"It's a crime if you don't report child abuse...it goes on more than people realize.....and if anyone is aware of child abuse that has taken place they need to report it immediately to police." Steve LeSueur, Odessa Police Department
Two Texas pastors (husband and wife) have been arrested for failure to report allegations of child abuse at their church, Life Church in Odessa, at the hands of their youth minister, Angel De Los Santos. The story was reported by NewsWest9 here, and you can watch the news piece that aired last night.
The two ministers, Donald and Gina Haislett, became aware last year that De Los Santos was sexually assaulting underage girls from the church, yet they did not report it to the police within 48 hours as required in Texas.
Let that sink in for a second. A reverend, a pastor, a man who supposedly speaks for God, decided NOT to report to police that one of their own ministers was SEXUALLY ASSAULTING girls from their church.
Instead of reporting to police, the Hasiletts decided to do their own investigation - you know, keep it in-house, away from the police, away from the media, and away from the unsuspecting sheep they claim to love.
Not only did the Haisletts decide to do their own investigation, court documents indicate Gina Haislett sent a text message to the wife of the abuser saying she "should not volunteer any information" when questioned by the police.
This is a sad story of course, involving a youth minister sexually abusing girls at his church, made worse by the "man of God" who did not immediately report it to the police. Sadder still are the many instances where abuse is unreported and ministers who sought to keep the abuse hidden from public view are NOT arrested for failure to report, leaving more children in churches vulnerable to abuse. I have chronicled several of these cases here in Jacksonville, and won't rehash them here.
In Texas law, any person who becomes aware of allegations of abuse must report within 48 hours, and in Texas this requirement specifically applies to clergy:
"...The requirement to report under this section applies without exception to an individual whose personal communications may otherwise be privileged, including an attorney, a member of the clergy, a medical practitioner...."But here is the bad news: the Haisletts are facing only a Class A misdemeanor for failure to report. Maybe Gina will be charged with trying to obstruct justice.
In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky/Penn State scandal, the state of Florida passed much tougher abuse reporting requirements, which makes failure to report suspected child abuse a first degree felony in the state of Florida.
Why do pastors fail to report abuse in their churches? A lot of reasons. They don't want to hurt business. They don't want to scare away people they need to fund their 501(c)3. But it is more than that. It is no secret that most pastors view themselves as called directly by God himself - working directly FOR God and on God's behalf - to proclaim the message of salvation to get souls into heaven and out of hell. If one views their mission as that important - keeping people out of hell - then you can see why a pastor might choose to decide to keep allegations quiet for the greater "good" - rescuing people from eternal damnation.
I find it slightly amusing that if you go to the Haislett's church's website, and click on "About Us" to get more information about the church, the only thing you see on the "About us" page is a full length picture of the Haisletts and absolutely nothing else. Maybe the church was all about the Haisletts, and that is why they didn't report.
H/T: "People Against Prestonwood's Silence on Allegations of Sexual Abuse" Facebook Account
H/T: "People Against Prestonwood's Silence on Allegations of Sexual Abuse" Facebook Account
You bet you report it. I am a retired Texas teacher and I've reported suspected sexual abuse.ReplyDelete
There are no excuses...pastor or not....
"It is no secret that most pastors view themselves as called directly by God himself - working directly FOR God and on God's behalf - to proclaim the message of salvation to get souls into heaven and out of hell."ReplyDelete
Dog, what, specifically, about this belief would you say is erroneous?
