You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry. I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured. Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated. We are all scandalised by the sins and failures of some of the Church's members.
Pope Benedict XVI
A Plea to the World-Wide Church to Change “Business as Usual"
I am in a state of outrage and shock as I contemplate, once again, the issue of pedophilia and the church. I believe that this sin will haunt our generation and the next as the numbers of children who were molested and ignored grow into adults, continuing the cycle of sexual abuse, substance abuse, unresolved pain and broken relationships. Many in the church sit quietly by, hoping that no one will notice their “faux pas.” And in so doing, they create the next generation of the wounded while stupidly believing that their first responsibility is to protect the reputation of the church.
Folks, I have news for you. We are kidding ourselves. Because of the Internet and the news media, the world sees the church as it is, filled with sinners. Yet, we sinners like to pretend we are saints. And sadly, sometimes we believe our own press.
The reputation of the church is not our responsibility. It is the responsibility of God. Our responsibility is to care for the victims and their families, FIRST! We are to do the right thing, even if it embarrasses us. And, if we truly understand the Bible, why should we be embarrassed to admit we sin? Isn’t that why we need Jesus?
The following Bible verses, Matthew 25:41-46 (NIV), strongly reminds us of our responsibility.
41Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,
43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.
Immediately prior to the start of TWW, we both became enmeshed in a horrendous pedophile incident that deeply wounded a number of teen boys. We found the response of that church naive, cold, and ostrich-like as pastors passed the buck. You may read an allegorized version of our thoughts under “Wonderland” in our categories section.
This experience was a defining moment for the two of us. We are dedicated to exposing the issues surrounding the pedophilia plague in today’s evangelical churches. Even more, we wish to change “business as usual” and help churches to respond in a Christ-like manner.
Many people are outraged over the abysmal response by Penn State officials to the reported pedophile behavior of Jerry Sandusky. Unfortunately, we, the church, dedicated to caring for the least of these, have a track record that mimics that secular world. Is our faith in Christ so impotent that we cannot deal with the issues surrounding pedophilia? Is this the sin of today’s church: acting like some mid-level state college bureaucrat?
Today I shall tell the story of Danielle and her family. You can read the entire sordid and painful ordeal at her blog: Our Story: Help, link, a poignant title if there was ever one. Tomorrow, I shall tell the story of the church via the perspective of one of the elders.
Here is what I would like our readers to do. As you read the story, take note of how this was handled. See if you can spot the theological problems with the response of those in the church. I believe that it is a misunderstanding of the gospel that leads us to make these “mistakes.” Yet isn’t this the generation of Calvinists who preach that they know the “gospel?”
I called the pedophile, Patrick Rojas as well as an elder, Jim Cameron from Peninsula Household of Faith Community Church where this incident took place. I also spoke with a highly placed leader in the central office of Household of Faith. I agreed not to name him but hasten to assure our readers that he is in a position to speak authoritatively for the organization.
I also want to make a couple of points before I begin. This is a painful story with many missteps. I do not blame the church for the presence of a pedophile in its midst. Pedophiles are found in many churches because people in church tend to “trust” one another a bit too much. (Calvinistas preach the total depravity thing but act like they are only capable of sinning in a small way such as sipping a bit too many microbrews).
Secondly, I believe that the elder at the church is beginning to deal with his own mistakes in this matter. Having been in another situation in which the leaders have yet to admit to any difficulties with their approach, I found his occasional clarity hopeful. Both men prayed for me, which is the first time that I have had that happen in my hard-hitting interviews of the last 3 years. I did have to smile when one prayed that God would give me zeal to protect the innocent. I told him afterwards that my husband would pray for a little less zeal. I give them props for speaking with me. That didn’t have to do so.
The convicted pedophile, Patrick Rojas, said he would return my call and I told him when I would post his story. He did not call me back. This is an important fact in evaluating the theology and deception within this story.
Next week I will also be discussing a terrible pedophile situation that occurred in a missionary hospital in Bangladesh. Many children of missionaries were deeply hurt and the pedophile doctor was allowed to return to the United States and his horrendous acts were not reported. He continued to practice medicine here in the States for years.
I want to emphasize that I sought out this story after I learned about it through the news media. Danielle graciously allowed this stranger into her pain. She is a courageous, honest woman and I thank God that He has allowed me to get to know her.
