Child Sexual Molestation in Ex-Gay Group

How my heart breaks right now. I was just alerted by a friend to a blog post written this month by Andy Comisky, director of the well known ex-gay Desert Stream Ministires (whose curriculum is used by many churches, such as bestselling author and pastor John Ortberg’s church, Menlo Park), that describes how a staff member “intrinsic to their operation” sexually molested “at least one young boy who sought them out for help”. You can read the post here.

I don’t know Andy, never met him, but what makes me want to throw up right now is that never one time in his post did he apologize to the teenager or the family for someone in his organization acting out as a child predator!

Not once. 

All he did was indirectly pat himself on the back for keeping the news silent that “not one story was printed about the tragedy” in the face of threats from the family to go to the press.

Yea, way to go Andy. You really kept that one quite. You want a cookie now, for posting it on your blog and paralleling this situation to that of Achan in the Book of Joshua. Give me a freaking break!

I am so on fire pissed right now I’m not going to write any more for fear of what I might say. Please pray for the teenager and his family.

UPDATE #1

UPDATE #2

Much love.

www.themarinfoundation.org

About Andrew Marin

Andrew Marin is President and Founder of The Marin Foundation (www.themarinfoundation.org). He is author of the award winning book Love Is an Orientation (2009), its interactive DVD curriculum (2011), and recently an academic ebook titled Our Last Option: How a New Approach to Civility can Save the Public Square (2013). Andrew is a regular contributor to a variety of media outlets and frequently lectures at universities around the world. Since 2010 Andrew has been asked by the United Nations to advise their various agencies on issues of bridging opposing worldviews, civic engagement, and theological aspects of reconciliation. For twelve years he lived in the LGBT Boystown neighborhood of Chicago, and is currently based St. Andrews, Scotland, where he is teaching and researching at the University of St. Andrews earning his PhD in Constructive Theology with a focus on the Theology of Culture. Andrew's research centers on the cultural, political, and religious dynamics of reconciliation. Andrew is married to Brenda, and you can find him elsewhere on Twitter (@Andrew_Marin), Facebook (AndrewMarin01), and Instagram (@andrewmarin1).

  • http://www.dannyjbixby.com Danny Bixby

    You’re right. That’s awful. No, awful doesn’t begin to describe it. It’s much more than that.

    Hard to not let our disgust for the situation or the way it’s been ‘handled’ become more important than our love & compassion for that boy & his family.

    Very hard. But we have to try.

  • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

    You’re right. That was a pretty creepy and celebratory post.

    Sadly, through work I’m aware of incidents of physical and sexual abuse in families, at schools, at churches, and in care facilities. I’ve seen institutions acknowledge incidents of abuse before, but never with such a sense of righteousness.

  • Karen Booth

    A Dude or Dude-ette who was really “trying to learn how to live and love” would have contacted Andy first before posting this ignorant rant. (As I recall, there’s scriptural warrant for that.) And he or she would have read some more of Comisky’s blog in context to get at the heart of the message. But then, one would have had to stop looking at oneself long enough to do so.

  • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

    Karen – You’ve got to be kidding me right now. You can try to call me out as much as you like, but where was the official statement from DSM and Andy that said “I’m sorry”? Where? You tell me, give me a link and then I’ll apologize.

    I know you’re trying to stick up for a friend who is doing the same work as you, but there is no excuse for what was written in the fashion it was written. And yes, I read the whole blog many times before I wrote my post. I fully understand his ‘context’ in trying to call himself out. But he did a terrible job. I have no need to reach out to Andy first because a fact is a fact – the situation happened and there is no apology. Those are facts. And yes, my anger is a very real part of my process of trying to learn how to live and love. At least I’m being real about it. Thanks for calling me ignorant.

  • http://six11.wordpress.com Shawn

    I wouldn’t say that he never apologized to the family involved – cause we don’t know the full story. From what I read, though, it seems that this event happened in the past … so we really, do not know if Andy apologized or not. Maybe he did.

    I think he was writing the post in reference to the court case he mentions at the end. [Andy writes: As You have shown us mercy, O God, in the desert places of our lives, would You show mercy to the beleaguered state of marriage in the USA? As the Perry vs. Schw. case wends its way to the National Supreme Court, prepare for Yourself a victory.]

