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When damage control does damage

3.31. 2016 Written By: Stephanie Krehbiel 8,358 Times read

Last week, in their coverage of the Luke Hartman case, The Mennonite shared two letters. One came from the pastors of Lindale Mennonite Church and announced that they have had knowledge since August 2014 of an abusive relationship in which Luke Hartman caused serious trauma to another member of the congregation. Another letter, from Virginia Mennonite Conference minister Clyde Kratz, attempted to explain the “difficult pastoral scenario” presented by Hartman’s alleged behavior, and to reassure readers that the conference takes sexual exploitation seriously.

Despite the pastoral laments, exhortations to prayer, and expressions of sadness, these letters read as damage control documents. Kratz makes this clear in the opening paragraph, where he moves swiftly from “lament[ing] the brokenness” caused by Hartman’s alleged actions to, “Luke does not have ministerial credentials associated with Virginia Mennonite Conference.” The subtext here is clear: We’re sad, but we’re not responsible. Kratz reminds readers that in the state of Virginia, clergy are not mandatory reporters, but then he assures us that VMC is, “planning a series of consultations that can assist pastors in the challenges of difficult pastoral cases.”

Few things are less comforting to those who understand the urgency of the devastation presented by sexual abuse in congregations than hearing that pastors are planning a “series of consultations” to deal with a problem that apparently cannot even be named outright.

Based on their timing, we can reasonably conclude that these letters appeared because Luke Hartman was in extremely public legal trouble when they were written. I read fear in these letters: fear of losing control of the narrative around Hartman’s case, fear for their own reputations, fear of who may speak next without pastoral permission. These letters generate far more questions than they answer.

The Lindale letter claims that Lindale pastors knew in August 2014 that Hartman was engaged in an “abusive relationship.” Because they used the word “abusive,” the implication is that violence was involved. If violence was involved, why did they not contact civil authorities? Even if the survivor in question did not want to file a police report herself, two questions remain: Was a man who was capable of committing violence against one person capable of committing it against others? And why did the pastors feel qualified to answer that question on behalf of their entire church community?

The letter reads, “Pastors Dawn and Duane have been involved in…attempting to hold Luke accountable for his actions.” Why did pastors Dawn and Duane feel they were qualified to hold Hartman accountable for actions the letter characterizes as “traumatic” and “abusive”?

The language these pastors use to discuss their involvement with Hartman conforms to a familiar pattern of negligent church officials caught in religious sexual abuse cases, and that should concern us. Boz Tchividjian, a former child sex crimes prosecutor who now directs a Christian sexual abuse prevention agency that conducts independent investigations, characterizes this kind of language as “turn[ing] off the spotlight.” The pattern goes like this: A victim makes allegations that reveal not only abuse but institutional complicity in that abuse. Church leaders, concerned about their own reputations, attempt to control the effects of the allegations by deflecting attention away from their own failure to report that abuse to the appropriate authorities. The Lindale letter covers several such well-worn diversionary tactics: counseling congregations to refrain from talking about the case (“When you’re tempted to speculate, turn that to prayer”); emphasizing their own great concern for the situation (“We have worked long, emotional hours trying to sort through this and most especially to keep the victim safe.”); and using the “hindsight is 20-20” trope (“It is not unusual to look back after some time has passed and wonder what we may have done differently for this to have had a different outcome.”)

It’s OK for pastors to feel confused and overwhelmed by reports of sexual and intimate partner violence. It’s OK to see the situations as complicated and to not immediately understand the best way to proceed. What is not OK is to hide behind those feelings as a way of distracting from negligence. Again, to be clear: If these pastors knew that a member of their congregation posed a physical or sexual threat and did not contact the appropriate civil authorities, that is negligence, and no amount of wordsmithing will change that. When there is an allegation of abusive behavior in a church community, it is not acceptable to respond with a barrage of church speak on behalf of pastors who have been unduly challenged by something “difficult.”

