Update on the Sovereign Grace Abuse Case

On May 29, plaintiffs filed a request to reconsider the dismissal of claims in the Sovereign Grace abuse case.  Plaintiffs are alleging a conspiracy on the part of Sovereign Grace leaders which, if granted, would allow the presentation of claims relating to that claims. Read the entire motion here.

A helpful summary can be found here.

A leading advocacy group formed out of the Catholic church abuse scandal has spoken out in condemnation of Christian leaders who have come to the defense of C. J. Mahaney, founder of the Sovereign Grace network. David Clohessy said the public stance of the ministers who defend the accused send a chilling message to the victims of abuse and may keep others from coming forward.

Related post:

The Sovereign Grace Abuse Scandal

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  • Patrocles

    I have a bad message for you.

    Following the New Testament, Christian victims save their souls by forgiving the perpetrators.

    They don’t save their souls by appealing to state trials and getting the perpetrators penalized. (That’s a different, post-Christian religion.)

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

      Yes, Pat, that is a bad message. False dichotomy.

    • Richard Willmer

      Forgiveness is not about ignoring the severity of the (alleged) offence; it is about ‘restoring relationships’ with others and with God.

      Those who commit heinous acts against, for example, children must ‘pay the price that society justly exacts’. They can be forgiven, but, like the rest of us, they must also live with any consequences of their wrongdoing. Things like the sexual abuse of children in not just a matter for the individuals concerned; it is also ‘society’s business’.

  • Byron Harvey

    Seems like a reasonable statement made by Duncan, Dever, and Mohler, Biblical, balanced, and compassionate to all parties. It strikes me that those who don’t like the statement, committed as they are to justice for abuse victims, are reading the statement selectively. If CJ Mahaney is found to be culpable, then I trust these same gentlemen will call for his Biblical discipline and lend their support to his correction and restoration. If he is found not to be culpable in any way, then I trust his reputation as a leader will be reaffirmed. With regard to the shortcomings of a different sort to which Mahaney has admitted, I trust those in position to hold him accountable will do so. True justice and compassion must be extended to every person concerned–every person.

    • StraightGrandmother

      I’ll reserve my compassion for the victims, thank you very much. As far as I am concerned they can be “restored” in jail. Plenty of free time for Bible study there.

      • Byron Harvey

        But doesn’t that assume that this man is guilty, in spite of an apparent lack of evidence and in contrast to the presumption of innocence, Grandmother? You don’t believe he deserves justice (whatever that entails, including complete absolution if he is innocent)? If you, or someone you loved, was accused of somehow being involved in such a crime–would you feel the same way? I will agree with you that I will also reserve my compassion for the victims, but I will allow for the possibility that this man is himself a victim.

        • Dave

          Determining culpability by hiding behind the statute of limitations is rather suspicous and doesn’t look very Christlike to me.

  • Byron Harvey

    If indeed that’s what’s happening, probably so, Dave. But regarding the “statement of support”, I would reference this quote, and assume that it is true:

    “A Christian leader, charged with any credible, serious, and direct wrongdoing, would usually be well advised to step down from public ministryt…No such accusation of direct wrongdoing was ever made against C. J. Mahaney.”

    I only argue for a balance between the critical importance of justice for the victims, and the presumption of innocence. You are right in your words about Christlikeness; I would only argue that a rush to judgment isn’t Christlike either. To quote the letter of support:

    “If the filing of civil litigation against a Christian ministry or leader is in itself reason for separation and a rush to judgment, no ministry or minister is safe from destruction at any time. Furthermore, the effort to try such a case in the court of public opinion prior to any decision rendered by an authorized court is likewise irresponsible.”

    A hearty amen…

  • Christian Lawyer

    Byron — The problem with your analysis is the T4G statement, just like the one from TGC, does exactly what you warn against — judging one side before any evidence has been heard in court. T4G actually withdrew part of what you quoted. Plus, all these statements misrepresent what the court’s recent decision did and did not do.

    Compare T4G’s first statement (on Facebook but withdrawn after so many negative comments), with the one they later posted at T4G:

    “A Christian leader, charged with any credible, serious, and direct wrongdoing, would usually be well advised to step down from public ministry. No such accusation of direct wrongdoing was ever made against C. J. Mahaney. Instead, he was charged with founding a ministry and for teaching doctrines and principles that are held to be true by vast millions of American evangelicals. For this reason, we, along with many others, refused to step away from C. J. in any way.” http://www.evernote.com/shard/s2/sh/e3623beb-3591-4ba2-a332-30f2e94bb79c/48ade443a4715458c112553f82acf8c9

    “A Christian leader, charged with any credible, serious, and direct wrongdoing, would usually be well advised to step down from public ministry. We believe this lawsuit failed that test. For this reason, we, along with many others, refused to step away from C. J. in any way.” t4g.org/statement/

    Part of the problem is both the T4G (original) statement and the TGC one use language from the defendants’ motion to dismiss asserting that no direct claims were made against Mahaney. But, that motion was written before plaintiffs filed their Second Amended Complaint, which provides much more detail. If you haven’t done so, you should read it, if it doesn’t make you physically ill before you get to the end. abrentdetwiler.squarespace.com/storage/documents/second%20amended%20sgm%20lawsuit.pdf

    The other part of the problem with all these statements in support of Mahaney and SGM is that they appear to misunderstand the legal meaning of dismissal based upon the statute of limitations. TGC asserts that “[a]s to the specific matter of C. J. participating in some massive cover-up, the legal evidence was so paltry (more like non-existent) that the judge did not think a trial was even warranted.” This is simply incorrect as a matter of law.

