"No more lies. No more cover up. No more face-saving. It's time for the church to admit wrongdoing…"
It has been nearly a decade since another child molester in Doug Wilson's camp, Jamin Wright, was arraigned and informed that serious charges were being brought against him. According to a post over at the Homeschoolers Anonymous website, Wight was The Other Skeleton in Doug Wilson's Closet. Here is an excellent synopsis of what occurred:
Jamin C. Wight was a homeschool alumnus. Wight was attending Greyfriars Hall, a ministerial training program founded by Doug Wilson that, according to the program’s website, “consists of approximately three years of study with two colloquia a year under the oversight of the board of elders of Christ Church.” Between the years of 2000 and 2003, Wight — who was 24 years old at the time — groomed and sexually abused a young girl who was only 13 years old when the abuse began. (Wight was only charged for abuse that occurred over 1 year, from 2001 to 2002, but the abuse survivor today says the abuse actually happened over a span of 3 years, from the time she was 13 until she was 16.) Like Wight, the 13 year old girl was also homeschooled. Wight was a boarder at the home where the girl lived, the home being part of Wilson’s student boarding network among Christ Church’s parishioners.
The abuse wrecked havoc on the abused girl. She began experiencing insomnia, stomach ulcers, and panic attacks; she suffered serious behavioral problems, mood swings, and painful flashbacks. In 2004, when she was 17 years old, she confided in a friend about the abuse. That friend convinced her to go to her parents and the police and press charges. This began a long and difficult process for the abuse survivor, a process which reached fruition on August 17, 2005. On that day, after receiving word of the abuse, the girl’s mother filed a criminal complaint against Wight. A warrant for Wight’s arrest was issued the next day. On August 24, 2005, a search warrant was issued the Latah County, Idaho district court for Wight’s personal possessions that provided evidence of the abuse. Court documents show that on October 28, 2005, Wight was arraigned and informed that three charges were being brought against him, one count of Sex Abuse Against a Child and two counts of Lewd Conduct With a Child Under Sixteen Years of Age. Wight pled not guilty to all three charges. Then on May 12, 2006, Wight’s charges were reduced to a Felony Offense of Injury to a Child. Wight pled guilty to that much-reduced charge and was able to made a deal such that he only had to serve 4-6 months in the North Idaho Correctional Institution.
During his court hearings, documents reveal that Wight and his legal team attempted to argue that the 13 year old girl he had groomed and abused had consented to their sexual activities.
Hellooooo! A thirteen year old child CANNOT consent to sex. She was a child for heaven's sake! What a shame that Wight served such a short sentence.
A week after a warrant was issued to search through Jamin Wight's possessions, Doug Wilson sent the following letter to the victim's father.
We are grateful that Jamin Wight's victim, Natalie Rose Greenfield (who is now 28), has come forward with her side of the story and has revealed this deplorable correspondence written by Wilson a decade ago. In the last few days Natalie has published a post entitled "When Doug Wrote to My Father". Here is what she wrote:
It's been a while since I've blogged here. My general sentiment when it comes to blogging about my experience of sexual abuse within the church is to 'write when the spirit says write' and it's been over a year since I've felt the need to do so. This was my last post, if you're a first-time reader here you can fill yourself in on my backstory there. But in light of the recent and rather broad coverage of the Steven Sitler situation (and tangentially the Jamin Wight situation) I feel the need to issue a current statement of my own and do a little dismantling.
There seems to be a sentiment shared by many of Doug Wilson's supporters that I am something of a banshee – bitter, angry and screaming lies and slander about the way Christ Church handled the abuse and everything that followed. Only the thing is, I'm not. I desire change, not vengeance. I'm not even worried about getting some personal apology from the church for the pain inflicted on me. Is a mass apology warranted? Absolutely. Are drastic changes in the way the church at large handles sexual abuse called for? Most definitely. But my own personal agenda actually has very little to do with me and everything to do with other innocent women and children in the church.
