Victims group seeks help from area ministers

Victims group seeks help from area ministers


SNAP to church leaders: ‘Help us help the wounded’


Organization writes 25+ congregations in ‘outreach effort’


‘We can’t be complacent now; much remains to be done,’ it says


Group plans two local meetings – one private, one open - in the weeks ahead


A support group for abuse victims is writing to more than two dozen churches in Wayne County asking them for help in finding and consoling anyone who’s been hurt at Lighthouse Christian Academy, where three officials have recently been arrested.


It also plans to hold two meetings in the Piedmont area in the weeks ahead.


“Now is not the time to be complacent,” SNAP’s letter reads. It wants “to find and help the 'lost sheep' - anyone who was hurt at Lighthouse, recently or in years past. . .so they won’t have to “suffer in shame, silence and self-blame.”


The group is urging ministers to preach about the Lighthouse scandal from the pulpit, give out and post leaflets about the situation to their members and urge anyone with knowledge or suspicions about the facility to contact law enforcement. 


In the weeks ahead, SNAP plans to hold two meetings in Wayne County. “One will be a private, confidential support group meeting for anyone who was violated as a child anywhere,” the letter notes. “The other will be an open, public discussion and Q & A session about the Lighthouse/ABM Ministries scandal.”


SNAP is seeking meeting space at a local church.


The letter is signed by SNAP leaders Annette Hodges of Sedalia and David Clohessy of St. Louis. He is the volunteer director of Missouri SNAP and the organization’s former national director for 30 years.


A copy of SNAP’s letter to Wayne County clergy, sent today via the US Postal Service, is below:




Dear Pastor:

You’ve likely heard that four staffers at the Lighthouse have been arrested for alleged crimes against children. We are humbly seeking your assistance in finding, helping and consoling anyone -young or old- who has been hurt at the facility.


When child abuse is known or suspected, each of us have a simple choice. We can do nothing, which benefits the wrongdoers. Or we can take action, which benefits everyone. We emphatically urge you to take action, specifically, action to help us reach out to any individual who has seen, suspected or suffered wrongdoing at Lighthouse.


We care because children are precious and abuse is deeply harmful. We are an experienced, confidential support group for anyone hurt in any religious context. Our mission: protect the vulnerable, heal the wounded and bring out the truth.


We’ve spoken with several former students at Lighthouse. They report shocking levels of abuse and neglect – physical, emotional and sexual. We find them very credible. Law enforcement officials evidently do too. (In fact, Wayne County Sheriff Dean Finch has said his investigation is on-going and he expects more arrests.)


We’ve also closely followed similar recent scandals at other boarding schools in Missouri, especially Kanakuk Camp near Branson and Agape School near Stockton. (In fact, Julio Sandoval faces criminal charges for wrongdoing at Agape. In recent years he worked at Lighthouse.) We urge you to Google these facilities to better understand how common and how devastating abuse against youngsters can be.


Men like those who ran Lighthouse Academy not only hurt ‘the least of these.’ They also sully the reputations and make harder the work of good religious individuals and institutions.


If you know or find someone who saw or suspected abuse there, gently but firmly urge them to contact Wayne County Sheriff Dean Finch (573 224 3090). We all have a moral and a civic duty to stop criminals and help victims.


If you know or find someone who may have been hurt there, gently but firmly urge them to seek independent help from a loved one, therapist or a self-help group like ours.


Here are other ways you can help:

--1) PREACH ABOUT THIS FROM THE PULPIT.  Actions, of course, speak louder than words. What better way to show your concern for victims than to let your flock hear directly from you, in your own words, how much you care and how they can help. Lead by example, reminding church-goers of Jesus’ admonition to “leave the other 99 (and) “go look for the lost sheep.”

--2) SPREAD THE WORD. Malicious gossip is of course wrong. But it's helpful, healing and right to bravely expose and condemn serious wrongdoing. It’s just as important to find and help those who were hurt at Lighthouse, recently or in years past. That way, with our support, they won’t have to suffer in shame, silence and self-blame.


--3) COPY AND GIVE YOUR FLOCK THE ENCLOSED FLIER, or we’ll make and send you as many copies as you need.

--4) DISPLAY THE ENCLOSED FLIER IN YOUR CHURCH, on a bulletin board, door or elsewhere.

--5) Call one of us to learn other ways you can lend a hand.


Now is not the time to be complacent. Kids depend on brave, caring adults to protect and help them. Please don’t disappoint them. Please join our effort to heal and prevent abuse.


David Clohessy                                                                      Annette Hodges

Volunteer director of Missouri SNAP                                     SNAP Leader 

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests                      660 281 8632

Prevent Abuse LLC                                                                Sedalia MO

7234 Arsenal St., St. Louis MO 63143                                   [email protected]

314-566-9790 (cell)

[email protected]


P.S. In the weeks ahead, we plan to hold two meetings in Wayne County. One will be a private, confidential support group meeting for anyone who was violated as a child anywhere. The other will be an open, public discussion and Q & A session about the Lighthouse/ABM Ministries scandal. Might you be willing to let us use one of your rooms or buildings? Please let us know. Thanks very much.




Abuse at another Christian boarding school in Missouri!


Concerned about ABM Ministries / Lighthouse Christian Academy?

Did you see, suspect, or suffer any wrongdoing there, at any point?

We are a confidential support group for anyone who was hurt by anyone in any institutional setting.

We are especially worried about those who are or were at this controversial boarding school in Piedmont.

(In recent months, at least three boys have run away from this facility, reporting abuse of some kind.)

(See Kansas City Star,


---Ask friends, family neighbors ‘Have you heard anything about any misconduct there?’ If they say YES, please urge them to call law enforcement or our organization.

---Remind people you know that abusers are shrewd and they count on others to keep quiet or avoid ‘getting involved.’ Tell them that kids are precious and unless caring adults speak up, youngsters will continue to be hurt.

---Remember that any information or suspicions, no matter how old or slight or seemingly insignificant, can be helpful to police and prosecutors and others seeking to learn and expose the truth and safeguard children.

---Reach out to anyone you may know who worked or volunteered at Lighthouse. Ask them if they ever saw anything suspicious. If so, beg them to contact law enforcement ASAP.

---Spread the word about our self-help group. People who have been sexually, physically or emotionally abused CAN get better. But the first step is reaching out, confidentially, to others who have suffered in the same ways and understand the severe damage such misconduct and crimes cause.

---Check out our website – – and urge others to do so.

---Keep an open mind. Just because you may not have direct knowledge of wrongdoing, that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Please, for the safety of kids, let’s err on the side of action.

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