“We have stood beside our friend, C. J. Mahaney, and we can speak to his personal integrity. We can make no judgment as to the truthfulness of the horrifying charges of sexual abuse made against some individuals who have been connected, in some way, to Sovereign Grace Ministries and its churches…"
T4G’s Original Statement of Support for Mahaney (link)
The long awaited trial of Nate Morales began on Monday in Rockville, Maryland, with closing arguments taking place earlier today. The jury began deliberating in the afternoon and will resume tomorrow morning. Twitter is abuzz with commentary related to the trial, and the local news media is following the story closely. There is also much discussion in the blogosphere about what has come to light during the court proceedings. We plan to focus on the trial and hopefully the jury's verdict on Friday.
In the meantime, we just came across an excellent post written by our blogging buddy, Todd Wilhelm. Todd is an American who is living in Dubai. Prior to moving to the United Arab Emirates, Todd had been a member of an SGM affiliated church in the United States, and he was very familiar with C.J. Mahaney.
When he and his family moved to Dubai, they joined a 9 Marks affiliated church. To make a long story short, leaders at the church approached Todd about handling the book ministry (err, business). Todd, who is a voracious reader, made it clear to the leadership that he could not in good conscience recommend any of C.J. Mahaney's books. This was definitely not to the liking of church leaders. Todd got in touch with us over a year ago to share his frustrating experience. Here is an excerpt from a previous post My, My Dubai… that explains what happened.
On March 11, 2013, TWW published Exit Strategies by CJ Mahaney and Heroic Protesters at a 9 Marks Church Overseas. Here is a quick synopsis of Todd Wilhelm's story. He was a member of an SGM church in the United States. Due to his business, he was sent to Dubai, which is a city within the United Arab Emirates. There, he joined a 9 Marks church, UCCD. If you haven't yet discovered Todd's comments, you may not be aware of his deep knowledge of Scripture and church history. He is also very humorous and self-deprecating. He once told us that his choice of churches, first SGM, and then 9 Marks, demonstrates a decided lack of discernment.
Todd was being considered for the position of deacon at UCCD. Part of his job would be to oversee the bookstore. Over the years, due to his former involvement and continued interest, Todd had become deeply concerned about SGM and its former leader, CJ Mahaney. Todd takes a strong stand on child sex abuse and was dismayed by the stories that he had read on SGM Survivors. You can read about his concerns on the post. He informed UCCD that he could not oversee the UCCD bookstore because it sold a number of books by CJ Mahaney. This statement led to great discomfort since Mark Dever, the head of 9 Marks, and pastor of Capital HIll Baptist Church, is a BFF and ardent supporter of Mahaney link. Tood said:
Unfortunately I don’t think most Christians in Dubai are aware of the Mahaney scandal, much less Piper and Dever’s support of Mahaney. If they were I believe these good people would be questioning the wisdom of inviting Piper and Dever to speak at their church.
I resigned my membership on March 6th from the United Christian Church of Dubai because my church leadership refused to quit promoting Mahaney’s books. To date they have refused to act on my letter, so I am technically still a member. John Folmar, the Senior Pastor of UCCD, is a gifted speaker and good friend of Mark Dever’s, having formerly served on staff with him at Capitol Hill Baptist Church. It appears he has no concerns over Piper and Dever’s public support of C.J. Mahaney as he has arranged for them to speak at his church in Dubai. Piper and Dever will be returning the favor by having John Folmar speak at their conferences.
Todd made the difficult decision to leave UCCD. The church refused to remove him from their membership. You see, according to the legal contract (oops-membership covenant), members can't leave until they become members of another church.
Folks: let this serve as a warning to you! Beware of these contracts in the hands of authoritarian churches. This very incident proves the authoritarian nature of 9 Marks churches and leadership. Can you imagine any pastor who would not let a man, who deeply disagrees with the ethics or trajectory of a church, leave? Such hubris is dangerous.
Although Todd could have become a member of another church, he stood firm on the principle of the matter. After 6 months of writing letters, being defriended, having his emails ignored and seeing his name, week after week, appear on the membership rolls, Todd finally prevailed. You can read Movin On at his awesome blog, Thou Art the Man.
Todd Wilhelm has written an excellent post about C.J. Mahaney and his colleagues, and we have been given permission to share it with our readers. Thanks, Todd, for your hard work in putting this information together!