Every aspect of my story is true, insomuch as it is my perception of the way things happened and unfolded. While I'm pretty certain I know exactly what was in the heart of the criminal who took my innocence and broke my spirit, I can't pretend to know what was in the heart of Doug and the elders when they stood behind him, and I certainly can't pretend to know the reasoning behind leaving me out in the cold with no support, no love, compassion, or empathy, not even so much as a consoling pat on the back for all I'd been through. But I have my own theory. There's a couple of ideas about this lack of support I received floating around and I've heard them over the years – one of them is that the church leaders didn't feel they were in a position to reach out to me because my father had expressly told them to stay away from his family and reaching out to me would be disrespecting his position as head of our household, which may be true, except there's a problem with that theory, one that thickens the plot. In the letter pictured below from Doug Wilson to my father, Doug, writing on behalf of the elders of Christ Church, clearly places a great deal of blame on my father for the abuse I suffered and treats him with a coldness and severity that I find heartbreaking. I truly cannot image being a father who'd just found out his daughter was horrifically abused for years under his roof and then being told his "sin and folly" of not protecting her is equally as distressing as the sins of the criminal who molested his little girl for years. My father was a destroyed man when I came out about my abuse, and what father wouldn't be? His tears of sadness and broken-ness went on for years, and still to this day he breaks down on occasion and begs my forgiveness for the hurt I suffered, and I always tell him the same thing: It's not your fault. Because it wasn't. I was taken advantage of by a predator who carefully calculated and carried out his crime and he was good at it. He knew how to not get caught and boy was he a master liar. While he lived with our family we had a joke that Jamin Wight could "Wight Wash" things because he was so skilled at successfully shifting blame away from himself in any given situation. The Prosecuting Attorney on the case stated that based on the psycho-sexual evaluation Jamin completed during his short stay at Cottonwood Prison, he was a 'textbook pedophile' and at high risk to re-offend with crimes of violent and sexual nature, which of course he did, not with a child as far as anyone knows but with his (now ex) wife. How my father could be placed at a similar level of blame to this monster is completely unfathomable to me. My father's response was shock and injury, and while I know there were many previous instances of him realizing this church was not a place particularly well-versed in exhibiting the love of Christ, I believe this was something of a nail in the coffin for him, as would be expected. I recently spoke with my father about the details of his additional communication with Doug concerning my abuse and it is true that my father told them to stay away from his family, but not until after he saw the despicable way the situation was being handled. In hindsight, perhaps it's a good thing I wasn't much ministered to. I knew I was being blamed for a good deal of the 'sexual sin' in my abuse from Jamin (not strictly from Doug but also from many other individuals in the church, mostly men and many of whom I had previously considered to be like older brothers to me, who wrote to the judge citing varying degrees of unladylike behaviors and temptress-like qualities I possessed as a 13 year old girl), and while the damage the deafening silence did to my psyche was extensive, it's now clear to me they had no idea what they were doing. Not a clue. Doug's daughter, Rachel, admitted as much when we met for coffee late last year to discuss her father's involvement and my misgivings. She wasn't privy to many of the details surrounding the situation but her general impression was that nobody really knew what to do for me. Considering their utter lack of knowledge in dealing with sexual abuse, I shudder to think of what support would have looked like, had I received any. In all fairness to my father, it seems to me that if the church's version of 'support' for him was any indication of the nature of what might have been extended to me, I'd have told them to stay the hell away, too. Isn't it plain to see? My father was protecting me from what he perceived as potential further harm. From the beginning, Wilson's intention was not to support me but rather to deflect any blame or responsibility for what had happened. After all, it wouldn't look good that a member in good standing with the church and attending Greyfriar's Seminary (and very close to being placed as a pastor of a congregation, I might add) had abused a young girl for the duration of his studies toward a career in pastoral work. Blame the father, swiftly and disproportionately, and perhaps people would be distracted. Defend the criminal and plead for mercy on his behalf and perhaps his crimes wouldn't seem quite so horrendous. Believe his cries of repentance, welcome him back into the fold, and everybody goes home happy.
Except the family ripped apart by abuse. Fortunately for Wilson, several problematic members of said family left the church hastily and with gaping wounds, making it that much easier to paint them as impulsive crazies, embittered and wayward, unwilling to stay and talk it out like big kids.
