San Antonio SNAP Leader's Story Published in Texas Crime Victim Clearinghouse

SNAP Leader Patti Koo who supports folks in the San Antonio and New Braunfels areas of Texas wrote an article for the Texas Crime Victim's Clearinghouse that has been published in the latest issue. Read her story below!

GENESIS TO REVELATION - My Story of Abuse by My Pastor and Counselor

by Patti Koo, San Antonio

In the beginning, there were five visits to a counselor and pastor (KW), whom I would later report to law enforcement as a sexual predator. The visits began in September 2000 after my husband and I discussed that our long-time pastor would be the right person for me to see for counseling. After all, we knew him well from church. We trusted him. I was depressed after an overseas family trip, during which communication between my husband and me was strained. I was a bit nervous; I had never been to a counselor before, but I felt I needed some trusted guidance for our marriage. We had been married for 19 years, but we were on autopilot, with both of us working full time and staying active in our daughters’ busy lives.

His narcissistic, manic-like personality matched that of a con artist but it also fit a passionate preacher that people were drawn to for spiritual enlivenment. With his up-close and personal style of preaching and teaching, he swooped in like a “savior” of sorts, after our long-time favorite associate pastor resigned. KW preached on Sundays, taught Bible study on weekdays, led healing services, visited the sick and the dying, and worked with youth events. All of us at church called him our pastor. He worked every day of the week, making himself available at all times.

It was years after my abuse that I recognized his words and actions as grooming. He set us up to trust and defend him. The grooming hides the red fags, but people also want to trust the integrity of their spiritual leader. With a mix of confidence and self-deprecating insecurity, KW roped us in with scripture-based preaching, reminding us that God especially loves the imperfect and damaged ones. As a crafted storyteller, he appeared unrehearsed and transparent. 

KW did come with a sketchy past. Although he spoke openly about his past drug and alcohol abuse, we did not know the details. We knew he was in a near death motor vehicle accident that scarred his arm. There were bits of information leaked about his past. He had stolen money at his last church and had not paid restitution. He offered to pay the church back but was told not to pay – just leave. 

He said he had to forfeit his ordination in the Baptist church, so that he could enter the Presbyterian ordination process. This “pity me” pitch worked on many of us from the congregation, as we continued to trust KW. In hindsight, it is clear that he was a “master manipulator” and had a master plan to dupe our congregation.

The official Presbyterian mandate stated that KW could not complete his ordination nor stay as pastor. Unfortunately, the entire congregation was not informed about his past violations, so we saw this mandate as an abandonment, and the traumatic bonding between our congregation and the “bereaved preacher” was sealed.

One of the elders started a letter-writing campaign to protest the verdict that KW had to leave and could not be ordained. There were many letters of praise for KW, and mine was one of them. (We later learned that the infamous car wreck was caused by an angry husband chasing KW down a highway after catching him with his wife.) When this predator could no longer preach and teach, he set up a counseling office. I had heard from several parishioners that they were seeing KW for counseling, including a friend of mine and her husband who sought marriage counseling. So I scheduled an appointment to see him for counseling. 

My first visit was in August 2000, and I told KW my concerns about the summer trip and the communication issues. I said I had been mildly depressed, and he was quick to note that he had noticed this in me for several months. I opened up about my childhood and told him I journaled, and he asked me to bring in my early writings. He also gave me his cell number and I was instructed to call him if I found anything important in those journals. I recall telling the family that night over dinner how therapeutic it was talking to an objective listener.

During the second visit, I told him that I had always prayed to keep mine and my husband’s love alive, and that God had answered that prayer so many times. But I was tired and wished things would come more naturally. KW used this opportunity to steer the counseling away from marriage repair and into the zone of questioning whether I married the right person. He planted the idea that maybe things would not get better. Trusting him, I had the mindset that my counselor was trying to help me.

At the end of the second visit, I told him it would be another two weeks before I could return for a session, due to a busy work and family schedule. He took a step back, gasped, and said that is too long; we can’t wait 2 weeks! I laughed and asked, “What is the big idea?” I saw he was serious, so I made another appointment for five days later.

On the third or fourth session, at the beginning of the visit, after fumbling with papers at his computer with his back to me, he dropped his keys and turned to me and said, “You know that I am attracted to you. Do you know what you do to people?” I was shocked and said nothing. He then asked, “What do you think when I say something like that?” He seemed to understand the ethical implications, and I answered with a comment like it isn’t right in a counselor-client setting like this. But when he said those words, the remainder of the visit was different. I could feel him looking at me. I was aware of a sexual tension between us. He did not apologize. He did not say we cannot meet anymore. I sought help for my marriage and my depression, and he was moving in, taking advantage of my vulnerability.

To the best of my recollection, it was the fourth visit that KW made his first physical move. He stood up at the end of the session, and he hugged me for the first time. He pulled my head back and kiss...

Read the rest of the story here (scroll to page 14 in the linked PDF).

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant