Sex offenders in the pews: Let’s not be deceived

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Church Pews - courtesy of r. nial bradshaw via Flickr

Church Pews - courtesy of r. nial bradshaw via Flickr

One of the many horrors about child sexual abuse is the inability to definitively assess who poses a danger to our children.  Not only do decades of studies still leave us at a loss as to why offenders offend, but generations of abuse remind us that offenders are some of the most deceptive and dangerous people on the face of the earth.  This combination is deadly.  In order to help bring this horror to an end, we must acknowledge this deadly combination and help to equip our communities to understand so that all of us can be more proactive in protecting little ones from those inside and outside of our communities who want to destroy them.

I recently learned about an amazing individual who has committed his life to equipping the faith community to better understand the deceptions and dangers of offenders.  Pastor Jimmy Hinton never grew up thinking that this would be his life’s calling.  However, that all changed in 2011 when he was hit hard by a disclosure that forever changed his life. Pastor Hinton has spent the past few years collecting invaluable and unique insights into the dark mind of an offender who found himself loved and admired by an unsuspecting public that was deceived for decades.  I am so glad and grateful that Jimmy Hinton has taken the time to share just a few of those insights with us today in this guest post.  – Boz

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It’s a cold February day and I’m standing on stage eyeing up my audience. It’s a seminar at a church on child sexual abuse and I’ve now shifted to speaking about prevention. I don’t want to lecture them about “red flag” behavior. I want them to experience deception. My colleague, a therapist who has logged over 9,000 hours counseling over 3,000 sex offenders in various prisons, has convinced me that we need to role play. He will play the firm church leader and I will play the pedophile. Days before, he assures me that he’s never seen anyone so naturally “get into role” as me. “It’s frightening! You’re too much,” he says. Our aim is to demonstrate to our unsuspecting audience how easily sex offenders cunningly win over the hearts of every person and gain access to children. It’s a scenario we both know too well. It will be, in his opinion, the most compelling and practical part of the entire weekend seminar. He was right.

We let them know that we were acting, but that several of them would find our routine eerily familiar. It’s a strange feeling to pretend to be the very thing you work so hard to fight against. Perhaps that’s why there is a profound shortage of specialists in this field. Nobody wants to plunge their minds into that level of darkness. Two minutes into my act, I could tell that most everyone was hooked. I improvised the entire thing. I had no idea what I was going to say or how I would say it but it just seemed to flow, and so did my tears. Several people in the audience were wiping tears from their own eyes, and we were only 3 minutes in. I used multiple layers of deception through words, pacing and leading, body language, and by hijacking and toying with their belief system. After only 5 minutes I was finished and, frankly, shocked at how easy it was. I asked the audience how many people would give me the benefit of the doubt and let me worship with them, unhindered. Every hand went up except for the church elders. One of the elders raised his hand—“We recently had a situation with a pedophile who gained our trust and eventually worked his way into a leadership position. Things got very ugly and it ended with him threatening lives. I swear, I had to take a second look and make sure that you were not actually that man standing on stage. You mirrored him exactly.” I had never met the man he spoke of, nor did I know any details about this church’s situation.

Church Pews - courtesy of r. nial bradshaw via Flickr

Church Pews – courtesy of r. nial bradshaw via Flickr

It’s a specialty I wish I didn’t need to develop, and I wish it wasn’t so personal. It’s taken its toll on me in so many ways, but I remain determined and understanding deception has become a niche. In 2011, a young adult disclosed to me, her pastor, that my own father had sexually abused her as a young child. Three days later, my mother and I were sitting in a police station reporting my childhood hero. How was this possible?   I went into ministry because of his influence. He preached for decades at the same church I’m preaching at now. We were best friends. He confessed to over 20 victims, all of them prepubescent children at the time they were abused and is now serving a life sentence. I’ve maintained close contact with my dad, as well as the families of his victims. Learning about deception is woefully painful. Living in its wake is a nightmare.

No matter how much we think we might know about child molestation, people will continue to be easily fooled. Consider the following quote from John Ziegler, who orchestrated the Today Show interview with Dottie Sandusky and Matt Lauer: “I am quite positive that Jerry Sandusky never had sex acts with a boy. He has no consciousness of guilt, Dottie Sandusky has no consciousness of guilt. She was placed at the scene of these alleged crimes by several of the key victims and the narrative of that scenario makes absolutely no sense.” Honestly, I’ve wasted too much precious time listening to John Ziegler’s naïve rationale. He makes the same mistake church leaders do when they squelch the voices of children who disclose abuse. He believes that abuse (and the abuser) must be obvious, that there has to be a smoking gun. In one interview, Mr. Ziegler is sitting in the Sandusky basement where some of the alleged abuse took place. He is sarcastically poking fun at the victims, questioning their testimony and credibility, and describing how ridiculous a theory it is that Dottie would not have heard the abuse taking place in her own home.

