!!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

CAM responds to HH sex abuse allegations… Life Literature to send accused to Haiti… A few thoughts on Lester Miller

Updates from today:

Today I reported the allegations against Harold Herr, of sexual abuse abroad, to FBI. I also notified them of the organization under whose employ he is scheduled to return to Haiti to offer training, in spite of these allegations, and the approximate timeframe when he is to leave USA.

Another alleged victim contacted me today. This one, like others, was disclosed years age; it is not new, though it is new to me. Please pray for this [alleged] victim, as well as previous [alleged] victims who have come forward. There is nothing of being forced to relive trauma that is easy. It is disruptive and traumatic to go back to those memories. Yet, to allow the risk of more assaults to go unchecked is not the solution.

Someone asked me if ‘an old man’ would even be a risk. To put it in perspective, there is at least one case where an abuser molested a grandchild on his deathbed. So is there a risk? There is always a risk when someone has abused, and that risk increases with time, with repeat offences and with denial. This case has 40 or more years of allegations not tended to. Yes, there is an ongoing risk.

It is my prayer, first and foremost, that [alleged] victims of Harold Herr will be heard and cared for, so they can continue healing, or begin healing, as the case may be. It is my prayer that Harold will repent, fully and openly, of all atrocities committed. While they are allegations not proven in court, my prayer is also for full truth to be revealed.

*****

A friend posted CAM’s response to the sex abuse allegations on Facebook. Or, more accurately, their response to allegations being publicized. Someone in leadership, who remains with CAM to this day, knew of the allegations since at least 2004. In that approximate timeframe is when Linda Espenshade did the news article and interviewed Stanley Fox who unquestioningly defended Harold Herr. So it is not truly the allegations CAM is responding to, but rather the exposure of what has been hidden and ignored for (at minimum) 16 years, by at least one influential staff member.

That conversation in 2004 happened approximately one year into Harold Herr’s service with CAM, or within the first year. (CAM stated he was in their employ from 2003 – 2009).  It was approximately 5 years prior to the one alleged sexual assault in Haiti. (This allegation was referenced in a previous blog Conservative Mennonite missionary “Grandpa” accused of molesting minors: 4 decades, 2 countries). If those allegations are true, then those assaults could have been prevented. Whether the assaults can be proven true or not, it: a). does not mean the assaults were not committed, and; b). is no excuse for waiting 16 years to address allegations such as this. Allegations that would be completely disregarded if I didn’t announce it to thousands.

I have little more to say in response to CAM’s statement, at the moment, beyond urging CAM to be transparent and bring in an independent 3rd party investigation team. (Ideally one not from Anabaptist community, unless it is comprised of men and women who have already spoken out boldly against abuse). An internal investigation — or ‘big boy’s club’ style — will never satisfy the discerning crowd. And it definitely won’t satisfy me. Not when allegations have surfaced repeatedly in numerous countries and against multiple individuals since the Jeriah Mast case went public. And when people are pleading with me to look into those allegations.  I plan to continue to do so as I am able — time and funds — as these things do not happen quickly. The Harold Herr case, even with information coming to me unsolicited, took countless hours of my time. It may be another 8 months, or longer for the next one. Currently I am waiting for information on a contact in one of the countries. That is my only delay in moving ahead.

If CAM hired an independent third party to investigate, I would be willing to cooperate with those investigators in regards to other allegations against more CAM staff. That cooperation comes with one stipulation, that the team is trustworthy, and not a team with a vested interest in covering up. And by independent third party I mean professionals not a handpicked group from within the culture.

In the meantime, I will continue organizing information sent to me, and following the trails. I will reveal names when survivors request that. At this point it is clear that there is a systemic pattern of dismissing allegations, keeping silent, and allowing the accused to remain within organizations working with the vulnerable sector.  That, as far as I am concerned, is one of the deep roots to the problem. We won’t end the epidemic until the organization(s) and leaders are held accountable for this pattern.

Leaders and organizations have a choice between cooperating with this exposure and ending this wickedness, or continuing in the coverups. The one thing about which I am certain, God is doing precisely what He said He would do: He is shouting the things done in secret from the mountains. And He’s just warming up His voice. This is only just the beginning.

*****

The late Lester Miller, who was with Life Ministries, is named in the timeline posted in my previous blog (Timeline of ‘Grandpa Harold’, and purpose for revealing his identity…). I never knew him, and know nothing of what his character was, so I cannot speak to that. However, I do honour his attempt at addressing the allegations by confronting Harold Herr in 1995. Back then, these things were not discussed, and such a confrontation was incredibly rare. For Lester to do such a thing is to be respected.

It is unfortunate that it stayed there and nothing further was done, especially given the statement Harold is alleged to have said three times in that meeting; “If I ever molested anyone, I was demon possessed!” (Taken from the timeline in the previous blog). But it was sincere effort, from what I am told, in a very different era.  I respect that. It’s more than we’ve seen from others, more recently, long after that silence was broken.

(In fact, currently there are several churches where leaders and some members are trying to get fellow leaders reinstated in leadership after they have blatantly abused their power with young women. And it is the young women who have to find a new church so these men can lead. (What is that anyway? Since leading the Jesus Way is about laying down our lives, and this is about anything but, how is this “leading”?) It is a truly sad day in church when this is the best quality of leaders we can scrounge together and other leaders fight to keep them in place. That raises an abundance of questions. But, enough of that rabbit trail….)

Allegedly, while Lester Miller was confronting Harold, there were other people in another part of the building, praying. (I don’t have names of all who were allegedly present, or how many, but I was given one name). That means there are people alive today who can confirm that Lester Miller did indeed meet with Harold and confront him. Somehow, even with that knowledge, Harold was able to infiltrate Life Literature, where he remained until September 2019.

I have reached out to one individual who was allegedly on site, praying, when Lester confronted Harold Herr. I hope to speak with them next week, but chose to include this portion as a follow up to the previous blog and acknowledge Lester’s effort in confronting Harold.

*****

As of now, as far as we know, plans for Harold Herr to return to Haiti to train his replacement have not been cancelled. No public statement has been forthcoming from Life Literature, and friends who told me they reached out had not heard back at the time of this writing. I tried to call, but did not get through.

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

Not one of us would have stood blithely by and let Jeriah Mast return to Haiti this summer, after allegations came to light. We should not now either. (Therefore my report to FBI today, even though I do not have an address for the alleged victim(s) in Haiti. If they are inclined to follow Harold around in Haiti, they may just learn a few things).

It is true that Jeriah had admitted to the crimes, so they were verified, whereas Harold remains in denial. But, keep in mind that the allegations were known long before he admitted to them, and incredible damage could have been prevented. (Also keep in mind the Judge Rinfret’s admonition to the church at Mast’s hearing). And remember that Jeriah Mast lied and denied the allegations until someone — namely a Haitian pastor — was man enough to hold him to the wall until he brokeThat ‘someone’ had heard enough allegations to say, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And we’re not quitting until we find it”.

When these allegations first surfaced against Harold Herr, and every subsequent time with new allegations, they should have been thoroughly investigated. In this leaders failed the public, whether all allegations are true or not. And that lack of response is inexcusable. It can be owned up, it can be publicly apologized for, and it can be acknowledged. But there is no excuse that is justifiable.

What will it take for someone to do that in this case? And the next… and the next… and the one after that… and how ever many more after that…

… because the strongholds are coming down.

*****

Rip me to shreds for speaking up, blame it on some lame ‘she hates Mennonites’ distraction, if it makes you feel better. But I have Mennonite family, whom I love, and thousands of Mennonite friends, and Amish friends who know that I care deeply and genuinely love them, and their culture. So that mantra is nothing more than gaslighting and a shameful attempt at distracting from the real issue; anything to avoid ownership. And statements like that speak a whole lot more to the lack of character in the speaker, than to me. Only someone of questionable character would distract from something as vile as sexual abuse to focus on my alleged hatred for Mennonites. (Even if it were true, which it isn’t, you would think sexual assaults against children would trump such a thing and draw greater concern. Apparently not).

I know before God what I hate and whom I love. I hate… really, really hate sexual abuse and the soul cancer it spreads. And I love people. My people. Mennonite people. Non-Mennonite people. Amish people. Worldly people. Non-worldly people. I even love offenders…. but, oh how passionately I hate the offending.

(Warning, medically graphic): When it comes to sex crimes, and exposing them, to expose is love. But love feels much akin to a scalpel slicing into the fully conscious person to save them. Sometimes it’s an emergency tracheotomy. Sometimes, as it was in my father’s experience when anesthesia would have killed him, they take a saw of some sort, while the person is fully awake, and using only local freezing, they remove the leg. And the patient feels every tug and motion, numb to the reality of what is taking place. Every case is not the same. But the purpose, always, is to save a life.