So Doug's current reasoning of respecting the privacy of church members who have confessed sins to him and confided secrets in him during sessions of pastoral counseling doesn't hold much water from where I stand, not in this case anyway. Yes, my parent's marriage crumbled and yes, it was messy and of course it had to do with all the shenanigans surrounding the abuse. But that's no secret. The relentless shaming and mud-slinging my father experienced afterward that in his own words brought him "to a lower place than any man can go to and still be alive"? That might have been a bit of a secret, but not anymore.
No more lies. No more cover up. No more face-saving. It's time for the church to admit wrongdoing.
We are all human and we make mistakes and sometimes they're really big ones that hurt a lot of people, and after that happens it's time to say 'I'm sorry' and figure out how you can do things differently in the future so nobody else gets hurt. That's how I'd explain it to my children, anyhow. Even they understand how to stand up for the small kid on the playground who can't defend himself against the bully. That's what Christ would have done, that's what the church needs to do.
And while this post is not specifically about how we can do things differently in the future to prevent the rampant sexual abuse that takes place in churches worldwide (that's a topic for another post altogether) let's please start by doing one thing: Stop writing letters to the judicial system requesting leniency for and lauding the character of sexual criminals. Resounding support from men in positions of leadership and with good reputations among their followers are bound to have quite an effect on a judge's opinion of a defendant's character. Especially when the victims are children and teens scarred by abuse and who cannot yet speak for themselves and adequately tell their own stories. Young people who have been shamed into silence from every direction.
This is where I stand: I am not bitter but I am earnest and unashamed. I have nothing to hide, I have told my story and will continue to do so and not because I love telling it, I hate telling it. Believe me when I say it hurts and it dredges up all kinds of old pains that I would love to be rid of forever, but I have to tell it. Because if there is even the smallest chance that telling my story means another little girl doesn't have to someday, then I will tell it everyday for the rest of my life.
Katie Botkin, a journalist and advocate for truth and change, published the following message last Thursday.
Dear members of Christ Church, Trinity and the CREC at large,
I know and love many of you. It’s important that you know that I don’t hate Doug Wilson, that I bear him no ill-will, and that, if I am proven wrong about him, I will issue a public apology or factual correction. From the many letters of communication I’ve seen between Wilson, his elders, and various people they have deemed to be under church discipline or potentially warranting it, the CREC is stringent in wanting specific confession of specific sins to the specific audience they deem to be in need of it. Because my blog is public, and because I’m making public statements about him, and because I hold myself to journalistic/factual integrity, I’m demanding something similar from myself. And this is pretty normal: the magazine that I run will print corrections and re-vamps digital copies if we inadvertently make a factual error; if we were to back the wrong candidate, so to speak (the magazine does not address politics, but you get my drift) we would make public note of this.
But I want Doug Wilson to hold himself to the same standard.
And this is where he has spectacularly, and very publicly, failed.
Even if you think that Wilson is in the right in the Sitler/Wight situations, despite more and more people within the church coming forward to voice their concerns to the contrary, do you think that Wilson has never made a pastoral error in the public sphere? That all the name-calling on his blog, all the factual statements he’s made, everything — it’s all above reproach? That Wilson has never done a single thing in the entire course of his ministry that should require him to have said “you know, I was wrong about this, and I’m sorry”?
I’ve scoured his blog, his books, personal letters from him and his elders, and I’ve never seen him apologize or admit fault for a single specific thing (other than some general “this was badly worded” or some other waffling non-apology). I’ve asked others to do the same. If, in fact, anyone can point me to a place where Wilson made public apology over something in the past, I’ll be happy to amend this post.
So, given all of this: is Wilson the kind of demigod who actually never does anything wrong, or is he the kind of demigod who deflects his wrongdoing, bad decisions and poor pastoral choices onto other people and other situations?
To read the rest of her post, click here.
And over the weekend, Natalie's father, Gary Greenfield, wrote an Open Letter To Doug Wilson Who Is Yet Again Seeking To Impose Harm Upon The Innocent.
Here is a portion of what he had to say:
This is Gary Greenfield and I'm going to reminisce a bit here. It's been a long time since we've interacted with each other and it's been a long time since we first met in 1976 when you were playing guitar in the Christian fellowship we both attended as young men still in college. You advanced quickly from guitarist to teacher after the older teacher/pastor ran off with a young lady in a our very small group and you ended up taking over as our teacher. From the first time I heard you teach, I knew you were going to become a dynamic and renown Christian leader. Why? You were endowed from the very beginning of your ministry with a knack for teaching in a very powerful and compelling manner that was unique, fresh and forceful. Just as Jesus says, the student will be become greater than the teacher, I think the charisma of your father, who was a great teacher and evangelist was passed on to you and you ended up building your ministry on the shoulders of your father.