Yet, to my knowledge, Mr. Ziegler has not lived under the same roof as a pedophile. He has fallen into the same trap that church leaders do regularly. Good people, so it is believed, don’t have sex with children. And if they did, we would notice. And my study about deception is fueled even more by this foolishness. “Indeed,” the apostle Paul warns, “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and imposters will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:12-13 ESV). Jesus was tempted not three times, but for forty days and nights! I believe that the devil looked nothing like the Grim Reaper character in the TV series The Bible. It’s this type of bad theology that keeps us naïve, and abusers know it. I believe that the devil attempted to deceive the Son of God much like he does today—by being the only friend to meet us in the loneliness of the wilderness when nobody else is walking with us. And should we resist, the devil only flees for a season: “And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time” (Luke 4:13).

I’m learning that gaining access to children and fooling adults is more about technique than it is about addictive behaviors. Neurobiologists Stephen Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde in their book, Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals About Our Everyday Deceptions, say, “We’ve given some answers as to why you (and we) are so gullible: our brains create sensory afterimages, our memories are fallible, we make predictions that can be violated, and so on. But as we reflect on the reasons, we are drawn to one that stands above all others in explaining the neurobiology of magic—the spotlight of attention.” World renowned pickpocket Apollo Robbins agrees. “In three minutes I’m going to be wearing your watch. Try to keep up,” he tells people. Within three minutes, not only is he wearing their watch, but he has successfully cleaned out every pocket without their knowing it. Robbins says that the spotlight of attention is about the size of a thumb nail. If he can steal that spotlight through many friendly techniques, he can “dance in the shadows” and get whatever he wants.

We should not be surprised that churches are a hotbed for deception and a playground for the devil. We at Church Protect routinely interact with churches who are dealing with child molesters. What’s surprising isn’t that abuse goes on in churches, but that church leaders are providing protection for the offenders rather than the children they abuse. We need to equip people to become masters at understanding deception if we are going to successfully prevent abuse in our churches. Creating boundaries is not sufficient because boundaries can easily be penetrated, and people can easily be distracted and misled. If you don’t believe me, look up Bob Arno. He literally can strip people of shirts, ties, wallets, even underwear while casually talking to them. He uses his skills to consult with police across the globe. “Bob’s training is invaluable,” says Las Vegas PD Sergeant Tim Shalhoob. “He can teach a new detective in 3 hours what would take him 5 or 6 years on the street.” The biggest challenge I face, and will continue to face, is convincing church leaders that we are all easily fooled and that “keeping an eye” on perpetrators is like telling Apollo Robbins, “You’ll never get my watch.”

Jimmy Hinton grew up in Shanksville, PA where United 93 crashed on 9/11. He is a minister at the Somerset Church of Christ and is co-founder and CEO of Church Protect, Inc.

  • Are you saying that people with a history of sex offenses can never be safely included in a church environment? I disagree. Congregations can have policies and procedures in place to assure that some people with this history can be safely included in adult worship, adult education, and adult social experiences. Treatment is very effective for some offenders. Congregations need to obtain information from treatment providers and parole officers in making their decisions. Rev. Hinton, please check out our Sexually Safer Best Practice Program at http://www.religiousinstitute.org/safer-congregations for recommended policies. The fact is that most sex offenders and pedophiles in are congregations are unknown to us — that’s why its so important to have comprehensive safety policies in place. I’d love to speak with you about our efforts. (I am sorry for your painful history.)

  • Alex Smith

    All this means nothing if you do not provide a place for men/women who are s*xually attracted to children can go to seek help before they cross the point of no return; before they are caught, before they are court ordered to attend therapy. The abuse will go on and on and on because it should be obvious by now that the church has not provided that sanctuary for those who suffer. If your’e writing this article that means that still in 2015 nothing is pro-active, everything is re-active.

  • Bravo. So often churches side with perpetrators and the voices of victims get silenced or harassed.

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  • So how is a mother supposed to help her child if no one will listen and believe? Or even where there are CPS, police, and psychologists and judges who won’t do their part and listen to all the evidence. I am shocked to find out how our courts, churches and police do not take this stuff seriously and so these kids continue to be hurt, and taken from the only safe person they know, their mother. Why aren’t there more people out there to help these women and children while they are trying to get free from all the abuse.

  • Leon Washington

    What a disgraceful article full of assumptions and generalizations. I am an ordained Baptist Minister and Pastoral Assistant who is LABELED as a sex offender due to activity that took place when I was 20 with a teenager whose age I did not know at the time. Never in ANY type of trouble before or since…except a speeding ticket. I am now 37 years old. Should I not be allowed to teach, preach, or shepherd the people of God?
    Is God so small that He cannot use me to compel people to come running & asking: “What must I do to be saved?” Yes, our children must be protected from those with unhealthy tendencies. However, embrace people more so than labels. What if everyone was defined and labeled by their youthful sins (I’ve repented & been forgiven for mine.) and disqualified from advancing the Kingdom of God because of such?
    There would be lots of empty pews and pulpits.

  • Jannice W.

