CJ and his BFFs: link
Challenge question for our readers: How many can you name? Let's see who can be first.
Update 3/31/15 3/31/15: Special thanks to Dave MacKenzie who corrected Tommy Hill's job description. He is not a pastor
Correction to your summary: Tommy Hill has never been a Pastor. He was SGM’s Finance Director 1997-2014. For the last few years he was also the staff director as SGM downsized. Mr. Hill is now the administrator for the SGM church Cornerstone Church of Knoxville, which is where he came to SGM HQ from.]] end of update
The following is an overview of the startling allegations and revelations made by Brent Detweiler. I have put headers in bold with numbers which should help you to quickly skim the various allegations. please read Brent's full post to see the actual, alleged emails, etc.
1. For new readers who do not know much about Sovereign Grace Ministries
For our new readers, Brent Detweiler is a former SGM apostle/pastor. In the past he has released a number of documents from his time at Sovereign Grace Ministries alleging that leaders were aware of reports of child sex abuse and alleging they covered up these reports. These allegations took on teeth when Grant Layman, CJ Mahaney's brother in law admitted under oath at the Nate Morales trial that he knew about the abuse by Morales and chose not report it to authorities.
For those of you who have not read the accounts of the child sex abuse allegation, on TWW's home page side bar, we have permanent links to some of those stories. Here is one link to get you going. ****Trigger warning ****graphic**** Happy Mom.
2. To the attorneys:
Note to the attorneys: Yes, yes I know these are allegations. Put the word in front of everything I say and relax.
3. Brief summary/overview by Brent Detweiler
Here is a summary by Detweiler. Please note the years involved. 2013!
Two years ago a “hush fund” masquerading as a benevolence fund was deceptively set up by Mark Prater (Executive Director for SGM), Paul Buckley (Chairman of the SGM Board), and Tommy Hill (Director of Finance & Administration for SGM) in order to surreptitiously meet the demands of a SGM pastor whose son was sexually abused by the son of another SGM pastor in the same church.
The fund came about because the father of the victim was thinking about joining the sex abuse lawsuit against SGM if SGM did not agree to reforms and if he did not receive restitution monies from SGM for harms done. Insurance lawyers told SGM leaders they would lose their liability coverage if payouts were made thereby arguably admitting fault. Instead, SGM lawyer Chip Grange suggested a plan whereby monies be raised for the victim’s family as “a collection and private gift to help him avoid eviction.” This plan was approved by C.J. Mahaney and the SGM Board of Directors and implemented by Mark Prater.
As a result many SGM pastors who knew the pastor and father of the victim were contacted and asked to give benevolence to the family. Prater, Buckley, Hill and the Board deceived these pastors into giving personal and church monies to a benevolence fund that effectively functioned as a hush fund. The pastors had no idea what was really going on behind the scenes. They were intentionally deceived in the matter.
If you go to Brent's website, he has posted what he alleges are the emails that he has in his possession. I would love to know who gave him these emails but that is not revealed. These are sure tough times for SGM. The following quotes are from that post.
4. The father, an SGM pastor, of the victim asked for $35,000 in compensation.
What follows is a presentation of hard evidence starting with the initial letter from the pastor who was the father of the victim (henceforth referred to as Pastor-Father of Victim) to Tommy Hill requesting reform and asking for $35,000 in restitution from SGM.
(Father) I’m seeking an account established in my son’s name with $10,000 for future counseling or other needs. Additionally, I’m seeking $25,000 to be paid to me in restitution for harm caused to my family.
5. The father asked for some reform of the SGM system.
From the father of the abused son whose names are not released.
Reform: I’d like to ask for three simple things to be done (in the first 48 hours), in future cases of sexual abuse. First, every single time there is an instance of possible sexual abuse, I’d like all parties involved (victim’s family, offender’s family, and church leaders), to receive a copy of the SGM paper on “How to Respond to Sexual Abuse”. Second, I’d like the families of the victim and offender to be referred to a qualified, experienced, biblically trained sexual abuse counselor. Third, I’d like a qualified, experienced, biblically trained mediator from outside of SGM (Peacemakers) to be assigned to serve the family of the victim as they seek to walk through the process.
6. Was the father of the victim considering joining the lawsuit against SGM and some leaders?
Brent speculates that the father is asking for an immediate reply because he is considering joining the lawsuit.
The Pastor-Father of Victim asks for an immediate reply from Hill in all likelihood because he was in contact with Susan Burke who was the lead attorney for the Plaintiffs in the growing sex abuse lawsuit against SGM and others. At this point in time, Ms. Burke was working on the third version of the lawsuit called the Second Amended Complaint.
(Father)H However time is if [of] the essence, and I must receive a response from you by 3:00pm today indicating that you have received my request, and communicating your intentions.
