“I feel that some people have a hard time with the truths around us, not only the sexual abuse by priests, but all bad things. I call it chosen ignorance. This modified form of ignorance is found in people who, if confronted with certain truths realize that they have to accept them and thereby acknowledge evil, and that scares them. Opening up and letting the truth in might knock them off their perceived center. It is too hard, period.” ―Charles L. Bailey Jr., In the Shadow of the Cross
In order to protect the victims, we’ve agreed to call the husband, Steven J and the wife, Mrs. J. I know their identities and have spoken with both of them in order to get permission for this post.
After speaking with Steven and his wife, I believe their story. However, since a lawsuit is now involved, I say what I always say. Lawyers-put the word *alleged* in front of everything.
I called a deacon from the church, Chris Thomason. He was polite but said he couldn’t talk with me because “a lawsuit is involved.”
What is the Baptist Educational & Missionary Convention of South Carolina?
Since TWW has not covered any stories from this group of churches, I felt a brief history of this important organization would be in order. According to their website:
The Baptist Educational and Missionary Convention of South Carolina was founded in 1877, by a group of black men who came together to enhance the quality of life in their churches and to provide a means of bringing Churches together on a statewide basis to address the educational needs of African Americans of all ages. Dr. Isaac P. Brockenton, organized the Macedonia Baptist Church, Darlington, S.C. under his leadership as pastor and served as the second Moderator of the Historic Gethsemane Association; was the first President of the Baptist Educational and Missionary Convention. The Convention of South Carolina (“BEMCSC”) is the largest organization of African Americans in the state.
What are their objectives?
Weeping Mary Baptist Church is a member of this important historical organization. It is located in Bowling Green, South Carolina.
Here is a link to their Facebook page. They appear to be an active congregation.
Mrs. J began to have frequent contact with Pastor McCaskill.
Steven has attended this church since childhood. He and is wife have been active members since their marriage.
We have known Pastor Robert L McCaskill since he became senior pastor in 2009. My wife worked in the children’s ministry. We both worked in the church as volunteers from 2009 until 2011.
In the Fall 2013, Pastor McCaskill asked Mrs. J. if she would work with social media at the church. They began to talk frequently. However Steven was not aware of the extent of their communication. Mrs. J suffered a miscarriage during this time and reached out to the pastor for spiritual guidance. Most of their interaction was on the phone. Again, Steven was not aware of the extent of the communication.
The emotional devastation of a miscarriage
I want to stop for a minute to point out that miscarriages can, and usually are, emotionally devastating for women. In June 2012, the American Psychological Association presented Miscarriage and Loss:
Losing a pregnancy can affect a woman — and her family — for years, research finds.
Here are some findings from the article:
- But new research suggests that some women may mourn for much longer than expected, even after the birth of a healthy child, although the range and severity of the symptoms may vary. That’s also true for men, as new studies have found that men grieve over a miscarriage more than once thought.
- A woman who has a miscarriage is at risk for depression and anxiety symptoms in subsequent years,
- Another common misunderstanding about miscarriage is that a woman will experience less grief if she loses the baby early in her pregnancy. But most researchers have not been able to find an association between the length of gestation and intensity of grief, anxiety or depression
- For some women, Diamond says, anxiety after a miscarriage can stem from experiencing a seemingly inexplicable trauma. Women will engage in what she calls “retroactive bargaining” in an effort to feel less out of control.”They will spend enormous amounts of emotional energy trying to explain why it happened,” Diamond says. “They often blame themselves, even when it is inaccurate, to help make sense of it. Women may torment themselves with guilt and blame, rewriting the story, so to speak:
It is vital to understand that a woman who has miscarried is emotionally vulnerable in the aftermath.
In January 2014, Pastor McCaskill attempted to isolate my wife by inviting her into one-on-one conversations and by asking her to check in with him daily to talk about her anxiety over losing the baby.
Was this counseling or grooming?
The answer to this question will quickly become obvious. Things took a drastic in February. The conversations between the pastor and Mrs. J began to be more about how *pretty* she looked.