Mahaney Has No Clothes! (link)
By: Todd Wilhelm
“But the Emperor has nothing at all on!” said a little child. “Listen to the voice of innocence!” exclaimed the father; and what the child had said was whispered from one to another. “But he has nothing on!” at last cried all the people. The Emperor was vexed, for he knew that the people were right; but he thought, “The procession must go on now!” And the lords of the bedchamber took greater pains than ever to appear holding up a train, although, in reality, there was no train to hold.
-Hans Christian Andersen
(Audio of Bill O'Neal here)
Al Mohler praising C.J. Mahaney (Audio here)
10 Fast Facts Regarding Grant Layman & the Nate Morales Sex Abuse Trial via Brent Detwiler
1) Grant followed C.J.’s evil counsel to cover up. (Grant Layman is the brother in-law of C.J. Mahaney and until recently a pastor at Covenant Life Church.)
2) Morales’ crimes were never reported to police by C.J., Grant or other CLC pastors who knew.
3) Parents and youth at Covenant Life Church were not alerted to the predatory and homosexual activity of Morales.
4) The school administration at Montgomery County Christian Academy where Morales taught and groomed victims was never told about his abuses by CLC leaders.
5) Other youth were abused as a result of all these criminal delinquencies.
6) Grant lied to detectives in order to conceal the conspiracy.
7) CLC and SGM leaders have denied all wrong doing.
8) Joshua Harris just commended Grant on Feb 23 for his personal integrity and ending his pastoral service well.
9) C.J., Joshua, Grant and other pastors at CLC have covered up the pedophilic actions of other sex abusers with multiple victims at CLC.
10) The above have used a cadre of high priced lawyers and law firms to block every attempt to bring them and abusers to justice.
“I’m attending the entire trial this week. Here’s a brief report from Monday and Tuesday.
Eight counts of sex abuse and sex offense by Nathaniel “Nate” Morales were scheduled to be tried this week in Montgomery County Circuit Court in Maryland with Judge Terrence J. McGann presiding. Three of those counts were postponed because Daniel Bates, one of the victims, had a recent “serious medical procedure” according to the Judge and could not participate. Assistant States Attorney Jessica Hall indicated the State would retry Morales on those counts at a later date.
Most of Monday dealt with the selection of 12 jurors with 2 alternates. Around 2:00 PM Assistant State’s Attorney Hall and Defense Attorney Drew made their opening arguments.
Hall argued that Morales was a respected leader in Covenant Life Church who held a position of trust and authority with access to children that he could groom to be victims. She noted that Morales was outgoing, gregarious, esteemed and trusted. Also that he was in the worship group and functioned as the unofficial youth director.
She also outlined the crimes committed against Samuel Bates, Jeremy Cook and Brian Wolohan by Morales. Each time she ended her individual summaries by saying the victims or parents went to the CLC pastors and the pastors “covered up” and “ignored the heinous crimes that had been done” to these boys.
Defense Attorney Drew concerned himself with dates and times and the fact that no one reported any of these crimes to the police until Samuel Bates contacted Detective Sally Magee in October 2009. He did not seek to disprove, challenge or undermined any of the allegations against Morales.
The first witness called to stand was Samuel’s and Daniel’s mother, Grace Charlene Bates. Of greatest importance, she testified they went to Grant Layman in 1992 and told him about the sexual abuse of Samuel. This fact was not disputed by the Defense. Grant was a pastor at Covenant Life Church. C.J. Mahaney was the senior pastor.
Samuel Bates was called to the stand next. He described the terrible abuses he suffered at the hands of Morales for the jury. He explained he didn’t initially tell others because of shock, shame, confusion and embarrassment. He tried to pretend it never happen. He tried to forget it ever happen. He also fought off Morales on occasions even punching him in the face.
In 1992 he told his parents, Scott and Charlene Bates about then abuse. Afterward, they went to Grant Layman and told him about the abuse. None of this was contested by the Defense Attorney Drew under cross examination. Upon completion, the court was adjoined on Monday.
Court resumed on Tuesday at 9:30 AM.
Victim Brian Wolohan was the first one called to the stand. He too described for the jury the horrors he suffered at the hand of Morales. He too stopped Morales on occasions by yelling at him, pushing him away, telling him to leave, or stating he did not want this. He told of Morales coercing him to comply with the abuse by saying he (Morales) would otherwise have to go the men’s room at the local Mall, have random sex and then die of AIDS.
Brian told an older adult, Bob Rosencrantz about Morales’ abuse in late 1991 or early 1992. Bob then told his parents, Dick and Marsha Wolohan. Dick went to one of the pastors at Covenant Life Church to tell them about the alleged abuse. He could not remember which pastor specifically. This led to a meeting with Morales in a park behind the Wolohan house with Dick and Grant Layman or Robin Boisvert. Dick couldn’t remember which one. Morales denied the sexual abuse of Brian at this time.