    I am sure that if this incident had happened today (or in present terms), that Andy would have apologized right away … he seems too passionate not to.

    Still – the main issue of the post – child molestation is wrong … DEAD WRONG. The issue should not be used in light terms … I really don’t see how the story relates to the court case of marriage (mentioned above). I think Andy could have used a better illustration, instead of bringing up a horrific event from the past.

  • Seth

    Just read the post. Like you, I would have expected something more humble and less pious. This is reminiscent of the well-known and very costly approach of the Vatican toward abusers in their ranks. The risk of embarrassment is the most influential motivator in situations like these–and the underlying fear is being a named a hypocrite.

    Which is, after all his lofty, roundabout language, is what he sounds like.

    What’s more, he totally blackmailed his ministry in the process. Traded grace and light for secrecy and darkness, when we know that we are called to the exact opposite!

    After you count to ten (twenty, 100, 1000, whatever!), I encourage you to call him out. Ask him where the apology is, now that everything is settled. I know there are factors in liability lawsuits that seem to preclude them, but apologies generally go a long way in conflict resolution, even in prickly legal settings.

    These kinds of lapses have consequences far beyond their original scope, because they compromise people’s trust in anything remotely similar, and set everyone’s progress back.

    Find your prophetic voice, Andrew!

  • anon

    That post seems to be part of a history of Living Waters. The event seems to have happened in the late 70s or early 80s. There seems to be MUCH more going on there than is discussed in the post. Maybe there was all sorts of reconciliation, but maybe not. The point is that this is a history, not a confession.

  • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

    Anon – I don’t know when it happened (obviously at least 3 years ago from what was said in the post, yet this is the 1st time it’s ever being talked about!), but…

    a big part of history is current actions [reconciliation]. You would think if there was reconciliation that would be clearly stated.

    Seth – That is exactly what I will do.

    Shawn – I am still not sure why the example of gay marriage was used or tied into this situation either. And whether or not he privately apologized, I believe there needs to be a very clear public apology – no matter if it’s years later. It’s just so confusing to me that this is the first time its written about and even still, no public apology. If this happened in my organization, I couldn’t scream I’M SORRY from the mountain tops loud enough for long enough!!!!!

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    But then, one would have had to stop looking at oneself long enough to do so.

    Ah yes, the Karen Booth we all know and avoid.  Acting civil was just driving you nuts I bet.  Glad you finally let go before you exploded.
     
    The original incident described in the post was from 1997.  According to Andy, another one followed five years later.  He also told us that this post was part of some sort of "40 day devotional" and it illustrated how God brought them through a crisis or some such.  My impression was much like Andrew’s, there seems to be little to no concern about the victim and all kinds of self-congratulations on getting through without the media doing it’s job.  The entire thing seems devoid of humility, which is especially odd for devotional use.
     
    If nothing else, what would the victims think and feel reading this now, brought up to them again years after the fact?  I just don’t see any redeeming value to this at all.  I don’t know Andy except by reputation.  I emailed him twice trying to understand this post and hoping that there was something good behind it that I just couldn’t see.  I can’t say that anything he said helped except to verify which incidents he was talking about.  That he answered is something I guess, as many don’t bother.
     
    What any of it has to do with the marriage equality case I do not know. 

  • anon

    i agree that the tone of the post is weird and vaguely self-mythologizing (as is the tone of all the historical posts on the blog). and i agree that a repentance and outreach towards reconciliation would be really good to hear about, particularly if it happened! and the gay marriage thing…who knows what going on with that?!

    i just get the feeling from reading the blog that he’s not trying to tell the whole story, but just give a pseudo-historical narrative of God’s work in their ministry. i bet (i hope!) that if you asked him that there would be alot more to the story of repentance that he’d never put on a blog.

    i’ll be interested to see where this goes…just don’t jack him up in public before asking some more questions. :-)

    pax

  • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

    Anon – I will post my email to him with all of these questions, and then post his response. I guess though, that his repsonses will be similar to the repsonses he gave David Roberts. But you never know? I will try to refrain from any kind of judgement. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Jim Decke

    It is certainly a very sad situation, and probably one that should have come to the light. A lack of apology in the blog and what appears to be an obsession with his own ministry are both unsettling. I do think that you jumped the gun to have posted this without first having talked to Andy. However, attacking you for not doing so is unjustified behavior for a Christian.

