"Right in the prime of my adolescence, I had my sexual innocence ripped from my own fingers when an associate youth pastor preyed on me and a handful of my friends." Brooks Hansen, teen sex abuse victim
Trigger warning: The testimonies and follow up contain graphic descriptors which may prove disturbing to some.
This post is been done in partnership with Amy Smith of Watch Keep. We have a synergistic relationship. As Amy focuses on the actual abuse, TWW will provide an analysis of the allegations of the victims and the responses of the churches and pastors. It is imperative to understand that both Amy and I believe that the victims are telling the truth. I believe that our readers will feel the same way as they study the testimonies of three named victims. However, we have reason to believe that there are more unnamed victims. If they come forward, we will post their stories.
We would ask our readers to take a moment and pray for peace and strength for these brave victims who have waited years to tell their stories. There are reasons that it has taken so long for their narratives to get out into the media. As you will see, they have reported these accounts to former churches and a current church, as well as pastors.
I offer my deepest sympathy for their sexual abuse as young teens while expressing my undying admiration for their courage in telling their stories in order to help others.
The following accounts carry allegations against a youth worker as well as allegations of cover up by pastors. They are allegations. However, our victims have obtained legal counsel and will be giving their reports to local police even though the statute of limitations has passed.
Information that we have learned through phone calls and independent investigation.
It really isn't so hard with the dates provided by the victims. Once again, remember that these are *allegations.*
- The lead pastor at the original church, Immanuel Baptist, at the time of the alleged molestations, was Dr Scott Payne. (aka Thomas)
- The youth worker during the time of the alleged molestation was Christopher Carwile. (aka Carl)
- I have attempted to contact Dr Payne and hope to hear back from him.
- I have spoken with Jim Pritchard, a pastor at HIghPoint, and will discuss our conversation on Friday.
- Chris Carwile allegedly went on to be a youth worker at Cherokee Baptist Church. Was Cherokee warned about Carwile? More on Friday.
- Immanuel Baptist Church morphed into The Church at Shilling Farms which allegedly *merged* with HighPoint Church. (more on this on Friday-see announcement posted at Watch Keep.)
- For those of you who can't wait, the letter sent to Scott Payne is posted at Watch Keep.
- Did you know that Tennessee is a one party consent state when it comes to recording phone calls? Compare Chris Conlee's conversation with the victims with my conversation with Jim Pritchard (coming Friday.)
- TWW invites any of the churches or individuals in this story to make a statement which will be posted verbatim.
Today, TWW will post the victims' stories. These must be heard before we go on and discuss the responses (or lack thereof) on the part of the pastors and churches. On Friday, we hope add to the story and then provide analysis on a number of issues that are raised in these testimonies. There may need to be several posts.
As you read, we would ask you to note things that are troublesome in the alleged responses of the churches and pastors involved. We would love to hear your thoughts.
Please put yourself into the shoes of young teens and try to imagine how you might have responded. These testimonies drove me to tears and also caused me to remember how the victims of a molester at my former church were treated. Churches must change their modus operandi.
(Editor responsible for all highlighting in the following testimonies.)
Story 1: Kenny Stubblefield link
I want you to hear me.
Actually, I NEED you to hear me.
I am writing this letter for a few reasons:
1. I want to finally let the truth about my sexual abuse experience be shared because so many lies have been told;
2. I want to help other 16-year old kids who have been abused gain the strength to come and share their story so that they may experience healing;
3. I want to root out those “wolves” who call themselves pastors but care more about building their empire than they do about shepherding those people the Lord has entrusted to them. (Pastor, I’m doing this for your good and the health of your church. Read Ezekiel 34:1-10 to hear how God feels about shepherds that do not tend to their sheep well)
Author DaShanne Stokes said, “Only by speaking out can we create lasting change.” I have decided to speak out about my experiences for that very reason. I want to create lasting change for those who have been abused.
I grew up in a home where I always knew I was loved. Not just tangibly, but with powerful words of affirmation and loving thoughts. My parents made sure that my two sisters and I grew up in a home that loved Jesus and valued community through the local church. In 1996, we settled in at Immanuel Baptist Church located in Germantown, TN. At Immanuel, I found community. I found friends that, while we did not have everything figured out, loved each other well. They became my favorite people to be around. Immanuel Baptist Church was my safe place. But Thanksgiving weekend of 1998, that safe place was destroyed.
In 1997, our youth pastor hired a young, college-aged man named Carl as the associate youth pastor. Carl immediately began to create a divide among our friends. Psychologists might have a few diagnoses that would help the reader understand his psyche, but I now know that Carl was toxic. In my youthful naivete I did not see him as toxic, I saw him as the gatekeeper to popularity and acceptance. Carl began to invite young boys to spend the night at his house, yet I was never invited. I was devastated by this and struggled with wanting to be a part of this “cool” crowd of kids that were accepted by Carl. Imagine my delight when – on November 27th, 1998 – Carl invited me to spend the night at his house.
Unfortunately, I remember everything about that night. Every single thing.
I remember hanging out with Carl in the lowered den area at the back of his parent’s house, which was close to where his room was located. This expansive living room area had – for that day and time – a massive "big screen" television. This is where the sexual predatory grooming began.
I vividly remember Carl flipping through the television using an illegal satellite hookup where he had access to every channel imaginable. He stopped on a pornographic movie, acting shocked and embarrassed yet kept the explicit movie on long enough to pique my 16-year old hormones. Those images are still burned in my brain today.
I remember that, when it was time to go to bed, I asked Carl if I could sleep on the large, leather couch in the living room. He refused my request stating that his mother did not want anyone sleeping on the couch because a person sweats when they sleep so the couch would be stained. I then asked to sleep on the floor in the living room, and he refused that request as well because his mother liked to vacuum very early in the morning. I was given one option: to sleep with Carl in his water bed.
I remember waking up to feeling Carl’s hand on my genitals. Thinking that Carl’s hand being there was an accident, I removed his hand, rolled over and went back to sleep. I woke up a few more times in the night with Carl’s hand back on my genitals feeling him try to stroke my penis. I panicked and froze in fear not knowing what to do.
I remember laying down in his bed the rest of the night, wide awake and in shock. By the time the sun came up I had convinced myself that I was somehow to blame and that my silence would be a safe place. But my innocence was destroyed.
I stayed silent. How could I ever speak out on my abuse? No one would ever believe the word of a young kid over the “pastor” of a Southern Baptist Church. They were immune to these kind of accusations. I found myself slowly sliding into a toxic mix of rage, anger, and bitterness. I found myself more distrusting of people than before. I armed myself with an invisible shield that would protect me from the chance of ever being hurt again. I have carried this shield with me into my adult years.
It wasn't until a year later, when a random conversation with my best friend outside of his house revealed that he was also abused by Carl, did I finally gain the courage to speak out.
Most would think that speaking out would be the beginning of a beautiful healing process.
I remember calling my youth pastor to tell him that I, along with three of my friends, had been abused by his associate.
My nightmare had just begun.
The Cover Up
In my opinion, the pain of the actual abuse pales in comparison to the pain and hurt caused by the dismissive and even active cover-up by our church leaders. Our youth pastor’s initial reaction was anger towards the abused for bringing this out because of the damage that would happen to his youth ministry. But the real cover-up happened when the pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church, Thomas**, lied and coerced the parents, students, and staff members to keep our abuse under wraps. He was willing to passively and actively aid in our abuse by not bringing Carl to justice or help us get the appropriate counseling we needed.
He told staff members that he would meet with parents of the abused students collectively. He did not.
He told one set of parents, after they forced a meeting with him, their students communicated to him they wished to not press charges. That was not true.
He told the abused that if we wanted to be “faithful” we would do as he said. He consistently told us to not speak on the matter.
In a private meeting with me, he said that the abuse never happened to me, and that because one of the abused was homosexual the abuse was consensual. (All of this “information” came from the words of Carl in a letter that was given to Thomas that he would never show us or let our parents see.)
His cover up did not end there. In 2015, a few of us who were abused by both Carl and the leaders of our church decided to write Thomas a letter in order to gain understanding about why he handled our abuse the way he did. After three weeks of silence, we learned he had received the letter, and reached out to lawyers from the Southern Baptist Convention. The lawyers from the SBC told Thomas to “prepare for war.” During that time, the elders at TCASF actively sought to merge with another local church in our city. Our opportunity for the truth to come out and receive any kind of justice was quickly evaporating.
But Thomas did not stop there. Once again, he lied and coerced members of his church and the elders and pastors of HighPoint Church (the local church that merged with TCASF) to systematically destroy our reputations. This included denying any knowledge of our abuse from the pulpit, deleting any mention of the merger between the two churches from websites associated with the institutions, and allowing the dissemination of lies and absurd conspiracy theories about our motivations.
Once again, in order to protect themselves, the elders of The Church at Schilling Farms and subsequently the elders at HighPoint Church actively covered up our abuse and their response years ago. Clearly, protecting their land deals and merger to create a mega-church in the Shelby County area was top priority and they were/are willing to go to any level (even lying and gas-lighting abuse victims) to protect their investments.
Now you know the truth.
What do we do now?
Earlier in my post, I said my main motivation was to see real change happen:
True change happens when:
1. The penalty for not disclosing abuse by clergy to law enforcement is changed. Right now, in the state of Tennessee, the penalty for non-disclosure is a Class B Misdemeanor and a $50 fine (Comparatively, a seat belt ticket is a $50 fine). That must change. Now.
2. Our churches must fully commit to not turning a blind eye to sexual abuse within their ranks. We must become vigilant about doing proper background checks and in depth training on how to spot the signs of abuse and potential abusers, while also providing staff with a clear plan on how to report behavior and how to respond to it. This must happen. Today.
3. We must be vigilant about not only prosecuting abusers, but getting the proper treatment and help for those that have been abused. We must not allow children who have been physically abused continue spending the rest of their lives being mentally and emotionally abused as well. We’ve been through enough.
I’ll end my story with these words.
- To any young boy or girl who is living in the shadows of sexual abuse: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. You are not at fault. I will help you find your voice so you can tell your story.
- To pastors of churches: If you are willing to root out sexual abuse within your church, I will help you. If you are not, I will expose you.
- To abusers and molesters: your time is coming. You will no longer be able to lurk in anonymity seeking to destroy these young children’s lives anymore.
**Names changed for fear of being sued by those that have abused me
Story 2 Michael Hansen link
Nine years ago this week my father found me in a tub full of bloody bath water, my wrists slashed by a razor blade. The ER doctor said I that while I had cut deep enough and in the right direction, my blood clotted so quickly that it thwarted my suicide attempt. During the subsequent mandatory 24-hour psychiatric evaluation, I blamed my actions on fear of failure and career stagnation. In reality, I was severely depressed. I had been living for years in a perpetual hell of anxiety, self-loathing, and debilitating anxiety. Left to fester for the better part of the a decade, those sinister beasts will get the best of any man. This is the story of what led to that event, and how I became who I am today.
I first knew I was “different” when I was about 11 years old. And by that, I mean that when the other boys were beginning to show interest in girls — like we’re taught is normal — I didn’t. Those feelings never came. I didn’t know what gay was in fifth grade, but that didn’t stop other kids from calling me a faggot through elementary, middle and high school.
I eventually learned what being gay meant from a video series about homosexuality that the youth pastor at Audubon Park Baptist Church made us watch when I was in seventh grade. The videos featured “Doctor” James Dobson, the founder of the rabidly anti-gay hate group Focus on the Family.
For decades, The Southern Baptist Church has systematically brainwashed young people into believing being gay was perhaps the most unforgivable sexual sin — a vile sickness. Church leaders taught us back then that HIV and AIDS were physical manifestations of an abominable disease. Queers had it coming, we were led to believe. The church also taught that homosexuality was curable through the now-debunked practice of “gay conversation therapy,” too.
Because of this toxic atmosphere, I never once considered confessing to anyone that I felt “different.” The mere thought of it made me physically ill.
Despite the otherness I was hiding, I was otherwise a relatively goofy, happy-go-lucky teenager. My family joined Immanuel Baptist Church in Germantown, Tenn., in early 1997 and I became actively involved immediately. (Immanuel later moved to Collierville and changed its name to Life Church at Schilling Farms in the early aughts.) At school, I guess you could say I was a “Jesus Freak.” A goody two-shoes. I didn’t have a ton of friends there because I spent most of my time at church and with church friends.
Not long after we joined, several families from Cherokee Baptist Church began attending Immanuel. A college student, Carl*, came along with those refugees from Cherokee and joined Immanuel. Our youth pastor hired him as an associate youth pastor.