I have faith that, as the scalpel slices, honourable missions will not only survive, but rise up and stand against abuse. Because honourable missions will respond in honourable ways, and people will see that and support them. The same is true for honourable men and women. And churches. They do not fear truth; they welcome the scalpel for the life-saving measure it is.

That is my goal here… to save a life… or two… or many…

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 Trudy. To 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

 

Timeline of ‘Grandpa Harold’, and purpose for revealing his identity…

My previous blog was not posted lightly. It has been the contemplation of many months, many conversations, and the most careful consideration given to the alleged victim(s)’ needs. I took direction from the alleged victim whose letter was shared in the previous blog, in particular, as well as several informants. All wanted to disclose publicly to prevent risk of further harm and prevent more victim at the hands of ‘Grandpa’,  who is ‘Grandpa Harold’ to some, or Harold Herr. However, for all who speak out there is a cost, and I do not get to choose when to impose that on them.

Since releasing the initial blog yesterday, the individual with the timeline [referenced in yesterday’s blog: Conservative Mennonite missionary “Grandpa” accused of molesting minors: 4 decades, 2 countries] felt peace about releasing it. There has been much conversation as to the best way to move ahead. When names are released, there is serious backlash. When they are not released, there is serious backlash. Our decision is not based on that. Our decision is very specifically made based on what will accomplish the best outcome with the least damage.

Do we always get it right? I certainly don’t. But sitting on my hands debating what to do isn’t an option.

As with other details related to going public, each party has put effort into offering understanding to the others. (ie; if one was not ready to go public, none would. And if one was not ready to make the name public, none would).

In their communication with me, and any communication forwarded, they have been kind and respectful, with no intent to harm ‘Grandpa’. They made the decision out of a deep passion and conviction to prevent further victims and give Grandpa Harold opportunity to seek real help and take responsibility. This has not been easy for them. They have my deepest respect.  I honour their voices and speak no more than they are ready for. So, if you send me messages asking for more detail, I won’t respond. It is not mine to give.

*****

To those who would like a criminal investigation done  before going public:

  1. The statute of limitations is past for these crimes. So that’s not going to happen. (Though, leaders who knew and did nothing could still be charged if it was pursued, I believe. I am not 100%).
  2. The alleged case(s) in Haiti are incredibly difficult to prosecute due to alleged victim(s) having no permanent address that can be passed on to law enforcement. We’re still working on all of this, but at best it is challenging.

*****

The following timeline was written by someone I do not know and have never met. (I hope one day that changes). The introduction is completely their words:

“The informants disclose the perpetrator’s identity only after weighing the situation with great sensitivity, compassion, and dedication to integrity vs. malice, vindication, or retaliation.  They realize that he can only receive help for his self-destructive addiction to pedophilia, perpetuated by religion, through the tough love of accountability.  Potential victims can only be protected from the danger he currently poses to society by honorably identifying him as a source of harm. Covering would be complicit participation in devastation both for the perpetrator and his victims.”

The following timeline was sent to me months ago, and the redacted version was submitted to me today, to be posted:

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*****

What makes the information submitted so compelling, is that sources were not connected to each other, and none, when they contacted me, knew others were communicating with me. Each carried his/her own piece of a tragic puzzle.

Even so, it is not my goal to make judgements or determinations on the details. It is my goal to:

  1. Give the church, organizations and individuals involved opportunity to repent.
  2. Once again give opportunity for the accused to come forward with truth, without manipulation, lies or other self-preservation.
  3. Give opportunity for others who have offended and/or covered up to come forward and come clean. (This is by far not the last case that landed on my desk over the Jeriah Mast case. There are other alleged abusers who were known, or in some cases allegedly known, by some of the same people, churches, and/or organizations.

Contrary to popular belief, among some, I do not find any joy in discovering more and more cases. While I am not surprised, it continues to shatter me. I read stories and testimonies, and weep. No child should suffer sexual abuse, or any other abuse. No adult should have to live with those memories, having been overlooked, neglected and silenced. Some go on to thrive and do well. Some remain locked in a state of trauma and pay with their health and their life.

To anyone involved in abuse and coverup… I am not asking you to like how I expose abuse. I’m not asking you to agree with me in practice or doctrine. But I am inviting you to reach out if you are ready to come clean and work toward acknowledging and healing for victims, and taking full ownership. You don’t have to like me for me to help you.

I won’t cover up. But I will gladly work cooperatively to bring truth to light in other ways. There is always grace, always forgiveness for the truly repentant. But cover up can not ever be part of that equation. That’s not grace of forgiveness; it’s self preservation at the expense of truth. I don’t partner with that. It is my prayer that all guilty parties here will repent. Truly repent.

I am committed to seeing this epidemic of sexual abuse in our Anabaptist culture through to greater exposure and greater healing. Even in exposing, it is my hope that somehow it will begin to heal the victims and the church. And, frankly, I hope it brings the church to her knees in repentance.

When the same organizations and individuals are involved in repeated cases of sexual crimes, at home and abroad, we have to start asking some pretty hard questions.

How did we get here?

And how do we move to a better place?

The problem is multifaceted. The solution, while complex, must begin with a repentant individual or group, no longer willing to cover up. That’s step one… and only the beginning.

****

NOTE: As stated yesterday, Grandpa Harold is to return to Haiti in the near future to do some training for the same organization where Jeriah Mast worked one day a week. We have not heard if this trip has been cancelled.

I am not out to destroy mission organizations. I am determined to hold accountable those who have and are looking the other way when they know there are allegations. It is inexcusable that the leader at CAM, who was interviewed by the reporter (yesterday’s blog), stated ‘good behaviour’ (in a nutshell…and assuming in public, given the crimes allegedly going on behind the scenes) is enough to declare innocence.

As always,

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2020

Conservative Mennonite missionary “Grandpa” accused of molesting minors: 4 decades, 2 countries

Note: This blog was proofed and approved by the four critical parties who are referenced in documentation and/or who brought documentation forward.

EDIT/ADDITION: In the next blog ‘Grandpa’ is named. To avoid confusion, we are adding the link here: Timeline of Grandpa Harold and Purpose for Revealing his Identity.

****

It was late summer 1989, if memory serves me right… maybe 1990. I had returned to my Conservative Mennonite church about 2 years prior, after several years of pretty harsh living. Now, a young adult roughly two years into my conversion, I faced my 20’s with new-found faith and freedom. Life was good.

The conversation took place on one of many trips to US, where I had many friends and dated a young man for over several years. I don’t recall which year it was, exactly, but the moment lingers in my memory…

A group of youth, myself included, visited an Eastern Pennsylvania Mennonite church that summer Sunday night. I don’t recall who preached. I don’t recall about what. But I do recall the startling moment of standing in a group of youth discussing a school teacher who had allegedly molested his students. He then had left the Eastern Mennonite Church, moved to another conservative Mennonite group, and was ordained there. That this was acceptable, horrified me. And that adults couldn’t see the risk of such a thing baffled me.

Nonetheless, the information came, and it went. I did nothing with it. Not beyond maybe another conversation or two. And then I laid it aside. What is a barely-past-teens adult to do about that which they’ve never been taught; that which many only whisper in the shadows, but have no clue how to address? Especially in the ’80’s and ’90’s, and in our setting… long before the topic was welcomed. (Not that it really is now, but we’ve made progress).

Spring 2019, the topic resurfaced… Not from one individual, but eight including documentation from an alleged victim, as well as documentation dating back to 1970’s with verifiable timelines. Besides messages, several individuals spoke with me about this alleged abuser, wondering if there was some way to expose him and warn the public. The first messages started trickling in shortly before Jeriah Mast was exposed for his sex crimes in Haiti and Ohio, completely unsolicited, and they continued coming after. The most recent contact, from a total stranger, was December 2019. 

*****

Circumstantially, I met with the alleged abuser to discuss another matter, and in that conversation I told him of the allegations against him, and asked what he had to say for himself. He made one significant error that day. He lied. He said the individual(s) bringing the allegations had withdrawn them. I knew for a fact that was untrue. Whenever a person has to tell an untruth to convince me of innocence, it tends to raise my concerns. (Ironically, he spoke with someone soon after my meeting with him, and next thing I know, I allegedly sent a woman  in Canada to prison for not changing her baby’s diaper often enough. I sure hope that woman who went to prison wasn’t me!).

