Bishop Howard Bean, Grace Mennonite Church, charged with sexual assault after 40+ years of predatory behaviour

I started the following blog around a year ago, and I am sharing with the permission of the first known victim.

It has been very difficult to write, for many reasons. Mostly, I have written almost nothing since the car crash of 2019. It takes too much out of me, physically, with post-concussion syndrome, shoulder tears and recently diagnosed severe issues in my neck (that finally explained at least some of the severe symptoms I deal with). Yesterday I received many messages asking about Howard Bean. Someone had commented publicly, and former students of Mr. Bean were shocked to learn he had sexually harmed students. Rather than continue to answer privately, I decided it is time to edit this blog and post it. I am heading into a four month stretch that is unbelievably busy. I will respond to emails as I am able, answering questions.

LINK: Howard Bean, disgraced bishop of Grace Mennonite Church, has been credibly accused and charged with sexual assault.

Photos credit of The Map List & Mennonite Archived

Grace Mennonite is a church I recommended in the past when Conservative Anabaptists reached out asking if I know of any safe Mennonite church in Ontario. With a disclaimer that I didnt’ know them well, but they had a strong and clearly defined child abuse policy, I would suggest Grace. (I had a copy of their police at one time, but cannot locate it). I had confidence that abuse allegations would be swiftly dealt with, and victims supported.

I didn’t account for allegations of sexual impropriety coming against the bishop, Howard Bean, who is also a licensed school teacher with access to many children over the years. Some involved I believe have wanted truth. Others have a vested interest in making this go away, and have enabled Mr. Bean as a predator. (Anyone who preys — especially repeatedly — on the innocence of children and youth is a predator).

When I first became aware of concerns, it was a third party report with no evidence or even an incident or alleged victim; only a sense that something was ‘off’. The individual had close interaction with Mr. Bean for several years and didn’t feel safe. There was nothing to report. Nothing to expose. Only a thought to file, and not disregard. But nothing actionable.

In the span of several years of supporting survivors — who, by the way, have an uncanny sense about who is safe and who is not — three mentioned something not feeling safe with Mr. Bean. By 2018, a witness came forward with something they had observed Mr. Bean do, as a teacher, that felt violating. It was not done against them; they had witnessed it.

That witness did not want to be named, but asked if I would look into it. I processed it, and wanted to do something, but I had no concrete evidence; no victim asking me to act. I felt concern and like my hands were tied, all at once.

So I sat in the quiet, knowing there was a strong likelihood of abuse, but having nothing solid allowing me to move forward. Waiting, and pondering, I gathered Mr. Bean’s information just in case it seemed right to meet him, but I never spoke with him.

The challenges when allegations are vague or third party, are many. First, do victims want it addressed? Second, if addressed with nothing concrete, does it work against the case when evidence comes forward? Will people say, “Trudy planted the idea with her vague/unfounded concerns?” So I waited.

And then I had the heart attack in March, 2019, followed in August by being rear-ended at over 120 km p/h, resulting in severe whiplash (for which I am still in therapy). Needless to say, all else fell by the wayside.

The allegations and concerns have since been proven valid, though not the half has been told. The key — and first known victim — was never contacted by the church-recruited investigator. That victim suffered more than anything that has been disclosed so far. It was startling to discover that I had known about it since I was 16…

Only as the details unfolded did the memory resurface. A friend shared some of the ‘story’, processing what was going on. She had been closely connected with the first known victim. As she spoke, the shock hit that, “I know this story!” I said as much to my friend. “I know this story…. but I don’t know why!” And then it came back…

I was 16. A troubled and hurting teenager, living in New Hamburg Ontario. Not one established friend. And then I met two sisters. I have no memory of where or how we met. But I found myself at the older sister’s home, sitting on the floor in front of her, while she sat and nursed her newborn. I learned about giving birth and the afterpains. And I learned her life had been brutally hard.

She shared how a school teacher had sexually abused her for years. He did things to her. He made her do things. Awful and confusing things that scarred and confused her deeply.

As the Howard Bean allegations unfolded, so did the realization that he had worked at the very school where that friend attended, it all came back…. I was, again, 16 years old, sitting with a new mom caring for her infant….

I felt sick. I felt betrayed by a man I didn’t really know. Betrayed. Over. And over. And over. Again.

