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.
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.
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.
Before sharing the main blog, I want to address a few things that that have surfaced a few times through this process.
WHAT ARE CREDIBLE ALLEGATIONS:
Does ‘credible allegations’ mean I am telling my readers that everything that was/is reported is exactly 100% as reported? Am I saying with unquestioning certainty that “all allegations are true”?
I have said it numerous times, “I am not God. I make no claims to know exactly what was done.” What I am saying is the allegations are not fluff and there is merit to them to the point that there should be a deep investigation. It is in this that CAM and LIFE Literature failed. I have never asked anyone to unquestioningly endorse as absolute truth what they hear. But I have and will continue to insist that independent third party investigations must be done when such allegations are brought forward, by someone trained in handling victims in a sensitive manner. Such allegations must never be ignored. And those against whom allegations have been brought should not be sent out on the mission field. It will backfire.
LET’S WAIT UNTIL THE COURTS DECIDE INNOCENCE OR GUILT
This would be a brilliant idea if the cases had been reported before the statute of limitations was up. Sadly, because leaders failed to listen and report years ago, that is no longer an option, so it is my vote that those same people don’t get to give the advice of silence until the courts decide. The courts will never decide on the Daniel Herr case because he was disregarded for approximately 30 to 40 years, and the whispers and allegations were excused. So, no, we don’t wait. We do the right thing and let the public know.
There are more, but I will leave it there for tonight.
The following is a conversation I had with a friend on Facebook Messenger. I asked his permission to share here, including his name:
STEVE LAPP (not with LOH, for clarification):
Just read your update on “ Grandpa “ .. The coverups that continue to be exposed are beyond comprehension to me. I am convinced there is no limit to the blindness that accompanies the attitude of moral and spiritual superiority. ( God help us ) PS : I thought there was no statute of limitations on sexual crimes involving minors.
[As I understand it, the statute of limitations now is] age 50, [for any] victim [who] was under 18 in 2006. It formerly was 18 years […], plus 12 years. (So [age] 30). In 2006 that changed. But the [alleged] victims [in this case, other than those in Haiti] are over 50.
What makes me so sick is that they didn’t bother talking to victims and report to the law. None of them. Not in that many churches, leaders or organizations. And then, rather than deal with it when it gets exposed, they gaslight and say “Trudy is just trying to destroy mission organizations”. And for what earthly reason would I do that?! Ignorant. (Not that I care they say it. I just further exposes their ignorance).
It’s dark [the abuse]… My childhood was so happy , so secure, filled with love and laughter. There were no dark clouds in the sky for me as a child. I trusted , and never found a reason to mistrust.
Nowadays tho, I do lots of reflecting, and I realize how stunningly stupid and ignorant we become when we blindly trust a “ movement “ of any sort , and particularly a religious movement. I was once a follower of the Charity churches ( for a short time ) . Only when I began to question some of the “absolutes” in the Anabaptist community did my eyes begin to see into some of the darkness that was there. It’s been a journey “out” for many years now , yet I struggle to grasp the enormity of the problem among my people.
It seems to me as long as we hang on to even a trace of the idea that we are spiritually superior as a group ie: Anabaptist , (although it’s true in any group) we will never be able to see clearly. It’s incredibly blinding and should shake us to the core of our being , for it’s a mindset that is a breeding ground for gross immortality and wickedness.
Yes, there’s much progress been made among Anabaptist leaders as far as enlightenment, but until we are broken by our sin of “ spiritual superiority “ I fear this monster ( sexual immorality ) will always be present and thriving. We need more than enlightenment. We are in desperate need of brokenness that goes beyond admitting we have a “ problem “ with immortality. We have a pride problem that we need to own up to, and repent of .
This evening I had coffee with 3 conservative Anabaptist gentlemen (one was my brother), and later Tim joined in too. It was good. It struck me, at one moment before Tim arrived that the last time I met with 3 (or more) conservative Anabaptist men by myself I was 18, a brand new Christian, and was being grilled about my sexual history. The memory flashed through my mind and it struck me how safe I felt tonight. These are three honourable men.
We sat and talked about my work, and one of them (the pastor in our midst), referring to the conservative Anabaptists in relation to my work, asked thoughtfully and gently, “How did you become our adversary? We need you.” He went on to say we should be partnering together, not fighting one another, in addressing the epidemic.
In that I didn’t hear him say, “I endorse every detail of how you do your work.” But on the other hand I didn’t hear him judge. He simply acknowledged that there is an abuse problem that needs to be addressed, and he acknowledged God’s calling on my life and the gift He has given me to do what I do. He also acknowledged pride (religious pride and arrogance) as a contributing factor to the problem at hand.
There is something humbling and empowering, sitting in the presence of men of God with such humility. It is touching, and a reflection of the heart of God.
And this, my friends, is why I do not fight against ‘the Anabaptist culture’. It is a problem of individuals who are arrogant and selfish, not a problem of a culture in and of themselves. I have honourable and true-hearted friends, so very many of them, within the culture. They don’t put their faith in the culture or any of the practices; it is a way of life, not a way of salvation. The bulk of my friends, prayer warriors and supporters are conservative Anabaptist. They are the people whose love and prayers carry me through the the ministry I do.
Then, to have encounters such as this evening — or like when I sit with my Amish friends in USA and one of their ministers comes to ask question — and I sit and talk heart to heart with conservative Anabaptist leaders who genuinely cares about addressing the epidemic of sexual abuse in a redemptive and forthright manner, my heart is filled with gratitude.
The Spirit of God is alive and well among my people. Change is coming. Be encouraged.
A line has been drawn in the sand, and people will choose whether they will stand for truth and honour, or continue to bow to the idol of ‘good image’… will they rise up against this evil and bring healing to the children, or will they preserve self and reputation?
It is a painful shattering of illusions, but beyond that shattering lies glorious freedom and healing for victims and offenders.
~ 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 viaContact Trudy. To support Generations Unleashed, the charity she works for,Donate Here.
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 beforeJeriah 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:
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 something… and 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’:
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….