Kratz’s statement makes it clear that VMC’s policies support the kind of in-house accountability that Lindale attempted to implement. Kratz writes, “In spite of these difficult situations pastoral care must still be offered acknowledging that there are situations that are complex and very difficult. These dynamics are discerned by local leaders on behalf of a congregation and their members.” He also calls upon church leaders to report abuse to “the appropriate credible people who can respond to the information with integrity.” This language, while presented as a call for accountability, could also be interpreted as code language for “keep it in the church.”

If we want to see the results of keeping it in the church, there are ample cautionary examples for us. Watch the Oscar-winning movie Spotlight, in which former Boston Archidiocese Cardinal Bernard Law protected hundreds of predatory priests from exposure. Read the reports coming from the recent grand jury investigation of the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese in Pennsylvania, in which the impulse to protect predators led to layers of institutional complicity in horrific child abuse. Read about Boz Tchividjian’s attempts to bring transparency to evangelical sex-abuse cover-ups. Within recent Mennonite history, the history of the seven church-appointed discernment and accountability groups failing to stop John Howard Yoder’s predatory behavior is definitely worth a read. Mennonites do not have special powers to manage sexual predators within their own congregations that other Christians do not have.

In the resolution about sexual abuse passed by delegates last summer, Mennonite Church USA pledged to work to prevent sexual violence in all of its congregations. If the lack of accountability in Kratz’s letter is the status quo across MC USA conferences, then the denomination needs to get serious about revising its policies in relation to reports of sexual abuse and violence. Pastors need to understand, on no uncertain terms, that they need report violence to civil authorities: law enforcement, child services or independent survivors groups that can help victims to navigate their legal and civil options. Train pastors to know the resources for survivors in their area and train pastors to understand that they cannot be judge and jury.

Survivors of sexual violence and abusive relationships are reading these letters. And probably more than other readers, survivors can recognize the hidden codes of letters like these. The codes that say, “Your protection matters less than our reputations.” The codes that say, “You’re hurting the church by telling your story.” The codes that say, “You should have just let us handle it.” All of these codes are present in these letters, for those who can read them. If you are a survivor who has felt demoralized or erased by church statements such as these, please know that you are not alone.

Stephanie Krehbiel has a PhD in American Studies from University of Kansas and works as a researcher and advocate for the Anabaptist Mennonite Chapter of SNAP. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests is the world’s oldest and largest support group for sexual abuse victims and their loved ones. It was founded by victims of Catholic priests in 1988 and now has more than 21,000 members in over 79 countries. SNAP is open to all religious and nonreligious persons who were sexually violated by anyone inside or outside a faith community. The Anabaptist Mennonite Chapter of SNAP was established in early 2015. A confidential SNAP Survivors Support Group meets the first Thursday of every month in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Call or text 540-214-8874 for more information. You can also e-mail Mennonite@snapnetwork.org

The views expressed do not necessarily represent the official positions of Mennonite Church USA, The Mennonite or the board for The Mennonite, Inc. 

The Mennonite, Inc., is currently reviewing its Comments Policy. During this review, commenting on new articles is disabled. Comments that were previously approved will still appear. Comments on older articles can continue to be submitted for review in accordance with the policy below. To promote constructive dialogue, the editors of The Mennonite moderate all comments and comments don’t appear until approved. Anonymous comments are not accepted. Writers must sign posts or log into Disqus with their first and last name. Read our full Comments Policy.

42 Responses to “When damage control does damage”

  1. M. South says:

    Are you making the accusation that Luke Hartman is a violent sexual offender and this has knowingly has been covered up by a complicit church hierarchy? With the severe criticism leveled here, that there has been a failure of accountability and process, this is what readers must now believe.

  2. Frank Lostaunau says:

    Thank You for your insightful comments re: sexual violence/rape of innocent children and vulnerable adults.

    The story re: Mr. Hartman continues to unfold and he cannot sneak out the back door. Thousands upon thousands of people are watching and the anonymous individuals involved in the cover-up will eventually be known.

