“And why did he use a kiss to show them, That’s not what a kiss is for?” Michael Card
Today is a sad day as we contemplate that Jesus so wanted us to be with Him for eternity that He dies to ensure that reality. Michael Card wrote one of the most beautiful songs about this day called ‘Why?’ Read his words and I will end the post with the video of this song.
Why did it have to be a friend
Who chose to betray the Lord?
And why did he use a kiss to show them
That’s not what a kiss is for?
Only a friend can betray a friend
A stranger has nothing to gain
And only a friend comes close enough
To ever cause so much pain
And why did it have to be a thorny
Crown pressed upon his head?
It should have been a royal one
Made of jewels and gold instead
It had to be a crown of thorns
Because in this life that we live
For all that would seek to love
A thorn is all the world has to give
Why did it have to be a heavy cross
He was made to bear?
And why did they nail His feet and hands
His love would have held him there
It was a cross for on a cross
A thief was supposed to pay
And Jesus had come into the world
To steal every heart away
Yes, Jesus had come into the world
To steal every heart away.
David French exposes the Kanakuk abuse situation which raises questions for me about the connection that Bryan Loritts and Fellowship Memphis have to this story.
This past week, David French posted ‘They Aren’t Who You Think They Are’: “The inside story of how Kanakuk—one of America’s largest Christian camps—enabled horrific abuse.” Todd and I received an email asking for help on some information surrounding this story. Before we get into it, let’s take a side trip. When Bryan Loritts was the pastor of Fellowship Memphis, may have hired, paid, or allowed Pete Newman to work at or for his church AFTER Newman was indicted on multiple counts of child sex abuse and was awaiting trial while out on bond. Maybe Joe White wanted to get him out of Branson before the next season of well-heeled campers arrived, looking for recreation.
In 2016, I wrote the following post: Peter Newman, Serving 35 Years for Molestations at Kamp Kanakuk, Was Allegedly Hired by Fellowship Memphis While Awaiting Trial. At the time I wrote several posts expressing concern about Newman hanging around the church where there were many children. As usual, my concern was brushed away but due to the French article, it has come into the public eye once again. (Thank you, David and Nancy French.) A person who has first-hand knowledge of the situation is currently planning to write a post for TWW in the near future so stay tuned.
Obviously, this piece of information might raise further questions about the Guidepost Solutions report which I wrote about on Wednesday: JD Greear, Bryan Loritts, and the Guidepost Solutions Investigation: Moving Quickly From Caring Well to Couldn’t Care Less.
However, today I want to review some of the information in David French’s much needed and anticipated post. You see, I sent my two daughters to Kanakuk, a Christian camp that is touted as one of the finest Christian camps in the US. I bought the hype. At this time I was living in Dallas and my kids were attending Trinity Christian Academy which introduced us to the *things Christians should do if they can afford it.” Don’t get me wrong, the school was good but the rich and well-known in the Dallas Christian set had kids who attended there. It sometimes got tiring hearing about the fancy homes and incredible trips everyone took and I was glad to get back to North Carolina.
Going to Kanakuk was one of those expected things. My daughters had a good time there and both won certain awards that meant they were *good* or *athletic* Christian kids. My son, much younger, refused to go and for that I am grateful. He would have been in K Kountry and that was a hang-out for Pete Newman. He seems to have a better knack than his mom for avoiding molesters. He didn’t like SEBTS student and molester, Doug Goodrich, at my formed Reformed SBC church and stayed away from him because he thought he was weird. He was more than right. Goodrich was a terrible molester who targeted teen boys. Pete Newman liked them younger.
Pete Newman was a monster. I believe him to be one of the most prolific pedophiles in Missouri history.
From this point, all quotes will be from the French article unless otherwise specified.
Pete Newman arrived in Kanakuk in 1995 and was there for 14 years before being caught.
He was a camp director at Kanakuk Kamps, one of the largest Christian camps in the world. Kanakuk is an immense operation. Since its founding in 1926, it claims to have served more than 450,000 campers. Its main campus is located outside of Branson, Missouri, but it has international reach.
Kanakuk and (Joe) White promoted Newman relentlessly, both within the organization and to the public at large. Newman rose through the ranks from camp counselor to camp director. It sent him on the road to recruit campers and to raise money. According to former members of the camp community, parents would sometimes compete for a coveted honor—hosting Newman in their home.
