Anonymous Tip: It Always Happens to Other Girls

Anonymous Tip: It Always Happens to Other Girls August 5, 2016

A Review Series of Anonymous Tip, by Michael Farris

Pp. 139-141

Remember how David Humphrey of Heart of America called Peter up and offered to raise money for Gwen’s case? Remember how Peter agreed based only on the fact that both professed a love for Jesus? Remember that, after refusing to give Casey’s picture to the press, Peter let Heart of America have a picture of Gwen and Casey to use in their fundraising materials? Remember that we later learned that David is a sleazebag? First, David lied on the mailers, claiming Gwen was still fighting to get Casey back, and second, David has apparently made a pastime of sexually harassing his assistant, Cindy.

It seems the money is now rolling in, thanks to the fraudulent fundraising letters. Humphrey pulls two chairs together, one for him and one for Cindy, for them to review the numbers on the report from the mail house. Cindy objects.

“I could make us both a copy if you’d like,” Cindy said. She was uncomfortable as Humphrey seemed a little too close for the fourth or fifth time this week.

“No need for that. Just sit here and let’s look.”

Sigh.

Anyway, Humphrey says that they’ve made $308,000 over the $55,000 mailing costs. Good grief. That’s more than enough to fund Peter’s entire office to focus on Gwen’s case for an entire year. But of course, David isn’t about to just hand it over. There are other expenses to be covered first, he says.

“We have our office operations for the next two months—that’s $125,000. The Heart of America has to continue doing its important work. And then we have to pay some more fees related to the creation of the package.”

David sends Cindy for the checkbook, and watches her “intently” as she goes and returns. Because Farris wants to make sure we know that David is a sleaze.

First there’s $31,000 to the mail house, their “creative fee.” Then there’s $15,000 to David, his “negotiation fee.” David explains that “[t]he trickiest part of this whole operation is making sure that we gain access to cases.” Cindy thinks that amount sounds a bit high, but doesn’t say anything. Then there’s $7,000 to Cindy for a “finders fee.”

“You discovered this one, sweetheart.”

“You’re kidding, aren’t you?”

“Absolutely not. You deserve every penny of it!”

“Seven thousand dollars?” It was nearly four times her monthly salary. It was more than she made in six months at the restaurant where Humphrey found her working as a bar maid.

Bar maid?! Did employers still use that term in the 1990s? Please tell me it was already out of date by then. I think the word he’s looking for is “waitress.” Also, I’m sensing a very weird pattern here. First Blackburn and McGuire creeping on Lila at that bar back in Spokane, and now David creeping on Cindy at the bar where she worked and selecting her to be his personal assistant. Is it open season on waitresses or something?

“Oooh,” she squealed. Clutching the check, she grabbed David G. Humphrey and held him tightly. “Oh thank you, thank you.” She gave him a quick kiss on the cheek.

“We can do better than that, can’t we?” Humphrey said and kissed her firmly on the mouth.

Walters was taken aback, but the thrill of a seven-thousand-dollar check muffled any protests he would have raised.

This is just going from bad to worse. David asks Cindy to call him David rather than Mr. Humphrey, and determines (correctly, Farris tells us) that Cindy was “at her limit for now” and that he would have to wait to push further. And wait he would, Farris tells us.

This all over, David says it’s time to get back to work, and Cindy reminds him that they need to send money to Peter. David tells her to write him a check for $5,000. Remember that Heart of America earlier sent Peter an advance of $5,000, so altogether now Peter has received $10,000. Meanwhile, David has raised $308,000 over his mailing costs. And he hasn’t even allocated the rest—even after office costs, mail house “creative fee” costs, and the cuts for David, Cindy, and Peter, there are still $125,000 remaining, if my math serves.

You know what? I just figured out why I’m angry. In Farris’s book, sexual harassment isn’t something that happens to church girls. He portrays Lila as a slut, and Cindy has a boyfriend and wears skimpy little dresses—and hell, she worked as a bar maid, what was she expecting she’d attract! It’s true that Farris makes it clear that McGuire, Blackburn, and David Humphrey are bad people. It’s just that their prey is also stereotyped. Do you want to know why this makes me angry?

To the right is Michael Farris, author of Anonymous Tip. In the middle of Doug Philips, a lawyer who worked for Farris before starting his own business, a mail-order homeschool company. To the right is Bill Gothard, a fundamentalist speaker whose seminars had a large impact on Farris when he attended as a young father. Both Philips and Gothard were exposed several years ago, found to be preying sexually on teenage girls and young women placed in their employ. These weren’t working girls they’d picked up at bars. These were the daughters of families in their church circles, young women sent by their parents to serve God through supporting Philips’ and Gothard’s ministries.

I guess what I’m saying is this—in the real world, David wouldn’t be preying on a girl he picked up at a bar and brought back to be his assistant. That’s not how cons like his are pulled off. No, in the real world David would be more like Gothard—he would wow Aaron and impress Lynn and invite their eldest homeschooled church-going daughter to come work with him at his organization’s headquarters. They would be flattered, amazed that God had seen fit to offer their daughter such an opportunity to serve him. They would pack her off, sending her to live with a predator, while reminding her to obey those in authority over her and to be grateful for this placement and this chance to bring honor to her family.

And in the real world, Farris let this happen. He stood by and watched while it happened. He didn’t see the warning signs. He was oblivious. It will be interesting to see how the David and Cindy side-story plays out. Peter trusted David implicitly because he spoke the language of evangelical Christianity. Will Peter learn some sort of lesson from this, by the end of the book? Or does Farris think frauds like David are easy to spot after a few conversations? Is the lesson that evil can masquerade as good, or that evil masquerading as good is transparent and easy to recognize? Because as Farris’s relationship with both Philips and Gothard suggests, the later is definitely not true.

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