Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Youth pastor Chris Furey convicted

ChrisfureyThe former youth pastor at Cottonwood’s Emmanuel Fellowship Church pleaded guilty to a reduced set of charges. He’s going to spend some hard time in prison.

Under the plea agreement, Furey faces eight charges. They include one count of sexual conduct with a minor, one count of attempted sexual conduct with a minor, four counts of luring a minor for sexual exploitation and one count of sexual abuse.

Furey will spend at least 9 years in prison, a lifetime of probation, and he must register as a sex offender. If I read the news correctly, he could get more prison time.

The church involved has not disclosed much about the case so my analysis is limited. One failure mode is obvious. The teen victim and her pastor exchanged 100,000 text messages over four months. An alert parent could have tripped to the high volume of text messages and started asking questions. Several cases of clergy sexual abuse have been identified this way. As for the church, a technology policy and monitoring is in order. The expectation of privacy for a youth pastor should be near zero. Active monitoring of social media interaction and information technology would catch offenders and force the message that inappropriate use is forbidden.