(I dedicate this quote to Amy)- "As fire when thrown into water is cooled down and put out, so also a false accusation when brought against a man of the purest and holiest character, boils over and is at once dissipated, and vanishes and threats of heaven and sea, himself standing unmoved." Marcus Tullius Cicero link
Deep Throat Contacts
One reason I was quite excited to marry my husband was because his last name was easy to spell. My maiden name (now my middle) was Russian: Nalesnik. Few could spell it or pronounce it. The principal of Salem High School (yes, the mascot was a witch) still couldn't pronounce my last name at my high school graduation and ended up spelling it out as I walked across the stage, shaking my head.
Parsons. Now that is a nice easy name althoug,h for some reason, people sometimes think I say Carson. I call it the Downton Abbey effect. I have met many Parsons on my journeys. I had only twice met people who had ever heard the name Nalesnik outside of my hometown. Recently I received a confusing call on our Wartburg Watch phone line. Here is roughly how it went. I am concealing his first name, bless his heart.
Hi. This is Dr. X Parsons. I live in Raleigh, NC and I keep getting mail for a Dee Parsons. I have thrown away several packets because the postal delivery guy didn't know who that was and there was no return addresses on any of this mail.
This time, I decided to figure this out. I opened it up and saw a letter talking about a Prestonwood Church and some abuse thing so I looked up The Wartburg Watch online and found this number. Why am I getting your mail?
I started to laugh because my husband knows this Dr Parsons quite well. He had also taken care of my dad just before he passed away. I told him who I was. He then said:
What in the world is The Wartburg Watch and what does this have to do with a Baptist church?
I then gave him a brief explanation of the various issues we cover on this blog. He kindly offered to leave the mail out in his side yard for me to pick up.
Folks, if you want to send us anonymous mailings with no return address, please make sure you get the correct "Dr Parsons" or your information might not make it into our hands. Parsons is a common name.
However, I have also received anonymous mailings at my correct address. In fact, in the last month, I got one packet containing pictures purporting to demonstrate that there was an affair between two people that we have discussed in the recent past. The photos are somewhat convincing and I am not the only one who received them. I am speaking with other recipients to figure out how to handle this.
Here's our deal. We defend anyone's right to be anonymous on this blog. We finally revealed our names one year into blogging so that we could put our names in the gap as people pour out their stories of abuse and pain. We believe in confidentiality and we do not disclose anything that we are told to keep in confidence. We are serious about this.
However, if you are sending us information that you wish us to use in a post, the Deebs will need to learn your names which we will hold in strictest confidence. We do this to protect ourselves. We cannot knowingly publish information that we have not vetted. If you wish to send us information, please include your name and a way to contact you. We will never disclosed that to anyone. If you do not do so, we cannot publish the information. At some point you will have to trust us.
Also, this is to notify everybody who has sent us anonymous mailings that ended up at the wrong address that Dr X Parsons probably threw them away since there was no way to "Return to Sender."
I have been giggling a bit about these mailings. When we started this blog, we were pretty sure that there would be few people who read it. Truly! Now, we are getting covert mailings, complete with dates, times, conversations, tweets, etc. I always wanted to be a part of a conspiracy-a real one. Perhaps I am getting closer and closer!!!
When we will publish an anonymous mailing.
We will publish any mailing that appears threatening toward any individual. We will report this to the police and notify the individuals named in the mailing. If we can find out who sent the anonymous threatening letter, we will also publish their names. We are here to serve the abused, not to serve the abusers and their BFFs.
Believe it or not, this was a prelude to this next story.
Amy Smith and the Anonymous Packet
On January 30, 2015, Amy published Mega Manifesto: On Behalf of Prestonwood Baptist Church and Convicted Child Molester John Langworthy .
Over the last two weeks 26 named individuals have received an anonymous package in the mail. Inside was a 24 page essay. I am the subject of this composition.
The anonymous writer spends dozens of pages attacking my truthfulness, motivations, and personal character. He claims to be a proponent of Jack Graham and the rest of the leadership at Prestonwood Baptist Church. The letters were addressed to a variety of people: Prestonwood leadership, SNAP leaders, TV and newspaper reporters, bloggers, and others. He did not send me a copy, but several of my contacts sent me theirs.
In case you have not figured this out, TWW was one of the 26 named recipients. If you go to the link, you can read the entire missive (24 pages worth). I received this entire document. If you go to the link, you will see the names of the individuals who received this credo. Dee is pleased to be included along with Tom Rich, Christa Brown, Boz Tchvidjian, Wade Burleson, Bob Allen, Brett Shipp, Brad Sargent and others. (Love these guys!)
Amy reports this mailing to the police.
Why? I called her after reading the epistle and expressed my concerns regarding her safety. By the way, I am holding on to this mailing in case it is needed as evidence.
