Friday, April 27, 2012

The 'Monsters' Among Us: Child Sex Abusers in Our Midst

The 'Monsters' Among Us: Child Sex Abusers in Our Midst | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction

These events brought a sickening dose of reality to our hallways. While the stories don't signal a trend, they do mean that all faith-based institutions can no longer afford to assume that predators are somewhere "out there," over the clean Christian rain-bow. They are not just in college locker rooms and Catholic rectories either. They are on our evangelical faculty and work in our community nonprofits, and we must respond to them in a way that bears the judgment—and mercy—of the gospel

Friday, April 13, 2012

John Langworthy criminal trial in Mississippi

*UPDATE* Langworthy pleads guilty  

If you were a victim of Langworthy’s child sex crimes in Dallas, please call Doreen in the Dallas police department at 214-671-4211. The Dallas police department wants to hear from you and she’ll be expecting your call. Doreen is the report intake specialist for the child abuse/exploitation unit and is a trained counselor.

If you were or are a victim of Langworthy's child sex crimes in Mississippi, please call Josh Frazier in the Clinton Police Department at 601-925-6106 or the main number and ask for Josh at 601-924-5252.

December 18, 2012- UPDATE: Judge rules Langworthy will face trial

See here for the latest update as of Nov. 26, 2012.

The criminal trial of confessed child molesting minister John Langworthy, originally set for April 2, has been scheduled for *July 30 in Hinds County in Jackson, Mississippi. He is charged with 8 felony counts of gratification of lust for 5 victims, boys between the ages of 8-12. This abuse took place in Clinton and Jackson, MS between 1980-84 while he served at 2 area Baptist churches, First Baptist Jackson and Daniel Memorial Baptist Church, while he was attending Mississippi College. 

Langworthy confessed these crimes of child sexual abuse from the pulpit of Morrison Heights Baptist Church on August 7, 2011. He was arrested and indicted in September. In addition to the child sex crimes for which he is indicted, Langworthy also confessed to molesting minor boys at his previous employer, Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, where he was the youth music minister from 1984-89.

Though the Prestonwood church staff, including then and current head pastor, Dr. Jack Graham, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, as well as Neal Jeffrey, then youth pastor, and some adult volunteers, heard directly from victims and heard Langworthy confess to this molestation in the summer of 1989, they did not report these crimes to the police as required by state law.

Under Texas law, ministers and clergy are required to report any suspected child abuse ― sexual or otherwise ― to authorities within 48 hours of being told, otherwise they too are committing a criminal offense. A child is defined as anyone under the age of 18.

They had a few of the victims sit down with church attorneys to give statements about the abuse. These statements were not reported to law enforcement so that an investigation could take place and more victims identified and helped, and other kids protected. The church congregation has never been informed by the church staff of this confessed child molester that was in their midst, preying upon their children. Parents and their kids that were in the youth ministry while Langworthy was at Prestonwood have never been told the truth by Dr. Graham. (See the Associated Baptist Press story "Abuse confession raises question of cover-up by Baptist mega-church")

Langworthy was fired by Prestonwood and allowed to move back to an unsuspecting community in his home state of Mississippi where he promptly began working with kids teaching music in Clinton public schools, first an elementary school, then junior high and high school. He also became the music minister at Morrison Heights Baptist Church in Clinton where he worked until his resignation at the end of May 2011 a few months prior to his public confession there.

you should know about child sexual offenders: 

It is critical that anyone who has seen, suspected or suffered sex crimes by John Langworthy come forward, contact law enforcement, get help, start healing, seek justice immediately, and protect others, no matter how long ago or how recent the abuse occurred. Keep in mind that your silence only hurts, and by speaking up there is a chance for healing, exposing the truth, and therefore protecting others. You can call 911 to report and you will be directed to the appropriate authorities. 

If you were abused by Langworthy in Dallas, or have information about these crimes, please call the Dallas Police Department Child Exploitation Unit at 214-671-4211. This line is answered by a trained counselor who will take your report.

Texas Abuse Hotline 1-800-252-5400

Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453), then push 1 to talk to a hotline counselor. 

If you were abused by Langworthy in Mississippi and/or have information about his child sex crimes there, please call 911, the local police where the abuse occurred, or contact Jamie McBride, the assistant Hinds County District Attorney at 601-968-6568. He is handling the criminal case of Langworthy there. To report abuse in Clinton, you can call Josh Frazier in the Clinton Police Department at 601-924-5252. 