    That is why we will never subject our children to a church setting. We don’t feel the church takes sexual predators seriously and it only takes an instance for someone to sexually assault a child. Way to many opportunities. For instance, I was a volunteer for Awana and was working with 3-year-olds through our church. This program had way too many young children attending and not enough volunteers to safely run it. One frazzled leader told me to take a child to the bathroom by myself and just keep a foot in the door. I looked at her and said “Are you crazy? Are you so busy that we can’t ensure the safety of these children?” The policy was that 2 people were supposed to take 2 or more children to the bathroom. Never 1 child and 1 adult. I quit volunteering after that and brought up my safety concerns with the Commander. My concerns were ignored and year-after-year they piled in 2, 3, and 4-year-old children – probably violating their own policies, because they were…

  • Dear “Victory in Christ,” what part of a millstone misses your attention, and where that should be hung, and who suggests we cast that stone? Please be careful to catch the message the Lord is trying to clearly communicate. By the way, I am wondering how many victims of sexual abuse you have worked with in a clinical setting, to give you such compassion toward those who assign the most vulnerable among us to a life time of emotional impact?

  • Rudy,

    I hate to say it, but you sound an awful lot like the men I work with… who espouse the same line as I work with them in my prison High Intensity sex offender treatment group. Not that I am asserting anything re. you; however, it should concern you when you align yourself more with people who have perpetrated such evil, as opposed to being intense about being aligned with the Lord’s heart toward those who have been victimized in such a profound way by profoundly deviant and selfish perpetrators. Trust me, no one offends against a child by accident..

  • Jon Uhler

    OK… so I really should keep my intensity in check. Having just read the article from “Victory in Christ,” I would say that my message would be for those who would try to minimize the impact of perpetrators. Mr. Robbins does the opposite, and has in fact written wonderful pieces on the subject. His is a site worth visiting.

    For those of you who would try to minimize the impact of an abuser, my original comments would be for you.

  • Scott E Phillips

    Your comments about John Ziegler make me think you have very limited understanding of his work or the details of what happened at Penn State. To say that he is easily fooled or naive is nonsense. Over the last four years he has discovered more information than any other news outlet, reporter or law enforcement agency combined. While many disagree with his conclusions, to date, no one has been able to refute his facts.
    Ignore his work at your own peril, I believe it provides valuable insight in how sex abuse cases are handled, especially by the media and so called experts and advocates. He’s exposed gaping holes in flawed systems that need to be addressed if we are ever going to truly understand the problem and make a difference fighting it.

  • The majority of these comments is just another reminder of who receives protection in the church (hint, it’s not the abused). And the assumptions that are read into my article are astounding. Obviously, “sex offender” covers a broad spectrum. I was addressing pedophiles specifically, not all people who are labeled “sex offender.” We often blur the lines between grace and trust, while forgetting about repentance. Just to throw this out there, what would the fruits (not words) of repentance look like for someone who has had sex hundreds of times with dozens of 2-9 year old children? I would submit that the first and most important fruit would be the abuser asking for a worship setting/accountability without children.

  • Sadly, many don’t help because it hasn’t touched them personally. Many people who’ve not lived it get the luxury of lecturing others about grace and the need to forgive, then they get to lay their heads on the pillow and go to sleep at night. To help the abused means acknowledging that abuse took place, and so many are not willing to admit it so they blame the victim for “lying.” I see it just about every day, and it breaks my heart every time. We have a lot of teaching to do.

  • Just Me

    Jon, thank you for this reminder, specifically that “no one offends against a child by accident.” That is something I needed to read and remember. Potential perpetrators are not perpetrators until they actually CHOOSE to offend. I suppose they make many choices in their minds before they ever get to the point of actually assaulting a child or anyone who is vulnerable, but there were a series of choices and in the end, they chose to destroy rather than protect.

  • Tedd

    It should be obvious that you can’t rule out an offender by their credentials.

    One of my offenders was an elder with a degree in Bible from a well-known conservative Christian university.

    But by the time he finished his degree, he had molested his sister for 3 years, molested two of my cousins, raped an adult woman and date-raped his girlfriend. And all that was 6 years before he got me. I can’t even begin to think about others he may have gotten to as the church’s cub scout master or with the boy scout troop.

    To my knowledge, he was never caught or reported. Decades later his felonies were discovered as family members started talking. But nobody ever told the church or the authorities. We all thought each of us was the only one.

  • Joy HurstLinehan

    It takes more than viewing one interview to determine if a case is valid or not. Please view these websites: One by John Ziegler, FramingPaterno.com and also Pennlawfumble.com to review facts about this case. The evidence is overwhelming that victims in this case were led to say things that were motivated by receiving large settlements. When a man is sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison, it’s worth our time to review more than a TV Interview before casting judgement on people seeking the Truth of this particular case.