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    I do think that you jumped the gun to have posted this without first having talked to Andy.

    I’m not sure there is anything Andy can say that would change my opinion of the post (and I did ask him first).  I can determine that posting that in public was a bad idea, and reflects badly on Andy, his ministry, and the church in general — even if he apologized profusely at the time.  DSM is an Exodus affiliate and there has been no comment from Exodus on this at all.  They have time to post an interview with a creepy guy from Vice Magazine of all things (why is Exodus’ VP reading Vice Magazine in the first place?), so why not a quick one about Andy’s post and the issues it has caused?  Thomas is a frenetic poster, so they certainly could have written something by now. 
    That is a problem.  The quote I used above represents a mentality which, taken too far, can be counterproductive.  So many ministries and associated groups lack any sort of transparency.  It is almost a prime directive that nothing be made public that would appear negative about themselves, or another ministry (even in the case of a pure sham group).  Not discussing the problem turns into tacit approval and that hurts the Church.  "Keeping it in the family" is a large part of what happened to the Catholic priests.  Go to someone first and try to get clarification, sure, but as Andrew said he would do, by all means be transparent about the results.  And if you disagree with them, say so and why.

  • Person

    I’m trying to figure out why he titled the post “Falling Mercies”. A teenager – “at least one” – gets sexually abused, and all he can think about is how the press never found out and God saved his ministry. Thank God for his mercies right? Sick.

    There aren’t any more details than what we see here, but what is up here alone is already bad enough. I hope that further details makes the story more palatable instead of less, but in the end, I fear that’s the most a story like this can ever be – palatable.

  • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

    In a full length post, I just pasted my email to Andy with the 20-something questions I hope he transparently responds to.

  • LP

    Karen,
    Did you talk to andrew in private before commenting on this public forum?
    Just curious. I’ve noticed a lot of people lately calling folks out publicly for calling folks out publicly – this is probably not the most effective approach, depending on one’s intentions of course.

  • Karen Booth

    Your right, LP. I should have “called Andrew (Marin) out” privately. I did respond in anger as I often do on blogs, and I apologize. It’s a steep learning curve for me.

    Andrew M, I don’t know Andy Comiskey. He isn’t a personal friend. I’ve heard him speak once in public and read portions of one of his books. Even though we’re both connected to Exodus, we don’t do quite the same kind of work. And our theological perspectives are very different.

    I didn’t call you ignorant. I said this specific post was and is, and I stand by that. What you are doing by this is scandal-mongering, no better than what Besen, Roberts and attendent disciples do. It’s not Christian. Your heavy-handed public questions to Andy C aren’t Christian, either. The Biblical way of dealing with it would have been to contact Andy first one-on-one privately to get your questions answered and work things out.

    Your book and this blog have a great deal of merit. (And I’m going to be reviewing it soon for the Exodus blog and will let you know when I do.) But overall, you come off to me as very self-centered and immature. I expect more from someone in the public spotlight. I expect them to be humble and apologize when necessary, like I do. I’d be much more inclined to listen to what you say.

  • Ryan

    This post really grieves me and I pray for this young man who went to seek help and instead got hurt. I really feel that this is a systemic problem in the church. There are too many churches and organizations that are trying to take the place of professional counselors and because they are religious organizations do not have to follow the same guidelines as a therapist and do not have to be screened.

    These “ministries” must understand portraying themselves as a place that people can seek counseling is reckless. Clergy and organizations that do not have professional training should NOT be acting as counselors but too often they overstep these bounds and then people like this young man get hurt. This is why I think these organizations like Exodus and DSM lack integrity. And then when instances like this happen they hide behind the cross instead of being honest. It makes me sick.

    The singer Eric Peters has a song that says “We try and be holy without being human first”.

  • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

    Karen – Wow. Your name calling has got to stop. I have never called you any names, why do you continue to do so to me? Unfortunetly for the validity of your claims, I have never been called those names before, by anyone gay/ex-gay/straight/whatever. In fact, the following link is just one small example that I do apologize and listen. At the end of the string of comments the folks (Darren and Joe) who strongly disagreed with me aknowledge the humility:

    http://www.loveisanorientation.com/2009/part-1-the-barna-groups-research-on-glbt-spirituality/

    This is going to be the last time I respond to you under these circumstances. What I feel you are neglecting to keep in focus is that two teenagers who sought out help with their darkest times with an unwanted same-sex attraction were sexually molested by someone they looked to for that help. What kind of damage must that have done (?!) – and instead you decide to focus on calling me names. All I am asking for is a public apology. In the post Andy Comiskey said he cried out to God, and I beleive he did. I feel that a part of that corporate forgivness process is publicly. There is a power in “I’m sorry.” Although I handled this initial post in the wrong way, Andy Comiskey has an opportunity to set the record straight for everyone.

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    You have been posting on blogs for years, Karen, it is disingenuous to feign inexperience as the reason for the way you treat people. Just as it was when you came here posting under your first name only (I’ve never seen you do that anywhere else), claiming to be new to all of this.

    You do usually apologize at some point, but just as above you always manage to get a back hand in there as well which negates any good. Prying the facts from people who would rather keep them secret when they don’t make them look good is not scandal-mongering, though it is so much more convenient to call it that than to be transparent.

    You are first and foremost a culture warrior, Karen. Live with that and how it affects people or change it, but please don’t pretend otherwise.

  • Seth

    I have been captivated by this posting and all the comments and can hardly get it off my mind! Please let me add two more thoughts to the mix. First, I strongly support the principle of correction in Matthew 19, in which Jesus instructed us to first approach a brother (or sister!) in private. But let me point out an irony–if no one else has noticed it–that very principle is what started the entire incident back in 1997! There was an allegation of abuse that was managed–or mis-managed–in private, and apparently stayed that way for more than a decade, to Comiskey’s relief. Yet, this afternoon we have taken turns on the high-horse, noting that we ought to approach the offender (and we’ve taken turns in that role, too) in private first. Phooey!

    This is gonna sound like I am contradicting scripture, but where allegations of sexual abuse are made, especially with a young person, we cannot offer the principle of correction in privacy. Abusers (and those with a stake in the situation, like Comiskey, or any number of Roman Catholic bishops) will exploit the offer of privacy in order reform themselves in private and save face. And often as not, even with every good intent, they fail to reform (but they do save face–go figure). These kinds of situations must be dealt with openly, so that there is public accountability for the needed reform. Saving face is entirely inappropriate in this setting. This principle of open correction originates in Ephesians 5:8-14. So, I think our web-based open dialogue is critical, even though it has devolved into some disappointing language. The scandal at DSM is our object lesson.

    Secondly, abusers (and their stakeholders) also exploit the benefit of the doubt, i.e., the principle that one is presumed to be innocent unless demonstrated guilty by fact. We are accustomed to offering this to just about any offender, using language like, “there’s probably another version of this story,” or “there’s more going on here than we know about.” If anyone has ever worked in human services, especially in the area of child abuse or domestic violence, they will remember that they have to work hard to reverse this assumption in their cases–the allegations are presumed true until exonerating evidence has been demonstrated. Abusers are notorious for using any excuse to justify their behavior and introduce any doubt in order to reform on their own and save face.

    And we’ve done the same thing on this page this afternoon! While fact-checking is vital, so that we do not needlessly slander someone with our misinformation, we also need to be vigilant and not let an offender off the hook for something he is ultimately responsible for. We are all beneficiaries of grace–we often get what we don’t deserve and Heaven knows we often don’t get what we do deserve–and we should offer it to one another whenever we can. Apologies are as hard to accept (if not harder) as they are to offer. But where sexual abuse is concerned, we cannot be let ourselves be misled.

    I hope this makes sense to you all. Peace!

  • Jim Decke

    Seth, thank you for posting that. I appreciate the wisdom you’ve shared with all of us and for helping to elevate this conversation.