MS abuse hotline 1-800-222-8000 (, or MS crimestoppers 1-888-8-CRIMES (1-888-827-4637), 601-355-TIPS (8447) to submit an anonymous tip by phone, email

If I can be of any assistance, please contact me at I am the Houston leader for the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.

Two educators in Cobb County, Georgia arrested and fired for failure to report suspected child sex abuse.

And today, we have a message for anyone who sees, suspects or suffers child abuse – sexual or physical. Healing, justice and prevention are possible. But you must step forward. You need not reveal your identity or sacrifice your privacy. But you must act. Staying silent helps only the predators.

*Updated: Trial date is set for Nov. 26

SNAP statement on Langworthy's indictment (read the full statement here):
We hope that the actions taken today will encourage other victims who may have been suffering in silence to come forward, get help, tell their story and start healing. Given the nature of the crimes that he committed in both Clinton and Jackson, we are sure that there are others may have seen or suspected his crimes, and we urge them to come forward as well. Silence is a predator’s best weapon, and we are grateful to those who broke their silence to ensure that justice is served.

Judge to rule on minister's sex abuse charges

My interview on WJTV: Former minister wants child sex case thrown out

Monday, April 2, 2012

The coach and the cardinal: the seduction of the leader

April is child abuse prevention month and sexual assault awareness month. Here is a list of activities across the state of Texas to spread awareness.  Child Help, founded in 1959 by Sara O'Meara and Yvonne Fedderson, is a leading national non-profit organization dedicated to helping victims of child abuse and neglect. Childhelp's approach focuses on prevention, intervention and treatment. The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline, 1-800-4-A-CHILD®, operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and receives calls from throughout the United States, Canada, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam.

Rod Napier, chairman of the Napier Group and a founder of the University of Pennsylvania's graduate program in organizational consulting and executive coaching, addresses the organizational breakdown of demanding and confronting the truth.

Two iconic Pennsylvania figures, Joe Paterno and Anthony Bevilacqua, passed away this year. Both the longtime Penn State football coach and the former archbishop of Philadelphia had remarkable careers of public service and achievement that ended in scandal - scandals that will forever shadow their legacies. Both men saw themselves as close to God, but both were also treated as gods by those around them. And that may have had more to do with the scandals than has so far been appreciated.
 The cultures of their respective organizations - cultures they tolerated, if not outright fostered or even demanded - probably tended to discourage the people around them from plainly stating the most unpleasant truths at hand. The most likely scenario is that these men never heard the completely unvarnished truth, because they created or tolerated cultures that did not encourage people to tell them difficult truths.
 The fact is, the more influence and power we have, the less likely those around us are to tell us the truth. This dynamic is at the core of the concept of the seduction of the leader.
Truly great organizational leaders recognize this dynamic and work to counter it, actively seeking and creating an environment in which their subordinates feel free to speak plainly.
 The truth is that the seduction of the leader occurs thousands of times a day, when good and not-so-good men and women have opportunities to speak the truth but don't. These small omissions and half-truths can eventually give way to deceptions that are larger and more treacherous.
 Leaders must work overtly to create cultures in which the truth is systematically demanded, invited, and protected. It's not just the right thing to do; it's the smart thing to do. Ask Penn State and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Last week, Dr. Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas, tweeted:
You never have to hide from the truth. Live a transparent life which honors Jesus.
That sounds wonderful, but if leaders like Jack Graham and others charged with shepherding a congregation of church members who trust them, do not also live that way and demand and confront the terrible truth of child sexual predators in their midst, kids will be in danger. If the warning signs are not heeded and reported to law enforcement when predators groom kids to abuse them, like in the case of Eddie Struble, former minister at Second Baptist Church in Houston, kids will be in danger. If only Jack Graham and the staff who knew the truth about the confessed child molester, John Langworthy, had not hidden the truth, but reported these child sex crimes to the police in 1989 as required by law, informed the entire church of the truth of Langworthy's firing and reached out for anyone who had been harmed by Langworthy to go to the police, get help and start healing, other kids would not have been placed at risk for the past 23 years. They can and should still take this action today.

Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway. - Mother Teresa

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. - Edmund Burke

As many lies are told with silence as with words. - Rick Warren

A brave girl comes forward, law enforcement is notified and another child predator is arrested. Gary Welch, youth pastor at Northside Baptist Churchin Corsicana, TX was arrested and recently charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child. He is accused of having a three-year affair with a teenage member of the youth group.

The light of knowledge and truth is our most important tool to protect kids.