(Part 5 of 5): Is there hope for the offender?

…Continued from Part 4...

OPPOSING VIEWS ON OFFENDER TRANSFORMATION
If forgiveness, and the abusive teachings surrounding it, make it the Christian F-word to many survivors of trauma and horror, the topic of hope for the offender is hard for many to stomach. For those who are in the thick of deepest trauma, this blog may not be the one to read today. It’s a topic that needs to be addressed, but it is one that — due to the dreadful mishandling of sex crimes by both church and state — is extremely traumatizing for many.

There are several popular streams of thought related to whether there is any hope for offenders at all, either in this life or the next. And the two most popular ones are also the most extreme and not the least bit healthy.

One is that if the offender says “I’m sorry”, he/she should be offered unconditional forgiveness, with no consequences or boundaries. And that is true whether caught in the act or if they come forward on their own. The minute they cry their tears and say their sorry’s, they are embraced with great rejoicing, and anyone who dares to ask questions, speak to the inherent risks with this kind of response, or fails to join in the celebration, is deemed a faltering Christian, at best. A wicked person, playing the devil’s hand, at worst.

The response at the opposite end of the spectrum is “once a child molester, always a child molester”, with no hope of them ever stopping. Some apply this broadly. If a child, pre-teen or teenager is caught (or comes forward after) molesting a child, they are doomed and destined for a lifelong curse of molesting and should be cast from society. Others apply it to adult molesters only. Anyone who believes that offenders who take full and complete ownership with no excuses or justification and humbly accept consequences and accountability, may change, is irresponsible.

I am opposed to both extremes. I believe in God, and I believe He is who He says He is. I believe He is capable of what He says He is capable of. Therefore, He can transform the life of the offender. Absolutely. And when He has, we will know it.

MANIPULATION CAUSES DOUBT TRANSFORMATION IS POSSIBLE
If victims manipulate to survive, predators do it for the thrill, and to protect whatever image they have or think they have. The religious ones will lie on technicalities. They can’t flat out lie, some of them, so they find some loophole to appease the conscience and mislead people.

For example, I sat with an offender last year and asked, “Did you molest ____ in your car?” He looked me full in the face, without flinching, and said, “No.”

This bewildered me. He claimed to be open and transparent, and willing to talk. (Which means nothing, in many cases). He said he had repented and deeply regretted his crimes. I knew he had assaulted the young woman in a very specific vehicle. I paused a moment, puzzled. And then it struck me…

“Did you molest ____ in her car?” Again, he looked me full in the face and with the same ‘honest’ expression said, “Yes.”

I’m pretty good at spotting liars. There are little signs in their body language. Little flickers in the eyes. And that first ‘technical truth’ but still a ‘technical lie’ threw me. He looked as honest with that answer as with the second. Suddenly I remembered that he had given the vehicle to the victim — one of the many thousands of dollars worth of things he gave not only her, but other women too, in his grooming — so he could say no and convince himself he is telling the truth.

There is nothing of that kind of game that speaks to the repentance he and his ‘buddies’ claimed he experienced. He was arrogant, deceptive and all manner of manipulative.  That case was a crash course on how to spot the likes of him, and those who cover for them.

Contrary to his claims fo repentance, that was not the ‘fruit of repentance’ shining through. That is a master manipulator and high-risk predator at play. And I say play because it is all but a game to them. The more players they engage, the bigger their ego and the more exciting the game. They are narcissists with no capacity for caring for anyone other than themselves.

This behaviour is common, and it is this group of offenders — the majority of them, based on my experience — that make it difficult for the general population, especially abuse survivors, to believe any can ever be trusted to repent. (Which is different than being trusted to be around the vulnerable unsupervised. That should never happen).  And it makes leaders who insist people trust them lose credibility too.

