Pastor Jared Olivetti, Immanuel Reformed Presbyterian Church, to Undergo an Ecclesiastical Trial for Covering Up Sexual Abuse by a Family Member

The @NASAHubble space telescope captured a side-on view of a barred spiral galaxy roughly 57 million light-years from the Milky Way in the constellation Centaurus. NASA

When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.- Maya Angelou


I will do a f/u for my last post later in the week.


Kudos to Holly Hayes and the Indy Star for investigating and making this sorry story public.


Jared Olivetti, Pastor of Immanuel Reformed Presbyterian Church, accused of the cover-up of sexual abuse, allegedly conducted by a juvenile family member.

I often wonder why some Christian media do not put the name of some pastors in the title. I like to get it up front and personal. Olivetti is allegedly going to have an “ecclesiastical trial” by the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America.

Here is what the Christian Post reported. Presbyterian pastor accused of covering up abuse of 15 kids placed on leave by denomination

Pastor Jared Olivetti of Immanuel Reformed Presbyterian Church in West Lafayette will go through an ecclesiastical trial in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America and must refrain from exercising his duties as pastor pending the result, according to the denomination’s synod judicial commission.

“By imposing this requirement, the SJC in no way pre-judges the case, but acknowledges the gravity of the accusations against Mr. Olivetti,” said a letter sent by the commission, according to IndyStar.

Here is a link to the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA). They claim they aim to:

The aim of everything we are and do is “to glorify God and enjoy Him fully.” Our beliefs all stem from a full commitment to the authority of the Bible as the inerrant, infallible Word of God.

So how’d they do? Not so great, apparently. 15 kids, and those that love them, are probably not OK, and their faith may be shakey. This will have lifelong implications. I wonder if Immanuel leadership and the RPCNA will provide them expert counseling throughout their lives? I wonder if lawsuits, well deserved, IMO, might be on the way?

I believe that Immanuel Reformed Presbyterian Church had unbiblical (maybe the word is bad?) leadership that protected the pastor instead of holding him accountable.

Immanuel Presbyterian Church says of their mission:

Immanuel RPC exists for the joyful goal of worshiping, serving and proclaiming Jesus in West Lafayette and beyond. We meet together every week at God’s invitation to rejoice in His greatness and goodness. mmanuel RPC exists for the joyful goal of worshiping, serving and proclaiming Jesus in West Lafayette and beyond. We meet together every week at God’s invitation to rejoice in His greatness and goodness.

The Indy Star reported on the matter in West Lafayette pastor at center of IndyStar investigation placed on leave by denomination

Olivetti and the 2020 elder board of the Immanuel Reformed Presbyterian Church were the subject of a December IndyStar investigation, which found they failed to act with urgency in responding to inappropriate behavior and sexual offenses by a boy at the church.

…The boy is a relative of Olivetti. Rather than immediately recuse himself, IndyStar found Olivetti took advantage of his position as a leader to interfere with the church’s response.

IndyStar is not indicating the relationship between Olivetti and the boy to avoid directly identifying him. The Star does not identify juvenile offenders unless they are charged as adults.

A good summation of the allegation by Holly Hayes of the Indy Star.

Holly Hayes of the Indy Star has been investigating this situation. In 12/22, she wrote 5 things to know about church child sex abuse scandal in West Lafayette

  1. (Olivetti) The head pastor was aware of abusive behavior as early as October 2019
  2. Church leaders intentionally delayed notifying Presbytery of the allegations.
  3. Church leaders were aware of the abuse for nearly five months before informing the congregation
  4. The exact timeline of abuse is unclear
  5. The boy was found delinquent on what would be multiple felonies

She noted these important points.

  • Essentially, they notified themselves and hand-picked the men who would advise them through the investigation.
  • Immanuel elders were made aware of the allegations — broadly, not necessarily in detail — in April 2020, after one family confronted Olivetti about abuse and reported to the Indiana Department of Child Services,
  • The children from the church are not the only known victims. Investigators identified as many as 15,
  • Court records show the boy was found delinquent on what would be seven felony counts of child molestation in July of this year. He was remanded to a residential facility.

It is possible that 15 kids were molested by this “relative” of Olivetti.

Holly Hayes also reported in the Indy Star: ‘No sanctuary’: A boy sexually abused up to 15 kids. His pastor relative protected him. In this, we learn that Olivetti told another pastor outside of his church that he would not report it to his denominational leaders but would keep the information in a separate record.

…it was revealed to leaders at the West Lafayette church that children from multiple families had been abused and harassed by another minor within the congregation, according to internal church documents obtained by IndyStar. Olivetti and his fellow elders kept the abuse from church members for more than four months, even as they learned of additional transgressions.

