Sovereign Grace Ministries Slapped with a Class Action Lawsuit

“The facts show that the Church cared more about protecting its financial and institutional standing than about protecting children, its most vulnerable members,” the lawsuit claims. 

The Washington Post

Little Red Riding Hood

Sovereign Grace Ministries may have headed to the greener pastures of Kentucky, but it appears they left some unfinished business behind.  Earlier today news broke that three female victims have come forward with their testimonies of sexual abuse when they were young.  If you have been a follower of TWW, none of this will come as a surprise. 

Earlier today The Washington Post published this headline: "Lawsuit claims evangelical church group concealed sex abuse allegations in Md., Va".  The article begins as follows:  

"Three female plaintiffs claim in a lawsuit filed Wednesday that an evangelical church group covered up allegations of sexual abuse against children, failed to report accusations of misconduct to the police and discouraged its members from cooperating with law enforcement.

The lawsuit was filed in Maryland state court against Sovereign Grace Ministries, a 30-year-old family of churches, with about 100 congregations…

The plaintiffs allege a conspiracy spanning more than two decades to conceal sexual abuse committed by church members. The alleged abuse happened in Maryland and northern Virginia in the 1980s and 1990s. The lawsuit accuses church representatives of permitting suspected pedophiles to interact with children, supplying them with free legal advice to avoid prosecution and forcing victims to meet with and “forgive” the person that had molested them."

According to WTOP, which covers news in the Washington, D.C. area:

"The lawsuit centers on allegations of three female plaintiffs, each identified by pseudonyms to protect their anonymity.

One of the three plaintiffs, a high school student in Virginia, alleges she was sexually assaulted when she was 3 years old and that the mother of the boy who abused her revealed the molestation to the church. But church officials discouraged her family from reporting the allegations to police and, instead, repeatedly interviewed the alleged abuser and worked with him and his mother to determine how best to prevent any prosecution and publicity regarding the abuse.

"Each time a pastor in Sovereign Grace Ministries chose to put the reputation of his church first by using his position to enable a pedophile to avoid appropriate criminal justice, that pastor jeopardized the safety and well- being of all children," the child's mother said Wednesday.

The Associated Press does not generally identify possible victims of sexual abuse, and is not naming the mother to avoid identifying her daughter.

A second plaintiff, a college student in Maryland, says she was sexually abused as a toddler by a church member. She says the pastor scolded her parents after they called police and then tipped off the accused that he had been reported. She says her parents were instructed to bring her to a meeting with her alleged abuser so they could be "reconciled," but that she was "visibly scared and crawled under the chair" after being brought into the same room with him.

The third plaintiff says her adoptive father, a member of the church, sexually abused her older sister for three and a half years. She says the church warned her mother not to pursue a prosecution, then kicked the family out of the church and denied the children reduced tuition to school. The man was ultimately prosecuted and imprisoned, the lawsuit says."

WJLA, the ABC affiliate in the Washington, D.C. area, reveals the following:

"The suit only covers alleged abuse that occurred in Maryland in northern Virginia, but the church has faced scrutiny on other occasions for its handling of sexual abuse claims, and Susan Burke, a lawyer representing the three plaintiffs, said there are other alleged victims prepared to join a class-action suit.

For instance, an April report by a non-profit Lutheran mediation group that studied the church for nine months found that while church leaders showed "care and concern" about sex abuse allegations, a number of people interviewed felt the claims were handled irresponsibly and were left with "disappointments and hurts."

The lawsuit faults the church's "Home Group" structure, in which children are provided with day care so their parents can attend services, as fostering a poorly supervised environment that enabled the abuse to occur."

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are represented by Susan L. Burke, a highly regarded attorney who providentially moved her firm from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. in 2009.  Here are some stunning excerpts from her bio:

– "For the past ten years, Susan has been AV-rated by Martindale, the highest peer review rating available.  Susan received her J.D. degree from Catholic University in 1987, where she won the Faculty Award for having the highest academic average. She graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where she majored in international law and politics."

– "Ms. Burke is spearheading a nationwide series of lawsuits designed to reform the manner in which the military prosecutes rape and sexual assault.  Her work on this project is the subject of a documentary premiering at Sundance called The Invisible War."

Dee and I did extensive investigation on Sovereign Grace Ministries before we ever started blogging, and we were reading stories about alleged sexual abuse and cover-ups back in 2008.  Our primary concern is to always care for the victims.  Furthermore, our prime directive is that our readers should show great concern for those who have been victimized by an autocratic system like SGM. 

Here are several of our previous posts, which demonstrate what we consider to be fundamental problems within the ministry.

The Gospel Coalition:  C.J. Mahaney is Adored While Pain in the Pew Continues in Sovereign Grace Ministries (link)

Sinfully Craving Truth:  Families of SGM Abused Children Respond (link)

Confessions of an SGM Pastor (link)

Perhaps the Penn State/Sandusky debacle has given courage to those who have been hurt in the SGM ranks.  Our prayers go out to them as they courageously take on their abusers as well as an abusive church system. 

In response to this breaking news, Sovereign Grace Ministries has issued the following press release:

"October 17, 2012

Statement by Sovereign Grace Ministries on Reported Lawsuit

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY – Today, Sovereign Grace Ministries Director of Finance and Administration, Tommy Hill, released the statement below regarding a reported lawsuit on October 17, 2012:

It has come to the attention of Sovereign Grace Ministries through media outlets that a lawsuit has been filed against Sovereign Grace Ministries related to allegations of child abuse apparently arising in the 1980s and 90s. To date, Sovereign Grace Ministries has not been served with any such lawsuit nor does it have a copy of the lawsuit. Sovereign Grace Ministries is not in a position to comment on the allegations of the reported lawsuit. Child abuse in any context is reprehensible and criminal. Sovereign Grace Ministries takes seriously the Biblical commands to pursue the protection and well being of all people, especially the most vulnerable in its midst, little children."

In tomorrow's post Dee and I will editorialize on this terribly important matter affecting Sovereign Grace Ministries, and we will also bring you updates on this highly publicized news story. 

Lydia's Corner:   Exodus 39:1-40:38   Mark 1:1-28   Psalm 35:1-16   Proverbs 9:11-12


Sovereign Grace Ministries Slapped with a Class Action Lawsuit — 120 Comments

  1. This is all very sad. It is sad that children were abused and have had to live with this for so long, and it is sad that many will defend the abusers and ignore the victims. It is pathetic that this happened in a church, where it happens far too often. I know, for me at least, there is an impulse to be gleeful that SGM is finally being exposed to the law and greater public scrutiny and we will get to watch its yes men scramble to defend themselves and their reputations. But I think we need to avoid glee and remember always the profound tragedy that this is in so many ways.

    Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. Is.1:17

  2. Wow…I just clicked over to Susan Burke’s credentials. Doesn’t seem like she is one to dabble in frivolous lawsuits considering she’s already taken on KBR and other huge multi-national corporations and won.

  3. Yeah, given that it is Susan Burke, this is not a time to ‘ignore wounded people’ as Ligon would say…

  4. Deb and Dee

    Thank you for all your doing! I have been a member of CLC for over 32 years, and I am an eyewitness to it all! I have been in meetings so many times with so called pastors who do not know what they are doing – grads of CJ's pastors college hand-picked by CJ yes men for the cause.

    We have not even scratched the surface of the teens and kids who were abused, hurt, and sent packing from CLC's school for normal teenage struggles, labeled fools by CJ, ostracized by church members, and refused admission to school or sports programs as a consequence of their misdeeds.

    I hope more comes out as time goes on. This lawsuit is a good good thing!

  5. Sage,

    No doubt you have seen and heard a lot if you’ve been at CLC for over three decades!  We need to pray that those who have been victimized with have the courage to come forward.  Truth is a balm for painful experiences.  Our concern is for the victims who have been hurt in physical, emotional, and/or spiritual ways and then re-victimized by so-called Christian leaders. 

  6. Caleb W,

    Oh yes, Ligon Duncan and Al Mohler – I wonder what pronouncements they will make now?  The world is watching and waiting…

  7. Pingback: Sovereign Grace Ministries Slapped With A Lawsuit | The Wartburg … |

  8. Eagle

    I went to bed early last night. Today, I am going to the state fiar for a couple of hours.

  9. Caleb

    As you know, pedophilia is a hot button topic for the two of us. It is the reason that I left a church. Our focus is always the victims, much to the dismay of those who defend Christian leaders at all costs.

  10. doubtful

    Isn't she also the involved in the lawsuits over rape cover-ups in one of the Armed Services? Better yet, she's a woman. I wonder if CJ will tell her she has "no authority".

  11. Sage

    I am sorry for all of the pain in SGM. I am so grateful that it is the kids who were hurt that are taking the lead here. There are quite a few pastors who should be hanging their heads in shame.

  12. Sage –

    Sorry to hear about your struggles at CLC and what could be called the holiness brigade with the school there. I hope things are changing. I know a few of those kids, now grown with kids of their own, and away from CLC. They are making their way. I pray for those who have had a much harder time with their experiences.

  13. I have been in meetings so many times with so called pastors who do not know what they are doing – grads of CJ’s pastors college hand-picked by CJ yes men for the cause. — Sage

    Let me guess about these pastors(TM) — young, with shaved heads just like CJ, and affecting the same accent and delivery as CJ?

  14. Isn’t she also the involved in the lawsuits over rape cover-ups in one of the Armed Services? Better yet, she’s a woman. I wonder if CJ will tell her she has “no authority”. — Dee

    I’d like to see The Anointed CJ order her to “cover your head and keep silent” in court.

  15. I forwarded the SGM lawsuit report to a lawyer friend of mine. He was appalled by the notion of making a toddler come in and “reconcile” with her abuser. I can’t reprint exactly what he said, but it was vehement.

  16. “Sunny Side Up!”

    HowDee YaAll,

    I have dis here testimony:  I have fought the battle well.  I have held on to da faith. I have a good conscience.

    Howsomeever, I understandz dat: Some have rejected the faith, and have become shipwreck. Dat some have been handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme. Dat some have suffered fools. Also, dat some have been handed over to civil lawyers to be taught not to put our children at risk, and not to damage the faith once taught them.

    Friends, de Lord, He knowz your works, and youze labour, and youze patience, and howz you canst bear dem which are evil: and youze have tried dem which sayz they are apostles, and are not, and have found dem (to be) liars: You have borne, and have (demonstrated) patience, and for His name’s sake have laboured, and faintz not!”


    Lord, I have learnt ta drink the living water from a pure source. To follow in Youze ways, Oh Lord, as outlined in Psalm one. I have received your word (…however it pains me) that some things needz take place as outlined in da scriptures (ην εδωκεν αυτω ο θεος δειξαι τοις δουλοις αυτου α δει γενεσθαι εν ταχει) ,that a great falling away shall take place, before your day comes (whoa!), that men will become lovers of themselves, damaging those that love you, thinking they do you service. You have taught me that great n’ terrible things shall come upon de earth shortly, but that you are faithful to your called out ones. That your bless’ins are for all dem who heed your call. I remembers what you said when reading da book of Isaiah, fulfilling these words:

    “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, 
    because he has anointed me 
    to preach good news to the poor. 
    He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners 
    and recovery of sight for the blind, 
    to release the oppressed, 
    and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

    That You continue to faithfully do so ( to fulfill your words) , a footstool having been created for youze feet. I am ever mindful that faithful are you who has called me, faithful are you, who will bring dis stuff to pass! I rejoice in you, alone.