Another possible motive, though likely to be dismissed by a cynic like yourself: genuine concern for the alleged perpetrator and his or her family. I'm.not saying it's right to not report, but it's undeniable that reporting someone to the authorities can wreck the lives of not just the reported person but also his family, including innocent children. My brother in law is a pastor who once faced the agonizing decision of whether to report a crime committed by a member (no mandatory reporting law applied). He ultimately concluded that doing so was the right thing under the circumstances but deliberating and praying over his decision kept him in emotional agony for weeks. He knew that reporting this member would possibly mean that innocent kids would be without a parent for years, and would suffer not only by losing the emotional support of a beloved parent but also due to the embarrassment their parent had brought on the family and the loss of the family breadwinner. So please consider these things before you summarily pass moral judgment on these people.ReplyDelete
There's really nothing surprising here. They've forgiven the accused, so there's nothing to report. This is modern Christian apostasy in action. You don't have to be held accountable, you don't have to repent and nobody will say anything because that would be judging somebody else, which is an even greater sin than statutory rape. Pray for the police officer because he's a hater who refuses to forgive people and wants to "throw the first stone".ReplyDelete
Anon 10:51. Maybe I wouldn't be so cynical IF, MAYBE it is a close family member that has to be reported. I would understand the pain and anguish, but still the law has to be followed. Don't think Angel De Los Santos was a close family member but could be wrong on that.ReplyDelete
Doesn't have to be a close family member to be someone you love and care about.Delete
Any large donor should be loved just like a family member. If you don't show them the love, will they show you the money?Delete
Anon 10:37. Pastors are employees of their 501(c)3. Pastors have no special favor or calling by God than any other believer. Yet they have this belief that THEIR job - what they refer to as their "calling" - is the most noble and important. Some pastors actually tell their congregations "I don't work for you, I work for God". WRONG.ReplyDelete
Agree that they have no special favor and that the arrogant mentality of "screw you congregation you're not my boss" is wrong, but emphatically disagree that the professional ministry is not a special calling. Now, to be sure, there are a whole lot of pastors out there who I believe either never had a true calling in the first place, or if they did, have lost their way. But I think those who are being true to their calling, yes, certainly they are special and the work they are doing is important. I don't wish to undertake a comprehensive scriptural exegesis of the subject, but "not many should presume to be teachers" immediately comes to mind.Delete
"genuine concern for the alleged perpetrator and his or her family."ReplyDelete
Oh my Lord please tell me you do not actually believe that. Any "genuine concern" should be for the perpetrator's victims and in exposing and preventing anymore innocents being harmed.
Their most likely "genuine concern" was for the liability reporting will bring and for the money it will cost in damages.
Children must be protected! Period! It really is that simple.
You cannot use God or repentance or salvation or forgiveness as an excuse not to do what the law and frankly God requires you to do regardless of any "special calling" you think you have.
If you molest a child, I'll forgive you but I also want to see your sorry butt in jail where you belong.
As far as the perpetrator's family, that is when the church should step in and help and comfort them. And we all know that's going to happen.
Anon.....so you're rationale is that a crime committed by someone known to a pastor, whose family may be negatively impacted, is somehow different than a crime committed by someone the pastor doesn't know.?ReplyDelete
Why Tom Messer didn't report child sexual abuse? Money. It's all about money.fReplyDelete
It's the old story...lets not embarrass the church. The show must go on!!ReplyDelete
"It is no secret that most pastors view themselves as called directly by God himself - working directly FOR God and on God's behalf - to proclaim the message of salvation to get souls into heaven and out of hell. If one views their mission as that important - keeping people out of hell - then you can see why a pastor might choose to decide to keep allegations quiet for the greater "good" - rescuing people from eternal damnation."<=====No I can't. This thinking is backward if indeed a pastor was to hold that view. These pastors knew of the sexual abuse for a long time!!! How many children were molested and possibly will turn away from God because of it!!! That "youth pastor" needs rescuing from eternal damnation. Abuse is sin; sinning against children is very wicked, any pastor should be about the business of protecting the sheep to include confronting the abuser and taking appropriate measures to hold the abuser accountable; including seeing he goes to jail, NOT aiding and abetting the abuser; thereby interfering with consequences hopefully causing the perpetrator to truly repent. He and his wife were about protecting their "name" and their pocketbook.ReplyDelete
The chick actually looks better in her mug shot photo than she does in the pic with her hubby! Lol!!!ReplyDelete
Maybe she should consider this for the Christmas cards this year!!!
Dear Anonymous (at 10:51 a.m.),ReplyDelete
I'm not saying it's right to not report, but it's undeniable that reporting someone to the authorities can wreck the lives of not just the reported person but also his family, including innocent children.
The lives of innocent children have already been wrecked -- those of the offender's victims. And he'll only find more victims and wreck more young lives until someone reports him and stops him. That's where a pastor's concern ought to be. If the perp's family suffers as a result of his crimes, that's the perp's fault. Not that of anyone who reports the creep.
Pastors need to get their priorities straight.
Reading the news piece link, and the several times and duration that this youth minister was doing this. These pastors should have known even before hand that something was going on. No discernment in how this youth minister was managing his time and relationships in the church?ReplyDelete
I'm dealing with a landlord who happens to be a pastor. His overinflated ego has reared it's ugly head. A congregant of his, lives near me and I hear his horrendous abusive language, and I suspect more, towards his children repeatedly. When I discussed the foul noise with this pastor, he yelled at ME! He put me down repeatedly and threatened me not to report these tenants. I've been in social work for 10 years and this pastor interrupted me saying, "Don't act like you know what you are talking about over me!" The experience was so degrading. Of course, I have to report. I was already asked to vacate. The pastor said he had never seen marks on the kids at church. He was basically accusing me of lying! I can tell he just wants to intimidate me into leaving and keeping my mouth shut. This is no man of God. Just an ego that wants to lord over people.ReplyDelete