  • Leon,

    If you have been through the prison system, then you of all people should know that Jimmy is focusing on predators who target children, not the “young and dumb” who you once were. You, of all people, should be applauding his efforts, since you no doubt were in groups with such perpetrators. If you still have repented, then you are not in the same category as those he is discussing. You took advantage of a teenager, which you no doubt recognize as the selfish act for what it was… you manipulated her… and you no doubt did know she was a minor (a little more honesty on your part would be needed). But, you also run the risk of aligning yourself with pedophiles with such comments. You of all people would know the difference between a selfish pig and a predatory wolf. I would recommend a little more brokenness on your part.

  • No one who has not passed into deviance ans sociopathy (likely psychopathy) would be inclined to sexually perp on a child. You only become that perverted by design. The short answer is for them to be discipled like Jesus did for his men, in a small group. Having worked with thousands of sex offenders, there is no confusing the different categories of sex offenders. You only “become attracted to children” after you have saturated your mind with horribly deviant pron, and progressed into other “dark sex.” Those who perp on kids hide their level of intentionality. They don’t need a co-ed congregation to grow, They need 1:1 accountability with same-gender healthy adults who can truly spur them on to love and good works. The child sex offender knows that last place they should ever be is around children, so, if they are genuinely changed, they would never presume to worship in a traditional church service.

  • Glenna Kerker

    Dear Boz T;
    While it is true that one cannot exonerate Sandusky because (1) he was otherwise a good Christian man (2) Dottie was possibly oblivious (3) John Z. says so (4) Sandusky denies it (5) money was involved (6) there was a moral panic (7) there was prosecutorial wrongdoing (8) there was defense ineffectiveness of counsel…. YOU CAN come to the reasonable conclusion that he was not guilty of the crimes he is convicted of by close examination of the facts surrounding the case. This is a very complicated task and not one which can be done quickly. The mischief was done by the application of a fad therapy called repressed memory therapy which leads clients to believe they had been abused when in fact they hadn’t been. Scientology also employs this popular delusion in its “auditing” practice. There was no way for the jury to guess that most of the original accusers had been so influenced and that none of them had any true continuing memories of any abuse at all. Truth…

  • Boz and Jimmy, how do you recommend that pastors respond to offenders in the congregation after they’ve been caught, when they are awaiting sentencing, or after they are sentencing. If the offenders are willing to have their pastors visit, study the Bible with them, and pray with them, should the pastors do so? What if the offenders victim(s) are still in that pastor’s care? Does that affect how the pastor should interact with the offenders? What message would that send to the victims?

  • Jon Uhler

    Glenna,

    I am going to guess you have not spent much time working with those who have been abused. The phenomenon of repressed memories is absolutely real, and it is similar to what we have described as amnesia. Though there have been some instances where clients have been manipulated by naive clinicians, that in no way changes the reality that memories can be pushed out of conscious awareness. It is the most common thing for a child to unknowingly do as they deal with the trauma. You might want to look into the diagnosis Dissociative Identity Disorder for a better understanding of how deeply trauma from perpetration can run. Just because you can’t imagine that something like that can take place, doesn’t negate the reality (extremely well documented) that this is a very real thing… and almost always accompanies significant sexual abuse of kids.

  • Valerie Parkhurst

    I am grateful that you so aptly described the MO of the majority of sex offenders. I found this piece thru a link the pro offender groups e-blasted to each other. They do this so they can appear like regular citizens who bombard a forum “minimizing” the truth and or the dangers offenders pose, hoping to change the “tide of opinion” about offenders. They do this with the ultimate goal of abolishing the registry. In 2012 the American Psychiatric Association expanded it’s definition of Pedophilia to include many more types of “situational offenders” . This is important due to the image that the Unsuspecting public holds about Pedophiles. That being said, over my many years of observing this issue, its also imperative that “protecting the public” is a war that must be fought on many many fronts. We have multible failures that must be addressed. I am pleased you “highlighted” the expertise and deviousness of those whose priorities in society is their own sexual gratification.

  • The evidence

    Sandusky was indicted as a result of an independent grand jury investigation. A jury of his peers found him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of 45 counts. The evidence included multiple victims who, unlike Sandusky, were willing to testify under oath and be cross-examined. There was also significant corroborating evidence including two eyewitnesses who saw Sandusky anally raping a boy. In the 1998 investigation, Sandusky made a number of incriminating statements. Since the trial, the evidence continues to grow with additional victims, including Sandusky’s own son, disclosing they were also sexually abused.

  • Valerie Parkhurst

    Feel free to assert. Rudy is indeed a hostile, unrepentant and non complying sex offender who is infamous on espousing what a “raw deal” offenders get any place he lands on the web. His medications are never balanced and his “claim to fame” is the constitutionality and or Lack thereof on sex offender laws.

  • Questions

    As is the case with many sex offenders, you choose your words carefully. You refer to the sexual abuse of a child as mere “activity.” You describe the victim as a teenager and not a child and fail to disclose the actual age of the boy or girl. You say you didn’t know the victim’s age but fail to disclose how it is that you were able to get close enough to sexually touch a boy or girl without knowing such basic information as the child’s age. I hope your congregation asks you for these additional details and checks your statements against any investigation and court records.

