*Title is a quote from
“Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it.”
“The trouble with Eichmann was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal. From the viewpoint of our legal institutions and of our moral standards of judgment, this normality was much more terrifying than all the atrocities put together.”
The Historical Background of “American Evangelicalism’s Biggest Sex Scandal to Date.”
My purpose for writing this article is to expose men in leadership positions in the Sovereign Grace Churches denomination who, in my opinion, should have faced church discipline and criminal charges years ago for participating in the sexual abuse of children, covering up the sexual abuse of children, or both. I believe the evidence overwhelmingly shows the victims in the lawsuit against Sovereign Grace spoke truthfully. While a few men have been convicted of crimes, most have avoided criminal prosecution and a major civil lawsuit was dismissed due to Statute of Limitations rules. Additionally, these pastors/leaders never faced church discipline and several are in national leadership positions within the Sovereign Grace Churches denomination.
Below is an audio segment from an interview of attorney Bill O’Neill by Janet Mefferd. This interview took place on May 16, 2013. The subject was the 2nd Amended Lawsuit filed against leaders of Sovereign Grace Churches for the alleged sexual abuse of children and the alleged conspiracy to cover up the abuse by Sovereign Grace leaders. For those interested in listening to the entire interview you may go to this link. Here is a link to an article titled “Latest Interview About the SGM Child Sex Abuse Class Action Lawsuit” by Christine Pack of the Sola Sisters blog. The article contains links to other pertinent audio files.
For nearly two years now, I have remained silent about a civil lawsuit brought against various parties including myself. During that time, many have urged me to respond publicly and address the accusations against me. These pleas have only intensified over the last week in light of reports of testimony in a recent trial. I look forward to the day when I can speak freely.
For now, the simple and extraordinarily unsatisfying reality—for myself and others—is that in the face of an ongoing civil lawsuit, I simply cannot speak publicly to the specifics of these events. Even with those constraints, however, let me be clear about this: I have never conspired to protect a child predator, and I also deny all the claims made against me in the civil suit.
I am deeply grieved for those who suffered abuse while part of Covenant Life Church, as well as those beyond the church who were abused—and I continue to pray for justice to be served on their behalf and for God’s healing grace in their lives. I’m saddened, too, by the confusion and damage that has resulted from public comments and speculation about these events. Still, my trust remains in the Lord, who comforts the brokenhearted and promises in his justice and in his time to right every wrong.
In the grace of the gospel,
C.J. Mahaney -Senior Pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville and former Executive Director of Sovereign Grace Ministries
May 22, 2014
“Let me be clear that we deny – in the strongest terms possible – that any Sovereign Grace Leaders conspired to cover up abuse as alleged in this lawsuit.”
-Mark Prater, Executive Director of Sovereign Grace Churches. “An Open Letter to Members of Sovereign Grace Churches,” October 9, 2014.
I will not take the time to make the case that C.J. Mahaney and Mark Prater have published statements that, in my opinion, were knowingly false. Others have already done a thorough job of that. (To this day they have not retracted their statements; to the contrary, I published a story last Friday which shows Prater continues to make claims of their innocence.)
If you are unfamiliar with the sexual abuse scandal and conspiracy to cover it up within Sovereign Grace Churches I suggest you read the following articles:
“The Sex-Abuse Scandal That Devastated a Suburban Megachurch: Inside the Rise and Fall of Sovereign Grace Ministries,” by Tiffany Stanley, The Washingtonian, February 14, 2016.
“Response to Sovereign Grace Churches,” by Rachael Denhollander
Why Church Membership Covenants are Superfluous
Dee and I, among others, have written many articles urging people not to sign a church membership covenant/contract and it appears word is getting out. I believe SGC has made a concerted effort to keep any mention of Membership Covenants off of their websites. I conducted a thorough search of 12-15 individual churches in the SGC denomination and only found 2 churches that referenced Membership Covenants (See page 54 here and here). These contracts, pushed and popularized by Mark Dever’s para-church 9Marks organization, are a tool professional clergy members use to keep the laity under their thumb. Sovereign Grace Churches utilizes them. Listen to what Mickey Conolly told Sovereign Grace pastors at their 2017 Pastor’s Conference:
“If you don’t have a church discipline statement that people sign off on at membership time you’re in big trouble; and get one if you don’t have it because it will help you (the pastor), it will serve you (the pastor), and it will protect you (the pastor).”