Among his many ramblings, you’ll find an alarming quote on Page 19: “I am dead serious and committed to exposing Amy Smith’s many falsehoods and stopping her continued and relentless attacks upon Prestonwood and Jack Graham.” The combination of threatening language (“dead serious”, “stopping her”) and creepy anonymity meant I had to report this to the local police. They have taken my statement, copies of the letter and envelope, as well as other collateral materials, and they have begun their investigation. It is a federal crime to threaten someone using the Post Office, and the authorities assured me they take this seriously.
What about the pedophile? He was merely indiscrete.
In twenty-four pages he uses so many negative adjectives to describe me that I chose to stop counting. “Bogus”, “fact-free”, “obsessed”, “scurrilous” just to name a few. But he doesn’t write a single negative thing about confessed , convicted child rapist John Langworthy. Quite the contrary, this writer describes him as “high-spirited, engaging, and charismatic”. And when he finally mentions the subject of Langworthy’s five counts of child sexual abuse, he calls them “indiscretions.”
This is at the core of the problem of religious institutions’ failure to address these crimes: men like him obviously do not see them as despicable crimes perpetrated against the most innocent in society. These church leaders and their spokespeople minimize the sickening behavior of these felons. This is a theme that SNAP leaders, volunteers, and countless survivors immediately recognize, and it is shameful that churches still ignore it.
The writer asserts that the pedophile only harmed one victim.
He is mistaken. However, even then, in his thinking is only one victims OK?
The writer claims that only one person was sexually abused by John Langworthy during his tenure at Prestonwood, and that the sexual contact began after this person’s 17th birthday. The entire twenty-four page document rests on this single claim. Unfortunately for the victims, the families, and this anonymous writer, this claim is entirely false. I have communicated with three male survivors that John Langworthy molested at Prestonwood, and each of them were minors when the crimes were committed, and Langworthy was in a ministerial position of trust over them.
Anonymous chooses to use positives descriptors of this convicted predator.
Here is what Amy had to say. (Well said, Amy).
As I mentioned earlier in my blog post, you’ve found hundreds of ways to insult my character. And yet you describe a confessed, convicted child predator as: “very talented, high-spirited, engaging, and charismatic.” I may never understand what drives you to write such words about this disgusting criminal. Is it your ignorance of how child predators attract their prey? Is it your extremely low intelligence? Or is it that you can commiserate with John Langworthy’s attraction to underage boys?
Anonymous said the abused kid and his parents had no problem with it!
This reflects an individual that does not understand the long term affects of abuse.
Either through ignorance, unintelligence, or deceit, you have the wrong view of the victims of child sexual abuse. These victims, and often their families, suffer in silence for years and decades after the abuse. This is the rule, not the exception. Stories like Dale Hansen, R.A. Dickey, Teri Hatcher and Tyler Perry are just higher profile stories that show how long it can take for a victim of child sexual abuse to go public with the crime committed against them. You and your friends at Prestonwood Baptist confuse silence with consent.
Anonymous despicably brings up Amy's parents.
TWW has written Amy's story in the past. This is perhaps the saddest part of the narrative. As she sought to bring a predator to justice, her parents told her that they never want to see her again. In 2012, TWW posted Amy's story Prestonwood Baptist: A Heroic Stand Amidst Parental and Church Betrayal. Amy's parents told her that they didn't want to see her, her husband and grandchildren again because she was exposing this story. Please read this heartbreaking story.
Through the last couple of years, Amy and I keep up with one another because I want her to know that she is a much loved hero to me. Wade Burleson even offered to adopt her family!
Here is what Amy had to say to Mr Anonymous who seems to have an abusive streak in him.
I find it shocking that you claim to know my parents. I also find it very telling that this would be part of your letter. This has been the most heartbreaking and difficult part of telling the truth: that my own mother and father would choose their former church over me.
We spent the better part of a year, long after the story broke, trying to meet with my parents face-to-face. In a series of phone calls and emails we were either ignored or told no. My father insists that I have to apologize to Jack Graham and Neal Jeffrey before he ever sees me again.
You write “I know that my parents would treat me the same way if I did what Amy has done no matter how much they love me or my children.” You have really horrible parents. Between your parents and the churches you’ve attended, you have failed to see what true love really is.
In one of the most bittersweet moments of this traumatic episode, I had to tell my children that their grandparents had emailed us that they never wanted to see us again. But it forced me to tell them outright that I would never do that to them; I would always love them unconditionally. There is nothing they can say or do that would ever make me reject them. In fact, as I told them, even if they pushed me away, I would pursue them. If God, in all his perfection, could love me in that way, it is the least I can do to love my children unconditionally.
You urge some of your readers to reach out to my parents to hear their side of the story; this is one of the few things we agree on. Though they still refuse to speak to me, they are free to tell their story publicly. Moreover, I wish you would do the same. You spent a considerable amount of time writing your letter, but I am unaware of you ever engaging me directly. My phone number, email, and website are certainly easy to find. I invite you to post comments on my blog.
Back to the Dallas Observer and Amy Silverstein wrote, on 2/25/15, An Advocate for the Sexually Abused Demands Answers from Prestonwood Baptist Church. It was also featured on their cover under the title of Don't Ask; Don't Tell.
