An Open Letter from Harold Herr’s Son Disclosing Details of Abuse Allegations

Since becoming aware of more abuse allegations against Harold Herr, in the past 8 months, I have been trusted with deeply personal communication from those making the allegations, and dating back many years. In particular, I have read numerous letters, emails and various communications written by Harold’s son, Daniel. Communication that was never intended to see the light of day; it was the ‘behind the scenes’ conversations and pleas, written in private. It is in those conversations where we are most likely to show our truest colours. And it is here I saw Daniel’s heart.

I asked Daniel for permission to share parts of that communication (posted after the letter to CAM’s supporters), dating back many years. I requested this because I want the public to see that the compassion he expressed for his father in the letter is the compassion he expressed in private conversation as well over the years. It is not a ploy. It is genuine. Daniel granted that request, though does not know in advance what I will share; a trust I do not take lightly.

First, I will share his letter to CAM and LIFE Literature. Daniel is a professional who has held the highest office in the field of mental health in the state of Virginia, and has worked closely with sex offenders and sex abuse victims. His care and compassion in this letter are consistent with all communication I have read, written by him.

TRIGGER ALERT:
To survivors of trauma and atrocities, and those with especially sensitive hearts, please be aware that the letter addressing supporters of Christian Aid Ministries and LIFE Literature shares in somewhat graphic (though not sexually explicit) details a few glimpses of the abuse allegations against Harold Herr by his son Daniel Herr.

Screen Shot 2020-01-26 at 8.28.46 PM

Screen Shot 2020-01-26 at 8.28.59 PM

The first evidence from the past is a letter Daniel wrote in 1990 to undisclosed recipients. I share this as evidence of his motivation from the start to prevent the risk of others being victimized. While much has been redacted to protect intimate and private details, I am sharing the letter in Daniel’s own writing rather that typing out quotes, to preserve authenticity, dates and his own words. (EDIT: For clarity: To my knowledge this letter was not sent to CAM or LL at any point. They were not listed as recipients. Since I cannot confirm this with Daniel until tomorrow, I am adding this note to avoid confusion):

Dan H_Jan 11, 1990 a

Dan H_Jan 11, 1990 b

Dan H_Jan 11, 1990 c

The following is a letter  Daniel wrote  in 1998. It verifies his profession, and it also shows his compassion, as well as how and why he disclosed the abuse he suffered. (EDIT: For clarity: To my knowledge this letter was not sent to CAM or LL at any point. They were not listed as recipients. Since I cannot confirm this with Daniel until tomorrow, I am adding this note to avoid confusion): :

Dan H_ Dec 1998 a

Dan H_1998 b

Dan H_1998 c

The process of arriving at sharing this information publicly has not been easy for Daniel. Pray for him as you process all of this, keeping in mind what this does to someone who is compassionate, yet speaking publicly out of a sense of duty.

Last Sunday in worship, the song, “Not I but through Christ in me” unravelled me. The burden of this calling weighed heavy. Trust. My word this year. I do trust God. He has not called me to abandon me. He has not called me to destruction. He is shaking things up. He is shattering. But He is shattering for the promise of Jeremiah 31, to rebuild that which is torn down. It is a painful beautiful shattering. One that at moments crushes my heart… So I stood there in worship and let the tears fall as I prayed.

This morning. we had a quiet 3-part congregational prayer. I’ll be honest, I was distracted as the pastor gave instructions for the first part, so I sat there and had a wee moment with God that was not likely remotely close to the recommended use of time. In the second part, I unburdened my heart. I pled with God to bring truth fully to light in this situation. I am not God. I do not propose to know the answers. But I do trust His heart. So I prayed that Harold Herr would “remember and acknowledge any wrongdoing” so that he and others can heal. My heart cried out to God to redeem the horror so many have suffered. My prayer includes those in the peripheral; the friends and family of those who have offended, who are shocked or simply don’t believe it is possible, and friends of victims. My prayer includes the church, broadly, as we come to terms with what we have allowed to happen, through apathy and silence, on ‘our watch’. We need to repent. All of us.

In the third part of quiet we were encouraged to just sit in the presence of God and hear Him speak. To listen, quietly. So I did. And I started with, “If there was something You wanted to say to me, what would You say? How would You speak?”

Silence. Nothing. Nada.

So I asked, “Would I even know when You speak?”

Silence. For just a moment.

And then a still voice whispered, “My sheep know my voice.”

Followed by a pause.