A lover of music, film, and theater, Carl was tasked with managing drama programs for our thriving youth worship services. He also occasionally led Tuesday night Bible studies and helped with an intense, summer-long program for the most dedicated students called “Students Entering an Awesome Life of Service” — S.E.A.L.S. (a la Navy SEALs).
Carl was my mentor in S.E.A.L.S. Everyone in the program was assigned homework each week. We would get together to go through these assignments, which included Bible studies, accountability sessions, and prayer. I stayed in his parents’ East Memphis home one Friday night. We discussed Romans, Chapter 1, from what I recall.
Here’s what else I remember:
- I remember that his dad had a fridge full of Milwaukee’s Best.
- I remember him “accidentally” flipping to soft core porn channels on the TV and feigning surprise and embarrassment.
- I remember him telling me I had to sleep in the bed with him because his mother worried that “oils” from my skin would damage the carpet or the upholstery of the couches.
- I remember him saying his mom would be up early in the morning to vacuum.
- I remember his creepy waterbed.
- I remember heavy blankets over all of the windows in his bedroom. “To keep the sunlight out,” he said.
- I remember his hot breath on the back of my neck when I woke up around 2 a.m.
- I remember the horror I felt when I realized his hand was grasping my private parts.
- I remember the texture of his short, stubby fingers.
- I remember convincing myself that this was all a misunderstanding — convincing myself that this was just a bizarre sleep behavior (like sleepwalking).
- I remember him eventually letting go of my penis after I made not-so-subtle “waking” movements.
- I remember going back to sleep only to wake back up to much more aggressive groping — his hands in my underwear, his fingers between my butt cheeks.
- I remember the moment I realized it wasn’t a misunderstanding at all.
- I remember praying for this nightmare to end, for sunrise to save me — knowing full well that the cloth barricades on the windows had created a makeshift fortress of darkness and despair.
- I remember every detail as if I am still locked in that dungeon.
- I remember the final conclusion of those early morning hours. But I’ll spare you the gory details.
- Some days it is as if I am still lying in that bed, frozen for all time: my eyes sealed shut, my mind racing, my entire being violated. There I am, still trembling in fear and shame on my bedroom floor in the days thereafter. I distinctly recall that my mother made chili, one of my favorite meals, the next day. The persistent, sour nausea in the back of my throat and gut kept me from eating that night … and for days.
The toxic theology of the Southern Baptist Church led me to believe that I brought the assault onto myself — that God was punishing me for being gay. I was completely and utterly ashamed. Before the incident, I had already prayed several times that God would “fix” me. That He would cure me of my homosexual desires. After my assault, those prayers rose to a crescendo of unrelenting, tear-soaked pleas for relief.
Now, you may be wondering if I told anyone I was molested by a church employee. No, I didn’t. Not at first. I was afraid that if anyone found out, I would be outed as a queer to my family, my friends, and my church. You see, anxiety was creeping in and consuming me. Crippling depression took over my psyche, like a virus commandeering an operating system.
Another thing I vividly remember: Sleep was easy. Waking up was the real nightmare. Each moment a tailspin of unyielding angst and paranoia. To be awake was to be paralyzed and desperately afraid.
Eventually I found out that there were other victims — all with nearly identical stories. That’s when we finally told our parents that we’d been molested. We decided that we had to tell our youth pastor and senior pastor, Thomas*. Carl was removed from his leadership position immediately by our youth pastor and asked to leave the church.
Thomas told our youth pastor not to speak about the matter to anyone and that he would handle the situation from there on out. Thomas told us that he demanded that Carl go to counseling, and that he had written a confession letter (meaning everything was supposedly on the record). Thomas said he was going to hold a meeting with all youth parents. He also insisted that the most important thing we could do as Christians was to forgive Carl and to be faithful to the Church.
We took Thomas’s word that he was handling the situation. We were kids, and we looked to him as our spiritual leader for guidance. Therefore, we opted not to press charges based on Thomas’s claims. My overwhelming fear of being out was crippling in the wake of a prospective media firestorm.
Had we only known what was really going on.
On October 17, 2015, I was catching up with an old friend (and fellow victim) while I was back home for the Memphis vs. Ole Miss football game. (Go Tigers!) We started talking about everything that happened then: our regrets, our anger, and how our lives have been inextricably linked to those events.
My friend told me something that made all of those feelings of nausea, fear, and anger come flooding back. Apparently, Thomas told him some time later that it was all different for me — that because I’m gay, I wanted it to happen and liked it. In other words: I had it coming. (Sound familiar?)
In the following months, we victims got together and began to investigate what really went on at Immanuel Baptist Church in the late 90s. What we discovered was shocking. All of those promises Thomas made were lies. Instead of protecting us, he, a CEO, methodically swept the rampant abuse in his church under the rug. He schemed to make sure that everyone kept their mouths shut. He lied to make us believe Carl was being held accountable. He manipulated all of us — the victims, our parents, and even our youth pastor — into believing that by following his pastoral advice we were honoring God.
Statistically speaking, it’s very likely Carl has abused others. Research estimates that serial child molesters may average as many as 400 victims in their lifetime. Four. Hundred. How many others were abused before me? Since? That I have to ask that question terrifies me.
On October 23, 2015, we collectively sent Thomas a detailed, more-than-gracious letter (signed by me) seeking answers. Did he really say that because I’m gay I had it coming? It was an excruciating ordeal to pen that gory five-page note, but it was something we had to finally do.
I finally received a reply from Thomas, postmarked November 20, 2015. From inside sources, we found out that Thomas had allegedly met with Southern Baptist Convention attorneys, who presumably vetted his letter’s language, comically denying any knowledge of my sexual assault. He was claiming legal innocence for his negligence. Failure to report is indeed a crime in Tennessee. In his response, Thomas had the audacity to say, “I hope you are able to find forgiveness in your heart for those who have disappointed you in the past.” The man could teach a PhD seminar on how to gaslight victims of abuse.
That week we learned that before responding to me Thomas had not only shared my letter with Southern Baptist Convention attorneys, but also with church staff, elders (like a board of directors), his family, and various other allies. We also found out that The Church at Schilling Farms had begun negotiating a merger with HighPoint Church, a Memphis megachurch with a Collierville campus. Thomas shared my letter with the leadership of HighPoint Church, as well.
Here’s where things get interesting: On Sunday, November 23 — the very same week I received Thomas’s answer — Andy Savage, teaching pastor at HighPoint Church, made an unexpected merger announcement at the HighPoint Collierville campus.
During this speech, Savage went out of his way to say the following: “Just so you know, because some of you have friends in the community who may go to Schilling Farms, there’s nothing sinister going on at The Church at Schilling Farms. Nothing bad’s taking place. I assure you. Here’s what’s going on: God has orchestrated two great churches to come together and do something better than we could have done on our own.”
Why does this matter? Previously billed as a merger, the deal turned into an outright acquisition. A real estate deal. I suspect that these two churches merged in order to give their institutions, including Thomas, sanctuary from any legal recourse from their victims.
I’ve been reminded seemingly daily over the past year about my trauma. Whether it’s rape culture in general, high profile court cases like Brock Turner, or the repugnant Republican nominee for the White House who literally bragged about sexually assaulting women on tape.
What happens when sexual abuse intersects with years of homophobic dogma, systemic moral bankruptcy, and institutional failure? Me, desperate and despondent, in a tub full of bloody bath water. Sexual abuse is literally a matter of life or death for victims. A sexual violation may not end in murder, but if it leads to alcoholism, drug addiction, debilitating depression and anxiety, or god forbid, suicide — what difference does it make? That’s a distinction without a difference. Let me be absolutely clear: abusers and those who aid and abet them have blood on their hands.
I refuse to be silent or silenced for one more second.
I’m telling this story to give strength to other potential victims to step forward with their experiences. While the statute of limitations expired long ago for me, others may be able to take legal action and receive justice. I want people who have been in my shoes to know that I believe you and I believe in you. You are valued and you are loved. Please know that you are not alone and that none of it is your fault. If you need help speaking out and telling your story, I am here for you. (Comment or message me!)
I want Carl and other abusers to know that their deeds do lifelong damage to innocent people like me and that their actions are unforgivable. You are nothing more than cowards and weaklings trying to assert dominance. We are not afraid of you. We see you. We will name you. We will hold you accountable. One way or another, you will be exposed.
I want Thomas to know that what he did is unacceptable and unequivocally immoral. I want the Church to know that its knee-jerk instinct to protect itself over assault victims is shameful and odious. Please hear me loud and clear: Any faith that prioritizes institutional power over justice is fraudulent. Pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer famously declared that “silence in the face of evil is itself evil.” He was right. You are evil indeed.
*Name changed because, unfortunately, we live in a society that allows criminals to sue victims for defamation
Story 3: Brooks Hansen link
This is my story of suffering through sexual abuse as a 15 year old and the ensuing cover-up. I’m telling my story because no one else would tell it for me. I’m telling my story so that others in my shoes will seek after the justice they deserve before they hear, “It’s too late,” like I’ve heard so many times. I’m telling my story because I’m tired of being quiet. I’m telling my story because I hope someone will finally listen.
“15 years old? That was 18 years ago,” you say.
“Why just now?” you ask?
There are many reasons. Fear. Uncertainty about the outcome. Blaming myself. Being told that I shouldn’t say anything. Not wanting “to hurt the Church” (probably the worst excuse on this list). Not wanting to fully confront everything that happened. Multiple failed attempts at discussing and resolving these issues with those involved all those years ago.
But let’s be real. Why does any of that matter? Time doesn't change my experience.
Right in the prime of my adolescence, I had my sexual innocence ripped from my own fingers when an associate youth pastor preyed on me and a handful of my friends. Picking us off one-by-one like a cheetah hunting down wounded antelope, our abuser isolated us under the guise of slumber parties, lock-ins, and guys’ nights .
He was deliberate. He repeated his method over and over again without us knowing what the others had been through.
While I probably shouldn’t, I’ll spare you the details. It would be more visceral. It would be more real. But it would also be much harder for me than this already is. Waking up in the middle of the night to a grown man touching your genitals on two separate occasions is traumatizing enough. I’d rather not walk you through the physical and emotional details of those two nights for my own sake.
Those were two of the toughest nights of my life. They were seemingly endless. Seconds felt like minutes. Minutes felt like hours.
18 years ago.
Over 9.6 million minutes ago.
Over 575 million seconds ago.
And while the abuse was limited to only a few minutes spread across two separate nights, there have been days and weeks where those same pauses in time have haunted me.
After finding out that I wasn’t alone – by complete accident – we reported the abuse to each of our parents and then, in turn, to our youth pastor and pastor. All told, we now know of at least four total abuse victims. All four of us with matching stories.
What happened then has haunted the four of us as much as or more than the abuse itself over the past 18 years.
The abuse was covered up. I – along with the other victims – were advised to refrain from discussing the abuse with anyone other than our parents or the church staff involved in the report. We were constantly reminded of the embarrassment and media attention that would come from a “case” like this. We were asked to keep this quiet so as not to “hurt the church.”
Pastors in the state of Tennessee are required by law to report instances of sexual abuse within their church. However, the statute only recommends a mere $50 fine for a failure to report.
Our abuser was never reported to law enforcement officials or to the state of Tennessee in any way whatsoever. Never.
The Church found the largest metaphorical rug to sweep it all from sight in the hopes that it would never been seen again.
We – the victims – however, had other plans. After discussing details of these events that we had never discussed before on October 17, 2015, we were spurred into action. For justice. For closure. For resolution. To speak out for the others that might have been or may still be in our same shoes.
Seeking answers to what seemed like an endless list of questions, we approached the staff from 18 years ago.
The response from our youth pastor at that time was healing. He was broken. He was contrite. He begged for forgiveness for his failure to do more at the time. He healed some of the wounds for which we sought healing. (ed note: This is not the youth worker who was the abuser. This was the youth pastor above him who has now come forward to support the victims, including writing a deposition.)
Our pastor’s response was quite different. We wrote a collective letter to this man. We expressed disappointments. We detailed doubts. We posed questions. He contacted the “corporate offices” of his church. He was provided legal counsel by that same corporate entity after being encouraged “to lawyer up.”
There was no contrition. There was no attempt to resolve any of our unanswered questions.
There was, however, denial of knowledge of the original events, even going as far as denying it from the pulpit.
Like the original events, there are many details that we learned over the past year that have scarred. More deception. More cover-up. More lies. More gas lighting.
I still cling to my faith in a sovereign, gracious, merciful and mighty God that loves me and has captured my heart from depths of depravity that I cannot fully comprehend. I still have a strong desire to be grafted into deep and meaningful relationships with my fellow believers through daily community and discipleship.
- I’m bitter.
- I’m angry.
- I’m hard-hearted.
- I’m cynical.
- I’m distrusting.
I came to terms with the sexual abuse many years ago. I am still wrangling with the response by my pastor, both 18 years ago and over the past year, to that abuse.
I trusted him. I followed him. I listened to him. And even though it’s so hard for me to fathom now, I’d even venture to say I loved him. He was the shepherd over the flock at that church. He was the keeper.
And yet he allowed a wolf to devour me and a handful of my friends while doing nothing to protect us afterwards.
I’ll be okay. I promise. Really.
I don’t need your, “I’m so sorries.”
I need you to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. I need you to shepherd the innocent. I need you to not be one of the church-protecting assholes that has blamed us – the abused – over the past year for dredging this back up. I need you to believe me and others like me. I need you to report sexual abuse like this no matter the cost. No matter how ugly it might get.
I will be a better and more aware parent because of this. My faith has been tested in ways that I could’ve never imagined, refined by the fires of doubt, and I’m now thankful for that. I have a better perspective on social justice issues because of what happened to me.
But I can’t help but think about whether or not our abuser continued his ways after he was quietly dismissed from his duties. I can’t help but worry about kids that he may still be coming in contact with even as I type this.
I wish I had been able to tell my story 18 years ago. Maybe justice would have ruled the day. Maybe we could have prevented other victims.
But as of today, there is no maybe for us. There was no earthly justice for our abuser. There will never be in our situation. There was no apologetic pastor. There are most likely others who fell victim to this same abuser.
From now on, I will speak up for those without the voice to do so on their own.
Don’t tell someone that their story doesn’t matter. Let them tell it and then make sure others hear it. It just may be that by listening to their story, you can help them achieve justice. And a maybe is better than nothing.
This is my story. Maybe now someone will listen.
Other than listening, the following are three tangible items in desperate need of attention for there to be long-term, meaningful change:
1) The penalty for not disclosing abuse by clergy to law enforcement must be changed. Right now, in the state of Tennessee, the penalty for non-disclosure is a Class B Misdemeanor and a $50 fine (Comparatively, a seat belt ticket is a $50 fine). Again, that must change. Now.
2) Our churches must fully commit to not turning a blind eye to sexual abuse within their ranks. Tangible policy. Strict guidelines and business processes. We must become vigilant about doing proper background checks and in depth training on how to spot the signs of abuse and potential abusers, while also providing staff with a clear plan on how to report behavior and how to respond to it. This must happen. Today.
3) We must be vigilant about not only prosecuting abusers, but getting the proper treatment and help for those that have been abused. We must not allow children who have been physically abused continue spending the rest of their lives being mentally and emotionally abused as well. We’ve been through enough.
If you have questions, please feel free to comment below or send them to me via a private message. I am an open book when it comes to this topic. I am not hiding. However, if comments turn into arguing or bashing of ANYONE – including those who have wronged me – I will likely delete the post(s) in question.
Nah, couldn’t be first?!
Ah, geez. If my typing were better, I’d have made it! one mistake and I”m done. Doggone.
That was really hard to read. I have tears in my eyes. My heart goes out to these 3 men here who have told their stories and the thousands and thousands of others out there just like them that sexual abuse happened to them in the church. Sexual abuse happens. Rape happens. It’s a fact of life. It happens in the secular world and in the church world. A $50 fine for not reporting sexual abuse within the church is beyond belief. It should be more like several thousands of dollars. Hit the churches where it hurts, in the money. The churches that don’t report abuse should be made to pay for each of the victims counseling for years on end if they don’t report the abuse. I will take a stand with these men. The abuse has to stop now and it has to be reported by anyone who knows about it. Whether it be a school, a business, a church, or just a neighbor or friend. I can’t stand that every day this happens to another innocent young man, young lady or a child. It breaks my heart. When is the church going to wake up and see this for what it really is – evil in every sense of the word.
We have a winner!
juulie downs wrote:
For a totally voluntary yet thoughtfully large love offering, I could fix it….
ROFL! I might make a donation, although it won’t be large! But I certainly wouldn’t expect you to commit fraud!
This just rips my heart out. These guys are so brave and selfless, they are putting themselves out there to make things better for others who come after them.
It’s amazing to me that most of us just want to be heard, understood, valued, and to hear that precious, “I’m sorry, please forgive me.” And yet that is too much to ask from most church leadership. The one youth pastor who apologized for his role in keeping things quiet was an exception, God bless him.
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Mat 6:21-22).
When pastors have to hide behind attorneys, when they sweep things under the rug and fail to protect current and future victims, what are they revealing about their treasure? Are the lambs in the fold their treasure? Or is it their buildings and salaries and position in the community?
This predator, instead of being stopped, was sent on to ravage others with no warning. I am sure there are more victims. I pray that they will get the help they need and that some will have the courage to come forward and put an end to this man’s predation.
Following on Harley’s comment, it should be a felony crime not to report child abuse with hefty fines.
Sincere contrition is all some people want, and yet it is too high a price to pay for so many. I am glad at least one man acted right.
Thank you for sharing the stories.
I read all three on fb this week…each heartbreaking, but not shocking, each BRAVE, in the face of evil cowards. Can I just give all.the.applause for all three of them!? They may save lives because the have chosen NOT to keep this a secret.
God be with them and any other victims of this predator and this system SCREWED UP SYSTEM the Church has “put in place”…one that has no concern for survivors of abuse, one that shames people into secrecy for the good of the Church, one that protects abusers and predators, one that sides with evil.
I deeply appreciate their call to action; this.must.end. People and institutions must be held accountable. Thank you ladies and Amy, for shining a spotlight on these events…these men deserve to have their voices heard!
I know this abuse happens in non church environments but I am sure it’s exacerbated in these closed controlling communities. And predators know this.
Combine abuse like this with the so called hypergrace in the previous post. Don’t even want to think about it.
my thoughts also
I’m also sure that IF a victim is gay, that the perpetrator and the pastor who protects the perpetrator are ‘helped’ by the institutional prejudice against all gay people and no, I can’t ever believe that any of that prejudice is ‘speaking truth in love’, no. So, in their own minds, the perpetrator and shielding pastor probably added this institutional prejudice against all gay people as an added shield to protect them from accountability.
