Randy Alcorn recently penned an article at his blog about why you have to be careful about allegations of child sex abuse because they could be false accusations. He then goes to great lengths to talk about the issue. In light of all the issues with Sovereign Grace and allegations of child sex abuse cover up is this article an attempt by Randy Alcorn to subtly play down the issue? After all Randy has a close business relationship with C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace and its in his financial interest to defend it. This post which deals with false accusations is written by someone who endured a false accusation from someone who was involved in Redeemer Arlington.
“And thank you, Lord, for these two men, who you used as one on Monday night—guard their hearts and empower them to finish well, bowing their knees to you moment by moment, day by day.”
Randy Alcorn on John Piper and C.J. Mahaney
“We live in a fallen world where there is true sexual abuse, and where there are false accusations. All accusations of sexual abuse should be taken seriously and carefully investigated by qualified authorities. But I am suggesting that we should refrain from listening to only one side of the story and draw no final conclusions unless and until the charges have been proven.”
Randy Alcorn on sexual abuse…is Randy trying to protect his checking account?
But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”
Matthew 19:14 NLT
Picture from Wikipedia
Recently Randy Alcorn had a disturbing article at his blog called “Sexual Abuse Is Horrible and Should Be Punished…But Some Accusations of Sexual Abuse Are False” that I felt deserved a response. I actually plan to do another article about Randy Alcorn and Philip Yancey in the near future. You see when I was in my faith crisis Andrew White from Redeemer Arlington tried to take me off the only Christian author I was reading and instead have me read Randy Alcorn. I would like to explore that issue and ask…why do the Neo-Calvinists have a problem with Philip Yancey? For those of you who do not know Randy Alcorn is a popular author in Neo-Calvinist circles. He has published close to 40 books I believe and directs Eternal Perspective Ministries. Part of the reason why I want to respond to Randy Alcorn is because he addresses false accusations in regards individuals in regards to child sex abuse. I know a thing or two about a false accusation. After all I was subject to one by someone who boasted of having “sound doctrine” and how he was in the “healthiest church he ever knew.” Of course we are talking about Redeemer Arlington again. But before I proceed I need to explain what a false accusation feels like.
What Does a False Accusation Feel Like?
A false accusation is a terrifying subject. I would not want to wish one upon anyone at all. They cause great harm, can create psychological problems and I don’t believe some people recover from a false accusation. Plus I think some false accusations or misuse of words can cause some people to become suicidal. Mine came from an Air Force Captain who was a Care Group Leader in Redeemer Arlington. Redeemer Arlington which is today led by Eric Simmons, Jon Smith and Jordan Kauflin was the final Sovereign Grace Ministries church plant in the Washington, D.C. area before denomination was overtaken by C.J. Mahaney’s scandal in 2011. In my situation Andrew gave birth to a false accusation and claimed that I was a threat to his family. I was also spoken to about stalking which baffled me, after all Andrew invited me into his home not long before. In the process he asked me to change the password on his computer, showed me pictures of his daughter, and made me a ham and grilled cheese sandwich. I don’t know what brought about the false accusation…criticizing his love of John Piper for his comments that a woman submits to domestic abuse, or possibly saying something about his cooking? It was probably the John Piper criticism! You can read the entire story of the my false accusation in this following post called “How I Managed a False Accusation Given Birth to by a USAF Captain and Care Group Leader from Redeemer Arlington for 408 Days.” The false accusation I went through was terrifying. I still feel like I am in a daze over what happened. I find myself reflecting on it from time to time. This blog is an outlet for the pain and trauma from that unresolved incident. But it affects my life…how? Let me illustrate. Not long ago I went and say a baseball game here in Washington, D.C. It was supposed to be a fun afternoon of watching the Washington Nationals play the Los Angeles Dodgers. During the afternoon as I watched the game a thought entered into my mind. It was this thought, “I can’t believe I learned why rape and sexual assault is a problem in the United States military.” It hovers and hangs in my mind and I find it cheating and stealing parts of my life, even when I don’t want to think about it. Psychological wounds run deep, and Andrew aimed deep.
The false accusation I went through resulted in a grown man crying in pain and trauma as he tried to find a way forward. I found myself having flash backs in the most unsuspecting places. A restaurant. A gym. A grocery store and more. I would hear the word stalk and I would shake or sometimes briefly cry and ask myself, “what is happening to me?” And this all came from someone who boasted of having “sound doctrine.” The false accusation impacted my life in ways I could never have imagined. It affected relationships with friends. It affected relationships with co-workers some of whom I long to explain what happened. Those relationships are still affected and I am not in that position yet, to explain what happened. Humans are not made to bottle up pain and this is no different. It also affected my family. Now the one thing I do agree with Jordan Kaulfin is that another person bears responsibility for that aspect. I thought about it long and hard and believe him to be right. My friends who learned about this false accusation were stunned. One called it evil, and another said that Andrew lacked the social skills to end the relationship properly. James Crestwood looked me in the eyes and said “Dave I have no idea how my life would bounce back.” For those of you out there who are critical of me in writing about some of the churches and organizations I do let me say this fact. After going through a false accusation in my life I am particular cautious over what I say. After all why would I want to say anything untrue and put someone through pain? Why would I want to do so someone what Andrew White did to me? I would not want Andrew White to go through what I did. I wouldn’t wish a false accusation upon anyone. Having explained all that in the blog post below by Randy Alcorn I am going to do is respond, and my comments will be in red.