A second troubling tidbit was that he boasted having proof that a child he was alleged to have fathered in USA (or was somehow in question) was not his. If he never assaulted the mother, or touched her, why would he need proof the child is not his? And since that proof was not a DNA test, it would hold no weight in court. The child would need to be found and a DNA test done to prove his claims. (I will refrain from disclosing what item the ‘proof’ was/is, as it becomes too revealing of story I cannot yet share).

We shall call the alleged abuser Grandpa, without using his name at this point.  It is not critical that the public know his name until I am asked, by victims, to make his name public. So a nameless Grandpa he will be.

*****

Initially, when told of the allegations and asked how to stop him, there was nothing I could do. I had been given allegations from numerous sources, but none by witnesses or alleged victims. No documentation. But as more information trickled in, that changed.

Three particularly compelling testimonies caused me great concern. One stood out in particular, of those three, because it allegedly transpired over the ocean, in a remote area, far away from the allegations dating back four decades.

A man was traveling on the mission field with this Grandpa in the vehicle when a man from that remote community approached their vehicle. He was irate and called the Grandpa an unrighteous man. The traveling partner did not know why they called him unrighteous; suffice it to say, he had a bad reputation.

On another occasion, a missionary was in the area without the Grandpa, standing at a small shop where they purchase drinks and snacks. He was in a group of men and boys, natives of that country, when a few youngsters walked by. Pointing to one of them, someone in the group said, “That one is [the Grandpa’s] [child].” (Note, the name of the grandpa in question was spoken, and the gender of the child was revealed. I am not comfortable sharing that information here). Not only were there claims that Grandpa had fathered a child, but that he had fathered the child with a minor (an exceptionally young minor) in their community.

What’s more, the minor who was allegedly assaulted gave birth to a child at around 9 months after the time Grandpa visited the community. And it was confirmed that Grandpa was indeed in the community, over night and without anyone else to hold him accountable, at the time the alleged assaults took place.

It is very possible the child is not his. I make no claims one way or the other. But certainly, if he did assault the young girl, it is also possible the child is his. However, even if the child was not his, it does not negate the allegations against him.  It is uncanny that a man, who has allegations in his home country dating back more than 4 decades, winds up with allegations in the mission field. Allegations from someone with no knowledge of former allegations.

What is more, the Grandpa reportedly kept in contact with that young mom and her child, ensuring provision for them on various practical fronts. Either he is an incredibly good-hearted man, or he has his own worries that maybe he’s responsible for the child… or at least that he harmed the mother. I can’t tell you which it is. I don’t know.

The following is evidence sent to me, again with no solicitation on my part, of allegations made against this Grandpa.

Note the date on the following letter. Tonight is the eve of the 30th anniversary of when it was written. Coincidence that I expose it this at this time, and that I did not realize it was exactly 30 years? I think not:

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A list of all individuals to whom the letter was sent has been removed, as it is too revealing.

Not only did international allegations (referenced above) came to my attention this past year; I discovered that many people knew of these allegations dating back to the 80’s. It remains almost common knowledge, it seems, in some communities.

One of the items sent to me includes leaders that were spoken to at various times, which organizations, which churches. All who did not act on what they heard. (Ironically, that is just the thing Judge R took the church to task for in Jeriah Mast’s sentencing. Someone must have known. Someone must have said somethingand no one did anything. (Not sure if wording is exact).

That these allegations were never reported, adequately investigated or pursued, and that he was allowed to (just like Jeriah Mast) to work with the most vulnerable of the vulnerable, is shameful at best. The quote in the newspaper article (below) “I’ve heard [Grandpa/John – not his real name] repeatedly say, and supported by his Christ-like lifestyle, that he never abused anyone.” (Hmmm… that’s what Jeriah Mast said too, until he couldn’t anymore). The article is worth reading. Other quotes show the mentality in leaders who refuse to interview family of the accused, or their victims. They simply accept the testimony of the accused.

The knowledge of allegations crosses over 4 decades, at minimum 3 organizations, and at least 3 churches. (The timeline is very detailed, however, I do not know what churches some of the leaders affiliate with). And NOT ONE… NOT ONE did the right thing. How does this go on… and on….. and on… ?

The following account was published in the newspaper, and one of the situations mentioned, refers to the man in question. The journalist covers several cases in the article, including referencing ‘Grandpa’:

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Sadly, as always, there is much more tragedy to the story than can be adequately shared. Not only of the Grandpa’s alleged crimes, but also how it negatively impacted his alleged victims, and others under his influence, and the ripple effects it caused.

I was just informed that Grandpa is about to embark on another mission trip to do some training….

Some things, it seems, we are slow to learn…

*****

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

 

© Trudy Metzger 2020

****

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.

 

Why wives of abusers should question the advice SOME ‘godly’ men are offering & A pastor sexually assaults young client…

In the September issue of Sword & Trumpet, Hans Mast wrote an article on Haiti Abuse & Christian Aid Ministries. Recently he posted it on his own blog. I previously posted this link on a poorly read blog after the article was shared by ASAA, and I shared a link to their blog. It is my hope that more people will read it here. It is worthy of being read. There are men rising up and taking a stand, and that ought to offer encouragement to many.  Read Hans Mast’s article, HERE.

It gives me hope that change is coming… and will continue to come, when I see men like Hans Mast and others speaking out. We have a long way to go, but we are making progress.

*****

Marriage is important. It is sacred. (It just struck me… the same letters that spell sacred, also can spell scared. How ironic). Marriage deserves the full investment of both parties. Both will fail, at times. That is normal. Both will struggle and have down times or low days. We are human beings. Ideally one is up when the other is down, but that’s not always reality. However it plays out, no marriage is perfect. But when both parties are in tune enough to know when they  have failed, and humble enough to apologize and choose intentionally to treat the other with respect, value and love. That’s what marriage should be and can be.

Sadly, it is not always so. Sometimes one spouse or the other is abusive. Sometimes the husband. Sometimes the wife. Sometimes both. What I say here is to wives who are also mothers, whose husbands are abusive. This is not because wives are never abusive. It’s because I’ve never heard of a husband married to an abusive wife being given the advice I’m about to address. (If you are such a husband, I’d like to hear from you).

I’m all for fighting for marriages. I don’t endorse manipulating, forcing or guilt-tripping a spouse to stay with someone who is abusive to him/her or the children. There comes a point where the wellbeing of the spouse and children must be considered. Because, you know what? Children are sacred too. Frankly, they are beings created by God. They are little humans. They are eternal souls and, as such, they are more sacred than any ordinance ever could be. And that which has the potential to deeply wound their souls and turn their hearts away from God (because their religious parents value themselves more than their wellbeing) should be taken most seriously. There is a certain perversion connected to prioritizing adults over the wellbeing of helpless children.

Alas, what ‘godly’ men are advising (and I’m sure women too, but for this writing I refer to men because of specific cases that influenced this writing), is not only disregarding the wellbeing of helpless children. It is putting those children in harm’s way at a much bigger level. These men are advising women to:
• stay with their abusers
• not report these abusers to the law

Some of these men are would-be counselors and religious leaders of other sorts. When they are so inclined, they wash their hands of the women they’ve advised poorly, and leave them to pick up the fragments without support.

The real kicker though, and the incredible harm it brings to the children, is that some of these mothers are being punished for staying with abusers and not reporting them; CPS is taking their children away…  for not protecting them… for not reporting their abusive husbands… for not doing the right thing.

And those ‘godly men’ who, in their ignorant self-righteousness, advised it… Where are they? Certainly not supporting the women they offered such advice.

I would fear needing to explain to God if I advised partners to stay with a spouse who slowly destroys the soul of the whole family. Don’t tell me that’s God’s plan. It isn’t. It never was. It never will be.

Hold those abusive parents (whether male or female) to account. Support the abused partner and their children when they need to walk away. The only hope of change is often when the full consequences of brutal actions are confronted…. when the abusers no longer have access or control… when leaders no longer enable the abusers and blame the spouse for their “50% of the problem”. That is not the case. It’s false teaching.

Tell me, which part of Hosea’s wife running off and playing the harlot was Hosea’s fault? None? I didn’t think so. So stop with throwing that garbage at the partners who are being abused and mistreated. It isn’t biblical. It isn’t truth.

When confronted with their abuse, and left to contend with it  with no access to control their victims there is potential for true and lasting change in the abusers.  Confronting abusers and leaving them to contend with their abusive ways is a gift. A gift of grace. A gift of mercy. A gift of love. Facing and accepting responsibility for their abusive ways is the only hope of true repentance. If they do not do it in the relationship, giving them opportunity to do it outside of the relationship is the kindest thing we can offer.