  • Valerie Parkhurst

    It seems those who are intent on making a name for themselves (ACLU and other attorneys are attempting to “litigate” their way into our churches and neighborhoods. This assault by those who use the legal system as justification to allow offenders nearer and closer to their victims will be the major catalyst for future abuses in this arena. We cannot ignore or under-estimate a ruling by a liberal judge that in one fell swoop can decimate the protectionisms we have gained, even if those protectionisms are minimal.

  • Valerie Parkhurst

    Glad you noticed that also..

  • Jon Uhler

    Valerie,

    Your identification of Rudy makes sense, and all the more highlights that Jimmy knows of what he speaks. The public needs to be aware that those who have perpetrated upon children have crossed the point of no return… that is why Jesus pulls no punches over what they would be better off experiencing than to sexually offend against a child. That is why he uses uncharacteristically strong language for this issue. To offend against a child is the most damaging a deviant individual can do, and it is NOT about attraction or sexuality, but about power, control, and a desire to mar, deface, steal & destroy purity and innocence. No one accidentally falls or “slips” into such deviance. It is the result of years of hardening their conscience, suppressing truth in unrighteousness, and consuming vast amounts of ever-darer and more vile hard core pornography. There is no exception, and that is the dirty little secret the child predator attempts to hide from the average person.

  • George Nixon Shuler

    In many ways the requirements for lifetime registration as sex offenders amounts to overkill. Young adults who had sexual contact with older teens do not belong on the list – in some cases for a few years perhaps but not a lifetime. Go to any of the sex offender locator websites: I had one fellow church member with paranoid tendencies who obsessed about it, but a half hour review of a site he gave me showed me that more or less 75-90% of those so listed were simply het guys who got involved with underage girls. Poor judgment, sure, but lifetime registration is a bridge too far. Of course there is no realistic expectation this will change anytime soon.

  • HisEzer

    You get it, Jimmy!!! (few males do. God bless you!!!!)…
    Just today discussion took place in church S.S. class about a former classmate who had been re-arrested this week as a sex offender (he already had a record but was supposedly “repentant.”) The man had blatantly lied to get into a children’s park area with rides, and yet the class members were saying they hoped “the truth would come out to exonerate him” and other references were made implying he had “no record of lying”… What?! Two indisputable facts were already CLEAR that he had practiced deception: 1) He had violated KNOWN restrictions by going to a PARK WITH CHILDREN, and 2) He LIED telling park officals he was a “ride inspector” … For sure, my heart goes out to him. Clearly he is in bondage to sin and needs our prayer, yes! but his help will not be found in winking denials and perversions of “grace” (i.e. enabling). It will only come through brokenness – through facing hard truth head on and taking…

  • Patrice

    I would like to repeat this by Jon Uhler above: “…To offend against a child is the most damaging a deviant individual can do, and it is NOT about attraction or sexuality, but about power, control, and a desire to mar, deface, steal & destroy purity and innocence. No one accidentally falls or “slips” into such deviance.”

    The many contrarians on this thread must have seared consciences: to be ignorant and yet assertive of their own non-facts, to evade the truths they cannot dismiss, and to pass over damaged children (!!) so as to argue for the destroyers.

  • Patrice

    There are unfortunately a large number of people like the this thread’s contrarians in the so-called US church. After suffering sexual/physical abuse from my Reformed pastor-father, after poor treatment by the church, after finally finding healing outside the church—–to read the same old excuses again, not only here but across the web where this issue is discussed—well, it has so repelled me that I am literally unable to enter the usual places of worship.

    Sooner or later, those who support predators will be held accountable for it. If you believe in God, it must be.

  • Jon Uhler

    George,

    Your assertion is simply a distortion of facts. As one who has worked with sex offenders in the PA prison for over 10 years, you have distorted the reality of the situation. Yes, the “young and dumb” (as the inmates refer to this category of 19 year old who should have moved on to new friends and given up his high school buddies) are sad cases, but it is a hard lesson to learn. And, there is hope for them as they demonstrate a new track record, but they also would NEVER harm a child. In fact, they are the ones most disgusted with the pedophiles. So, please don’t try to distort facts, in order to try to provide cover for deviant and evil individuals who the Lord Himself stated should have been drowned compared to what lies in store for them. Life time registration compares nothing to the lifetime effects of their abuse on kids. Stop defending those who do such acts. In fact, you should seek forgiveness from the Lord for putting yourself opposed to Him on this…

  • Jon Uhler

    Tom,

    Your unfortunate ignorance of the well documented impact of trauma on kids simply shows how callous you are, and how you are eager to cover for those who would perpetrate such trauma. I would be very careful to examine your heart, to discover what has driven you to so minimize the effects of such evil. As one who has degrees in both Biblical studies and Counseling (as you pointed out), I would recommend you spend a little more time researching. My pray for you is that you come to have the same heart for survivors that you sound like you have for those who the Lord feels should have been drowned in the depths of the ocean than having perpetrated. You can’t afford to be wrong on this issue.