And I felt like I was a traitor for sitting in silence.

How can they do this? How can they name the name of God, preach, teach on morality, build a name for themselves in Christian community….

How can I sit in silence? And, yet, I have. Mostly because of my accident injuries. I pay a price for sitting at my desk. I pay a price for typing.

I learned on FB yesterday, January 17, 2023, that Christian Light Publications (CLP) still promotes Mr. Bean’s writings, and keeps Pete Peters on staff, while removing books of an author who dared to write questions she has about the afterlife. A facebook conversation where Mr. Bean was mentioned, sparked a flood of messages asking what the deal is. I responded to those messages, and decided to write a blog.

Mr. Bean has been credibly accused and charged with sexual assault. The first known victim is well over 40 years ago, with a string scattered through the years that followed. The extent of the abuse varies among the victims. Numerous students have reported observing the indecent behaviour over the years.

Mr. Bean admitted only to what was brought forward, and each time as more was brought, he acted repentant. He has made excuses. He claimed he did not know that touching a girl’s buttocks was sexual.

That raises many questions.

What is such an ill-informed man doing in classrooms? What is he doing behind the pulpit? How can one so naive and uninformed write books guiding churches, and preach purity to youth? Is he truly this unaware? Or is he simply a skilled manipulator? A liar? Is it such a long leap from sexual assault to lying? I would say they often, if not always go hand in hand, the blatant lying and sexual abuse. Certainly, they are already liars and hypocrites in how they live. Skilled abusers/predators are also highly skilled manipulative liars who know how to groom their church.

It took me two years to find the first known victim. But I found her. I asked if she remembers when we met and I sat on the floor as she nursed her baby, and she told me her story. She did. I asked if she would tell her story again. It matched. And there was more. Not only did Mr. Bean seriously violate this woman’s sexuality, starting before she was even 10 years old, and into her teens, he also violated her by speaking disrespectfully of his wife’s body to her, and commenting on the victims’ clothes and body, among other things. He violated her trust sexually, emotionally, and spiritually. The level of harm done has never been addressed, to this day. Not even close.

I had been told that a woman at Grace Mennonite, who was connected with that first known victim, told key people that the victim did not want to be contacted. When I asked if she would be willing to speak to the committee, she said she would. So this claim also was not true. The victim was very willing to speak *on her terms*, so she would be safe. That is not the same as unwilling. (I do not put blame for this on the committee formed to investigate Mr. Bean’s crimes. It is the responsibility of the person spreading the lies).

For anyone questioning if we can believe the victim(s), Howard Bean admitted to positioning his hands, as the teacher of that first known victim, so her breasts would touch them. He admitted to sexual assault. But that’s the watered down version. He did much more than this, including serious emotional, psychological, and spiritual abuse, and more sexual abuse than he has admitted to.

Mr. Bean is a master at words. He is an author with high standing for good reason. He is skilled. And he is skilled when it comes to responding to questions. When more recent allegations were addressed at a church meeting, he was questioned regarding other allegations, and stated, “No.” When challenged later that this was not true, he responded with an explanation that he understood the question differently than intended.

These are classic highly skilled predator behaviours. When I sat with Dave Denlinger in 2018, I asked, “Did you sexually assault (name withheld) in your car?” He looked me in the eye and said he did not. I was baffled. Having sat with the victim, I was confident she was telling the truth. And then it struck me… He had given her his car.

Did you do ‘x’ to (name withheld) in her car?” His answer, “Yes, I did.”

Lying on a technicality. That is the art of a highly skilled religious predator. (I find they often have a conscience about blatant lying, oddly, given they seem to have no conscience about sexual assault).

Repentant offenders do not protect themselves. They accept consequences. They do not lie, manipulate and deceive. They own their wrongs fully. Not only what is brought forward, and do so before others have to come forward. They set victims free. No lies. No manipulations. No trying to control the narrative. (Interesting fact, Mr. Bean still had power to place a minister as lead in his stead *after* allegations came forward. How does that happen in any Christian environment, that a credibly-accused holds that power?)

I will leave Mr. Bean’s repentance between him and God. What I know with confidence is that he has not yet disclosed fully his crimes. I am confident that if his first known and credible victim came forward with abuse charges — and the students who witnessed things stood with that victim — Mr. Bean would face more charges than he currently has on record.

