Monday, August 20, 2018

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary professor expresses concern that other kids are at risk for sexual abuse: Eddie Struble update

From my 2011 post regarding sexual abuse concerns about Southern Baptist music minister/church leader, Eddie Struble:
A few months ago I was made aware of specific concerns about a minister credibly accused of the sexual abuse and stalking of at least one teenage boy of which I am aware. This music minister, Eddie Struble, was formerly on staff at Second Baptist Church, a Baptist megachurch in Houston, with a membership of more than 53,000. He left that position a couple of years ago and sometime after that was hired as the interim music minister at Humble Area First Baptist Church but is no longer on staff there, as of October 2010, and has moved to the Dallas/Fort Worth area. He also worked as a vocal coach atHits Theatre in Houston. Prior to working at Second Baptist, he was on staff at Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis and Idlewild Baptist Church in Tampa.
I also have a few other posts about Eddie Struble.

Former Second Baptist Church of Houston minister accused of child sex abuse: more information and more questions


 Saw your blog on sexual abuse of children and teens and wholeheartedly support it, provided everything checks out. In the case of ES, everything said about him preying on a boy, a young man really (*of 16/17) is true. 

*editor's note: the Houston police department report states that the abuse began on 12/01/06 and continued until 10/15/09 which I believe would correspond to said victim's age as 14-17 years old.

Classmates know that he visited the boy in question daily at his home until the wee hrs.

 Many of us knew ES both from church where he had an impressive position as director of a large choir and orchestra, and also from the school that our own kids went to, where he liked to hang out at games. He knew almost all of the students there, was very 'huggy' with them, had their cell phone numbers etc. When the pastor was told about the above situation, the matter was referred to relevant church staff, who said they had ways of investigating such matters and to leave it to them. 

ES was removed from office somehow, but the church never reported back. When asked, they answered that 'it was true', as I suspect the police reports you show testify to. So the voicemail on your web site by Second is pertinently untrue, and a way of the corporate church to avoid legal responsibility since they did not report the matter (possibly to protect the family and ironically, feeding the rumor mill that keeps bringing up these questions).

[voicemail mentioned above embedded here]

 This had immediate unintended consequences, namely that ES applied to schools in the area, including ours. Luckily our kids' school was aware, even somehow responsible, since ES had actually traveled with the school's sports teams on a road trip or two (while not employed by them nor having any kids at the school himself, can you believe it!?! Our kids had been very aware of ES inclinations by then (the investigation by Second took 2 months) and had warned the classmates and the school staff, who by then became very concerned about the school's reputation and role in the matter).

 I believe he was finally served with a restraining order by the school since he kept showing up and contacting kids by phone and on Facebook etc. 

 A supporter 

Denying and Enabling Child Sex Abuse

Texas is a state in which it is mandatory for any citizen to report known or suspected cases of child abuse. Texas is also a state in which it is a crime for clergy to have sexual relations with a congregant. 
I was contacted last week by a former member of Birchman Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. I will refer to her as Catherine (pseudonym). She is very concerned because she is aware of the abuse allegations about Eddie Struble and was compelled to contact me after she learned that Eddie is seeking a committee chair position with Texas Christian Homeschool Prom. I responded to Catherine asking for further information. She informed me that she had spoken to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary professor Charles Carpenter about her concerns. Charles is a former Birchman Baptist member who allegedly witnessed an sexual incident involving Eddie Struble and a teen boy from Birchman Baptist Church. 

I emailed professer Carpenter last Friday with my concerns. I urged him to make a report to police. He replied a few times to my emails. His last reply was in response to my questions, "What happened? What did you witness?"

According to Catherine, Charles Carpenter witnessed Eddie Struble behaving inappropriately (kissing and fondling) with a teen boy who had recently turned 18, but there are concerns that grooming behavior had been going on for perhaps a couple of years. Eddie was a church leader in the music ministry, so he was in a position of trust. Eddie is 45 years old and married with kids. 

Eddie left Birchman Baptist Church and is now attending Christ Chapel Bible Church in Fort Worth, Texas. 

Emails from Charles Carpenter:

Note that Charles Carpenter states that "the person Eddie was with was not a minor nor did Eddie know him as a minor," yet in the same email, he states that he spoke to "concerned parents who have vested interest in this manner." He also states that he approached pastors Bob Pearle and Joey Tombrella "about what happened." Bob Pearle is the senior pastor at Birchman Baptist Church. 
I agree that others are at risk; and to prevent this I followed the biblical mandate to approach and explain to the pastoral staff (Bob Pearl and Joey Tombrella) what happened. If they decide to sit on the information that is there decision; and they may have information that I don’t. They may even be supporting and rebuking in ways I am not privy to. From what I gather they have taken some precautions. As to whether or not it is effective I don’t know.
Last Friday I also recieved a text from a former minister's wife from Birchman. I had called her husband about the concerns about Eddie Struble a few years ago when he was on staff at Birchman Baptist. She had asked Catherine for my number to contact me.

