What if a Child is Molested or Abused by a Church Member, Employee, or Leader?
Like schools, churches should be a safe haven for children. Most churches are safe havens and do a great job of teaching, educating, and supervising the children at the church and during church activities. Most church members and employees understand and follow the principle of acting in the best interest of the child. Unfortunately, at times, there are rogue individuals at churches or affiliated with churches that take the trust given by children and parents and crush that trust by molesting, abusing, or assaulting children under the care and supervision of the church. There have been a number of reports of abuse, molestation, and sexual assault related acts at churches or during church related activities. Many of these incidents result in a criminal investigation as well as a civl action for the horrendous crimes committed against the child. Of course, many incidents are never reported. Some that are reported do not result in enough evidence to arrest the perpetrator or enough evidence to properly prosecute the perpetrator.
When a child is molested or abused at a church, the case or incident can be quite complicated especially since the child and parents have an affiliation or membership with the church at issue. These incidents cause a drawing of lines as well. In many instances, there will be those that take the side of the perpetrator with others taking to the side of the parents and child. Regardless, it is the protection of the child that is most important. Furthermore, if one child has been molested then there is a good chance that others have been molested. Therefore, it is important that the abuse, molestation, or assault is properly reported and investigated by administrative and law enforcement officials and agencies.
During the early stages of the criminal investigation, it is important for the parents and child to get support and advice as needed from mental health counselors, victim advocates, law enforcement officials, and a lawyer. A Florida Child Injury Lawyer can advise the parents about the legal processes involved with the criminal case and potential civil case.
In Jacksonville, Florida, a Bishop's son-in-law (Darrell Vincent Moore) was recently sentenced for molesting children at the church - Greater Refuge Temple. Moore pleaded guilty to the charge of lewd and lascivious assault on two 12 year old girls at the church. He recently was sentenced to a 5 year prison term. You can read more about this matter at Pastor's Son-In-Law Sentenced for Lewd and Lascivious Acts at a Jacksonville, Florida Church.
If a child is molested, assaulted, or abused at a church, there should be a criminal investigation and prison sentence when appropriate to fit the crimes committed. Forgiveness and repentance are important components of many church teachings; however, Florida law is still the law of the land when it applies to criminal acts whether committed at a church, home, or on the streets. Justice is served when a punishment is commensurate with the crimes and acts committed.