“She told me that my rape was not my fault, that I should feel no shame, that – simple as it may sound – I hadn’t caused it. No one causes rape but rapists. No one causes rape but rapists. No one causes rape but rapists. It was true. And it had not been obvious to me. And hearing it from someone else, a professional, someone who should know, helped me believe that soon I would believe it.”
― Aspen Matis, Girl in the Woods: A Memoir link
Last Friday, I posted Did a Collierville Watch Group Attempt to Conceal Valid Reports of a Highpoint Church Sex Offender? Little did I know that this would involve both me and a reader in a massive controversy in Collierville, TN. Apparently, blog administrators do not like being held accountable for their words. Between a couple of Collierville blogs, Highpoint Church members, and associated rabble rousers, we have been accused of:
- Being on a witch hunt
- Being conspiracy theorists
- Being used by Satan
- Trying to destroy Highpoint Church.
It is well know that this blog has, for over 7 years, reported and exposed churches which we believe use unsafe practices in allowing abusers and molesters to attend church. These might include:
- Allowing them to perform music on stage (in this instance)
- Allowing them to attend the church unaccompanied
- Assuming that a married molester is a safe molester
- Assuming that a stint in prison is a cure for rapists
It is my hope that this post will educate those who have not had much training in understanding the problems associated with those who rape and molest underage kids.
We have since learned that the wife of Timothy Heinz, the registered sex offender, is a member of the Collierville watch group and have seen a photo of that membership. We also have reason to believe, due to a number of sources, that Heinz's victim was 13/14 years old at the time of the rape. Heinz and his current wife (his third wife) have children in the home.
Rape and molestation are acts of violence. Sex is used to gain power and control over a victim.
This quote says it better.
“And let's stop calling them "sex offenders," as if their crimes had anything to do with sex. (Perhaps Jeffry Dahmer was a "food offender.")” ― Mike Lew
According to the Rape Victims Advocates:
Sexual assault is about power and control and is not motivated by sexual gratification.
( Groth, A., Burgess, W., & Holmstrom, L. Rape: Power, anger, and sexuality. American Journal of Psychiatry, 134(11), 1239-43. Pubmed.gov.)
Rape and molestation are acts of violence which can affect the victim for the rest of their lives.
Rapists and molesters are not just sinners; they have a serious mental health problem with which they will struggle for the rest of their lives.
Some people in the Collierville area claim that molestation and rape are just sins like any other sin. Sadly, such statements exhibit dangerous naivety. If I swear at the man who cut me off on the road, i have sinned. However, with repentance and work, it is a sin which can be overcome and I am not mentally ill or disturbed. Unfortunately that is not the case with rapists and molesters.
I have heard many misinformed evangelicals say that the reason that priests molests children is because they cannot marry. I have some friends.The husband used to be a priest. He fell in love with a woman his own age. He left the priesthood and married her. This is a normal response. Think about it. Someone who wants to have an affair doesn't say "Gee, I think I will have an affair with a 13 year old child." This is an abnormal obsession.
Pedophilia, molestation of children under the age of consent, and rape all suffer from mental health issues such as:
For sexual offenders, if considered together, avoidant personality disorder had the highest prevalence followed by obsessive compulsive, schizoid, paranoid and borderline personality disorders.
For those who molest children, their preference will be to have sex with children-an obsession with which they will likely struggle for the rest of their lives. They have a psychiatric disorder which will not be cured, merely endured.
Recidivism rates for rapists and child molesters.
For example, the recidivism rate in convicted rapists is high. Nn article published by the NIH is rather concerning. It appears that no one can predict with any accuracy the possibility of recidivism. That means you cannot tell if they will do it again.
Almost 50 percent of the group had committed some offense by the fifth year out of prison. The recidivism rates for sexual, violent, and any criminal recidivism were 16 percent, 26 percent, and 53 percent, respectively. The ability to predict sexual and violent recidivism in this population of rapists was rather poor.
Recidivism rates for child molesters are worrisome. Here is one study published in Canada.
The initial follow-up of the child molesters found that 42% were reconvicted of a sexual or violent crime during the 15-30 year follow-up period. Ten percent of the total sample of child molesters were first convicted for a sexual/violent crime between 10 and 31 years after release. Not all child molesters recidivated at the same rate. The highest rate of recidivism (77%) was for those with previous sexual offenses, who selected extrafamilial boy victims, and who were never married. In contrast, the long-term recidivism rate for the low risk offenders was less than 20%.
Is there a cure for pedophiles and molesters?
The best treatments we have available for pedophiles help them develop the skills they need to live a healthy, offense-free life and, in some cases, to block their sex drives (if they feel it would help them). We have not yet found a way to convert pedophiles into non-pedophiles
Is there a definitive cure for rapists?
Not yet! From the NIH Rape and rapists: theory and treatment
We also argue that despite the advances of the last decade this has been in terms of theory proliferation rather than integration, and that major explanatory gaps remain. In particular, there is a need for more middle-level theory that articulates mechanisms and can underpin treatment. Current treatment approaches have typically been developed for child molesters, and while there has been a significant increase in comprehensiveness and sophistication, the evidence for treatment efficacy with rapists remains tentative.
Summary and caveat:
- Both rapists and child molesters can repeat their behavior even after prison.
- Rapists and molesters have two problems: a sin problem and a serious mental health problem. Prison does not solve the problem.
- It is difficult, even for professionals, to predict who will reoffend. Therefore, it is vital to protect potential victims.
- This post is not addressing an 18 year old kid who has sex with his 16 year old girlfriend. That is a different issue altogether.
- Marriage does not cure a rapist or a pedophile.
- Some pedophiles use marriage in order to produce children for them to molest in their home. Therefore, we should be concerned for the children of molesters and rapists.
Church and the convicted pedophile, rapist or molester.
TWW received the following questions from a reader and I will attempt to answer them.
- What, in your opinion, is appropriate for convicted offenders (sex or otherwise) when it comes to being involved in a church?
- Do you believe they should be allowed to attend, but not volunteer?
- Do you think they should not be allowed to attend at all?
- Do you think if they attend and the church leadership knows their conviction history they should inform the entire church of said history?
- Someone earlier posed some suggestions that offenders are always attended to during services and in bathrooms etc. Is this “good enough”?
- What is appropriate from a societal perspective when someone has, according to the law, served their time and paid their dues?
- Do we believe that the legal system’s justice is not sufficient and thus must enforce a societal system of justice as well? Are they allowed back into society at all?
- Should they be able to shop in stores or allowed at public events where there are likely people in the same “victim group” as their previous victim(s)?
- If this is allowed, why is a church or worship center/volunteer arrangement not allowed?
The molester and church
It is important to understand that molesters, rapists and paraphiliacs seek out venues in which people will be prone to trust them. Unfortunately churches are targeted because most Christians like to believe the story that a convicted molester has been "healed by Jesus" and all is well. Church people tend to be trusting when a man shows attention to *dear little Johnny.* Also, church attendees like to believe that anyone who comes to church could never molest a child especially if they are in a position of leadership. The molester in my former church was a seminary student and therefore was trusted.
A proper understanding of sin
One of my pastors helps us to understand sin this way.
We are positionally holy but we are functionally sinners.
In other words, we are forgiven and have Christ's righteousness imputed to us. But, and this is a big but, we still sin. I am not talking about the new Christian. Even long time Christians can sin. To believe that anyone gets a pass on sin because they are pastors, leaders, youth workers, women's Bible study leaders, whatever is naive and shows a dangerous misunderstanding of the Bible. People can use the church to further their on selfish gain and this includes molesters. Wake up! They are there among you and they are so good at what they do, you won't know it.
Should a known molester be allowed to attend church?
If he is repentant.
What does repentance look like?
I am not talking about cheap "I'm sorries." I am talking about out in the open. "I have a serious obsession with children and I could be dangerous even if I hope I won't be." Let me demonstrate what this looks like in a real life situation. Wade Burleson is our EChurch pastor and the pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Enid, OK.
A convicted pedophile came to him, said he wanted to get his life together and attend church. Wade spoke with him at length.
1. Wade asked him if he would allow his picture to be posted in a couple of places at the church so that others would know what he looked like and could keep him accountable. This man agreed. A person who is open about his problem and wants others to hold him accountable should be willing to be open about his crime in order to protect the children that he knows he could harm.
2. Wade asked if he would agree to be accompanied by an escort whenever he was at the church. The escorts would be people in the church who were trained and willing to work with him. If an escort was not available, he would not come to the church that week.
3. Of course, he would have no contact with children while at the church.
4. If a molester cared about the children, he would want them to be safe from him.
This is what repentance looks like. Openness and humility are part of the deal. As far as I know, this arrangement worked out fine.
Anyone who attends the church should be made aware that an offender is attending the church.
It takes a village to keep a child safe. Many eyes provide lots of accountability. Once again, if the molester does not want people to know, he may not be fully repentant and may be planning to molest again. If he cared about his victims. he would be open about his problem for the sake of the potential victims.
Can a molester/rapist volunteer at a church?
After a period of time to see if he is serious about his situation, he/she could volunteer in situations that do not involve kids. For example. he could make coffee for the Adult Sunday School classes but always with a volunteer in tow. He/she must never, ever be at the church unaccompanied if children will be present. He could join an all adult Bible study group as long as no children were present and the attendees were informed and cooperative.
What is appropriate from a societal perspective?
Even society recognizes that a perpetrator is highly likely to reoffend. That is why we have registries of sex offenders. I believe that every parent should be aware of the sex offenders in their neighborhood, churches, etc. So should churches. It is silly and dangerous to hide a potential problem. As I stated earlier, prison does not cure the psychiatric disorder. It merely punishes the crime. Jesus forgives the sin but the offenders must now live their lives openly, confessing their disorder, if they truly care about the safety of others. Ask why if they wouldn't want to do this…
Society can choose what they will allow. That doesn't mean the molester is safe, however.
