Update: Melody Bannister arrested; Children safe

Six days ago I opened Facebook to numerous messages from a variety of friends, letting me know Melody Bannister had been arrested by the US Marshals. The children were with her in the car when she was found at a gas station in Plainfield Indiana. Rather than retell the story,  and since I have nothing to add, here is a link to the news article: Virginia mother at center of national manhunt arrested in Plainfield; children found safe.

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Since her arrest things have been very quiet, apart from a few conversations on a discussion group. Mostly speculations and wonderings… people worried and wondering. No one knows for sure where the children are. The last update I’ve seen on the children is in the news link (shared above) stating they are in DCS custody.

It is difficult to write a blog when there’s so little to say, so little known, yet many people have prayed and continue to, and care deeply for the Bannister children and their mom, Melody.

It is my prayer that truth will be fully brought to light, that the children will have a voice to speak boldly and clearly the truth of their experience. It is also my prayer that they will be fully heard and truth with triumph.

As I said in my earlier blogs, I will say again… I do not know what all the truth is in this story. I am not God. I was not there. It goes without saying that something is very wrong and the children have been through more than any child should go through…. Whatever that trauma is, these children need and deserve to be heard, and their voice honoured.

To that end I will continue to pray and ask you to pray for them as well.

 

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

*****

Trudy offers support conferences for survivors of abuse, and training to equip churches and the community in caring for victims and offenders, or if you would like to inquire about having a conference or training in your area, send an inquiry via Contact TrudyTo support Generations Unleashed, the charity Trudy works for, Donate Here.

SURVEY: Conservative Anabaptist (CA) Leaders’ Response to Abuse: If you are/were CA and have been sexually abused and interacted with a CA leader regarding the abuse, this survey is for you.

I am preparing several other surveys and will release them on our SURVEYS PAGE.

© Trudy Metzger

Is there grace for Harold Herr? His wife’s real cause of death… Why was he *really* let go from Life Literature? And a correction…

I’m sure the truth will come out,
if indeed that’s what we’re all interested in.

Matlock

*****

A correction/update to my previous blog:
Multiple people contacted me prior to posting my previous blog to ask if I heard Mose Stoltzfus and Darwin Hostetler, along with Harold Herr, met to discuss ‘what to do with Trudy’. That information came from someone closely linked to at least one of the men alleged to have been at the meeting. The individuals who contacted me each named Mose Stoltzfus, Darwin Hostetler and Harold Herr as being in attendance.

Since releasing the blog even more individuals have contacted me to say my sources had it wrong.

Allegedly, the meeting was not about what to do with Trudy. It is true that my name was brought up in relation to posting publicly the allegations. (It would be hard to have a meeting about this without talking about me, but the spirit in which this was done was not as understood and relayed to me).  It is not hard to understand how someone close to these leaders would have misunderstood that the point of the meeting was to discuss me and the problem I am. Just what created that misunderstanding, God only knows.

My interaction with the one gentleman who attended the meeting has been respectful and thoughtful, and I am taking at face value that the meeting was not to discuss ‘what to do about Trudy’. Furthermore, one of my trusted friends has spoken to the honour and integrity of the original source; therefore I do not believe that I was intentionally misinformed as a trap.  And I do not believe there was ill-will towards me by the source, or towards the people at the meeting. It was a sincere misunderstanding of facts brought to me.

The list of individuals said to be present at the meeting, were indeed present, but the list was incomplete. Present were: Steve Simmons, Darwin Hostetler, Mose Stoltzfus, Harold Herr, Nathan Zeiset, and Allen Hoover.

Having confirmed the details, and being confident that there was error in what was reported to me, I apologize for sharing the misrepresentation/misunderstanding of motive and intent of the meeting as shared with me. It is not my intention to ever misrepresent facts. I try my best to confirm what I hear. (Had I known Allen Hoover was present, with whom I have communicated  numerous times about various situations, I would have been inclined to contact him to ask questions).

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IS HAROLD HERR GUILTY OR INNOCENT & A THIRD PARTY INVESTIGATION:
I continue to maintain that I cannot declare guilt or innocence other than that to which Harold has admitted. (Nor can others. I hold more evidence than most of them). But, I can say with absolute confidence that the allegations are credible. (Credible does not mean true and confirmed. It means plausible and worthy of deep investigation and acknowledgement).

It is concerning that there has NOT been an independent third party investigation. It would be deeply concerning if a determination of either innocence or guilt was made by a committee made up of untrained ‘friends of the accused’, or even acquaintances. And lack of training and experience in investigating sex offence allegations makes the entire process traumatic for victims and family members. Particularly given the history of silence in our culture, and in their case in particular. Harold’s children are now being asked to trust an investigation to the very culture that has disregarded them for around 40 years, and some have even called them liars.

For truth and justice to take place, all cultural and friendship ties must be absent among those conducting investigations. Anyone who thinks they can speak to the ‘good character’ of the person in question, or the leaders who ignored the allegations for any reason at all — including the  assumption of mental illness in the mother, *from whom the allegations did not originate* — is not the right choice. For the sake of alleged victims and family members supporting them, this independent third party investigation team is important, as is extensive trauma sensitivity training. (*Daniel wrote the letter addressing the allegations in 1990. In our private interactions he disclosed that this was the initial disclosure even to his mother, to the best of his memory. See comments by his sister under previous blog for more insight. She is referencing the same private conversation that I reference here).

One alleged victim and one family member have requested such an independent third party investigation by trained professionals as a condition for meeting. [See copy of their request/response in following section).  They are not opposed to speaking of their traumatic history, and being interviewed, but they are not willing to meet with a committee of friends of Harold, or friends of the leaders who have looked the other way for years. Bias is inevitable simply because friends are, by nature, biased no matter how much they want truth. Therefore they  cannot possibly make a just determination, or make victims feel equally heard and cared for. Victims will inevitably feel cautious and on guard, as well they should. I would too.

Friends are the most likely to be manipulated and deceived by abusers. Abusers count on that.

And, now that another of Harold’s alleged victims wrote publicly this past week (also in comments under previous blog) this independent third party investigation, by a team made up of people with trauma sensitivity training and no ties to Harold whatsoever or the leaders who ignored allegations, is even more important.

Allen Hoover, Darwin Hostetler and Steve Simmons met with at least two of Harold Herr’s children. (If more were interviewed, I am not privy to that). There is overlap between this committee and those involved in the Jeriah Mast case. Whether that is good or bad, I offer no opinion, but I can say it does not feel healthy or safe to those [allegedly] victimized by Harold.

Following the one  meeting the committee reached out to Daniel Herr, who declined meeting with them as they are a committee of men untrained in sensitive investigations. His request was that they have an independent third party investigation done, by individuals not connected to Harold Herr. The following is a copy of what Daniel’s sister sent to the committee (Steve Simmons, specifically) on his behalf. Daniel later followed that up with personally contacted them to validate the message from Freda.

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I do not think Daniel’s request is asking too much. Particularly given the history of neglecting to hear victims. Neglecting such a direct and reasonable request continues the disregard of victims’ needs, and shows neither compassion nor care. That is true even with the best of intentions by any committee. If it is not sensitive to victims’ needs and requests, it is uncaring. It’s that simple.

If the tables were turned and the victims were bringing in a committee of their own friends and acquaintances, it goes without saying that Harold Herr, his daughter who defends him, and church leaders would not be particularly excited to share transparently and allow such a group to make a determination of innocence or guilt. So  they should not ask this of victims.

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Why was Harold Herr really let go from Life Literature in September, and more on an internal investigating committee 

I would urge this committee to also look into why Harold Herr was really let go from Life Literature (LL). They say that it was not because of pressure from Haiti Benefit Auction (HBA), as I reported…. (Which I reported because I knew of the pressure by HBA *prior* to Harold being fired in September!) HBA put pressure on LL, and Harold was released shortly thereafter.

