MO- Presbyterian minister sues Presbyterian church
For immediate release: Monday, July 21, 2014
For more information: David Clohessy (314-566-9790, [email protected])
Presbyterian minister sues Presbyterian church
He reports being abused as a kid by mid-MO minister
Convicted for child porn, the accused is also a murder suspect
And he cut off a man's genitals in a botched sex change operation
A former Presbyterian minister who is a suspect in a missing person case, who pled guilty to sex crimes and who admitted severing a man's genitals in an illegal gender reassignment surgery is now being sued for allegedly sexually assaulting a boy who grew up to be a Presbyterian minister.
Rev. Kris Schondelmeyer has filed a civil lawsuit against the now-imprisoned Jack Wayne Rogers, formerly of Fulton, Missouri. Schondelmeyer says Rogers sexually violated him at a nationally sponsored youth conference in Maryland in 2000. At the time, Rogers was a Presbyterian Lay Pastor for the Missouri Union Presbytery serving at Bellflower Presbyterian Church.
Rogers is now behind bars in Florida for child pornography and other sexual crimes. He has been publicly named as a suspect in the disappearance of a northwest Missouri boy who went missing months after Rogers allegedly assaulted Schondelmeyer. According to the Associated Press, “authorities believe Rogers bragged in an online chat room that he abducted, raped and murdered a man (and) said police would never find the body because of how he disposed of it.”
However, Rogers has never been charged in connection with the man’s disappearance. He did, however, plead guilty a decade ago to first-degree assault and practicing medicine without a license after cutting off “a man's genitals in a makeshift gender reassignment surgery in a hotel room,” the Associated Press reported.
“My biggest fear isn’t whether or not Presbyterian Church officials will do what is good, and right, and just,” Schondelmeyer said. “It’s that there might be other victims who are suffering in silence. To others who have been hurt by Jack Wayne Rogers, I encourage you to speak with local authorities or to reach out to SNAP, and to find a safe and trusted counselor to work towards healing. This is not your fault.”
A support group is praising Schondelmeyer for “his courage, compassion and dedication.”
“When victims and whistleblowers speak up like this, especially against those who commit and conceal clergy sex crimes, other victims who are in pain find the courage to step forward too,” said David Clohessy of St. Louis, executive director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “And that's how predators are exposed and kids are protected. So to us, Kris is a real hero.”
In April of 2013, Schondelmeyer filed a criminal complaint in Maryland but was later told that the criminal statute of limitations had expired.
Other witnesses have come forward and said that at the time he was abused, church officials hid information about Rogers’ previous criminal history, Schondelmeyer said.
The civil suit charges that Presbyterian officials at several levels systemically covered up Rogers’ criminal history and were intentionally negligent by letting Rogers, a convicted child pornographer, be a chaperone for a nationally-sponsored church youth conference where he was given a private dorm room where he sexually assaulted.
Defendants in the suit include the Louisville-based national Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA), the First Presbyterian Church of Fulton and the Missouri Union Presbytery in Jefferson City.
Schondelmeyer emphasized he loves his church.
“I truly love this denomination and have great faith in the goodness of the Presbyterian Church (USA). There is much compassion and mercy in my heart, and I would rather stand with church leaders, than against them, to work together to create safe and sacred space for children and youth,” he said.
At the same time, Schondelmeyer feels he has “exhausted all possibilities to find accountability through the disciplinary and administrative processes of the PCUSA.”
The suit was filed in April but has attracted no attention to date.
“The suit is detailed but some information about me is vague to help with my healing process and to protect my privacy and my wife’s privacy,” Schondelmeyer said.
He is represented by Kansas City attorneys Sarah Brown - (816 931 9901), and Rebecca Randles - (816 510 2704).
Schondelmeyer has reached out to leaders at all levels of the church including:
Joan Erickson, General Presbyter of the Missouri Union Presbytery - (573 635 9221);
Rev. Landon Whitsitt, Executive and Stated Clerk of the Synod of Mid-America - (913 608 7662);
and Rev. Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA) - (888 728 7228 ext. 5375).
David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP director 314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]