    “…I have given sight to the blind…” hum, hum, hum…I likez da sound of it! (Once again Jesus heals with a touch.)

    de Lord He gives sight to the blind, 
    de Lord He lifts up those who are bowed down, 
    de Lord He loves the righteous,
    de Lord He watches over the alien,
    de Lord He sustains the fatherless and the widow, 
    but he frustrates da ways of the wicked!

    Friends, we should not overlook the fact that, being blind, they could not have seen anything that Jesus had done. They had to depend on what people (like you & me) told them. Yet they are coming through with a definite and positive faith!

    Ringgggggggg! Da Lord, He’s a callin’…

    For God so loved you, that he gave His only begotten Son, that should you believe in Him, you shall not perish, but have everlasting life. For God has not sent his Son into the world to condemn you; but that through Him, you might be saved!

    Stretch forth your hand today, and He will show you!

    (Of whom the Lord sets free, is free indeed!)

    Amaz’in grace, how sweet da sound, dat saved a wench like me…hum, hum, hum…

    I will take minz sunny sidez up, if you please!  pass da salt!

    Gooooooood Morn’in!


  17. Oh yes, Ligon Duncan and Al Mohler – I wonder what pronouncements they will make now?

    This will be very interesting to see as things develop. Who automatically jumps to SGM’s defense, how many and what conferences they are invited to, etc.

  18. Caleb,

    “I know, for me at least, there is an impulse to be gleeful that SGM is finally being exposed to the law and greater public scrutiny and we will get to watch its yes men scramble to defend themselves and their reputations. But I think we need to avoid glee and remember always the profound tragedy that this is in so many ways.”

    But at the same time, not to confuse satisfaction at the prospect of justice being served with “glee”.

    It is perfectly natural, right, and appropriate to join in the collective sigh of grave injustice receiving justice (or the attempt being made).

    I think christians overspiritualize and overanalyze their thoughts / feelings too much. And short-circuit normal & healthy responses to things, twisting and tying them up in false ideals.

  19. Another interesting tidbit from the Internet Monk

    Dinesh D’Souza, president of The King’s College and a well-known evangelical author, faces questions from his board over his relationship with a woman he introduced as his fiancee in late September, according to World magazine. The problem? D’Souza, who has experienced a “meteoric rise in the evangelical world,” is still married to his wife of 20 years, Dixie.
    . . . .
    I’m not here to condemn D’Souza. He is accountable to his own board and those in his sphere of influence. But how stupid can a Christian leader be?

    To me, it’s not stupidity, but extreme arrogance – they make up their own rules for themselves.

  20. Eagle

    D’Souza sounds like just one more evangelical nut-job. I shake my head in disbelief at the number of people who are duped by these guys. No wonder so many rational people mock and ridicule Christianity.

  21. Get this… it’s from D’Souza.

    The cultural left in this country is responsible for causing 9/11 … the cultural left and its allies in Congress, the media, Hollywood, the non-profit sector and the universities are the primary cause of the volcano of anger toward America that is erupting from the Islamic world.[27] — Eagle

    While D’Souza flaunts his mistress at the Christian Culture War Conference on Sexual Morality.

    Sounds like the funhouse-mirror reflection of those Activists(TM) from South Park — (Jedi Mind Trick gesture and Scientology Tone 40 Voice) “It’s All The Republicans’ Fault; The Republicans Are To Blame; It’s All The Republicans’ Fault; The Republicans Are To Blame; It’s All The Republicans’ Fault; The Republicans Are To Blame…”

  22.  …yet the thing would still live on, it would be always alive?


           What the worm was to the corpse, his sins would be to the painted image on the SGM canvas. They would mar the God’s Sovereignty and eat away at his Grace. They would defile it and make it shameful. And yet the thing would still live on. It would be always alive. The Portrait Of Sovereign Grace?


    1. The U.S. civil courts have been call upon because within Sovereign Grace Ministries, there has been apparently no accountability. 

    2. Sovereign Grace Ministries since incorporation, has been listed as a non-religious, non-profit controlled solely by one man: Reverend Charles Mahaney.

    3. All speculation aside, if he has not been named what does that say for this glorious lawsuit? Sure a few mice get stept on, yet the pied piper goes free?

    What is wrong with this picture, is it really a portrait of Sovereign Grace?

    You decide.


  23. I just wish they would focus on smaller government and leave all this fundy stuff out of it. This economy has hurt the poor most of all. Nothing hurts the poor more than very high gas prices as it affects the price of most everything we use daily. Our gov cannot take enough and redistribute enough out to make it equal. We cannot produce enough gov jobs to give everyone a middle income. Although we are trying. Gov here is laying off like crazy.

    I did hear the guy who distributes the Obama phones is a zillionaire and much of it from that program. :o)

  24. @Jeff and @Eagle: Wish this stuff about D’Souza had come out six weeks ago.

    But it takes a wagon-full of chutzpah to take a woman to a conservative shindig and announce her as your fiancee. When you’re still married. And you’re not a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints.

    Don’t get me wrong…these guys are hypocrites. D’Souza’s problem is that he didn’t wait for the ink to dry on the divorce decree before he stepped out with his new arm candy.

  25. I can’t get over the reactions to the D’Souza thing. I went over to Internet Monk and was really disappointed in the comments there. “Oh, he’s a sinner, but aren’t we all?” I dumped a guy cold 30 years ago when I found out he was married, had a child and another on the way. Because one of my firm rules is “Don’t mess around with married people.” And it’s still my rule even after leaving the church and becoming agnostic.

    It’s really pretty ironic. The churches come unglued over consensual relationships between single people, to say nothing of the attacks on gays and lesbians who want to get married. But when one of their leaders decides to bring a new woman out in public and announce her as his fiancee, before the divorce is final, there’s a lot of sighing: “Oh, we’re all just sinners.” *shakes head*

    As I have said in the past about a certain church in Rome wanting to dictate morality: “You can’t hardly lecture us about sexual morality when you’re busy covering up child sexual abuse.” A similar thing applies here.