…Rather than immediately recuse himself, IndyStar found Olivetti continued to shape the church’s response, taking advantage of his position as a leader to interfere with the investigation.

…In a July 2020 meeting, Olivetti told the pastor of a neighboring church he and his elder board – referred to as the session – were going to hide the allegations from higher authorities in the denomination. While session notes would typically be shared with the Presbytery each year, notes pertaining to these incidents, Olivetti said, would not be.

“We’re not sending a report up,” Olivetti said during the conversation, an audio recording of which was obtained by IndyStar. “It’s not going to be in our regular session minutes. It’s going to be in a different (record).”

One deacon had the good sense to resign when he learned that the leaders’ goal was to present Olivetti as the one being harmed by this investigation!

One former deacon, Joshua Bright, resigned from the church on 12/20. He told the Indy Star:

Joshua Bright, a former deacon who resigned and left the church last December, told IndyStar the Immanuel session’s actions have skewed perceptions of the harm done.

“Probably the biggest impact is spinning out a narrative that portrays (Olivetti) as a person who has been harmed and abused by what’s gone on in the church,” Bright said, “as opposed to (being) the person who has caused it.”

The church should can their entire leadership team and ask this man to return. He at least knew that things were wrong.

Eloquence and charism do not mean a pastor is a good or decent man.

One parent of a victim spoke to the Indy Star that he attended the church due to the charisma and eloquence of Olivetti.

“The thought of my children growing up under a lesser preacher,” he wrote in late summer 2021, “was unthinkable.” He continued: “That eloquence and charisma has brought a great deal of suffering back on me and others.”

Olivetti is going on trial by his denomination. This should be interesting.

The Indy Star reports:

The religious charges against Olivetti were accepted by the commission late last year, but the decision to place him on leave wasn’t announced until Thursday. As of Jan. 2, Olivetti was still preaching at Immanuel.

…Olivetti’s leave was announced to the denomination Thursday afternoon in a letter from the Synod Judicial Commission, a copy of which was obtained by IndyStar. The Synod, which is the national governing body in the Reformed Presbyterian denomination, is currently overseeing the investigation into Olivetti and his fellow elders.

…In accordance with the denomination’s Book of Discipline, Olivetti is required to “refrain from the exercise of office of teaching elder until the judicial process is complete,” the commission announced Thursday.

“By imposing this requirement,” the letter says, “the SJC in no way pre-judges the case, but acknowledges the gravity of the accusations against Mr. Olivetti.”

Bye, bye Olivetti: The recording…

I’ll leave you with this. It’s Olivetti telling a pastor of another church that the information was not going to be sent up the chain of leadership. I am no fan of biblical counseling, but this guy did the right thing by releasing the recording. (Again from the Indy Star.)

Joshua Greiner, a pastor at Faith Church West who that spring was providing biblical counseling to one of the Immanuel victim families, first learned of Olivetti’s connection to the perpetrator in late July 2020, around the time he began to encourage the family to return to their home church for ongoing care.

Following that disclosure by the family, he was counseling, Greiner and Olivetti met to discuss how to move forward.

IndyStar has obtained and reviewed Greiner’s recording of their nearly 90-minute conversation. It was during that meeting that Olivetti said the Presbytery wouldn’t immediately intervene, that only some session members were fully aware of the situation, and they would be keeping off-book notes regarding the investigation.

This makes me so darn angry. Please join me in praying for the girls and their families. I am so saddened by this. Another church pastor hurts children by allegedly covering up, and another church leadership helped him do so (allegedly.) Another group of kids was harmed, and that is not alleged.

See if you would trust this “charismatic and eloquent” Pastor Olivetti…Here is a link to 109 synonyms for scumbag.


Comments

Pastor Jared Olivetti, Immanuel Reformed Presbyterian Church, to Undergo an Ecclesiastical Trial for Covering Up Sexual Abuse by a Family Member — 40 Comments

  1. Cover up.
    Someday you’ll have to step up
    And fess up.

    It’s the Duggar vibe of covering up for a juvenile offender relative who is a rising adult offender (relative).

    It all lands in Court someday. The bigger the lie, the grander the case, and all the more victims.

    Didn’t SGM have a prolific young offender relative also covered up by the in-charge admin?

    Who is the OT prophet who covered up offenses of his young men relatives? Then same elder prophet fell over in his old rocking chair and kaput?

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  2. I will note that the Indy article is very careful not to mention whether the children who were abused were boys or girls (or both). There was one mention of a family finding out their daughter was abused though it is a bit unclear who had abused her.