I have known about abuse allegations of boys by Eddie Struble since 2011 when I was contacted by some close friends who are former members of Second Baptist Church in Houston. My friends knew of the advocacy I had recently begun in an effort to expose and report a pedophile minister at my former church in Dallas, Prestonwood Baptist. I did some research and found the Eddie Struble police reports from 2009 and posted these on my blog. A few months later, I received a call from the mother of the victim contained in those reports. Eddie had abused her son for about 3 years, from age 14-17. A helpful youth pastor at their new church, after leaving Second Baptist, had helped them see that Eddie was a wolf in sheep's clothing. Eddie had even convinced the parents that he was a good influence and mentor to their son. They did the right thing rescuing their son and reporting the abuse. I do believe that if the victim (now an adult) were to decide in the future he is ready to proceed with prosecution, he could contact police, give them his statement and continue with his report.

Over the years it seems that so many people have had very credible, serious concerns about abuse by Eddie. Some even know victims personally. Please, if you suspect or know of abuse, call police immediately or utilize the cyber tip line reporting tool at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. I believe that there is a trail of Baptist churches that have handled these allegations about Eddie internally and failed to make a mandatory report to law enforcement. It is not the job of pastors to investigate abuse allegations. That must be done by law enforcement professionals after a report is made. I have reported the information shared with me about this abuse.

There are police reports from Houston police department and a corresponding report from Spring Valley police department

Friday, August 3, 2018

Prominent NYC megachurch, Redeemer Church, quietly fired pastor David Kim for sexual abuse: a survivor shares her story


I’m sharing my story to warn people and reach out to other victims.

Trigger Warning: Sexual Abuse

Note: Yesterday, August 1, an email was distributed to the entire community at Redeemer Presbyterian Church and Redeemer City to City concerning the termination of one of its former pastors, David Kim. This email refers to “an individual who made serious allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct by David approximately 17 years ago, when she was a college student and David was the founding director of a campus ministry at her university.” I am that individual. In light of this email and the fact that I believe it gives an inaccurate impression of what happened, I feel compelled to share my story now.

When I was a college student at Princeton in 2001, i was sexually violated by a campus ministry leader, David Kim. I met David in fall 2000. I was a new Christian and had started attending Manna Christian Fellowship, where David was Executive Director. I met with him several times for spiritual guidance. In the spring 2001, I was alone off campus working on my thesis. David showed up at the house where I was staying. He said he was going to study with me, and I believed him. However, he had other intentions. 

First, he started rubbing my shoulders, but then he quickly progressed to touching all over my body, under my clothes, lying on top of me, and holding me really tight pressed up against his body. As this was happening, I went into shock and don’t remember much until the next day. My memory of what happened that night is in pieces, and a lot of pieces are blurry or blocked out. I was shocked, scared and confused. I trusted David as a spiritual leader who was teaching me about God. I never thought of him as anything else, and I couldn’t reconcile the man who many students revered with the man who was assaulting me. 

The next day David asked how I felt about the previous night. I expressed distress and explicitly told him I felt uncomfortable, conflicted and confused. I described two voices in my head: one screaming at me that what he was doing was wrong and dangerous and I should run; the other telling me that David was trustworthy and wouldn’t do anything wrong. His response to my distress was: “Well, nothing happened,” and he prayed with me. Once he knew he could do what he wanted and get away with it - he manipulated me into trusting him and not telling on him - he did what he wanted. He behaved inappropriately towards me multiple times until I graduated and moved to Texas.

This was never a consensual relationship. I was a new Christian, new to Manna, and a college student. David was a campus ministry leader and the first person who ever really taught me about God. I trusted him as a spiritual leader, and he used that position of trust to betray and abuse me. 

By 2005, I had become immensely troubled by what David had done to me, and I was worried that he was doing the same thing to other girls. I sought help reporting David from a highly-respected, professional “Christian” counselor in Dallas, Daren Martin. After telling Daren about the PTSD symptoms I’d been experiencing, I told him what David had done to me. Daren’s response was: “What’s the big deal?” He said I was overreacting and that David hadn’t done anything wrong. He advised me: “Ask David if he has feelings for you.”
Since Daren was no help, I called David and confronted him by myself. His reaction was: “Who did you tell?!” I said I’d told a counselor. He freaked out and was mad that I had talked to anyone about it. All he cared about was that his secret was out. I was not at all equipped to handle confronting him by myself, and it didn’t go well, but I knew he needed to be held accountable. 