THE BARRIER TO TRUE FREEDOM:
The problem with offenders among us, and the rare event of such open and thorough repentance, is that many Christians — especially leaders — stand in the way of it. The deep shame surrounding the crimes they have committed  — which are first sins in the eyes of God and then crimes against the victim and the laws of the land — makes it difficult for offenders to tell the whole truth of what they have done. It takes courage and commitment to sit with them and invite them to ‘tell all’ and then walk with them through the consequences.

Few leaders are willing to offer that, it seems, based on what I have seen. Some are willing to an extent, but when push comes to shove, they abandon the process at the consequences part and protect the offender. I’ve seen this up close. My theory is that they can’t follow through because they have their own history of molesting children, often in their teens, and they feel guilty standing by the consequences when they got off scot free. (Most often still having their own story hidden, or partly hidden).

I have seen this in cases that are not well known. And I’ve seen it in cases that got the spotlight. It is a common pattern that seriously needs to be addressed. If a leader groped breasts and grabbed buttocks in his youth, how is he to stand by consequences for the man who is caught doing the same thing? When a leader downplays breast-groping as not being abuse because of his own history, how will the offender trying to take ownership be helped? How will consequences be taken seriously?

IS THERE HOPE FOR CHANGE AND HOW CAN WE KNOW REPENTANCE IS REAL?
Yes, there is still hope. It is up to those of us who are aware to insist on accountability. If leaders refuse to do their part to protect the vulnerable and hold offenders accountable, the congregation needs to address it. It shouldn’t ever be only the leaders’ responsibility in the first place. But if they actively protect and defend offenders, they are standing in the way of their freedom and are no longer serving the kingdom of God effectively. It is the duty of the congregation to intervene.

Jesus says you will know them by the fruit they produce. That doesn’t mean you give them a chance to be with children so they can prove they have changed. That’s absurd. (And, yes, I’ve heard such arguments. Sheer ignorance, that is). That’s way past ‘watching for fruit’. That’s giving them opportunity to plant and sow rotten seeds. The fruit appears long before that.

Don’t mistake fake meekness for repentance. The same dude that said he didn’t molest the girl in her car — lying on a technicality — also meekly said he is willing to go back to the one person he remembered saying something in appropriate to, when I first confronted him. In reality there was a long list, and the assault victim besides.

Beware of the offender who is quick to admit and then throws in the disclaimer that there is one victim, but only one, and is super anxious for your to tell the name of that victim so he can ‘make it right’. This urgency is part of controlling the narrative to ensure the public does not find out the truth.

When offenders are truly repentant, they won’t be asking you for the names of victims. They will know and offer names, and seek to make amends — as much as one can make amends for such horrific crimes — and will do so without excuse. They will make no demands. Not even for forgiveness. Or should I say, especially not for forgiveness. They long for it, of course, but recognize that imposing such a request on their victim is not fair and serves only to serve self. They recognize that forgiveness comes from God, and not humans, and draw their strength from that. They don’t speak out of both sides of their mouth — repentance on the one hand, and blaming the victim on the other.

TRUE REPENTANCE BEARS FRUIT
In contrast to lying on a technicality, the repentant offender comes forward on his own, turns himself over to the church for discipline and the law for whatever criminal consequences he may face. If shame has held him back, when the crimes come to light he humbly acknowledges his wrong and brings himself under leadership and the law, accepting consequences. I insert this part about shame holding offenders back because I have been involved in cases where offenders responded with repentance when confronted. No excuses. No blame. One wrote years ago and shared his story and how relieved he was when it came to light, and how long he had wished he had the courage to bring it to light, but feared the victim would not remember and therefore he  would impose trauma on her. While not as ideal as coming forward, if it is true repentance, it will be revealed shortly.

A repentant offender offers his remorse to the victim(s) without demanding forgiveness, admitting he does not deserve it. He is concerned for what the victims’ needs are, and respects their boundaries. If they attended the same church, he offers to go elsewhere and inform the new congregation of his past and places himself under accountability. He does not seek any positions that place him in authority over the vulnerable, and even declines them when asked. He recognizes that it is a small price to pay in comparison to what his victims have to carry for life, with the scars and pain he imposed on them.