  • http://blog.exodusinternational.org Randy

    I know Andy personally and he was heart broken at the time (13 to 10 years ago) and still experiences a tremendous amount of grief over the situation. I think his post reflects they did not know about the predator until it was too late, they didn’t try to cover it up, they wanted to do the right thing by the victim, abide by the justice that was reached and implement policies to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

    Karen, I am glad you apologized for responding in anger. Comment strings sometimes get the better of us. I would highly encourage a phone call between the two of you (I would love to meet you Andrew … on that phone call or in person) before the final draft of the review. Andrew I hope you would be amenable to that. Please email me or call the office if you are.

    And David, your question about me reading VICE magazine … as I have told you repeatedly over the years, I read certain gay news blogs and websites to see what the gay community (at large) thinks is important news wise. I read liberal and conservative gay news outlets. I find that very helpful and helps me approach my job with more compassion and understanding.

    I don’t read VICE magazine but The Advocate, and two other very high traffic blogs highlighted the article there. I thought Lagerfeld’s comments were extremely unique and worth noting without any added commentary from me. So I posted it. In hindsight I probably would have been better served to have posted it on my personal blog but I don’t think it was wrong to post the quotes on the Exodus blog.

  • Karen Booth

    Andrew M., thank you for apologizing about how you handled the first post about Andy C. Up until that point you hadn’t.

    I don’t believe that I “called you any names.” I told you how I perceived your behavior through this post and others I have read here. I realize you don’t get much if any criticism here since most posters seem to be die-hard fans.

    And it really doesn’t matter if you respond back to me or not. It’s quite clear to me that you have little intention of buidling bridges to anyone connected with Exodus or what you broadly refer to as ex-gay ministry.

    Anyone out there who allows their opinion of me to be colored by David Roberts’ remarks is very foolish indeed.

  • Karen Booth

    Randy, you must have posted at exactly the same time I did. I’ll consider your suggestion, but frankly I’m not feeling quite as irenic as you are.

  • http://blog.exodusinternational.org Randy

    I wrote:

    In hindsight I probably would have been better served to have posted it on my personal blog….

    ::: laugh ::: how self-serving! I meant for that to read, “In hindsight “it” probably would have been better served to have posted it on my personal blog …”

    Have a good night folks.

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    …the allegations are presumed true until exonerating evidence has been demonstrated.

    You’ve made some good points Seth, but I can’t go with you on this one.  Living through the 80s and 90s I’ve seen too many lives destroyed in false abuse cases when this type of thinking was employed.  Many criminals are clever — very clever — but I don’t think we can abandon a basic tenant of our legal precepts because some are good at exploitation or because the crime is more offensive than others.
     
    Also, how many men would forgo (or have forgone) service to make a difference in the life of a young child in need because a single accusation might mean a very real end to their lives? That goes for married or unmarried men, but especially singles (and forget gay men).  I suspect there is already a dearth of men willing to fill those roles compared to even 20 years ago.  It’s yet another sad casualty of the times and some very real, very heinous abuse by a few.  I’ve left out women, not because they do not abuse, but because the same stigma does not seem to have carried over.
     
    And I don’t think you are unbiblical for your recommendation on confrontation.  Like much of Scripture, I don’t see Matthew 18 as a hard and fast commandment, but a template for the Church to use along with it’s own wisdom.  If we have the mind of Christ and understand the reasoning behind that passage, we can also have the wisdom to know when a more immediate and open approach is necessary.  And I would offer that this does not apply where a duty to turn over a criminal exists — particularly if the crime (abuse) is current.  I don’t think God would have us follow the procedure in Matthew at the expense of a child’s safety.  So clearly, there are exceptions to this guideline.

  • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

    I’ve got no room in my life to waste on hating anyone. Period. Looking forward to talking.

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    And David, your question about me reading VICE magazine … as I have told you repeatedly over the years, I read certain gay news blogs and websites to see what the gay community (at large) thinks is important news wise. I read liberal and conservative gay news outlets. I find that very helpful and helps me approach my job with more compassion and understanding.