David reported to no one. He was the sole leader of Manna. There was no one above him for me to report him to. He was very resistant to the idea of accountability and kept making excuses. Finally, he agreed to talk to a local pastor. Our agreement, as I understood it, was that he would confess what he did to the pastor and the pastor would know what to do. A week or so later, he called and told me he had talked to the pastor. He also recommended I read a book about shame. I naively believed he had actually confessed to the pastor.

Shortly after my confrontation with David, I received a call from Daren’s office saying that he was no longer seeing clients. No explanation was given. I heard elsewhere that he had been caught sexually exploiting a client, among others. The Texas Department of State Health Services website confirms that Daren Martin surrendered his license for reasons “Related to sexual exploitation of a client.” This explains his horrendous counsel and failure to help me report David. Daren was a sex predator too.

Daren and David both gaslighted me. They both tried to manipulate me into believing that the sexual and spiritual abuse I had suffered was “nothing,” that I was overreacting, that it wasn’t even wrong. Around the same time, I disclosed that I had been sexually violated by David to three women at my church. By then, my health was rapidly failing, and I believed I had done as much as I could at the time.

In the aftermath of the abuse and my attempt to report and confront David, I struggled with a myriad of debilitating health problems: PTSD, breast cancer, Lyme disease, neuro-immune disease, migraines, chronic pain, etc. I had to withdraw from school three times and quit a job and volunteer work, all due to illness related to trauma. In contrast, David was rewarded with increasing power and success in his ministry career. He continued in his role as Executive Director of Manna Christian Fellowship. He also became the Director of Gotham Fellowship at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC, the Executive Director of the Center for Faith and Work at Redeemer Presbyterian Church, and the Vice President of the Center for Faith and Work at Redeemer City to City.

The recent outpouring of stories of sexual abuse and assault triggered memories of my own abuse and reminded me that there was never any justice in my case. I didn’t know what consequences, if any, David had ever faced for abusing his power and exploiting a student under his care.I met with the pastor who David had supposedly talked to in 2005. I asked if David had ever confessed to him. He said no. However, as soon as the presbytery told David about my report in May, David immediately called the pastor and convinced him that he had met with him years ago to discuss accountability, but he never told him what he did or to whom “to protect Jen.”

On April 30, I met with two pastors from the metro New York presbytery (governing body comprised of pastors and leaders of local churches in a region) and gave them a detailed account of the abuse both in writing and via video conference. They began forming a commission - a group of all male presbytery members who have no experience or training in investigating sexual abuse allegations - to do an internal investigation involving one of their own pastors. They asked me if I was willing, if they decided to have their own trial, “to testify before the commission, which would include answering questions by whoever would represent the defendant?” I told them that the process they outlined is incompatible with addressing sexual abuse allegations and would be re-traumatizing, and that I decided to go directly to Redeemer with my report instead.

On May 15, I notified the Director of HR for Redeemer Churches and Ministries and Redeemer City to City that I had been sexually violated by David Kim when I was a student and he was a campus ministry leader. Five times I requested an independent investigation by qualified investigators to determine if there were other victims. Five times they denied my request. They did not listen to my concerns. Instead they tried to control the process to protect themselves. Ultimately, Redeemer City to City quietly terminated David without informing anyone as to why. On June 6, the HR Director emailed me to say that David was no longer employed there and that “Our involvement in this matter has concluded.” I have emails documenting all my correspondence with the HR Director as well as the presbytery.

At the time Redeemer City to City (CTC) “concluded” their involvement on June 6, there was no investigation. No one notified the thousands of young adults this man has influenced in over two decades as a pastor and campus ministry leader. I questioned how many other victims there might be and how many other people have tried to report abuse at Redeemer and been treated like I was? 

On July 25, I shared a short summary of my experience and concerns with a limited audience on facebook. My post quickly spread to Redeemer. On August 1, I received a copy of an email that was distributed to the Redeemer and CTC communities indicating that they have reconsidered the way they mishandled my report. The email reveals that the individual who reported David was a female student in Manna 17 years ago. There are only a small number of people who fit that description, so I decided to identify myself and address some concerns I have with the information presented. 