    There are many individuals working to make this a better world for Survivors. Please learn what it takes to take care of yourselves:

    Eat healthy foods. No alcohol or illegal drugs. Exercise daily – bend, stretch, brisk walks daily. Stay off caffeine or cut down. Place yourself in the company of loving and understanding family and friends/community. A comfy hot bath…yup! Do something with somebody that you’ve been putting off…reconnect! Have you ever had a massage? yummy sassafras tea?

    If you’re seeking the support of other Survivors, contact SNAP Menno. Sometimes a kind and supportive voice can get us through tough times.

    Despite the difficulties, this world belongs to all of us! If we work together, the world becomes a better place.

    VIVA SURVIVORS! VIVA SNAP MENNO!

  3. Paul Neufeld Weaver says:

    Thank you, Stephanie, for this helpful response. We need this public discussion of how we respond to situations of abuse so that we can move into new patterns of response which can lead to healing for survivors and prevention of further abuse.

  4. M. South says:

    There must be public proof when there are public accusations. There is such a things as a false accusation. In scripture, there is the recounting of the false accusation of sexual assault made in pursuit of power, as recorded in Genesis 39, when Joseph was accused of trying to rape her by a powerful Egyptian’s wife. The supposed victim, who was not a victim, was believed and a wholly innocent man was thrown into prison.

    Because actual abuse is so thoroughly detested by all of us who hear of it, claiming victimhood can be a powerful method to exercise unaccountable power by bearing false witness against another. Such is not simple lying, but deceit of others who have the power to do harm to to anyone they choose. It is included in the Decalogue as one of the forbidden behaviors God hates.

    It is particularly pernicious when it is stated that an accuser must always be believed. The harm this has caused many innocents was exposed in public recently through the “Haven Monahan” case that first gained public exposure in Rolling Stone and was eventually exposed as a complete fabrication of abuses by a troubled female student. Yet some supporters regard the debunking of false claims as politically incorrect. They do not seem to hold the rights of those accused without proof with the same esteem reserved for anyone who claims to have been a victim.

    In a work situation in a corporate context at a bookstore chain, I saw firsthand a recent employee make unsubstantiated claims against several male employees. In her case, she made the claims against security personnel who she realized had seen her unauthorized removal of money from cash registers. The management was so afraid of legal consequences that they removed the security employees. Subsequently, she made similar accusations against a superior, and because the first accusations had been given into without any investigation, she now claimed a climate of sexual harassment in the workplace. Ultimately, even though there was no proof whatsoever, and her statements were contradictory, the supervisor was let go. This person had found a way to exercise power through claimed victimhood, through which she could become unaccountable and be promoted.

    What happens to the completely innocent employees who are let go and are unable to find work without good references?

    We know that not everyone whom the police arrest is guilty. We need to have standards of proof in place, otherwise the law and our procedures will fall into disrepute, along with both the people who make them and the falsely accused.

    • C. Swanson says:

      You are correct in saying that false accusations are a grave concern. But when the research indicates that 2 to 10% of sexual assault accusations are false, while 68% of assaults are unreported, largely due to fears of not being taken seriously, we must confess that the burden of proof does not lie on the victims. Of course, due process should happen under the care of the appropriate authorities, but this is one instance where the legal stance of “innocent until proven guilty” is both irresponsible and damaging. Sexual assault exists at staggering rates, and the victims are the ones who’s safety and protection must be paramount.
      http://www.icdv.idaho.gov/conference/handouts/False-Allegations.pdf

      https://rainn.org/get-information/statistics/reporting-rates

      • M. South says:

        So when an accusation is made, even where proof is lacking, the accused must be presumed guilty, and punished? Just how does an innocent person prove they didn’t do something, even though there is no evidence they did?

        This runs contrary to jurisprudence in free countries, instead mirroring the procedures in totalitarian countries. It also mimics The Inquisition, where the accused, who were really the victims, were assumed guilty and had to somehow prove they weren’t, which they couldn’t do and thus were destroyed.

        What a recipe for disaster: Better to ruin 99 innocent, than let one guilty go free.?