Danielle Schneider and her husband were on the lookout for a warm, intimate, Biblically solid church, which supported families. They were also homeschoolers and hoped to participate in a homeschooling community. They thought they had found such a place in the Peninsula Household of Faith Community Church in Post Orchard and moved to this small town in Washington so they could easily fellowship with this community.
They absolutely loved Eddie Rojas, the pastor, his wife, Kathy, and their brood of 12 children who all lived at home, including an older son, Patrick who was 22 years old along with two older siblings. It was Danielle's understanding that the Rojas' believed all children were to live at home until they got married. Eddie and his family exhibited servant-like qualities. They would help their small community of believers at the drop of a hat. They also appeared to be a fun, outgoing and happy family-role models for their church.
In retrospect, Danielle believes that some in the church appeared fearful of the government and seemed to emphasize that all matters should be handled inside the church. In other words, they were a closed system masquerading as being Biblically faithful.
It is important to note that this is a family integrated church. This means that children are never alone with adults, other than their parents, for any church sponsored activity. Danielle, sadly, made the point that she was molested as a child and considers herself hyper-vigilant. She would not allow her kids to sleep over at other friends' homes and believed that this church was a safe environment.
At the end of 2006, Danielle was pregnant with their 6th child and her husband was dealing with testicular cancer. They were also living in the basement of a church member and needed to move into their own home. She said to me, “We were needy.” The entire Rojas family pitched in to support them. They were grateful that Patrick took an interest in their sons, offering to take them hunting, etc. The night before a scheduled hunting trip, Patrick spent the night in their living room since they were planning for a very early start.
Two months would pass. On January 3, 2007, after Patrick had visited, Danielle found a letter hidden under her 11-year-old daughter’s pillow. This note would forever change the Schneider’s world. In the letter he confessed to taking something “very precious” from their daughter. Their daughter reported this one incident of contact with Patrick and seemed to have a foggy memory of exactly what happened. This is probably due to dissociation, which can occur during molestations.
They contacted Eddie Rojas who came over to the house with Patrick and an elder, Jim Cameron. During the discussion, Eddie (the dad) told Patrick that one incident does not make a pedophile. He appeared to blow if off, saying that he, too, had an inappropriate crush on 12 year old girl years before. However, this would prove to be deceptive since it would be discovered that Eddie knew of other incidents involving Patrick. It is also important to note how Eddie revealed that he had once had a “crush” on a young girl and considered this "normal."
Danielle said, “When we mentioned getting our child help…Eddie told Eric (Danielle’s husband) that all the child needed was Eric (the dad) and all he needed was the Bible to help her. And when Eddie closed the meeting in prayer…he prayed that God would use this to bring our families closer together. I was sickened.”
Within 24 hours, Danielle, unimpressed with the church’s response, called 911 and a police investigation ensued. In the meantime, On January 6, the two elders met with Patrick and Eddie. The elders said that they would step back and allow the police to complete their investigation. However, during this meeting, Patrick allegedly confessed to several more acts with Danielle’s daughter. The Schneiders and the police were not notified; a fact confirmed by elder Jim Cameron whose account I will share tomorrow. The Schneiders were told that the church had consulted other leaders and an attorney.
Over the next several weeks, the family receives cards, which I have seen, from Patrick's mother, Kathy Rojas, in which she tells the Scneiders to trust in Jesus. Frankly, I found these notes a bit creepy and inappropriate.
About two weeks later, a meeting was called of the “heads of households.” Apparently, the HOF churches often have meetings, which exclude the wives, since the husbands are the ones who are in charge of their families. During this meeting, which was corroborated by Jim Cameron, the church was notified that “inappropriate contact” was made between Patrick and a child in the congregation.
Here is what Danielle says in her own words. “The gathering was told that Patrick had inappropriate affections for a child in one of the families in the church and that the police had been called.” (At this point we requested not to be named as the victim family but within a short time called the elders and said we didn’t care who knew it was our family.) I am told that, from the way it was discussed, more than one person left the meeting thinking Patrick snuck a kiss from someone his own age behind a barn. (NOTE: Jim, Dave (another elder) as well as Eddie knew it was MUCH more than “just a kiss” at the time of this meeting.)
I have a copy of the agenda of the meeting in which it was stressed that church members were not to talk about this with one another since it would be considered gossip and therefor, a sin. The “Don’t Talk” rule was now in full force.
