inched forward, delaying over and over because of religious holidays?