Before I address concern about false accusations, I want to say emphatically: If you or someone you know has been sexually abused PLEASE seek help from friends, family, local authorities, and a trusted pastor. Many victims of sexual abuse don’t speak up due to shame and/or fear of being disbelieved.
What I am saying next is to third parties who jump to conclusions when they hear accusations, not to victims who know first-hand the guilt of the perpetrator.
Translation…you, me or anyone who is concerned about child sex abuse and is horrified that it continues to be an issue. So remember its not an issue nothing to see here. Damn it! No gossip people! 😛
If I were a judge, there is no sin, no crime on the planet that would prompt me to act with more severe justice than the sexual abuse of children. I would also bring harsh judgment on those who covered up or conspired to cover-up the crime.
BUT if I were that judge, I would need to hear all the evidence from both sides before coming to my conclusion. As difficult courtroom trials often demonstrate, all the opinions in the world of those who have not seen the evidence, or have seen only a part of it, in the end do not prove guilt or innocence. Sometimes the courts are wrong, of course, but far more often people are wrong who form their opinions based on hearsay.
And what exactly is hearsay Randy? Lets take the Sovereign Grace situation, which I believe is the real goal of your article. To get people to shut up and not say a thing? Is that what you are calling for? How do you define hearsay? Is the testimony and conviction in a Fairfax County, Virginia or Montgomery County, Maryland courtroom good enough? Did the people who testify under oath engage in hearsay? Is it hearsay to read about it in a Washington Post article? But how do you define the word hearsay?
Since I’m not a judge and not capable of carrying out anything close to a full-scale investigation when accusations of sexual abuse come up, I must listen to both sides, or those that have heard from both sides, and then determine, “Well, maybe or probably or probably not, but…there is just no way I can know.” Whether the accused was guilty, I am not qualified to say. So I will sign petitions against abuse and speak against racism in every form, but I cannot normally speak against a particular person who is accused.
Even the most serious accusation should never lead us to assume guilt where it has not been proven! There have been murder cases where public outrage has resulted in convictions based on superficial evidence. Later, through DNA and other objective means, innocence has been proven and people have been released from jail, like this man who was released 25 years after being falsely accused of murdering his wife.
Okay Randy Alcorn’s comments here are over the top. Here’s why…I would suggest that he is comparing apples and oranges. Child sex abuse and murder are two separate things. To lump them together and say because someone is wrongfully found guilty of murder that the same holds true in child sex abuse has substantial problems. You can read more about the “problem” of false accusations with child sex abuse or sexual assault in these articles here, here, and here. There is a false misperception that there are more false allegations then there actually are. Incredible harm occurs when people choose not to believe serious allegations. For those in the Reformed Industrial Complex the main concern is the conferences and the money. “Gospel Centered” books are the issue here and the child sex abuse issue poses a threat to their bank accounts and more. Like most issues in the world today everything boils down to money. Yes, even Randy Acorn’s life boils down to his publishing contracts, and the selling of his books.
Murder and abuse are categorically evil. But one can take murder and abuse seriously without assuming that because someone has been accused, and because many people SAY a person must be guilty, that therefore he or she really is guilty.
I’m often asked via emails to speak out against a particular person or group who has been accused of abuse or covering up abuse. People will link me to a website they consider to be proof. But what is on the website are words, not proof. Another website takes the opposite position, offering proof to the contrary. When I say I can’t make a public condemnation, typically I am told I really don’t care about the victims. But I do…I just don’t want to be guilty of making others the victims of my uniformed accusations!
