"157. Rather than report the ongoing abuse to secular authorities or take any steps to stop the abuse, Defendants informed the father that his children had reported the abuse. This led to further abuse by the father. In exchange for the conspiracy of silence, the abusive father paid to send Defendants Mahaney, Ricucci, and Layman and their families on vacation to the Kiawah Islands, South Carolina."
Second Amended Class Action Complaint and Jury Demand, p. 35 link
For the attorneys: Everything from this point forward is "alleged".
We have been absolutely astounded by the silence of the Young, Restless, and Reformed camp in response to the class action lawsuit and subsequent amendments filed against C. J. Mahaney and other individuals and entities. They 'appear' to be actively ignoring appeals to address this serious legal matter. We have proof! (More next week.)
We were amazed that Jared Wilson broke ranks with his colleagues in response to the filing of the second amended class action complaint – see his Tweet.
We can only surmise that The Gospel Coalition crowd has been tight-lipped because one of its fellow Council Members – C.J. Mahaney – had not been directly implicated. That is, until now.
In the Second Amended Class Action Complaint and Jury Demand filed May 14, 2013, Mahaney's name appears in three places (see below).
109. Defendants Ecelbarger, Mullery and V. Hinders, conspiring together with Mahaney and Loftness, violated the mandatory reporting obligations and conspired together to cover up [name withheld pending court ruling on defense motion]'s molestation of children. (p. 25)
138. Discovery will show that Defendants Mullery, David Hinder and Vince Hinders (sic) spoke with Maryland-based Defendants Mahaney and Loftness, and together conspired to prevent any reporting to the secular authorities. (p. 31)
157. Rather than report the ongoing abuse to secular authorities or take any steps to stop the abuse, Defendants informed the father that his children had reported the abuse. This led to further abuse by the father. In exchange for the conspiracy of silence, the abusive father paid to send Defendants Mahaney, Ricucci and Layman and their families on vacation to the Kiawah Islands, South Carolina. (p. 35)
Meanwhile, C.J. Mahaney and the ministries he oversaw as SGM president, along with other named individuals, are again coming under media scrutiny. Janet Mefferd, a Christian radio talk show host, focused on the latest legal news about Sovereign Grace Ministries in her broadcast this afternoon. She interviewed Bill O'Neil, co-counsel with Susan Burke, about the filing of the second complaint on May 14, and I was fortunate enough to tune in. (link) I highly recommend it!
Mefferd began the segment (starting at the 7 minute mark) by describing the SGM debacle as 'American Evangelicalism's Biggest Sex Scandal to Date'. That's a powerful statement coming from her.
O'Neil confirmed that there are now eleven plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit (five who have revealed their identities) and that he and Susan Burke have been contacted by more victims; however, those victims are 'unable to go forward' at this time. He said that the alleged victims' number one goal is to expose what has been occurring for all these years, and he believes that there are many more victims. Early in the discussion Mefferd stated:
"Well, I sat down and I read this entire thing last night because I wanted to bring myself up to speed, and I've never read anything more brutal, I've never read anything sadder, more…I'm speechless. I am so upset at these allegations, and I'm sure that you have had a similar reaction, but now you've got eleven plaintiffs, and that's a significant number of people to come forward and to share similar types of stories."
Bill O'Neil responded by saying as painful as it was to read the second complaint, it was far more difficult to write it. He explained that the number one goal of those who have come forward was to expose what's been happening at the church and to let other people know what was going on. Hopefully, others might have the courage to come forward, he said.
Mefferd then brought up pedophiles by stating:
"You talk about one pedophile who was convicted and jailed and then came back to the church. I mean, to what extent did this sort of stuff happen where somebody who was a known abuser of children, as you're alleging in this lawsuit, was allowed to be present among children and was not revealed to be a pedophile to people who didn't know any better?"
"And that's the real breach of trust that I think is at the heart of why these people came forward. Someone who had already been convicted of molestation related charges would be having sleepovers at his house with children where parents didn't know the details of what had happened, but the church officials definitely knew and participated in defending him in the courts."
I was particularly upset when O'Neil explained that the parents of the molested children were forbidden by the church leaders to warn others because that was considered "gossip".
Mefferd brought up John Loftness as well as SGM's founder C.J. Mahaney. Then she asked O'Neil the following question:
"What is the allegation here of his [Mahaney's] role in what happened here at Sovereign Grace?"
"Well, from what we can tell, what everyone has told us is that C.J. Mahaney for many many years was the authority within the church and that there wasn't a church rule or doctrine or habit or custom that he did not approve of and participate in, so as the head of the church, it seems that it's impossible for someone to have that level of involvement and not know what was going on. Now some of that is going to be subject to our ability to question him in discovery and to gain access to their files, which we have not had the opportunity to do yet."
Next Mefferd addressed the allegations in the second complaint that defendants actively disseminated false information and also withheld vital information from the victims' families.
To that O'Neal remarked:
"On several different occasions church officials kinda placed themselves between the accusers and the accused and from the victim's point of view it certainly appears that they were advocating very hard on behalf of the accused….they would tell a family that a court date was the 25th when in fact the court date was the 18th, so the family wouldn't be there. They misled families into missing their opportunity to present victim impact statements. They represented to Virginia Commonwealth attorney that the pastors were talking on behalf of the family when in fact that was not the case…"
Toward the end of the segment, Mefferd reiterates that this is the biggest sex abuse scandal she can recall in evangelicalism in her lifetime.
As she wrapped up the interview, she asked O'Neil: "What happens from here?"
"Well, at a certain point we will lose the opportunity to amend, and people are still contacting us…. We've alleged it as a class action, so we're seeking to go forward on behalf of all of the people who were injured. That needs to be approved by the court, and that hasn't occurred yet. The church has responded to the original lawsuit with a motion to dismiss which is a legal challenge to the allegations in the complaint and that hearing will be held soon and maybe ruled on probably towards the end of the summer."
Mefferd concluded the interview (at the 20 minute mark) by promising that she will be keeping tabs on this important story…
We are extremely grateful to Janet Mefferd for staying on top of this horrific situation.
Lydia's Corner: 2 Samuel 9:1-11:27 John 15:1-27 Psalm 119:49-64 Proverbs 16:1-3