  26. AS I read it, he shared a hotel room with her at the conference. Now in my town, a fiance sharing a room means more of what would normally go on with a spouse sharing a room, if you get my drift. Perhaps the Puritan-loving Calvinistas should recover the Hester Prinne decoration and award it to D’Souza!

  27. Deb, Re: Little Red Riding Hood illustration,
    Did you have more in mind with this picture? Personally, this  brings to mind all sorts of applications.
    Huntsman to Grandmama, “You’re gong to have the opportunity to forgive today”.
    Huntsman  reply, “Why are you so interested in the court dates??? Do you have a carnal desire to see Wolfie suffer???” “You need to stop thinking about it and stop talking about it and make a list of your own sins.”
    A week or so after the devouring, one of the other huntsmen called and shared how sorry he was for what we were going through and then asked me to write a letter of leniency, so that this Wolf  would not go to jail and just get counseling.
    Huntsman’s wife, “Most of the men in the forest should be on the Wolf register!”
    Sermon a few weeks later: “Girls, you shouldn’t go wandering off in the woods alone wearing red outfits and carrying goodies, and not expect trouble! You’re sinfully causing Wolves to stumble!” 
    etc etc

  28. hanks Brad, From the link:

    “So why would World write such a misleading, sensational story that we would normally expect from the tabloids? Actually there is a back story here which was noted by Amy Sullivan at the New Republic, as well as numerous other sources. Marvin Olasky, the editor of World, is the former provost of the King’s College. Olasky was on the search committee when I interviewed to be president, and he vehemently opposed my candidacy. Olasky publicly admitted that he was resigning his position as a consequence of my appointment. The reporter who wrote this story, Warren Smith, also used to work as a consultant for King’s until I decided not to renew his contract. And what was Olasky’s gripe against me? As he put it, I was seeking to make King’s a non-denominational “mere Christianity college” in the image of C.S. Lewis. This for Olasky was simply intolerable. Having nursed his grievance for two years, now apparently Olasky is using World to continue his vendetta.”

    Read more:

    BTW: Marvin Olasky has been a huge supporter and promotor of John Piper for years.

  29. RE: elastigirl on Thu Oct 18, 2012 at 11:25 AM,

    I think you’ve brought up a salient point on how xtian theology seems to exist in a separate vacuum from the concrete realities of what is just and what is unjust in the course of human events.

  30. I will be interested in seeing how this lawsuit proceeds. If you get a copy of the lawsuit, it would be neat if you could link to the filing.

    I, too, was sad upon reading the story of a little girl being expected to reconcile with her abuser.

  31. Hot off the press, “Dinesh D’Souza Resigns as President of The King’s College”

    Wow! That didn’t take long! Sing it Freddy:

    “Another one bites the dust..”

  32. @ Arce:

    “Perhaps the Puritan-loving Calvinistas should recover the Hester Prynne decoration and award it to D’Souza!”

    I hereby give my most hearty approval and would be glad to lend out my letter for such a noble cause. It’s always good to know one is appreciated. ; )

  33. @ Doubtful:

    “Burke PLLC’s current projects include a series of False Claims Act qui tam lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies and defense contractors involved in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Ms. Burke serves as lead counsel in the multi-district litgation known as KBR Burn Pit MDL, seeking justice for the many soliders who were harmed by KBR’s negligent operation of burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ms. Burke also serves as lead counsel in actions on behalf of the Abu Ghraib torture victims. Ms. Burke is spearheading a nationwide series of lawsuits designed to reform the manner in which the military prosecutes rape and sexual assault.”

    Abu Ghraib and the U.S. military? Somehow I don’t think Ms. Burke is going to be scared of C. J. Mahaney, let alone a couple of random pedophiles who happen to have “Rev.” appended to their names. She sounds like a pitbull and this could really become a problem for SGM if she decides to take it that far.

  34. @ No More Perfect:

    “’I had no idea that it is considered wrong in Christian circles to be engaged prior to being divorced, even though in a state of separation and in divorce proceedings,’ D’Souza writes.”

    I’m pretty sure the Puritans considered it grounds for divorce if you discovered your fiancee had cheated on you while you were engaged (i.e., it’s the same as adultery)…so this is hardly a new idea…

  35. Moniker

    Thank you for the link. Got a nice email from one of the plaintiff’s moms.They now have an big time advisor to help them with media contacts, etc. i am so glad. This is super professional. It is about time that someone give these families some assistance. Too bad SGM and AoR couldn’t do it right. When will they ever learn that it is about the victims? If i were SGM, I would bequaking in my boots This will not be pretty.To top it off, they will have to answer to a woman in court.

  36. Elastigril

    What a great comment. “It is perfectly natural, right, and appropriate to join in the collective sigh of grave injustice receiving justice (or the attempt being made).”

  37. Trends: “SGM, Dissecting Christians?”

    C.J. will most likely de-gift n’ chuck all doze named in da lawsuit if history be our guide.  Er? End of story?



  38. JeffT

    I actually thought the same thing about DSouza-arrogance. And I like him. I, along with Deb, heard him debate Bart Ehrman at UNC-Chapel Hill.

  39. Jenny

    Comment of the day


    :: pops kettle corn and settles in for the double feature ::

    Between SGM, DSouza, James MacDonald amd Calvary Chapel-  Good night!

  40. Thy peace

    Well, darn! I used to like DSouza. I wrote, about 10 minutes ago that I liked him. But after all of this, it is now in the past. Dee commences to repent while eating cotton candy obtained at the NC State Fair.

