Saturday, June 30, 2007

Youth Pastor charged with molestation

This story hit my local news this morning. I heard about it while driving past a beautiful green park on the way to my favorite breakfast spot. My initial reaction was anger. I have a 13 year old niece, the thought of any pastoral freak harming my innocent young niece just pisses me off. What drives people to do this?

Mark Holland McDowell, the youth pastor of Camarillo Church of Christ is accused of molesting three young girls, ages 13 and 14.

Detectives learned of the alleged assaults in July 2006.

Detectives "were able to gather sufficient evidence to arrest McDowell on Thursday at his home," Hernandez said.

McDowell was taken to Ventura County Jail. He was later released after posting $50,000 bail.

Hernandez said detectives are looking for other possible victims.

Anyone with information is asked to contact sheriff investigators at 654-9511 or 477-7000.

Well, I have another name for my rouges gallery. I seem to add two or three pastors a week. I am no longer simply content to mention the men in these stories, I follow them until they are cleared or sent to jail. I had no idea there were so many.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm one of the victims in this case. I just wanted to post (anonymously, sorry, I can't really afford to be named) to say thank you for bringing attention to it and other stories like it. No one deserves this kind of thing to happen to them, and there are not enough people who pay attention.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Everybody has struggles, everybody fails. I'm not justifying what he did, it's wrong...and if you were to ask McDowell I'm sure he'd be the first to tell you that molesting 13 year old girls is wrong, and he's sorry for having done it. NOT sorry for being caught, but sincerly sorry for having done it... Miss Anon, I do not want to in anyway disrespect what you've gone through, I'm just not sure what I believe right now, if at all possible are you able to disclose what it is exactly you say he did to you? I'm not saying, "you are lying" or "you are telling the truth" I'm just saying, I don't know, and having known McDowell for a while I have difficulty thinking of him as a malicious individual. Is it something that seemed planned by him, something that just kinda happened in the moment?

Anonymous said...

First of all, while I wholeheartedly agree with the notion that everyone has struggles and that there is not one among us who has not failed at one point or another in our lives, it is completely revolting to equate that part of the human condition which causes us to contemplate cheating on a test, or gossiping about a co-worker, to this kind of evil. Secondly, the vast majority of sexual offenders are “sorry” for having broken the law. Even if their remorse is only a last-bid attempt at softening the hearts of those put in a position to cast judgment upon them. Now, I am not saying that Mark is not sorry. He may very well be sincerely apologetic. But his remorse over having seriously violated the trust placed in him by these children (and that is what they truly were) and their parents, comes a little too late for most of us who have know him, loved him, and looked to him for guidance. After all, if he was truly contrite why did he continue to abuse his power and these teenagers for at least 9 years? Finally, your request to the victim that she relive these atrocities via the Internet in some kind of an attempt to appease your doubt can only be described as utterly callous and completely insane! How would you like to have the most painful moment of your life trivialized by a stranger (who doesn't even have the decency to hide the fact that they are calling you a liar) and then in the next breath, asks you to PROVE that your pain is justified??!? For the record, the rape of a child is never accidental. Not one person who has sexually abused a child can claim that they did not know how it happened. Rape is planned. You do not accidentally find yourself having sex with a child. All adults with an average IQ and uncompromised brain have the ability to stop a situation that might conceivably lead to sex with a 13 year old girl. He was a highly educated and well respected man in his 30's who had it together enough to apply for, get and keep a job educating and pastoring young minds in a religious setting. They were children, barely entering adolescence, and they looked to him for comfort, guidance, and love. He abused their trust and betrayed them in every way. There is no justification for it. It cannot be glossed over with a pithy commentary on the human condition. Yes, we all fail ... but most of us manage to keep our pants on when we need to, when we should. For the record, I too have known Mark for a long time. I have also known the three women he abused. When I first learned of these allegations I had much the same reaction I imagine most of the people who knew him had. It is hard to believe that someone so bright, and frankly so likable, is capable of this kind of depravity. But like I said, I know these women. Smart, sensitive, beautiful people, with no reason to manufacture accusations like these. Mark is pretty much like all child molesters. He is skilled at being secretive and hiding the truth. For most people he appears to be nothing less than an average husband, father and friend. If you trace these cases through history it is most often that kind of man, the one no one could have imagined capable of these crimes, that turns up being the monster we all fear. So while it is understandable for you to be laboring over the idea that this man you have known is capable of these things, it is unconscionable for you to expect that just because you are struggling, she should have to assuage your uncertainty by detailing the crimes for you. And finally, your, all but blatant, accusations that they are lying are reprehensible ... these women have shown extreme courage in merely coming forward when they have already been hurt and abused in one of the worst possible ways.

Mojoey said...