If ever relationships can be rebuilt… or built for the first time… that confrontation, ownership and repentance must take place. There is no other way. Trust is not instant. Sometimes it is never rebuilt. Sometimes true change never comes. But it certainly won’t if we enable them and prevent that encounter.

When and if that change comes, and it is genuine beyond the shadow of a doubt, then, and only then should the restorative process begin… when both parties are ready.

I am not advocating for divorce. I am advocating for taking responsibility for the wellbeing of the children and vulnerable. I am advocating for their physical, sexual, psychological and spiritual safety. These are inextricably linked to each other. And when we see this, and change how we approach domestic violence, I am confident less marriages will end in divorce, and more children will grow up to be healthy adults without the baggage of seeing parent abuse each other.

No matter what, it is never right to force, manipulate or coerce the spouse and children to stay with an abusive partner. Whenever we place anything above the spiritual safety and wellbeing of children (or adults, for that matter) we have failed in our Christian duty. We have failed God.

And I can’t help but wonder… What role does this perverse theology play in scenarios like the following, where a pastor is a blatant abuser and sexual pervert, while spiritually mentoring his victim?

How can a professed man of God justify claims to be instilling God’s wisdom into someone, while simultaneously sexually assaulting, coercing, or seducing a vulnerable teenager, as in the following case?

*****

Nothing in the world is more dangerous
than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
~ Martin Luther King Jr. ~

This morning I came across a case on Facebook, shared by A Better Way, that was both mind-boggling and brought clarity to the perverse process some leaders employ in victimizing the vulnerable. I’ve been involved in cases similar to this, with the same methods of grooming, but never have I come across anything that put it into words so succinctly. Especially not by the offender in letters to the victim. That, alone, makes this case worth reading for anyone who cares to understand this corruption in our churches, and studying for those seeking to address the problem.

TRIGGER WARNING: You can read the original blog on Thou Art The Man.

The story is heartbreaking. An arrogant megachurch preacher (not pastor… there is nothing pastoral about him) begins to ‘counsel’ a young vulnerable teen. He is told she is particularly tender of heart, and going through trauma. Instead of protecting her, he blatantly seduces her by being both her ‘spiritual mentor’ and her ‘lover’.

The story tells the process much better. But, while worth reading, that’s not what was so enlightening. That was the GOVERNMENT SENTENCING MEMORANDUM. It is posted on Scribd. I accessed it by signing in using Facebook. There are other options.

FBI did an outstanding job of investigating the pastor, Jack Shaap! And whoever wrote the memorandum did a fantastic job! Reading that memorandum ought to bring the religious community to their knees in repentance. That law enforcement has to be who tells us how incredibly perverse this situation is, is shameful. It should be the people of God judging wickedness in the house of God long before it gets this out of hand.

The following is an except

Having said that, the letters submitted on Defendant’s behalf go beyond describing Defendant’s commendable conduct – they also urge the Court to show leniency to Defendant when sentencing him for the instant offense. For that reason, the government wishes to make two brief points for the Court’s consideration about the letters and the individuals who wrote them. First, it is clear from the content of the letters that the writers do not know the full extent of Defendant’s criminal conduct in this case and therefore cannot appreciate the magnitude of the harm that conduct has and will continue to cause the victim and her family. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” The sentencing recommendations made to the Court by the letter-writers should be considered with that in mind. […]

The memorandum also addresses the many ‘reasons’ (excluding the man’s blatant depravity) that he and his supporters gave for his wickedness and crimes:

Defendant and his supporters have also taken pains to tell Probation and the Court that at the time of his criminal conduct in this case, Defendant was suffering from “complications with his prostrate [sic], including chronic and acute prostatitis, as well as near zero lithium levels in his blood.” Id. Although the above quotes were derived from Defendant’s sentencing memo, many of his supporters echo these same “facts” in their letters in seeking leniency from the Court at sentencing. (I must insert here, the man certainly was NOT suffering from “prostrate“… that would require surrender and bowing. He strikes me as a man not given to such humility).

The officers saw right through what, sadly, the religious community is too often blind to. The blatant obvious attempt at avoiding taking ownership without excuse. How did we get here? How does a group of followers become so mindless that they are blind to blatant corruption, in the name of God?

I was thinking earlier today… I’m not embarrassed to be a Christian. I’m terribly embarrassed by people who call themselves Christians and then live lives in direct conflict with the Jesus Way. Particularly those who call themselves leaders.

It is one thing to fail… or be downright criminal, reprobate and sac-religious, as in this case… and then AT LEAST own up. It is another thing — even more perverse — to then justify that behaviour. And even worse to then let a bandwagon of personal worshippers blame and abuse the victim.

What I shared of the memorandum is but a wee taste of an incredibly insightful read. Again, I strongly encourage reading the whole MEMORANDUM. So worth it!

Then, having read it, if you haven’t previously seen through the corruption of religious ‘pretend prophets and leaders’, I pray your eyes are opened.

*****

Jesus cries to be represented well… here… now… in the lives of the oppressed. The little ones. The brokenhearted. The repentant. (Not to be mistaken with heartless abusers who selfishly continue their abusive ways).

He longs to be lifted up… And He is when we value what He values; children… souls… spiritual safety. And when we protect those He protects: the vulnerable (children)  (Matthew 18), and the oppressed.

When we, the professed people of God, begin to do that and live as children of Light, people just might see Jesus, see God, for who He really is. A God of justice, truth and mercy.

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

 

© Trudy Metzger 2020

****

SURVEY
Conservative Anabaptist (CA) Leaders’ Response to Abuse: If you 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.

 

2020: Trusting God in the unknowns

Christmas 2018 our youngest gave me a coffee mug with ‘Kindness’ written on it. I hadn’t chosen a ‘word of the year’ for 2019 yet. By New Year’s Day I did, though I honestly don’t remember what it was without digging back. 

Partway through the year I realized how often in 2019 I would find myself thinking or saying, “God is kind. Always. So very kind.” In the hell and the hard times, when my heart was enveloped by loss and sorrow, that awareness would settle deep in my spirit, no matter what I was feeling. In the good times feeling.

When dealing with abuse and abusers, my prayer was, “Help me to be kind.” Exposing corruption is not seen as kind. But it is. When there is no hate or animosity, exposing evil is one of the kindest things we can do. It gives offenders opportunity to get help and take ownership, and it gives victims permission to speak and heal.

Before the year was over, I’d look at that mug on my shelf and know that my word for 2019 was “Kindness”, or “Kind”.

img_2314

It’s 2020. I’ve not really looked for a word for the year. God brings themes into my life without me choosing a word, as He does for others. Yet I find myself looking ahead into the unknowns, and without searching for it ‘Trust’ appears.

In many ways I do already trust God. I trust Him deeply. But. truth be told, the thought of Trust being my word for 2020 disarms me a bit. I really don’t want to have to learn too much more trust. Usually that word is associated with loss and hard times.

I’d much rather choose Vision, like so many others, whether in humour or sincerity. Vision sounds so noble and un-suffering. It sounds so ‘together’… leading to growth and success.

But Trust it is.

I’m returning to university in spite of ongoing concussion-like symptoms. (In fact, only a few weeks ago my doctor stated that she is certain I sustained a concussion when I was rear-ended August 1st.  Somehow, in spite of that, I need to complete my last term of university courses. And then I need to prepare for comprehensives. That takes trust.

I have a brother fighting pancreatic cancer. We pray for miracles.Watching him suffer is heartbreaking. In spite of our prayers, we don’t know what lies ahead. That takes trust. Believing God knows best, that especially takes trust. That trust requires a willingness to suffer, to lose, to grieve, to be deeply wounded.

There are other unknowns…. Other uncertainties…

So, ‘Trust’ it is….

Praying that, in 2020, God meets you in your story in ways that undeniably show you His incredible love for you! That love is what makes trust possible for me. No matter what, I always know He loves me. And nothing can take that away from me.

As always…

Love,
Trudy

© Trudy Metzger 2020

 

****

SURVEY: For those interested, we only need 50 more responses to the survey on Conservative Anabaptist (CA) Leaders’ Response to Abuse before analyzing the data. (The goal is 200 respondents for richer data). If you 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Call from US Marshals; Word on Bannister children; About torturing & raping little animals

TRIGGER WARNING:
PLEASE BE AWARE
THIS POST CONTAINS EXTREME TRIGGERS AND BLUNT TALK ABOUT VIOLENT SEX ACTS, INCLUDING AGAINST LITTLE ANIMALS (AKA, VIOLENT BESTIALITY) AND INCLUDES A COMMENT FROM THE PERPETRATOR

In the last week I posted several blogs on the Melody Bannister case. This seems to be a particularly unpopular thing to do. Which, in my opinion, makes it necessary. The ‘untouchable’ cases are where children are most likely to get lost in the system, and their needs neglected. Particularly their need for safety.

