It is a familiar story. A Baptist youth pastor is arrested for allegedly molesting a child. Once the story breaks, the press looks into his background and finds that he is a convicted child molester. To avoid embarrassment and accountability, the church spins the story.
Youth pastor Michael Joy was arrested for one count of aggravated indecent solicitation of a child. Joy has a history. He served more than 8 years for indecent liberties with a child. Pastor Thomas R. Hamilton starts the spin with conflicting statements, but he is in over his head.
Hamilton, who joined the congregation as pastor in 2005, said Joy asked to meet with him in 2005 and tearfully told him he had been convicted of having sex with a teenage girl when he was 18 and that he had spent time in prison for that offense.
After that meeting, Hamilton conducted a Web-based sex offender search and found nothing matching Joy’s name or address.
“He was invisible,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton was aware that Joy had a history in 2005. He conducted his own search and found nothing. The reported asked about criminal background checks, Hamilton admitted not knowing what they are.
In another report Hamilton changes the story.
Hamilton said they did a background check on Joy when he started working with the children and his name did not appear on the sexual offender list. Church officials have since learned that Joy's earlier offense would not appear on the list because it happened in 1991 and the list did not begin until 1994.
Joy started working with children at the church while he was on parole in 2001. Hamilton admitted not knowing about background checks. I wonder if Hamilton meant that he spent some time surfing the web after Joy admitted molesting a teen, found nothing and forgot about it?
It is clear Hamilton wants to spin the story towards Joy’s deceptions and away from his own responsibility to protect his congregants from pedophiles. Yet by his own words his ignorance allowed a convicted pedophile to continue working with children. All Hamilton had to do was type How to conduct a criminal background check into Google. That and $50 would have stopped this before it started.
I call on pastor Hamilton to resign. You do not deserve a position of trust.