        This sounds more and more becoming a church to stay away from, run by fanatical ideological Inquisitors engaging in witch hunts. Someone wants to “get” you – just make an unfounded accusation, no evidence needed. Come out from among them – the life you save may be your own.

        • Debra Bender says:

          Hartman was not found innocent; the judge decided there was not sufficient evidence to charge him. Big difference. FYI, Virginia statute requires that a specific sexual act be discussed by the “consumer” and the prostitute, among other things. According to sworn court testimony, Hartman called the officer at the hotel twice before showing up, once even asking her if she was “a cop.” He appeared at the hotel and entered the specified room. He laid $80 on the nightstand. But, he was slick enough to answer “companionship” when the officer asked what he was looking for. That one word is the reason there was no indictment. And, even more unbelievable, Hartman has already applied to have his arrest record expunged. Yep. True dat. He’s obviously been around this block before.

  5. Anna Dick Gambucci says:

    Yes, yes, yes. Thank you for speaking Truth to power, Stephanie. Our institutions and Pharisees need “tables overturned” like this. All of us are responsible for holding our institutions accountable and keeping them safe from predators (and their protectors) who exist among us by consistently involving law enforcement and outside professionals and being honest in communicating the violations within a community and up the leadership chain. This sure makes one wonder about root causes of why such predatory beliefs and patterns develop in our sacred environments, and how we as institutions can transform into safer spaces by protections and by design.

  6. Frank Lostaunau says:

    Thank you for the comments.

    I disagree that “Because actual abuse is so thoroughly detested by all of us who hear of it…”

    That is not always the case. Many people do not agree that sexual violence against children and vulnerable adults is harmful to individuals, families, or communities.

    Sexual violence is frequently ignored and denied by individuals, families, and communities. It is not uncommon to discover that the source of cover-ups is frequently facilitated by institutional leaders of churches, community organizations, college/university administrators, and law enforcement.

    However tragic the sexual violence, it is always illegal and certainly devastating for survivors.

    Unless people speak truth to power and demand justice for the victims/survivors, there will be no peace, there will be no justice.

  7. M Buck says:

    Thank you, Stephanie. I am friends with the woman who was sexually coerced, stalked, and threatened by Luke and who reported this to Lindale 1.5 years ago. You are completely right about how these letters come across and how hurtful they are to someone who has experienced abuse. I applaud you for having the courage to stand up and say it.

  8. This is the sort of rant we have come to expect when Stephanie Krehbiel PhD. writes about our church. I wish my subscription to The Mennonite were not being used to provide a platform for her diatribes. Yet to see in print the innuendo, the caustic disparagement of our pastors, the projection on them of the motives and purposes of people adept at political infighting, does serve as a kind of wake-up call.

    Aside from all of that, I hope the editors protected the institutional concerns of The Mennonite by independently sourcing the following three statements: “[The pastors of Lindale Mennonite Church announced. . . Luke Hartman caused serious trauma to another member of the congregation;” “the implication [of the letter] is that violence was involved;” “the language these pastors use to discuss their involvement with Hartman conforms to a familiar pattern of negligent church officials caught in religious sexual abuse cases.”

  9. Chuck Friesen says:

    Stephanie,

    I suspect you are already making a difference by what just happened to be posted on the same day as your post:

    https://themennonite.org/statement-panel-sexual-abuse/

    In the statement, I found this most noteworthy:

    “With that in mind, we present a few reminders to congregations when they encounter instances of sexual abuse in their midst: ….”

    • M. South says:

      Chuck, this also was posted,

      https://themennonite.org/opinion/walking-on-eggshells/

      The difference these folks are advocating is not the obvious scriptural admonition that in Christ, there is neither Jew nor Gentile, nor that in heaven, there is no marriage as there is neither male nor female.

      No, it’s as if we are living among people so pathologically sensitive and ready to take offense, that in our church experience, we always need to be “walking on eggshells.”

      With a nod to the wisdom of a Wordsworth and the ancients in Antigones,
      this is not a healthy church environment nor is it survivable. But perhaps that is the spiritual end.