The number of boys he abused is incalculable.
They say he probably molested hundreds. Behind the scenes, some think it could be in the thousands. Yet this flew under the radar of the news media which had no idea of the importance of this camp and Joe White who owns the camp and who also has an international platform.
He groomed and abused boys in their own homes. He groomed and abused boys at camp. In fact, he abused boys across the world. On June 9, 2010, he pleaded guilty to seven counts of sexually abusing boys. He received a sentence of two life terms, plus 30 years. His guilty plea was but the tip of a terrible iceberg. A civil complaint alleges that there were at least 57 victims, but the prosecutor in his case estimates that the real number could be in the “hundreds.”
Newman broke all sorts of camp rules and the kids loved him for it, not realizing they were being groomed by the camp’s *abstinence expert.*
What is scary about this for me is that Newman’s actions were similar to Doug Goodrich’s actions in summer camps with the kids from my church.
Newman, however, obliterated boundaries for over a decade. In an email interview, a former camper told me Newman would hold conversations with him while they were nude in the showers. Other times, Newman would show off “his scars around his groin to the entire cabin.”
Victim accounts establish a common pattern. Once Newman conditioned the children to accept his nudity, he encouraged campers to disrobe with him during other activities, including basketball, swimming, running, and four-wheeling. Having established these intimate relationships, Newman then spoke to the kids about sexual topics like purity, masturbation, and porn.
And it got worse, much worse. Warning: The following account is graphic.
Newman presented himself as an abstinence expert, offering to have awkward conversations with children to help keep them pure before marriage. Sometimes with parental consent, he talked to campers about sexual sin. Unknown to parents, instead of teaching the children not to masturbate, he gave them lessons on how to do it. According to victims and Newman’s own account, he masturbated them and taught them how to masturbate him.
This sexual activity, he explained, wasn’t biblically wrong, as long as the campers avoided lusting for women or looking at porn while he molested them
Nor did the abuse stop at masturbation. He performed and received oral sex. One victim claims that when he called his mother to ask her to pick him up early from camp, Newman took the phone from the camper, and convinced the mother to let him stay. Later, the victim alleged, Newman brutally sodomized him in a shower.
As time went on, parents became concerned. And just like in my own former church, it was blown off by the leaders as a *skinny-dipping thing.* In my SBC church they called it *locker-room humor.*
Here is a link to one of the civil suits.
And so time passed, with a number of puzzling incidents.
Read the article for detail.
- Did the local authorities blw off the resports, even one by Kanakuk?
- Pete saw a psychiatrist and then was told to seek counsel from lawyers. Why? Maybe because conversations with lawyers are confidential? Did the psychiatrist tell them to call the police?
- Pete was given new rules to follow but these rules were relaxed because he got married! Didn’t the leaders at Kanakuk understand that Pete wanted to have sex with kids, not his wife? How stupid was that?
- Did Joe White blame Newman’s wife for not providing an *initial layer of accountability?!*
- Joe White purchased land for Pete to buld a houuse on.
- Right up untl Pete confessed, White denied having no knowledge of what was going on.
Pete confessed in 2009 to White and others. Joe White began a series of actions that if true, is despicable.
White and the other leaders reportedly delayed in contacting the authorities.
Cooper allegedly began calling victims’ families to alert them of the abuse, while White traveled to inform others in person. In a telephone interview, Goodwin told us that “we reached out in a way that we thought was the right way. Joe was a part of reaching out to a lot of them. We offered them counseling. We offered to pay for it.” He argued that the camp went above and beyond to help victims. “In the world, that’s not something you do.”
One victim’s father told us White met with him and characterized the abuse as “no big deal. Childhood experimentation. I was naïve enough to believe that this was all that was involved.” The truth of their son’s brutal abuse only came out over the years. White also stressed the importance of forgiveness. He didn’t want “one bad apple” to ruin all of the good that occurred at Kanakuk. Later, White offered that family a payment of $100,000.
…According to multiple families’ accounts, the camp sent victims’ families a copious amount of Kanakuk gear, PlayStations, iPads, iPhones, and snack baskets. They also directly reached out to victims, offering hunting trips and weekends away at White’s house.
