Victim Speaks Out Against Abuser’s Plan to Create Halfway House for Sex Offenders

The Roys Report [Chicago IL]

December 31, 2022

By Sarah Einselen

Twenty years after she revealed her abuse to a friend at summer camp, Meagan Bishop is speaking out once again. This time, it’s to oppose her abuser’s plans to found a Christian halfway house in a small South Carolina town.

“David Truluck was my stepfather, and he was also my abuser,” Bishop told The Roys Report (TRR) this week.

Truluck runs Shield Ministries, which recently announced plans to open a new facility to house up to 55 men, including up to 10 sex offenders. Truluck’s wife, Melodie Truluck, co-founded the organization and is its operations manager.

As TRR previously reported, David Truluck is also a registered sex offender, who in 2003 was convicted of committing or attempting a lewd act on a child under age 16. Bishop told TRR she was the victim involved in that case.

Bishop first revealed her link to David Truluck on Wednesday at a community meeting of residents opposed to Shield Ministries’ proposed halfway house.

She said David Truluck started molesting her when she was about 11. He had married her mother and was the youth pastor at the family’s church in Charleston at the time, she told TRR.

The abuse continued for a little more than a year until Bishop disclosed it to a friend at a summer church camp, she said.

Camp staff learned of the conversation, Bishop said, and alerted police and Bishop’s biological father. They also told her mother, Melodie Truluck.

After Melodie Truluck found out, “she was basically blaming me for everything, that I was asking for it,” Bishop recalled in an interview with TRR. Bishop added that Melodie Truluck gave up custody of her daughter after the arrest.

Charleston County court records show a judge sentenced Truluck to 10 years in prison and three years’ probation. However, all but two days of Truluck’s prison sentence was suspended, his case record indicates.

Bishop told TRR she had hoped never to deal with her mother and stepfather again, after disclosing her abuse.

About a decade ago, after Shield Ministries had already opened its first halfway house in Charleston, Bishop found out about Shield.

“I didn’t really have a voice, or think I had a voice back then, and I didn’t say or do anything about it at the time,” Bishop said.

Then she heard about Shield’s plans for a facility in Walterboro, a city of about 5,400 west of Charleston. Bishop lives on the opposite side of the state, but said she has family in the Walterboro area.

“I felt like people in the area needed to know, for their safety and for their children,” said Bishop, who’s a mother herself. So she shared some publicly available information about the organization with Walterboro residents.

“I would have felt somewhat responsible, I guess, if I knew that I could have said something, and I didn’t,” Bishop explained. “I could have possibly prevented a child from having to go through what I did, or worse.”

The information she shared spawned a Facebook group opposed to the proposed halfway house, which has grown to more than 1,200 members in a week. Bishop and a Walterboro resident administer the group together.

But Bishop told TRR she hadn’t planned in advance on revealing her link to Truluck.

“I just felt like maybe my story would give a little bit more insight as to who these people really are,” she said. “On the outside, it looks like they are trying to do God’s work, that they are trying to help these men transition.”

Bishop added she “has no issues” in principle with reentry programs for formerly incarcerated people.

“I don’t trust that David really cares about the rehabilitation process for any of these men,” Bishop explained. “And if Melodie didn’t care about what happened to her own children, how is she going to care about what happens to the children in this community?”

Bishop also questions whether those convicted of child molestation can effectively be rehabilitated, she said.

A federal fact sheet about sex offender recidivism states it’s difficult to measure how often child molesters reoffend, in part because so many are never arrested in the first place. But in general, up to a quarter of convicted sex offenders are arrested on another sexual offense charge within 15 years, the fact sheet indicates.

TRR asked David Truluck for a response for this story, but did not immediately hear back.

In a statement to South Carolina TV station WCSC, Truluck said he does “not make excuses for what I have done in my past and know that my actions caused many people who cared about me emotional hurt.”

“I have been through court ordered counseling and with the assistance of Dr. William Burke, others,” Truluck continued. “And, experiencing the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ, my wife, and Christian brothers, I have walked down a road of restoration, healing, self-recognition, and redemption.”

Burke, who teaches at Medical University of South Carolina and runs a clinic treating child molesters, provides professional guidance for Shield Ministries, the  organization’s annual report states.

Truluck added in the statement to WCSC that he draws on his own experience to help Shield Ministries’ clients “travel this same road” and reduce recidivism.