That victim lives in terror of Mr. Bean and is not ready to face the horror that goes with reporting. I support her 100%. Her well-being is of utmost importance. And, Mr. Bean standing before a judge in this life holds no power compared to standing before God in eternity. While the victim is not ready to go public, she willing to speak one-on-one with safe individuals.

(For those saying Mr. Bean repented. No. Controlling the narrative does not equal repentance. He told his version of the situation to a church leader 40+ years ago *after* there was threat of exposure. He rushed to ‘take care’ of things, going to the victim’s family with a skewed version, which resulted in extreme further harm to the victim. But that is not a part of the story she is ready to tell because of what it would cost her today).

The victim’s justice, and validation of her suffering, will come. Not from (most in) church. Not from those calling her a liar. Not from those (shame on them) calling her mentally unstable.

No, her justice will come on judgement day. Her validation will come from the heart of Jesus; her healing in His arms and with friends and those who support her.

In this life, she carries incredible scars that are painful to hear. and see. In spite of the scars, she is always kind. Always gentle. Always thoughtful. Never — although it would be justified — has she expressed anger or been vindictive. Going to the law would be justified. But that is not what she needs right now. So I stand with her, and bless her.

I pray that Mr. Bean will be truly broken in this life. That he will own all his lies-on-technicality to the harm of the victims and church community, and his manipulations as well as all the abuse. All of it. For the sake of his soul, and for the healing of those harmed. But that is between him and God.

***

The concerns regarding Mr. Bean began as discomfort. Nothing concrete could be found. Many (or most) times, victims are reticent to speak out for fear of suffering further harm or alienation, particularly students. It is highly likely that if those who were concerned had spoken out, they would have been subjected to consequences.

Fellow teachers would, in likelihood lose their jobs for speaking out, or be accused of being divisive and harming school culture. (In church, I’ve seen excommunication as the outcome). Students would be left to face the teacher they don’t trust; his position would likely be protected. Parents would be ostracized. It is not a small price to pay for sharing concerns.

Yet, years later it is clear that Mr. Bean is a predator. He leaned over desks in ways that were uncomfortable. He stood in the path of one of his victims, forcing her to contend with his presence. He reached his arms around one student, making her feel violated. Let me add, she was violated.

Yet, repeatedly, these concerns are downplayed as churches scramble to cover up and protect their image, and the abuser.

It’s time to learn from history, and protect those who are most vulnerable.

8 thoughts on “Bishop Howard Bean, Grace Mennonite Church, charged with sexual assault after 40+ years of predatory behaviour

  1. smuckerstuff January 18, 2023 / 9:06 pm

    Thank you for your work. I am in awe of your strength and perseverance even in the face of your own troubles. I wish I was stronger. I wish I could take all these bad guys down. Sigh.

    Get Outlook for Androidhttps://aka.ms/AAb9ysg ________________________________

    • Splsh4Ripls January 18, 2023 / 10:42 pm

      My dear friend, God had not called us all to what I do. It is no more noble than being a wife, a mother, a friend, a teacher. Each of us have a purpose, and not one makes us better or greater. You are a beautiful soul, just as God created you, doing what you do. Embrace that and be empowered it if. 💕🙏

  2. Eugene Martin January 19, 2023 / 9:12 am

    Hi  Maybe you should talk to the peop

    • Splsh4Ripls January 19, 2023 / 10:26 am

      If you could finish your comments that would be helpful

      • Eugene Martin January 19, 2023 / 11:03 am

        please Call me

      • Splsh4Ripls January 19, 2023 / 11:10 am

        Send me your phone number via my Contact page. I don’t know who you are or where to call you

  3. Rachel January 19, 2023 / 10:34 pm

    Thank you, Trudy. I’ve been waiting for a couple years for my church to mourn publicly for the harm that Howard has caused and the harm that we have caused in not believing and caring for the victims. Maybe that space will never open, though I still hold out hope. Here is a public space, and I want all those readers who have been harmed by Howard to know that 1) I believe you 2) I’m sorry for how I’ve enabled the silencing of your story 3) What was done to you was very wrong 4) The harm of the abuse was magnified because of Howard’s position as a school and church leader.

    Rachel Zehr

    • Splsh4Ripls January 20, 2023 / 12:37 am

      Thank you Rachel. I too pray for that mourning

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.