Dick Wolohan took the stand next. Morales went to Teen Challenge in 1992 for alcohol abuse and homosexuality. Teen Challenge was not told about his sexual abuse of children. Dick, Brian and Kevin Wolohan went to visit Morales in the summer of 1992. During this time, Morales confessed to Dick that he had sexually abused Brian Wolohan. Defense Attorney Drew did not dispute this confession.
Pamela Plaisted was next. She was engaged to Morales for a short time while the sexual abuse of these boys was transpiring. She testified that people were “drawn to Nate like a magnet” because of his charismatic personality. She also thought it odd that Morales wanted to do sleep overs with boys while they were engaged.
Grant Layman was sworn in next. Under oath he told the jury he did not report the crimes told him by Scott and Charlene Bates 1992 that were committed by Morales against their son, Samuel Bates. He also stated that within one year, he learned of the sexual abuse of Brian Wolohan and did not report it to the police either.
Under cross examination by the Defense Attorney Drew (which was surprising), he was asked “Did you have a responsibility to report to police” the crimes committed against Samuel Bates and Brian Wolohan. To this Layman said, “I believe so.” Drew responded, “Did you report to police?” Layman answered, “I didn’t do it.”
It should also be added that Scott Bates, the father of Samuel and Daniel Bates, contacted the Covenant Life pastoral team again in 2007 when he learned that Morales was a pastor in Las Vegas, NV. The entire pastoral team talked about how to handle the situation with Morales. Layman was given the assignment to contact Morales. Layman talk to Morales by phone. During this conversation Morales admitted to the sexual abuse of boys but claimed he couldn’t remember the details. None of the pastors at Covenant Life Church reported this confession of sex abuse to the police. They knew Morales was a serial and predatory sex abuser.
Rachael Bates-Paci took the stand next. She is a sister to Daniel and Samuel Bates. She was the one who discovered Morales was in full time ministry. This alarmed her. She told her father, Scott, who went to the CLC pastors.
The third victim, Jeremy Cook took the stand toward the end of the day. He described the terrifying and demeaning experience of being sexually abused by Morales. He was afraid he would be ostracized by the pastors and all his friends in Covenant Life Church if they ever found out what happened. He also feared being expelled from the Christian School where Morales was a teacher and Vice Principal. Morales was in a position of power and well respected. He had no hope anyone would believe his story.
In 1993, Jeremy Cook finally told Samuel Bates and his parents about the abuse. Samuel talked to Grant Layman about the abuse of Jeremy. Layman assured Samuel that “They [the pastors] would take care of it.” Yet under oath, Jeremy said Layman “never talked” to him about the abuse. Under cross examination, Defense Attorney Drew asked Jeremy, “To the best of your knowledge did they [the pastors] take care of it” [i.e. report it to the police, etc.]. Jeremy responded with a firm, “No.”
The last person to take the stand was the lead investigator, Detective Sally Magee. She verified all the basic facts and described the times and place of her meetings with the victims and other parties.
Tomorrow morning, Nate Morales’ former wife, Marcia Jo Griffeth, will be taking the stand to testify against him. She learned of his crimes in October 2012 when he was arrested. She divorced him in December 2013. She is a wonderful woman. Tomorrow she will present evidence of his guilt.
After she finishes, either Assistant State’s Attorney Jessica Hall or Amanda Michalski will make closing arguments. They have been working together throughout the hearing. So will the Defense Attorney for Morales.
A few observations to close. At no time over the past two days, did Morales’ lawyer ever challenge the veracity of any of the crimes alleged by the victims. Nor did he challenge the testimony provided by Grant Layman and Dick Wolohan that Morales confessed to them that he was a sex abuser. Maybe Defense Attorney Drew will contest the testimony of all ten material witness tomorrow but thus far he has not done so.
I’ve been writing about the conspiracy to cover up sex abuse in Covenant Life Church and Sovereign Grace Ministries by C.J. Mahaney, Joshua Harris, Grant Layman and many other leaders. There is now NO QUESTION this has occurred. These men knew about Samuel Bates, Brian Wolohan, and Jeremy Cook. Never once did they report these crimes to the police. In each case, they covered up the heinous crimes in the words of Assistant State’s Attorney Jessica Hall.