    The denomination is conservative in some ways, e.g., no hymns or musical instruments only psalms in church services. Only men can be elders though women can vote in congregational meetings and be deacons (since the 1880s). Members were discouraged from voting or working for the government up until the late 1960s since the government did not confess Jesus as ruler (this had been true for the denomination since before the US Revolution since the UK government didn’t do it the right way [they look back to the Scottish covenanters]).

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  3. In OPC, which I think has procedures which resemble other conservative presbyterian denominations, I believe it is possible for aggrieved individual members of a congregation to appeal local Session decisions to the Presbytery. If RPC is similar, there was no way it was going to be possible to ‘contain’ this at local congregational level.

    Dee, I think there’s a good chance that this will end in a result that is more just than the infamous TC ‘investigation’. An ecclesiastical trial is (I think) public, evidence is presented by an adversarial prosecutor, and it’s harder to conceal the truth than in an ‘informal council’ investigation.

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  4. Indiana’s a mandatory reporting state. Why isn’t Jared Olivetti facing criminal charges for failure to report?

    And if Olivetti and the leadership won’t resign, maybe a lawsuit by victims to completely suck dry any assets this “church” owns?

    I’m also completely cynical and think that the reason the national governing body of the Reformed Presbyterian Church is having a trial is to protect ITS assets.

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  5. I wanted to reply briefly to Samuel Conner’s comments, but clicking the ‘reply’ button didn’t appear to work. I think Mr. Conner is correct in both of his observations. One qualifier: a court can vote to enter executive session if/when an individual’s privacy (and I’m thinking here about the victims, not the accused) is at risk. Otherwise, the proceedings should be public. I am not a part of the RPCNA, but over the years I’ve known people in it. The RP people that I have known would be grieved over all of this and would seek some measure of justice in the church courts. Contrary to another commenter, the national governing body of the RPCNA is not the court with immediate jurisdiction over this case. That court is the presbytery. I understand the cynicism–and there is so much in American Christianity that contributes to cynicism–but my guess is that the presbytery is genuinely concerned about the victims’ welfare, the purity of the church, and God’s good name in the world.

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  6. Ava Aaronson: Who is the OT prophet who covered up offenses of his young men relatives?

    It didn’t go well for Eli, High Priest of Israel, when he covered up the immorality his sons (committed adultery with women in the church). Upon hearing about the death of his sons in battle and that the Ark of the Covenant had been captured by the Philistines, Eli fell from his chair, broke his neck and died. Payday someday.

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  7. Max,

    Actually the abuser was reported to the proper authorities (by the family of a victim) in April 2020 and sentenced as a juvenile to a residential facility in July 2021; the family also informed Olivetti. As both the victims and the accused were minors details were not publicized to the general public. The local church officials did not inform the congregation for 5 months. The issue seems to be whether the church elders handled matters (a) in a moral way and (b) according to the denomination rules (hence church trial not civil/criminal trial). If they knew of the abuse before April 2020 and failed to report to the secular authorities that would be something they could be tried for in a criminal trial (failure to do so is a misdemeanor in Indiana punishable for up to 6 months imprisonment/$1000 fine).

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  8. Erp: If they knew of the abuse before April 2020 and failed to report to the secular authorities that would be something they could be tried for in a criminal trial

    Which should come out in the ecclesiastical trial if the elders tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. There have been so many examples in other TWW posts where the elders just didn’t do the right thing in a timely manner to protect the pastor, the church’s reputation, etc. … thus, failing to meet their mandated reporting obligation to civil authorities. Hopefully, this is not the case at Immanuel.

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  9. Erp:
    Max,

    As both the victims and the accused were minors details were not publicized to the general public.

    When the accused is a minor (as opposed to an adult), does that influence the way in which further potential victims are sought? In terms of publishing the alleged (or convicted, for that matter) perpetrator’s name to encourage victims to come forward?

    Just curious, I genuinely don’t know.

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  10. marco: Shouldn’t parents also be informed of the abusive pattern so they can determine if their children were affected?

    It should have been done though one of the unknowns is what the state investigators were doing and asking. They might not have wanted the church doing its own investigation and stepping on their toes. On the other hand the state authorities may not have moved speedily themselves because the pastor of the church was involved as a family member of the accused. More than one organization could have been at fault. We don’t known.

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  11. jojo:
    I confess….I had to look up the term “ecclesiastical trial.”

    (Dee…did you receive my email a few days ago with my inquiry? Thanks.)

    I am the chief caretaker for my mom and last week she stopped being able to walk. I am currently arranging for some help and looking at assisted living facilities. It has been a hard few months. I am terribly behind all my emails. I will try to get back to you within the week. If you don’t hear from me, call me on the TWW phone line. I am so sorry.

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  12. Jane:
    Your second-to-last paragraph says “please join me in praying for the boys and their families”. The sexual abuser was ONE teenage boy, related to Pastor Olivetti. The victims are 8-15 teenage girls.

    The boy is Highborn and girls don’t count.
    Christian Family Values a la the Duggars.

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  13. Ken F (aka Tweed): is some news about to break about about someone related to TGC?
    https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/wrong-gossip/

    Could be a preemptive strike to shame Calvinistas who read “gossip” on watchblogs, to not believe everything they read on the Internet. It’s an old Robert Morris trick:

    “I’m really concerned about how much time people spend on the Internet. I’m extremely concerned about it. Extremely concerned about it … here’s what blows me away … You wouldn’t listen to gossip, but you’ll read it … you can’t imagine how many people have told me, that ‘this is true,’ “How ya know it’s true? ‘Read it on the Internet’. Anybody can write on the Internet … Boy, I’m just fired up, I’m telling ya.” (Robert Morris, Pastor, Gateway Church)

    Pastor Morris, there are a lot of us Bible-believin’, prayed-up, real-deal ghost-bustin’ Christians who are fired up about the shenanigans of ministers and ministries in the Christian Industrial Complex. I’m telling ya!

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  14. dee: I am the chief caretaker for my mom and last week she stopped being able to walk. I am currently arranging for some help and looking at assisted living facilities. It has been a hard few months.

    Dee, I’ve been there. I know what you are dealing with; I’ve experienced the emotional stress of seeking the best care for a parent. God will guide you as you look for your Mom’s next home. You have been faithful to do the right thing for her. I’m praying for you and your mother.

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  15. dee: I am the chief caretaker for my mom and last week she stopped being able to walk. I am currently arranging for some help and looking at assisted living facilities. It has been a hard few months. I am terribly behind all my emails. I will try to get back to you within the week. If you don’t hear from me, call me on the TWW phone line. I am so sorry.

    DEE, most importantly, take time to take care of yourself. I didn’t. My parents were in assisted living and with me on weekends. I worked full time as a teacher. My husband and I took turns taking them to doctors, so that consumed my times-off . . . after I retired, I had to have SIX surgeries.

    The lesson for care-givers is to be ‘selfish’ enough to survive the journey to be ‘of service’, yes. Take time out for your own medical/dental care. So important.
    When you love people so much, that is a hard, but necessary, truth. Don’t end up like me, God forbid.

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  16. Ken F (aka Tweed):
    Off topic, is some news about to break about about someone related to TGC?
    https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/wrong-gossip/

    Gossip is “Bad News About Someone – This is when you share a true story that shames or otherwise paints a person in the worst possible light.”

    Whelp, guess we’d better stop reading the Bible, then. Wouldn’t want to gossip about Lot and his daughters, David with Bathsheba, or Peter renouncing Jesus, now, would we?

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  17. Wild Honey: Gossip is “Bad News About Someone – This is when you share a true story that shames or otherwise paints a person in the worst possible light.”

    Was Jesus gossiping when He said “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.” (Matthew 23)

    Nah. He was rebuking what needed to be rebuked … calling out religious leaders who were teaching the moral law but living “unclean” themselves … shaming what needed to be shamed in the worst possible light. Sometimes believers just have to “gossip” a bit to help purge the church from bad-boy preachers who are using and abusing it.

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  18. Some thoughts on Christianese Coverups as First, Last, and ONLY Choice:

    A Sin-Sniffing Hellfire-and-Damnation God of Wrath (like in the best-known Chick Tracts) would tend to stall Christians’ moral compass at the lowest/toddler level:
    Avoid Punishment At All Costs.

    And Coverup means You Avoid Punishment.
    Lying Your Way Out means You Avoid Punishment.
    “Dead Men Tell No Tales” means You Avoid Punishment.
    Putting it off on The Great White Throne means You Avoid Punishment.
    (Or at least put it off as long as possible.)

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  19. Headless Unicorn Guy: But then the Pandemic isn’t a Pelvic Issue.

    In all honesty, I still CANNOT figure out why adult sekshull issues are such a big deal with fundagelicals.
    You (generic you) can run a Ponzi scheme, beat your wife, beat the dog, you name it, and it’s all ‘covered under the blood’.
    You can even molest kids and teens at summer camp, and they’ll ‘restore you’.
    Just don’t get caught doing the horizontal hanky panky with another consenting adult.
    If you do, your goose is cooked and your hash is settled.
    It’s a baffling religion.

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