      “Those whom the gods would destroy, first make mad.”

      • M Mullet says:

        I’ve read and re-read this comment numerous times to try to understand the target(s) of its ire. It may be helpful to know who you consider “so pathologically sensitive and ready to take offense”. Is it those that claim they’ve been victimized? Those that aren’t white males? Who? It might be helpful to spell it out so those of us that fall within that category can be confident that any offense we may feel is appropriate. At least to us.

        • M. South says:

          Instead of reason, make accusations of sexism and racism? “No platform”? That’s avoiding the issue that innocence and guilt really do matter. I have heard all too often that an issue is just too important for the truth to matter, since it would undercut ideological objectives. I am sure that if mere accusations come to determine a finding of guilt, that those that agree with that will be making a whole lot of them. In such a Kafkaesque polity, we will find that no lives matter, except those who hold the power to enforce false judgments.

  10. Frank Lostaunau says:

    Definitions that may be helpful to your readers:

    https://rainn.org/get-information/types-of-sexual-assault

  11. Frank Lostaunau says:

    There are various posts that are intended to be ambiguous. That’s the intention.

    In my opinion, it’s a form of psychological violence. Don’t take it seriously.

    It may be a good idea to tip your hat and say Have A Nice Day!

  12. Frank Lostaunau says:

    What do you mean by pathological sensitivity? It implies that you understand the meaning? So, PLEASE EXPLAIN. Incidentally, what is a “rant”?

    I would also inquire if you’re clinically trained or a licensed psychotherapist? Not likely but I prefer to hear from you. I understand that you are an attorney…a noble profession indeed.

    Do you have details that the police would find useful re: Mr. Hartman’s guilt/innocence? I’m waiting to hear what information you may have.

    “Caustic”? NOT. The names of Mennonite Pastors who have committed violent sexual crimes against children and vulnerable are known by Mennonite leaders.

    Children and vulnerable adults have a right to be free of the terror that a trusted Pastor will sexually abuse them. The safety of children and vulnerable adults is of the utmost concern to healthy Americans.

    PLEASE PROTECT ALL MENNONITE CHILDREN AND ADULTS.

  13. Frank Lostaunau says:

    My post re: Berry Friesen response to Dr. Krehbiel posted above:

    cc

    David Clohessy, SNAP Director
    Barbra Graber, SNAP Menno
    Barbara Dorris, SNAP
    Joey Piscitelli, SNAP
    Jeff Anderson, Attorney
    Marci Hamilton, Yeshiva University, Attorney
    Richard Kashdan, Attorney

  14. Frank Lostaunau says:

    It may be possible under Civil RICO law, perpetrators of sexual violence will be held accountable:

    https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/usam/legacy/2014/10/17/civrico.pdf

  15. Wayne Steffen says:

    The same thoughts that Dr. Krehbiel expressed ran through my mind as I read the letters. Having no knowledge of this situation other than what I have read in The Mennonite, I am willing to give church officials the benefit of the doubt that part of the reason for their response was to, in their own minds, protect the survivor as well as the accused, themselves, the congregation and the conference. But this is just one more example of the basic error behind that kind of “protection.” Keeping things quiet is not the same as keeping people safe. When a crime occurs, or when someone is accused of a crime, civil or criminal authorities must be called and cooperated with. This takes courage on the part of many but, as I tell my own children, the right thing to do is often easy to identify because it’s the most difficult course of action. Pastors, churches and the church in general each have a role to walk alongside offenders, survivors and their families and loved ones to encourage the proper balance of justice, mercy and grace, but that role is not that of investigator, attorney, judge and jury. I might add that a properly conducted investigation would answer many of the points brought up by M. South. Without that, we are all frustrated and floundering, which opens the way for speculation and accusation.

  16. Frank Lostaunau says:

    I believe the reason that Mennonite leaders have failed to report the names of Pastors who have raped/sexual abused innocent individuals is because they have always been more concerned about protecting the perpetrators of sexual violence. Especially if the perpetrators are Mennonite clergy.

