In November 2011 the Senior Pastor of Memphis Second Presbyterian Church Sandy Willson was notified that an alleged sexual predator was on staff at Downtown Presbyterian Church. Sandy kicked the issue over to Richard Rieves and walked away from it. After all during this time Sandy Willson had more pressing concerns than dealing with an alleged sexual predator, after all he had to drive a 35 year church member Dr. Nan Hawkes from Memphis Second Presbyterian.
“Pride deafens us to the advice or warnings or warnings of those around us“
John C Maxwell
“One thorn of experience is worth a whole world of warning.”
James Russell Lowell
But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil;
he will erase their memory from the earth
Psalm 34:16 NLT
In 2010 Rick Trotter the worship pastor of Fellowship Memphis was found to have allegedly recorded females and a couple of underage children in the restroom. The allegation is that Bryan Loritts and John Bryson allegedly covered it up. In regards to the alleged child pornography that was created the attorney for the church told the leadership of Fellowship Memphis to “throw it into the Mississippi River.” Furthermore in a manner that is reminiscent of the modus operandi of Sovereign Grace Ministries Bryan Loritts and John Bryson allegedly had Rick Trotter and his wife Heather meet with the victims. The victims were told by Fellowship Memphis’s leadership that if they went to the police they would be responsible for destroying Rick Trotter’s life. In the summer of 2010 Rick Trotter came back to Fellowship Memphis and read this statement of confession. A year had passed and during this time Memphis Second Presbyterian which is led by Sandy Willson had been involved in planting Downtown Presbyterian Church in Memphis. In August 2011 Rick Trotter went on staff as a “contractor” at Downtown Presbyterian Church. He would go full time in 2014 and would allegedly resume his voyeurism and would do so for three years.
In November of 2011 Senior Pastor Sandy Willson is Allegedly Notified
I would like to introduce you to Nick Brown. Nick was involved in Acts 29 Fellowship Memphis and he knew of the alleged cover up. He challenged the leadership of Fellowship Memphis to the best of his ability. In late 2011 Nick learned that Downtown Presbyterian Church had employed an alleged sexual predator. He was deeply disturbed and wanted to inform the leadership of what happened at Fellowship Memphis. Nick Brown was afraid that what happened at Fellowship Memphis would also happen at Downtown Presbyterian Church. Nick Brown had a discussion with Eddie Foster at Memphis Second Presbyterian Church by telephone. Eddie played down the concerns and said that Rick Trotter is “just a contractor.” Nick shot back and asked him point blank. “Just how long a period is it appropriate to hire a known sexual predator?” Plus he also asked, “Is it at all appropriate for you guys to give a springboard into a ‘bigger’ ministry job to a known sexual predator?” Frustrated Nick was trying to prevent the same scenario that occurred at Fellowship Memphis from occurring at Downtown Church. After all he didn’t want people being hurt. In early November 2011 Nick Brown sent Sandy Willson the Senor Pastor of Memphis Second Presbyterian Church the following email:
Now you think a Senior Pastor of such an established church would be deeply concerned and move quickly. That he would contact law enforcement or intervene to prevent people from getting harmed. After all isn’t the Senior Pastor supposed to shepherd and care for the flock, especially the church plant that Memphis Second Presbyterian was in the process of plating? This was Sandy’s email back to him
From: Sandy Willson and Marcia Smith <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, Nov 8, 2011 at 1:35 PM Subject: RE: known sexual predator on your staff–need to discuss
Nick, thank you for your email. You are obviously raising very important issues. Let me advise you how to handle this concern. I think the right thing to do is to contact the senior minister at Downtown Church, Rev. Richard Rieves (firstname.lastname@example.org, 901-451-2201). He would be responsible for all matters on their staff. If you and he would like my help in any way, please let me know.
And with that the Senior Pastor kicked the issue down to Richard Rieves and refused to do anything more. After all in this time frame of 2011 to 2012 Sandy Willson had a more pressing issue instead of dealing with an alleged sexual predator.
What was Sandy Willson’s Concern in the 2011-2012 Timeframe?