Conolly’s statement above is proof that even a Sovereign Grace leader occasionally speaks truthfully. This comment must have been missed by officials in the SGC Ministry of Truth! That’s understandable as listening to Conolly pontificate is a guaranteed cure for insomnia. Unfortunately for the “giving-units” attending Sovereign Grace Churches, membership contracts offer them no protection against the well-paid professional clergy members.
Alleged Sexual Abusers Remain in SGC Leadership Roles
Let’s examine of few of the paid professionals in SGC, starting with John Loftness. Here is a short bio of the man, culled from Brent Detwiler’s blog:
– Principal at Covenant Life Elementary School in Gaithersburg, MD (1981-1986)
– Managing Editor for People of Destiny Magazine (1983-1989)
– Executive pastor at Abundant Life Community Church in Pasadena, CA (1989-1990)
– Pastor at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD (May 1990-2007)
– Senior pastor at Solid Rock Church in Riverdale, MD (2007-2014)
– Senior pastor at Living Hope Church in Bowie, Maryland (2014-present)
– Board of Director for Sovereign Grace Ministries (Jul. 2011-Feb. 2013)
– Chairman of the Board of Directors for SGM (Apr. 2012- Feb. 2013)
– Regional Leader over Mid-Atlantic churches for Sovereign Grace Churches (2018-present)
I will spare my readers the graphic descriptions of sexual abuse of a young girl alleged to have been carried out by John Loftness, you can find the horrid account in an article written by Brent Detwiler titled, “John Loftness in Focus – Former Chairman of the SGM Board & Alleged Sexual Sadist,” the same article from which the quote below was taken.
Jessica Roberts-Thomas is a student at one of the premier law schools in the country. She was added as a Plaintiff in the Second Amended Complaint (SAC) filed on May 14, 2013. I casually knew her parents, Jim and Ann Roberts, at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland in the 1980’s.
Reference to her allegations against John Loftness first appeared in the legal document, Plaintiff’s Opposition to Defendants’ Motions Alleging Pleading Failure on March 27, 2013 in footnote 3 on page 5. It reads, “Plaintiffs’ are going to be amending the FAC [First Amended Complaint] to add more parties, one of whom alleges Defendant John Loftness physically and sexually abused her as a child.”
Complaints 86-93 in the SAC set forth her factual allegations. Complaint 86 begins in 1983 when she was five years old in kindergarten. Complaint 93 ends around 1988 when she was 10 years old in Sunday School (i.e. Children’s Ministry). She was born in January 1978.
Plaintiff Roberts-Thomas gives seven distinct accounts of abuse. John Loftness is presented as her primary abuser. Five pertain to him. Steve Griney as her secondary abuser. Two pertain to him. Four of the five accounts associated with Loftness make reference to physical and sexual abuse.
Roberts-Thomas has an older brother by four years, James Roberts. He too was added as a Plaintiff in the SAC. Complaints 32-39, 44 set forth his factual allegations. He cites David Adams and Nathaniel ‘Nate’ Morales as his abusers. He alleges John Loftness conspired to cover up the alleged crimes committed by Adams.
John Loftness’s alleged abuse took place nearly 38 years ago, yet he has faced no church discipline or criminal charges. Quite the contrary, Loftness has kept his job as a pastor and steadily climbed the corporate ladder of SGC, today holding the position of Regional Leader over Mid-Atlantic churches!
Incredibly, Jon Payne, an assistant pastor at Sovereign Grace Gilbert when I was a member, went on to “plant” a church in Texas. Payne demonstrated (IMO) that he is unqualified for the job of Pastor when he proclaimed on social media that one of the benefits of partnering with Sovereign Grace Churches is the ability to have John Loftness preach at your church!
Payne suffered no repercussions from lauding an alleged pedophile. Rather, it appears that if you support a friend of C.J. Mahaney you will be fast-tracked for senior leadership positions in the SGC corporation. Payne is now on the “Global Leadership Team”
The quote below is taken from an article authored by Brent Detwiler titled, “Gary Ricucci & the Conspiracy Surrounding Convicted Felon, David Adams.”
Gary Ricucci is a Defendant in the Second Amended Complaint of the class action lawsuit against Sovereign Grace Ministries and Covenant Life Church and is an alleged co-conspirator in aiding and abetting sex offenders. He works with C.J. Mahaney in Louisville, Kentucky. His biography appears on the church’s website.
“Drawing on over 35 years of pastoral experience, Gary serves Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville primarily through pastoral care. In his day job he serves as Director of Student Care for the pastor for the men and families in the Sovereign Grace Ministries Pastors College. He is married to Betsy and they have two daughters, two sons and four grandchildren. Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville is the second church Gary has planted with C.J.”
Ricucci has been around since the beginning. The first church he “planted with C.J.” is a reference to Covenant Life Church (CLC) in 1977 though he and C.J. did not plant it alone. Larry Tomczak, C.J. and a group of men planted it together.
Mahaney fled the accountability of CLC in August 2011. Ricucci followed his example and left in October 2011. Ricucci went to Solid Rock Church with John Loftness where Mahaney later joined them in January 2012. These three men, along with Grant Layman, are the four alleged co-conspirators who worked together in order to protect pedophiles and sex offenders operating at Covenant Life Church. Loftness is also alleged to be a sex offender and Ricucci is alleged to have assisted Loftness and Steve Griney in carrying out their alleged crimes.
Alleged pedophile Jeff Truesdale and Gary Ricucci were good friends as Truesdale testifies to in these screenshots from his Facebook account. Truesdale went so far as to label the second post “Breakfast with a Champion!”
Confession is good for the soul, Jeff Truesdale. You and your daughter Suzanne should follow the example of a true champion – your daughter Shannon – and confess the details of what took place not only in your home but among Sovereign Grace leaders.
C.J. Mahaney, in his statement of innocence I quoted at the top of this article said:
“I look forward to the day when I can speak freely.”
No, he doesn’t. Mahaney made that statement seven years ago. He has had ample time to “speak freely” but has not done so. Why not? In my opinion, the answer is obvious – Mahaney was up to his neck in the conspiracy to cover up the sexual abuse of children. He has chosen to lie to all his celebrity friends who in turn made public statements of support.
For Mahaney to now come clean would be very costly, but that is what any Christian should do. I would especially expect it from a man that “wrote” the book on humility.
Here is a statement from a woman whose children were abused. She attended the Sovereign Grace church in Fairfax.
Instead of speaking truthfully, Mahaney and his band of sycophants have done just as Wade Mullen has told us abusive systems do.
“Abusive systems will condemn you for calling them to give an account for their harmful behavior. Such a response puts YOU on the defensive and asks YOU to be the one to give an account for YOUR behavior. They change the focus and control the conversation by reframing the problem.”
Brent Detwiler, a former leader in Sovereign Grace has written many articles exposing the deceit and abuse within SGC. I have linked to several above. Here is an official statement about Detwiler that is on the Sovereign Grace Churches Website. Please note that SGC cannot even be accurate in their statement. How so, you ask? They imply that Mahaney has no national job within the organization, but that is no longer true. Prater and the boyz “gerrymandered” a new district for Mahaney. This is not a widely known fact, it was very hard to find, but Prater let it slip that Mahaney is the Regional Leader of the East Central region.
Additionally, several leaders have attacked Detwiler while remaining silent or even praising men within their denomination who I have written about above.
Jared Mellinger, Senior Pastor at CFC (Mark Prater’s home church) tells his church that going to Brent Detwiler’s website is worse than visiting a porn site.
Mickey Connolly urges his church not to read any information Detwiler has published.
I will leave you with this gem from C.J. Mahaney.
Whispering – “How did this happen?” Well, I don’t know the specifics, but if there is justice in this world I know several more men in the SGC denomination that should be disqualified from ministry.