I will be using the quotes from Amy's blog post which she got from the Dallas Observer.
Amy is the reason Langworthy was convicted.
But for the last several years, the church has come under scrutiny from a small, vocal group of Christian critics for its handling of child sexual abuse. None of the critics has been more effective than Amy Smith, the daughter of a former Prestonwood deacon. Five years ago, Smith alerted a church in Mississippi that a pastor on its staff had been quietly accused of child molestation at Prestonwood decades before.
John Langworthy, a former youth minister at Prestonwood, resigned from the Mississippi church not long after Smith spoke up and soon faced criminal charges in that state. He pleaded guilty to molesting five boys between the ages of 6 and 13 in the early '80s in Mississippi. He avoided prison time and is now registered as a child sex offender. Smith was widely credited for bringing Langworthy's crimes to light and causing him to admit to "sexual indiscretions" from the pulpit of his Mississippi church. The case disappeared from headlines soon after, but Smith has stayed on Prestonwood's case, holding rallies outside the church, seeking other victims and publicly pressuring Graham to open up about what he knew of Langworthy's crimes.
A Prestonwood Langworthy survivor's mom spoke to the Observer.
When the family moved to Dallas and began attending Prestonwood in the late 1980s, her 15-year-old son was a quiet kid who never gave his parents trouble. "I don't know what I would have done if I had a child that didn't do the right things, but he was a model child," his mother says.
But she sensed something was off early on, when Langworthy paid a surprise visit to their home shortly after they arrived. "I just love your son," Langworthy told her as he put his arms around him.
The next warning the mother remembers are the letters. Langworthy had been mailing notes to her son. She doesn't remember what they said exactly. They weren't sexually graphic, but were suggestive enough to raise flags. Her mother-in-law looked at the letters too, she says, and was even more alarmed. "She was afraid that John was a pedophile," she says. So the family called Langworthy. He couldn't get there fast enough. They told him not to hurt their son.
The mother says she looked Langworthy in the eye. "Under no circumstances are you to write any more letters to my son," she says she told him. The parents explained to their son that the letters were wrong and destroyed them, but they continued to go to the church and let their son be part of the youth group, just like before.
The mother says she didn't think Langworthy would actually abuse her son, especially after being warned. "Even if [Langworthy] wanted to, he would not hurt my son now because we had confronted him with it," she rationalized.
Life briefly returned to normal, or so she thought until the day she got a phone call from a psychiatrist to confirm an appointment with her son. She knew nothing about it.
Later on the day of that surprise call, her son came home with a guest, Neal Jeffrey, who remains on the Prestonwood staff as an associate pastor. Together, she says, her son and the man broke the news that her son had been hurt. Jeffrey was there, the mother thinks, because her son "wanted somebody there to tell us, because he didn't want to do it by himself." Still unsure of the specifics, she only knows that Langworthy had sexually abused her son, somehow. They had a group hug, and she agreed to send her son to the psychiatrist, appointments that she believes were funded by the church. "We sure weren't going to pay for it," she says.
The mother alleges that a Prestonwood deacon, Allen Jordan, used threatening language about going to the police.
But the family never reported Langworthy to the police. A phone call they got from a deacon named Allen Jordan convinced them it wouldn't be a good idea. He wasn't yelling, but he was emphatic the family not say anything, the mother recalls. "You better be careful about what you write, that's all I've got to say," Jordan said when reached for comment. "That's a warning to you. You better be careful about what you write."
Boz Tchividjian weighed in on this story.
On 2/28/15 Boz wrote “Righteous” reputations of churches that don’t care on his blog.
Why do so many churches fail to do the right thing when they learn that one of their own has been accused of sexual abuse? All too often it’s because the victimized are repeatedly overshadowed by the need to protect a “righteous” reputation. I’m afraid it’s a rationale embraced by so many church leaders because it’s convenient and sounds so “godly”. Here is an example of this distorted thought process:
The reputation of the church will be damaged when the public learns that it employed an alleged child molester -> a church whose reputation is damaged will lose members -> a church that loses members is a church that loses income -> a church that loses income is a church that will be required to tighten it’s budget, including reducing salaries and laying off staff -> a dwindling church is a church that has less relevance in the community -> a church that has less relevance in the community is a church that is failing to impact the world for Jesus.
Tragically, this type of response to the evils of abuse destroys lives, emboldens offenders, and produces churches that are rotting at the core. There’s nothing “righteous” about it.
He even tweeted about it.
I am so glad that Amy is getting the recognition she deserves. She has given up much to pursue a perpetrator who harmed many. She has put the victims ahead of the comfort she could have received from her parents. I believe that Amy exemplifies sacrificial love in action. She is my hero, Mr Anonymous. She should be yours as well.
We dedicate the following song to Mr Anonymous.
Lydia's Corner: Leviticus 9:7-10:20 Mark 4:26-5:20 Psalm 37:30-40 Proverbs 10:6-7