  • Jon Uhler

    Patrice,

    The Lord is truly rageful on your behalf against your father, and He will see that justice is done… one way or another. Jimmy and I understand the depths of evil which was perpetrated against you, and your fraudulent evil father would have been executed by the assembly in Israel. That is God’s avenging heart. Those who are driven to minimize the impact of abusers simply align themselves one way or another with evil. That is a very scary position to be in, especially in light of what the Lord said should happen to someone rather than they perp on a child. Take heart, that we will continue to do our part to shine the light of Truth on these predators.

  • Jon Uhler

    Tom,

    It would appear that Rudy’s comments were removed, possibly due to offensiveness.

    Having read your responces, I would have to say that your reaction to what has been written feels very much like the push back and protests from the perpetrators I work with in my High Intensity Sex Offender Treatment groups. If I were you, I would find myself very uncomfortable knowing that, and wonder how you have become so driven to defend perpetrators virtually at all cost, despite very clear and sound logic re. their dangers and their purposefulness. The impact of the trauma sexual perpetration is well documented, so it is readily available if you care to investigate the effects of abuse, and the very normal phenomenon of dissociation. Though it sounds like you pride yourself in being able to sound knowledgeable, you simple are revealing a bent toward aligning yourself with perpetrators, which is something about which you should be very concerned.

  • Jon Uhler

    Tom,

    Your level of tenacity about wanting to raise doubts about the imact of sexual abuse on children leaves me to conclude that you are the fraud. Rare has been the time (except for in my sex offender groups) that I have someone bold enough to assert that there is not sufficient evidence for the profound negative impact on kids of abuse. Tom, the burden is on you to do the research, since a simple google search of “trauma on children by sexual abuse” and “dissociation” will give you plenty to keep yourself busy (since it appears that you have plenty of extra time on your hands). Having provided clinical therapy since 1992, and having worked within the PA prison system in an intensive clinical capacity since 2005, your disposition reveals (1) a profound disinterest toward the pain of others, and (2) an indefatigable propensity toward deflecting and distorting issues of responsibility toward the end of shifting the topic away from the depraved and twisted moral character of…

  • Sensible

    “Is God so small that He cannot use me…?”

    Is God so small that he NEEDS you in a pulpit, as opposed to a more qualified woman or man?

    Are you implying that the Kingdom of God cannot move forward without you?

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  • Jon Uhler

    Tom,

    Could you share what ministry you are a part of for us? I have not asserted that you are a pedophile, but that you use the same line of reasoning, and are just as insistent re. attempting to deny the reality of repressed memories. If you have any dealings with victims, then you would have an understanding of just how common the phenomenon is, and how well documented the experience is as a result of such trauma. Again, even a cursory google search can help you with that. However, it sounds like you are invested with discrediting any such memories, which really only has one reason. My guess is that you might also take issue with the PCLR? That is a widely used tool in forensic settings for determining whether a perpetrator is classified as a SVP. If you are unfamiliar with that instrument, a good overview can be seen at https://youtu.be/jOEPd5jt0Qk. In fact, it is interesting to note just how many of the character traits highlighted in that documentary are in your…

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  • Patrice

    This is only multi-anecdotal and from one family, but after my abusing pastor-father died, my sister, one brother and I got together and spent a whole night remembering. We each had fragments of stories. Only when finally discussing it together, after the threat of our father was gone, could we put the pieces together and find the general picture of our childhoods.

    I think particular traumas can make this more likely to happen. Where there is contextual denial and isolation, and where a lot of the trauma is done one-on-one, it can be shoved out of consciousness, esp in the context of dissociative defensive reactions. It’s not strange, but predictable/understandable.

    What I do find strange is the refusal of this phenomenon by some people. I wonder what it is they are actually fighting against. Like everything else, it can be misused/abused, but if rejected on that basis alone, we shouldn’t drive because some kill others while driving drunk.

  • Patrice

    Thanks for caring, Jon. You speak clearly and thoroughly which is tres sweet!

    Also too, to Boz, thanks very much!

    I am doing ok, and love the true God who is nothing like what many say. 🙂

  • alison

    This is similar to what happened in a church I previously attended. A sex offender served his time and then he was paroled into the responsibility of one of the pastors of the church WHO PUT HIM INTO A CLOWN MINISTRY!!! Naturally he reoffended.

  • Tom

    Boz, It seems my comments on this post have been removed. Was that an error? Can you check and make sure they are reinstated.

  • Tom

    Hmmm. No action. Boz, someone has removed my comments on this blog. I trust you aren’t censuring just one side of this discussion. That would be unfortunate. Or, maybe the site is glitchy. I’ll keep asking…

  • Jon Uhler

    Tom,

    Since you apparently have felt to return to “share” additional comments, could you now share what ministry you work for, your last name, and what position you hold. I have been very upfront with mine, so I would feel you would be happy to disclose that information, since you referenced you work with a ministry that helps with trauma.