Not a coincidence that prejudice against women in the Church and against gay people everywhere leads to abuse. Being able to point the finger or to belittle another human person as ‘lesser’ almost always invites the pharisee to be abusive; as having been the judge of another’s soul, it then follows to also justify casting the judged into the fires of abuse. Hence ‘the gay person had it coming’ reasoning of the pastor.
Kenny, Michael, and Brooks, I am so sorry you were abused at a time of your life when it should have been a positive time of discovering life’s possibilities. I am even more troubled that instead of providing love and support, your church instead became a shadowy institution that extended that abuse. I understand more each day why Jesus condemned the religious leaders of his day, those who emitted a similar stench from the death and rot within them. I do hope you find justice.
Thank you for standing for the victims.
But these predators don’t just go after gay young men, they go after them all. The reasoning to me is just them using whatever dodge they think they can get away with. It adds additional shame for the poor victim which is awful. But they dodged all the other victims too, they just used different justifications.
The real problem here is the desire to protect the church – the institution – over people and the desire to protect the pastors (and in the Catholic Church priests) over the congregation. Apparently it is a rare church that protects victims.
I’ve written about this before. The Bible is very explicit about what should happen to homosexuals & misogyny is rife in old testament as well as Paul’s writings.
No doubt that hatred plays a huge part when combined with the other”put to death” passages about disobedient children.
Men can sin & be forgiven. Women and children do not have the same value.
Much as I hate to say it, no Christian, in this forum, or any other has ever adequately justified those missives. Usually those conversations lead to some fancy verbal gymnastics.
“Love the sinner, hate the sin” was a common litany in the Pentecostal church I attended. When the sinner & sin inextricably combined, how does that hatred manifest? We see it in the testimonials above.
Pull back the thin veneer of the Sunday service & this is the rot underneath.
Does anyone ever believe that harboring evil within a Church is ‘protecting’ the Church?
whatever men are ‘protecting’ when they shield a predator and silence victims, I think these men know at heart that it is not ‘the Church’ they are protecting
Aside from the nature of the Bible, I would bet $$$ that if any of the victims had been the son of the senior pastor, the outcome would have been very different.
“Michael Hansen” wrote: “My friend told me something that made all of those feelings of nausea, fear, and anger come flooding back. Apparently, Thomas told him some time later that it was all different for me — that because I’m gay, I wanted it to happen and liked it. In other words: I had it coming. (Sound familiar?)”
“I wanted it to happen and liked it ”
Oh, Michael…….. NO,NO,NO! Would Thomas have said the same thing if the victim had been a heterosexual girl? I doubt it.
Covering up sexual abuse for the good of the church? No, that’s not what they are doing. They are protecting evil for the good of their own bank accounts. This stuff makes me ashamed to be a long time member of SBC churches!
In Kentucky, the maximum penalty for failing to report this sort of abuse is a $250 fine or 90 days in jail (Class B felony). That’s better than Tennesee, but it’s still not enough. Pastors like Thomas need to spend a little time in jail, have a felony crime on their permanent records, and have their names in the papers. People like Carl. ….. (ain’t gonna say what should be done to them IMO – Kentucky backwoods penalty is illegal! Snort.). …… they belong in federal prisons – general population with no protection from fellow inmates!
I just want to praise all three of these men for having the courage to go public with their stories. May they find some peace in knowing that they are exposing evil and protecting future would-be victims.
Oops. Sorry – should say Class B misdemeanor ……… Felony is my wishful thinking.
great comment, Nancy Two
some people want to denigrate the whole Church because of the shenanigans of a few powerful immoral people,
but I agree: prison for them what has shielded abusers of innocents because without these ‘leaders’, the abusers couldn’t play their hateful game
my husband has a terrible way to say it: “yeah, throw ’em in prison with Bubba. Let Bubba teach them what abuse is like.”
well, I’m not so vindictive, but isn’t this what these leaders have done to innocent people? thrown them into the pit with their perpetrator buddies? and then tried to silence them when they cried out for help??
I also am glad for the witnesses who came forward. That took a lot of courage. They deserve our support and our prayers.
This. The church failed to deal appropriately with the predator because protecting the church and its reputation was the most important thing. Standing with the victims just pales in comparison to institutional self-preservation. And it’s wrong.
Kenny, Michael, and Brooks,
I am so sorry for what happened to you. It was awful on so many levels. You are courageous for sharing your stories. Thank you for exposing darkness and evil to light. I hope this helps lead you to the path of peace in your lives.
It is exacerbated when Christians behave in a way that revictimizes anyone. It is sad to see that society as a whole deals with abuse more justly than the Church.
If he were the sort to prey on heterosexual girls, yes. Yes, he would.
There are men out there, including a certain psychiatrist I’ve heard about, but whose name I do not know, who believe that young female victims don’t tell about their abuse because they secretly enjoy the physical sensation.
If I could get my friend to tell me this guy’s name, you can be sure I’d be looking into what it would take to get his license to practice yanked.
For the ‘good’ of the institution. For your local no denom/baptist church the money may go direct to their pockets, but what about larger institutions like the Catholic Church? Does the money go directly to the bishops pocket?
Maybe it’s a power/ego thing.
I think you have been given a peek into said shrink’s own sexual fantasies.
RANK HATH ITS PRIVILEGES.
And Rank bestowed by Divine Right has the most Privileges of all.
Didn’t some Rabbi from Tarsus write something about “because of you, the name of Christ has become a laughingstock among the heathen”? (In Yiddish this is called a “shanda fur die goyim”.)
@ Headless Unicorn Guy:
good call, HEADLESS
It has also been a “the lay people don’t dare question those appointed by God” thing. The priests/bishops as caste system spiritual royalty.
Reputation. The “super spiritual” Image thing. Playing on superstitions to dare question the specially anointed ones. There is a history of this sort of mysticism/superstitious aura around the priestly class and the concept of apostolic succession in the RCC. Transubstantiation is another example of such.
I am very grateful to these young men for having the courage to speak up. People must know not only about the perverted youth pastor and his grooming tactics but the long time cover up by the leaders and their evil tactics in doing so.
