Warning to Anabaptists: Thomas Hansen (AKA: William Cronsell, Advocate for Old Men and Child Brides) Seeks Teaching Job in Anabaptist Community

This post won’t require a great many words. Thomas Hansen, whose real name is William Kronsel (or Cronsell? I’ve been sent several spellings), and also goes by Joshua Smith and Jordan Overcomer, has done the speaking for himself. Now, a man is entitled to his opinion. We all get to choose for whom and what we advocate. That’s none of my business. But sometimes the things we advocate for and our career interests create a public concern, as is the case here. And on that front I will write enough to set the stage.

To be clear, I don’t know Mr. Hansen. Never heard of him until today. I was alerted early this morning to a FB group he created called, “Trudy Metzger EXPOSED“. No skin off of my nose. Since I try to keep my life an open book being ‘exposed’ doesn’t frighten me.

What did alarm me is some of his posts I saw, unrelated to ‘exposing’ me, I think would also concern most parents.

I don’t know how Mr. Hansen knows or is affiliated/aligned with the Conservative Anabaptist people. When the group was brought to my attention this morning, it had three members; Hansen (the admin), a person whose name I do not recall, and a Mr. Miller who is a trusted and gentle Anabaptist leader. (This mention should not be misconstrued as judgement against Miller. It merely indicates that Hanson may be strategically aligning with Anabaptists, and there is strong indication it is not for noble causes).

UPDATE: Mr. Miller received a personal invite to the group by Hansen. This attempt by Mr. Hansen to align with individuals of influence and standing in the Anabaptist community is, in itself, concerning. Again, it is no reflection on Mr. Miller. I do not know him, personally, but trusted friends have spoken to his character. I also reached out to him last evening to apologize for the appearance created by using his name. In spite of attempting to blatantly state there was no known alignment, some took it that way. I found him to be humble, gentle and gracious of heart.

This connection is my concern in light of the other concerns stemming from Mr. Hansen’s advocacy against age of consent and his interest in teaching children, who by their nature and lack of experience, are vulnerable. If he is affiliated with the broader Anabaptist community, then having knowledge of his advocacy is important in the event he would try to get a job within the community. For any failures and shortcomings in addressing sexual abuse, the Anabaptist community also has many strengths. One of them is their views on giving older men permission to date young girls. A man in his thirties or forties is not going to find blessing in dating a child who has just hit puberty.

That kind of relationship — between a full grown (even ‘older’) man and a child is what Mr. Hansen is advocating for. He believes that when a young girl hits puberty, an older man should be allowed to wed her. Maybe what is most concerning is that he declares he “has worked as a teacher and know(s) how things are.”

It is also alarming that he posted in an Amish group asking how he can find a teaching job without being a church member. So he wants to teach without being a church member. He is advocating for grown men and older men to have access to any female who has hit puberty. He knows how it works because of his teaching career. And he wants to do this in a nonresistant Anabaptist community. There he is not likely to be reported if he ‘loves’ a child. (Using the term love in quotations to reference his post in the previous screenshot. It isn’t love). The following is his post in an ex Amish and Mennonite Facebook group, which appears to be seeking advice on how to infiltrate Amish/Mennonite groups.

This screenshot may shed light further light on why he wants so desperately to teach in an Anabaptist setting.

Fortunately, every Anabaptist I know would take their minors and run for the hills before giving this over-30 man access to their children, whether in their homes or in their schools. It is for this reason, and this reason alone, that I have chosen to do this blog. I would normally not bother giving a man with this mindset a platform by mentioning his name publicly. But I have many loved ones in the Anabaptist community, including nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews. To have this man teach them would make me ill.

This image shows him with a group of Anabaptist women. Case in point about his attempt at infiltrating.

So, if he comes knocking at your Amish or Mennonite church schools for a job, member or not, you now at least know what he would bring to the table. You make the choice from there. You’ve been informed by his own words.

As always…

With Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2021

Justo Smoker: What we know about the man who kidnapped Linda Stoltzfoos

Since posting my blog 34-year-old Justo Smoker Charged in Linda Stoltzfoos Kidnapping, people have been sending me snippets of Justo’s backstory. It is normal for people to try and make sense of the why and how of tragedies such as this one. Even more so, I believe, when the victim of such a crime is part of a group such as the Amish or Mennonite. Certainly there are dysfunctions among them and there is abuse, as there is in every people group, but their strong stand on non-resistance and limited social interactions with ‘the world’ make them an unlikely target. When such violence as a kidnapping (Linda Stoltzfoos, Amish girl kidnapped, Lancaster PA, 2020), rape (Amish woman raped in Marshall County IN, 2019) or murder (Nationwide Fellowship woman, Sasha Krause Farmington NM, murdered, 2020) does happen, the shock waves ripple throughout the community, and through the public.

In the face of trauma, humans seek answers. These crimes don’t align with we believe about most humans, and to feel safe and to believe again that our children and community are safe, we try to unscramble the story so we understand ‘the why’. How can someone go so very wrong? And why choose someone in a culture that is non-resistant and keeps more or less to themselves? Why Linda? Why Sasha? Why an Amish woman at home with a 2-year-old?