    Also, have you had a chance to watch the documentary “The Psychopath Next Door”? You can find it on YouTube. It references the PCLR. That is used in PA to determine whether a sexual perpetrator should be labeled as a Sexually Violent Predator (SVP). Any thoughts about that tool for assessing such offenders, especially in light of those who claim to have repented? Should a church allow a person given such a label to worship in its co-ed church service and to be in a mixed congregation? And, lastly, could you share the ways in which perpetration impacts its victims? Given your previous postings, I would be interested in hearing your…

  • Tom

    Dissenting views are being deleted from this page. The very first comment here, made by the Rev Debra Haffner, is now gone. It was an articulate and respectful statement, but the second sentence stated, “I disagree.” Boz, was that her offence? Is it the policy of RNS to curtail the free expression of ideas and allow only those comments that support the view of the blogger?

  • Tom

    Re-posting my response to Jon, which was deleted. Not sure why… But Jon, there is no evidence for the existence of repressed memories – zero. Interesting that in July of 2012, the Minnesota Supreme Ct rejected all of Constance Dalenberg’s 328 research articles supporting this idea. The MSC said the research was “methodologically flawed” and lacked “foundation reliability.” Ouch. In a 2012 PsychBull response to Dalenberg, Lynn and friends blew up the trauma/dissociation model, demonstrating that dissociation has more to do with fantasy proneness. Please be careful to note I am not discounting the trauma of sexual abuse. However, your characterization of RM is seriously misinformed.

  • Tom

    Nice to see Rev Haffner’s comments reinstated. What about mine?

  • Joe Shaw

    Sex Offenders who went thru a treatment program have re-offending rates of around 3% for a new sex offense, and about 4% for other crimes, such as DUI, theft, and other non-sexual crimes. They are encouraged to attend church services, and they totally disclose their offenses to the pastor and the council. Most attend with a sponsor while on supervision. After their period of super vision is over, they care free to come and go as they please. People should NOT go into a panic over sex offenders. You can’t force them to live like refugees and isolate. Many were abused themselves at an early age, and the behavior became “normal”. The treatment programs focus on the abuse that the abuser went thru.

  • Jon Uhler

    Joe,

    Your assertions that sex offenders offend at a lower rate is based upon the current statistics based upon new offenses for which they are caught. The rate of failure to report is much higher. Working with this population, I know the realities. The reality is they are not a second class citizen, but those who perpetrated upon a victim, and are thus to take responsibility for their actions and level of hurtfulness by not putting others in a difficult position by forcing others to have to decide what to do with them. An sex offender’s spiritual growth does not depend upon attending a mixed congregation’s regular church service. The growth will take place in the same way the disciples grew, in a small group of men. Trying to assert that a co-ed mixed congregation church experience is essential for their growth is simply both arrogant and naive. It is the offender who needs to recognize that their lives will simple have to be adjusted, and be responsible and humble to…

  • Joe Shaw

    You do make good points. FYI: The person I was talking about attends church but at an adult service. He does not place himself near children. But, you know very well that a fearful society will lump everyone together under the worst circumstance. It’s a “one size fits all” mentality. I am way more fearful of drug addicts breaking into my home to rob me than I am of any sex offender.

  • Tom

    Back to the idea of repressed memories – Carla Clark in BrainBlogger wrote a fairly balanced review of the controversy back in August. Here’s the link if anyone is interested: http://brainblogger.com/2015/08/25/repressed-memories-fact-or-fiction/ But certainly Jon’s contention that RM is “absolutely real” or “the most common thing” for a traumatized child to do, or “extremely well document” are a figment of popular imagination.

  • Pingback: Sex Offenders In The Pews: Let’s Not Be Deceived()

  • Patrice

    Just had to return and sneak a bit in, eh Tom?

    Your link acknowledges that scientifically, we’ve not yet been able to track the mechanisms of repressed memory because we don’t have good tools. The rest of that article is a fluff of bias against its reality. Not balanced.

    Practical (rather than scientific) knowledge is gained by those who work with survivors. They know that memory repression is “absolutely real” and “the most common thing for a traumatized child to do”.

    It doesn’t stop being so merely because you don’t like it.

  • Tom

    Whoa! Is this discussion still live?

    Patrice, I guess you can reject what the scientific community is saying, but I’m not sure that will get us anywhere. What, if I may ask, was biased in the article? Can you provide one or two examples? It helps to have specifics here.

  • Jon,
    As both a parent of an abused child, a professional counselor, an ordained minister and a child abuse overcomer who runs a non profit to educate churches on this topic…I have no problem stating that it took courage and honesty for Leon to write his comment. You are placing all the blame on him and none on the woman making assumptions that she wasn’t manipulative and cunning. I can be honest and tell you 35 years ago before I came to the Lord, I could wrap any man around my finger and I looked atleast 6 years older. I praise God that I am not that person today but to place blame publically on a servant of God that is trying to be transparent on a public forum is quite judgemental. Were you never deceived? Obviously it is you that has not understood yet the verse that tells us to be gentle as doves but wise as serpents. I don’t know about you but how many wise and discerning 20 year olds do you know? But by the Grace of God…thank you for all the comments.

