“Abuse is never contained to a present moment, it lingers across a person’s lifetime and has pervasive long-term ramifications.” ― Lorraine Nilon
I have been writing for almost 11 years (in March.) This is the first time that I have reported on a story in which an SBC church exhibitsedabusive behavior to their own pastor and his family for reporting abuse. It is indicative of the deep rooted, serious problem of sex abuse in the SBC. This is a story that needs to find it’s way into the media. Will the ERLC/SBC Executive Com. duck this one because the family actually went to law enforcement? That seems to give some of them the heebie jeebies.
Before I begin to tell this tragic tale, the Hamiltons asked me to say that there were some decent and kind people at Missouri Baptist Church who supported then through this ordeal and continue to do so.
Pastor Hamilton, the bi-vocational pastor of SBC’s Missouri Valley Baptist Church, a member of the Missouri Baptist Convention, had to leave his job when his son was molested. Here is his story.
Warning: the testimony in this case along with statements by pastors and elders is profoundly upsetting to me and may be to readers as well. Does the SBC care? Especially when some names in this story may involve insiders.
The 5 year old son of Jared and Emily Hamilton reported his abuse to his parents.
On September 14th, 2013, Pastor Hamilton’s 5-year-old son, who we shall call Sam, told his father, that AB had taught him “that crap.” AB was, at the time, the 13-year-old son of the church’s youth minister and elder, TB JareD and Emily questioned him and their son described oral sex.
These parents did what I wish every parent of an underaged child should do. They reported this directly to law enforcement, which in this case is the country sheriff.
Unfortunately, the process between the initial report to law enforcement and the interrogation by Child Protective Services and Children’s Advocacy was lengthy because it appears that their report had been misplaced. During this time, the family experienced incredible pain as they dealt with the violation of their little boy.
The father/elder/minister said his son admitted what had happened.
They had been told by the deputy not to contact the perpetrator or his family. But as time dragged on (due to the misplaced report) the pastor became frustrated. He felt helpless and confused. Pastor Hamilton called TB to tell him what had happened with his son. TB chose to ask his son what had happened.
TB told us they asked AB if it were true and AB admitted it was and for a moment, I thought we were all on the same page.
TB demanded silence and became irate when he found out that the law enforcement as already been notified.
A few days later, TB attempted to convince the Hamiltons that silence would be the best for all of them. When he found out the law enforcement was already informed, his response was outrage. He reportedly showed up in the Hamilton’s driveway, yelling obscenities and appearing like he wanted to have a fight. The family was so concerned that they called 911.
The Hamiltons consulted Pastor David Mason, who has been involved with the Missouri Baptist Convention, and has a reputation as being thoughtful counsel for pastors.
The Hamiltons said that Mason counseled them not to tell the church that their son was abused by AB. Instead, they should put up *invisible fences* whatever those are. Where was the wise counsel for their pain? Shortly thereafter, TB and his family left the church for Mason’s Green Valley Baptist Church.
Ummmm-I would look elsewhere for wise counsel…
Missouri Valley Baptist Church, Halls, MO, elders decided to make their own ruling, stating that Pastor Hamilton was not allowed back in the pulpit until he begged forgiveness from the perp and the perp’s parents for his anger!!!
The elder board consisted of TB (quite convenient), John Stickley Randy Rogers and Seth Mason. Seth Mason (son of wise counsel David Mason), speaking for the elders, said Pastor Hamilton would not be allowed back in the pulpit because:
- he was angry at the AB, Sam’s abuser
- he had to get down on his hands and knees and beg forgiveness from AB, the perp, and TB and his parents.
If this did not happen, then Pastor Hamilton would be disqualified from ministry. He was told that Seth Mason and other church members would use physical means, if necessary, to keep him out of the pulpit.
I found this deeply disturbing. I believe that the little Sam’s parents demonstrated admirable restraint in the situation. The parents were naturally upset to learn their son had been molested. Who wouldn’t be? But they were careful in their responses.
The elders read a letter to the congregation after receiving approval from TB but not from the Hamiltons because they were, get ready all TWW readers…..spreading gossip and making a mess!
At this point, it’s evident to me that elders were going to side with TB who was on their board of elders. A letter was read to the congregation and the Hamiltons were not present for this. This letter was approved by TB but not one elder asked for the Hamiltons to approve the letter nor were the Hamilton’s informed about the letter prior to the reading.
Pastor Hamilton met with the elders. I’m assuming the perp’s dad sat this one out, or did he. Here’s what he said happened.
- Randy Rogers stated that I had been “spreading gossip” so they “had to clean up my mess”.
- John Stickley said he deleted the letter off his computer so there would be no evidence against him.
At this point, it was patently clear that little Sam was not going to be considered the victim in this situation. The victim in the eyes of the elders appeared to be TB, the perp, and the rest of his family.
Pastor Hamilton saw the writing on the wall and resigned.
How could the elders have participated in this situation? Is it true to whoever has the power rules in the SBC? Is that power so important that a church would not come to the defense of a little child and give support and solace to him as well as his family? Did the elders reach out to the little boy? Did the offer to provide counseling to the parents? Or did none of that matter?
Sadly the church body appeared apathetic to the action of the elders. Pastor Hamilton had no option but to resign.
The first trial-AB was convicted of 1st degree molestation
This was a state prosecuted case. Since AB pled *not guilty,* little Sam had to testify. The Hamiltons were forced to watch their little boy be interrogated by the defense attorney. The defense would allege:
- AB had no idea what sex was.
- AB was mentally incapable of understanding anything of a sexual nature.
- Little Sam was being abuse at home by Pastor Hamilton.
- Little Sam was actually the perpetrator of AB!