It was so frequent and intense, one family filed a *restraining order against White.*
White continued to downplay Newman’s sick actions against the campers. In one instance, he or his representative (Aren’t they supposed to be the same?) insulted a camper. If anyone from the camp is reading this, if this is true, the camp *representatives* are despicable jerks in my opinion.
You need to understand the camping values. Athleticism is considered the greatest good. All kinds of awards are given for it.
In deposition testimony and in a memorandum from counsel, a Kanakuk mother told the story of an additional disturbing incident. Her daughter, a young Kanakuk camper, told her mother that she saw Newman intimately touching a young male camper. She told her mother, “Pete is gay, he likes boys my age.” She added, “They aren’t who you think they are.” The mother called the camp and reported her daughter’s story.
The mother testified she got a call from a camp representative who said the camp had completed its investigation, had talked to Newman, and invited her to talk to Newman as well. Then the conversation took a strange turn. The camp representative also allegedly expressed concern over whether the daughter who reported Newman’s conduct “had a heart for Christ” and said, “she’s just not athletic enough for our program.”
Ready to get even more upset. There were allegedly more molesters at Kanakuk.
I am going to say something which may get people mad at me. I find it hard how anyone could knowingly support a pedophile. White wanted to have this pedophile with him to rehabilitate him. This causes me to have many questions about White. He claims to have been close to Newman but also claims never to have seen any untoward actions. I must admit I have a hard time believing him and I wonder…but it is best to stop here.
During legal proceedings following Newman’s termination, families were shocked to discover White’s accommodation of another pedophile. In 2000, Robert John Morgan, a pilot who flew White to various engagements, admitted to sodomizing his own daughter beginning at age 5. White gave him housing at Kanakuk during the off-season while awaiting trial. In front of Morgan’s daughter—a Kanakuk camper—White asked the judge not to imprison him, saying he had confidence “rehabilitation on this side of prison walls is much more healthy for him than rehabilitation behind prison walls.”
White also stated he would “trust [Morgan] around my daughters,” before the judge sentenced Morgan to 10 years for statutory sodomy.
In the end, did White or other leaders do anything about those who were supposed to be accountable for Newman?
Of course not. He then leaves it all in the hands of the court. White appears to have an incredible ability to blame everybody else except him. I guess his accountability circle is somewhere out past Jupiter (see the video to understand.)
Nobody resigned as a result of the failure to stop a decade of abuse. There was no disciplinary action against any of Newman’s supervisors, and Joe White is still the head of the camp today.
When we approached Newman’s supervisor, Kris Cooper, for an interview, his attorney responded with a telling statement. “The best forum for these cases,” he wrote “is a court of law—not the church or mainstream media. The key point in all sexual abuse cases is the quality and extent of the evidence or lack thereof. As such, the courts … have a well-established body of law that filters through what is a legitimate sexual abuse claim and what is not. Neither the church nor the media have the proper framework in place to do that. The courts do.”
White and *representatives* made sure that those they settled with signed NDAs. Free the victims from the NDAs. Do you guys think Jesus would do this or do you even care?
Today and every day, nondisclosure agreements silence Newman’s victims,
Ready to cry? A camper committed suicide. Folks, this one is tough
In the course of our investigation, we came across a 2019 obituary in the Dallas Morning News of a young Kanakuk victim who took his own life shortly after settling his case with Kanakuk. (Those close to him said Kanakuk took his life from him.) The family included a telling detail in the death notice, saying their son was a “Kanakuk Kamps abuse survivor” who “for years fought valiantly against the trauma he suffered. He had a heart for others who were victims there as well, and he was a generous friend to those he could help.”
Where am I in all of this?
- I will go out of my way to tell people to keep their kids away from this tony Christian camp.
- I will be happy to write any story of those families and victims associated with Kanakuk. Just contact me.
- Tonight, I will devote my prayers for these dear children harmed by a sicko as well as a weak and unimpressive group of leaders.
- Lift the NDAs, Joe. Stop being a coward.
- If any person who worked at Kanakuk would like to come forward and tell their story, let me know.
- I will always remember that my son could have been a victim had he gone to the camp as I suggested. He was in the age Pete liked, with or without a wife. The age of the young man in the obituary.
- I have to question the Christian life of Joe White and his compadres. Is it real or a game or a way to get money and fame?? At this point, I don’t know.