  41. Sopwith

    CJ will have  his hands full pretending that all is light and laughter at his new SGM church.Louisville-time to awake from your slumber.

  42. As a former 15 year SGM member, started in the Fairfax Church in the 90s, I can say that everything in those plantiff allegations sounds utterly and categorically plausible. Fairfax was THE most hyper authoritarian church of the three I intended. They specialized in the doctrine of destruction.

  43. I will not fault D’Souza for this matter of his fiancee. I differ with him about his views on Conservatism from the era of Reagan on till now. I am sorry to say he is in error.

  44. Elastigirl,

    I completely agree with you. I guess I was just expressing caution at how we express that sigh of relief online. I always want to make it as hard as possible for SGM and their defenders to dismiss us or miscontstrue us, their critics, as opportunisitic. They would be wrong to do so, of course, and I don’t think we are, and you’re right, we do overthink our natural reactions sometimes. It was just a word of caution.

  45. Off topic, but relevant to this site, I believe:

    Headline: “Dinesh D’Souza Denies Affair, Forced to Resign from Kings College”

    “Dinesh D’Souza has resigned as president The King’s College, the Manhattan Christian school announced on Thursday, even though D’Souza, writing to Fox News on Wednesday night, insisted that he did not cheat on his wife when he brought his new, young, blonde fiancee to a evangelical conference.”

    These uber-“powerful” evangelical “pastors” and the like are as susceptible to stumbling on their power as is any secular politician or king. I cannot figure out why they all think that they are immune.

  46. Readers
    We now have access to the filed lawsuit. Go to the header at TWW home page for link to Brent Detweiler’s posting.

    We can now say, in all candor, the CJ is being “served.”

  47. “Perry Masson:” “The Case Of The Proverbial Wicked Pastor”

    HowDee YaAll,

    Da Ceege: you know what the trouble is Al, they don’t make good churches anymore. Nope. No one wants to give a preacher a break. Oh sure, sure, I read lots of sermons. But you know what the trouble is? The scriptures -they just get between the preacher and the general Christian public. And then there is those pesky so-called watchdog blogs! Now this here crummy lawsuit business, So unfair. Whew! Of all the courtrooms in all the world, and she (Susan Burke) had to walk into ours…




  48. I just skimmed through the lawsuit and a couple of things stood out.

    1) The plaintiffs are asking for certification as a class, as in “class action lawsuit.”

    2) I thought C.J. Mahaney had pulled up stakes and is now living in Louisville, KY? The filing indicates he is still resident in Maryland.

    Not having looked at the form of other clergy lawsuits (and there have been a raft of them over the last decade), I don’t know if this follows the standard form or is somehow different.

  49. In most states:

    Timing issues: When a suit is served, a clock starts. The defendant must answer or file a motion to defeat the suit without even having to file an answer.

    Either with the suit or shortly after the suit is filed, the plaintiff’s attorney will send discovery requests (the defense attorneys can also send these to the plaintiffs). These come in the following forms. (1) a request for basic information, called disclosure, which ids the parties and any possible other parties the recipient of the request may seek to add to the suit, theories of the case and potential witnesses. (2) a request for documents and other things — called production, potentially relevant papers, pictures, diaries, computer files (may include getting access to the actual computer). (3) a request for admissions, which if any are not answered become deemed admitted as true. (4)Interrogatories — basically questions to be answered by the party.

    After some time to digest all of the above, depositions can be scheduled where the party or other witness is asked questions under oath, with a transcript prepared and usually a video taken. There can also be inspections of property, vehicles, etc.

    Any changes made to evidence after the suit has been filed/served can be labelled spoliation, which means that it is presumed that any destruction or change was made to enhance that parties chances in court under the presumption that the evidence was more damaging before than it is now.

    Of course, each side has some tools to limit what the other side can get, etc., but generally, pre-trial, everything becomes an open book to the other side if the attorney is competent and diligent, and the delaying and limiting tactics can be used against the party so acting.

    Hope this helps.

  50. I’ve read a lot about files that were kept on personal members at SGM – especially among care group leaders – related to their practice of “sin-sniffing”. It will be interesting to see if those files are subpoenaed and also if the SGM leaders still have those files.

  51. I wonder how many more people who are being abused, or have been abused, will step forward now that this is out in the open. Hopefully this class action lawsuit will give them the courage they need to speak up.

  52. Even though I had some struggles in my family growing up, when I was in CLC, I remember feeling sorry for the kids who were being raised in CLC, and especially the leaders’ kids. Maybe I should’ve prayed for them more. At least I had the sense to stay away from the leaders and the inner clique, so I didn’t get too tainted by the kool-aid.

    I do have memories of pastor’s wives being devasted when they picked up their two-year-olds from children’s ministry and they had misbehaved. Duh! What is the definition of a two-year-old. Maybe they wanted the children to be good so the adults looked good.

    I have a vivid memory of an incident with my friend’s son who was probably an early teenager at the time. I agreed to take him home from church, and told him I’d meet him in about ten minutes in the lobby. When I arrived to meet him, he was standing next to a very serious looking man, who told me that this kid had been throwing pennies off the balcony with his friend. As I told the kid later, it probably wasn’t the smartest decision of his life, but it also wasn’t the worst thing he could do. I felt sorry for him that he had been hoisted aside and chastised by this overserious adult. I probably even laughed when I was talking to the kid. Poor guy! Fortunately he is now a well-adjusted adult.

  53. NoMorePerfect – – – I’m not sure how many will post their stories for all to see, but I’ve been getting more personal e-mails to my blog e-mail since the story broke. I’ll bet Dee, Deb, and the other SGMSurvivor blogs are as well. I just read one 5 minutes ago. This is the positive thing about the lawsuit – – – it is validating many who have suffered silently. They now know they are not alone.

  54. Couple of things:

    Larry Tomzak is a defendent?

    Also, how many named as defendents moved with SGM to Louisville? Anyone know?

