Dallas church apologizes to wife of sex offender; SNAP responds
For immediate release: Friday, May 29
Statement by Amy Smith, Dallas co-leader of SNAP (281-748-4050, firstname.lastname@example.org)
An officials at a large Dallas church says he’ll apologize on Sunday to a woman whose mistreatment by church officials has generated a firestorm of protest. We’re not impressed by the pastor’s promises.
If an apology happens, it will likely be a belated, grudging and vague one from Matt Chandler of The Village Church to Karen Hinkley. Still, we hope it brings some comfort to Karen who has suffered so much and so needlessly because TVC officials have acted so selfishly, secretively recklessly and hurtfully.
(Hinkley’s husband, Jordan Root, admitted viewing images of child abuse. TVC officials disciplined her when she sought to annul their marriage.)
We suspect Chandler is doing this only because he and his colleagues have been severely and widely criticized for their cruelty to this brave, wounded woman.
But an apology does nothing to protect the vulnerable or heal those already hurt because of the crimes of Jordan Root and the actions of TVC staff.
We firmly believe that kids are at risk now because Root walks free, living and working among unsuspecting families. And we firmly believe there are kids he has hurt who are suffering in silence, shame and self-blame.
TVC staff should use their vast resources to alert parents, police, prosecutors and the public about Root’s crimes and to aggressively seek out youngsters he has assaulted. The church has a moral and civic duty to help law enforcement investigation and prosecute Root, so that other kids may be spared devastating harm.
Adults can heal themselves, with or without apologies from complicit church officials. Kids, however, cannot protect themselves from clergy sex offenders without help from church officials. So TVC staff must change their priorities. Their first duty now is to warn the public about Root so that parents can safeguard their children from him.
Everything else can come later.
Words are easy. Reform is hard. Progress will happen if TVC staff take tangible steps to safeguard those at risk, help those in pain and prosecute those who have committed or concealed child sex crimes.
Finally, in a letter to church members, Chandler writes of “failures” by TVC staff.
That’s disingenuous. “Failure” is when a good faith effort somehow inadvertently goes awry. There was no “failure” here. Chandler and his colleagues acted with deliberation, thought and planning. They knew exactly what they were doing with Root’s crimes and Hinkley’s feelings. It’s a cop-out for them to talk of “failure.”
We urge anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes by Root or cover ups at TVC to speak up, get help, call police, protect kids, and expose and deter future wrongdoing. Breaking your silence is the first step toward healing, justice and prevention.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
–David G. Clohessy
Director, SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)
Please consider donating to SNAP, one time or on a monthly basis. Even as little as $5 can help.