Nothing has changed as far as my perception of the case goes. At the risk of sounding like a broken record (for those who remember what that is like), I still hold the position that, since I was not there, I cannot know with certainty what went down. And I hold just as certainly that something was dreadfully wrong.

Admittedly, I find the allegations much more believable than some other readers do. For those who cannot fathom the horrible things described in Melody Bannister’s blog, the reason I DO NOT struggle to believe them is because I have heard similar things before. And, what’s more, I’ve heard confessions of some of vile abuses from those who committed the acts.

One is on record at a police station. I supported the man who self-reported everything from sexual interference, to sexual assault, and torturing little animals and violently sexually assaulting them. The man had told me some of what he had done before stating he would like to turn himself in, however I did not know all the horrific details until several years later.

I met him at the police station. Here I was asked to write up a report of what he had told me. If memory serves me right, he was in the interview room for almost an 90 minutes. I waited.

When the officer emerged from the room, he walked toward me and offered two words in his initial response to what he had heard:  “H*ly…! Sh*t!”

I do not know the officer well (ie; not a personal friend), but had interacted enough to know his response was drastic.

Here is the thing… This man was self-reporting crimes that started when he was a child.  Torturing animals began before his age reached double digits. Sexually assaulting animals violently began before he reached double digits. The first sexual assault on a human took place soon after he reached the double digits. The trajectory of his life was one of self-destruction.

Fortunately he desperately wanted help. Fortunately he was still a young man when he reached for help.

Tim and I have gotten to know the man and his wife better since then, and if he had not come clean with what he had done, and if he had stayed on the path he was on earlier in his life, there is no doubt in my mind he would have been capable of every allegation in Melody’s writings. Every. Single. One.

I wrote this man to let him know I am writing about him in my blog. The following is his feedback:

From my standpoint, I would state it even stronger. Not only would I have been “capable” of every single allegation. I would have committed that and more. I am not surprised or shocked at the allegations of that case. Because I understand well, the progression, the slippery slope on which the offender has seemingly no control over his own actions. No one starts there. But the progression will take him there. There is no level ground. No convenient “stopping place”. There is no “enough”

The following is an excerpt from my memoir, Between 2 Gods; A memoir of Abuse in the Mennonite Community:

“On one occasion, visiting relatives with teenagers, when I was three, several siblings and these teens headed for the barn, where they were going to play. I tagged along. Walking along the dirt path to the barn, one of the teens stopped me. “You have to stay here. You’re too young to play our games,” she said.

Curious, I followed a bit later to see what it was they ‘played’. Confused, I watched as the teenagers—closer to twenty years old than to ten—used my siblings for sexual gratification. By pretending to be animals, feeding their babies, they made oral sex appear as innocent play. I wondered if mommies and daddies really feed babies that way. But, being too much for my child’s mind to grasp, I pushed the thoughts from my memory, without a word to anyone of what I had seen. And there the memories lay dormant, locked up in my subconscious for many years, resurfacing only in nightmares and one or two childhood conversations, before disappearing from conscious memory for several decades.

Oral sexual abuse and child-to-child interaction was the only form of sexuality I knew, consciously, and knew it well… I only knew it as something people do, not aware how wrong and devastating these acts were. Other than what I witnessed, always it was me doing what I was asked to do, performing favours, and it would remain this way throughout childhood as other children and preteens used me this way, over and over again.” (Chapter 2)

Does this mean the allegations in Melody’s blogs are 100% as written? It means anything is possible. And it is on these grounds that I maintain it is irresponsible to not investigate the allegations thoroughly. It is, frankly, irresponsible (in my opinion) to have a warrant out for the arrest of a woman desperate to protect her children. There is no way for her to come forward safely for help. She goes to jail. Her kids go to the man they say they fear (read below for their alleged testimony). And the men who ALLEGEDLY assaulted them have access again.

What mother would come out of hiding for that?

I’ve received a few calls and messages from total strangers connected to Melody since releasing the initial blogs. Opinions are mixed among them. Some insist she has a mental illness and it is unlikely (or impossible) that the allegations are true. Some of the individuals who do not believe all the allegations made insist the father is not safe for the children. As you will see below, there are professionals who have vouched for her.

My interest is not in determining what is true and what is not. My interest is the safety of the children and their mother. But especially the children. I’m a mom. My safety would be secondary to me over the wellbeing of my children.

I believe firmly that, mental illness or not, all allegations being true or not, that Melody believes the allegations 100%.  And this is my belief following conversations with people directly connected to Melody and her children. I do not understand punishing a woman for that.

I am also aware that for some law enforcement the allegations are so extreme that they are deemed impossible, if not ludicrous, and therefore are not taken seriously. This is troubling to me. No matter how extreme, how ludicrous and how impossible, they ought to be treated as worthy of serious and sincere investigation. In part for the mother’s mental health, and in part because humans are capable of extremely depraved things.

What is more, Melody grew up in an extreme cult environment, and then married into another cult, and has had her own trauma to recover from. (I do not know many details of that trauma, but it is there). Being told to beat the devil  out of the children, and (as you will see below) her husband beating the children until they bled (again, a religious duty), is more than enough trauma already. (This comes not only from Melody, but others who have known the family for years have contacted me and shared the same allegations). To come from that and then be sent back to the father, even if every other allegation is bogus, is not right and it is not safe.

These things must be considered in this case, if there is to be any justice at all.

*****

A US Marshall contacted me December 16. We spoke briefly. The exchange, from my perspective, was respectful. He expressed interest in the children’s safety, which is my highest priority as well. I shared concerns that such safety does not exist for the children in their father’s care, by the children’s own testimony.

He also said he doesn’t want to see Melody Bannister spend a day in jail. I echo this.

Yet, presently, if she were to come forward two things would happen:

  1. The children would go to Bill Bannister.
  2. Melody would go to jail

I told him I would rather die or go to jail myself than to do that to the children. I couldn’t in good conscience even attempt to help locate them unless I knew the children would NOT be sent to their dad, and Melody would NOT be arrested for trying to protect her children… or for mental illness… or whatever is (or is presumed to be) going on. If she is mentally ill, an arrest will not help. If the children’s allegations are true, arresting their mom will not keep them safe.

*****

The following was written by Tim Yarbraugh from Alabama, where Melody and her children stayed temporarily in July. I briefly interacted with Mr. Yarbrough before posting this.

For anyone at all familiar with domestic violence and sex crimes, and especially those who know the children from pre-escape, this is a particularly insightful glimpse into the lives of the children. Included are excerpts from professionals regarding Melody and the children. These speak powerfully to the case.

A Voice From Alabama: How joyfully surprised my wife and I were to awaken one recent morning to find our social media flooded with a blog by Melody Bannister going public with the tragedy of what has happened to her and her children . That post from Melody at least informed us that she and her dear children were somewhere and at least safe enough that she could communicate her story. We had not seen Melody or the children since August 20, 2019. That faithful day in Jefferson County, Alabama when Melody and the children, as well as all other parties of interest, should have had the benefit of a court hearing, the open reception of significant evidence from various parties including the husband because JUSTICE was the desired goal, and the entertaining of the testimony of a forensic physiatrist and her conclusions about the story told by Melody Bannister and her children. I am both angry and embarrassed that such a day of justice did not happen for Melody and her children. Our Alabama court failed – and miserably so. No hearing took place. No evidence was gathered. No process of justice even broached the courthouse that day. Our court left those children stranded in no-man’s land.

Why was reading that blog that eventful morning even important to my wife and I? We were the original, though not only, family in the State of Alabama where Melody and her children came in the middle of July. They needed a place of safety, acceptance, and an offer of help and somehow our small town work with widows, abused women and children, and single moms had made its way onto the “information network” out there in cyber world. Melody found us and we are so thankful she did. We never ask how and we honestly don’t concern ourselves with that. It is just not important. What was important is that she and her children were here. Perhaps we could help – we never know. But we do know we can love them – and it never fails, to be loved by them. To be loved by vulnerable people is one of the most humbling events in life. Well, so our experience has taught us to think.

Over the course of the next few days, Melody shared, to a limited degree, her concerns about the abuse of her children, her fear of what had happened to them, and what could happen to them. It was not difficult to pick up on her “momma-bear convictions” that what her children had shared with her she believed. She was searching for what direction to take. It was also easy to observe this was a good mother and her children loved her company.