Then, “I love truth. It is Who I am.”

Truth.

I pray constantly, daily, in every moment, for truth. My life’s prayer is for truth to come, for truth to be revealed. Because truth always brings freedom. Always.

So, in closing, I offer two songs of hope that are my prayer for you all:

BROKEN VESSELS: God is the master of redeeming broken pieces and bringing beauty from brokenness. This is true for everyone who is victimized. It is true for everyone who has victimized…. When we take ownership of our wrongs, God redeems. It’s truth. It’s Who He is. It’s what He does.

IF IT’S AMAZING GRACE: “If it’s amazing grace, let it do what it does. It can reach far beyond anything we have done…. I know my heart’s been changed, by this amazing grace.”

The offender needs grace. The victims need grace. You need grace. I need grace.

Apart from the grace of God, I couldn’t do what I do. I would crumble, burn out and lose myself to cynicism and see God very differently than the kind God who walks gently with us. But, because of grace, I find His hope in the hell of what I see and here. I trust He is doing what I cannot fathom, for I would not have chosen my calling. I would not choose, humanly, to expose what I expose. I do it because I am compelled to, not because I love to.

I trust God will bring something beautiful out of the chaos.

Jeremiah 31
Ezekiel 37

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

 

 

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:

screen-shot-2020-01-12-at-1.04.01-pm.png

Screen Shot 2020-01-12 at 1.04.22 PM

*****

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

Article by Hans Mast: A bold and thoughtful look at CAM’s handling of the Jeriah Mast case

Not hours after sharing Randal Martin’s facebook post, someone alerted me to a statement on the Anabaptist Sexual Abuse Symposium (ASAA) website. In their statement they include an article written by Hans Mast, for The Sword & Trumpet, in which he speaks forthrightly into the poor handling of a Jeriah Mast by CAM.

I engaged with Hans several times over the ordeal, and found him to be balanced, thorough and honourable. His pursuit of truth is commendable! Beyond this interaction, I do not know him personally.

To read Hans’s article: Christian Aid Ministries worker abuses dozens, CAM leadership implicated in coverup

It is a lengthy article, but worth the read. I am encouraged to see godly men continue to rise up against the epidemic of sexual abuse among our Anabaptist communities.

I’ll leave that right there and let you all peruse it. Frankly, I’m surprised ASAA posted it.

***

Around 8 years ago a woman contacted me. Her child made disturbing statements indicating the father had sexually assaulted the child. I urged her to go to the doctor, and report to CPS and the police. She did.

Given the graphic nature of the child’s allegations, I expected everyone to trip over themselves to help. Not so. The woman was accused of being a vindictive ex who planted ideas in the children’s minds. She was sternly warned if she did it again, she would risk losing her children. She was an angry ex; she made no secret of that; he was a man-whore who had done dreadful damage. But she swore up and down she would never plant ideas.

I believed her. Furthermore, I had met with the children and, while I didn’t ask any questions specific to the allegations, we did talk about feelings and struggles. All the signs were there.

Even so, the mom wasn’t about to risk losing her children.  She went silent.

I spoke to her a few months ago for the first time in years.

The ex-husband, she told me, had moved from woman to woman. Recently they learned that in every family, he molested or raped every child. Every. Single. One. Her own children had all come forward over the years, one by one. Now in their youth, they have had more than their fair share of struggles. Many of which could have been prevented if someone had believed their story and nor forced them to return to their father for years so he could assault them.

This is a true story, playing out as we speak. Frankly, I hope the mom wins the legal battle and lands the perpetrator in prison. And every person who told her she was a bitter ex — which, as I stated, she admitted she was — and used that to silence her children’s cries, has blood on their hands.

Let the cases play out. And if the only ‘proof’ you have that the children are making false allegation is the bitter mom, do the world a favour and keep it to yourself. Especially when there are children involved. They deserve better.

Worst case scenario, if they did make false allegations as a result of a bitter ex’s influence, they are victims. So, either way, they are victims, either of sexual abuse, or of maternal manipulation. And either way they need compassion and understanding and the space to come forward with the truth.

God forbid that God-professing adults make judgement calls without knowledge.

As always,

Love,
~ T ~

 

© Trudy Metzger 2019

 

Events and Announcements:

Emmanuel Missionary Church
2 First St,
Elmira Ontario Canada
2 Day Training: November 28-29, 2019.

Screen Shot 2019-11-05 at 11.55.12 AM.png