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Home > 2014 > June Web Exclusives > From Youth Minister to Felon

A note from the editors of Leadership Journal:

We should not have published this post, and we deeply regret the decision to do so.

The post, told from the perspective of a sex offender, withheld from readers until the very end a crucial piece of information: that the sexual misconduct being described involved a minor under the youth pastor's care. Among other failings, this post used language that implied consent and mutuality when in fact there can be no question that in situations of such disproportionate power, there is no such thing as consent or mutuality.

The post, intended to dissuade future perpetrators, dwelt at length on the losses this criminal sin caused the author, while displaying little or no empathic engagement with the far greater losses caused to the victim of the crime and the wider community around the author. The post adopted a tone that was not appropriate given its failure to document full recognition and repentance.

There is no way to remove the piece altogether from the Internet, and we do not want to make it seem that we are trying to make it disappear. That is not journalistically honest. The fact that we published it, its deficiencies, and the way its deficiencies illuminate our own lack of insight and foresight, is a matter of record at The Internet Archive (https://web.archive.org/web/20140613190102/http://christianitytoday.com/le/2014/june-online-only/my-easy-trip-from-youth-minister-to-felon.html).

Advertising revenues derived from hits to this post have been donated to two Christian organizations that work with survivors of sexual abuse: www.thehopeofsurvivors.com and www.Voicetoday.org. We will be working to regain our readers' trust and to give greater voice to victims of abuse.

We apologize unreservedly for the hurt we clearly have caused.


Marshall Shelley, editor, Leadership Journal

Harold B. Smith, president and CEO, Christianity Today International

Copyright © 2014 by the author or Christianity Today/Leadership Journal.
Click here for reprint information on Leadership Journal.

Posted: June 9, 2014

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Average User Rating:

Displaying 1–5 of 93 comments

Jandy Rivera

August 14, 2014  7:46pm

God loves this man, which is hard for me to say right now. His article is written with such cockiness, such egotistical nonsense, and I don't believe for a moment that his ending clarification is sincere. Simply put this man sexually abused a teenage girl. He believes their relationship was consensual, but he preyed upon a child. As a child who was preyed upon by a man in the church I was sickened by this article, and this man's lack of concern for the horrific effects on this girl. I pray that the fallout from this article will help the Church in America to wake up to what has been happening and what continues to occur to our innocents. Outside the church walls and inside the church walls our children are abused and it must stop. This man will be back on the streets in 2015, and he hasn't changed a bit. Only a miracle from the Lord is going to do that.

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Rachel Sewell

June 25, 2014  4:39pm

Thank you for your willingness to admit such a huge mistake and take action to rectify it. Hopefully good is coming out of the conversation this mistake started.

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Karen Welsh

June 23, 2014  5:47pm

I really wish you had not taken down the article "From Youth Pastor to Felon..." Talk about one of the most honest looks at what sin will do to you and how it will ruin your ministry, marriage, and life. Of course he would be labeled a sex offender. That is a consequence of his sin. It's time Believers start recognizing and reckoning with sin as both a noun(an entity) and sin as a verb (an action). It ruins lives. This fall from grace happened to my brother-in-law almost exactly as written and it tore our family apart. Quit letting scared Christians who don't want to hear the truth determine what you publish. That's not what you are or should be about. Please have the courage to repost the piece online.

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June 20, 2014  1:07am

When convicted felons state they have repented, it does them and Everyone a huge disservice not to examine their words and attitudes. This person modelled exactly in every sentence how to claim one thing but be the opposite (as recognized by numerous experts) and it's very concerning how publishers and some readers did not see this. It highlights the need for proper training.

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Luke Somma

June 18, 2014  9:11pm

Honestly, the only problem that the author of the original article presented was his lack of interesting writing. That being said, I appreciated the content, as I feel that the voice of this repentant man will assist in deliverance of many up and coming predators. I feel as though that shame (although it is just) has prevented many people from seeking help in dealing with their sins. I feel defensive of LJ, as I'm sure their intention was to truly prevent this same story from happening again by putting the author's story into the light. Also, the author wrote the piece... if he truly believes that he is barely at fault, that only further serves the point of the article (why a youth minister should receive help before the situation comes about). Leadership Journal, thank you for having the guts to put out an article as risky as this. It served its purpose well.

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