    I am not concerned about giving anybody the “benefit of the doubt” because that’s how organizations deny the reality of sexual violence. When individuals have been raped, it is a crime. It needs to be reported immediately to the POLICE. And, victims need immediate medical and legal care.

    It is difficult to report crimes of sexual violence to the Police. However, it more difficult to live with the shame, medical consequences, harms of sexual violence, alcohol/drug abuse, suicide attempts, mental illness, social isolation, and gossip.

    I have no idea what you mean by “the proper balance of justice, mercy, and grace…” What’s that? It seems to be noble but exactly does it mean to an individual, couple, family, community who is suffering the consequence sexual violence? It seems to me that one must dissociate in order to please the sensibilities of Mennonites who have not experienced sexual violence.

    What exactly do you know about a “proper investigation”? Are you an attorney? Please clarify what you mean.

  17. Frank Lostaunau says:

    Hi Wayne, I would like to invite you and your friends to attend the SNAP Annual Conference:

    http://www.snapnetwork.org/2016_conference

    It’s a gathering of concerned people who want to learn more about protecting children and vulnerable adults from sexual violence/predators.

    I believe that there’s a place for Restorative Justice, but not in the matter of sexual violence. That is a Criminal matter and best reported immediately to the police.

    I respect your opinion and would like to invite you to the SNAP Conference 2016.

    Best,

    Frank

  18. Jeremy Yoder says:

    Lauren Shifflett, the young woman who accused Hartman of abuse in 2014, has posted her story.

    http://www.ourstoriesuntold.com/now-free-2/

    • M. Buck says:

      Thank you, Jeremy.

    • If something in the gospel of Messiah Jesus requires us in the church to play the blame game, then I will join the rush to pile-on Hartman, not Shifflett. After all, at the time their affair started, he publicly identified as a Jesus–follower, was active in his congregation, and held a respected position in the community as a public school administrator.

      Were we to assume a more objective stance, however, we would see in Shifflett’s account an ever-so-common affair between two eager and consenting adults who disclosed their respective vulnerabilities only after they had become sexually involved. And we would see how for four years after the affair ended, each party continued to initiate contact with the other, even through Hartman’s change of employment to EMU, Shifflett’s marriage and the birth of her first child.

      All of this is troubling. What makes it even worse is how some within our church see in this an opportunity to harshly criticize the pastors of Lindale congregation, accusing them of not supporting Shifflett because they did not attempt to turn this personal and family disaster into a criminal matter.

      What Shifflett’s account tells us is that the Lindale pastors engaged both parties and ended the destructive communications between them. The Lindale pastors did much more good than that, I suspect, but for that one act of wisdom and grace we all can be grateful.

      • M Mullet says:

        I imagine this comment provides a glimpse of the type of reaction Lauren may have received when she spoke with church leaders. It’s one thing to fail to even acknowledge the predatory nature of Hartman’s pursuit of Lauren but to then deem it only a “personal and family disaster”. If one believes Lauren’s account, and I wholehearedly do, the stalking and accompanying threats of violence are not only a matter for law enforcement but provide a chilling glimpse at the deadly potential.

        Here’s hoping she finds the needed support and continues on a heeling path. She would be wise to stay as far away as possible from the objectivity displayed here.

        • Bruce Leichty says:

          The Mennonite church is in big trouble — bigger trouble than it is already in — if it cannot hold together the commitments long valued by both church and society to objectivity, due process and compassion. By objectivity I do not mean treating people as “objects,” but rather not allowing emotion and prejudice to overcome reason and “the scientific method” — i.e. where one has to consider facts of any given situation to be unique and not necessarily replicative of other situations. While I agree with Debra Bender’s comments that Luke Hartman appears to be a self-interested game-player on many levels, relationally, in the church, and in the legal system (I concede I do not know the man), I am at the same time troubled by what I perceive as a growing willingness to apply a a “woman good, man bad” template to sexual misconduct cases in the church. There may be good historical and practical reasons for this, but let’s be careful not to prejudge all sexual misconduct as arising out of male predation. Arguably even John H. Yoder’s misconduct — or some instances of it — was not so much predatory as it was just plain wrong. (Am aware of at least one female member of the clergy who appeared to be welcoming a questionable relationship with Yoder during the early 1980’s, but please don’t misunderstand me to be saying that there was no predation or abuse of power with any of the complainants against Yoder, just that caution and wisdom require reserve in making universal statements).

