Rev. Stan Archie “exonerated?” Hardly.

Rev. Stan Archie of Kansas City is a prominent Kansas City pastor. He says a recent trial shows that he’s been “exonerated” of wrongdoing. But here’s the truth:

--He’s been sued twice.

--One was a young woman who said he sexually violated her when she was a girl.

--The other was a woman who said he “sexually exploited” her as a church staffer by using his position as a pastoral counselor.”   

--Both women were represented by Kansas City’s most experienced and successful victims’ attorney.

--The first case has been resolved. (NOTE: not “withdrawn,” not “tossed out,” but “resolved.”)

--The second case resulted in a $350,000 jury verdict against Archie’s church (more on that in a minute).

--Three other women testified at the trial that Archie had abused them.

--Archie tried to get that verdict overturned, but a judge ruled against him.

--When he was sued, Archie stepped down as the chair of the Missouri Board of Education.

--Though he claims he’s been “exonerated,” neither he nor the Board have apparently made any effort to restore his position.

--When he was sued, he acted like many predators do – attacking the motives of his accuser.

--Finally, we in SNAP have met both women. We find them to be courageous, compassionate and credible people who want others to be spared the trauma and pain they have endured.

So where does this claim that Archie’s been “exonerated” come from? It’s a desperate effort at “spin” following a confusing jury verdict after a complicated trial.

In the trial, which ended in August, jurors found Rev. Archie’s church supervisors guilty of fraud “for misrepresenting that its 2007 investigation into her abuse allegations was a serious inquiry aimed at learning the truth.”

But they did NOT find Archie himself guilty. The legal explanation behind that is complicated. It stems, in part, from a very high bar that victims of clergy in Missouri face, thanks to a 1997 state Supreme Court ruling called Gibson vs. Brewer. It requires victims to prove “intent,” not simple “negligence.”

But common sense suggests Archie’s church colleagues didn’t conduct a sham investigation because there was no underlying wrongdoing. Ask yourself this: “Would a jury award a woman $350,000 if no harm had been done?” And ask yourself this: “How many times have you heard of a minister being accused twice in civil suits by an experienced victims’ attorney and it all turns out to be a misunderstanding or a falsehood?”

Again, these two women are good, caring and brave individuals who have been deeply hurt and want others to be safer.

We beg anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered misdeeds or crimes by Rev. Archie to come forward immediately and get help so that others might be spared harm.

We were disturbed by Rev. Archie's initial public response to allegations that he sexually exploited a church member. He claimed that a church investigation cleared him, but refused to give any details.

It's disingenuous to claim that a church investigates its own pastor and that some other anonymous body allegedly did so too. Why refuse to name the organization that supposedly checked out the accusations? Because Rev. Archie's denial of sexual misconduct is so vague and is issued through his lawyer, it rings hollow.

It's also troubling to see a minister attack his accuser and cry ‘extortion. Usually, that's a sign that a predator is trying to intimidate other victims, witnesses and whistleblowers from stepping forward.

We also ask Archie’s church colleagues, for the safety of others, to oust him. And we want KC religious figures to avoid letting him preach or serve on boards or committees with them.

All too often, clergy stick together and let credibly accused colleagues do guest preaching and continue treating them as if no wrong has taken place. That’s very hurtful to victims and puts more innocent kids and vulnerable adults at risk of more harm.   

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