I assume that’s why none of the pastors have attended the trial thus far. Nor has any leader or pastor from Sovereign Grace Ministries including the Executive Director, Mark Prater.. I find that utterly reprehensible. The entire pastoral staff of Covenant Life Church should have attended the trial to hear the evidence against Morales and against them. Furthermore, they should have been here to support the victims and hear their anguished testimony. Tomorrow, they should be present to beg everyone’s forgiveness and begin the process of public confession, calling C.J. Mahaney to account, and making restitution to the victims.
Tomorrow afternoon the jury will begin deliberations. I will write again once the proceedings are concluded.”
Here is an email I (Todd Wilhelm) received from an assistant of Wayne Grudem after I had written him urging him to not speak at C.J. Mahaney’s church:
My name is John Paul Stepanian, and I am Dr. Grudem’s assistant as well as a student here at Phoenix Seminary. One of my jobs is to see to Dr. Grudem’s correspondence on his behalf.
Thank you for your inquiry regarding Dr. Grudem speaking at CJ’s church. Dr. Grudem has the challenging task of weighing many worthy and intriguing requests. His current research, teaching, speaking engagements and family commitments have filled his schedule, and unfortunately he will be unable to answer your questions directly. Please accept his regrets. Dr. Grudem has asked me to personally respond to these requests on his behalf.
Dr. Grudem is speaking at CJ’s church specifically so that he can signal support for CJ in the face of unjust accusations. No further communication on this subject will be responded to.
May God bless your continued work for His kingdom.
John Paul Stepanian
MA to Dr. Grudem
On behalf of:
Wayne Grudem, Ph.D.
Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies
Carl Trueman on Celebrity Preachers (Audio here)
“The moral and legal responsibility of every Christian — and especially every Christian leader and minister — must be to report any suspicion of the abuse of a child to law enforcement authorities. Christians are sometimes reluctant to do this, but this reluctance is both deadly and wrong.
Sometimes Christians are reluctant to report suspected sexual abuse because they do not feel that they know enough about the situation. They are afraid of making a false accusation. This is the wrong instinct. We do not have the ability to conduct the kind of investigation that is needed, nor is this assigned to the church. This is the function of government as instituted by God (Romans 13). Waiting for further information allows a predator to continue and puts children at risk. This is itself an immoral act that needs to be seen for what it is.
A Christian hearing a report of sexual abuse within a church, Christian organization, or Christian school, needs to act in exactly the same manner called for if the abuse is reported in any other context. The church and Christian organizations must not become safe places for abusers. These must be safe places for children, and for all. Any report of sexual abuse must lead immediately to action. That action cannot fall short of contacting law enforcement authorities. A clear lesson of the Penn State scandal is this: Internal reporting is simply not enough.”
-Al Mohler, “The Tragic Lessons of Penn State – A Call To Action”
T4G’s Original Statement of Support for Mahaney:
“We have stood beside our friend, C. J. Mahaney, and we can speak to his personal integrity. We can make no judgment as to the truthfulness of the horrifying charges of sexual abuse made against some individuals who have been connected, in some way, to Sovereign Grace Ministries and its churches. …
We must take any responsible action to protect the vulnerable, and we must act immediately to inform legal authorities of any charge or claim of sexual abuse, and do so without delay. Our first response must be to call the police, to act to protect the child or young person, and then to proceed to biblical church discipline when the facts demand such a response.
If a Christian leader is accused of any wrongdoing, those to whom he is accountable must investigate the charges and then deal responsibly with the evidence. If a criminal accusation is made, Christians have a fundamental duty to inform law enforcement officials. This does not, however, preclude or mitigate the church’s responsibility for biblical church discipline.
A Christian leader, charged with any credible, serious, and direct wrongdoing, would usually be well advised to step down from public ministry. No such accusation of direct wrongdoing was ever made against C. J. Mahaney. Instead, he was charged with founding a ministry and for teaching doctrines and principles that are held to be true by vast millions of American evangelicals. For this reason, we, along with many others, refused to step away from C. J. in any way. We do not regret that decision. We are profoundly thankful for C. J. as friend, and we are equally thankful for the vast influence for good he has been among so many Gospel-minded people.
Our heart goes out to anyone who has ever suffered abuse of any kind. Our emphatic encouragement would be for anyone who has ever suffered such abuse or knows of anyone made vulnerable to such abuse to contact law enforcement officials without delay. We must then allow the law enforcement agencies and the courts to do their proper work. When criminal charges are filed, the public is then presented with evidence upon which it can draw a responsible judgment. On matters of protecting the vulnerable, Christians know what judgment must be made. We side with the victims.