  55. I thought C.J. Mahaney had pulled up stakes and is now living in Louisville, KY? The filing indicates he is still resident in Maryland. — Southwestern Discomfort

    Good timing, that.

    I’ve read a lot about files that were kept on personal members at SGM – especially among care group leaders – related to their practice of “sin-sniffing”. It will be interesting to see if those files are subpoenaed and also if the SGM leaders still have those files. — Julie Anne

    If so, they’re probably feeding them into the shredders right now.

    (About when the real estate bubble was about to pop, one mortgage/realtor engaged a “document destruction firm” with a big-rig-sized industrial shredder; some “Real Estate Armageddon” website had pics of them feeding box after box of records into it the day before they were subpoenaed for shady business practices. If that ever went to trial, I don’t think that would sit well with a jury.)

  56. I would affirm my love and appreciation for C. J. Mahaney, Wayne Grudem, John Piper, and other conservatives in the continuationist camp. I consider these men to be friends and allies for the sake of the gospel. Charismatic Chaos was primarily written against the excesses of the broader Pentecostal and Charismatic movements. And those excesses are not what these men are best known for.

    ~ John MacArthur

  57. Also, how many named as defendents moved with SGM to Louisville? Anyone know? — Anon1

    I’d like to know, too. As would the plaintiff’s lawyers.

    Again, Good Timing.
    Really Good Timing.
    Right out of Dodge just before the boilers blew.

  58. The Silent Shepherds

    On that day crowned a king
    Mighty Savior and child He came

    King of Heaven, King of Earth
    Crowning His shepherds for sacred works

    Laboring with guardian angels before
    Lovers of children their godly lore

    Righteous hearts aflame for right
    Refusing to be silent against the night

    King of Heaven, King of Earth
    Despising the deafness against the night
    The desperate cries of the child’s night

    Claiming a crown they do not wear
    A sacred calling of their own affair
    Silent against the child’s night

    With hearts of ice they one day stand
    Before eyes flaming grand
    A sword of justice in His hand

    Where myriads of guardian angels stand.

  59. Anon 1 and HUG – the only other defendant who moved to Louisville with CJ is Gary Ricucci. Gary is CJ’s brother-in-law. Gary is married to CJ’s sister Betsy.

  60. Anon1: It looks like the only defendants who moved to Louisville are: Gary Ricucci and CJ Mahaney SGM Louisville.

    The rest:

    Looks like John Loftness is still at Solid Rock in Maryland
    David Hinders is at SGM Fairfax, VA
    Lou Gallo is at SGM Fairfax, VA
    Lawrence Tomczak – he hasn’t been with SGM for a while now
    Grant Layman is at Covenant Life Church in Maryland
    Frank Ecelbarger – can’t find where he’s working – FL?

  61. Julie Anne, I don’t think Frank Ecelbarger is on any church staff anymore. It looks like he is part of Redeemer Church at Lake Nona, in Orlando Florida. Benny Phillips (founding pastor of the SGM church in Fairfax and then pastor at Metro Life Church in Orlando) is the pastor of Redeemer Church, which started in 2011.

  62. To all readers

    This has become a headline news story on AOL which is run by Huffington. This is very, very serious. This is one story that the leaders at SGM, and all their very good buddies in the calvinista circuit, will not be able to outrun.

  63. HUG

    They will not be able to hide in Kentucky. They will be coming to the trial in Maryland-guaranteed.

  64. I’m still trying to learn about “Civil Lawsuits and Class Action Suits for Dummies” on the fly. This link was posted in a comment on SGM Survivors, on their post of the text of the lawsuit. I found it very helpful for understanding the basic differences between the criminal and civil justice systems, the purposes and possibilities of trials in each, the different processes involved, who controls the decision-making in each, level of evidence needed for the plaintiff to succeed, etc.

    Thanks to Moniker there (who has also posted information and links here).

  65. I can’t help but wonder if Chuck O’Neal, my former pastor, is watching this. He managed to get the perpetrator’s parents on his side to go against us in the lawsuit Perhaps one day their eyes will be opened and they will sue him for the same reason these families are suing.

    Anon 1: It appears that Grant Layman is still at CLC from the church’s site:

    Paul Dohse – – I wonder if MacArthur wishes he could take back that statement – Whoa!

  66. Paul

    The boys will have trouble figuring out how to get CJ out of this one. Child sex abuse coverup does not sit well with the unregenerate populace.

  67. Eagle,

    “My parents saw D’Souza’s 2016: Obama’s America. My Mom took it hook, line and sinker. I didn’t know D’Souza was behind it until I read the list of his projects. Frightening…”

    I know lots of folks who bought it hook, line and sinker too. Although they refuse to look at the film as propaganda and have put their political ideology before truth, I hope that the scandal will cause some to question D’Souza’s credibility. When things like this happen, it often brings other issues to light – for example, D’Souza’s whacked-out views on why 9/11 happened.

  68. Is your Kleenex box is empty?


           Don’t you find it ironic that it is women who are bringing this lawsuit against individuals in church group whose leadership has shown such a blatant disregard for women being amount their ranks? Concerning the abuse, now that this is headed for discovery, hopefully the whole story may now be told.

    This has been a burden difficult for the victims and their families to bare. My heart goes out to them. My Kleenex box is empty. This is a difficult burden for all of us here at  Wartburg. Let us pace ourselves, this looks to be a protracted battle. I am very please that it would appear, God has heard our prayers. 

    Watchful.  Prayerful.  Hopeful. Grateful.


    P.S. Dee, I hope you enjoyed the Fair!

  69. The whole thing is bizarre. There was this massive “break up” of SGM with the whole fake mediation process with Ambassadors of Reconcilation. Then you had the whole bizarre Josh Harris/CJ dance over CLC. Then the Larry Tomzak man hug that did not happen but instead the blackmail phone call published for the public. Now, certain guys stuck with CJ, others are out there. Which churches are in SGM which ones are out.