We learn by examples what to look for. Many have no idea how spiritual positions are used to groom, molest and then cover up for such heinous evil.
The rapist’s creed (and porn fantasy) that “they really like getting raped”.
Is this another “Pastor’s Pet Pedo” situation?
Like that Jerk with the Kirk in Moscow, Idaho?
(Which always makes me wonder if Pastor is a closet pedo who doesn’t dare act on it himself, just by proxy through his court favorites.)
Win-Win situation for the abuser.
Laws are different in each state. I have a friend who moved away. He and his wife were going to Victory church in Tulsa when scandal broke that two young male youth workers had molested girls. The head pastor (a woman) went into damage control mode and failed to promptly notify police. The scandal widened when police showed up and arrested the head pastor and a few other leaders after a week had gone by and they failed to contact police. The police found out about this by other channels and had first arrested the two perps. Now Victory has a different pastor. I wished every state had the same laws that empowered the Tulsa police to arrest the head pastor promptly for gross negligence. This should be the norm. Victory’s head pastor was not able to recover from the scandal she made worse. We need more ex-pastors like her.
Kenny, Michael & Brooks, oh guys your stories are appalling & just horrible. I used to be a Church Youth Worker, I’m now a (secular) Youth Team Manager & Senior Youth Worker, & I would personally strangle a staff member who hurt a young person the way you were hurt. I can’t believe your suffering was handled the way it was, those people are a disgrace to Christ. And should be prosecuted to the max. And Michael, I manage & work on an LGBTQ project & I wish I could have known you back then, you’d have been safe & appropriately loved by us, we deal with a lot of suicidal teenagers & help them carry on until better times. I hope this time of speaking out will bring some much needed long term peace for you, & encourage other victims old & new to come forward.
God Bless you forever and ever!
Mr. Jesperson wrote:
Now I find myself wondering if the expastors site would be so welcoming of her as they are of people like Tullian.
Good comment.Thank you for being supportive!
Mr. Jesperson wrote:
Yes! Awesome law there in Oklahoma. Every state should have similar, tough laws.
“Whether it’s rape culture in general, high profile court cases like Brock Turner, or the repugnant Republican nominee for the White House who literally bragged about sexually assaulting women on tape.”
Sorry Michael you have no sympathy from me due to your selective outrage. No mention whatsoever about the Democratic nominee whose husband has a questionable background and her role in protecting him. Why not mention them as well?
@ Ken G:
Ken, seriously? Your sympathy for a survivor of sexual assault is on hold until you approve of his balanced political approach?
Please reconsider. Please.
Women can be just as evil. You would think they would be equal to the task at expastors with the cheap grace bit.
@ Mr. Jesperson:
Back when that happened, I sent Deb and Dee links to news stories about it.
Mr. Jesperson wrote:
What happened is that the original preacher of that church died.
Then his wife the blonde lady took over for a year or more. Then she handed that lead pastor role over to their son, who I think is in his 30s now.
Also, the two youth workers you mentioned in your post. I think one of them was a church janitor, not a youth pastor. Not that it matters all too much, I suppose.
@ Ken G:
Ken G, it is your selective outrage that is the real outrage here. what’s wrong with you?
Ken G wrote:
So, his list has to meet the Ken G approval rating before he deserves any sympathy???
Kenny, Michael, and Brooks — I am so very sorry for what has happened. There really aren’t adequate words here. I hope for healing and peace for you. I hope that justice is served. You are very courageous.
Ken G wrote:
For one, I don’t see where Michael even wrote this above.
Secondly, what in the world!?!? Why would you say this to anyone who has experienced sexual abuse? They have to make the correct political remarks before you will have compassion! This is what is wrong with Christianity right here. Goodness, the comment you quoted just seems like a list of examples. He has to include BC to pass muster with you?!
Mr. Jesperson wrote:
It’s the son of the former pastor. I did read in an article about the sex abuse scandal that the church’s membership is a shadow of its former self.
There are two errors in this story:
1. Highpoint Church did not merge with the Church at Schilling Farms. (They only have a lease agreement to rent facilities for services.
2. Scott Payne is not on Highpoint staff.
While the story is tragic, it in no way involves Highpoint Church.
The official statement from Highpoint Church can be read here:
Thank you for your comment. However, all of your information is a recent change of trajectory. I shall be covering this in post tomorrow. And yes, it does involve Highpoint staff who actually met with the victims and offered to get involved with *patoral counseling.* We will discuss this tomorrow and I will look forward to your response at that time.
when it comes to church and shades of scandal, i’ve learned to take a church’s official statement with all the grains in the salt shaker.
Amy Smith wrote:
Brilliant detective work, Amy.
Since at the end of the entire Merger announcement it says we can ask questions, I have one: Why is Highpoint trying to hide their Merger now?
As Jack noted around a week ago, today is – of course – Remembrance Day.
If I may humbly state the obvious for a moment… In an ideal world, there wouldn’t be wars. The world is not ideal and there are wars; they happen for many reasons and we who live in relative peace and stability can easily, from the comfort of our position, judge those who become embroiled in them. But not everyone who fights, fights for vanity and selfish glory; some fight for their lives and the lives of their children. It is never simple.
Remembrance Day dates back almost 100 years to the end of the First World War which was a terrible, terrible tragedy: millions died fighting what might well be described as a petty squabble between egotistical rulers that escalated catastrophically out of control. But each of those millions was a human being and they are not less deserving of remembrance. A few decades later, national socialism threatened to engulf Europe in monstrous dictatorship – and it would not have stopped at Europe. Millions more died but, at its end, national socialism was stopped. I, and millions like me, cannot ignore the fact that I am free to vote in part because others before me were willing to fight, and die, for it.
I know people who criticise Remembrance Day as glorifying conflict. Respectfully, they’re wrong. It is not about glorifying conflict and never has been; it was instituted by a very sobered and chastened culture that had learned, the hard way, that conflict is not glorious.
“They will not grow old as we who are left grow old… We will remember them.”
Nick Bulbeck wrote:
Good comment, NICK
“I think your words have honored the sacrifice of those who gave everything they had to protect not only their homeland, but also that which is decent and human and honorable in the face of an evil enemy.
I’ve always loved the wording of this British hymn:
“I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love:
the love that asks no questions, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar, the dearest and the best;
the love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
the love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.
And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago
Most dear to them that loves her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King:
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering:
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness and all her paths are peace.”
May we never forget.
@ Nick Bulbeck:
Thank you, Nick. As a fellow citizen of the Commonwealth (although not the same nation), I remember on this day, too.
This is a relevant political aside: As a new political season unfolds, is it possible that those participants at TWW with political savvy could direct the rest of us who are willing and anxious to effect change on behalf of victims of abuse? Right now, I know I can contact my local congress members with my concerns, and search change.com for relevent petitions. But if there is a more efficient way to effect legislative change in mandated reporting for clergy (like targeting letters to a particular individual or committee, or deluging a particular newpaper or channel with information), I would enthusiastically participate.
My heart broke as I read this post and now I must do something.
@ Nick Bulbeck:
Thank you, Nick, for that pause to remember.
I can still hear my mother’s voice on this day, though she has long gone on. When she was a very little girl, not so long after the War to End All Wars, she (and the other children in her school) were taught to repeat by heart, “In Flanders fields the poppies blow between the crosses, row on row…”
It was her habit to say the poem, solemnly, with tears in her eyes, every year on this day.
No, this day is not about glorifying conflict, but remembering and honoring those who served. Thanks.
Anyone notice this from the archived Merger page?
“The story starts 20 years ago, when Pastor Scott gave Pastor Chris his very first opportunity to teach a sermon. It was that fateful Sunday that sealed Chris’ calling to the ministry, and this is a unique way to honor Pastor Scott and his congregation.”
Looks like they go way back.
Ezekiel 10: The Wheel has left the Temple.
Amy Smith wrote:
Sigh… “WE EXIST TO PROVE THAT LOVE WORKS” Well, here is your prime opportunity, folks.
JC, based on the information gleaned from the wayback machine posted above, which is unequivocal that there was a merger between the two, it appears that either you are honestly ignorant of the merger and merely were posting here out of that ignorance (perhaps because you were mislead by people pretending to be your friends and leaders, but are neither true friends nor true leaders), or you are a liar yourself.
Either way, I now have no regard for what you say because whether ignorant or a liar, you’re not a credible source of information.
I’m thinking the attempt to rewrite history to make the merger into a lease arrangement is a way for Highpoint to avoid any potential legal liabilities from the bad acts of the Church at Schilling Farms / Immanuel Baptist Church. This would also explain why Scott Payne is on a sabbatical. I look forward for the additional information the Deebs will be providing.
Contact the SNAP organization for those sexually abused by priests and clergy. It is the Survivors Network. They are well organized and connected.
Just watched “In a Town This Size” on Amazon Primetime Video, about a pediatrician pedophile, who “murdered small children’s souls” in a small town, as a victim states.
God bless and reward those who have testified; your courage and strength are impactful.
Thanks, TWW, for giving them voice.
I am watching Netflix and The Hunt with John Walsh “The Enemy Next Door” on the same topic.
I have sent you an email using an anonymous server. I apologize for inconvenience of doing that, but I would prefer to keep my identity hidden. I have some information to offer on a potential victim in this case who might fall outside of the Statute. You might find my email in your junk or spam folder due to the fact that I sent it using such a strange method. Again, I am sorry for doing this, but need to keep my identity private but wanted to make sure the information got into the right hands.
@ A Woman:
I do not mind any anonymous conversation/server when it comes to emails and comments that are within the boundaries of the blog. I only get mad when someone is being a troll which you are not. I will look for it. Can you tell me the date that you sent it? Any info like this is very helpful.
I’ve been watching that film also, but it is so painful and intensely sad to watch that I keep taking breaks. Heartbreaking. Should be required watching at all seminaries.
Maybe check with your local police department about serving as a volunteer advocate for the abused.
Knowing what services and recourse are open to them makes a huge difference in the outcome of their lives. (I suggest reading the posts about Marquis and Billy for first hand information.)
Thanks, will watch that, too. Good to be informed. Heart-breaking reality. God bless the victims who rise in their courage and by the grace of God overcome. Our hearts go out to them. May we not stand by in silent complicity.
@ A Woman:
I am unable to find any email. I feel so badly about this.
But the abuser was a PASTOR and Head PASTOR’s PET.
Remember the sexual predator in Furry Fandom I mentioned on another thread?
Same grooming M.O. except he used his extensive collection of Furry Art.
Understand in the fandom a LOT of furries collect art of their favorite fan artists, so just having portfolios of the stuff is not in and of itself suspicious. Including portfolios of “furoitca”. (We’ve got a LOT of horndogs in the fandom.) And “artist parties” or “xerox parties” where you show off and exchange images from your collection was also common (sort of pre-Internet file sharing).
However, this guy had stuff mixed together (much like the channel surfing in the above testimony), and he’d watch your reaction to the pictures (especially the Yiffy Stuff) as you leafed through the portfolio collections. By the time you’d finished with the portfolios, he knew what floated your boat and the best avenue of attack to get himself into your pants.
I’m not sure why but the part about his mom vacuuming keeps creeping me out.
@ A Woman:
When you use a anonymous forwarder of email, my server could refuse to accept it and it languishes in internet oblivion.
I do not know how we can resolve this. I have no way to contact you and I do not know who you are.
@dee @A Woman
Consider using https://anonymousemail.me to send the document/s. Though you won’t be able to correspond through this service, it should allow you (@A Woman) to anonymously get the information over to @Dee.
I’ll be on standby to see if there are any other needs that I can help with.
Norman Bates maybe?
A Woman wrote:
To expand on this. There is no such thing as an anonymous server. Email servers have to exist and be “real” or no other email systems will receive email from them. Now there are “geeky” ways to disguise your identity many of them are really only for the hard core. And many “normal” large scale mail systems will just throw away email from such systems. I suspect your email to Dee vanished for this reason.
Unless you’re hiding from the CIA, just do this. Visit GMail.com or Outlook.com and create a free email account using your fake name. Only use this account via your web browser (or from a computer at your local library). Now send us an email to one of the contacts on our contacts page. No hyperbole or we might think of it as SPAM.
While Google or Microsoft CAN tell us who you really are their policy is to only do so if presented with a warrant, subpoena, or national security directive.
Boom! Thanks @ GuyBehindtheCurtain:
And maybe some Eerie, Indiana. The creepiness of total unrelieved normality when things are happening beneath the wholesome normal surface.
ABC 24 Memphis News Coverage
Thank you for saying this. I agree.