Our hope and prayer is that Christ’s healing and health will come to all parties involved in this matter and that justice and righteousness will prevail for all. May every true victim of any injustice be vindicated. May every doer of wrong be exposed. And may all of us speak no further than we can responsibly speak.
Those who minister in the name of the Lord Christ bear an inescapable duty to live and to minister in a way that is above reproach. Those who teach, reminds James, will face a stricter judgment. [James 3:1] May everything we do, everything we teach, and all that we are be measured against that standard.
Together for the Gospel,
Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, Albert Mohler
The Gospel Coalition’s Statement of Support For Mahaney:
Over the past several months we have remained publicly silent about the lawsuit filed against Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM), which alleged a conspiracy to cover up sexual abuse.
Many have asked why we have not spoken publicly. Is this a conspiracy of silence, a way to whitewash accusations against a friend? Is it a way to stand with the powerful and to make a mockery of the weak? Is it simple cowardice? Why hasn’t more been said?
…It needs to be said in no uncertain terms that the actual acts alleged in the lawsuit are utterly evil—an offense against a holy God and an act of hatred against innocent children. They are horrifying and revolting. Apart from repentance, they are damning. There is no excuse, at any time or in any place or for any reason, for the use of children for sexual pleasure. Pastors who learn of such abuses should contact the appropriate authorities immediately, institute church discipline, and apply the whole counsel of God (including both law and gospel).
…So the entire legal strategy was dependent on a theory of conspiracy that was more hearsay than anything like reasonable demonstration of culpability. As to the specific matter of C. J. participating in some massive cover-up, the legal evidence was so paltry (more like non-existent) that the judge did not think a trial was even warranted.
…Another reason we have remained silent is because we have detailed charges from one side, but essentially no defense from the other side. Scripture warns us about what often happens in such a situation: “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (Prov. 18:17). Can anyone say with certainty who is innocent and who is guilty in these multiple allegations spanning several decades?
…We are not ashamed to call C. J. a friend. Our relationship with C. J. is like that with any good friend—full of laughter and sober reflection, encouragement and mutual correction. He has regularly invited—even pursued—correction, and we have given him our perspective when it is warranted. While the admission of friendship may render this entire statement tainted in the eyes of some, we hope most Christians will understand that while friends should never cover for each others’ sins, neither do friends quickly accept the accusations of others when they run counter to everything they have come to see and know about their friend. We are grateful for C. J.’s friendship and his fruitful ministry of the gospel over many decades.
…Our prayer is that one day—and please, Lord, soon—all who face injustice of any kind will see the Lord bring forth his righteousness as the light, and his justice as the noonday (Ps. 37:6).
Don Carson, Kevin DeYoung, Justin Taylor
This statement reflects the views of the signatories and does not necessarily speak for other Council members, bloggers, and writers for The Gospel Coalition.”
Here is John Folmar, Senior Pastor of United Christian Church of Dubai, the church I formerly attended but quit for issues of conscience dealing with the promotion of Mahaney’s books: (Audio here)
Folmar’s “Go to book” for new believers in his church! Jesus opposed pedophilia, but I don’t see a whole lot of opposing going on by John Folmar. Actions speak louder than words my friend!
These “leaders” display either an appalling lack of discernment or a love of fame and fortune which overrides any concern for the brothers and sisters they are pastoring. Either way one must question the wisdom of continuing to follow these celebrities.
Comments on sgmsurvivors.com from a former Sovereign Grace church member:
“I am so incredibly disgusted by these pastors, especially the fact that they are hiding behind lawyers.
I am also humbled by the brave people testifying in court. I can’t imagine what that is like. Thank you for carrying about others enough to put Morales away to keep this from happening again.
I do believe that this should be enough for CLC to close its doors. It’s time. I do believe had the pastors come clean and confessed all of this when they split with SGM and pursued genuine change, things could have been different. Instead, they have issued SGM-like statements that don’t really seem to paint an accurate picture of what happened.
Eric Simmons should resign and if no other suitable pastor is available, they should close the doors at Arlington, too. Eric needs to find other ways to use his gifts. Though his sin was committed at a young age, it undermines the very trust necessary to pastor. In an SGM/GC model where pastoring is reduced to preaching, it might not seem like a big deal, but the role of pastor carries an intrinsic predisposition for people to trust him and they probably would not trust if they knew the truth.
And, is there really anyone, whether loyal to SGM or not, who does not believe that CJ was not aware and likely giving direction about these things?”
“I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.”
Lydia's Corner: Ezekiel 31:1-32:32 Hebrews 12:14-29 Psalm 113:1-114:8 Proverbs 27:18-20