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

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

Matlock

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Screen Shot 2020-02-09 at 12.12.53 AM

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What caused that stroke?

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

 

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

*****

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

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

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

© Trudy Metzger