Having people in these kind of trauma situations “drop-in” is not an uncommon experience for us. It is also not a daily event. Melody and the children arrived in our town and we, with thankful hearts to our God, welcomed them into our home. It was a joy for us to have them stay in our home, a privilege to have the opportunity to love them, and to interact with them, and — to listen to their story. One of the first things we knew, based on what we were learning, is that Melody and the children needed legal help and we participated in getting Melody in touch with Mr. Sam McLure – an attorney here in Alabama who has touched our family more than once through adoption. Sam is a man with integrity of character and honorable toward those he serves. They took the legal process from there.

While staying in our home we had many conversations with Melody and with each of the children. We actually had the opportunity to take them fishing and watch each of the children catch their first fish! That made for laughter, squeals, and bonding (the worms “were a thing”). During the time Melody and the children were with us, it was often that opportunity arose for conversations about what had happened that brought them to the place where they were. We came, in such a short time, to have a tremendous affection for this wonderful mother and these dear children. Our experience and observation taught us, contrary to the propaganda that has been spewed over social media and primetime networks, these children are loved and are safe with this mother. To paint it otherwise is a concocted boldfaced and knowing lie.

There have been exceptionally qualified individuals speak on these matters. For instance, Marie Anderson, MA, LPC, and a licensed professional therapist in Virginia was Melody’s therapist from September 10, 2016 through November 1, 2018. She conducted 30 sessions of 50 minute durations over that time frame – approximately once a month. Her August 19, 2019, letter of submission to the Alabama court, concluded as follows (these files are all a matter of record at the Alabama Civil Court of Appeals):

“. . . when treatment was ended in November 2018 I was confident in her ability to do extremely well as she faced the challenges in her marriage and caring for her children.”

Consider Dr. Michael Stone, of Columbia College, preeminent in his profession, in his letter of submission for the Alabama Court dated August 19, 2019, provided:

“Having spoken with Ms Melody Bannister and having also reviewed what she has written concerning the situation with her children, I can attest that she is a woman of 34 . . . with four children . . . – who is of sound mind – and who speaks truthfully and believably about the circumstances involving the abuse of her children (the girls, most especially). She comes across as a bright, articulate, and empathic woman.
Apart from an understandable measure of anxiety vis-a-vis the situation and fate of her children, she shows no signs of any mental illness or disorder.”

Dr. Carole Lieberman, M.D., M. P. H., submitted a 24 page “Psychiatric Evaluation of Bannister Family” after doing significant interviews with the children and Melody for consideration by the Alabama court. Dr. Lieberman, a delightful lady in her own personality, and a professional with the dignity of honor at what she does, believes Melody and the children. She has described some of her involvement in this case on her radio show:

https://www.voiceamerica.com/…/mom-and-kids-flee-for-their-…

Our Conversations: Probably the only thing we can add to the ongoing conversation is what we learned directly from the children themselves. I have never met William (Bill, Billy) Bannister, Melody’s husband and the children’s father. Mr. Bannister did reach out to me on social media and by private message and wanted to talk and provided his phone number. By this time my wife and I, as well as some of my neighbors and other members of the Bannister family we later learned, had been visited by the federal marshals who were looking for Melody and the children. We saw the warrant for the first time that night. They apparently thought we were hiding them. Due to their threatening demeanor for the course of two hours or so, we deferred conversations and referred them to our attorney for further interaction. I am aware they were just trying to do their job – I was doing mine. What has happened to Melody Bannister and her children is criminal – you are looking in the wrong direction. BTW, Professor James Duane of Regent University has given a tremendous lecture on “Why You Should Never Talk To The Police” over on youtube. Look it up – educational and practical for the citizen and police. Due to a need to exercise constitutional priorities and protect ourselves from possible attempts of deception, Mr. Bannister’s request was declined.

The following are some brief snippets of what the children revealed in conversations and which we have heard with our own ears:

1. The most dominant characteristic that each of the four children related about their dad was his anger. All of them saw their dad as a man controlled by his anger and they were afraid of that anger and never knew when it would go “volcano”. Note: In all the cases of abuse/counseling we have been involved in over the years, this one characteristic is the most common cited problem by the children. It controls the household environment and is itself a tool of control.

2. Each of the children discussed how their dad would take them to a room or a basement and would use a belt, including the metal part, and spank them until they sometimes bled

3. Each of the children talked about how their dad was suppose to be working from home but would rather spend hours playing video games. Two of the children shared that they observed when he started heavily playing the video games, his anger level against them seem to lessen.

4. All of the girls discussed to varying degrees being taken to the barn by their dad in the middle of the night, being forced to climb the ladder to where other men were located and knowing what was going to happened to them (many times relating being forced to perform oral sex on several men as well as some acts of violence against small animals with a machete), sometimes standing at the bottom of the ladder and hearing the muffled screams of one of their sisters in the top of the barn and simply being filled with horror and not knowing what to do, – you have read the stories elsewhere – we heard them first hand. I believe these children.

5. Prior to the court hearing of August 20, 2019, sitting at our kitchen table, I ask each of the children what they would do if a judge ordered them to return to their home. WITHOUT EXCEPTION, each child told us they would find a way to run away. It was crushing to listen too that “home” was not a place in their mind that was “safe”. How horrible.

6. When we ask the children about the detective and CPS worker who interviewed them in Virginia, WITHOUT EXCEPTION those children told us they did not trust them. That is not uncommon in our experience. Children under those circumstances have their antenna up and are generally quite perceptive.

I cannot think of any reason for us to say more because people far more qualified and far more involved have. I will conclude with this to Melody and her children:

Our community of believers in Jesus Christ that you met throughout this area do not know how this will fall out though we pray for justice for you and the children and we will do all that we can to further that end. However, we want you to know that whenever this is over, you and your children are welcome to come to our community (or we will come get you) and we will provide you a home and shelter, work for your hands, training for your children, and opportunities to grown beyond this evil and turn it for good. It is an option open to you for you to exercise in whatever discretion you decide. We love you and we love your children. May it please God to give you justice and we are thankful that you wrote your post – at least we know you are alive and well. Thank you for coming to our home.

We also know you are no danger to your children. We have seen you with your children; we have heard you sing; we have watched you laugh; we have watched you cry; we have watched you pray. I am so sorry that the Alabama courts have so failed you and your children. You have a good attorney in Sam McLure – but you know that.

Those are the words of a gentleman who spent time with Melody Bannister and the children. I have not spent time with them, and share this as written from his heart, as he perceives things to be.

*****

There are many unanswered questions… Of the countless children that disappear each year, with no resources allocated to finding them, and no public statements made, why is a case like this so important? Is it the father’s money? Is it that Melody went to the law and is now seen to be ‘thumbing her nose’ by speaking out and not trusting them with her kids?

The ‘stacks of 100-dollar bills’ sitting around, mentioned in Melody’s blog, were also seen by others who have offered first hand testimony to that fact. Where did the money come from? How could Bill afford to sit around playing video games when he had a family to provide for?

Why are allegations like this determined to be impossible or imagination before a deep investigation is done? (Not something that can happen in a few days, a week or a month. It’s not that uncomplicated).

It is my hope and prayer that the Bannister children are not forgotten. That they are not forced to return to a father who was allegedly emotionally and otherwise absent, and from whom they allegedly feel disconnected. A father they allegedly fear. That they will not need to stay in hiding to be with their mom, but can safely come out and have their allegations investigated as though they have been heard for the first time and are possible.

What is absolute truth and what is not, in this case, remains a mystery to me. But the one certainty is this, the children should not be pawns used by Melody, by her husband, or by the law. They deserve to be cared for. They deserve to have their voices heard and respected. Power plays that revolve around children are evil, plain and simple, no matter who does it. No matter why.

The children deserve better.

****

For those interested, we now have 146 response to the survey on Conservative Anabaptist (CA) Leaders’ Response to Abuse. I’m still hoping for 200 responses before analyzing the data. If you 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.

 

As always…

Love,
Trudy

© Trudy Metzger 2019

 

PLEASE SHARE & READ: BANNISTER CHILDREN ARE SAFE! Detective cites ‘clandestine religious group’ as concern for their wellbeing; Mrs. B isn’t part of a cult…

Recent developments, the news is reporting, are raising concerns for the wellbeing of Melody Bannister’s children, whom she abducted in June of 2019.  (In my previous blog s US MARSHALS issue warrant for MELODY BANNISTER’S Arrest I posted links to her writings and various news reports, for those interested in the backstory).

What are those recent developments?