According to Steven:
Robert McCaskill began to flirt with my wife telling her how she looked nice at church and that she had a pretty smile and that she is a beautiful person.
He wanted to talk about things that were unrelated to church business or to my wife’s emotional struggle with the lost of our baby. As they continued to communicate daily he eventually reached a point where he made no reference to how was she doing and how was she coping with the lost her baby.
Then, McCaskill began to discuss his *problems* with his wife who had suffered with breast cancer.
Instead he began to share very personal information to my wife about his relationship with his wife Angel. He told my wife that he was not satisfied in the bedroom and his wife – Angel didn’t want intimacy…that it got worst after her breast cancer, surgery and chemotherapy. He said that he was upset when his wife – also a minister – would go out of town without him knowing she had had left… He said that he liked to ‘role play’ by looking at and thinking about other women. He said he didn’t like porn because it was artificial but he preferred to see and think about “real” people. He said it helped to improve things with his wife in the bedroom.
McCaskill would call Mrs. J early in the morning (5AM) and extremely late at night. He would flatter her by telling her that he could only confide in her.
I believe that McCaskill felt that he could trust Mrs. J for privacy and so he took the relationship to a new level. Caution: Graphic description….
After this had continued for a several weeks my wife said he texted her and told her that he had something that he really needed her to see: My wife replied: ‘what is it?” He then send her a pick of his penis with an erection laying on a white pillow. He asked her if any woman would have trouble with that.
According to Steven, Mrs. J didn’t know what to say and said no woman would have trouble. McCaskill then began to send pictures of couple in sexual positions, asking her what she preferred.
At the same time, he criticized Steven to Mrs. J.while at the same time complimenting her.
He also became obsessed with questions about me: asking my wife about my personality and why I didn’t not want to continue working with him in the ministries. My wife tells me that he often criticized me to her by calling me a controlling *********
He would send text messages and asking her what was she wearing. ‘What color do you have on today?” He began to ask my wife to send him selfies of herself. “Let me see that pretty smile…”
By this time, the pastor knew he had her and began a long term, sexual relationship with her.
After feeling that he had gained her trust he began to ask her for sexual explicit pictures of herself. She explained what happened on evening: After texting about his frustration at home he asked her if she could help him by sending him a picture of herself with no top on…. She complied. He then asked for a second pic a close up of her from the belly button down….. She complied.
As this inappropriate relationship continued for weeks… then months….. then years. My wife says that she found herself in a dark place. Numb to what was happening. She says she did it because of who he was.
Steven discovered the relationship which led to a separation from Mrs. J and a confrontation with McCaskill.
Our marriage suffered as we drifted apart over the years… she was distant …always distracted and appearing more and more disingenuous to me.
Although our marriage was strained we would both say it was good. We took a 7-day cruise each year and did all of the traditional things family do … holidays, birthdays, and we attended this church nearly each Sunday while this pastor preached from the pulpit.
January 2017 my wife forgot her phone and I discovered what was going on. We separated.
He then went with his wife to the pastor’s home.
A week later she accompanied me to this pastor’s home where I had made arrangements for us to meet with him and his wife. They did not know why we were coming to visit them.
We met. I disclosed to him and his wofe what I had discovered. He accused me of bring“mess” into his home. He then dismissed his wife by telling her to go upstairs. She stood up from the table to leave. We stood and left their home.
The church retaliated against the couple and the association refused to help them.
The following day this pastor called a secret meeting of 14 persons he called to attend. They voted to revoke our membership and barred us from the church property at the threat of being arrested.
During the next several weeks I attempted to contact each board member but they all refused to talk or meet with us.
I reached out the association that my church belongs to ask the moderator to assist. He tried but the board members would not talk with or meet with him either.
Steven, seeing no reasonable way to deal with this, contacted a law firm.
I contacted a law firm who sent a letter to the church addressed to the board members. They allowed the accused pastor to contact the law firm on behalf of the church. He denied everything and threatened to sue the law firm for defamation of character.
