The Huffington Post
February 28, 2018
By Carol Kuruvilla
Jennifer Roach wants to spark a conversation about how Protestant churches handle clergy sex abuse allegations.
A Washington woman is claiming she was molested by an evangelical youth pastor decades ago ― and that even though she told church leaders about the abuse, the man has enjoyed a long career in ministry ever since.
Jennifer Roach is a 47-year-old Anglican deacon and mental health therapist from Seattle. She said that in the mid-1980s, she was sexually abused by a pastor at the former First Baptist Church in Modesto, California. Roach said that when she brought up the accusations to the church community, she was first met with doubt and then pressured into forgiving her abuser.
Years later, Roach said she’s been inspired by the viral #MeToo movement and the related #ChurchToo movement, hashtags that people have used to demonstrate the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment.
“Seeing that anybody even understood or cared about this issue is incredible,” Roach told HuffPost about the #MeToo movement. “Those people were so few and far between for my entire adulthood, and it’s probably been that way forever.”
Roach hopes that speaking up about her experience now will contribute to the ongoing conversation about how allegations of sexual abuse are handled in American Protestant churches.
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