The only obvious new development is that Melody Bannister started blogging and sharing publicly of the vile sexual abuse allegations against the children’s father, grandfather and other men in the community. How sharing their allegations publicly puts the children at risk is beyond me. I would think with public accountability comes greater safety.

That’s all I could find that ‘due to recent developments’ could have put the children in danger.

But… then LIVE PD WANTED interviewed the detective on the case…

When questioned about this risk to the children (Video), Detective James Wright said, (transcribed verbatim): “We believe they’re in danger because they’re… they be..uh.. be.. belong to a religious organization that … ah… in it’s clandestine nature we just don’t have a whole lot of information on.. and… we’re concerned about the welfare because they’re unable to take care of themselves.. they don’t have any means to take care of them… Melody doesn’t have any means to take care of them…”

How does this have anything to do with risk to the children? Let alone new risk? Firstly, that is not a recent development. Melody Bannister left the cult she was part of when she married Mr. Bannister. More on that later…

Det. Wright goes on to say that Melody Bannister, herself, calls the group a cult…. (Read her comments here… she is referring to one of the alleged abusers in her comment about a cult; Charles Simpson).  He also states they don’t have the means to care for themselves. While true, other people DO have the means and ARE taking care of them. (Since I started blogging, without asking for help, people have been reaching out to me to offer what they can!)

I’ve heard from several individuals who have known Melody Bannister a long time. They have filled in some of the following gaps for me.

Charles Simpson, one of the founders of the Shepherding Movement cult became the “spiritual father” to a man named Jim McNally and often had McNally participate in his Charles Simpson Ministries conferences.

The confusion comes from this…. Mrs. Bannister was part of a cult called VISION FORUM BUT she left that cult when she married Mr. Bannister at age 19! (This movement folded after its founder, Doug Phillips was accused in 2013 of sexual activity with his children’s nanny.) 

Melody and Mr. Bannister were then part of the religious cult, Harvest Christian Fellowship (HCF), which was founded by Jim McNally. This church allegedly promoted unquestioned church leader authority, unquestioned male dominance and corresponding female submission, even to the point of wife spanking.  As Jim McNally traveled all over the world, allegedly preaching his doctrine of “fatherhood,” Harvest Christian Fellowship branched out into Harvest International Ministries. It was in this cult that the Senior Bannister raised Bill and his other children. And it is into this cult that Melody Bannister entered upon marrying Bill.

(Interesting rabbit trail… that Ephrata-based Charity-type church I mentioned in my previous blog, where they made a paddle with holes to spank children without leaving marks… There was allegedly wife spanking among them too, and an infestation of child sexual abuse. And they also promoted unquestioned male dominance. What is with these cults?! See a pattern?)

However, Harvest dissolved in January of 2015 when McNally, his health deteriorating, moved with his wife to Florida to be near their son. He died November 2015. It was only after this movement folded that the Bannister family began visiting other churches.

Only then did Melody begin to see and experience what normal life is like outside the cult. Her whole life until 2015 was entangled with cults. Now that she is finally free from all cults, suddenly, when she begins speaking out, her children are in danger because of a religious group that is ‘clandestine in nature?

Vision Forum, for context, is the same cult with which the Duggar family were entangled. The cult that taught the Duggars to blame victims, in their case, the daughters, for the abuse. (Most of us remember the Josh Duggar scandal. And to the “you can’t bring it up, he was sorry” crowd: save it. The Bible is full of forbidden, forgiven stories). Even Michael Pearl — whose teachings I abhor for their abusive and ‘perverted form of patriarchy’ tone, and training gullible parents to be abusive parents — allegedly has spoken out against the extremist patriarchal approach of Vision Forum. And if I’m endorsing something Michael Pearl said, those who know me (and know my opinion of his parenting teachings) will know that only one thing could motivate me to do so; the belief that (in this case) he is speaking truth. In this case, he has some a few good things to say. … and then… some not so good. So this is no endorsement of him or his teachings.

Google them and do some reading. Interesting stuff. And if Melody was involved with them, I’d be tripping over myself to help Det. Wright and the US Marshals find them.

HCF cults… they seem to have been truly obscure. If anyone has info on them, please send it to me. I’m trying to research them, but the bulk of info will likely need to come from those once involved. The bit I know is the teachings on Fatherhood… Father MUST be listened to and obeyed without question. Always. And the ‘Father’ position, as I understand, extends to the leader (ie; Jim McNally) who must also be obeyed without question. Therefore, if church leaders tell you to “beat the devil out of the children” (which members were allegedly told), then that is what you must do. They were required to beat their children.

This, again, is not something Melody is part of. It is something she married into when she married Bill. It is what they left in 2015.

IF THE CULT CONNECTIONS really was/is the cause for concern, why were things silent from June until now? Why was the law not frantically trying to find Mrs. Bannister and the children, and notifying media all along? Why, immediately after Bannister publicizes the horrendous allegations, is a group to which she is no longer connected cause for concern?

Especially since she IS NOT part of any cult, and has not been since 2015. 

I would be interested in hearing more from Det. Wright regarding cults and the Bannister’s involvement, and why this is a concern now that they are finally out.

 

*****

Mrs. Bannister is KEEPING HER CHILDREN SAFE FROM THE ALLEGED ABUSERS.

SHE IS FLEEING FROM the group she referred to as a cult (or the ‘clandestine group’), IT WAS ONE OF THE ALLEGED ABUSERS, CHARLES SIMPSON, SHE CALLS A CULT LEADER… She is fleeing from the accused men and the law BECAUSE SHE BELIEVES HER CHILDREN HAVE NOT BEEN GIVEN APPROPRIATE CARE OR VOICE. (No forensic interviews done by Stafford VA police in spite of horrendous allegations! Read about that in her blog by clicking this link.) And Mr. Bannister IS part of whatever ‘clandestine group’ the alleged abusers have formed…. if they are actually a group.

I continue to state that I do not know if the allegations are all true, or some, but I am 100% confident that SOMETHING is very wrong. What would make children so desperate that they would make such allegations and maintain the story while police investigate them? There are two things that I can think of:

  1. They experienced every bit of the horror they allege to have experienced
    – or –
  2. They experienced other horror to make them speak agains their dad… horror that deserves deep investigation

The latter is problematic because it would require four children maintaining accurate testimony about a lie, without contradicting itself and/or each other. One child lying and keeping the story straight is hard. Any more than one? Not gonna happen.

Screen Shot 2019-12-16 at 10.41.55 AM
Please click the picture and continue signing the petition!  Dr. Lieberman risking her reputation for these children speaks for itself.

 

What I wouldn’t give to sit with these four children and have a conversation with them! I have a list of questions…  But that’s not my place any more than declaring that the allegations are all true.

In any case, if it the children reneged their testimony, and there was evidence it was all the work of their mom, heaven knows I’d be tripping over myself to bring truth to light.

My questions remain unanswered. What was so very wrong in their lives and household that children bring forward such allegations? And, if Det. Wright and the CPS worker are right, and the allegations are their ‘imagination’, then how did these children manage to all lie convincingly enough to dupe “two of the most prestigious forensic psychiatrists in the country: Dr. Michael Stone and Dr. Carole Lieberman“? And why was their professional testimony not considered when it was brought forward?

Screen Shot 2019-12-16 at 10.41.55 AM

Last, but not least, let’s assume Mrs. Bannister did in fact have some mental health issues… That wouldn’t answer the above questions as to how children could keep their stories straight. And unless a parent is a threat to their child, since when do we take children away from parents who have mental illness based on that assumption? (I say ‘assumption because in this case Dr. Stone and Dr. Lieberman have refuted it).

Regardless what is true in this case, it goes without saying that these children need help. Mrs. Bannister needs help. And Mr. Bannister needs help. By the time a man calls his wife insane and manages to convince a judge to such an extent that the testimony of forensic psychiatrists means nothing, there is already something badly wrong.

And I stand firm on that. There is something badly, badly wrong for kids to make these allegations against their father and grandfather and maintain those allegations after it has cost them this much. And when two forensic psychiatrists determine they are not lying.

The way this is being handled by professionals in Virginia raises many unanswered questions.

Those questions deserve to be addressed.

For the sake of the children.

*****

NOTE: To the best of my ability I have collected information that is true and accurate. If you know me at all, you know I love truth. And you also know I apologize freely and publicly when I get it wrong.

The urgency in this case requires the conversation to continue, which creates higher risk of error. I am doing my utmost to avoid that.

*****

Again, please sign the petition. Since it began a few days ago, we are at almost 30,000! Keep the momentum going. Keep sharing even if you’ve signed. Let America know that the children’s well being is of #1 priority. And then, for a little ‘feel good’, sit with the tab open and watch the numbers rise. It’s so satisfying.