          I think it is also a major error by Krehbiel — and possibly an opportunistic one — for her to state an assumption that reference to an “abusive” relationship necessarily also means physical violence. Sign me, another attorney who is simultaneously inclined to credit narratives of self-reporting victims, suspicious of the “code of silence” that too often exists in the church (including among church leadership), and not inclined to automatically conclude the truthfulness or bad faith of any party where inflammatory accusations of this nature are made and the stakes are high.

  19. Frank Lostaunau says:

    It’s a story of TRIUMPH! VIVA LAUREN! VIVA!

    An inspiring and courageous woman! GORA!

  20. Frank Lostaunau says:

    Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Republic of Ireland address to the DIAL in Dublin, Ireland re: The Cloyne Report

    http://www.c-span.org/video/?301076-1/irish-catholic-church-sexual-abuse
    -allegations

    I’m submitting this video because Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Kenny makes one of the most inspiring speeches that I have ever heard re: the protection of children from sexual violence/abuse.

    Other elected officials in the DIAL also comment. I believe that Mennonites will appreciate the response by Taoiseach Kenny.

    Please share with others who may be interested. Thank you.

  21. Frank Lostaunau says:

    Mr. Berry,

    What is a “criminal matter”?

    Please provide an explanation. Thank You.

  22. M. South says:

    What we have are some serious accusations, but they remain accusations only until evidence is provided. I suppose an arrest and trial where all the evidence is heard, where the accused has the right to confront the accuser and have the charges proven or disproven is now the only way forward to truth in an adversarial system where the scriptural processes clearly aren’t going to be followed. Certainly now that the accuser has come out, there are no longer concerns for her privacy to prevent this going to arrest and trial, as advocated by many voices. She and her advocates ought to go to the police, prefer her charges, and have Luke Hartman arrested, tried and incarcerated if found guilty. The process ought to be a media sensation and of great public interest, as scandals always are. As she herself puts it in context, even her own marriage relationship throughout her years-long involvement with Hartman, “is worthy of novels and a movie – complete with an epic soundtrack.”

  23. Frank Lostaunau says:

    If anybody has information re: the rape of Mennonite children/vulnerable, Please report it to the police.

    Justice will be done.

    What is happening is not a “scandal”. Nobody is celebrating the continuous sexual violence visited upon a young woman.

  24. Frank Lostaunau says:

    M…What “spiritual processes” are you referring to? Please explain in detail.

    Thank You.

  25. Frank Lostaunau says:

    Techniques used to abuse others:

    http://www.snapnetwork.org/resources_for_adults

    I hope that you will find this information helpful in identifying how perpetrators manipulate others.

  26. Debra Bender says:

    My Bethel aunties always said, “Tell the truth and shame the devil.” Guess my comments were too “true” for the powers that be.

  27. Frank Lostaunau says:

    REFORM STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS:

    http://www.snapnetwork.org/washington_d_c_snap_urges_congress_to_censure_hastert_reform_sol

    Dennis Hastert, pedophile, sentenced to prison.

    Sexual violence/rape of children and vulnerable adults is a crime against humanity.

    Do what it takes to protect children/vulnerable adults, families, and communities.

  28. Frank Lostaunau says:

    BishopAccountability: Articles about sexual predators

    http://www.bishop-accountability.org/AbuseTracker/

  29. Frank Lostaunau says:

    For Mennonite Survivors:

    http://www.pennlive.com/news/2016/03/tips_leads_flooding_into_altoo.html#incart_article_small

    Please consider reporting anything you know about rape in your church.

    Thank You.