It is the policy of First Baptist Church of Farmersville and all of her staff and volunteers to report to the police immediately any allegation of a sex-related crime. Stay in ministry to very many people for very long in this day and age, and you're going to wind up in a situation to apply such a policy.
Story Number One
Quite some time ago in my ministry a girl (let's call her Eve) came to me and reported that she had been the underage victim of a sexual assault. She said that a non-minor cousin had sexually assaulted her and that her parents were considering letting this cousin stay with the family for the summer. I reassured her that we would do everything that we could to keep her safe, and I immediately picked up the phone and called the police.
A couple of days later, Eve came to me and said that Child Protective Services had launched an investigation of the circumstances in her home. She begged me to withdraw my phone call, saying that she had made the whole thing up. I told her that I could not stop the investigation and would not do so if I could. She could be recanting under duress, after all. The only safe thing to do was to let CPS complete their investigation. CPS determined that the cousin hadn't even been around when the incident had been alleged to have taken place. Eve had, as she admitted to me, made the entire story up.
Story Number Two
Barely a year ago today a wise and observant member of our church staff overheard a conversation between teenagers talking about a car that just didn't sound right. He followed up and dug deeper, and the teenager in question alleged that a single male member of our congregation had sexually assaulted him. The police were notified that night in the middle of the night. Within a few weeks we had uncovered a serial sexual predator. He's now awaiting trial and sentencing, and I give the credit to that faithful pastor here at our church.
Story Number Three
A few years back I was trying to help a married couple piece things back together. The wife began to email me with questions about the counseling. I answered the first one. On the second one, I asked her to wait until our next meeting, suggesting to her that her husband needed to be present to benefit from the conversation. Within a few weeks, she was emailing me love poetry on a nearly daily basis. She claimed to be hearing secret messages from me encoded in not only my sermons but also the things that other people were saying from the platform. I terminated the counseling relationship at the first conclusive sign that things were going wrong, and I eventually encouraged the husband to seek psychological help for his wife. The wife's behavior was compulsive, and we eventually had to ask this family to go to church somewhere else.
Fortunately, I had never been alone with this woman, I had shown my wife every piece of correspondence both ways, and the entire church (among those who learned about the situation) trusted me completely in this situation.
- There is such a thing as a false accusation, and the ramifications of forwarding a false accusation can be devastating for everyone involved.
- There is such a thing as a genuine accusation, and the ramifications of failing to forward a genuine accusation can be devastating for everyone involved.
- There is no definitive criterion by which anyone can tell the difference between a false accusation and a genuine accusation upon hearing one.
- Get it right 9,999 times while getting it wrong once, and some people will allege that you're sitting in your office all day rooting for the perverts to victimize innocent children.
- Where there is an allegation of criminal activity, the only safe course of action is to report the allegation to the authorities reflexively and without further thought.
- It is really hard not to cherish the idea of sex offenders roasting in Hell for putting us all through these trials, but even some things that are hard to do are worth doing nonetheless.
- Where there is no allegation of a crime, you're going to have to seek God's wisdom and use your own judgment. May God have mercy on your soul if you're wrong, because nobody else will.
- Let us all approach these issues reminding ourselves:
- My daughter may be a victim someday. If she reached out to somebody, what would I want them to do about it?
- My son may be falsely accused someday. If he were, what standard would I want people to apply in determining his guilt or innocence before proceeding to destroy his life?