MS- Victims applaud abuse seminar, but urge more action
For immediate release: Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014
For more information: Amy Smith, SNAP Dallas Leader (281)748-4050, [email protected] and David Clohessy, SNAP Executive Director (314) 566-9790 cell, [email protected]
Victims applaud abuse seminar
But they urge use of "outside experts"
Church protected predator just two years ago
Aggressive outreach to find victims, witnesses vital to child safety
Convicted minister may have more victims, they fear
A support group for child sex abuse victims is applauding a Mississippi Baptist church—that just recently protected and embraced a now-convicted child predator—for holding an abuse awareness and prevention seminar. But the group wants church officials to do “aggressive outreach” to encourage victims to report to police and to add at least one "outside" secular expert to the panel.
Officials at Morrison Heights Baptist Church are planning a sex abuse awareness training conference with a goal "to equip church leaders with the skills and resources they need to keep children safe." The conference focuses on reporting crimes, creating a safe environment, and a victim's story of abuse and recovery.
“Outside” secular experts are essential if this seminar is to be successful at creating a safer environment for children. “Secular experts have no bias when it comes to helping institutions and officials adopt child and victim friendly policies. They are able to put the needs of children before the reputations of institutions,” said David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP.
But SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), wants church leaders to go a step further by aggressively seeking out more victims and witnesses of abuse. In 2011, a former music minister at the church, John Langworthy, admitted from the pulpit that he had molested kids in two states. A Dallas news investigation showed that accusations against Langworthy date back to 1989, when Prestonwood Baptist Church leaders quietly investigated the allegations and fired him but failed to report him to the police, allowing him to move back to MS where he continued to work with kids as a minister and public school choir teacher for the next 22 years.
Morrison church leaders also fought SNAP's efforts to expose Langworthy's crimes.
Langworthy was eventually forced to resign from Morrison Heights, but only after his admission was exposed by victims. In January 2013, he pled guilty to sexually abusing 5 boys ages 6-13 from 1980-84. Although he was sentenced to 50 years in prison, he did not serve any time in jail.
Leaders of SNAP fear there may be more victims of Langworthy in Mississippi and Texas who were forced into shame and silence. They think that strong action can convince those victims to come forward and report to police.
“We are glad that church officials are hosting this conference. It is crucial that people learn more about child sex crimes and cover ups, especially in places where kids should be the safest,” said Amy Smith. “But decisive action is even better than education. And Morrison Heights officials still aren't taking strong steps to find and help others who may have seen, suspected or suffered child sex crimes by Langworthy or anyone else."
“Thankfully, Morrison Heights officials failed to silence a brave survivor whose courage was stronger than Morrison Heights' church officials attempts to protect Langworthy," said David Clohessy. "It is critical that Morrison Heights reach out to others and urge anyone who has seen, suspected or suffered child sex crimes by Langworthy to call police right away, to begin to heal, and to protect other kids.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 15,000 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 (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747,[email protected]), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, [email protected]), Joelle Casteix (949-322-7434, [email protected])
SEXUAL ABUSE AWARENESS TRAINING CONFERENCE
MORRISON HEIGHTS BAPTIST CHURCH
TUESDAY, APRIL 29, 2014
10:00 A.M. TO 3:00 P.M.
THE CONFERENCE IS FREE, BUT REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. LUNCH IS INCLUDED.
Every day The Baptist Children's Village sees the pain of child abuse. We proactively work to prevent the cause of such life-long pain. There has long existed a partnership between The Baptist Children's Village and Mississippi Baptist church to provide safety and healing for children and families in our state. Today we are partnering with the Christian Action Commission and Morrison Heights Baptist Church to provide Sexual Abuse Awareness Training for pastors, church staff and lay leaders. Our goal is to equip church leaders with the skills and resources they need to keep children safe.
CONFERENCE PRESENTERS AND PROGRAM:
GREGORY S. LOVE, JD
Gregory love earned a Bachelor’s degree in accounting from Texas Tech University in 1987, followed by a Juris Doctor degree from Texas Tech School of Law in 1990, where he served on the law review. He is a member of the Texas State Bar, Tarrant County Bar association, and a fellow of the Tarrant County Bar Foundation. Attorney Love has been invited as a guest lecturer at Texas Wesleyan School of Law, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Dallas Theological Seminary. He is an aV® rated lawyer (the highest rating an attorney can achieve under a national peer-reviewed system), as rated by Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory. Love is co-founder and Director of Ministry Safe and Abuse Prevention Systems, entities dedicated to sexual abuse awareness and prevention. Sexual abuse awareness training provided by Ministry-Safe and Abuse Prevention Systems is endorsed by the American Camp Association, the ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International), and the Texas Department of State Health Services.
BRAD EUBANK, PASTOR, FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH, PETAL
Brad has served in churches for over 25 years as a Student Minister and Pastor. He is also a sex abuse survivor who will share his story of God’s incredible grace and healing. “My prayer is that by sharing about God’s grace in my experience, i will be able to help other victims, and their families, find help, healing and hope; and that i will be able to save and protect children by empowering those around them.”
ANGIE MCLEOD WILLIAMS, DIRECTOR OF PERMANENCY PLANNING & PLACEMENT, DIVISION OF FAMILY AND CHILDREN’S SERVICES, MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES
Angie received a Bachelor of social Work from university of Mississippi, a master of social Work from the University of Alabama, and is a licensed certified social Worker by the state of Mississippi. What to Expect When You Report Abuse – it may be the most important phone call you’ll ever make. It will certainly be one of the hardest. Reporting your suspicions of child abuse or neglect is both a legal and a spiritual mandate; and it is something you cannot ignore. Learn how to report, what information is needed in making a report, and what happens after you hang up the phone.
SECTION 1: AWARENESS-WHAT WE NEED TO KNOW
Sexual Abuse Awareness Training: Facts about Sexual Abuse & Sexual Abusers We cannot reduce a risk we do not understand. this segment identifies commonly held misconceptions and provides factual information concerning abuser characteristics, the grooming process, common grooming behaviors, responding to an outcry or allegation, reporting responsibilities (to supervisors and authorities) and more.
SECTION 2: SAFETY SYSTEM-WHAT WE NEED TO DO
The awareness training in section 1 provides information regarding the risk of sexual abuse – giving staff members and volunteers the “Why.” This section outlines recommended elements of an effective safety system for church ministries – outlining the “What”:
Sexual abuse awareness training
Tailored Policies & Procedures
Appropriate criminal Background checks
Systems for monitoring and oversight
After describing the elements of an effective safety system for church ministries, this section will identify tools and trainings available for the creation of the system – the “How.”
Email Celeste Cade at The Baptist Children's Village or call 601-952-2422 with your questions or for registration assistance.
Morrison Heights Baptist Church is located at 3000 Hampstead Blvd., Clinton, MS 39056 Exit 36 off Interstate 20 West.