    BUT…this lawsuit, none of the biggies seem to be escaping. Looks like CLC will be involved since defendents are there as in Fairfax. So they are back together again. Wonder if they will cooperate. Talk about awkward~ Will they use ONE atty or each get their own. Any views from the legal guys on how that works in such situations? If I were a defendent, I certainly would NOT want to share a lawyer with CJ!!! Can you imagine? Who can possibly trust him?

  70. As to Larry T. being named in this suite – hell yes!

    He and CJ worked together from the days of TAG (Take and Give) onward. He was one of the head honchos – and, of course, Founding Father – when most of these assaults occurred. There’s basically no way that he could *not* have known about them.

    imo, everyone running the place in MD and Fairfax is culpable. (I still have friends at both churches… though I’m assuming that they’re still there – they may have left by now. At least, I can hope…)

  71. Bridget–was his staying at CLC a message he is NOT on board with CJ? How should we read his staying with Josh?

  72. Anon –

    They would have to be insane to share lawyers with CJ. CJ has a reputation of staying in the background and letting everyone else do the talking AND take the falls.

    The house in Louisville where SGM has its address belongs to enabler extraordinaire – Bob Kauflin.

  73. Anon1:

    There are different reasons for not sharing lawyers.

    If insurance is involved, the insurer may provide a defense to one person (an insured), but not another.

    If the parties have or could have conflicting interests, then of course there will need to be more than one lawyer.

    Sometimes the parties have mutual interests but they have separate lawyers so as to create the appearance of separation.

    I have not read the lawsuit, but am curious as to what it says.

    One question is how SGM churches are organized legally, and whether one church or the mother church in SGM is liable for what goes on in another.

    Another question for me is the basis for liability. I am not saying there is not. I just don’t know the basis at this point.

    This will be an interesting and sad proceeding.

  74. Dee: “Between SGM, D’Souza, James MacDonald amd Calvary Chapel — Good night!”

    :: passes Dee the bowl of kettle corn and the bag of Twizzlers ::

    Yes, it is, isn’t it? 🙂

  75. I would read Layman’s staying at CLC as him not wanting to continue with CJ. He could have easily gone. I believe he was with CJ from the beginning. There is another brother or brother-in-law that broke with CJ back in the early days. Don’t know the details of that. He has many broken relationships in his wake.

  76. “I would affirm my love and appreciation for C. J. Mahaney …”
    — John MacArthur

    I wonder if MacArthur is giving CJ some friendly legal advice right now. He has a bit of experience with lawsuits.

  77. I wonder what the good folks at CAL think now about having these clowns renting their facility on Sunday morning.

    And, how Mohler, Sojourn and the other Calvinistas will react.

    Spin, anyone?

  78. So, SGM headquarters is in a house in Polo Fields. Nice for golfers. A little too close for comfort, though. — Anon1

    Ran the address through Zillow:
    3 bed, 3 bath, 4500 sq ft, 4/5 acre lot, estimated price $500,000. That’s half a million AFTER real estate prices crashed, in a part of the country not known for high house prices. Next to Polo Fields Golf Course, built 2005, last sold April 2008 for $620,000. Zillow graphs show it’s about twice the average house price for its zip code. Estimated 30-year mortgage cost $1800/mo, estimated rental rate $2200/mo. Nice little parsonage for The Humble One.

  79. Eagle – I think the people who are bringing the lawsuit were abused by members of CLC and Fairfax. So… probably nothing further, though if there are victims of other abusers at other churches, well…

  80. Update on D’Souza – in case anyone was inclined to be forgiving per the fact that he was getting divorced, turns out he introduced the woman as his fiancee BEFORE divorce proceedings were started… Which I’m pretty sure everybody knows is wrong. And she appears to have gotten married (to someone else) in December 2011, and I cannot find anyone who has any record of her being separated/divorced.

    “World reporter Warren Cole Smith saw D’Souza at a church event in South Carolina on Sept. 28 where the author and filmmaker was a keynote speaker. … D’Souza was accompanied by Denise Odie Joseph II, and he was introducing her as his fiancée. … And when Smith followed up on October 4, D’Souza claimed he’d filed for divorce from his wife Dixie “recently.” But by recently, he meant really recently: San Diego court records showed he had filed on that very day, October 4, and six days after they were spotted together in South Carolina. In California, the filing starts a six-month waiting period for final separation.

  81. Anon1

    No matter what happnes in this lawsuit, the Calvinista leaders will not be able to make this one go away.They have been ignoring the cries of the people for far too long. AoR should be ashamed of themselves. All of this, and much more,  will come out in the trial. SGM loses, one way or another. And all they had to do was apologize and be kind. But, I guess that is just too darned hard for these “humble” leaders.

  82. Anonymous

    Go to the top of the home page for TWW. There is a link for the filed suit. I will write more about this today. No matter the outcome, this is, and will be, very damaging to SGM. Al Mohler and others have circled the wagons for Mahaney, an act that continues to irritate me. The big names are far more important to these leaders than the little children and their families. Frankly, I think there are some in the Reformed Baptist camp in the SBC who should hang their heads in shame. 

  83. Brian D

    They will have to be careful. They like to keep up the image that they care about child sexual abuse. They certainly ignored it until now. They can easily be tarmished by defending thsoe named. Remember Penn State is all i can say.

  84. Update on D’Souza – in case anyone was inclined to be forgiving per the fact that he was getting divorced, turns out he introduced the woman as his fiancee BEFORE divorce proceedings were started… Which I’m pretty sure everybody knows is wrong. And she appears to have gotten married (to someone else) in December 2011, and I cannot find anyone who has any record of her being separated/divorced. — Hester

    Now that was just STUPID. Especially since D’Souza seems to have flaunted her at some sort of Christian Culture War event/speech/whatever. Wonder if the event was about defending Christian sexual morality? And what “Biblical” spin is gonna get put on this by his defenders?

