“Lies and secrets, Tessa, they are like a cancer in the soul. They eat away what is good and leave only destruction behind.” ― Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Prince link
Were any children harmed by Peter Newman at Fellowship Memphis?
Today I had the privilege of speaking with a family whose teenage daughter and mother were allegedly filmed by Rick Trotter at Fellowship Memphis in 2010. I will write more on this and other matters in the coming posts.
However, as I reviewed my post from yesterday, I became concerned about an issue that I believe needs to be dealt with. As far as one informant knows, the church members and church attendees were not informed of the alleged presence of Peter Newman at the church during much of 2009.
By the time Newman allegedly arrived at the church, he had molested a significant number of boys at Kanakuk. Why would the leadership believe that he was not capable of similar behavior at Fellowship Memphis?
We cannot be sure that such abuse did not happen. Also, due to the leadership's alleged response in the Rick Trotter situation, we cannot even be sure that church leaders would alert the congregation if anything had been reported to them about Peter Newman. In other words, were any children harmed by Newman at Fellowship Memphis?
A mother discovered her child was harmed by Newman at Kanakuk long after it occurred.
The following letter was written by a mother who learned that her son was abused by Peter Newman shortly after Kanakuk decided to alert the families. She thought her son had not been harmed but later discovered the he was molested, long after it happened. Could this be the case at Fellowship Memphis?
I was given permission to repost this letter from kareforvictims.org
AN OPEN LETTER TO JOE WHITE
March 13, 2014
Joe White, President
I cannot begin the salutation with “dear”. I do not look upon you dearly. When I think of you, I feel pain and betrayal.
We trusted you with our children. We looked up to you. We believed the things you said about camp and specifically, your camps. Over a ten year period, we sent our children to camp. We planned vacations around camp schedules. We worked sports around camp schedules. For years, I was one of you and your camps’ biggest fans. We bought your books. We gave to your ministries. We supported Kanakuk, K-Life, Kids Across America, and you. We believed in your mission.
It’s been six months since we found out the truth about the real impact your camp has had on one of our children. He was sexually abused at the hands of Pete Newman. Oh, I could (and perhaps will) draft an entirely different letter to Peter Newman. But the things I have to say to him are different than the things I have to say to you.
When I found out in 2009 that Pete Newman was arrested for child sexual abuse, I was shocked. It took me some time to even accept it. My heart was broken. We read your letter that indicated that he’d been fired and that the camp was assisting in the investigation. I thought my children were unscathed but was still heartbroken for the victims. And I even felt sorry for you. I thought you’d been just as fooled as the rest of us. I probably would have never changed my thinking if I hadn’t learned that, in fact, at least one of my children had been molested by Pete Newman.
Learning the truth was earth-shattering for us. It’s taken us time to process it and I’m sure it will take us much more time to work through it. We learned that half of our son’s childhood was a lie. He was harboring a secret. He was filled with shame. Half of his childhood!! Just think about how this impacted his adolescence and who he is today. Half of his childhood was stolen from him and from us. Kanakuk was supposed to be a happy place — a safe place. It was supposed to be a place that showed him God’d love. Not a place that showed him perversion. Not a place where his young mind and body were assaulted.
Since learning the truth, I’ve re-read your “former employee” letter of 9-14-2009 many times. In it, you state that you are working closely with the affected families. Did you really think those were all the affected families? We’ve never had you reach out to us. We’ve never seen you invite other affected families to reach out to you. It leads me to believe that you really don’t care. I understand the business side of things, but your camp is not supposed to be about business. Why haven’t you begged victims to contact you so you can help them? Don’t you realize that these formerly young boys are now becoming men? Don’t you want them to get the help they need so they can have healthy relationships with others and, more importantly, with God? But it seems like you just wanted it all to go away with the sentencing of Pete Newman.
For the victims, it hasn’t gone away. They need help! They need counseling. I understand that some victims have had significant issues with depression, drugs, anger, and even suicide. Where is your care and concern? The abuse happened under your watch.
And that leads me to a pressing question for you. Why haven’t you resigned? Why haven’t you taken responsibility and put the camp under different leadership? I no longer believe you were fooled. I believe that, at the very least, you chose to be fooled. You chose to look the other way. There is too much evidence of Pete Newman’s odd proclivities and evidence that you were aware of them. Why don’t you ‘man up’ and step down? I can only believe it is pride and arrogance that stands in the way. I understand what your family has built, but it is a house of cards built on the backs of young boys, at least in the 15 years. You would gain more respect for accepting responsibility and coming along side the multitudes of victims than you do for pretending it was an aberration in your camp history. Even if it never happened at Kanakuk before Pete Newman (we already know it has happened after him), how can you ignore the victims? In good conscience, how can you accept kudos for the good things done at Kanakuk without accepting responsibility for the horrible damage done to young boys who were molested? How can you not do everything and anything in your power to try to help those boys and their families?
Before last summer, I always thought of Kanakuk in positive terms. Now my heart twists when I hear that word. Even thinking of Branson causes a clench in the my stomach because every trip we’ve ever made to Branson was in connection with dropping off or picking up kids from camp. For all the good that I ever thought was done for my kids at your camps, I’d gladly have not sent a single child for a single term to avoid the harm that was done to one. Harm that we are still dealing with and that our child is still recovering from.
Mr. White, are you truly third?
A Victim’s Mom
Documentation of Peter Newman living in Memphis during 2009
In an article written by Crime Scene Investigators, UPDATED : Former Kamp Kanakuk Camp Director Charged With Sex Offenses Involving Kids, it was mentioned that Newman was living Memphis. This can be found in the section dealing with the time period of UPDATE 09-25-09. He was allegedly still working for Fellowship Memphis at the time of this posting.
Newman, who now lives in Memphis, turned himself in to authorities on September 15th and waived formal arraignment. He was released from custody after posting $50,000 bond. As part of his bond he can have no contact with children under the age of 17.
Peter Newman was to have NO CONTACT with children under the age of 17.
Were the church attendees notified of this fact? If not, why not?
If it is true that Peter Newman, documented pedophile, attended and/or was working at Fellowship Memphis during 2009, and this information was not or has not been relayed to the church attendees, then the church is guilty of potentially overlooking possible abuse of children.
Fellowship Memphis MUST Contact Anyone Who Attended the Church With Children in 2009.
Fellowship Memphis is morally and spiritually obligated to notify all families who attended the church in 2009 when there was a alleged attendance in the church by a documented and now imprisoned pedophile. Those parents and guardians should be advised to make sure their kids were not harmed in any way, especially is there was any contact with Newman. As you read in the letter above, parents are not always aware when their children have been sexually abused.
Fellowship Memphis needs to do the right thing!!!