Oh dear! So Randy doesn’t want to deal with the issue at hand. He would prefer to stick his head in the sand. Why is that? Lets poke around a little deeper shall we? Here you see Randy Alcorn promoting Sovereign Grace music. I wonder why that is? Then in the back of C.J. Mahaney’s “Why Small Groups” you see Randy Alcorn promoting Sovereign Grace music again. Makes you wonder how many Randy Alcorn books did churches like Covenant Life Church push and sell? Is the reason why Randy Alcorn speaking about false accusations and child abuse because of his financial interest in seeing Sovereign Grace function so he can sell more of his books? Then in the book “Disciplined for Strength ” by C.J. Mahaney in the back you see Randy Alcorn’s endorsement of Sovereign Grace music again. My God…could there be a pattern? And look at this…Sovereign Grace Church in Bloomington, Minnesota requires Randy Alcorn’s book for premarital counseling. Makes you wonder about other Sovereign Grace churches! But the real icing on the cake is Randy Alcorn’s open letter to John Piper and C.J. Mahaney that Justin Taylor reprinted on the Gospel Coalition a number of years back. It is called, “Randy Alcorn’s Email to John Piper and CJ Mahaney.” In that email you can not only see the drooling that Randy Alcorn engages in but when you consider the business relationship between Randy Alcorn and Sovereign Grace is this email a transaction in the end to help boost his own book sales? There are conflicts on interest abounding in this situation especially when you connect the dots.
Apart from being on a jury, how can I have enough information to draw an absolute conclusion? Can I base my conclusion on media reports alone? Many years ago I was often in the newspapers related to civil disobedience at abortion clinics on behalf of unborn children. I would read the article and sometimes not just some but most of it was simply false—yet I discovered that people in my own church believed whatever they read. This is one of the reasons I am slow to judgment.
Sometimes it seems 99% likely the person is guilty. But if that’s true, then one out of 100 times the person is innocent. How would you like to be that person or a family member of that person who is innocent, but is condemned by society’s outrage?
Just as there have been many cases when guilt has been proven real even though denied, there are also many documented cases where the accusations have been false, and lives have been ruined. Let me be absolutely clear: all sexual abuse is horrific and detestable, and we should absolutely stand in defense of its victims. But that’s not the same as saying each and every accusation of sexual abuse should be assumed to be true!
So after you learn of the close relationship that Randy Alcorn has had to C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace for years does the two paragraphs right above take on a different light? After all stop and consider we are speaking about a business relationship that has continued for at least 10 years. There is a strong, overwhelming amount of damning evidence against C.J. Mahaney and the alleged cover up of child sex abuse. And what does Randy Alcorn say to the child sex abuse allegations that are drowning the ministry of C.J. Mahaney? He puts the shift back on the person and asks “how would you like that person or family member who is innocent, but is condemned by society’s outrage?” My response to Randy is to remember that Mahaney brought these problems upon himself when he chose to engage in the alleged criminal activity. I am not going to have any sympathy for a person who chose to allegedly break the law. Its even worse when this person is a minister known for his “humility.” If he were humble he would face the music and accept the consequences for his alleged illegal activity. After all that is what Chuck Colson did because of his involvement in Watergate, and I think Chuck Colson is the model in these situations.
We live in a fallen world where there is true sexual abuse, and where there are false accusations. All accusations of sexual abuse should be taken seriously and carefully investigated by qualified authorities. But I am suggesting that we should refrain from listening to only one side of the story and draw no final conclusions unless and until the charges have been proven.
And the fact of the matter is that they have been proven. Nathanial Morales and the situation at Sovereign Grace Fairfax/Redeeming Grace Church has been proven. The legal system has weighed in on those situations. Does Randy believe the legal system is lying in light of the convictions? Did the legal system in Montgomery County, Maryland or Fairfax County, Virginia lie? Has Randy spurned authority of scripture especially in Romans 13, when he writes a blog post like this?
I personally know a man whose reputation was ruined when a woman who I knew to be unstable (from long-term personal experience) falsely accused him of sexually abusing her daughter. Investigation exonerated him, but he and his wife suffered immensely, and many believed that just because he was accused of it, it HAD to be true.
Remember guys this post is being written by someone whose reputation was threatened by someone in a Sovereign Grace church. My false accusation was costly, destructive and caused immense pain. I write these posts carefully having endured such pain, and knowing how words can sting and destroy.
I’ve also confronted those accused of child abuse, one of whom ended up in prison (I’m not sure, but it’s possible that my role in the process contributed to his conviction). I believed the evidence to be substantial and directly confronted him and others with it. Though he denied his guilt, later he admitted he’d done it.
I have no second thoughts about what I did, but I believe that justice cuts both ways. We should stand up for those who have been sexually abused, and for the same reasons we should stand up for those who have been falsely accused of sexual abuse.
If Randy actually cares for sexual abuse victims in Sovereign Grace he would challenge C.J. Mahaney to account for how he led his denomination, and the problems that exist. But that is not going to happen especially when Randy Alcorn writes pieces like this which are garbage and subtly to preserve his business with Sovereign Grace.
In some cases innocence can possibly be proven, but unless an alibi is rock solid, it usually can’t. This is one of the reasons I encourage believers to practice wisdom—not only to avoid temptation and sin but also not to put themselves in a position where a false accusation could easily be made. For instance, I recommend youth pastors never meet privately with young girls. When I was a youth pastor I did have such meetings (nearly all of us did back in those days), but if it were today, I would not take the chance. There are qualified females who work with girls. (Of course, same gender crimes and accusations are common too.)