I still look fondly back on the days when you would faithfully drive down to Lewiston from Moscow every Sunday to teach the small band of converts that met in the living room of our tiny home. That gathering evolved into Port Cities Evangelical Fellowship and our friendship grew as we both led that group as elders for something like ten years. I still remember computers being something of a novelty back then and you talked about how much one of those contraptions could help you to become a more prolific writer and I ended up purchasing your first computer for you. It brought me great joy to know I was helping you to practice your gift of writing and teaching for the benefit of helping more students and young families to become better grounded in the truths of God's word.
During those early years of living out our faith as zealous and committed followers of Jesus Christ, we were filled with innocence, exuberance, sincerity and a great hope in the power of the gospel to change lives in significant ways first in Moscow and Pullman, then Lewiston and Clarkson and eventually the entire country. Early on, we were just a bunch of folks, young and old who loved Jesus with a desire to live out our lives without hypocrisy or fakery and we were ready to take the world captive for Jesus Christ. I also remember the day I opened up my computer to a message from you asking me to review the formation document for what was then to be called, The Confederation of Reformed Evangelical Christians. I opened it, read it, and closed it and I never responded to your request for input.
Something in my heart told me that this was a bandwagon that I was not going to jump onto. I had been adverse to organised religion since I was a little seven year old crying boy who was forced to go to confession to talk to a man I didn't know who was hidden behind a screen in a dark little closet. Maybe my fears of being alone in a dark closet with a man I didn't know stemmed from being sexually abused by my uncle when I was two years old. Maybe a lot of problems I encountered in my early years or even perhaps even later years were a result of sexual abuse that was kept a secret for most of my life and when I finally did get up the courage to talk to someone, I was an older man and I told my Mom. Her response was a total emotional shut down, she couldn't cope and refused to believe it or talk about it and that was the end of it. For all of my life, I've lived with traumatising memories that I have found too repulsive and too embarrassing to talk about to anyone…
To read the rest of Gary Greenfield's open letter to Doug Wilson, go here. We would like to emphasize one paragraph in the remainder of the letter that we believe reveals Gary's tender heart toward his daughter (see below).
I can also say with all conviction of heart that my wife and I did the very best we knew how to raise up our children in the ways of the Lord. Were we perfect in doing so, of course not, but I can say with all confidence that we gave our hearts, minds and souls to taking care of our children, to giving them childhoods with rich and fun memories while making every effort to protect them from the pitfalls and dangers of this broken world. We even homeschooled our kids because we wanted to protect them from the evils of the world, yet ironically, the evils of the world found their way into the bedroom of my teenage daughter. Even now as I contemplate what took place only feet from our bedroom, the tears flow from my eyes and my breaths become gasps of grief and I mourn and lament, knowing that my daughter will have to live with such filthy memories from her youth. I know what she's going through because I've been there and I've lived through it. It was different though for her, because when she finally told us what had been occurring within our home, we believed her, we embraced her, we loved her, we supported and we grieved with her. That was something I never experienced as a little boy who was sexually abused. Nobody comforted me, nobody helped me work through the trauma, nobody believed me and now as I share what I've never shared with anyone, the tears flow and my heart is sad, yet, I know with all confidence that ever since I was a little innocent boy, even though my own parents couldn’t care for the wounds inflicted by my perverted uncle, I know God did and has and will continue to heal my wounds and take care of me until the day I pass from this life to next and even into all eternity and He will make all things new again.
Gary goes on to reveal that he and his wife finally divorced and that her loyalties lie with Doug Wilson and Christ Church.
Given that Doug Wilson was heavily involved in two pedophile situations a decade ago, one has to wonder what other skeletons may be hiding in his closet.
We are proud of both Natalie and her father for coming forward. It is not easy to talk of a tragedy that caused such deep wounds. We hope you will join us in praying Natalie and her family.