Danielle began to notice a change in attitude by members in the church. She heard rumors that people considered them bitter and believed that they needed to “forgive” Patrick.
Shortly thereafter they received a call from Patrick’s attorney that Patrick was now in counseling and had submitted a “not guilty” plea. However, the district attorney offered a plea agreement. If Patrick were to plead guilty and agree to provide a psychosexual history which would be a matter of public record, they would give him 10 days in jail, probation for 2 years and his name would be recorded for 10 years on a sexual offender registry. Patrick agreed.
Towards the end of April, Patrick showed up (or was allowed to attend) a men’s meeting at the church. The church's accommodation of Patrick was difficult for the Schneiders to accept, and they decided to leave the church.
The Situation Really Hits the Fan!
In June, Danielle received a phone call from the prosecutor. The findings of the psychosexual history were shocking. Not only had he molested her daughter on more than one occasion, he allegedly was involved in incest with his sisters and bestiality, he also allegedly admitted to molesting a 1/1/2 year old child. Apparently, Eddie had been aware of an incident when Patrick was around 15 years old, but Patrick reportedly had “repented” and was therefore forgiven. Please note this.
The prosecutor was disturbed by the history and felt it was important that Danielle be aware of how badly her daughter had been molested.
Sometime between July and August 2007, Greg Harris, from HOFCC headquarters (remember, he is the father of Joshua Harris of Sovereign Grace Ministries. SGM Survivors has documented some very poorly handled cases of alleged sexual abuse of children) attended a meeting at the church. During that meeting, Harris reportedly told a man, who revealed that his wife had seen the sexual/psych evaluation, that he was “not to believe his wife because women are easily deceived.” He stopped any discussion about the “gossip” of Patrick’s bad evaluation by stating “if you hadn’t seen it with your own eyes, you couldn’t speak about it.” Remember, the elders were aware that Patrick confessed to multiple contacts with her daughter! Yet, Harris wanted the discussion shut down.
Apparently, the reported history was so disturbing that Child Protective Services wanted access to the family to interview all of the children. After Patrick’s sentencing in August, Eddie Rojas, along with his wife and 10 of his children, fled before CPS could investigate the family. He reportedly is hiding out in Italy. There is a warrant for his arrest. (Editor’s note: Why would an innocent man flee the country?)
Patrick continued to live in the area but was asked by the elders to attend another Household of Faith church. Tomorrow, I will provide some information that may surprise the elders about Patrick’s “church” attendance.
The Schneider family felt rejected by their church. It appears that members of the church may have blamed them for the outcome of this situation. They were told that people “missed Patrick” and it appears some may have helped Patrick get a job.
It was a small community, and Danielle kept bumping into members of the church who were distant with her. The pain became unbearable, so the family decided to sell their house at a loss and moved back to Tacoma.
Danielle started her blog in March 2009, two years from the start of this story. She hoped that publicity might help to track down the fugitive Rojas family. She also felt it was important to get the story out about Patrick.
It Actually Gets Worse:
On March 2010, Patrick Rojas decided to sue Danielle reportedly because he was having a hard time getting business for his IT service company, Armorlite, and he blamed it on the blog. His goal is to shut down the blog. The court dismissed the lawsuit and he has now filed an appeal with a higher court, which has decided to take the case! There are reports Patrick is defending himself. Are these the actions of a repentant soul??
Well, that is enough for one day. Tomorrow, we will look at this situation through the eyes of the leaders. I think I will be able to make my case that men are easily deceived. (Isn't that in the Bible)?
5/29/12 Addendum: Danielle graciously corrected a few errors in my narrative.
- Eric is the one that found the note (not me)
- Along with the incident when Patrick was 15yrs old….it is also noted that Patrick was caught again at age 17 by Eddie and the same repent and move on scenario.
- We tried to sale our house without success and ended up just walking away from our home.
- June 20, 2010 is when we were served the lawsuit notice (It was our 20th wedding anniversary, no joke!) NOT March 2010
- Here are the exact words from the more under the pillow: "I know that I didn't just offend you, I realize that I hurt you very deeply by what I did. I took from you something I can't ever give back……I did it because I love you. I assumed you loved me….but I guess I thought wrong".
Lydia's Corner: Amos 4:1-6:14 Revelation 2:18-3:6 Psalm 130:1-8 Proverbs 29:21-22