Oddly, the parents told the Hamilton’s at one point about how intelligent their son was. Looks like the IQ went downhill around the time of this testimony. Also, the Hamilton’ found it hard to sit still when an accusation was made that Pastor Hamilton abused Sam and that Sam was the real perp. A 5 year old child??? Horrific.
I wonder how some people sleep at night.
The Court of Appeals overturned the decision: One of the judges said this was just *fun and games.*
Dee is doing her best to maintain composure here…
The family of AB received some funds to appeal the decision in the Kansas City Court of Appeals. The Hamiltons said its was overturned based on a lack of evidence that the oral sex, as testified by little Sam, was actually sexual in nature.
Pastor Hamilton said that the following statement by on the the judges is *seared in his brain.*
One of the judges referred to my son’s abuse as “fun and games.”
He went on to say:
I lost all faith in our court system that day.
Micah Fries, pastor of Brainard Baptist Church of Chattanooga, who appears to want to become a leader in the SBC hierarchy, was asked to help the Hamiltons.”It’s all gossip.”
SBC Messengers, remember this if Fries makes a run for a position one of these days.
Fries had been a friend of the Hamiltons and and pastor to TB. Emily Hamilton reached out to him, explaining what happened and begged him to reach out to TB, asking him to do the right thing. The following are statements made to her. Remember this as an example of how Fries supported the Hamiltons: It’s all gossip…
Emily still has the emails.
- I have heard a little bit about what has happened between your families. The extent of my awareness has been limited to one conversation with TB. Aside from that I’ve not talked to anyone else about it because I don’t believe it would be beneficial for me to engage in any sort of gossip.
- Because I know very little, and don’t want to know nor am I involved, I have intentionally chosen to not take anyone’s “side.”
- I am not affirming or condoning anyone’s behavior. It would be inappropriate for me to take a side.”
Here is a little lesson for Micah Fries who appears to be very concerned about reports of sexual abuse in the SBC. Sexual abuse is not *gossip.* It is a painful crime and should be discussed by pastors who actually care about abuse. In fact, most pastors with a heart would have gotten involved. It would behoove him to actually learn more than a *little” when it involves a crime. This reminds me of the really dumb excuse that Tim Challies gave for not commenting on the CJ Mahaney/SGM debacle. It was all about poor time management. He’s still hiding under his desk.
Finally, Emily Hamilton lost her job as a teacher’s aide over this. Guess who was on the board?
Emily was threatened not to discuss this situation with anyone at the private Christian™ school where she worked. Why? because it was *gossip.* Guess who attended schoo there. Yep-AB. Guess who was on the board. Yep-TB. It would result in pressure for her to leave the school.
TB and the rest of his family are still involved in ministry.
Through doing research, I’ve discovered that TB, AB etc. are still involved in a youth ministry organization in the St Joseph, Missouri which receives support from many of the SBC churches in the area.
Here is a statement on loss by Emily Hamilton:
- We lost in court (after they won)
- We lost In church
- We lost our jobs
- We lost countless friends in the church and school
- My little boy lost his innocence
Let me add a few things:
- They lost expected support from Micah Fries and David Mason.
- They lost their faith in an elder system which was beholden to others..
- They lost their reputation in front of their church due to the elders unfathomable actions.
Pastor Hamilton also lost his faith in the SBC:
- Local SBC pastors have blocked them on social media or have chosen to ignore the story while they support the ministry of TB.
- Most SBC pastors and churches lack wisdom and discernment in this area.
Let’s end this infuriatingly sad story with a statement by Emily
The faith I have in the King I serve to one day bring justice in all its glory on behalf of my son and every other victim…. infinite.
The rest of the story:
Sam is doing well and recently told his parents he wants to become a sex abuse attorney. I would say that he will give perps a run for their money!!!
(I plan to contact others about this story. Does anyone who is Caring Well out there want to care well in this instance?)
Addendum: Is it really just fun and games?
Teens who begin to molest at there age of 12 are particularly concerning. Here is a report from the Juvenile Justice program.
The number of youth coming to the attention of police for sex offenses in creases sharply at age 12 and plateaus after age 14. Early adolescence is the peak age for offenses against younger children. Offenses against teenagers surge during mid to late adolescence, while offenses against victims under age 12 decline.
…Juvenile sex offenders are also much more likely than adult sex offenders to target young children as their victims. The pro portion of victims younger than the age of 12 is 59 percent for juvenile sex offenders, compared with 39 percent for adult sex offenders
,,,First, the statistics clearly highlight the fact that juveniles continue to constitute a substan tial proportion—more than one-third—of those who commit sexual offenses against minors.
…Thus, any effort to prevent or intervene in sexual assault and child molestation must address the risk that juvenile sex offenders pose.
…The analyses reiterate many findings from the clinical sample literature, notably, that individuals known to the victim, including family members, are those who most often commit sexual assaults; that around 90 percent of known teen offenders are male;
juveniles are the offenders in 23 percent of reported cases of child sexual abuse.
…As daunting as it may be, if a parent notices any troubling behaviors, or just has a gut feeling that something is off, they need to reach out for support. Not only for their own child’s sake, but to protect other children.
Parents with questions may want to consult with their pediatrician or a therapist in their community, says Nacson. “Feel out the question and say, ‘This is what I’m noticing. I can’t tell if I should be concerned or not.’ If you are mulling it over, that’s a good time to consult someone.”
,,,The best helpers for children who are acting out sexually are those who have trained specifically to work with juveniles. Not every community has a private therapist who specializes in this topic (check www.aasect.org). However, every community does have access to the expertise of social workers and therapists working for their local child protective services (CPS).
What most people don’t know is that asking for help from CPS does not always mean legal repercussions.
A final thought
It is my hope that AB’s family will seek out help. In my opinion, there is a real problem here and I hope that there are no further problems.
Also, why didn’t the vaunted SBC I(national and local) do something?