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Home > 2014 > June Online Only > Dear Man in Prison

Last week we posted the story of a former youth pastor who was convicted of statutory rape with a girl in his youth group. After a few days it was clear that the article, while intended to dissuade potential perpetrators of such sexual abuse, was causing an overwhelming amount of pain to victims of sexual abuse. We removed the post. One of those most eloquent in showing us our lapse of judgment in posting that article was Mary Demuth, who posted this after we removed the article. What follows is her letter to the author of the original article.

Dear Man in Prison,

Before you read this I want you to look at my picture. Yes, that's me as a child, when I was raped. That innocent girl is no more. Though I have experienced bucketsful of healing, I still live hypervigilant. I still struggle with sex. I still have flashbacks. All because of the sinful, unlawful actions of two others.

You wrote your words behind bars to an audience of many, many, many. Did you realize that you would open a deep wound in sexual abuse survivors' hearts and souls by characterizing the rape of a teen in your youth group as an "affair"? It was no affair. It was a calculated ploy by a person in authority, over a decade older, to a minor who was not old enough to understand the nature of your advances. This was abuse of power. This was molestation. This is why you serve your time in prison. And it is precisely why you will spend your life with the words "sexual predator" as a moniker. This is not a judgment statement, per se, but simply the evidence of a just law.

Your words reflected little remorse other than getting caught and being prosecuted for a crime. Where is your anguish for the victim? For your wife? For your children? For the youth group you pastored? You have not only marred their souls, but warped their view of a loving God. They will struggle with your violation the rest of their lives. They may view God as capricious, unprotective, or non-existent. You cannot undo that kind of soul damage, no matter how many words you write, even if they are cloaked in biblical language.

And when you get to the place where you genuinely do not care about your reputation, where you do not hide behind cliched rhetoric, and you openly state the devastation you caused, I will look forward to your adventure in redemption. Raucous redemption comes on the bedrock of gut honest, sometimes-ugly truth. You absolutely can experience this kind of redemption. I know this because I have experienced it too. Except in a different way.

I, too, was about 12 years younger than those who molested me. I could not say no, did not know I could–not with the threat of death to my parents. And what they did when I was a child has haunted me for 42 years now. It has affected my relationships, my self esteem, my heart, my worth. And I'm one who has doggedly pursued healing since I was a teen. I have chased it, begged for it, hoped for it, all the while struggling against this feeling deep down inside that I was only worthy of violation. Only worthy of being used. Only worthy as long as I looked a certain way.

All this time, all these years, these violators have roamed the earth free. Only they are not truly free. They won't be until they say the truth, that they, in their utterly self absorbed state, chose to have sex with a young girl for their pleasure. They will have to live with this truth until they dare to humbly admit that what they did was horrific.

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Posted: June 16, 2014

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Displaying 1–5 of 12 comments

April Showers

July 27, 2014  11:16pm

Dear Ms. DeMuth, I applaud your courage/bravery... to speak the truth, to share your story & feelings, to witness to this man who has fallen so (to give him hope but also to exhort him to keep & hold him accountable), etc. Your words were beautifully & intelligently said, as eloquent & persuasive as anyone could say it. Thanks for being an advocate & voice for those too timid/fearful to say it, for those who've lost their voices due to not being supported, not believed, not shown compassion & tenderness for the HORRENDOUS ABHORANT EVIL ATROCITIES done to them. Their emotional souls were murdered. Only Jesus can resurrect someone from emotional death (from the numbness, emptiness, deadness & loss they feel inside). May the Lord Jesus resurrect all victims of sexual abuse & assault from emotional death to emotional life, from SURVIVING to THRIVING, to REALLY LIVING with joy, wholeness, peace, confidence, a celebration of life as they reinvent themselves & as Jesus makes all things NEW!:)

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June 19, 2014  7:49am

Mary, I am so proud of you. Your post reflects the love of Jesus! I have a sister who was abused and we have walked the journey with her. Sexual abuse is one of the greatest sins against the human soul. But I LOVE how you talk about redemption! You hold out hope to both the abuse and the abuser - that is beautiful! I can tell you that you live real - not pretending it didn't happen. If you were bitter as some people say I don't think you could talk about redemption so beautifully. It's so sad that so many molesters won't be honest about their sin. My sister's abuser won't talk about it and claims "that is in the past and I've moved on". No one in his life knows about it. But I feel he is still in bondage. I long for him to find truth and light and healing and redemption. Thank you for your article! You said it so well!

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joseph benitez

June 17, 2014  8:59pm

Thank you for sharing all of this. I was in the same position, and I know that our Lord has helped me forgive. I was younger than 10 and yes I did not say anything until an older age. I lived frustrated and angry for so long. God and my current church help me seek deep within myself to forgive and live on.Its very bad I have tried to face my abuser many times and he will not see me. I wanted to tell him that i forgive him. i know that i am happy now and i seek God in all things and wish the same to my abuser to seek the Lord if has not done so.

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Christine OREILLY

June 17, 2014  12:18pm

I am speechless at the power, courage, and faithfulness of your words, Ms. DeMuth, which only reveal some of your heart, your mind, your wounds and your passionate search for hope - not just for yourself, but others who have suffered the same horrific abuse. Thank you. Will Leadership share this letter with the molester? as a hope and act of justice and for his own healing?

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Leaning on Him

June 17, 2014  10:58am

Dear Mary, God has given you the gift of words with power. You are so very articulate and descriptive. The layers and layers of consequences such an act of evil does to one's life go far beyond the moments of the actual act of abuse. A little quick "sorry" means nothing, nothing at all. Thank you for saying what many of us want shouted from the housetops.

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