SNAP Renews Call for Independent Investigation into Menlo Church
Last week, a brave whistleblower made public a megachurch’s quiet defense and shielding of a pedophile who was working around children. Now, that megachurch is launching a new investigation into what went wrong. While we are glad that further action is being taken, we renew our call for secular law enforcement officials to get involved to ensure that children and the vulnerable will be protected.
The fact is, internal investigations of church employees do not work; just look at examples like the Catholic Church or the Southern Baptist Convention. Like these other institutions, Menlo Church needs an outside, secular investigation in order to get to the full truth of what went wrong and what needs to be done to prevent this from ever happening again. A secular investigation can help prevent a powerful leader such as Rev. John Ortberg from influencing the fact-finding and reporting. It is probably impossible for a father to be unbiased about his child. That Pastor Ortberg worked behind the scenes to protect his son seems likely to us as evidenced by the fact that no parents or children were interviewed in the initial investigation, and that the identity of the problematic volunteer was never revealed.
We call on Menlo Park to voluntarily turn over this investigation to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. AG Becerra has established a hotline for survivors of clergy abuse and we encourage anyone with information about this case or any other at Menlo Church to make a report online using this confidential reporting form.
We also call on the leadership of Menlo Church, and its thousands of followers, to be compassionate towards victims of abuse. Children who are abused are often afraid and unwilling to come forward. There simply is no way anyone can be sure that John Ortberg III, or other leaders or volunteers within Menlo Church, never abused minors. We call on everyone at Menlo Church to let go of this internal investigation and to support an outside investigation that is much more likely to discover the full truth behind this controversy.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)