To the victim(s) - I am truly sorry that this happened to you. You will need strength, and support in the days ahead of you. I hope your family and church are able to help you.

Despite what other posters request, your business is your business. Don't feed the trolls with the details of your inexperience. It is not other their business (or mine for that matter). The courts will handle what happened.

I do what I do because I am compelled to help. That you for your kind words.

Mojoey said...

anonymous...
... these women have shown extreme courage in merely coming forward when they have already been hurt and abused in one of the worst possible ways.

Thank you for your post. I could not have said it better myself.

Anonymous said...

Yes, we all fail ... but most of us manage to keep our pants on when we need to, when we should.

Best... sentence... ever.

Anonymous said...

How simple it is to see nothing more than the superficiality of a tragedy, demonizing the party at fault, while maintaining an individualistic sense of superiority and judgment, absent of understanding and compassion. To say something as arrogant as, “it is completely revolting to equate that part of the human condition which causes us to contemplate cheating on a test, or gossiping about a co-worker, to this kind of evil” is saddening for me to hear, and only explainable to me through an assumption that you are a highly emotional woman…hence when words, thoughts, and considerations are read by you, you refuse to keep a cool head, but rather react in accord with how those words make you feel. Notice, if you will, I never did equate the degree of injustice or pain invoked upon cheating on a test with the “this kind of evil”, hell, I don’t even know what kind of evil you are talking about, that was what I was asking originally…what was the evil he is being accused of.
Mark is being charged with molestation which is defined generally as, “the crime of sexual acts with children up to the age of 18” How vague and ambiguous is that?! This absolutely does not exclusively necessitate that this is a charge of rape. And how true it is, that in every situation, there are two sides to every story. Both sides, both perspectives, valid and worthy of understanding and consideration. To deny one side is an evil, and an injustice in it of itself.
Notice that your perspective, as condescending and judgmental on me as it is, is based on the foundation of precisely that which I am hoping for…information. Each point you make is based on…information. I didn’t know that Mark is being accused of 9 years of perpetual molestation, that does give a sharper understanding of the situation to know that. So how is it that you, knowing this information, condemn others for not agreeing with your own position while not having equal access to the same information?
Upon your eloquent remarks concerning my request for information about precisely what Mark is being accused of; again, I simply cannot imagine a scenario that you could be less understanding of where I was coming from, but then again, it doesn’t seem as though you are too interesting in understanding at all. I never accused the woman of being a liar, and I agree tremendously that it took great courage for her, and the others, to go to the police with what they genuinely felt was something worthy of their notification. What I am saying, is that I do not know if they are or are not telling the truth, and to a simple mind, I suppose I can see how there is little difference, but try to understand…well, or not…but saying that someone is lying is quite a different thing than saying you don’t know either way. It would be like calling an agnostic, an atheist…it’s two completely separate things. I don’t have any information, so how can I simply adhere to an emotional whim and demonize and hate a man who deserves our love and prayers. I certainly do not want to trivialize the experience that these girls have had to go through, what is important for us to do; however, is make an informed decision or no decision at all. Because I have a social interest in this case (through my relationship with Mark) it seems appropriate for me to at least understand what’s going on, so as to know how to pray for/with Mark, and for the girls. Before you say again that it’s none of my business…only in America…how sad it is. I have been through more pain than most people should have to go through, and these girls have experienced the same, we, as HUMANS are in this thing together, we are connected and affecting each other everyday whether you like it or not, so it is my business. Now that is not to say that I “demand” information. On the contrary, as I specified earlier, I completely understand how hard it can be to talk about the deepest regions of our heart, and there is something to be said about the sanctity of what is said to only certain people…but there is something also to be said about the releasing of that pain through talking about it with anyone. It is not inconceivable to give her the opportunity to do as she wishes, if she doesn’t want to, then she won’t…simple as that.

You continued to talk about rape…is that what this is? Is that what Mark is being charged with? You see, that’s my question from the beginning…what specifically is he being charged with…molestation is so broad that I can imagine situations where a man or woman might accidentally or unintentionally act in such a way that would be later understood as molestation, but obviously if it’s a matter of 9 years of sex then that’s a different story entirely. My point is not to judge one way or the other, only to have information so as to act in relationship to the situation accordingly, such arrogant, condescending remarks are unnecessary.

We do all fall, we do all make mistakes, some snowball…and actually in these sort of situations when it comes to molestation cases (as I’m sure you have dealt with so many) the trail of the assailant is always a very sad one, full of pain, hurt, or simply poor small decisions that snowball, addictions that never satisfy until it’s too late. None of that justifies what is done in the end, but then again, we are not here to justify it or to condemn it, we are here to understand it…and that understanding usually leads to pity, and pity usually leads to compassion, and compassion usually leads to love, and love always leads to freedom.

walter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
walter said...

You all probably know each other, hell i wouldn't be surprised if it was MARK posting on here, other than the victims who have some major healing to tend to, the rest of you go find something else to dwell on!!!!!!! I fail to see the purpose these posts seem to serve other than a competition in vocabulary ego, and to the guy who asked for what the victim went through heres a very low level of diction for you

YOU ARE A PRICK!

Pray for those involved because this is tragedy amongst us, regardless of details.

Anonymous said...

Here's the bottom line ... you are asking for more information from a person who is involved in an ongoing case. She cannot talk about it, let alone post on it through the internet. If you want all the gory details it is a matter of public record through the ventura county court system. You can log on and view the charges to your heart's delight. Happy viewing prick!

Anonymous said...

To the eloquent, yet completely mistaken person who labels themselves nothing more than an innocent information seeker:

It is none of your business what specifically is included in the charges.

The victims in this case owe you absolutely nothing, least of all an explanation of the details of their trauma. Especially not because you're having trouble believing the story. Especially not if you can't keep a civil, neutral, respectful tone. How dare you bring such a base, ad hominem attack against someone responding to a comment brief and disparaging. Anonymous comments on a blog are not the proper avenue for gaining information regarding a criminal case.

The DA considered there to be enough evidence to make an arrest, there is plenty of information on the web in news stories to provide explanation of the accusations. I suggest you do some research and become better informed as to the information available to the public before callously making someone relive something I'm sure they've already relived several times over the course of this cumbersome legal process. If you really feel the need to be inquisitive beyond what is publicly available, I suggest you ask the man who is your connection to this case rather than rely on an anonymous source.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Camarillo -- this one arrest doesn't come within forty miles of scratching the surface. That town is FILLED with sex criminals. They get away with it because people assume that if the property values are high that only "good" people can live there. People move to that town convinced that their cutting themselves off from the evil of the world, when, in fact, they're just giving it an incredibly good duck-blind.

--m4

Anonymous said...

To the anonymous who would like to have his questions answered about the charges against Mark . . . . . .

First I would like to quote a few of the aspects of the case that are mentioned in every single news article I have seen.

"The detectives say between 1991 and 1999 McDowell molested and sexually assaulted three girls between the ages of 13 and 14 years old.”

You said that you were not aware that the abuses lasted for 9 years, but I don’t understand how you could not have realized that since it has been mentioned over and over that the abuses took place between 1991 and 1999.

"Investigators say they've also charged McDowell with child pornography after finding it on his home computer.”

You obviously feel that Mark may be potentially innocent and that this entire situation might be a misunderstanding, but THERE IS NO WAY that child pornography can be a misunderstanding!!

And now, the question you have been asking – what has he been charged with? This is a matter of public record and although I have absolutely no desire to hurt any of the victims I also think it is important for people to know that this arrest was not a mistake and it is not a matter of an accidental touch that was escalated into his arrest.

288(c)(1) - Lewd Act Upon A Child

288a(b)(2) - Oral Copulation Of A Person Under 16

288a(b)(2) - Oral Copulation Of A Person Under 16

289(i) - Anal & Genital Penetration By Foreign Object

288(c)(1) - Lewd Act Upon A Child

311.4(c) - Using Minor For Sex Acts

311.4(c) - Using Minor For Sex Acts

288(c) - Lewd Act with Child

288(c) - Lewd Act with Child

288(c)(1) - Lewd Act Upon A Child

288(c)(1) - Lewd Act Upon A Child

289(i) - Anal & Genital Penetration By Foreign Object

311.11(a) - Possession or Control of Child Pornography

As I hope you can obviously see, these are SERIOUS charges that the police had enough evidence to arrest for. These charges are all but impossible to explain away as a misunderstanding. And if you want a thorough explanation of each of these charges you really should look at the penal codes, I am sure you will find it quite enlightening (http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/calawquery?codesection=pen&codebody=&hits=20).

It seems that the “highly emotional woman” was right. All of the news articles state that the victims were in their early teens and these charges involve sex, and to me, that equals child abuse and rape.

Anonymous said...

That's exactly what I was asking for, that's it...thank you.

Anonymous said...

Late post here, but chose to comment. First of all Mark if you read this I hope you get sent away for a long time if all this is true. Kind of hard to refute having child pornography on ones home computer. Plus the fact that it isnt just one person claiming abuse/molestation/rape, but three young women. Ive known Mark probably longer than many who have posted here, I grew up with his in-laws and have spent many of hours with the family he married into. All these years ive never trusted Mark, now I can see why gut feeling was right. He's a man who is more into himself, than his nuclear family and never seemed to care for anyone but himself. May God have pity on his soul and may anyone how read this pray for his victims and his wife/Children for they are victims as well.