It's come to this: as I told my husband a few days ago when I was alerted to this story, we now must caution parents and church members/attendees to search for church pastors and staff on sex offender registries.
Child sex offenders "hiding" in plain sight, elevated to positions of spiritual authority and trust? Alarmingly, yes.
How would the public react to news that a violent registered sex offender worked at a school with kids? Daycare? Coach? Counselor?
Church? Yes, a church: Fairfax Community Church in Fairfax, Virginia.
Eric Nickle is the Care Director at Fairfax Community Church. The senior pastor of FCC is Rod Stafford.
Eric Nickle is on the Virginia sex offender registry. He is listed as violent.
Eric Nickle was convicted on October 13, 2000 for Indecent Liberties with a Child by Custodian. VA law code 18.2-370.1 is listed on Nickle's sex offender registry. His initial registration was on July 17, 2000 and renewed on July 20, 2015.
Is the senior pastor aware that Nickle is a registered child sex offender listed as violent? Are church members and attendees aware of this information?
§ 18.2-370.1. Taking indecent liberties with child by person in custodial or supervisory relationship; penalties.
Elevating a child sex offender to a position of trust and authority does not create a safe environment for kids and abuse survivors.
The light of truth and knowledge is our greatest tool to protect kids.
Can churches protect children & minister to sex offenders? New [guest] post tackles this difficult issue. http://t.co/e61lStTaiO @simonNBass— Boz Tchividjian (@BozT) July 25, 2015
UPDATE: July 30, 2015“An offender’s testimony may give the impression to kids & parents that the church considers the offender to be safe.”http://t.co/fEkzr38IpK— GRACE (@netgrace_org) July 25, 2015
A grand deception: The successful response of sex offenders
When the Church prefers perpetrators
A careful grace: Accountability for sex offenders in the church
A church should not ask a sex offender to be part of the public platform.Fairfax Community Church: Why you should check the sex offender registry before joining a church
Just mentions "personal history" & "life challenges." Child sex crimes aren't challenges. Church minimizes crimes. https://t.co/T7emmyFjJL— Amy Smith (@watchkeep) July 30, 2015
Exactly. Try "violent criminal record" https://t.co/Wj8WLN4ZiD— Fledgeling Feminist (@fledgelingfem) July 30, 2015
Repentance & forgiveness are private, personal matters. Protecting kids is public mandate. Why take the risk? http://t.co/yKPeHhACbn— Amy Smith (@watchkeep) July 30, 2015
UPDATE: 8/4/15@FairfaxCC @watchkeep Wishing the leadership at FCC would mention concern of the victim of the sexual offender. http://t.co/n9CKU6Fnwe— Dee Parsons (@wartwatch) July 30, 2015
Last Saturday, I was in the DC area attending and speaking at our annual SNAP conference. A group of SNAP members and leaders held an awareness event outside Fairfax Community Church about convicted child sex offender and FCC pastor Eric Nickle.
We handed out leaflets to church congregants as they left the worship service.
Shortly after we arrived, Loretta Cooper, spokesperson for FCC, came out to meet us. She gave us copies of the 2nd Fairfax Community Church statement in a week on Eric Nickle.
We spoke for a few minutes with Loretta Cooper. When I expressed concern that a convicted pedophile would be given a position of trust and authority as a Care Director, Loretta informed me that I am inflating his job responsibilities as Eric "mostly just carries boxes."
Y did L. Cooper lie about Nickle's role "carries boxes?" He's counseling staff. http://t.co/K7e6ATLUBU #AskFairfaxCC pic.twitter.com/kdLQJdoWLP— Amy Smith (@watchkeep) August 4, 2015
I assumed since Loretta was sent to deliver the official church statement that she is on staff. She said she's not on staff, does not speak on behalf of the church, and that she is just a member.
Loretta is married to Kyle Cooper, FCC youth pastor. I discovered that the senior pastor Rod Stafford has designated Loretta as the spokesperson on Eric Nickle.
@leritareid Your best contact at Fairfax Community Church is LorettaCooper@me.com. She would be happy to talk with you. Thanks!— Rod Stafford (@rodstafford) August 2, 2015
Giving title Care Director sends wrong message! Hope church takes advice recognising perpetrators shouldn't be given positions of trust. ~ Simon Bass,
We ended our conversation with me asking Loretta Cooper if she or the church had contacted Boz Tchividjian of G.R.A.C.E http://www.netgrace.org/ to get his input. She said they had not done so, but she promised that she would.
We have heard that senior pastor Rod Stafford addressed the situation regarding Eric Nickle in his sermon in the worship services last weekend in detail, even going into the specifics of Nickle's child sex crime conviction and discussing the identity of his victim.
@nichtspam @watchkeep @fledgelingfem @rodstafford Did Rod share ID and/or details about the victim in 'redemption' story sermon?— Andrew (@caldwa) August 4, 2015
Yes he did. Such disastrous, damaging handling of child sexual abuse. http://t.co/gtqophNI9w #PedophilesLoveChurches https://t.co/DLWIIoZIgB— Amy Smith (@watchkeep) August 4, 2015
I am highly offended that you think that touching his daughter is not violent. ANY unwanted sexual content is violent. That is why VA law requires this label.
Mr. Nelson may be a sex addict, addicted to porn or addicted to substances. The real issue is that he is a pedophile. Pedophiles should NOT be employed by churches.
Pastor Rod's sermon made me, as a survivor, no longer feel safe at FCC.