    Randy, I don’t remember us ever discussing this particular point before so I don’t remember you ever telling me that.  However, I take no issue with that practice per se.  It’s perfectly reasonable.  But I did question the reason for posting this particular interview.  It’s very late so I will just ask that anyone who is still curious about this, take a look at the post and the comments below.  See if you might be able to understand why that material, of all the things one might be able to post in order "to see what the gay community (at large) thinks is important news wise," is not a good choice.
     
    Otherwise, good night everyone!

  • Br. Michael C. Oboza

    As an Orthodox Catholic monk, I am not suprized that the truth eventually “sets captives free…” When may people know that God is in control and darkness of any lie will be brought to light? May be today, when people are lead by this “new” awareness called faith and not by “old” minipulation called sight. Thank you Andrew for being a foot soldier and sharing God’s compassion as always….

  • Seth

    David, you’re right about the legal precepts, and I should clarify. In a legal proceeding the presumption of innocence still holds; any compromise to that would be found unconstitutional. However, I was referring to our collective tendency to think this way, which is what gets exploited in situations like these. For example, when a child or a woman comes into an emergency room with injuries consistent with physical abuse (and ER staff are frequently able to spot them), the standard procedure is not to believe the accompanying story at first. It takes discipline to do so, but this approach is needed because the victim may not be able to report what happened themselves, or may be afraid of doing so.

    The risk of false accusations is an unfortunate downside to this phenomenon, and I don’t have an easy answer. For myself (as a single gay man), I have opted out of work with young people, partly for this reason (but mostly because I’m a fuddy-duddy). Churches and service organizations have procedures in place these days to prevent incidents like this, but they still happen (and while the majority of offenders are men, most are straight, and women can be abusers, too). It’s a shame any way we look at it.

    False accusations tend not to hold up under scrutiny, but the damage they can wreak is horrendous, even if they evaporate quickly. But we don’t have to look very far to find nightmarish abuse, where secrecy and the benefit of the doubt have been very costly to the victims. Who should bear the cost when a bogus claim of abuse arises? Does the possibility of demonstrated abuse in another situation offset this cost? I don’t know. Nevertheless, I have always hoped that keeping things open and “in the light” would be both an antidote and a preventive to incidents of sexual abuse. Surely it wouldn’t hurt, and it might help.

    Thanks for letting me elaborate.

  • AJ

    Karen -

    I am not really allowing my opinion of you to be colored by David Roberts’ remarks. My opinion of you is now being based on your posts, here and on Carlos’ blog:

    “Randy, you must have posted at exactly the same time I did. I’ll consider your suggestion, but frankly I’m not feeling quite as irenic as you are.”

    Wow, you come across arrogant as well, if not self-centered. I have no problem with any ex-gay ministy. I have friends who are in them now, and they seem to be working somewhat. But, after reading some of your post why would I want to be apart of your ministy? Where is the grace and humility? Granted, Andrew came across strong in his first post (I think he had a right too), but you were just snippy and mean- spirited. Frankly, I don’t know how you will review Andrew’s book with any sort of fairness.

    I just have a bad taste of Exodus right now after reading some of your post’s here and on Carlos’ blog. From what I have gathered, you have had a history with David in the past, but I think of all organizations, Exodus should be taking the high road in blogs/comments/etc. Remember who you represent and there are a lot of lurkers out there who are watching you and associating you with your organization. The same can be said for David as well, but in this instance, I am more interested in how Exodus responds to things within the gay community.

  • Petrol72

    I am not sure what sort of public apology you are all looking for…does a ministry have to go on Oprah, Dr Phil, publish in teh New York Times and goto 72 churches in 3 different states in to have it called “public”?

    Isn’t it ILLEGAL for newspapers to publish the names of minor victims…to protect thier privacy, and allow them to not become a pariah for what has been done to them? Isn’t having the criminal record of the abuser in the Public Records of the state where the offense occurred…public? Isn’t the fact that anyone attending DSM at that time was aware of a situation and the resultant rule changes…pretty public?

    Oh wait, it’s not public because they didn’t include you personally? How about what the families wanted, they got thousands in settlement, but apparently forgot to ask for the “public apology” option?

