"I recently discovered a video of a convicted female sex offender that was posted by her church. At first glance, some may think this is a wonderful video about God’s love and redemption. However, a closer look exposes something much different."
See update at bottom of post
Two weeks ago today an Alabama teacher was convicted of molesting a 14 year old student after agreeing to a plea deal. She will spend six months in jail, followed by five years probation. The next day her church posted a YouTube video (more on that later).
Alicia Gray, a 28 year old math teacher, purportedly began a Facebook relationship with a high school freshman on New Years Day 2013, which in short order resulted in sexual contact. She also reportedly sent nude photos of herself to the teen.
According to the NY Daily News:
The math teacher of at least six years at Mary G. Montgomery High School in Semmes was arrested Feb. 25, 2013, and charged with second-degree sodomy, second-degree sexual abuse and being a school employee who has had sexual contact with a student younger than 19, AL.com reported.
An article posted on the All Alabama website revealed the following:
She graduated from Mary G. Montgomery about 10 years ago and, outside of school, taught a dance class to young children at a local academy, it said.
Her attorney, Christine Hernandez, said that Gray offered a "sincere apology" to the victim and his family in court on Friday, and wanted to take the plea deal "to prevent anyone from having to come in and testify."
A video featuring Alicia Gray and her empathetic pastor has attracted the attention of a number of people, including the news media. Take a look…
This video also captured the attention of Boz Tchividjian, Executive Director of GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) and an Associate Professor of Law at Liberty University School of Law. Tchividjian — a strong advocate for victims of sexual abuse — has analyzed the video, which at first glance appears redemptive. In his post Caught on Tape, he explains his concerns about this video by writing:
Though I don’t know the intended purpose of this video, its unintended result is that it provides at least five self-serving responses by sex offenders in the church. So perhaps one redeeming consequence of this highly troubling video is to teach us more about the distorted beliefs and understandings perpetrators have about the crimes they have committed.
Then Tchividjian highlights the five self-serving (and predictable) responses by sex offenders in the church, as follows:
1. The “I’m just not that person anymore” response: This is when offenders claim that they have recently “accepted Jesus” and are not the same person that committed the sexual offense.
2. The "I understand" response: Sexual offenders often attempt to convince others that they understand the harm that they have caused to the victim.
3. The "I was inappropriate" response: Sexual offenders often label their abuse in non-abusive language in order to minimize the gravity of their offense.
4. The "I am the victim" response: Sex offenders often attempt to gain sympathy by portraying themselves as a victim of their own weaknesses and struggles.
5. The "make the victim feel guilty" response: Within the church, it is not uncommon for perpetrators (and others) to infer that the trauma victims experience as a result of the abuse is due to their own spiritual weaknesses.
Please go to Boz Tchividjian's post to read a more thorough analysis of the video. It is one of the best assessments we have ever read. We are grateful that he calls attention to the fact that the pastor shows little, if any, concern for the victim; yet this Christian leader vociferously supports the perpetrator. That stood out to us as well. Why didn't the pastor say something like this in the video:
To the victim and his family: Our hearts go out to you. We are having our church pray for you each Sunday, and our congregation stands ready to support you. We are here to listen, and we would be happy to assist you in getting any help that you may need. If you will call our church office, we will speak with you and your family immediately.
We have consistently seen pastors who publicly defend perpetrators and even testify in court on their behalf. Why do they go all out for the criminal and appear to ignore the victim? We would be very interested in your thoughts on the matter.
Please join with us in praying for this high school student who was sexually abused by his teacher. May he find peace and healing and know that he is deeply loved by Almighty God.
UPDATE (1/25/14): After receiving pushback from Boz Tchividjian, the Alabama pastor who posted the YouTube video has responded as follows:
When asked if he would go back and make the same decisions again, Wyatt said that he still would have posted the video, but wished he could have expressed better the purpose of the video and the fact that the church felt "brokenhearted" for the victim and his family.
You can read more in The Christian Post article below.
Ala. Pastor Responds to Critics Who Say He Was Wrong for Posting Video on YouTube of Teacher's Apology for Sex Abuse of Student (link)
Lydia's Corner: Jeremiah 1:1-2:30 Philippians 4:1-23 Psalm 75:1-10 Proverbs 24:17-20