KS-- Big KC church denies trying to “out” young victims; SNAP responds

For immediate release: Friday, July 8, 2016

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790,314 645 5915 home, [email protected])

Officials at a Kansas City church are bullying two girls – ages 11 year old and a 13 year old and their mom. Now, the church’s lawyer is trying to deny the bullying.

A mother and her daughters are suing Westside Family Church in Lenexa. The mom wants to continue protecting the privacy and recovery of her daughters who were sexually violated by a serial predator who helped with Vacation Bible School.

But Westside wants a judge to “out” them and prevent them from moving forward as “Jane Does.” For decades, however, judges in the US have let crime victims seek justice while safeguarding their anonymity. This is especially true when kids are involved.

The church’s motion, filed in Johnson County Court, starts with this phrase: “Westside requests that this Court deny the plaintiffs’ motion (for) a pseudonym.”

It ends with this phrase: “Westside requests that this court deny the plaintiffs’ motion (for) a pseudonym.”

In between, the church’s motion says the alleged victims “should not be able to hide behind pseudonyms.”

Pretty clear, right?

But now Westside’s lawyer claims – in today’s KC Star - that church officials do NOT want to force these girls and their mom to put their names out there in public.

“We’re not looking to out these girls,” said Brad Russell, a lawyer for Westside.



Here’s what we said last week about this disturbing case, and why this hardball tactic

-- hurts this already wounded and still suffering family,

-- intimidates other victims from reporting child molesters who are still hurting children, and

-- deters witnesses, whistleblowers and others who suspect child sex crimes from calling police and other authorities.


There are really two options here: Let the girls and their mom seek justice while protecting their privacy, like courts have done for decades. Or force them to reveal their identities to the public. If Westside Family Church wins their motion, this already wounded family will have to decide – comply with the court order and the church’s wishes by disclosing their names or stop their effort to expose and deter wrongdoing.

For the sake of these girls, their mom, and others who see, suspect or suffer child sex crimes, we beg Westside to withdraw their hostile, intimidating motion.

We ask the public to consider this: What do you believe? What church officials put on paper in a written court document? Or what the church lawyer says later when facing criticism?

And we ask every single person with information or suspicions about child sex crimes and cover ups in churches or institutions – especially at mega-churches where there’s little or no oversight – to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling law enforcement, get justice by calling attorneys, and be comforted by calling support groups like ours. This is how kids will be safer, adults will recover, criminals will be prosecuted, cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.

Here’s what others are saying about this troubling case:




(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 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, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, [email protected])

Showing 2 comments

  • Dee and Ron Miller
    commented 2016-07-08 13:28:06 -0500
    I am a former Southern Baptist missionary who sacrificed my career alongside my husband Ron 28 years ago (1988), in order to keep our voices on a case with multiple victims. The two of us were at the press conference at Westside, and I was the one who alerted Bob Allen of Baptist Global News and Christa Brown about all of this. Here’s my two cents, which I posted on KC Star site:

    This is outrageous. Public figures and public institutions are never allowed anonymity in the press when it comes to allegations of sexual offenses. These are not allegations. The perpetrator is in prison already—yes, another conviction, this time because of what he did at Westside Family Church, who was “too Christian” to raise sufficient concerns to protect the children. Otherwise, the workers in the church would have all been alerted.

    It was fitting and proper that the press conference held by SNAP was conducted during Vacation Bible School, since it was during VBS that the perpetrator gained access to these victims because of the naivety and negligence of the church. As a veteran advocate of thirty years, this is about the dirtiest “pool” I’ve seen played yet. Secrecy is in the service of power. Confidentiality is for the protection of the vulnerable, as anyone who has studied Ethics 101 knows. This megachurch is an institution of great power. “To whom much is given, much is required.” This includes integrity and transparency, above all.

    This congregation is NOT the victim, and the more they play the victim, the more damage is going to be self-inflicted. The girls will be paying for the rest of their lives. They deserve anonymity, protection and a lot of compensation, as well as a public apology from this Southern Baptist congregation, which calls itself a “family” church, yet is behaving just like most incestuous families do. Russell boasts that the church cared because it promptly reported the abuse. That’s the law as any attorney would advise his client to do in the first place, not necessarily an act of caring. This is all about institutional “protection,” a game as popular with Baptists as Catholics.

    Dee Ann Miller
    author of How Little We Knew and the upcoming book, Enlarging the Spotlight: ecumenical back story with views from inside a Baptist parsonage
  • @ tweeted this page. 2016-07-08 12:58:22 -0500
    KS-- Big KC church denies trying to “out” young victims; SNAP responds http://www.snapnetwork.org/ks_big_kc_church_denies_trying_to_out_young_victims_snap_responds?recruiter_id=342

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