Do COGIC sexual abuse cases mirror those in the Catholic church?
While COGIC sexual abuse cases do not rise to the sheer number of cases come to light in the Catholic church, there are some serious parallels between the two. According to Wikipedia "A major aggravating factor was the actions of Catholic bishops in responding to allegations of clerical abuse. It was revealed that some bishops had facilitated compensation payments to alleged victims on condition that the allegations remained secret. In addition, rather than being dismissed, the accused were often instructed to undergo psychological counseling and, on completion of counseling, reassigned to other parishes where, in some cases, they continued to abuse minors."
Similar actions have occured with sexual abuse with COGIC Clergy in the case of .
I suspect a child in my church is being sexually abused by someone in leadership. What should I do?
Be sure to accurately record everything you have seen including dates, times, conversations (verbatim) and anyone else who may have witnessed what you saw or heard. Its best to write it out rather than attempting to recall it by memory once questioned. Every detail is important. Then file a report either with child protective services or the police.
Should I personally confront the suspected abuser?
This is a difficult question to advise because people respond to what they may perceive as a "threat" differently. The best course of action is to file a police report and contact the proper authorities as quickly as possible upon learning of the incident. The authorities are better equipped to handle such situations.
My pastor and bishop are good friends and Im afraid if I report what I know, nothing will be done. What should I do?
Report it first to civil authorities. Once you have filed a complete report and it is documented, then if you feel comfortable take up the issue with religious authorities. Even if they fail to act, you will have one dependable source which can deal with the situation.
Do I have to identify myself if I want to report sexual abuse?
No, most civil authorities and protection agencies allow for anonymous reporting.
I've told church leaders about suspected abuse and they told me not to tell anyone else. Should I obey leadership?
No, when someone's life (especially a child's) is at stake, you should do all possible to get information to the appropriate authorities. What you should not do is gossip. Handle the situation maturely and with a sober mind.
My pastor keeps making unwanted sexual advances towards me. Is that a crime?
Unwanted sexual advances may not be a crime, but it is definitely a sin. You should contact someone you trust and inform them of what has happened. If you are an adult, follow biblical guidelines of confronting and reporting to resolve the matter.
What about false allegations?
False allegations are certainly a possibility. But consider that most people immediately doubt the victim's claim when it is a sexual matter. This allows the predator to escape any serious scrutiny and might possibly provide him with more opportunity to harm another person. The facts bear out that false allegations are few and far in between in contrast to the estimated 60 million children who have been sexually abused in the US alone.
Many predators find churches easy targets because an atmosphere of trust and obedience is instilled in its members. The predators invest a great deal of time in choosing, setting up and then abusing their victims. The web of deceit cast is calculated to evoke silence and fear. When a person, particularly a child speaks up, such allegations should be given full attention as quickly as possible.
If a sexual offender is a member of my congregation, should he or she be exposed?
This is not an easy question to answer due to factors which you may or may not be privy to. If a person is a registered sexual offender with conditions that they may not operate independently around children, but they are doing so, its a violation of the law and places innocent children at risk. If you suspect such things, check your state's sexual offender registry and report what you find to the proper authorities. If a person has a committed a sexual sin, but not a crime and has repented and shown due redemption, such a person should be accepted as you would any other believer with a sinful past.
In short, sexual sins and sexual crimes are not arbitrarily interchangeable.
What about 1 Cor 6 which says dont take a brother to court. Wouldnt I violate that by reporting a church leader to the law?
In the mentioned passage, Paul specifically notes that the Corinthians could not judge amongst themselves in “small”, everyday disputes among adult saints. He makes a distinction. A small dispute might be if a person borrowed a dollar from another and refused to pay it back in three days. Can you imagine taking someone to a secular court over that?
But sexually violating a child is no small matter intended to be handled discreetly among the saints. There is a difference between a crime and a sin as they are not automatically interchangeable. Especially when the predator has a history of this activity. Ignorance and opportunity provide sexual wolves the freedom to roam the church stealing the innocence of children while using such scriptures to only protect their position.