The email states that when CTC confronted him, “David was forthcoming and, while he disputed several specific claims, did admit to having inappropriately crossed boundaries with the college student while he was a in a position of ministerial leadership... CTC and Redeemer HR... obtained additional third-party information that corroborated David’s acknowledgement of inappropriately crossing boundaries with the student.” I adamantly oppose the use of the phrase “inappropriately crossed boundaries” to describe what David did to me. That is a gross understatement. David targeted, groomed, assaulted, abused, gaslighted and silenced me. He used his position of spiritual authority to deceive and exploit me. And when I practically begged him to come clean in 2005, he again duped and silenced me. I assume he did not disclose his behavior to Redeemer when he was hired or to the PCA when he was ordained. He has not been “forthcoming.” His deliberate deceitfulness demonstrated over time is even more disturbing to me than the assault. 

While I’m encouraged that Redeemer and CTC appear to be moving towards greater transparency and better handling of reports, I’m discouraged at how long it has taken to move in that direction. Their initial response to me was wrong. Their email did not acknowledge that. And I still wonder how many others have received similar treatment or been deterred from reporting at all over the years. Moreover, no one has informed the Manna community, and they need to know. This happened to me when I was a student and David was a single, young man leading a campus ministry by himself with no oversight or accountability. 

Churches should be safe places for victims of sexual abuse to be heard and supported. Far too often, they are the places of abuse, and they are more committed to self-protection and silencing victims than to honesty and caring for those who have been harmed. The damage this causes is immense. For me, the abuse I suffered - both initially and when I first tried to report and confront him - destroyed my health and my life. The cost to me - physically, spiritually, emotionally, financially, relationally - is immeasurable. I still struggle with PTSD from it. I am compelled to speak out because I know I’m not the only one, and other victims need to know they are not alone. #MeToo #ChurchToo

David Kim is the founding director of Manna Christian Fellowship at Princeton University. 
Rev. David H. Kim is the founding director of Manna and has served at Princeton University for the past 17 years. During his time at Princeton, David developed this ministry to focus on how the gospel renews both private and public worlds. He is also currently on staff with Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan serving as the director of the Gotham Fellowship a nine-month Fellows program for professionals. David has degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, Westminster Theological Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary, and is currently working towards a D.Min at Fuller Theological Seminary. He is an ordained minister of the PCA. He is married to Jane who he met during his time at Princeton.
Here is the cached version of Manna Christian Fellowship's "Advisors" page as it appeared on Jul 3, 2018. 

 David Kim's biography listed on the Ei Forum NYC website in 2014:
Executive Director of Center for Faith & Work, oversees all the ministries of the Center for Faith & Work as Executive Director and is the Pastor of Faith and Work of Redeemer. Prior to this role, David served as the Director of the Gotham Fellowship, developing and teaching its intensive curriculum while providing spiritual direction. Prior to joining CFW in 2007, David was a Chaplain at Princeton University, where he also served as the Founder and Executive Director of Manna Christian Fellowship for over 12 years. 

The Center for Faith and Work (CFW) is "the cultural renewal arm of the Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC, founded to equip, connect, and mobilize our church community in their professional and industry spheres toward gospel-centered transformation for the common good," as described at E & I Forum NYC.

Redeemer Presbyterian Church, with about 5,000 members, was founded in 1989 by pastor Timothy Keller. It is a member of the PCA, Presbyterian Church in America. Keller stepped down as senior pastor of Redeemer in July 2017. He is still actively involved in the ministries of Redeemer Church according to a story in Christianity Today
This move does not mean retirement for Manhattan’s most popular evangelical pastor and apologist; instead, Keller will work full-time teaching in a partner program with Reformed Theological Seminary and working with Redeemer’s City to City church planting network.

Redeemer City to City is a ministry of Redeemer Church that "prayerfully recruits, trains, coaches and resources leaders who start new churches and church networks in global cities." 

David Kim has two books listed on Amazon: Glimpses of a Greater Glory and 20 and Something, the latter published by Barna Group.

David Kim protected his Twitter account shortly after I shared Jen's story in a tweet yesterday in which I tagged him. 

Monday, July 30, 2018

Another fired Southern Baptist International Mission Board missionary doing church youth ministry and missions in the SBC

Elliott Freeman

According to his bio on the Meridian University staff pageElliott Freeman graduated from the University of Oklahoma and received his Mdiv from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.  He and his wife, Leslie, served as missionaries for 6 years in southeast Asia.  Elliott, Leslie and their 4 children are now members of First Baptist Church Sapulpa Oklahoma.