    “You have just proven why our listeners NEVER need to watch soap opera.”
    — Rich Buhler, Christian radio talk show host from the Eighties

  85. No matter the outcome, this is, and will be, very damaging to SGM. Al Mohler and others have circled the wagons for Mahaney, an act that continues to irritate me. — Dee

    “One hand washes the other…”

    The big names are far more important to these leaders than the little children and their families. — Dee

    “One hand washes the other…”

    Frankly, I think there are some in the Reformed Baptist camp in the SBC who should hang their heads in shame. — Dee

    Why should they? They are The Elect. There can be no shame for The Elect. What trouble can their Souls(TM) get into for Eternity when (unlike the rest of us) they were Predestined for Heaven before the creation of the world?

    Can you say “Presumption”?

    “Nothing’s worse than a monster who thinks he’s right with God.”
    — Captain Mal Reynolds, Free-Trader Serenity

  86. @ HUG:

    “Wonder if the event was about defending Christian sexual morality?”

    Talk2Action is reporting that it was the “Truth for a New Generation” conference, which seems to be an apologetics/worldview conference.

    Here’s the conference website and it’s session schedule. There appear to have been several sessions about the “gay agenda” and at least one about bioethics.

  87. Julie Anne – I was more wondering along the lines of how many more lawsuits were going to come out of this. . .

  88. Oh, sorry, No More Perfect – – My understanding is that others can join in the lawsuit. I suspect more will join as time goes by. Keep in mind that in SGM culture they tried to keep a lid on everything: hushed and secretive. There very likely could be victims who have held this secret to themselves for years.

  89. Julie Anne- No apologies; I wasn’t very clear in my comment. You actually answered the next question I was going to ask: can others join in the lawsuit once it has been “submitted.”

    There is no doubt in my mind that there are probably many others, especially if the abusers mentioned in the lawsuit were encouraged to continue on in the community of the SGM churches.

  90. HUG, I have quite a few friends who live at the Polo Fields. I cannot imagine there is a home in there with less than 4 bedrooms. most have 5. another online source list the house as having 5 bedrooms 4 baths.

    As luck would have it I have a friend who lives around the corner from 'SGM headquarters'. Their kids attend Christian Academy ES, too. I just sent them a link to the lawsuit.

  91. Oh, I was a bit surprised to see this story on the front page of The Courier Journal Metro section, today.

    in the past this sort of thing would make it on the religion blog. it is quite a long article for the newspaper version.

  92. Anon1

    I think the Courier Journal has done a good job in recent months looking at things SGM. The SBTS leaders must be losing their grip.

  93. I am not up on the civil procedure rules in Maryland, but in most jurisdictions, a petition (how a suit is filed) must have a “prayer” for damages, even if the amount is not specified. I suspect this suit will be amended soon.

  94. An Attorney

    Then I shall be on the outlook for a “prayer.” BTW, in the suit it said it is requesting a trial by jury. Why must they state it that way?

  95. I have to say – despite the fact that I couldn’t care less about anything related to D’Souza because I think his politics are wrong/dangerous/slanderous – how dumb do you have to be? If you are that high profile for being a Christian apologist, you just don’t do things like this. Does he think he’s Donald Trump??

  96. Dee, I think the Washington Post and other outlets that wrote about it made the decision. CJ had no choice since SGM moved to Louisville. It is a pretty big story. You would be surprised how many big advertisers attend churches here and like Mohler. Mohler is seen differently here than those of us following the YRR movement. He has been involved locally in such things as metroversity, etc. Also many news people are involved in the local mega and other churches.

    I really think Mohler will brave this story. He always does. He wears teflon.I think the spin might be that these are “rogue” pastors and Mahaney never condoned any of it. And look at all the high and mighty pastors who have vouched for him through the last year. Anyone expecting Mohler to have a Damascus road experience is probably fooling themselves. Who knows, I might be wrong. I have been wrong before. :o)

    The real story behind this story is how vapid and fake so many Christian leaders are. Hannah Arnedt had it right: Evil is banal.

  97. Pingback: Lawsuit Claims Sovereign Grace Ministries Covered Up Sex Abuse « The Reformed Traveler

  98. Unless one asks for trial by jury, you get a trial by judge making the decision. And you have to pay a jury fee in most jurisdictions, although it is no onerous.

  99. Group complicity: An object lesson in the futility of facing an oncoming tyranny on the tracks it possesses.


           The moral of this sad gruesome story is apparently pressing home more and more in a very brutal way once the know facts are clearly assessed, i.e. there is the need (or necessity) for an individual’s inclination towards self-determination, personal responsibility, and personal accountability. No one can give these things to you, and no one can take them away from you. But, you can submerge yourself, and surely give them up. 

    If you should possess these things, should you expect a certain measure of them in return? 


    Can you depend upon that measure being there? 

    Probably not. 

    Therefore, safeguard yourself and your family (children) accordingly, and you might want to stay clear these type of tyrannical tracks, as we have an adversary who walks around as a roaring lion seeking those to devour, let us be ever diligent, not falling for his devices.

    You Decide?


  100. SGM church monkey business: protracted pedophilia cover up?


    Will this pedophilia permissive pilfer public policy?

    SGM will most likely be tainted with the words “pedophilia cover up” for sometime to come now.  I do not think this will help it’s Brand Name: Sovereign Grace Ministeies , moving forward. (Was not this very thing that Reverend Mahaney was trying to protect?)  All the same this has got to hurt. The results of the lawsuit? They may consider, but the public will decide. No doubt about that?

    Consider carefully?

    (We would certainly hope so)

    This son of the faith sure will,