There is ongoing coverage at The Turner Report on the series of charges involving ritual sexual abuse brought against several members of the Grand Valley Independent Baptist Church and the Grandview Baptist Church North, located in Newton and McDonald Counties in SW Missouri. Charged are Rev. George Otis Johnston, Johnston's nephew Rev. Raymond Lambert, his wife Patty Lambert and her brothers, Paul Epling and Tom Epling.
Neighbors report that those charged have fled the state, and it remains to be seen if they will actually appear at upcoming court dates.
More information is available on an informational website at www.grandvalleybaptistchurch.blogspot.com, and the Neosho Daily News has comments on their blog.
We moved to Springfield in 1955, and some time thereafter my parents conducted a search for a church home for our family. They decided on Grant Avenue Baptist Church, and my parents, my three sisters and I began attending regularly. After a year or so, a huge scandal erupted in which it was discovered that the very personable and handsome minister had been having intercourse with the young engaged women he had been counseling prior to their weddings. Many of the the young women were getting engagement rings while still in high school, with the wedding date scheduled the summer after graduation. Needless to say, the church was devastated. My family stopped attending along with many others.
I'm not sure about the exact timeline for these events, and do not recall if the minister faced criminal charges. Back in those days, it was common to blame the victim- a practice that, sadly, has not gone by the wayside completely.
Cover-up of such incidents is common within church organizations, the most notable example being the disgrace of Cardinal Bernard Law, formerly the bishop in the SW Missouri region, for covering up sexual abuse by priests and enabling their behavior by transferring them to other parishes. He should have been charged with this crime.
A comment by Mrs Thurston Howell on Chatter the other day reminded us that
"...the frequency of child abuse in SW MO was five times greater than the rest of the state!"
More information on child abuse in SW Missouri can be found on the Good Community web site.
Concerned child advocates, parents, educators and church leaders should come together in addressing abuse of children by adults who hold authoritative positions in churches, schools and other organizations, and those who commit these offenses should be sentenced to long terms in prison.