Those are the words of prosecutor Jessica Villella who successfully argued in front of Judge Adrian Soud Friday that the two men at the Greater Refuge Temple accused of molesting and raping teens at the church should not be released on bail. She says her investigation has shown that the victims were prevented from going to authorities by a rigid church culture. Read the report from the Times Union article:
"Assistant State Attorney Jessica Villella told Soud her investigation revealed the youths had been trying to come forward but were silenced by the church and even their own parents. One of the mothers testified on behalf of Groover during a previous hearing....[Prosector] Villella countered that the close-knit culture of the church stonewalled the investigation."Who showed up at the hearing arguing for the accused - both relatives of their beloved pastor - to be released on bail? Why 20 church members, of course.
How sad that now we need prosecutors and judges to protect victims of sexual crimes from their own church! I thought the church was supposed to be the one institution above all that protects the innocent and broken and defenseless. Christa Brown has documented the same circumstances before where churches protect the accused minister or church member, and then blame the victim, and even work against authorities who investigate.
This church seems to have hit the abuse trifecta: they successfully kept the victims from going to the authorities as it took an anonymous church member to contact the police and open an investigation. Once the police were involved the prosecutor says the church worked to stonewall the investigation...and now they have argued for the men who may very well be a threat to the victims - to be released on bail.
And I'm sure they'll all be singing "Oh, How I Love Jesus" this Sunday and will drop their tithe in the offering plate.
Kudos to you, Judge Adrian Soud, for protecting our children in this city by keeping these men in jail, and thank you Assistant State Attorney Villella for speaking the truth and doing the hard work of battling religous zealots.