“Man is not what he thinks he is, he is what he hides.”― André Malraux
A predator is arrested, and the church hides the facts from the members.
Today, I planned to write an entirely different post. However, I couldn’t get the following post out of my mind. It was posted in The Roys Report. Megachurch Accused of Covering Up News of Youth Volunteer Charged with Trying to Sell Teen on Dark Web. You’ve heard the story before. A youth worker/volunteer at a megachurch molests a student, and the church covers it up but gets found out.
In this case, the volunteer was arrested.
Records obtained by The Roys Report (TRR) show that on June 30, authorities arrested Kelly Garrett Ivey—a former youth volunteer at Rock Springs Church in Milner, Ga.—and charged him with child cruelty and kidnapping. And last Monday, a grand jury indicted Ivey, 41, on first and second-degree charges of cruelty to children, trafficking, and three counts of criminal attempt to commit a felony, including kidnapping.
The church leaders apparently did not tell the church about this mess. You know, the typical coverup. I guess they didn’t want to “air their dirty laundry” before people who already know something is off about their church.
Yet, members of Rock Springs said they just learned of the charges against Ivey last week, when a local newspaper, The Monroe County Reporter, published a story. They added that the multi-site Rock Springs Church and its affiliated school, Rock Springs Christian Academy, where Ivey also volunteered, didn’t publish any announcement about Ivey’s arrest.
So what did this all too common alleged criminal do?
Ivey was trying to sell information about a 16-year-old’s home address and places she regularly frequented, so she could be abducted or harmed.
…Ivey advertised the “virgin female” on “Slave Bay”—a website advertising unclothed women on the dark web.
And Dee says, “So what?” to the following. Although one must do a background check, over 90% of offenders are never caught and convicted. In other words, massive numbers of bad guys who like to molest or harm children and teens are still out there. These guys love to go to stupid churches with ill-informed, trusting parents who want their kids to “have fun” at church.
Rock Springs’ Administrative Pastor Cameron Shifflett told The Reporter that Ivey had passed a background check before volunteering for the church and academy.
Speaking for the church, Pastor Shifflet said Ivey was a good guy, and the church didn’t want to ruin his reputation before he was convicted. This pastor is out of touch with the reality that most reports are credible. In other words, believe them, not the lying, dark web-loving sex trafficker. I think it is possible that the pastor was hoping to protect his own reputation. At the minimum, the pastor doesn’t care about his current congregation, some of whom have kids who may have interacted with Ivey. Pastor Tate, the head pastor, didn’t care enough to comment.
Shifflett also claimed that Ivey had stopped attending the church 20 months ago and added, “It’s so tragic. Everything we ever knew of him was that he was a good, standup, morally decent guy.”
Shifflett also told The Reporter that the law considers everyone innocent until proven guilty and lamented that if Ivey is found not guilty, his reputation will still be ruined.
Whoops-its even worse. Did the pastor lie when he said Ivey stopped attending the church 20 months ago? One parent said, “Yes.”
Camp said Ivey attended Rock Springs last March and April and could have been there as recently as June.
Camp said she was unsure when Ivey had stopped volunteering but stated that Ivey had regularly hung out in the kids’ building on Wednesday nights.
It gets worse. The lead pastor, Benny Tate, was one of the four pastors who exonerated Johnny Hunt!
Tate also was one of four prominent pastors who claimed former Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) president and accused sexual abuser, Johnny Hunt, was fit to return to ministry last year, after undergoing a restoration program.
Would the reader be surprised that Tate is accused of covering up further incidents?
There is a lesson to be learned from this incident and this church. Parents, please do not readily trust the youth program at your church.
I can speak from my naivete in this matter. I didn’t check out the youth programs in our various churches. I just trusted the pastors and leaders to do the right thing. That was fine for one church. It turned out not so great in another. My son began to show little interest in the youth program at our Baptist church. He thought the leader was weird. I thought it was a personality difference. Little did I know that this SEBTS seminary student was molesting a large group of young male teens near my son’s age. The smartest thing I did was not to force him to attend the youth group.
That youth leader, Brian Doug Goodrich, molested over 13 boys, although the numbers are possibly close to 30. Dee grew up and realized that her naive trust in youth programs, in general, was potentially dangerous for my children. Finding a place where our children can have fun and learn about their faith is nice. Sadly, some youth leaders are there for something else. Some parents went to court to ask the judge for leniency. They liked Goodrich, and they believed they could counsel him not to go after the teens. Goodrich is an example of a molester who fooled and continued to fool uneducated parents.
Predators target youth in churches. They know that parents are quick to trust since it is convenient to do so. I know. I was that way. My son’s instincts were correct, and he avoided being targeted by that prolific molester.
Let Jules Woodson’s story serve as a warning.
This incident has had lifelong ramifications for Jules. I am so glad she continues to speak out about what happened to her as a high school student in an SBC church.
How should parents engage in youth ministry?
- A background check doesn’t protect your kids from 90+% of molesters out there. Check it out yourself.
- Parents should be involved in all youth activities. Share the burden.
- Please report any abuse or strange behavior to the police before it is reported to the pastors. This prevents them from covering it up.
- Do not let your child ride in a car with a youth worker, nor should they spend time alone with the worker at their apartment, etc. Parents should supervise any gathering. Yes, it is a pain to do this, but your youth must be protected.
- Get to know how your church protects children. Some, like my current church, do a good job. How well do you know your youth workers? You should know them well.
- There are pedophiles and molesters in your church. They go where there are kids or teens. Don’t forget it.
- If your child is uncomfortable participating in the church youth program, listen to them.
- Leave any church that does not immediately report abuse to the police AND the church members.
- Do not trust the church leaders to do the right thing. Speak out for the right thing even if they don’t like it.
- Do not assume that the church leaders will tell you that there is a molester in your midst.
- Some pastors think God has forgiven the molesters, and they are now safe. They’re not. They have a profound, lifelong psychiatric condition.
- If you speak out, be prepared for the pastors and leaders to attack you. You are threatening their paradigm. BTDT.
- Leave any church in which the pastors don’t tell you that molesters are present or who cover up an instance of abuse.
I wish I had been more thoughtful, and am thankful nothing happened to my kids. Sadly, I know many families whose children were hurt in church. Listen to these stories and assess how well your church is doing. The well-being of your children is at stake.
PS: I think the parents at Rock Springs should find another church. Do not be naive in thinking that if you stay, you can change the church.