    As a matter of law, dismissal based on the statute of limitations does not address the sufficiency, or lack thereof, of any evidence. This means that, even if there were a smoking gun videotape of the abuse and another of a confession of conspiracy, the claims must be dismissed if they are too old. Even SGM, itself, acknowledges that “this ruling does not specifically address the substance of the plaintiffs’ allegations.” http://www.sovereigngraceministries.org/blogs/sgm/category/General.aspx

    So, even the mildest of these statements, by T4G, claiming “we believe that this lawsuit fails that test,” is taking a position on who is telling the truth or not.

    Please also note that at least two of the abusers identified in the Second Amended Complaint have already been convicted of abuse and a third has been indicted. These are matters of public record. So, regardless of whether SGM leaders actually conspired together to protect the abusers or not, it has already been established in court that some pretty terrible things happened on these leaders’ respective watches. While that doesn’t prove the conspiracy allegations, it does speak to the propriety of these organizations continuing to hold out Mahaney in a position of leadership.

    FWIW, I have no connection to any of the plaintiffs, defendants, lawyers, blogs, etc. IMO, Boz Tchividjian, grandson of Billy Graham, and an experienced sex crimes prosecutor, has the much better analysis of the allegations, without calling anyone a liar. netgrace.org/where-are-the-voices-the-continued-culture-of-silence-and-protection-in-american-evangelicalism/

  • Dave

    Couldn’t read it all .. incredibly disturbing … makes the Sandusky case look like a walk in the park..

  • Anonymous

    Dever-Mohler-Duncan’s statement has a paragraph that begins:

    “A Christian leader, charged with any credible, serious, and direct wrongdoing, would usually be well advised to step down from public ministry. No such accusation of direct wrongdoing was ever made against C. J. Mahaney. Instead, he was charged with founding a ministry and for teaching doctrines and principles that are held to be true by vast millions of American evangelicals….”

    Bottom line? Dever, Mohler, and Duncan are not being truthful:? C.J. Mahaney *is* being accused of credible, serious, and direct wrongdoing.

    Here are some summaries of the paragraphs in the lawsuit that mention Mahaney directly: (Everything that follows is “alleged” for the lawyers.)

    Paragraph #109 – ?Defendants Ecelbarger, Mullery and V. Hinders, conspiring together with Mahaney and Loftness, violated the mandatory reporting obligations and conspired together to cover up [name withheld pending court ruling on defense motion]‘s molestation of children.

    Paragraph #157 – ?Rather than report the ongoing abuse to secular authorities or take any steps to stop the abuse, Defendants informed the father that his children had reported the abuse. This led to further abuse by the father. In exchange for the conspiracy of silence, the abusive father paid to send Defendants Mahaney, Ricucci, and Layman and their families on vacation to the Kiawah Islands, South Carolina.

    #138 – ?Discovery will show that Defendants Mullery, David Hinder and Vince Hinders (sic) spoke with Maryland-based Defendants Mahaney and Loftness, and together conspired to prevent any reporting to the secular authorities.

    — Here are summaries (not verbatim due to the graphic nature) of just a few of the 150+ paragraphs that give names, locations, and sex acts against children as young as age 2. —

    #51 – ?Defendant David Adams was convicted and served jail time. He was welcomed back into the church without the church taking any effective steps to prevent him from having continued access to children.

    #178 – ?Defendants permitted David Adams, a known pedophile, to attend church-sponsored sleepovers without advising parents about his sexual deviance.

    #36-38 – ?Youth ministry leader Nate Morales molested several boys. During one youth group discussion about being “pure,” [the teenage boy who had been abused] then openly referred to Morales’ ongoing molestation of boys, stating words to the effect, “yeah, Nate got me too.” This discussion group was headed up by a youth leader…. …[who] cautioned him and the other boys against talking about the facts. [The youth leader] reported it to Grant Layman, one of the defendants. He and other defendants allegedly conspired to cover it up.

    #173 – ?…they permitted [Kindergarten teacher Stephen] Griney to teach and have unfettered access to children, and conspired to cover up the facts.

    #177? – On or about August 17, 2011, Defendants admitted during a meeting that they placed protecting the churches from lawsuits over and above the safety of children. This admission revealed ….[they were] acting for financially motivated reasons, had designed and agreed upon a plan to obstruct justice, yet permit predators to continue to have unfettered access to children in church and school settings.

    About 1/3 of the defendants have already been reported to the authorities for child sex crimes. Two have been convicted and are in jail. One proceeded in the juvenile system. One case is ongoing now.


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