The arrest of a Christian school principal in Port Angeles, Washington for sexually assaulting two pre-teen girls brings to light, once again, what appears to be an epidemic of sexual predators in Christian churches and schools.
According to the Crimes Against Children Research Center, 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse. The exact number of actual sexual assaults is unknown since many victims never speak up or, in some cases like Florida, the sexual assault is hushed up.
Sexual abuse within the Christian community that either ignores it or attempts to sweep it under the rug became a hot topic in 2015 after it was revealed that popular Christian celebrities Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar attempted to hide the fact that their son Josh had molested several of his sisters when they were younger. The resulting scandal forced the family's popular reality show off the air after sponsors fled.
According to Christian writer Tom Challies, sexual predators gravitate to churches because Christians are taught to submit to authority in an atmosphere that encourages trust. Church programs also offer easy access to the children of parishioners.
Quoting from writer Deepak Reju's On Guard: Preventing and Responding To Child Abuse At Church, Challies writes: "Many Christians don’t know how to distinguish likability and trustworthiness. They confuse the two categories, assuming that if someone is courteous and nice, they must also be trustworthy. Moreover, some Christians behave as though the problem doesn’t exist, and some look with suspicion on reports of abuse. They believe children are lying and are more prone to take an adult’s word. Sexual predators know that these dynamics operate in churches, and they know they can get away with a lot on account of it"
Since the beginning of March 2016, there have been 12 assaults -- including the Port Angeles principal -- reported, or verdicts handed down.
- According to PennAlive, former pastor Raymond P. Buhrow, 65, of Calvary Temple Holiness Church in South Middleton Township pleaded no contest to molesting two pre-teens between 2009 and 2014.
- BDN-Maine reports that Lucas Savage, 37, of Youth Haven Ministries in Canaan was taken into custody on March 18, and accused of unlawful sexual contact involving a young girl.
- Former Las Vegas church pastor Otis Holland -- already facing life in prison for sexually assaulting teenage girls in his congregation -- was called up on similar charges in a separate case on March 23 in Henderson, reports KOLO.
- Youth pastor David Thorne, 35, of Goodyear Baptist Church in Picayune has been accused of sexually molesting a 15-year-old who police say may have been a parishioner at his church. Thorne is also sought in Pearl River County on a similar sexual battery charge, the Picayune Item reports.
- In California, youth pastor Daniel James Moreno, 25, has been charged with seven felony counts of sex crimes with a minor female as well as using force to keep his wife from turning him in, reports the Lompoc Record.
- Pastor Keith Frye, 54, of the Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church in Lilbourn, Mo. was taken into custody on March 21, and charged with raping a 4-year-old child, reports KFVS.
- The Tennessean reports that Christopher Douglas Ross, 44, of Fairview Church in Lebanon pleaded guilty to two counts of statutory rape with a 15-year-old when he was a youth pastor there.
- Chad Apsey, a youth minister at Believers Christian Church in Eagle was convicted of sexually assaulting a teen under the age of 15 after the teen turned to the pastor for help with family problems, reports the Lansing State Journal.
- WCPO reports that Rodney Mathews, 24, a youth pastor at the Versailles Church of Christ was taken into custody on two counts of child seduction and two counts of possession of child pornography, tied to his relationship with a 15-year-old.
- Scott D. Stockton, 44, a youth pastor and mentor working with several churches in Tonawanda, New York was arrested on child pornography charges on March 28, reports WGRZ.
- Lloyd Schallenberger, a youth group leader with the First Baptist Church of Richland, in Polk County, Mississippi, was taken into custody for sexually abusing a minor, and having contact with a 9-year-old boy, reports The Ledger.