The church’s insurance company contacted me asking to interview me and my wife. After speaking with us and seeing the evidence (phone records, voice recordings, etc) they advised that they would reach out to the pastor and the church. They eventually terminated the commercial liability policy. Today, the church still has no active insurance coverage.
April 25, 2017 – after much debate and lots of soul searching Civil lawsuits were filed: Robert L McCaskill – Alienation of Affection, breach of fiduciary duties and negligence. Weeping Mary Baptist Church – breach of fiduciary duties and negligence. As the claims were being prepared and since Discovery has began last year disturbing evidence has surfaced suggesting financial misappropriation of donations, individual civil suits directed at two church board members, relegation to suggest that the church is unincorporated, rumors of other women that have also been subjected to this pastor’s abuse and evidence of tax reporting violations.
The lawsuits have survived a fury of legal maneuvers aimed at dismissing the claims. We entered into Discovery in late 2017. Video depositions were taken from Robert McCaskill and my wife June 19, 2018. I attended and watched him meltdown under the questioning before he initiated a verbal altercation with my attorney. We have also attended a mediation that was continued until September. The attending board members appeared to be surprised at the allegations and the evidence that was presented to them. They asked that we continue the mediation at future date so they could gather more information from the insurance company.
It is my understanding that the followup mediation did not result in agreement and that the lawsuit will proceed.
Mrs. J. was admitted to the hospital under suicide watch in January 2017.
She gave me permission to speak about this difficult time. She is now aware how much her miscarriage contributed to her response to the pastor. We talked about the difficulties with hormones and emotions. She is now in a much better place after receiving professional help. She now believes that she was manipulated by the pastor. I told her that he seemed to know exactly what he was doing and she agreed with me.
She currently remains under the care of a therapist , psychiatrist , neurologist and primary care physicians. She is taking a 8 different medications. After much improvement last year she slipped back into a deep depression when we discovered that the pastor had submitted as part of his interrogatory replies a document that he created and claims that my wife sent to him. It has been confirmed to be a fraudulent document created to look like a Facebook message.
Steven J created a Facebook page in 2017.
Victims of Clergy Sexual Abuse at Weeping Mary Baptist Church which has ignited discussions in their community. Of course, a rival Facebook page, which has since been removed, accused Mr. and Mrs. J of:
witchcraft, scamming people out of money, incest, adultery, fraud , etc.
Apparently some people suspect that the pastor was behind it…When Steven mentioned that he was accused of witchcraft, I told him it was a sign that his narrative was believed. Whenever witchcraft is alleged, it is because there is nothing more believable that can be claimed. (Every once in a blue moon, we are referred to as The Wartburg Witches…🙂 )
Steven and his wife are working on their marriage although they are still separated. However, I was impressed how she was willing to speak to me when her husband was in the room. I think there is much to hope for as they walk through this lawsuit.
- I believe their story because the trajectory of the relationship between Mrs. J and there pastor seems to follow an unwritten playbook that I have heard time and time again. (“My wife is sick and can’t fulfill my needs.” “Your husband is a problem.” “You are so pretty.” )
- I believe that Mrs.J miscarriage led to her being vulnerable to manipulation.
- I believe the pastor, who is intelligent, might have been aware that she might be susceptible to his advances.
- How could a husband use his wife’s serious illness to start a relationship with another woman?!
- Grooming behavior is apparent in the trajectory of the relationship.
- Any pastor who initiates a sexual relationship with anyone in his congregation should never be allowed in the pulpit again. He has torn up his clergy card. He can repent and be a member of a church but he should never be allowed to step foot in a pulpit again.
- My heart goes out to Pastor McCaskill’s wife and I pray for her recovery from breast cancer.
- I call on the Baptist Educational and Missionary Convention of South Carolina to provide support to Mr. and Mrs J.
- I support a lawsuit in this situation since I believe that Mrs. J was taken advantage of by Pastor McCaskill. They should get damages for the hospitalization, counseling and the financial costs of maintaining two households as they work this out.
I want to thank Mr. and Mrs. J for their willingness to talk with me about difficult things. Both are brave as they fight for the truth.