7. Heinous sexual acts alleged.
Brent states that the acts against the son were heinous.
Tragically, we discover the young boy was forced to endure repeated acts of anal intercourse. These heinous crimes involved terribly perverse indignities. The Pastor-Father of Victim was right to hold SGM accountable for their neglect but he should have also held the perpetrator accountable by prosecuting him in a court of law.
8. Pastor Hill of SGM claimed the Board knows little about this abuse.
Pastor Hill says the SGM Board knows little of this situation.
Hill writes the Pastor-Father of Victim back. This time he asserts the Board “know[s] very little, if anything, about the situation.” Once again, he endeavors to interact by phone rather than email which leaves a document trail.
9. The SGM Board is apprised of the situation.
Brent says the Board is now apprised of the abuse and fear is expressed that he will join the lawsuit.
A few days later Hill receives an email from a senior pastor who is no longer part of SGM (henceforth referred to as Former SGM Pastor) stating he had talked at length about the abuse with five Board Members (i.e., Dave Harvey, Ian McConnell, Aron Osborne, Mark Prater and John Loftness) and also with Ambassadors of Reconciliation at the Group Reconciliation meetings in November 2011. Subsequently, AoR provided a report to the Board on their findings of sexual abuse in SGM. The Former SGM Pastor was a friend of the Pastor-Father of Victim and very concerned about Hill’s claim the Board knew “very little, if anything.” He questions their honesty and appeals they “not compromise [their] consciences in any way.”
The Former SGM Pastor also reveals the Pastor-Father of Victim is thinking about joining the civil suit against SGM.
10. The abuser was the son of a senior, up and coming pastor who is not named and the police and church were not informed.
The abuser was the son of a senior pastor who was and is influential in the SGM hierarchy.
The abuser’s father was the senior pastor (henceforth referred to as Sr. Pastor-Father of Abuser). He should have resigned and reported his son’s abuse to Child Protective Services or law enforcement. A thorough investigation by the police should have followed to see if other children had been abused by his son and if other abusers were operating in the church or known to be operating in other SGM churches. This kind of heinous activity doesn’t usually happen in a vacuum. There is often a wider circle of involvement. That’s why an investigation by law enforcement professionals is vital in discovering and stopping sexual abuse. Furthermore, the church should have been informed. Instead it was covered up.
…By 2010, the Pastor-Father of Victim had little influence in SGM. On the other hand, the Pastor-Father of Abuser was on the rise. He was a senior pastor being positioned for regional responsibilities in SGM and well connected to influential leaders in SGM like Harvey, Osborne and others.
11. SGM leaders developed a plan to deal with this crisis.
Paul Buckley, another SGM leader, presents three alternatives to dealing with this mess. (If this proves to be true, then these men should spend the rest of their days on their knees begging for forgiveness. Dee is having a heart attack.) Please read the assessment of the potential pros and cons of these actions under this section at Brent's post. They made me sick.
(Plan A): We shift the conversation from legal liability to provision of care and consider how we can care for [Pastor-Father of Victim] given his previous service and subsequent hardship. We meet most or all of his financial expectations. We secure a legally-binding agreement not to pursue this matter further. We avoid any admission of fault.
(Plan B): We enter into negotiation with [Pastor-Father of Victim] for a gracious settlement if he lets the statue [statute] of limitations lapse. We frame the ball park figure in light of the assistance that [Pastor-Father of Abuser] received. We secure a legally-binding agreement not to pursue this matter further.
(Plan C):We refuse to entertain [Pastor-Father of Victim’s] request in any way and allow him to possibly sue us either as part of the class action lawsuit or on his own.
12. Leaders claimed that the church was informed and the proper authorities were contacted but Brent says this isn't exactly true.
Brent claims this is not true. (The report to authorities could and should easily be checked.) Instead, he alleges the boy's counselor reported this to police. Make sure you understand this. If there is a police report, then this is a verifiable story.
…The church was simply told that, “Someone in the [Sr. Pastor’s] family sinned against someone in the [Pastor’s] family.” Then the members of the church were instructed not to discuss the matter with each other.
…Prater says, “This incident was reported to Aron Osborne on March 30, 2010 and subsequently was reported to law enforcement authorities.” He gives the impression that Osborne reported the crimes to law enforcement but that is not the case according to my sources.
…The crimes were only reported to law enforcement sometime after Osborne was told because the victim ended up seeing a professional counselor and that counselor reported the crimes as required by law.
13. Both the father of the abuser and the father of the abused received compensation.
The Pastor-Father of Victim received an approximate total of $33,000 in 2010 and was persuaded to be content, keep quiet and take no legal action.
…The Sr. Pastor-Father of Abuser and the Pastor-Father of Victim each received approximately $25,000 from Church A.