However, now Life Literature says it was not because of the pressure from HBA, but their own reasons. My question is, Did the pressure from HBA trigger an internal investigation that resulted in concerns significant enough to release HH? Or what internal findings were so significant to justify firing Harold Herr? This really needs to be looked into, if it is truth we’re are after. It’s particularly important because of his history of sexual perversion, the impact of which he has never been fully owned up.

I have also confirmed that Harold Herr remained on payroll until after my blog came out. These are indisputable facts.

Couple those facts with the real reason Harold Herr was let go — info that doesn’t seem particularly forthcoming and should be, under the circumstances of unresolved allegations — and we will have a clearer picture of this whole scenario.

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Harold Herr’s Wife’s real cause of death:
Further to speculation that Harold’s deceased (estranged) wife, Anna Mary, committed suicide….

After posting what I did in my previous blog, about there being no autopsy, numerous people contacted me. They are quite certain she did indeed commit suicide, they said, and informed me that even the family believes this to be true.

I am aware of the speculation. I am aware that some family members have shared their questions . I am also aware that for some family members seeing the public speculate such a thing when they had never suspected such a thing has been very traumatic. There is an injustice in that, against the family. It is human nature to wonder what happened when we don’t have answers, but for someone to propagate such a thing as fact, when medical evidence does not support it… Well, I’d come back to this: What would be their motive? What could anyone possibly gain from the public believing it as fact, when it has never been anything more than questions in search of answers for the unknown? 

Before I present evidence (with permission), let me say the following: 

It is an absolute tragedy that some leaders and public are focusing on how Anna Mary died, rather than acknowledging the following:

  1. Organizations (and churches) have a history of not taking allegations seriously, and excusing that neglect. (We saw this in the Jeriah Mast case. And we see it in the Harold Herr case.
  2. Radical sexual abuse and bestiality allegations against someone in ministry have not been properly investigated and certainly not dealt with.

Those two things are what should be the focus. They are the reason the family went public with these allegations at this time; to warn the public about their concerns regarding Harold Herr and the potential risk to children, and to call CAM and LIFE Literature to account for their neglect to take allegations seriously and sending someone overseas with outstanding allegation that are not investigated and remain unresolved. And to hold church leaders to the same account.

That Anna Mary Herr has become the focus is a shameful continuation of the same abuse that she suffered by those who neglected her in her living years. (I recognize some of you contacted me out of shock that these rumours are circulating, including people who knew her quite well to a time.  This is not directed at you. It is directed at those who use this as a deflection from the allegations of sexual abuse).

In response to the speculation, I can say with certainty that it is not reflected on her death certificate. I can also say with absolute certainty that no autopsy was done and the death certificate states that she died of “cerebrovascular accident”, also known as “stroke”. I have a copy of the death certificate in my possession and have personally confirmed this as her cause of death.

And a more close up with date and cause of death highlighted:

Shortly before her death, Anna Mary became very ill and was hospitalized for approximately one week. Sometime in that timeframe it she was diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm. During her one-week hospital stay she improved and was released to go home. Within approximately a week  she passed away in her home, having suffered a cerebrovascular event, more commonly referred to as stroke.

What caused that stroke?

From what I am told by her children, no one is certain what caused it. Was it coincidental that after Anna Mary got ill and almost lost her life, she improved in the hospital, but became ill again at home? If she showed signs of suicidal tendencies, would medical staff not have documented this? And would they not have kept her in to ensure her safety? Was there some toxin in the home that she was sensitive to and no one knew existed? Stroke has been linked to asbestos, arsenic, and cyanide, to mention but a few environmental possibilities.

Speculations of this nature have come to me from numerous sources, yet none have anything whatsoever to do with the allegations of abuse. What judge or lawyer would write off abuse allegations because of the accused’s spouse’s cause of death?

Speculation surrounding Anna Mary’s death should be not be the focus. If the family wants answers, there are ways for them to find out, but that is their private concern. As far as the public, I do not see value in speculating that which cannot be proven about a deceased woman, when the real issue is that there are allegations that have been disregarded for 40 years.

The more I hear this kind of deflection, from the abuse allegations at hand to Anna Mary, the more my red flags go off. I agree with the request of some of the family to have  an unbiased third party investigation team pursue the case. There is truth to be found, but it will not be found by those closely connected to the family or culture. No matter how pure of heart, it is not right to put the victims and family through that.

For anyone thinking I am also not the right person, I agree. I am biased. Definitely biased. I’ve seen the evidence, heard the testimony, and seen the deflection and neglect. I am very much the wrong person to investigate. But I am the right person to push for a bit of accountability. And what makes me the right person is that some family members asked for my help. That’s good enough for me. But if they asked me to deeply investigate it, I would decline.

*****

For the first time since interviewing Harold Herr in summer of 2019, and asking about the allegations, I listened to that audio again last week. When I mentioned Detective Ortenzi, Harold acts surprised, and says, “You say there were charges against me back then?!” as though he knew nothing of it. I later learned that, not only did Harold know there were allegations back then, the detective actually met with him in person. (i have evidence in possession of Ortenzi’s involvement in the case).

Why did Harold act as though he had no knowledge of the allegations or that a law enforcement officer was on the case? Either he was trying to intentionally deceive me, in which case I ask, “Why are leaders trusting him if he is being deceptive?” Or, maybe he doesn’t remember? Though unlikely, if true, why do leaders take at face value anything he says? If he can’t remember a police officer confronting him about sexual abuse and bestiality, why should we assume he is remembering truth about the abuse? It is neither logical nor responsible.

So is there grace for Harold Herr? Yes… generous grace if he humbles himself completely, tells consistent truth, and repents for thing he has not yet acknowledged.

“By their fruit you will know them,” said a wise Man some 2000+ years ago. And, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free!”

He was a truly wise Man. We could learn from Him in our handling of sexual abuse in religious communities.

 

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

*****

Trudy offers support conferences for survivors of abuse, and training to equip churches and the community in caring for victims and offenders, or if you would like to inquire about having a conference or training in your area, send an inquiry via Contact TrudyTo support Generations Unleashed, the charity Trudy works for, Donate Here.

SURVEY: Conservative Anabaptist (CA) Leaders’ Response to Abuse: If you are/were CA and have been sexually abused and interacted with a CA leader regarding the abuse, this survey is for you.

I am preparing several other surveys and will release them on our SURVEYS PAGE.

© Trudy Metzger

 

 

 

Preacher Mose Stoltzfus, Harold Herr & Darwin Hostetler meet to discuss what to do with Trudy; More details on Harold Herr allegations

“A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right.
A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice.
A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.”
~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ~

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QUESTIONS CONTINUE TO TRICKLE IN, SO I WILL ADDRESS THEM HERE, INCLUDING THE MEETING WITH MOSE STOLTZFUS, HAROLD HERR AND DARWIN HOSTETLER:

  1. Q: Does Harold’s own daughter defend him and say the allegations are false? 

    A: Yes, one of Harold’s three daughters, Rachel Herr Weaver, insists the allegations are false. She, however, is not an alleged victim (to my knowledge), and therefore has no authority to declare her father’s innocence or guilt. (That would only change if she saw him molest someone, heard him admit to molesting someone, or was molested herself). We have authority to speak with certainty to our own experience, not the experience of another.  My father molested numerous children, starting when he was only 13 (from what we know), with several victims being his own children to varying degrees. Many of his 16 children were never sexually abused by him. Rachel’s experience (or lack thereof) has no bearing on her brother’s or any other alleged victim’s story. My experience does not negate the experience of my siblings, nor theirs mine.

  2. Q: More specifically, some are saying Rachel says allegations of him having fathered a child are false; is this true? 

    A: I have been told by numerous sources that Rachel insists it is lies and false allegations that Harold fathered a child. Again, apart from a DNA test, that is not a question she can answer. Nor can I. But it sure begs the question how many godly innocent men have to provide DNA tests… And even then, a DNA sample does not prove a lack of sexual contact. It merely proves a lack of conception when there was contact, if there was contact.And that provides a perfect segue into the next question…

  3. Q: Did Harold Herr have a DNA test after allegations first surfaced, to prove a child alleged to be conceived by him was not his? 

    A: As far as I know, after contacting one of Harold’s children for confirmation, there was never a DNA test done.  (If there was, the whole family is not aware. And, given the dynamics, it is highly likely that they would have known. So if it was done, that info was withheld from some). I have not spoken with the mother of the child in question, and for the sake of her wellbeing I have no intentions of going there, or disclosing her identity. My focus has been and remains on allegations made by Harold’s son Daniel, and the fact that church leaders, missions and community members did nothing when there was ample cause for concern.

  4. Q: (a). Are you sure Harold Herr and Earl Fox were shopping together, or did they just happen to stumble upon each other at Paul B’s Hardware? (b). And did they say they were shopping for supplies for Harold to take to Haiti, or did the person who saw them assume this? 

    A: I am told Harold and Earl was heard to say that they are gathering supplies for Harold. And that they explicitly stated the supplies were for Harold to take to Haiti.

  5. Q: Are you sure Harold was going to Haiti to train his replacement, or was he just going to live there? (Note: He owns a house there). 

    A: Harold Herr told his family he is going to Haiti to train his replacement. He was with LIFE Literature, previously. That is where a replacement would be needed.So “do I know for certain?” . No, because I don’t know if Harold Herr is a blatant liar who would tell his family he is going to train his replacement or not. Either he is a blatant liar and he was not going to train his replacement, or he was telling the truth and that was precisely what he was doing.

    If that is what he was doing why does Life Literature not own up? (And also acknowledge the shopping trip to buy supplies, while at it).

    If he was lying, then tell me, how do we believe him anywhere else? If he lies about ‘little things’ (like innocent trips to Haiti), why would he not lie about bigger things?

  6. Q. LIFE Literature pleaded with Harold *not* to return to Haiti; is it possible they did not know he was going? 

    A: Is it possible? Absolutely.Either way, it raises questions:
    a).  Why wouldn’t they put out a statement publicly to that effect instead of Lamar Nolt responding in ‘beat around the bush’ kind of answers that don’t ever tell the facts as they are?
    b). Why did they continue paying him after he was fired back in September, until after my blog came out?
    c). And a random other question… Them firing him overlapped with Haiti Benefit Auction allegedly raising concerns about Harold…. What hidden stories lie beneath all that silence?

  7. TRIGGER ALERT:
    Q: Was Harold Herr’s wife crazy, psychotic, or mentally ill?

    A: This is a very interesting question. And one we cannot answer with certainty in the clinical sense.  There was definitely signs she was depressed,  based on information I have gathered. She would be some special kind of woman — somewhat super human, really — if she wasn’t depressed after discovering her husband was having sex with animals. I think most women would struggle, don’t you? I mean, another woman you can find a way to confront. But… animals? That makes anything fair game.After Harold Herr was released from the school he had somewhat of a breakdown and they went to Phil Haven for family counseling.  His son Daniel, in the presence of others, said to Harold, “I saw you with the chickens.” His wife (who was allegedly the crazy one, according to rumours), was forced to contend with the fact that her husband was not faithful to her. Not only was he unfaithful to her, he didn’t choose another woman, he chose chickens. Pause, for just a moment, and process that. As a wife, honestly, wouldn’t you struggle just a smidge? It’s almost beyond human comprehension.

    Now add the fact that her son saw his father using the chickens for sex and at age 14 had to be the one to speak out.* Any mother who wouldn’t struggle wouldn’t be healthy and normal. If that stuff doesn’t make your mind spin, as a wife or a mother, and even more so depending what other traumas she had in her life…

    The following letter was written by Isaac K. Sensenig to Freda Herr.

    August 17, 1988

    Dear Friend: 

                I received your letter, and it is shockingly informative.  Harold had poured his heart out to us as a Centerville ministry some years ago.  He confessed to taking something from the place he worked that did not belong to him.  He also confessed to beastiology [sic], and we had him make a public confession concerning the matter.  We feel he had repented of the matters involved including necessary restitution.  We knew nothing of the items of incest you refer to in the letter.  They may have taken place since.  I am sorry to hear this and pray for his repentance and deliverance.

                Since he is no longer a member with us, you probably should write to Earl Horst or Edwin Gehman.  I am surely willing to be used to help him, like all other persons.  We as a church surely would not cover anything up to spare such a person.

                I would like to see him repent, and their marriage corrected as well.  I have a deep-felt concern that the items mentioned will not hinder you nor your mother from being saved people.

     Sincerely,

    Isaac K. Sensenig

    *More later on what it means that Daniel, as a youngster saw his father raping chickens, and at age 14 spoke up about the bestiality, but was not believed when he spoke out later about his fathers heinous crimes. Yes, raping chickens, in and of itself is a crime. (To all who cry ‘it’s under the blood’… more on that later as well).

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  8. Q: Are you aware that a group of men (named to be among them were Preacher Mose Stoltzfus, Darwin Hostetler) met in PA recently to discuss: “What do we do with Trudy?” 

    A: (Following a hearty laugh. This brings to mind a certain song in Sound of Music: How do you solve a problem like Trudy… I mean, Maria?) I did not know, and then I did, after several people contacted me…To the question at hand: What to do with Trudy? That is a very good question. If the men in this group are looking to silence me, they will have to kill me. It’s that simple.

    I am called to expose this corruption. And expose it I will until God says ‘be silent’ or someone here takes matters in their own hands and puts me to rest. Even that they cannot do until my death serves His kingdom purposes more than my life.  He holds my life in His hands.

    I have suggestions for other less extreme measures that could be tried, some that have already been threatened by other ‘godly Anabaptist world-changers’ … like a lawsuit. But that would only confirm the true character of the individuals involved. So, as much as no one wants that stress, I do want to see the true character revealed, and if that is what it takes…. so be it.

    There are a whole host of victims who were beaten and whipped, molested and otherwise abused under the advice and under the leadership of Preacher Mose and Charity (Ephrata) leadership. I have no doubt there are many who would welcome their day in court. So in the end,  if it will all serve the desired end of revealing truth of all the corruption buried,  I am willing to go through whatever I must for that to happen.

    So my advice? Do what you need to do to show us who you really are. Because there are godly Anabaptists — leaders and lay people alike — who will rise up against corruption when they see it. Some sincere ones don’t see it yet. But they will.

    Alternatively, there would be the much better option of coming clean, fully repenting and moving toward Christ-like redemption.

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  9. I do have one closing question to leave here, hanging in thin air:  What devilish thing lies hidden that makes me such a threat that I am worthy of these men meeting to figure out what to do with me? If there is nothing hidden to be unearthed, why not just let me rant and let it blow over? What wickedness do they not want exposed that would inspire them to gather together to discuss what to do with Trudy, or how to get rid of her? 

    That alone sounds like the work of demons and devils. It most certainly is not the least  bit reflective of Jesus Christ, who suffered false accusations in silence. He was the one the Pharisees sought to eliminate because He was an affront to their hidden wickedness. Jesus was never the one seeking to rid His world or His space of those who spoke out, whether speaking truth or not. It simply is not the Jesus Way

    The fact is, I am not throwing around false allegations. At least one Eastern leader has confirmed to a friend that some of the allegations are true. I have said, and continue to say, I do not know what all is truth in this story. I was not there. I am not God. What I do know is that Harold engaged in bestiality and his young son could only have known to address it if he saw the crimes committed. In that act alone, laying aside every other detail, the then-young-Daniel was extremely sexually violated. Extremely victimized.*

    Who of you would let your young son witness his father having sex with animals and walk away concluding he was not sexually victimized? (And if even one of you said yes, shame on you!)

     

  10. Q: Is it true that Harold Herr’s wife committed suicide? 

    A: Since no autopsy was ever done, it is impossible to say with certainty one way or the other.  Given what I’ve shared of what she was living with, and the fact she was not heard and the church made her the crazy one,  it certainly would not be a shocking outcome, but I would hesitate to surmise such a thing without proof. To my knowledge it was not ruled a suicide. (I welcome updates if there is evidence to support such a thing).

  11. Q.) How do we know the letters written by Daniel and dated some 30 years ago is/are legit?
    A: Let me repost the letter (with Daniel’s permission) after the last question, showing the list of all who received a copy at that time. It speaks for itself and is well documented.
     
  12. Q: Lastly, is it true that I redacted a portion of the letter (shared next in full) to hide the fact that Daniel stated some uncertainty regarding details in his memories? 

    A: No. I posted the very redacted version because I had promised Daniel to post nothing revealing. I kept that promise. As for uncertainty about all the details, that is the most normal thing in trauma memory.Today I sat with a friend whose child was tragically killed a few months ago. Not forty years ago. A few months ago. As she told me the story of the events of that day for the first time (she is in another country and it was our first time meeting since her child’s death), she would pause and say she’s uncertain about something. She would share a detail, then pause and question her memory. And she would pick up the pieces of the story, through the trauma, and keep talking.  She didn’t doubt whether her son died. That fact was a certainty. She did question details.It is the height of idiocy to write off someone’s traumatic experience based on a most normal trauma response. To be confused about the details of vile acts committed against you as a child is normal. To question the horror — especially when there is an evidence trail (ie; Harold admitting to bestiality and his young son speaking up about it), and then to believe the abuser, (yes he is that, what else do you call someone who rapes chickens?) while disregarding the son and the wife…

    That is the game of people who are pursuing self-preservation, not truth. It is the game of the guilty. It is a game of those covering evil. It is barely worth entertaining such nonsense in a blog. And I certainly don’t do it for them. I do it for those who sincerely want to know the truth.

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ABOUT CRITICAL THINKING AND SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT:
We hear and use the statement “don’t check your brains at the door”. In essence, we are hearing, “Apply critical thought to the information you hear/see.” That includes right here, on my blog. And it should include the teachings you’ve been handed and told are truth. If you read the evidence I post through the lens of what you’ve been told to believe or out of thoughtless belief that what I say is true, rather than through critical thought and spiritual discernment, then you have checked your brains at the door. I urge you to think deeply and analyze what I write. (And I’m not talking about having a minor detail wrong. That’s just petty).

Spiritually, we call this discernment, using both brain (thought) and spiritual awareness, or the ‘sensing of things’. Spiritually, we my not have a solid thought process to offer, but something just ‘feels off’, or ‘feels right’, not an emotional sense of ‘feeling’, usually, but an awareness. A quiet ‘knowing’. This should be held with humility and caution; the human mind has great influence and it is easy to assign spiritual significance to human thought, or hold as certain that which may not be. This can be deadly. (For example, when a spiritual ‘guide’ – whether counsellor, pastor or other – ‘senses’ that a person has been abused and even by who, and then plants such a thing. There are people who have brought false allegations against individuals this way. It is not wise, and it is not right).

Critical thinking can be intertwined with discernment, or it can be a most practical non-spiritual exercise. It can be ‘looking at the facts with a deeper ‘below the surface’ kind of critique’. What I plan to share today focuses on the latter; a practical exercise in looking at information I posted in the blog Timeline of ‘Grandpa Harold’, and purpose for revealing his identity…. Evidence that is easily missed apart from applying critical thinking, combined with knowledge of at least some details, and if or how there might have been an admission of guilt by the accused. In this case, that admission is documented.

A series of question every individual must ask in a case like this is:

  1. Is it wrong (abuse) to have sex with an animal? (Known as bestiality).
  2. Is it wrong (abuse) to have sex with an animal in the presence of a child? 
  3. Is it wrong (abuse) for a parent to engage in sexual activity of any sort in front of child?

Anyone who who professes Christianity and answered any of the above ‘no’, I’d like to hear your justification. You may send me your argument via the “Contact Trudy” page. And if you do these things, please include details of your acts, as well as your full name, date of birth, full address. These acts are all crimes. But, I cannot imagine that anyone said the above are ok.

On that assumption, we have established:

  1. Sex with an animal is abuse.
  2. Sex with an animal in front of a child is abuse, of both the animal and the child.
  3. It is wrong for parents to have sex in front of their children.

The next series of questions is:

  1. Can we establish that any such acts took place?
  2. Can we establish that any of these acts were admitted by the accused?

The first question was answered in the timeline.  It tells us that, when speaking with Detective Ortenzi, Harold Herr tried to shift focus away from the allegations of sexual abuse and admitted to engaging in bestiality. (There is also a letter from a church leader who acknowledged Harold did indeed admit to bestiality).

For the sake of argument and in honour of a few of my heckling Facebook friends, let’s grant it that Harold ‘repented’ of bestiality at Centerville church, as per the letter. Let’s say that moment it indeed was “under the blood” (as these same men like to repeat in every allegation). In that case, “Praise Jesus!”

If true! Praise Him indeed! This means there is no more reason to hide, to walk in shame, to manipulate… 

But, alas, that ‘repentance‘ took place around 1975, give or take a year or two. Those dates are approximates, lest anyone feels compelled to use this uncertainty of which year to distract from the real issue. It is hard to ask dead men for confirmation. Also, séances are forbidden by God, so we won’t go there.

At that time Daniel Herr was approximately 14 years old. After his father, Harold Herr, was released from teaching school, they went to Phil Haven for help. While there, in the presence of others but addressing his father, the young Daniel made the statement that he had seen his father engaging in bestiality. (This was not told to me by Daniel, but by someone else who was present at that time and heard it).

We have established that Harold Herr engaged in sexual abuse of chickens. He admitted to bestiality and *allegedly repented. (*I will explain this ‘allegedly’ momentarily).

We have further established that Harold Herr sexually violated his son when he engaged in bestiality in front of him. We have also established that his young son first spoke out as a very young teen,  in the presence of multiple witnesses. (For them what thinks there has to be a few witnesses for it to count).

The problem is, Harold Herr did not repent of this abuse of his son. Sins cannot be “under the blood” as many like to say Harold’s are, when they are denied and not repented of.  It is not possible. They can be covered up, denied, ignored and excused. But they cannot be under the blood when they are denied.

Harold’s son, Daniel, deserves a humble apology from his father and humble repentance for his sins and crimes. At 14 …. think about it… at 14 he spoke up. And still he is being viewed the liar and his father the saint by some. I can’t even wrap my head around what level of religious perversion that requires… Religious perversion, and religious arrogance. And I pray that is but a small (albeit vocal) group ‘among us’.

Furthermore, even after his ‘repentance’ in the mid 70’s, Harold’s son saw him engage in ongoing sexual assault of animals over the period of numerous years.

It is easy for some in religious community — usually those with a vested interest in silence and not having something discussed or exposed — to grab the widest brush possible and say, “He has repented. You should not speak of it again. That sin is under the blood.”

I say, “If it’s under the blood so thoroughly, by all means, let’s talk about it!” Let’s be honest about what was done, how it impacted others, how we pursued healing and redemption on behalf of those we harmed and victimized. Let’s not focus on our own self-preservation.

If we truly believe that Jesus came to do what He said He came to do, then let’s be like the Apostle Paul and not hide our sins. And let’s make sure that those we victimized, and their families, hear us acknowledge our wrongdoing.

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2020

 

 

 

A former conservative Anabaptist (CA) pastor speaks; A meeting with a few godly men (including a CA pastor); And a glorious shattering

Before sharing the main blog, I want to address a few things that that have surfaced a few times through this process.

WHAT ARE CREDIBLE ALLEGATIONS:
Does ‘credible allegations’ mean I am telling my readers that everything that was/is reported is exactly 100% as reported? Am I saying with unquestioning certainty that “all allegations are true”?

I have said it numerous times, “I am not God. I make no claims to know exactly what was done.” What I am saying is the allegations are not fluff and there is merit to them to the point that there should be a deep investigation. It is in this that CAM and LIFE Literature failed.  I have never asked anyone to unquestioningly endorse as absolute truth what they hear. But I have and will continue to insist that independent third party investigations must be done when such allegations are brought forward, by someone trained in handling victims in a sensitive manner. Such allegations must never be ignored.  And those against whom allegations have been brought should not be sent out on the mission field. It will backfire.

LET’S WAIT UNTIL THE COURTS DECIDE INNOCENCE OR GUILT
This would be a brilliant idea if the cases had been reported before the statute of limitations was up. Sadly, because leaders failed to listen and report years ago, that is no longer an option, so it is my vote that those same people don’t get to give the advice of silence until the courts decide. The courts will never decide on the Daniel Herr case because he was disregarded for approximately 30 to 40 years, and the whispers and allegations were excused.  So, no, we don’t wait. We do the right thing and let the public know.

There are more, but I will leave it there for tonight.

*****

The following is a conversation I had with a friend on Facebook Messenger. I asked his permission to share here, including his name: 

STEVE LAPP (not with LOH, for clarification):
Just read your update on “ Grandpa “ .. The coverups that continue to be exposed are beyond comprehension to me. I am convinced there is no limit to the blindness that accompanies the attitude of moral and spiritual superiority. ( God help us ) PS : I thought there was no statute of limitations on sexual crimes involving minors.
MY RESPONSE:
[As I understand it, the statute of limitations now is] age 50, [for any] victim [who] was under 18 in 2006. It formerly was 18 years […], plus 12 years. (So [age] 30). In 2006 that changed. But the [alleged] victims [in this case, other than those in Haiti] are over 50.

What makes me so sick is that they didn’t bother talking to victims and report to the law. None of them. Not in that many churches, leaders or organizations. And then, rather than deal with it when it gets exposed, they gaslight and say “Trudy is just trying to destroy mission organizations”. And for what earthly reason would I do that?! Ignorant. (Not that I care they say it. I just further exposes their ignorance).

STEVE LAPP:
It’s dark [the abuse]… My childhood was so happy , so secure, filled with love and laughter. There were no dark clouds in the sky for me as a child. I trusted , and never found a reason to mistrust.
Nowadays tho, I do lots of reflecting, and I realize how stunningly stupid and ignorant we become when we blindly trust a “ movement “ of any sort , and particularly a religious movement. I was once a follower of the Charity churches ( for a short time ) . Only when I began to question some of the “absolutes” in the Anabaptist community did my eyes begin to see into some of the darkness that was there. It’s been a journey “out” for many years now , yet I struggle to grasp the enormity of the problem among my people.
It seems to me as long as we hang on to even a trace of the idea that we are spiritually superior as a group ie: Anabaptist , (although it’s true in any group) we will never be able to see clearly. It’s incredibly blinding and should shake us to the core of our being , for it’s a mindset that is a breeding ground for gross immortality and wickedness.

Yes, there’s much progress been made among Anabaptist leaders as far as enlightenment, but until we are broken by our sin of “ spiritual superiority “ I fear this monster ( sexual immorality ) will always be present and thriving. We need more than enlightenment. We are in desperate need of brokenness that goes beyond admitting we have a “ problem “ with immortality. We have a pride problem that we need to own up to, and repent of .

 

***

This evening I had coffee with 3 conservative Anabaptist gentlemen (one was my brother), and later Tim joined in too. It was good. It struck me, at one moment before Tim arrived that the last time I met with 3 (or more) conservative Anabaptist men by myself I was 18, a brand new Christian, and was being grilled about my sexual history. The memory flashed through my mind and it struck me how safe I felt tonight. These are three honourable men.

We sat and talked about my work, and one of them (the pastor in our midst), referring to the conservative Anabaptists in relation to my work, asked thoughtfully and gently, “How did you become our adversary? We need you.” He went on to say we should be partnering together, not fighting one another, in addressing the epidemic. 

In that I didn’t hear him say, “I endorse every detail of how you do your work.” But on the other hand I didn’t hear him judge. He simply acknowledged that there is an abuse problem that needs to be addressed, and he acknowledged God’s calling on my life and the gift He has given me to do what I do. He also acknowledged pride (religious pride and arrogance) as a contributing factor to the problem at hand. 

There is something humbling and empowering, sitting in the presence of men of God with such humility. It is touching, and a reflection of the heart of God. 

And this, my friends, is why I do not fight against ‘the Anabaptist culture’. It is a problem of individuals who are arrogant and selfish, not a problem of a culture in and of themselves. I have honourable and true-hearted friends, so very many of them, within the culture. They don’t put their faith in the culture or any of the practices; it is a way of life, not a way of salvation. The bulk of my friends, prayer warriors and supporters are conservative Anabaptist. They are the people whose love and prayers carry me through the the ministry I do. 

Then, to have encounters such as this evening — or like when I sit with my Amish friends in USA and one of their ministers comes to ask question — and I sit and talk heart to heart with conservative Anabaptist leaders who genuinely cares about addressing the epidemic of sexual abuse in a redemptive and forthright manner, my heart is filled with gratitude.

The Spirit of God is alive and well among my people. Change is coming. Be encouraged.

A line has been drawn in the sand, and people will choose whether they will stand for truth and honour, or continue to bow to the idol of ‘good image’… will they rise up against this evil and bring healing to the children, or will they preserve self and reputation?

It is a painful shattering of illusions, but beyond that shattering lies glorious freedom and healing for victims and offenders.

image0

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

*****

Trudy offers conferences for survivors of abuse, and training to equip churches and the community in caring for victims and offenders. If you would like to inquire about having a conference or training in your area, send an inquiry via Contact TrudyTo support Generations Unleashed, the charity she works for, Donate Here.

SURVEY: Conservative Anabaptist (CA) Leaders’ Response to Abuse: If you are/were CA and have been sexually abused and interacted with a CA leader regarding the abuse, this survey is for you.

I am preparing several other surveys and will release them on our SURVEYS PAGE.

© Trudy Metzger

 

 

An Open Letter from Harold Herr’s Son Disclosing Details of Abuse Allegations

Since becoming aware of more abuse allegations against Harold Herr, in the past 8 months, I have been trusted with deeply personal communication from those making the allegations, and dating back many years. In particular, I have read numerous letters, emails and various communications written by Harold’s son, Daniel. Communication that was never intended to see the light of day; it was the ‘behind the scenes’ conversations and pleas, written in private. It is in those conversations where we are most likely to show our truest colours. And it is here I saw Daniel’s heart.

I asked Daniel for permission to share parts of that communication (posted after the letter to CAM’s supporters), dating back many years. I requested this because I want the public to see that the compassion he expressed for his father in the letter is the compassion he expressed in private conversation as well over the years. It is not a ploy. It is genuine. Daniel granted that request, though does not know in advance what I will share; a trust I do not take lightly.

First, I will share his letter to CAM and LIFE Literature. Daniel is a professional who has held the highest office in the field of mental health in the state of Virginia, and has worked closely with sex offenders and sex abuse victims. His care and compassion in this letter are consistent with all communication I have read, written by him.

TRIGGER ALERT:
To survivors of trauma and atrocities, and those with especially sensitive hearts, please be aware that the letter addressing supporters of Christian Aid Ministries and LIFE Literature shares in somewhat graphic (though not sexually explicit) details a few glimpses of the abuse allegations against Harold Herr by his son Daniel Herr.

Screen Shot 2020-01-26 at 8.28.46 PM

Screen Shot 2020-01-26 at 8.28.59 PM

The first evidence from the past is a letter Daniel wrote in 1990 to undisclosed recipients. I share this as evidence of his motivation from the start to prevent the risk of others being victimized. While much has been redacted to protect intimate and private details, I am sharing the letter in Daniel’s own writing rather that typing out quotes, to preserve authenticity, dates and his own words. (EDIT: For clarity: To my knowledge this letter was not sent to CAM or LL at any point. They were not listed as recipients. Since I cannot confirm this with Daniel until tomorrow, I am adding this note to avoid confusion):

Dan H_Jan 11, 1990 a

Dan H_Jan 11, 1990 b

Dan H_Jan 11, 1990 c

The following is a letter  Daniel wrote  in 1998. It verifies his profession, and it also shows his compassion, as well as how and why he disclosed the abuse he suffered. (EDIT: For clarity: To my knowledge this letter was not sent to CAM or LL at any point. They were not listed as recipients. Since I cannot confirm this with Daniel until tomorrow, I am adding this note to avoid confusion): :

Dan H_ Dec 1998 a

Dan H_1998 b

Dan H_1998 c

The process of arriving at sharing this information publicly has not been easy for Daniel. Pray for him as you process all of this, keeping in mind what this does to someone who is compassionate, yet speaking publicly out of a sense of duty.

Last Sunday in worship, the song, “Not I but through Christ in me” unravelled me. The burden of this calling weighed heavy. Trust. My word this year. I do trust God. He has not called me to abandon me. He has not called me to destruction. He is shaking things up. He is shattering. But He is shattering for the promise of Jeremiah 31, to rebuild that which is torn down. It is a painful beautiful shattering. One that at moments crushes my heart… So I stood there in worship and let the tears fall as I prayed.

This morning. we had a quiet 3-part congregational prayer. I’ll be honest, I was distracted as the pastor gave instructions for the first part, so I sat there and had a wee moment with God that was not likely remotely close to the recommended use of time. In the second part, I unburdened my heart. I pled with God to bring truth fully to light in this situation. I am not God. I do not propose to know the answers. But I do trust His heart. So I prayed that Harold Herr would “remember and acknowledge any wrongdoing” so that he and others can heal. My heart cried out to God to redeem the horror so many have suffered. My prayer includes those in the peripheral; the friends and family of those who have offended, who are shocked or simply don’t believe it is possible, and friends of victims. My prayer includes the church, broadly, as we come to terms with what we have allowed to happen, through apathy and silence, on ‘our watch’. We need to repent. All of us.

In the third part of quiet we were encouraged to just sit in the presence of God and hear Him speak. To listen, quietly. So I did. And I started with, “If there was something You wanted to say to me, what would You say? How would You speak?”

Silence. Nothing. Nada.

So I asked, “Would I even know when You speak?”

Silence. For just a moment.

And then a still voice whispered, “My sheep know my voice.”

Followed by a pause.

Then, “I love truth. It is Who I am.”

Truth.

I pray constantly, daily, in every moment, for truth. My life’s prayer is for truth to come, for truth to be revealed. Because truth always brings freedom. Always.

So, in closing, I offer two songs of hope that are my prayer for you all:

BROKEN VESSELS: God is the master of redeeming broken pieces and bringing beauty from brokenness. This is true for everyone who is victimized. It is true for everyone who has victimized…. When we take ownership of our wrongs, God redeems. It’s truth. It’s Who He is. It’s what He does.

IF IT’S AMAZING GRACE: “If it’s amazing grace, let it do what it does. It can reach far beyond anything we have done…. I know my heart’s been changed, by this amazing grace.”

The offender needs grace. The victims need grace. You need grace. I need grace.

Apart from the grace of God, I couldn’t do what I do. I would crumble, burn out and lose myself to cynicism and see God very differently than the kind God who walks gently with us. But, because of grace, I find His hope in the hell of what I see and here. I trust He is doing what I cannot fathom, for I would not have chosen my calling. I would not choose, humanly, to expose what I expose. I do it because I am compelled to, not because I love to.

I trust God will bring something beautiful out of the chaos.

Jeremiah 31
Ezekiel 37

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

*****

Trudy offers conferences for survivors of abuse, and training to equip churches and the community in caring for victims and offenders. If you would like to inquire about having a conference or training in your area, send an inquiry via Contact TrudyTo support Generations Unleashed, the charity she works for, Donate Here.

SURVEY: Conservative Anabaptist (CA) Leaders’ Response to Abuse: If you are/were CA and have been sexually abused and interacted with a CA leader regarding the abuse, this survey is for you.

I am preparing several other surveys and will release them on our SURVEYS PAGE.

© Trudy Metzger

 

 

Mr. Herr & Life Literature Treasurer, Mr. Fox, Go Shopping….

Before I say what I have to say here, I want to make it quite clear that I do not believe the bulk of conservative Anabaptists (CA) are this lacking in transparency. I certainly hope not. So, please, when I ‘tell it as it is’ in a given case, don’t apply it to every CA you have ever known, or take offence if you are CA. I hope I am calling out that which is the anomaly.

My personal experience has been mixed, But the behaviour I call out here, I have seen repeatedly in those who have offended sexually and are covering up, as well as those who knew and did nothing, and who still have no remorse for that sexual abuse, or for covering it up, as the case may be. If there is nothing to hide, there is no need for games and lack of transparency.

The next thing I want you to know is that Lamar Nolt and Earl Fox are strangers to me. I do not know them, have never met them, and have one interest here; Truth. And that doesn’t seem to be particularly forthcoming. Which, again, is reminiscent of the CAM/Jeriah Mast case. There is a predictable pattern of behaviour among those who are not forthcoming, and it is always there when something is buried, hidden and/or not taken care of. It’s why I could write a blogJanuary 17, 2020 telling people how to ask questions to confront truth. I’ve done this for 10 years.

In that blog !!Critical detail Update on Life Literature & Lamar Nolt!!, I encouraged people to ask very direct questions of Lamar Nolt. That advice was based on established patterns I’ve observed in other cases of ‘technical truth-or-lie-telling’. When responses are such as Lamar’s were, that’s a pretty good sign they don’t want to tell what really happened.

Various people who started asking more direct questions wrote me (and sent me copies of their communication with Life Literature). Of that group, none received a response to those direct questions, of the ones who responded to me. After numerous attempts at calling them myself, I emailed and still got no response. There was no answer forthcoming regarding their knowledge and involvement in Harold’s plans to go to Haiti to train a replacement. No answer…

But God…

Funny thing about Him. He knows everything. Sees everything. And if He is so inclined, He will shout from the mountain that which was whispered in the shadows…

God cares about the oppression and victimization of the little ones, and the vulnerable being taken advantage of. He cares a lot.

There I was, this morning, minding my own business (again) when I received messages confirming that my gut feeling indeed was right. Life Literature, for all their “he’s not going through Life Literature” knew good and well that Harold planned to go back to Haiti. Whether going ‘with them or through them or under them or around them”, they knew he was going. In fact, they knew so well that one of their own, went shopping with Harold Herr to buy supplies at PaulB Hardware in Lititz PA.

This would be blatant surmising to assume Harold and Earl shopping together had anything to do with Harold’s (now allegedly cancelled) trip to Haiti, if they had not been heard to say they are getting supplies “for Harold to take to Haiti.” In their own words, that was the intent and purpose of the shopping outing.

Life Literature knew. Lamar Nolt refused to acknowledge that. Why?

It is a certainty that Life LIterature knew the allegations against Harold a long time ago. And they completely disregarded those allegations, insofar as allowing him to work for them. No investigation. No hearing the hearts of the alleged victims first hand. This is years into knowing about the allegations. Years!

And even after the Jeriah Mast scandal, there wasn’t an eye-opening moment of revelation that, “Goodness, maybe we should look into this. Jeriah claimed to be innocent of allegations and he was guilty. Maybe when there are so many allegations (or not that many), we should exercise wisdom and discernment and suspend workers with allegations and have an independent third party investigation done.”

Nope. They waited until September, at which time someone (or a group) from Haiti Benefit Auction put pressure on, and they ‘let him go’. But did they? What does ‘letting someone go’ look like?

Does it mean they are removed from payroll? Was he removed or did he stay on payroll after being ‘let go’? (I know the answer to when he was taken off, or if he was. But I will leave it to the public to do some homework on this and contact Life to find out if HH was removed before I published my blog. If he wasn’t, how could they claim he was ‘let go’? )

Does ‘being let go’ mean he is no longer allowed to do any training for them? Again, was he restricted from doing training? Let’s see… he recently told his family he would be going to Haiti to train his replacement. He went shopping with Life Literature Treasurer, Earl Fox. And no one wants to be forthcoming about the whole deal. That offers more questions than answers, and it sure does not speak of transparency.

As a highly respected and honourable  Conservative Anabaptist licensed counselor said to me this week: It is very rare for adult children to accuse their parents of sexual abuse and it not hold truth. (Worded as close as possible to the counselor’s wording, based on notes taken during the phone call).

That should be taken seriously and taken into account here.

Why would a son, a daughter or other family member make accusations that are not true? Especially when the risk of the culture disbelieving them and shaming them is so high. What do they gain? They might get cut out of the will. They will likely be accused of lying. They pay for it in family dynamics. And if proved to be lying, those who are professionals — true professionals — in the work force could lose that too.

None of these things are positives. None. All outcomes lead to huge losses even if telling the truth, and even more so if lying. For what earthly reason would someone choose that, if not true? Truth is a compelling force, and some will sacrifice anything to stand for truth.

As the counselor said, It is very rare for adult children to accuse their parents of sexual abuse and it not hold truth.

Blow me off if you want, but take that counselor seriously. He is human, but I’ve heard him to be highly honourable over the years. And if he says allegations from adult children of the accused generally hold credibility, then we need to pay attention. (And for those who were told by HH or others that his family has retracted all allegations, I can assure you with 100% certainty that is not truth).

There is no excuse for a mission organization looking the other way,  deceiving the public about their involvement and how they ‘let go’ the accused individual. Just own up already.

Once we start dealing with truth, we can make progress.  The games don’t speak well of the players.

 

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

*****

Trudy offers conferences for survivors of abuse, and training to equip churches and the community in caring for victims and offenders. If you would like to inquire about having a conference or training in your area, send an inquiry via Contact TrudyTo support Generations Unleashed, the charity she works for, Donate Here.

SURVEY: Conservative Anabaptist (CA) Leaders’ Response to Abuse: If you are/were CA and have been sexually abused and interacted with a CA leader regarding the abuse, this survey is for you.

I am preparing several other surveys and will release them on our SURVEYS PAGE.

© Trudy Metzger

 

 

 

 

David S. Smucker of PA, sentenced to prison (not Whispering Hope) for vile crimes against 4 minors

This morning David S. Smucker, 75, of East Earl PA, was sentenced to 38 years for sexually assaulting 4 preteen girls, starting when they were only around 4-5 years old. Reportedly, he showed no remorse or emotion and declined to comment, when asked by Judge Reinaker if he wanted to say anything. He offered no apology to his victims. Judge Reinaker had a few words to say, and was quite stern about it, as well he should have been. The lawyer allegedly requested house arrest, which the judge did not grant, thank God. That would have put Smucker right back in the community where he committed the crimes in the first place. Fortunately he also did not get sent back to Whispering Hope, the Anabaptist facility where he had stayed up to this time since his release from prison in 2018.

Just over a year ago, in December 2018, it came to light that David S. Smucker allegedly sexually violated 4 preteen girls. The Amish church did the right thing. They reported Smucker, and formulated a support committee for the victims and their families, to help in offering practical support. In this, the Amish community of Lancaster PA has done fabulously. To have a small team of people who are there for the victims and their families is an outstanding commitment, and I highly commend them for this. A case such as this brings incredible destruction to the children, but it also disrupts the community in unimaginable ways, as their commitment to forgiveness and the reality of severe ongoing damage and suffering meet in profound struggle. For a people who value forgiveness so highly, to admit the struggle to offer it is intense, you know the impact is brutal.

In conversation with a gentleman involved in the case,  back in Summer 2019, he expressed how forgiveness has not been an easy thing for the community. What impressed me in this case was the commitment to supporting victims, honest and raw struggle with forgiveness (and still choosing forgiveness… because Mr. Smucker disrupted an entire community, not only a few victims), but also working with the law to ensure safety for the children and to have an appropriate sentence for Smucker.

Even so, it is no secret that some were working to have Mr. Smucker exonerated for his sex crimes. (I have names and evidence to support that claim). Thankfully, that did not work.

Today a handful of advocates showed up in court, in a show solidarity with victims and their parents. I had hoped to be present, however my university schedule made that difficult, so I relied on friends to update me. (One had a notebook to jot down notes but was asked to put it away).

Audrey Kauffman, who attended the sentencing, wrote on Facebook: “While no sentence can ever redeem what these girls have lost, we witnessed justice today. I am grateful for a judge who acknowledged the lifetime consequences the victims will carry and gave no consideration for health or age to the perpetrator. He held the perpetrator fully responsible and publicly absolved the victims.

“I think he’s a coward. I don’t think he has a shred of remorse,” ADA Haverstick said in court. “He used (the girls) as sex toys. They existed for his sexual gratification.”

“You are the first who has refused” to take responsibility, Judge Reinaker said. An admission or showing of remorse, Judge Reinaker said, can assist victims in the healing process. “Your refusal… has deprived them of even that small measure of healing,” the judge said.

You may read various reports of the hearing at the following links:
Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office
Pittsburg Post-Gazette (Peter Smith)
Lancaster Online

I would call it a victory — and some will, which I understand — but there is no ‘victory’ or ‘winning’ in a case like this. Not through a court sentence, no matter how right that sentence is, and necessary. I support it 100%. Anything less would put children at risk. There’s no need for that.

However, when you know the backstory and the fine, nitty-gritty details of how those children have suffered and continue to suffer and struggle, it about rips your heart it. They haven’t won. They can’t. They’ve been robbed blind and as a result of Smucker’s vile and selfish acts, this is a lifetime of battle laid before them. That’s not winning, no matter how much the public is protected from further risk of harm.

That is what breaks my heart. Every time. The children. Some never recover. Some go on to commit crimes of their own, of various sorts.. Some go mental. Thank God that many heal. And that is my prayer for these little ones. I pray the heinous crimes committed against them will not rob them of their future on top of all they have already lost. They have lost all that was normal, all that was safe — not only that which should have been safe but also that which was safe — as their family life was disrupted, and remains disrupted. They have paid a higher price in their young years than about anything I have ever seen.

Pray for theses children, their parents and family members as they continue to seek healing.

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

An anniversary glimpse into our marriage; Love, nightmares, comfort, losses and commitment

On this day, at about this time (12:00 noon), 26 years ago, Tim and I faced the congregation. We had just said those forever words, “I do.” As the bishop introduced us, we took that first step into our future….

The night before our wedding, our church had been broken into. I remember the surprise when our pastor, Glen Jantzi told us. Someone caught that moment on camera, my mouth hanging open. No wedding gifts were stolen, but the sound system was taken, but somehow that was all taken care of too.

Somewhere between that moment and walking down the aisle, the photographer caught me sneaking an After Eight chocolate mint. I was giddy with excitement, yet calm and at peace.

Having sat through the sermon, trying hard to sit still, the moment finally came…

Vows were said. And having made that forever promise, “I do”, we faced the congregation, waiting for the bishop to introduce us.

We took that first step into our future as the bishop spoke….

“I now present to you, Mr. and Mrs. Tim Harder!”

We stopped, only one step into our marriage, startled, and swung around, in sync as if a perfectly rehearsed act, to look at the Bishop.

The congregation erupted in laughter! The bishop realized what he had done, and set about correcting himself, reintroducing us as, “Mr. and Mrs. Tim Metzger!”

And so began the adventure of a lifetime!

*****

I love you with all that I am, Mr. Harder… um… er… I mean… Mr. Metzger! You are the most treasured gift God has given me in this life. And I’d do it all again, with you! The bumps. The scrapes. The thrills. The joys. The losses. The successes. The tears. The grief. The grace. The thrill. The peace. The crazy. The calm. The uncertainty. The unmovable and unshakeable.

You have been my rock. My tender and safe place. Twenty-six years of being lost in your arms and found in your heart… Thank you.

*****

Tim and I have had our share of challenges, or ‘bumps and scrapes’. Life has not always been easy. We went through the normal struggles of trying to blend two lives into one, especially those first few years.

tim and trudy

Several mornings in, I recall a moment of panic, for no particular reason. Tim had been nothing less than a gentleman those few days, just as he was in courtship. But the magnitude and finality of this life change hit me in a new way.  Would I be enough? I never had been…

In the first four years we had as many conceptions. Two healthy children, and two miscarriages. And with the role of motherhood, came the awakening of terror and nightmares, fears and anxieties. Would my father come, one day, when Tim was at work, and kill me and my baby? In my sleep I would again be at home, now pregnant, running from the man who had threatened to kill me. But now I had another life to save. I would awaken from my nightmares, shaking and having been weeping in my sleep. Always Tim welcomed me into his arms, no matter the hour, and held me til the trembling and tears stopped. Always.

I felt guilty. It wasn’t right that he, a man younger than I, should have to carry this. It wasn’t right that he lose sleep when he had to work all day to provide. There was nothing fair about the aftermath and consequences of the abuse I had suffered, invading his world and disrupting our marriage.

While rare, a few times I had to fight through flashbacks during sexual intimacy. Feelings. Sensations. Scents. Images. All things that go with fighting past the hell of the past. And I would vow that the past will not dominate me, or steal our relationship, and I would push through. The triggers, while awful, I determined would become my healing. Rather than running from intimacy, I committed to finding healing through it. And the only thing that made this safe was the gentleness of a husband who consistently laid self aside for my wellbeing. This compassion gave me a safe place to continue to pursue intimacy, never fearing that I would be used or abused, belittled or shamed. My heart was always safe. In 26 years, not one time has he made me feel objectified, indebted (aka obligated to have sex), or used. For this I thank God.

When we lost babies to miscarriage, two different times in that first four year stretch, we learned how to grieve. We learned that we grieve very differently. And we learned to hold each other and create space for that difference. For him, expressing emotions and feelings (in word or otherwise) was hard. For me, tears and talking through it helped me process and release. It took patience.

Five babies in seven years, with two more in heaven, took its toll. Life became increasingly more demanding. I still had my share of unresolved wounds from the past. Then health crises struck. Losing half my blood in a haemorrhage in 1999. Toxic mould poisoning in 2003. Heart attack in 2006….

It all weighed us down and at times we drifted apart. But always we found our way back to each other. And in the rise and fall, our love grew stronger. With every battle we fought through together, we emerged stronger and more in love, more deeply committed to “come hell or high water, we are in this for the long haul”.

It’s how it all began, just before our engagement, when out of fear I wanted to break up. I started to withdraw from Tim, and told him what I truly felt; that he would be better with someone else. I didn’t think I had it in me to get married and go through all the emotional upheaval it would bring. Dating, alone, had stirred things up to the point I could hardly cope. Marriage, I concluded, was not for the faint of heart. And I figured I should get out while I’m ahead. Besides, by the time he really knew me, I supposed he would break up and not want me. So sooner would be better than later, I told myself.

Having stated this to Tim (in much less detail and fewer words), attempting to break up, he took me by surprise. He stepped forward, rather than away. And ever so gently he reached his arms around me, locking both arms at my side, and then held me firmly.

“Trudy, I am in this for the long haul”.  He said a bit more, but those words echoed through the years. Tim has patiently lived that commitment through the best and the worst of times, always inviting me into the same…. always loving me patiently when I didn’t feel loveable.

Twenty-six years in, he remains the wind beneath my wings. In all that I do, he is my sounding board, my rock to lean on, my cheerleader and my encourager. I could not do what I do without his constant support.

So, today, for all you survivors of abuse I’ve supported over the years, I want to honour the man who has made it possible for me to do this. He cares well for me, first, and he cares for you also. It is his wisdom and compassion that allow me to pour my heart and life into serving you.

My first thanks goes to God, who called me, healed me, and fills me with grace and courage. On the heels of this, is deep gratefulness for the Love of my life.

Happy Anniversary Honey! Here’s to the next 26 years!

PS. Having just completed this blog, as I attached the photo, Tim walked in carrying this gorgeous bouquet of flowers. Giving flowers isn’t his strong suit, but today he did. And there was I, all tender after writing from such a deep place in my heart… and the tears started. The flowers truly are beautiful! But it is his heart I celebrate.

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2020

 

!!Critical detail Update on Life Literature & Lamar Nolt!!

In my previous blog I stated that Harold Herr was released from his duties at Life Literature in September 2019. (This is the date I was sent). I also stated I was informed he is scheduled to leave for Haiti to train his replacement. These are Harold Herr’s own words to an immediate family member. (For the remainder of this post, keep in mind that, though unlikely, it is possible Lamar Nolt did not know of Harold’s travel plans).

On a technicality, Lamar Nolt is responding to inquiries with vague statements that Harold is no longer employed by Life Literature. This is accurate, as I stated yesterday, but does not change the fact that Harold was (and as far as we know still is) scheduled to return to Haiti. (Lamar also alleged he does not know anything about Harold “going to Haiti with anyone else or organization”… which, God only knows if that means “I know he is going, but not with anyone or an organization”, or if it means, “I had no knowledge of Harold planning to go to Haiti”. Yet it is known that Harold plans/planned to return, and the reason stated was/is to train a replacement.

Fussing about these technicalities, and using them advantageously, do not speak to noble character and transparency. They reflect the nature of the Jeriah Mast case, mirroring the response at that time. Keep in mind that Harold Herr is on record stating that he informed Lamar Nolt of Jeriah Mast’s crimes years before it was dealt with.

Anyone who cares to make a difference and express concerns over Harold Herr traveling back to Haiti this month to train his replacement can contact Chairman Lamar Nolt at 980-297-9460 or info@lifeliterature.org ” You may wish to specify that you are aware Harold is no longer employed by Life, but you are further aware that Harold was or is scheduled to train his replacement in Haiti. (You may also wish to ask if he had any knowledge of such a planned trip, alone or with someone else, or any trip at all, for any purpose, including the purpose of training his replacement). I have updated the FBI as well on this technicality.

These patterns continues to reveal themselves, and expose the extent of the coverup.

Sometimes a picture says it best.

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Addition:

To everyone messaging Lamar Nolt. I encourage you to ask specifically:

Is it true that Harold Herr is training a replacement staff? If no, was it true at any time in January?

Harold Herr told his own family that he will be leaving for Haiti late January after he gets some finances in order. He also said he will be training a replacement for his position at LIFE Literature. If LIFE (Lamar) had/has no knowledge of this, it begs a few questions:

1. Why does Harold Herr, who is not employed by them, have that kind of authority?

2. Is Harold working for them as a subcontractor?

3. If not the true reason for his trip, then why is Harold really going to Haiti and why did he tell people it was/is to train a staff member for LIFE Literature?

As always,

Love,
~ T ~

*****

Trudy offers conferences for survivors of abuse, and training to equip churches and the community in caring for victims and offenders. If you would like to inquire about having a conference or training in your area, send an inquiry via Contact TrudyTo support Generations Unleashed, the charity she works for, Donate Here.

SURVEY: Conservative Anabaptist (CA) Leaders’ Response to Abuse: If you are/were CA and have been sexually abused and interacted with a CA leader regarding the abuse, this survey is for you.

I am preparing several other surveys and will release them on our SURVEYS PAGE.

© Trudy Metzger 2020