And for easy access to the backstory and Melody’s blogs, other news reports etc, I’ve included them  them in my previous blog.

*****

Be careful not to despise — disregard or think little of; not give proper value to — these little children. I’m telling you… their angels in heaven are always before the face of my Father in heaven. ~ JESUS ~  (Matthew 18:10)

The children are safe.

 

As always…

Love,
Trudy

© Trudy Metzger 2019

 

PLEASE SHARE! URGENT: US MARSHALS issue warrant for MELODY BANNISTER’S Arrest!! (The other side of the story)

If the news articles released regarding Melody Bannister’s children being in danger — the case I wrote about a few days ago — is all people know, they will report when they see them and put the children back in alleged danger!

The news stations are only reporting what they have been told; they don’t have the bigger backstory. Therefore I am pushing it as hard as I can, so they and the public are forced to contemplate WHAT THE CHILDREN REALLY NEED. HOW IS THAT NOT HIGHEST PRIORITY HERE?

WMBF News shared an article stating the children of Melody Bannister may be in danger, according to deputies. This is utter nonsense. The mother fled with them after they disclosed horrific abuse by their father (who was then granted custody), their grandfather, and other men.

WPMT FOX43 released a statement saying the US Marshals have issued a warrant for her arrest.

SHARING THE FOLLOWING LINKS IS NOT INTENDED AS AN ENDORSEMENT OF THE CONTENT, BUT TO ALERT THE PUBLIC TO THE BACKSTORY. AND HOPEFULLY ASK OURSELVES WHAT IN THE WORLD WOULD MAKE CHILDREN BRING ALLEGATIONS THIS HORRENDOUS (EVEN IF NOT ALL TRUE) AGAINST THE FATHER AND GRANDFATHER IF NOTHING  IS WRONG. THIS IS THE PART THAT NEEDS TO BE INVESTIGATED. (AND BY ALL MEANS, IF MOM IS GUILTY AND THE CHILDREN DID NOT SAY THOSE THINGS, MOM SHOULD BE DEALT WITH BY LAW). FOR NOW, THE KIDS NEED TO BE CARED FOR AND IF THERE IS TRAUMA WITH DAD, HE SHOULD NOT HAVE CUSTODY.

BANNISTER STORY PART ONE

BANNISTER STORY PART TWO

BANNISTER STORY PART THREE: TRIGGER WARNING!

AND IF YOU FIND THAT STORY UNBELIEVABLE, AND WONDER HOW THE ABOVE ATROCITIES ARE EVEN POSSIBLE, READ THE GHOST RAPES OF BOLIVIA. IT SHOWS CLEARLY HOW SUCH A THINGS *WOULD* BE POSSIBLE, WITHOUT A MOTHER EVER KNOWING. (This is not to say that every allegation made is true. I repeat that this is not my point. My motive is to get people to realize the extent of wickedness that is possible).

UPDATE: People are messaging and asking how it would be possible to use the bullwhip and physical abuse without leaving marks. It’s not that hard. Here is my response to them:

All the abusers have to do is put a protective layer over the children to prevent bruising/scarring, and still have the terror an a bit of pain. It’s not hard. The greatest power these sadists have is controlling the mind, instilling debilitating fear, and making their victims sound ‘crazy’ and their stories not believable. It is their best cover.
 
The Charity church in Ephrata PA (where Mose Stoltzfus was formerly a leader) had a paddle especially designed with holes in it, which they kept in a soundproof room. This, to increase aerodynamics, decrease risk of marks and bruising, and cause serious pain. (And I spoke with a family member of the individual who created it. That’s how I know the purpose and details). In that sound proof room I have numerous testimonies of babies being beaten until they went limp, including infants under a year old.
 
If a *church* (Anabaptist and ‘peace-loving’ at that) can be this conniving, why should we be surprised when others are creative in their sadism?
I reiterate that I do not know what all went on, and what each alleged perp is guilty of.  And I reiterate that even if only 10% is truth, the children need to be protected and heard. (And even IF the mom is whacko and making things up, the children need to be heard). But to write the allegations off as the imagination of children is irresponsible.
*****

WPMT FOX43: US MARSHALS ISSUE WARRANT FOR BANNISTER’S ARREST

DEPUTIES TELL WMBT NEWS: BANNISTER CHILDREN MAY BE IN DANGER (THE BANNISTER CHILDREN ARE NOT IN DANGER. I KNOW THIS WITH CERTAINTYTHIS IS INTENDED TO PLAY ON THE EMOTIONS OF THE PUBLIC. DO NOT FALL FOR IT. PLEASE DO NOT REPORT THEM IF YOU SEE THEM). What has changed in recent days? Mrs. Bannister is blogging. She is telling the children’s stories. And suddenly news stations everywhere are being alerted that her children are in danger! On what grounds?

LIVE PD WANTED Video:
DETECTIVE JAMES WRIGHT (Transcribed verbatim): “We believe they’re in danger because they’re… they be..uh.. be.. belong to a religious organization that … ah… in it’s clandestine nature we just don’t have a whole lot of information on.. and… we’re concerned about the welfare because they’re unable to take care of themselves.. they don’t have any means to take care of them… Melody doesn’t have any means to take care of them…

Given the vast number of cult-like groups where children are being raped, abused, and cases still left for the community to have say, this ‘concern’ is bizarre, in my opinion.

OTHER STATIONS ISSUING THE WARNINGS WHO DO NOT LIKELY HAVE THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY (IN ABOVE LINKS), AND WHO NEED TO DO INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING ON THIS, ARE:

LEX 18 NEWS
WYFF 4

WHSV

That seems like a SILENCING TACTIC! So I did my own investigative work. The children are safe. (I will repeat this several times).  I don’t know what of the allegations are true, or if all, but (and I will repeat this) something is wrong. And that something needs to be looked into. 

TO SIGN A PETITION ON THEIR BEHALF: SAVE THE BANNISTER CHILDREN FROM SEX TRAFFICKING

 

*******

No matter how well-intentioned, this appeal to the public to ‘help the children’ is not because the children are in danger. (I have personally confirmed they are safe). It’s because a mother defied the law to do what she genuinely believes is best for her children. I have not yet saId, nor will I say that every allegation these children made is 100% as they say it was. I do not know this; I am not God. But there is nothing believable about young children whose father provides well (over six digit US dollars) and gives them ‘the good life’, making these extreme allegations if they are 100% unfounded.

SOMETHING,.. SOMETHING IS VERY, VERY WRONG! Kids who are loved and respected by parents, and well provided for, don’t give up everything to live on the run ‘just because’. Think it through. Do the math. Be logical. And then bring in SEX ABUSE PROFESSIONALS to help these kids and their mother! 

It may be true that the law found no evidence. That does not negate the validity of the children’s allegations. Children who have not experienced trauma do not have such extreme nightmares, and traumatic aftermath. These children have been interviewed by professionals who say their stories are true. I still maintain none of us are God to know with certainty every detail. But I have worked with sexual violence against children for over 10 years, and I insist further investigation is necessary. At the very least, if the children are that traumatized by their father and grandfather and other men in the community, they should not be returned to the source of their trauma. That is irresponsible.

Anyone who knows me, knows I am 100% FOR REPORTING TO THE LAW.  And I have much respect for many law enforcement officers. But, I will say this… I have yet to meet a law-enforcement officer who is truly an expert in sex crimes. I am not saying they don’t exist, I am saying I have yet to meet one. There is no way they should be the final authority on these children going back to what they say is the source of their trauma. Especially when several professionals have interviewed the children and said they are not lying. Child safety takes priority over the law, and every other thing. We, as adults across the world, HAVE A DUTY TO PROTECT THE CHILDREN at all cost.

Have we learned nothing from the Epstein case… and others? Those with means to commit crimes and ‘make them go away’ are very difficult to prosecute. And I’ve been involved in cases that ‘fell by the wayside’ with undeniable evidence (recorded confession etc). I have evidence for these cases that, if victims would ask me to do so, I would blow wide open and expose what really goes on behind the scenes. (And we all saw how the CAM/JERIAH MAST case was impacted and held accountable when I leaked evidence to the public and the media got hold of that story this summer). We, the public, have a lot more influence than we realize. Let’s use it for the most powerless among us: the children. And if even half of these allegations… nay, if even one tenth are true, these children must be protected! 

PLEASE SHARE!!
Let the public know the other side of this story. Force it into the spotlight. I am only interested in truth and the safety of these children. We owe it to them to LET THEIR CHILD VOICES BE HEARD

As always…

Love,
~ T ~