That is true repentance. It is rare. It is unmistakably genuine. It invites trust, but also sets its own boundaries so trust will not be broken, and accepts additional boundaries, if requested. Such a repentant offender understands he/she has broken trust completely, and does not demand that people get over it, or demand silence. Their victims are free to speak without accusation, blame or shame.

Personally, I know only of three cases that were handled even close to this. (I do not doubt there are more, but I haven’t met them yet).

IS THERE A PLACE IN GOD”S KINGDOM FOR OFFENDERS?
Successfully integrating the truly repentant offenders is a community responsibility. If they were in a church with the victims, they should attend elsewhere out of respect for those they have traumatized. I would suggest this to be the ideal in all situations where victims are minors. Where they are adults, the victims’ should be consulted.

They should be accompanied by one or two individuals when in church or where there are children, if they are going to be there at all. Laws vary from region to region on this. And churches are subject to those laws. This means it is not always possible to prohibit someone from attending, even if they have a criminal record, but there are no laws preventing accountability.

They should not be placed in church leadership, or any kind of leadership with access to minors and the vulnerable, or authority over them. If we have such a shortfall of men who have not molested, that we have to put men in leadership over the vulnerable who have committed crimes, we have a bigger problem.

Families should be made aware of the individual’s history of molesting. Parents cannot protect their children if they are not informed and those who have molested – even repentant offenders — are free to roam ‘among us’ without supervision. Due to high rates of manipulation and reoffending, anything less is irresponsible.

A team should be formed to give leadership, and to ensure the social, emotional and spiritual needs of these individuals are met. The more connected they are to community with boundaries and accountability — and without access to minors or the vulnerable, the less likely they are to revert to abusing. Isolation and loneliness contribute to crime, addictions, and delinquent behaviours in general.

To counteract that, we do well to find some way to protect our children while also reducing the likelihood of repeat offences. You’ve heard it said, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” This, while ensuring no access to vulnerable and minors is critical. Never should children or minors be placed at risk in this process. If there are women willing to be part of social interactions with male offenders, this is healthy. (I am comfortable in such interactions as long as I know there are no minors/vulnerable at risk).  It gives them opportunity to learn healthy interactions. And visa versa. But, again, with boundaries and never putting anyone at risk.

There is a place for repentant offenders. Jesus died for all, and invites all to be saved. So there is not a question surrounding grace and forgiveness. However, practically speaking, that place should never invade, disrupt or threaten the safety or space of the victimized, the vulnerable, or children.

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

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ANONYMOUS SEXUAL ABUSE SURVEY BY ANABAPTIST MEDICAL DOCTOR

Some time ago, a friend told me of a medical doctor (Anabaptist) who is doing research into sexual abuse in Anabaptist communities. To take his survey visit:
Anabaptist Medical Matters

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JASON GRAY CONCERT:
NOVEMBER 2, 2019
Lancaster Bible College, Lancaster PA
7:00pm
CONCERT TICKETS NOW AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC: Here

NOTE: Due to the concert being the celebration for survivors of abuse,
we ask that any who have sexually abused as adults not attend out of respect

November 2, 2019:  THE GATHERING, held at Lancaster Bible College, is a place where survivors of sexual assault, together with our support person(s), collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse and trusted support persons to gather for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering and sexual violence among us. We will cry out to God, together. Come as you are in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. We welcome you! The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to grieve and heal another layer, together.

NOTE: Anyone over 18 who sexually assaulted someone – whether child or other adult – is not welcome. This does not mean they are not forgiven if they have repented. It means victims should not fear being confronted with the source of their trauma on such a vulnerable day. Security guards will be present to remove any who show up and are identified as offenders by the victims.