    Or maybe it’s just that this is a perfect example to point to all the reasons why “change-camp” ministries are evil and hence should be forbidden to exist by any ‘reasonable, bridge-building, compassionate’ christian.

    How many sexual ‘indiscretions’ have taken place in gay organizations? Are we demanding a public accounting for anything that has occured in the last ten years?

    One man, as part of his own struggle, committed an offense. An offense that was dealt with legally, morally, and in conjunction with the victims, their families, and their lawyers. Yet, you all stand here in judgement of Andy Cominsky and DSM as if they were agents of the Evil One himself.

  • http://jwalkergs.wordpress.com/ Jason

    About four years ago, I sought out the help of a Living Waters group near my home. It was during a particularly difficult time in my struggle when I was severely troubled. It remains the only time in my life when I considered suicide as a solution to my pain. I don’t even remember how I heard about the group, but I thought maybe they could help.

    I can’t express in words how disturbing my meeting was with the person who headed up the program. I sat alone in the waiting area of the office for over an hour waiting on him to come back from what the receptionist described as a “long lunch.” When he finally did come in, he walked past me without saying so much as hello and said to the receptionist, “Tell Mr. Walker I’ll be with him in five minutes.” Finally, I was escorted to his office by the security guard (yes, this was in a church and yes, it was a security guard — badge and all). He explained the program briefly to me and then had me fill out a lengthy questionaire. What happened next horrified me.

    What I’m about to say now is going to be very truthful, I don’t know any other way to be. There were many questions on the questionaire dealing with my sexual history, which I was a little uncomfortable with, but was so desperate at the time that I answered. Then, the person I was visiting with began asking me more questions. I found it unbelievable — “Did you consider yourself sexually dominant or passive?”; “Did you engage in any type of fetish behavior?” — and so on. I couldn’t believe he was asking these questions and I didn’t understand what they had to do with anything. Honestly, it was a little ‘pervy’ feeling.

    Following the interview, I called him back and told him I was uncomfortable with the questions he asked and wanted to know who would have access to the information. He refused to tell me. It was at that time I told him I would not be attending the meetings and wanted him to destroy my information. He told me that I was clearly not commited to putting my sin behind me. I attempted to contact him twice after that to ask if my information had been destroyed. He would not take nor would he return my telephone calls.

    This experience added to my already damaged view of the “church” and deepened my distrust for Christians who claimed to care about me. It, alone with many other experiences, did terrible damage to my spiritual health. Because of this and other experiences, I have not been inside a church in nearly five years with the exception of one visit two years ago. Thankfully, my faith in Jesus who doesn’t need a detailed account of my sexual history remains in tact.

    I don’t hold any ill-will toward LW or any other “ex-gay” ministry although I do believe their efforts to be in vain in the vast majority of cases. I believe this man I dealt with only represented himself. However, I cannot understand why an organization would allow such instances to happen. It seems that some better oversight is needed.

    With regard to the two teens in question in this situation, I pray that they’ve received quality care from qualified professionals trained in dealing with sexual abuse. Whatever amount of money was paid to these teens and their families it wasn’t enough. No amount of money will ever be enough and, frankly, I believe what is lacking here is a level of embarrassment and shame. I don’t know whether a public apology is necessary, the crime wasn’t perpetrated on the public, however I would hope that the organization would at least learn to display some humility about the incident.

    This is only my experience and only my opinion, obviously, there are those who won’t share them, but I share my story because I fear there are people who allow themselves to be abused because they think they deserve it. No one deserves it. Jesus didn’t minister to the sick by humiliating them. Rather, he opened his arms and wrapped them tightly in the transforming power of his LOVE!

    Thanks for not being afraid to speak the truth, Andrew.

  • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

    Petrol72 – Just to make this clear, I am not asking anyone to reveal the names of the abused. And yes, if I could get on Dr. Phil or Oprah to apologize for such a situation if it happened to me, I would. And yes, I also believe that any gay organization with the same occurance needs to do the same things as well.