Sandy Willson as the Senior Pastor was allegedly outraged that he had been called a narcissist and had been using church discipline to drive a 35 year member from Memphis Second Presbyterian. Dr. Nan Hawkes who had joined Memphis Second Presbyterian Church in 1979 was facing church discipline over charges of slander, bickering and gossip against the leadership. In February 2012 Dr. Nan Hawkes resigned when she faced the possibility of excommunication. This issue which I plan to write about in more detail in a upcoming post on Memphis Second Presbyterian can be read in these following articles below.
- Memphis Commercial Appeal of March 2, 2012 “Second Presbyterian Church member faced with excommunication quits”
- FBC Jax Watchdog “Church Discipline of the Critic – You Get it if You Stay, You Get if You Leave.”
- Got Religion “When Gossip Makes the Front Page.”
By the way note to Sandy Willson can I recommend you read this following post about gossip that I published here recently? Its called, “Guest Post: Confession, Gossip, and Ashley Madison; How Pastors Gossip.”
Additional Questions that Need to be Asked
Sandy Willson is on the Council of The Gospel Coalition along with Crawford Loritts. We all know how these Neo-Calvinists like to act. After all its an exclusive club of back slapping and high fiving men up to their eye balls in corruption. C.J. Mahaney gave money which likely influenced Al Mohler, Mark Dever, and Wayne Grudem. And how can one forget D.A. Carson? This blog celebrates “Festivius” every December 21, in honor of D.A. Carson. Carson in all of his manliness (along with Kevin DeYoung and Justin Taylor) issued a Gospel Coalition statement in defense of C.J. Mahaney in which he attacked someone who was allegedly raped at 13. I wrote about it in detail in this post called, “From D.A Carson to Steve Estes the Following Question Must be Asked: Is the Evangelical Free Church of America a Safe Place for Sexual Assault Victims?” My what tangled webs we have here!
So here is my question, since Crawford Loritts and Sandy Willson are Council Members of The Gospel Coalition it honestly begs the following question. Did Crawford Loritts use his influence and help his son -in -law Rick Trotter to get a job at Downtown Presbyterian Church? Did Crawford reach out to Sandy and say, “hey can you do this favor for me…..” The Gospel Coalition is a modern version of Tammany Hall when it comes to corruption. Its corruption is profound and disturbing. In the light of this news of Sandy Willson and Memphis Second Presbyterian, it helps put The Gospel Coalition in a much darker light. After all churches affiliated with The Gospel Coalition just are not safe places for sexual assault victims, or females.
These are other questions I have about Memphis Second Presbyterian Church. If anyone has any knowledge about this please reach out as I further piece this puzzle together.
- Have there been allegations of past incidents of child sex abuse? Or the cover up of allegations of child sex abuse.
- Are there any alleged sex offenders on staff or roaming around freely?
- Is Sandy Willson allegedly aware of other incidents in other churches that Memphis Second Presbyterian has worked with?
- Are there alleged incidents of domestic abuse covered up?
Is Sandy Willson Negligent?
So here is my question. In light of this new revelation if you are one of the victims at Downtown Church how do you feel to know that Sandy Willson could have intervened and stopped this from happening? What if Sandy Willson had told Nick something along the following, “Thank you bringing this to my attention, I am going to contact law enforcement and get this resolved. I don’t want anyone to get hurt and I am grateful that you brought this to my attention. While I contact law enforcement can we meet right away so I can learn more about this issue….” But did that happen? No it did not. Now I am not a lawyer but it begs the question…given what happened with Rick Trotter is Sandy Willson negligent? This is an honest question that I have which I am openly asking.
The only way things will change are when “Gospel Centered” lawsuits are filed by “Gospel Centered” attorneys. In the Roman Catholic sex abuse scandal things began to change when Catholic Dioceses teetered and filed for bankruptcy. Several Catholic diocese to include Portland, Tucson, Davenport, Fairbanks, and Spokane all filed for bankruptcy. When this happens in Protestantism then things will change. When a massive lawsuit ensnares Sandy Willson for what he allegedly knew and chose to walk away from and large settlements are coming down, that is when things will change. It is my belief that Sandy Willson could have prevented what happened at Downtown Church from occurring . But he had other pressing concerns to include going after Dr. Nan Hawkes. Its my sincere hope that some of the victims who have been wronged will act appropriately. Again guys please know that I love you!