Until August 1, 2019, registration for the day’s events includes lunch and attendance to the evening concert with Jason Gray, whose music had brought hope and healing to countless victims. Songs like “The Wound is Where the Light Gets In“, “A Way to See in the Dark“, Sparrows“, “Nothing is Wasted“, and many more speak a language we understand.

NOTE: After August 1 concert is included dependant on availability. Once concert tickets are sold out, registrations will continue until October 1 and include lunch only.

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If you are able to contribute to Generations Unleashed and our work with and for victims, you may donate via PayPal or e-transfer to info@generationsunleashed.com. Or visit Generations Unleashed Donate.

In Harold Herr’s own Voice… CAM/Life knew; Jeriah tells the Law & Repentance Pizza Party


During my time in Haiti I met with Harold Herr. I did not seek out this meeting, but was advised by several people to meet with “Grandpa Harold’ to talk about this case. I was completely disinterested. I do not know him. Nonetheless, after some nudging I agreed to have him answer what others could not. Who knew?

I sat with him and another gentleman and said, “I was told Paul Weaver knew. I was told Eli Weaver knew. And … I was also told that you knew.” To this he replied, “I’ll tell you exactly how it is…”

Rather than transcribe it, here I’ll let you listen for yourself:

Note: What is troubling is that some people will be more outraged that I recorded this information than they ever were or will be that Jeriah molested so many children. I know the drill.

EDIT: To avoid it being a distraction to readers, I will add this. I checked with a lawyer about Haiti law and if I am within legal boundaries here with this recording. I am. Had CAM told the truth, there would have been no need for sharing this.

***

It seems a follow up blog addressing some of the events of Jeriah Mast’s first three weeks back on USA soil would be appropriate. I’ve heard from numerous sources – both public and private – that I failed to present the full story. As I stated in my previous blog, there are things I cannot say, related to more crimes unrelated to Haiti. There is an investigation, and I will do my best to leave that to law enforcement.

Then there are things I chose not to say, simply to keep the focus on the case and the boys. Now, with word having reached nearly 50,000 people – plus the email copies that were made and sent via ‘mass email’ through CAM… well, who really knows how far it went – and given CAM feels I have not been forthcoming, I will tell some of those details. (Still excluding info regarding stateside crimes). It is my expectation that CAM will wish I did not know what I am about to tell you. Yet, you, the donors and fellow believers, deserve to know the other side of the story.

***

The following is what I wrote to law enforcement before posting the blog:

I am most interested that truth is told and that this will not be another case that slides under the proverbial rug. Having done my best to cooperate with the law, whether Jeriah gets jail time or not is not my problem. Whether the American (including Canada) church is informed or not is my duty, just as reporting to the law is.”

My personal thoughts are that a serial sex offender/pedophile/child molester who has duped the public for 20 years would do well to spend time in prison. We are not talking about a 14-year-old who has looked at a child and returned to plead forgiveness, unsolicited. We are talking about a man who has completely pulled the wool over the eyes of many, many people. With the help of leaders who reduced the crimes to ‘moral failings’, he was able to do this. Had they named it, he would never have gotten by with it. So, yes, prison is a reasonable outcome. But my responsibility is limited to reporting and giving information to the law. I have done that. As more reportable info comes in, I will continue to do just that.

***

I will now create a bit of a timeline, with less storytelling than the previous blog:

Friday May 3, 2019: Confronted by Pastor Eris:

Pastor Eris confronted Jeriah regarding allegations of molesting many Haitian boys. Initially Jeriah denies, but with enough pressure, he admits to the crimes.

(There is some discrepancy in reports. Some say Jeriah is immediately ‘let go’ (aka fired) from CAM. Others say this is not true. The only relevance to the case is that if they fired him, there was at least one person taking it serious… or at least trying to protect CAM).

