VA--Accused Mennonite official walks free
By Barbara Dorris
Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests
March 29, 2016
A Mennonite official who was accused of soliciting a prostitute is walking free. We are heartsick by this news. Now more than ever, those who saw, suspected or suffered his sexual wrongdoing must come forward and call police and prosecutors so that others will be protected.
In a Harrisonburg courtroom this morning, a lawyer for Luke Hartman successfully argued that his comments to an undercover police officer, posing as a prostitute, were sufficiently vague that he couldn’t be prosecuted. (His intent, however, seems clear: he had two phone conversations with a woman he thought was a prostitute, went to meet her, and gave her $80.)
It’s very likely that those who have been hurt by Hartman will feel hurt again by this development. We deeply sympathize with them. We encourage them to remember the wisdom of Martin Luther King who said “No lie lives forever.” We also encourage them to continue to focus on their recovery no matter what happens or doesn’t happen in the legal arena. It’s very possible to heal from sexual trauma. But it takes focus and determination. We stand ready and anxious to help in any way we can.
It’s also very likely that others who know Hartman – either through Lindale Mennonite Church or Eastern Mennonite University – have knowledge or suspicions about his sexual misdeeds. We beg them to search their consciences, find some courage, pick up the phone, and share their information or suspicions with law enforcement.
For more on the Hartman case:
*Even though “Priests” is in its title, SNAP, The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org) is open to persons of faith or no faith who were sexually violated by anyone inside or outside a faith community. SNAP is the world’s oldest and largest support group for sexual abuse survivors 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. See the Oscar winning Best Picture, “Spotlight,” about SNAP’s role in helping to uncover the clergy abuse crisis in Boston.