  • Jon,
    We are talking about the deviant minds and deception of evil people that blend in so perfectly to the church and abuse children. As someone that has been involved with prison systems and sex offenders there is a big difference between someone who is registered for life for a statutory situation and those pedophiles that on average commit almost 54000 acts of violations to children before they are even caught. We might as well lock up 70 percent of the men between 17 and 30 for having sex with someone they were convinced were of age. We aren’t talking about this. Is someone that has sex or even a relationship with a girl a year short of legal worse than a murderer. Do we now put degrees on sin and where does mercy and grace start for those that made a mistake. The enemy has found a perfect place to hide in the church and it’s not those that already have been revealed that are the danger. It’s those that haven’t. Who are you to tell someone to repent from a comment.

  • I don’t believe anyone is denying the damage of sexual abuse. I was a victim myself and it took years to find compassion. We MUST protect and care for our children foremost and I am not excusing the evil and deviance and deception and real risk child abusers pose to the church. In my experience, one of the problems is the church is too easily deceived and conned and also that we don’t have biblical discipline for sin period anymore. Over 70% of pastors struggle with porn…should we stop going to church out of fear. It is not just the churches responsibility but as parents, advocates, professionals,…heck as Christians it is our job to keep our children safe at any cost. I do believe though that when issues become bigger than the God we serve that’s where the problem lies. All we can each do is our best to walk in discernment and His Wisdom. We are called first and foremost to be light and source of healing to a hurting and lost world. Thank you all for your input.

  • Boy I wish I would have been on here when this discussion first started but it is refreshing to find this site again. I believe its been about a year since I posted on here. I felt I had a losing battle with all you high thinkers that’s why I never came around. You know the Bible says ” If any man think to himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveith himself”. Now I am nobody still I strive. Yes I am a sex offender. Now some people will avoid being on the registry but “Are We are all Sex offenders”? Are we all not Carnal by nature? A lot of you all on this chat comment site bring up a lot of good points and speak your opinion but do you ever look to the source to find the answer. Now what is the source. The Bible of course. In their is the answer to all of life’s problems. Even how to correct others. Man’s infinite wisdom could not even compare to God’s. It says in Cor Chapter 2. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than man, and the weakness of God is…

  • This goes with my comment above………..Was not Paul one of the chief sinners. I wonder how People would deal with Paul today in the pew or a lot of those sinners in the bible? Remember God is the Potter, we are the clay. While everyone wants to pass the buck these days and just say let others tend to it, its not our job. Pastors have a responsible to go out and get that lost sheep. Isn’t that what a good Sheppard is all about. Also a good Sheppard is suppose to lead his or her flock. Do you not know what convicts people of sin? Its there consicious. It seems like churches don’t talk or preach enough about sin these days. They are a bunch of dry bones so to speak. Now people are faced with the problem of the sex offender and how to deal with them in the church or around kids. The poor are always going to be with you so its the churches job first to call them out. Getting authorities involved is the last resort if you want to go that far. They just lock them up. And you know you…

  • Anonymous

    We’re supposed to be wise as serpents.

    It seems those with a past are primarily focused on me, myself, I and mine. When I think the main priority would be protecting the innocent.

    By the grace of God, if a person has truly changed, repented, been transformed by the power and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, and are no longer snacking on porn, nor engaging in addictive behaviors, nor feeding their flesh, and are in a weekly accountability group, and submitting themselves to the leadership of their church, why don’t they devote their lives to ministering to those in prison? Isn’t that the place of greatest need?

    Men exit prison each day, unarmed to battle temptations, with barely the shirt on their back, isolated, broken, with nothing but closed doors. Ex-convicts, where is your heart for them? This is one of the greatest needs in our communities.

    Remember, Jesus didn’t choose a life of position or prominence. He dined with the poor, not the rich.

  • Lost and Searching

    When we (hopefully) get to heaven, do you think our heavenly Father will look us in the eye and “well done good and faithful servant” because we did our utmost at loving our enemies or helping the poor and needy? or will He confront us and call us hypocrites because we told our fellow man to pull the speck of wood out of their eye…but never bothered pulling the log out of our own? I am not saying that people (once learning of a sex offender) should use mob forgiveness as a way of helping the abuser heal…that only belittles the life of the victim. But, as a victim of abuse and unfortunately an abuser, I ask people I come in contact with to forgive…an remember. That allows me to heal, all the while keeping me accountable for my actions. That being said, I have read some truly asinine facts on this thread. One woman said that offenders usually offend a total of 54000 times. Madame, where did you get your information? The National Enquirer? Have some courage and quote the real…