"Nathaniel "Nate" Morales, a former youth group leader at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, was convicted Thursday of sexually abusing three young boys between 1983 and 1991."
Earlier this week Nathaniel Morales was on trial for sexually abusing young boys two and three decades ago, and yesterday morning the victims finally received justice. In a Rockville, Maryland courtroom Morales was found guilty by a 12-member jury on two counts of sexual offense in the second degree and three counts of sexual abuse of a minor. Here is the report that aired on the local news.
The CBS affiliate in Washington, D.C. (WUSA*9) reported the news as follows:
Nathaniel "Nate" Morales, 56, of Las Vegas, Nev., was found guilty on three counts of sexual abuse of a minor and two more counts of sexual offense in the second degree, officials said. Morales was accused of abusing three boys from 1983-1991, preying on the young members of the Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg at group sleepovers and in their homes.
With regard to Morales' sentencing, the WLJA article that accompanied the clip concluded as follows:
Judge Terrance McGann will sentence Morales on Aug. 14 in Montgomery County Circuit Court. He faces up to 85 years in Maryland state prison. Morales' public defender, Alan Drew tells ABC7, he and his client plan to file an appeal following sentencing.
How 'providential' that the trial coincided with The Gospel Coalition's three-day Council meeting that just wrapped up in Louisville. Why is this significant? Because the lead pastor of Covenant Life Church (CLC) during the time these crimes took place is listed as a Council Member.
Yes, C.J. Mahaney 'served' CLC for 27 years until he passed the baton to Joshua Harris in 2004. Harris, who continues to serve as CLC's Senior Pastor, is also a TGC Council Member. It is certainly worth noting that the men who along with Mahaney founded Together for the Gospel – Mark Dever, Al Mohler, and Ligon Duncan – are also listed as Council Members on The Gospel Coalition website. Perhaps they were 'together for the gospel' ™ when the verdict was announced.
A commenter named Sensible just alerted us that (s)he left a comment under the TGC Council Meeting: Day 2 post that has yet to be been approved. In fact, no comments have been approved under the post. All Sensible's comment contained was a Bible passage, specifically Matthew 18:1-6. We will continue to monitor whether the comment gets approved and will update you here should it occur.
Bob Allen of the Associated Baptist Press has been covering this story and featured an article entitled Trial shines light on alleged abuse cover-up. The article includes information that an SGM whistleblower (Brent Detwiler) recently published on his website. The ABP article states:
A longtime pastor at a D.C.-area evangelical church testified in court May 13 that he did not report crimes alleged in 1992 against a man standing trial this week on charges of sexual abuse, according to a one-time ministerial colleague turned whistleblower attending the weeklong trial in Montgomery County, Md.
Brent Detwiler, who writes a blog devoted to alleged cover-up of child sexual abuse in churches affiliated with Sovereign Grace Ministries, said Tuesday’s testimony by Grant Layman, who stepped down recently after 31 years as a pastor at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Md., removes any doubt that church leaders conspired to cover up crimes while treating abuse allegations as a matter for private church discipline.
After the verdict was rendered, Janet Mefferd interviewed Brent Detwiler on her radio program (which I listened to live). Here are the highlights. Nathaniel Morales was involved at Covenant Life Church from almost the beginning. He was an unofficial youth leader and occasional soloist who groomed his victims.
Morales was facing eight counts. Three of them were dropped because one of the victims recently underwent a medical procedure and was unable to testify. Five counts went forward, with Morales being found guilty on all counts that pertained to three men. Janet asked Brent why it took so long to bring charges against Morales. Brent explained that the men were ashamed and embarrassed. Finally, in 2009 Samuel Bates could no longer maintain his silence and came forward. Detective Sally McGee began an investigation, and it took several years to bring charges against Nate Morales.
Janet and Brent then discussed Grant Layman's testimony under oath (which Brent covers in his post). Brent was present at the trial, and he recounted how Grant was asked the following questions by Defense Attorney Drew (not to be confused with the prosecuting attorney).
Under cross-examination Attorney Drew asked: "Did you have a responsibility to report the crimes to police in 1992?" to which Grant responded: "I believe so." Then Defense Attorney Drew asked: "Did you report it to police?" Grant responded: "I didn't do it."
Brent then stated that Grant Layman (C.J. Mahaney's brother-in-law) knew about the molestations in 1992 and he knew about the abuse of Jeremy Cook by Nate Morales in 1993 because one of the Bates boys told him about it. Grant assured him that the pastors would take care of it, and according to Brent no one has ever followed up with Jeremy Cook.
Janet then asked why no one went to the police. Brent told Janet that the prosecution did not explore motive during the trial – they were only interested in the facts/evidence. Then Brent explained that he had talked with Nate Morales' ex-wife, and she told him that she didn't know anything about the molestations until 2012 when Morales was arrested. She discovered that he had abused her sons and filed for divorce which became finalized the following year. She was supposed to testify at the trial, but the evidence was so strong that her testimony was not necessary.
Brent explained that two more trials against Morales will be taking place soon – one on Monday. The interview concluded with Brent sharing a comment made by the mother of one of the victims. She said:
"I've been waiting twenty years for this day. Now they can finally get on with their lives."
In the meantime, it appears that the pastors of Covenant Life Church have some splainin' to do… Let's take a look at CLC's response to the news that Nate Morales had been arrested (see screenshot below).
Covenant Life Church had no knowledge of such abuse until many years after the abuse when an adult who had been victimized as a child came forward?
That is in direct contradiction to Grant Layman's testimony UNDER OATH. This appears to be the bombshell of the Morales case.
Our friend Todd Wilhelm has published his report on the outcome of the trial, which we highly recommend. We believe this is just the tip of the iceberg, and we expect there will be more revelations to come. We promise to follow this story and bring you any updates.
In our upcoming post, Dee will be sharing some analysis of the trial, so stay tuned…
Lydia's Corner: Ezekiel 33:1-34:31 Hebrews 13:1-25 Psalm 115:1-18 Proverbs 27:21-22