Meridian University is a biblical training school for missions founded by Ralph Speas and Tom Elliff. Meridian University is located on the second floor of First Baptist Church Sapulpa.
Tom Elliff served the International Mission Board, first as Senior Vice President for Spiritual Nurture and Church Relations from 2005-2009, then as President from 2011-2014. Tom served pastorates in Arkansas, Texas, Colorado and Oklahoma, and as an IMB missionary in Zimbabwe. Tom also served as president of the SBC Pastors Conference and two terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Meridian University Board of Directors

Records received by The Sapulpa Messenger show that Elliott Freeman (full name Preston Elliott Freeman) served with the IMB in Southeast Asia from September 13, 2006 to his termination dated July 6, 2012. 
Elliff was originally inaugurated as IMB President in 2011. Under his tenure, in July 7, 2012, the IMB FIRED an IMB missionary serving from FBC Sapulpa.  So abrupt was his termination that his family had no time to gather their belongings.  He was perp-walked off the mission field in China and instructed that he was banned forever from serving in the IMB.  His personnel letter, which was placed into the hands of The Sapulpa Messenger, can be seen below:

The Sapulpa Messenger shared with me the email exchanges from January 2016 with the IMB and a concerned FBC Sapulpa member. The member was inquiring about Freeman's termination from the IMB and concerns that his termination was due to issues of sexual misconduct, since Freeman would be involved with kids in the church youth ministry. 

The concerned church member received a reply from Roger Haun, director of personnel at the IMB. Roger stated that "if there is an end of service for reasons such as you state, all inquiries about that individual are handled by our Executive Assistant to the President, Dr. Clyde Meador." At the time of the email exchanges, Meador was executive assistant to then and current IMB president David Platt. Clyde Meador retired from the IMB in May 2016. 

The church member stated that the inquiry was for concerns that Elliott Freeman was terminated from the IMB for "sexual misconduct." Roger Haun's reply confirmed that David Platt's executive assistant Clyde Meador should handle this inquiry since it involved "end of service" for "reasons such as you state." The stated reason was "sexual misconduct."

Clyde Meador, executive assistant to IMB president David Platt, replied to the email about Elliott Freeman. He confirmed that Elliott Freeman was terminated by the IMB for "failure to maintain a lifestyle in keeping with the expectations of missionaries of the International Mission Board." He added that to "explain further the lifestyle issues, I would need a written authorization from Mr. Freeman to share that information with you."

Social media posts confirm that terminated missionary Elliott Freeman is involved with the youth ministry at FBC Sapulpa. His father Mitch Freeman is on staff at the church as the children's pastor. Did Elliott Freeman's termination due to issues of sexual misconduct involve sexual abuse of kids or vulnerable people? If so, has this been reported to law enforcement to be investigated? Did the IMB conduct another internal investigation like in the case of fired IMB missionary Mark Aderholt who was recently arrested for child sex crimes?

The student pastor at FBC Sapulpa is Keno King.

Post by FBC Sapulpa youth pastor Keno King. Elliott Freeman is circled by Watchkeep.

Elliott Freeman training students at FBC Sapulpa

Saturday, July 14, 2018

"Let it go": Southern Baptist Mission Organization, IMB, tells child sex abuse victim

Fort Worth Star Telegram: Southern Baptist officials knew of sexual abuse allegations 11 years before leader's arrest

I collaborated with Dee Parsons on her new post at The Wartburg Watch about this story. Read more here.


Thursday, July 12, 2018

Chris Conlee resigns from Highpoint Church: new statement from Jules Woodson

Statement from Jules Woodson:
Over the past 6 months, since I originally went public with my story, and through the resignations of the other 3 pastors involved, Steve Bradley of StoneBridge Church has refused to acknowledge or be held accountable for any wrong doing to include his failure to report my assault to law enforcement. 

As #ChurchToo stories continue to pop up in headlines nationwide, (i.e. Bill Hybels, Frank Page, Paul Pressler, Mark Aderholt, to name a few,) people are beginning to understand how damaging and traumatizing clergy sexual abuse can be...It is a gross abuse of power that violates victims physically, emotionally and spiritually. However, churches continue to minimize abuse by handling reports internally and with toxic theology that focuses on cheap grace and forgiveness over accountability and justice.

My goals in continuing to speak out are not self motivated for pity or attention but instead, to encourage other abuse victims who have been shamed and silenced by the church, to know that they are not alone. I want my story to help educate others and effect positive change in how the church handles abuse and treats victims.

I think Chris Conlee's resignation was a necessary step and I'm grateful he is no longer in the pulpit for now though I am confused as to why it took 6 months for Highpoint to realize this. I also feel that the leaders missed an important opportunity yesterday to affirm to the world that in moving forward, they will be a church that no longer tolerates abuse and will become a safe and supportive place for all victims. Instead, they were vague about the resignation in the official statement they released and told reporters who reached out that they were not commenting.

The New York Times: I Was Assaulted. He Was Applauded.




Abuse survivor Brooks Hansen also spoke out after Chris Conlee's resignation: