ROBERT FLORES, LAWYER FOR CHRISTIAN AID MINISTRIES (CAM), CONFIRMS VICTIMS OF JERIAH MAST WERE OFFERED MONEY
The blog (below) was already written when the phone call came….
“It turns out you’ve been telling the truth all along,” he said.
Ten little words.
It was no surprise to me that what I said was true. I had followed the evidence, gathered testimony from multiple sources. Each offered the same story; money was offered in exchange for signing a “Withdrawal Form”.
What came as a complete surprise is that CAM’s lawyer, Robert Flores, acknowledged that money had been offered. I respect the honesty. As far as I know, he did not acknowledge that victims were required to sign Withdrawal Form before funds would be released. (It is possible he is not aware of it. But it is important that readers know this was not directly confirmed, even while evidence supports it to be true. It is also unclear to me if he knew CAM was making these offers in the first place). He also did not acknowledge that money exchanged hands, though some recent shopping ventures in Haiti — of which I have evidence — and testimony from the community members would strongly suggest otherwise. Even so, I continue to say ‘allegedly’.
(UPDATE: A source says they spoke with a CAM staff member who confirmed victims were required to sign a form before receiving funds. A source also reported that part of the funds were being taken from interest made on a cash reserve fund, so that CAM can say they did not use donor money. There was discussion about ‘tapping into the funds’ but whether they did so or not was not disclosed).
I have never asked God to vindicate me in any way, and I won’t. But, I confess in that moment, when I heard those ten words “It turns out you’ve been telling the truth all along,” I was grateful. I had not asked for anyone to investigate or prove my words; I simply reported what I knew to be true and what I knew needed to be exposed so that taking advantage of victims’ vulnerability stops. I am committed to doing what I am called to do, no matter what, but I am thankful for this confirmation.
PREVIOUSLY WRITTEN BLOG:
Questions continue to come in. Am I certain money has been offered? Is it true that the young men have to sign a form before CAM will release funds? Did they meet without lawyers present… How sure am I that this isn’t just rumour…
Very sure. Like, absolutely certain. These are facts: Money has been offered. Documents referred to as a “Withdrawal Form” (translated from Creole/French to English) are required to be signed before release of funds. Some victims refused to accept the funds and sign the papers. Allegedly several have signed and did accept the money. (This is supported by evidence that some of the young men have suddenly come by a windfall). And some admit it is tempting when money is being dangled in front of them and the day to day financial survival is so challenging.
Placing individuals already suffering in a situation where they feel they must violate their own integrity is not honourable.
Furthermore, if what CAM is doing is so good, and so honourable, why haven’t they made a public announcement, stating they are offering money to the victims and asking victims to sign the “Withdrawal Form”. Why is it so hush-hush? Why is it making victims feel like they are selling out their honour to accept?
If what CAM is doing is noble, they ought to make it well known so that it does not feel underhanded to the victims, to donors and … well, to people like me who advocate for victims and fight against the epidemic of sexual violence against children. There ought to be transparency. The documents being signed should not be such a secretive thing. (Nor should such documents now be destroyed. They are evidence). Victims who have lawyers should have their lawyers invited to the table. If there is nothing to hide, Homeland Security should be sent a copy of those documents, and be aware of what is going on given that there is an active investigation. If the latter has happened, I am not aware. And if Homeland Security knows and blesses what CAM is doing, then yet the more reason to inform donors and the public so that this shroud of secrecy is lifted.
By some I am told what CAM is doing is illegal, and by others I am also told it is above board. I have not made bold proclamations one way or the other, though I sincerely question it. I have been given names of some individuals in Haiti involved in offering the money, and ironically they are all Haitians of the ones I have been made aware. No Americans. This raises its own questions. If it is illegal it is very possible these individuals are not aware of that fact. As one individual from Haiti said, “Everyone has a price… they’ve gotten support from CAM from the past… I doubt they know what it means legally.”
The gentleman said, “[What CAM staff/leaders] are doing is the same as what Jeriah was doing which is preying on the vulnerability and the poverty level to treat us victims poorly. Jeriah used to say if you don’t let me abuse you, I won’t buy you food tomorrow, nowadays CAM is saying if you don’t accept this little bit of money and shut up, you might die before justice is served in court, so for them, their abusive treatment is still the best we can get. If they really cared about the victims, they would of put a program in place to support the victims just so they can keep living while waiting that justice is served without asking them to sign the withdrawal paper.”
It is this dialogue with those victimized that compels me to stand against the corruption.
I am very aware that many religious men and women — and some leaders in particular — condemn what I do. This is ok with me. I have done my homework and know I am speaking truth. CAM knows I am speaking truth. Above all, God knows. And as long as I believe He is calling me to expose, the opinions of anyone other than those in leadership over me are not particularly influential. I hear them — whether concerns or attacks — and look for the truth bits and applicable tidbits.
That said, I do not, and I cannot take them to heart. I’d be in a constant state of disregarding God if I listened to every voice attempting to speak into my life or judge me. (Particularly those who condemn me for speaking out… while they do the same thing and speak out against me. Irony of ironies. I am not allowed to expose sex crimes but it’s okay to expose me for exposing? Not to mention it is ok for them to call me a liar for telling the truth, but I am not allowed to expose abuse of power? Not that I much care, because it says more about them than about me or anyone else.
And when all else fails they remind me I could be sued for defamation. My response to this is as follows:
- I knew this before I posted the first article and had that discussion with my husband. If I teach ‘be willing to go with truth at all cost’ yet do not live it, I am a hypocrite.
- There would need to be proof of malicious intent, and it does not exist. Calling out crime and exposing injustice is not malicious; it is helping the oppressed find a voice. Haitian victims would have no voice at all if no American/Canadian advocates got involved. In all my private conversations and public I have made it clear that I am advocating for victims not against CAM. I’ve not had any goal to ‘take them out’. Their transparency or the lack thereof will influence the outcome more than any other thing.
- What I have written has consistently been proven true. I am not making things up. I am not lying. I am not dreaming up allegations. When I hear things, I try to be thorough and have multiple sources for everything I make public.
I am repeatedly told this should not be aired in the public. Some Anabaptist leaders are boldly stating on Facebook that there is no biblical grounds for a Christian ever publicly calling out another Christian. Some are boldly stating that only leaders may call out leaders…. which, frankly, is a dreadful twisting of Scriptures that has led to this epidemic of abuse in the first place, while leaders hide their own past corruption and cover for others.
Besides, here’s the thing. Crimes were committed against the public. Covering it, or handling it quietly will not bring change. Look at history. So we are calling out criminals, not fellow saints. (With repentance, sure, they can be just that, but child molesters, rapists and those who cover for them are not particularly saintly. And those twisting God’s word to keep it under wraps are part of the problem. A big part). Furthermore, the ongoing less-than-forthcoming-and-honourable handling of things by CAM has been more than enough proof that public accountability is necessary. It’s the only way victims are ever going to be respected and cared for holistically.
Presently at least some victims have admitted to feeling like their poverty is being exploited through these attempts with payouts. That needs to stop. Making certain their needs are met in a transparent and honourable way would be appropriate. According to Peter Smith who wrote an article for the Pittsburg Post-Gazette, the lawyer’s statements indicated CAM will be looking at a more longterm approach and not trying to make this all go away quickly. It is my hope there will be follow-through, and that CAM will be transparent in these efforts.
Read the article in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette: After criticism, mission agency seeks greater amends over Haiti abuse scandal
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
In the past three months I have been contacted repeatedly, people asking “What can we do? Where can we contribute? Are you helping victims financially?” And always I have turned away funds because we had no avenue for directing monies. I had previously posted other efforts but all have not been comfortable with the functioning of those plans, and lack of clarity where the money was going.
In response, we have set up a PayPal fund specifically to help the victims in Haiti with day-to-day survival needs. It is a very basic and very transparent plan. We have made no promises or commitment to victims, and will in no case hand out large sums of money. However, it has become clear that the victims struggle to find work, even more than most in Haiti, because of the label of homosexual (Madam Jeriah) assigned to them. In at least one case we we have been told about, a victim was declined work after the job was offered because someone went to the place of employment and advised against hiring that victim. We are not talking luxuries. We are talking food on the table, and the most basic of needs.
We will provide a monthly spread sheet with reflecting all funds paid out. These spreadsheets will reflect victims as “Victim 1… Victim 2” and so on, to protect their identity. At present we have a list of victims whose allegations have been documented in various public record, as well as some confirmed by Jeriah’s own admission, or CAM staff and missionaries, with the awareness that that number could grow exponentially.
The initial proposal, based on feedback regarding monthly living costs, is to raise $225 to $300 monthly for victims with a spouse and family, and up to $75 or $100 for single victims. This would meet a portion of basic survival needs and support counseling costs. We will partner victims, expecting them to contribute in meaningful ways to their community as part of taking initiative and responsibility for their own healing. Healing comes in many forms, and one of the most significant ways is by moving beyond our hardship and helping others (Isaiah 58). This would be a blessing to the communities in which the victims reside, thereby hopefully helping to reintegrate them into their communities. We will ask them to update the committee in ways they have contributed to their communities, which will help establish meaningful relationships with the team.
In total we hope to raise $2500 monthly, with the present victim count, which would a surplus for unexpected medical care, for new victims who come forward (and are confirmed), and to create a small reservoir. While we would not plan to send American representatives frequently, we would from time to time send someone, and would need funds for this. All such expenses would be reflected on monthly expense sheets. These expense sheets would be inspected and accuracy confirmed by a minimum of three individuals each month. These individuals will be given names of victims being supported, but will be asked to hold those names in confidence.
Committee members will not receive payment for their services. We will provide a list once each one has confirmed. We are still waiting for several individuals to respond. Presently we have the following committed to oversee accountability of fund distributions:
J. Anthony Hertzler
Tim & Trudy Metzger
Support is not dependent on any agreement with victims to pursue criminal charges or not pursue. No funds will be used toward litigations costs, should victims choose to press charges or sue CAM or Jeriah Mast.
Donate via: Victim Support
PLEASE NOTE: This is completely unaffiliated with Generations Unleashed or any other organization or venture. We do plan to work cooperatively with missionaries on the ground in Haiti to delegate support to victims.
AS FOR WHAT I HOPE HAPPENS TO CAM:
“What do you want from CAM; are you trying to take them out?”
This question has been coming my way since the initial exposure of the Jeriah Mast case, in various forms from different people, including friends and enemies, acquaintances and strangers. The questions are fair. The answer quite simple.
What I hope for CAM is straightforward. Transparency and truth. I am told that what they have been doing is above board, it is honourable and completely legal. I am also told that what they are doing is bribery, silencing victims, and shady… at best, if not illegal. I am told (by Americans who are not on the ground) that there are no documents to sign to receive payouts. I am also told by victims on the ground — including names of who is involved — that there are definitely documents that have to be signed before any money will be released. The latter has been admitted by CAM staff insider and consistently stated by victims who have been offered money.
In my previous blog I made shared very little of my opinion on what they are doing, beyond questioning it. I stated that there have been rumours of hush money dating back many weeks ago – and called hush money by multiple missionaries in Haiti – and that this offering money continues to the present. And I questioned the integrity of it.
I would like CAM to become transparent. To be Christ-like and open about this mess, if it is Him they wish to represent. They know I’ve been telling the truth. I don’t need to be vindicated, but the public deserves for them to acknowledge the truth to its fullest extent. I would like to see them work in partnership with the victims in Haiti to meet their needs holistically and big picture for the longterm. They have been physically/sexually assaulted. They have been spiritually abused (Jeriah Mast was a leader with power parading as a Jesus-representative). They have been psychologically harmed. The impact has brought death threats and other threats into some of their lives. It has made it difficult for some to find work, and in other cases opportunities they had were taken away. It has cost them more than we can imagine, in a culture where same gender sexual contact – even through abuse – is viewed as homosexuality, and homosexuality is condemned and the victims shamed for it.
So what would I like to see happen to CAM? Show sacrificial care for the victims. Lean in. Ask, “What do you need from us to help you heal from the sexual assault? What do you need to heal from the spiritual betrayal? What do you need to heal psychologically? What do you need to survive and thrive?” And that ought to include how to help them thrive where jobs are lost or impossible to get. Throwing a wad of money at victims in secretive and hidden ways does not bring healing. It never has. It never will. Offering calculated support can play a role while healing is pursued in other ways.
Partnering. Valuing. Acknowledging. Grieving. Supporting. Listening. Entering in… These things humanize the victim and their suffering, and bring healing.
This is what I would like to see happen to CAM. It is the only way trust will ever be rebuilt. My Anabaptist culture are a very forgiving people. To a fault, at times and in some cases to the point where forgiveness isn’t really forgiveness anymore and has turned to cover up. But certainly forgiveness, at its best, is a strength among us.
Many of my Anabaptist culture are also truth warriors. Goodness! We were raised to expect transparency. The way confessions were demanded over listening to ‘worldly’ music, wearing the wrong clothes, or other constitution violations… the way leaders pursued us to tell all… the way we were asked to report to leaders when someone violated church’s written and unwritten standards… Really, what choice did we have but to become hyper-vigilant about truth? I have said it often, the culture I come from trained me to do what I do. Not only in my quest for truth and transparency, but in being observant of details that are the ‘tells’ for what is really going on. That, combined with living in a home filled with violence and death threats… It is the best investigator training available, because it shapes it as an instinct so you don’t even know you’re gathering information until it is needed.
That is the culture now asking for transparency and truth from organizations and leaders at every level. And it should be forthcoming.
I pray it will be.
~ T ~
© Trudy Metzger
Events and Announcements:
Dayton Virginia: Training and conference, October 9-12, 2019.
To read a recent 5-part series addressing victim healing and forgiveness for offenders, click: HERE.
ANONYMOUS SEXUAL ABUSE SURVEY BY ANABAPTIST MEDICAL DOCTOR
Some time ago, a friend told me of a medical doctor (Anabaptist) who is doing research into sexual abuse in Anabaptist communities. To take his survey visit:
Anabaptist Medical Matters
JASON GRAY CONCERT:
NOVEMBER 2, 2019
Lancaster Bible College, Lancaster PA
CONCERT TICKETS NOW AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC: Here
NOTE: Due to the concert being the celebration for survivors of abuse,
we ask that any who have sexually abused as adults not attend out of respect
November 2, 2019: THE GATHERING, held at Lancaster Bible College, is a place where survivors of sexual assault, together with our support person(s), collectively invite God into our grief. It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse and trusted support persons to gather for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering and sexual violence among us. We will cry out to God, together. Come as you are in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. We welcome you! The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to grieve and heal another layer, together.
NOTE: Anyone over 18 who sexually assaulted someone – whether child or other adult – is not welcome. This does not mean they are not forgiven if they have repented. It means victims should not fear being confronted with the source of their trauma on such a vulnerable day. Security guards will be present to remove any who show up and are identified as offenders by the victims.
Until August 1, 2019, registration for the day’s events includes lunch and attendance to the evening concert with Jason Gray, whose music had brought hope and healing to countless victims. Songs like “The Wound is Where the Light Gets In“, “A Way to See in the Dark“, Sparrows“, “Nothing is Wasted“, and many more speak a language we understand.
NOTE: After August 1 concert is included dependant on availability. Once concert tickets are sold out, registrations will continue until October 1 and include lunch only.
If you are able to contribute to Generations Unleashed and our work with and for victims, you may donate via PayPal or e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit Generations Unleashed Donate.