Okla. church lets convicted rapist attend kid’s event because ‘God can change people’
An Oklahoma woman was outraged to find out that her pastor allowed a registered sex offender to participate at an annual children’s event held at her Oklahoma City church.
According to Tonya Cotton, she recognized Dale Hoffert Jr., 29, on a video her 10-year-old son recorded on his phone at the Children’s Crusade, held at the Highway of Holiness Church, reports News9 Oklahoma.
Cotton said she recognized Hoeffert who was once a youth pastor at the church before being sent to prison after being convicted on charges of forcible oral sodomy in 2007. Hoeffert was released from prison earlier this year on a suspended sentence. Court records indicate the victim was not a member of the church.
“I was upset. I was sick to my stomach,” said Cotton. “You should send your kids to church and feel safe about it.”
Highway of Holiness Church Pastor John Steiger admitted that Hoeffert attended the event, but dismissed concerns about his being around young children, adding that he had never been alone with a child that day.
“They sentenced him. He paid his debt to society,” Steiger said. “We’re a church that believes that God can change people.”
Pastor Steiger added, “A church is a hospital for the soul. We help lost souls. We’ve done what a church is supposed to do, help a lost soul change their ways.”
Cotton disagreed, saying, “His past is not good with children. Do not be tempting him with our kids.”
According to Steiger, the church has filed the appropriate paperwork with authorities, allowing Hoeffert to attend the church, but didn’t say whether he would be banned from children’s events.
Watch the video below from News9 Oklahoma: