Three teens charged with rape at Lutheran youth conference
Church youth retreats are often fondly remembered as times of getting close to God, committing one's life to Christian service, and the occasional crush. But attendees of last week's concurrent "Rainbow of Gifts" and "Holy Commotion" retreats at Trinity Lutheran College in Issaquah, Washington, will remember it as a time of horrific violation.

According to King County prosecutors, three local boys, ages 16 and 17, raped three young Alaskan girls (two 14-year-old cousins and a 15-year-old) during the conference.

"The boys invited the three to a dorm room late Sunday night to talk," says the Associated Press. "One boy grabbed one of the girls and pulled her into another bedroom, while the other two pinned down the other two girls in that room and raped them, court papers allege."

Initially, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the girls were not going to report the rapes out of "fear of humiliation," but changed their minds when one of the girls was raped again the following day.

Dave Ellingson, ELCA's local Congregational Ministries Coordinator, downplayed the crime. "We all make mistakes and this was a big mistake," he told Seattle's KOMO-TV (video). "And young people are probably prone to mistakes more than many people. But there's forgiveness and new possibilities and hopefully everybody will learn from this. … [Students at the retreat will] learn to be trustworthy by being trusted. … So, an unfortunate thing happened here and we'll learn from it and go on."

Weblog doesn't do original reporting for this feature, so we haven't talked to Ellingson. There's a chance he was misquoted, or incompletely quoted. Still, his comments seem blasé about these rapes under his watch. ...

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