The Sr. Pastor-Father of Abuser received an additional $25,000 from SGM. The Pastor-Father of Victim received approximately $8,000.
14. The father of the abuser apparently still serves in the ministry of SGM if I read the narrative correctly.
If this is true, it raises the question if the money, etc. was given with an expectation of silence on the handling of this situation.
The Sr. Pastor-Father of Abuser left Church A when his four months of severance were over for a new job in Church B. He experienced no financial consequences and continued in pastoral ministry unimpeded. After his “internship” at Church B, he was transferred and became a pastor in Church C.
15. Church lawyers allegedly consulted the ministry on how to avoid the interpretation of these payments as hush money. Blogs are mentioned.
The lawyer allegedly expressed concerns that blogs might interpret such payments in that fashion. Said lawyer was a prophet since you are reading this on a blog.
Chip Grange from the law firm of Gammon & Grange, P.C, weighs in on the matter of providing monies to the Pastor-Father of Victim. He is the longtime lawyer for Covenant Life Church and Sovereign Grace Ministries. He counsels Prater, Buckley, Hill, et al., to organize a collection and private gift for the Pastor-Father of Victim that appears unrelated to the request for $35,000 in restitution.
…In my opinion. Instead of SGM making a direct payment, he recommends others “privately organize a collection and private gift to help him avoid eviction.” This too could be “misconstrued” if the request for $35,000 in restitution from 18 days earlier ever got out in public; therefore it is better if the collection effort “significantly involves friends who are not part of the SGM leadership.”
…The easy and safest answer is to avoid any payments that could be misinterpreted in the blogs or in the suit as “hush money” or attempts to induce [Pastor-Father of Victim] not to accede to Susan Burke’s attempts to get him to join her lawsuit.
15. Here is an alleged fund raising letter written by Mark Prater.
Many of you know [Pastor-Father of Victim]. For those of you who don’t, [Pastor-Father of Victim] served on the pastoral team in [Church 1]. After attending the Pastors College he did a church planting internship at [Church 2] before planting [Church 3]. He transitioned from [Church 3] and served in pastoral ministry at [Church A] before transitioning out of pastoral ministry. Recently I was made aware that [Pastor-Father of Victim] is facing some real financial challenges including a potential eviction from his home in [name of city] in the next couple of weeks. In an attempt to help [Pastor-Father of Victim] in a time of need, [Former SGM Pastor] has established a Benevolence Fund at his church so that those who want to give to [Pastor-Father of Victim’s] need can make a contribution. Because many of you know [Pastor-Father of Victim] I thought you might want to be aware of his need and the opportunity to give. If you decide to do so, here is the benevolence fund information:
[Church 4] [Mailing address]
You can designate the check this way: Benevolence Fund: [Pastor-Father of Victim]
Why i believe Brent's account is true.
I have to admit that I believe these letters and emails to be true. Why? Brent would have been on the receiving end of a lawsuit if he was lying. For those who consider this libel or defamation, I suggest you consult the law. Libel and defamation in the US can be proven only to when a person can be shown to have deliberately lied. Also, the person had to have lied in order to cause harm (financial, etc) to that person or entity. In other words, if Dee alleges that Tim Fall wears a kilt under his judicial robes and it is evident that she is joking, such an allegation is not consider to be libel. (I wonder if Tim will see this?)
In the SGM matter, it should be fairly easy to prove is Brent is lying.They could prove he doctored emails, etc. Considering the fact that no such lawsuit has been filed against Brent, my guess is that certain persons do not want to see such proof submitted in a court of law. Grant Layman's confession under oath was just downright embarrassing, right?
Carolyn Mahaney on the betrayal of friends.
Recently Carolyn Mahaney wrote a series of posts on her Girl Talk blog, bemoaning the fact that good friend will leave you and even betray you link, link and link. She spends a great deal of time discussing the sins of others, calling them to repentance and reconciliation.
If what is alleged by Brent proves to be true, Carolyn Mahaney and her family should hang their heads in shame. Allegedly (for the lawyers again) the Mahaney's and BFFs were the ones who ran to Louisville. They were the ones to leave those behind to deal with the lawsuit mess.They were the ones who never reconciled with those allegedly harmed by the ministry. Is Carolyn Mahaney really sure that she wants to discuss the betrayal of others when there might be examples of those closer to home?
Frankly, SGM and its leaders will go down in history as presiding over what I believe to be one of the biggest implosions ever seen in the past century. There are two good things that have come out of this mess. Child sex abuse cover up in churches will not be as easy as it has been in the past. Also, many people now recognize that supposed Christian leaders will support even the most ridiculous situations so long as the people involved espouse the correct theology and give money to the right institutions and people. (See picture at the start of this post.)
Brent's wife is receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer. I wonder if today's SGM leader's would consider donating to Brent to show us all what good guys they really are.