May 3 to May 4, 2019: Jeriah Flees Haiti:

Realizing he is exposed, Jeriah takes his family in the middle of the night and flees to Dominican Republic, rather than flying out of Haiti. He has an accomplice for this, and takes a vehicle that is not his usual transportation.

May 11, 2019: Jeriah and Marian renew wedding vows:

Six days after fleeing Haiti for the crimes he committed, Jeriah and Marian renewed their vows. (This ‘ceremony’ to be somewhat known in Ohio, where I was only days ago). When I asked why, I was told because of his moral failings and unfaithfulness to her.

May 6 – May 21, 2019 (approximately and throughout):

Visits stateside victims:

Jeriah apologizes and learns that none are interested in pressing charges. This information is useful. He plans to turn himself in after these visits.

Connect with Amish Steering Committee (ASC) for help:

A ‘restoration plan’ is put in place including accountability and professional counseling.

Regarding ASC  & the “restoration plan” one of the family in Ohio says the following:

It is basically doing what the law would do, but it’s in a church setting, and it also includes professional counseling and all that.  Basically, it’s a Restoration Plan to bring restoration and healing to the situation… Through the ASC working with the law enforcement they have been able to keep these people from having to pay the consequences…” And, regarding the crimes they say, it’s definitely been an addiction. I think looking at it from that perspective helps everyone understand more how some of these things could happen.

Also during this time period, there was great enthusiasm and encouragement brewing that God would redeem this mess and that Jeriah would be used powerfully in men’s ministry after the “Restoration Plan”

Somewhere in these weeks, they also prayed daily for the victims. I am told the prayers were by name. I’ve been told that they maintain that all sins are equal, and that those talking are sinning.

And I’m told that Jeriah spent much time in prayer weeping. Good. But until we see repentance with fruit – and in this case it involves facing the people and the law where he committed his crimes, those tears don’t mean too much in the way of practical transformation.

May 22, 2019, Jeriah ‘turned himself in’ to law … with no intentions of admitting to crimes in Haiti:

To that end, the following details are critical when looking at the ‘turning himself in’ part of this story:

  • he intended only to report stateside crimes and tell the law the victims don’t want to press charges
  • he lined up Amish Steering Committee support and had a “Restoration Plan” to avoid consequences (Whether stated or not, those involved said they would request going to Whispering Hope or Fresh Start instead of prison)
  • was not going to talk about the Haiti crimes because CAM had a lawyer looking after that

That was the plan. But… alas…

Several people reported and made sure the FBI knew. (How the interview was scheduled I have not asked and do not know). But the FBI liaison was there for the interview, and what he was not planning to confess, ended up being confessed because it had already been reported.

This was followed by a pizza party to celebrate finding favour with the law. In attendance was CAM staff member Dwayne Stoltzfus and wife Lois.

Pictures of this event, I am told, are floating around USA… If you have photos, I’d welcome them as they would make a convincing addition to this blog post.

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 That same day I reported to FBI everything I knew and had received from numerous sources; individuals who were concerned it would all be covered up again. This included missionaries, former CAM staff, and friends of Jeriah.

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I have a very good friend who I learned early on is closely connected to the case. I told her two things:

1. I will do what is right, no matter how close this strikes. And I am so sorry if you get hurt in the process.

2. I will get information from other sources. It will come to me. And it did.

 

***

And, now, I am told, a public statement has been released by CAM… I will go and read that and possibly do an update after the fact, depending on how closely what is said there matches what I learned from Harold Herr.

I am interested in truth and justice, with mercy. In the face of lies, deception and coverup, not one of those can truly exist.

So let’s hope they’ve admitted they knew since 2012, that they did nothing for years, and only now that they are public exposed they finally are doing something. It isn’t good enough, for an organization to neglect crime so blatantly, but it is a starting point.

Until we get that level of truth, there’s nothing to work with.

To read part one: “Haiti Commissioner Order CAM to Appear in Court...”

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

 

 

© Trudy Metzger 2019