    This whole thing would be cleared up by a simple statement (example as follows):

    “I, Andy Comiskey, as leader of DSM, take full responsibility for what happened to those teenage boys. Though I did not committ these reprehensible acts myself, as the head of this organization what occurrs under my watch is my fault. For all of this I am sorry. I am sorry to the boys. I am sorry to the families. I am sorry to everyone who has ever donated to DSM or trusted us in any fashion. I am sorry. I will work everyday of my life to ensure something like this never happens again. There is no room in DSM, nor in this world for child molestation. It is wrong, and I am ashamed of what happened. Though not easy, and I am sure many won’t offer it, but I am asking for everyone’s forgivness, and I promise to start working with anti-child molestation groups to make sure this never happens to anyone, ever again. Thank you.”

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    We have asked for such clear, humble apologies for various wrongs from many ex-gay leaders. It simply befuddles me that they don’t do this in the first place. The only reason I’ve ever been able to get from extended discussion is that doing so might make it look like they are appeasing those asking for such an apology.

    It’s twisted but true, some are nearly paranoid that we (in this case, we means those who are not in favor of reparative or change therapy) might manipulate them into doing anything, and that fear is stronger than any desire that may exist to do the right thing.

    The very existence of such feelings means that one is deeply invested in the culture war, and that makes for a poor moral compass in my experience. And from the outside it comes across as arrogant, self-serving and callous.

  • Sue

    Sorry, I just don’t get any of this!

  • http://www.peregrination.org.uk Phelim McIntyre

    Andrew – what you are talking about happened in the early 80s and you are reading only a small part of a much bigger story. How do you know that Desert Streams and Comsiky never apologised? Just because Andy does not mention this it doesn’t mean they didn’t do it. Please do what you would like your critics to do – check your facts or stay quiet.

  • William

    Phelim,
    What Andrew actually wrote was: “never one time IN HIS POST [emphasis added by me] did he apologize to the teenager or the family for someone in his organization acting out as a child predator! Not once.”

    Andrew gave a link to the post in question, so we can all read it. The sole concerns expressed by Comiskey IN THAT POST are the effect that the whole miserable business could have had on Desert Stream Ministries and satisfaction that he was able to keep it dark at the time.

    Please do what you would like your critics to do – read properly the comments which you intend to criticize or stay quiet.

  • casey

    He has helped beyond his accusers accusations. Andy is a good man with man’s faults. Let him be and let him minister. Let those who know better to minister in this area minister him. Otherwise, be quiet and let him do as the Lord has led him.

  • J

    I was there. I participated in a larger group of when the employee had started a small group for teens at the same time. Apparently, the victim was the only one to have shown up that night. I did not know the person. This was more than a decade ago. And the victim, along with the family of the victim were treated with great respect and remorse for what happened to them. They were provided with great apologies and provisions for recovery made, including a very large sum of money.

    I also know that the victim and family had wished to have the incident remain as private as possible and that both the church and Cominsky’s organization were legally committed to a gag order as part of the resolution. So, all of your demands for public apology and details make you one of the vultures… And I too will quote the March 2010 blog… “News of our tragedy, now official on police and court records, attracted our accusers like vultures”…. Honestly, the rest is none of the public’s business… and none of your business.

    Speaking of police and court records… you ignored that part as if they just brushed all of this under the carpet and moved the guy to their site in Hong Kong or something… Well, no. The man was subjected to all of the criminal investigations and charges as anyone who commits such acts… Then, I know that he was split off from Desert Stream and I never heard of him again. That does not mean that he was or was not provided with rehabilitation, or even jail… I do not know….

    But you should lay off of Desert Stream and Andy Cominsky. You have created a fictional nightmare here, based in not amount of reality.

  • Steven

    Oh this is better than Jersey Shore.

    Hey, here’s an idea: why don’t you guys hook up with Snooki and double the cringe factor? Name-calling, back-biting, accusations and recriminations, you’ve got them all down pat, so you’d fit right in.

    I wonder which is worse. Car-crash TV or car-crash homophobia? From where I’m sitting, the view looks pretty dismal whichever way you look at it. But what am I complaining about? You’re doing a much better job of discrediting yourself than I could ever do.

    Now, how do I email a link to this thread to everyone in my contact list? They should see it for themselves. Let’s see…

    Steven


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