As we all know, Casey Anthony was declared "not guilty" in the death of her daughter. Society claims she is now free to go about her life. i guess this means she could legally get a job as a nanny. So, if you needed a nanny, would you hire her since *society allows it?" The court system is only a legal answer. It does not provide an answer for psychologically disturbed individuals. The legal system does not force me, in my private life, to hire Casey Anthony to baby sit in my home. It does not require that the church to do so, either.
A response to the Highpoint Church statement on the convicted rapist in their worship band.
Here is the link to Highpoint Church's statement on November 23, 2016 in which they admit the leadership knew they had a convicted rapist leading worship. Well, they claim he wasn't but he was front and center in the church.
So, it is true that we have a convicted sex offender serving at Highpoint Church.
Naive: "The reality is that Highpoint Church is made up of all kinds of sinners. Highpoint is a perfect place for imperfect people."
The leaders of the church show a serious lack of understanding about rape and molestation. These acts are not just *sin* and signs of *imperfection.* They also constitute a serious psychological disorder which has not been addressed by the church. Timothy may be forgiven of his sin but is probably not cured of his mental deviation. The pastors need to be trained in how to go about dealing with a mental disorder. Until they do, the church could be at risk from other such "imperfect people."
Naive: "Timothy (Tim) Heinz and his wife and children began attending Highpoint when the Collierville campus first began in the fall of 2013, with his disclosure of being on the Sex Offender Registry to the Highpoint leadership team. "
If you read the statement, at no point does the leadership state that they informed the attendees of the church. This shows that they do not understand that many eyes prevent a reoccurrence of molestation. These pastors appear to believe that they, and they alone, can protect an large church from a convicted rapist. They cannot. They do not mention that he was accompanied by a trained person while he was in the church and around other children which means he probably wasn't.
Also, it was unwise to bring his wife and children into the statement. This is his third wife and he has children which should be a matter of long term concern to the leadership. Marriage does not cure molesters. This is not mentioned at all which leads me to think that they believe all is well since he is married and has kids.
Doesn't look like it: "The safety of the children and students in our congregation is our highest priority."
If that was the case, the parents would have been informed.
Really? "While we believe that nobody is beyond God’s redemption, we also believe that people must live with the consequences of their decisions."
Then why did you not protect the kids at your church by alerting their parents?
I have a question: "Tim has never worked with children or student ministries while at Highpoint."
I wonder if this band ever performed for the teens at the church in any capacity? If so, that was not protecting them from a man who raped a 13/14(acc. to reports) year old girl.
Question: He has been in accountability with a team of men the entire time he has been at Highpoint.
What does accountability mean? Since none of them can be with him 24 hours a day, were they with him every moment he was at the church? Molesters are charming and have been known to lie every now and then….
What is their motive? "In order to alleviate any potential adverse perception, and in view of the impact of this situation on Tim and his family, Tim will no longer be serving in any role on stage."
This is concerning to me. It sounds like the leadership has dug in their heels and said "We didn't do anything wrong. We are only doing this to protect.the church from adverse reactions and to protect the family." They should have done this right from the beginning to prevent the possibility of harm to young people in the church. The fact that they will not say this leads me to believe that they are merely embarrassed and they still do not get how to deal wit molesters.
Be very cautious here. You are dealing with a rapist who likes them young and who has been married three times and has kids. His wife needs to be in counseling as well so she can learn to protect her children as they enter adolescence.
What does this mean? "Heinz will continue to serve in a support role."
We hope that he will have an escort in whatever he does in a support role. This is a broad term with no reassurance of supervision and restrictions.
Then you better beef things up: "We will continue to be a place of refuge for those who have been victims of sexual abuse."
Let me close with this. My guess is that the girl who was raped by Heinz would not be comfortable in your church as you spend all this time and effort on putting him up front and center. I would ask that you consider getting yourselves some training through Boz Tchividjian's group, GRACE.
Two closing points:
Slander or an Inconvenient Truth
To chalk this post up to slander is to ignore the possibility that God is protecting the church from harm whether now of in the future. This blog is dedicated to telling the truth as we know it. We wrote a post called Slander or an Inconvenient Truth. The Bible is clear. Slander is a deliberate telling of a lie.
We are Christians and would never deliberately lie. That is why we post so many links. You may not agree with our conclusions but they are based on our understanding. For anyone to claim that we are from Satan demonstrates a clear misunderstanding of the Biblical narrative and demonstrates that they do not have a firm grasp on the Scripture.
Highpoint Church: I never knew about you until now.
This may be difficult to believe but I had never heard of your church until the whole sex abuse situation arose. I have no reason to hate your church. However, I do have a reason to encourage your church to do a better job in preventing molesters from further harming others. Never, ever forget the victims!