OR--Victims urge church staff to do outreach re predator

By David Clohessy
Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests
December 6, 2016

We are glad that a Baptist youth pastor has been arrested and allegedly admitted child sex crimes. But we’re disappointed in how his supervisors and colleagues are responding and call on them to work aggressively to help law enforcement prosecute the offender and find and help his victims.

Kenneth Leo Baker, 44, of Ashland, faces six sex charges for allegedly abusing a girl for five years. Pastor Don Baldrica says Baker "revealed what he had done" to him and other church leaders. And Baldrica says he immediately called the law. We hope he’s telling the truth. Regardless, the pastor’s civic and moral duty doesn’t end here. They gave Baker access to kids. So they must help put Baker behind bars and help ameliorate the severe harm he’s caused.

According to a local newspaper, church officials removed all reference to Baker on their website. But pretending he was never there is deceitful and self-serving. Instead, the church should post prominent notices on their website and elsewhere begging anyone who may have information or suspicions about Baker to call law enforcement. They should be writing letters to former staff and members stressing the same message.

Ministers call themselves “shepherds.” A caring shepherd in cases like this admits there are likely other “lost sheep” out there, suffering in silence, shame and self-blame. He or she would use every possible method of reaching out to them – church signs, bulletins, mailings and pulpit announcements. Instead, most ministers do little but focus on protecting themselves from criticism and litigation. We hope this doesn’t happen here.

No matter what courts or church officials do or don’t do, we urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups in churches or institutions – especially in Baptist ones – to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling attorneys, and be comforted by calling support groups like ours. This is how kids will be safer, adults will recover, criminals will be prosecuted, cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.



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