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I do not usually write much about offenders or their stories. In part this is because I don’t usually have enough connections to find the backstory. And in part because I hesitate to place them in the spotlight. Perverse as it sounds, that is what some want, and they get some thrill out of the attention and publicity.

In this case people who have connections to the family and situation sent me a considerable amount of information. (Much of this is via screen shots, and even copied-pasted from their conversations with people close to Justo. So I do not have links to offer). Information that will put some rumours to rest. One of the questions that has been asked is, “His name is Amish. Does he have Amish background?” and some are saying he has Amish roots. This is not accurate. To the best of my ability, with the information I have been sent, I will offer a brief overview.

Justo was on the streets of Dominican Republic, at age 7, when his parents, Vernon and Deb Smoker, adopted him into a (not conservative) Mennonite home. (They were not any form of  Amish or conservative Mennonite at any point in Justo’s life, I am told, and their church changed its name in recent years to a community church, however they remain part of a Mennonite governing body). Through Justo’s adoptive grandparents, there is Amish background, hence the ‘Smoker’ name, but even his grandparents were Lancaster Conference all their married lives, never Amish. (One individual wrote that one grandparent was born into an Amish home, but left the Amish early on).

In 2007, at age 21, Justo was sentenced to 12 1/2 to 30 years in prison for a series of robberies with a BB gun. His adoptive parents were present at the hearing and one stated that Justo had been trouble since they adopted him. They also said they will offer him support in prison as well as upon his release. The judge gave him a lesser sentence than the case warranted in hopes of giving justo another chance at life. Justo acknowledged that his parents had taught him better than what he had done, and apologized for the pain and suffering he had caused.

Since being released from prison, according to one source, Justo is said to have had money problems and was working many extra hours and taking shifts as a result. The nature of the money trouble was not mentioned.

Regarding the charges against Justo Smoker in relation to the disappearance of Linda Stotlzfoos, a link I found to give specific and helpful information is the Affidavit of Probable Cause for Justo Smoker, found on Scribd. Another report on the Lancaster County, PA News and Breaking News FB page, though a bit less clear, also offers some insights.

The unknowns are troubling for all who have followed this tragic case. At a distance, and being in/from another country, at times it makes me feel physically ill. I cannot imagine what ‘her people’ are going through. The details of her bra and socks being found (addressed in the Affidavit of Probable Cause) buried 6-8 inches, makes the heart and mind sick with sorrow, wondering what horror she endured, or perhaps is still enduring. It is almost too much for the mind. Still, in the unknowns, I pray that God will bring her back home, safely. Tonight I prayed that, if she is still alive, that God would help her escape. I almost cannot bear to think of what terror she has faced.

Continue to pray for her. Stories of miraculous escapes and survival exist. I pray she is one of those.

Pray for the Amish and surrounding community where this horrific crime was committed. Reports of deep struggle and anxiety are emerging, which is no surprise, as we would feel the same way if we were in their shoes. And pray for Justo’s parents, family and loved ones. It is impossible to imagine what they are going through. My heart goes out to them all with much love and prayers.

 

*****

On a ministry front, doors have opened to translate Between 2 Gods to Plautdeutsch (aka Low German or Plattdeutsch). Translating my memoir to my mother tongue has been a dream and a passion of mine since before I published my memoir. Now that we have a translator, we have set up a GoFundMe to help cover the costs, as translating, editing and then creating an audio, is a time-consuming and costly process. (That said, the rates being charged are more than reasonable at under $13 per hour, for which we are very grateful!).  US friends reported having trouble with the Canadian GoFundMe account, depending on payment method, so we have created a Canadian and US account.

GOFUNDME (Canada): Translate Between 2 Gods to Plautdeutsch (Low German)

GOFUNDME USA: Translate Between 2 Gods to Low German

If you wish to give but prefer PayPal to GoFundMe, you May donate via: trudy.metzger@rogers.com.

I know many of my readers/friends care deeply for the Mennonite community, and the Old Colony and other Plautdeutsch communities in particular. Please pray for them and for this project. And if you are able to contribute, your support would be much appreciated. Tackling the problem of sexual abuse is a difficult but necessary one. And in our Low German culture, little is available to support those who do not speak or write the English language. For those who cannot read English or Plautdeutsch, we are planning to release a Plautdeutsch audio version of Between 2 Gods.

Thank you for your support.

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2020

 

34-year-old Justo Smoker Charged in Linda Stoltzfoos Kidnapping

The news this morning that someone had been arrested in the Linda Stoltzfoos missing person case, followed by this update from police, is utterly heartbreaking! I feel a mix of grief for the family and Amish community, and anger at the evil done against them. Especially against Linda.

Please take time to read the update PARADISE MAN CHARGED WITH KIDNAPPING 18-YR-OLD LINDA STOLTZFOOS., and share the photos as requested (below).

“We ask that members of the media and public share and distribute, if possible, the photos of Smoker and his vehicle on broadcasts and reports and via social media channels.” Source: PARADISE MAN CHARGED WITH KIDNAPPING 18-YR-OLD LINDA STOLTZFOOS.

And continue to pray for her family and the community. When such a tragedy is imposed on a community it causes deep collective suffering and loss of safety. May God be near them and comfort their sorrowing hearts. While the article states they believe Linda was harmed, at this point nothing further is stated, so we continue to pray she is found and our hearts long for her safety.

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2020