Randy said the following above, “This is one of the reasons I encourage believers to practice wisdom—not only to avoid temptation and sin but also not to put themselves in a position where a false accusation could easily be made.” I honestly wonder what advice Randy Alcorn would have for me and my situation? Not work or avoid work? What do you do when you have someone from a Sovereign Grace church in the next row of cubes over? 😛
God’s Word says, “Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God” (1 Corinthians 4:5, ESV). Yes, where guilt is real there is condemnation, but where people have condemned unfairly, there will also be commendation.
In some cases we will never know for sure whether there’s guilt or innocence. I pray for them like this: “Father, you are the all-knowing Judge, I am not: If they are innocent, comfort them and help make their innocence known; if they are guilty, bring them to confession, repentance and forgiveness…bring upon them your just judgment in this world, and if not in the world to come.”
We will never know where there’s guilt or innocence. Hmmm….I take it he’s alluding again to Sovereign Grace. Cast the doubt to protect his publishing empire, and in the process attack and go after the victims? Yes they have been kicked by the system, now its time for those attached to the system to kick them as well. When in doubt attack, attack and attack and discredit. Sounds like something Jesus would do right?
Where there is true guilt, God offers forgiveness, but not legal exoneration. Criminals are sinners like the rest of us, and God can forgive and transform them, even if they must spend the rest of their lives in prison. At EPM we correspond with hundreds of prisoners, and God is doing powerful things in many lives.
The next person abused could be you or someone you love. And the next person falsely accused could be you or someone you love. So let’s be quick to speak up for children and innocent people, and to encourage careful investigation of accusations. But let’s also be quick to realize some accusations are indeed false. Jesus said, “Do unto others as you would have them do onto you” (Luke 6:31). As the Contemporary English Version puts it, “Treat others just as you want to be treated.”
Well there is some truth to what Randy says above, the next person falsely accused can be you or someone you love. Well the author of this response has gone through a false accusation. I know what it feels like and I know the pain and trauma that it has caused. And remember “careful investigations” are investigations that will always exonerate the celebrity pastor’s alleged cover up and go back to the fact that the victim is always in the wrong. The system decrees it, the system demands it. The system must be defended at all costs and that is what Randy Alcorn is doing here. You have to read between the lines and when you are Randy Alcorn you have to circle the wagons. Damn the victims! That is Randy’s cry especially when it comes to his publishing empire.
Examining the Issue of False Child Sex Abuse Accusations
Many in the Neo-Calvinist world tend to down play and ignore or overlook child sex abuse but especially when it ensnares or entangles their celebrity pastors. C.J. Mahaney is the best example of this and we see this behavior play out over and over. Al Mohler recently did this at T4G, in today’s post Randy Alcorn is doing the same thing. When it comes to false allegations Brad Sargent emailed me which you can read here, here and here. In addition I did my own research on the issue of false accusations and one of the first things that popped up is this report by the Leadership Council. The Leadership Council which was formed in 1998 is an organization by professionals concerned with the treatment of victims of trauma both by the professional circles and the legal system. The Leadership Council put out this information called, “Research has consistently shown that false allegations of child sexual abuse by children are rare.” I am going to re-print the first couple of paragraphs but I would encourage you to read the entire article.
Jones and McGraw examined 576 consecutive referrals of child sexual abuse to the Denver Department of Social Services, and categorized the reports as either reliable or fictitious. In only 1% of the total cases were children judged to have advanced a fictitious allegation. Jones, D. P. H., and J. M. McGraw: Reliable and Fictitious Accounts of Sexual Abuse to Children.Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 2, 27-45, 1987.
In a more recent study, investigators reviewed case notes of all child sexual abuse reports to the Denver Department of Social Services over 12 months. Of the 551 cases reviewed, there were only 14 (2.5%) instances of erroneous concerns about abuse emanating from children. These consisted of three cases of allegations made in collusion with a parent, three cases where an innocent event was misinterpreted as sexual abuse and eight cases (1.5%) of false allegations of sexual abuse. Oates, R. K., D.P. Jones, D. Denson, A. Sirotnak, N. Gary, and R.D. Krugman: Erroneous Concerns about Child Sexual Abuse. Child Abuse & Neglect 24:149-57, 2000.
In short order the issue of false accusations of child sex abuse by children is less than 10% and not as major an issue. If you want to know the warning signs of child sex abuse I would read “Oakhurst Evangelical Free Church: Can One Heal from Sexual Abuse After a 12 Week Program?” This article by Randy Alcorn is really about protecting his financial interests in Sovereign Grace and C.J. Mahaney. That must always be kept in perspective. That’s it, as always guys know that I love you!