Marion County District Court documents filed Thursday allege Patrick Edouard, 41, former pastor of Covenant Reformed Church in Pella, forced three different women into sex acts in early 2006, August 2007 and April 2008.
Edouard also faces two charges that he used his position as pastor to exploit the women who sought his counseling. The charge is made under a state law that forbids counselors, therapists, teachers and clergy from having sexual relationships with their patients and clients.
A sixth charge alleges Edouard had a sexual relationship with a fourth woman between May 2008 and June 2010. The woman has also sought counseling from Edouard, court documents allege.
If these allegations are true, Edouard is the definition of a predator in the pulpit. Forcing sex on emotionally dependent women during counseling sessions is the coward’s path. It is also the ultimate betrayal of trust. I hope the authorities throw the “life sentence” book at him.
His church is hiding the incident. A call to their office produced a “no comment” response. A check of their websites shows the Edouard is no longer listed as the pastor but there is no public comment regarding the case or charges. I have one question – what is your policy towards private counseling?
What went wrong? A pastor providing private counseling sessions in the basement of his home is a good place to start looking. Pastors should not be afforded special treatment because of their status. They are men and abuse women (and children) at the same rate as the general population. A controlled and safe environment is required for counseling sessions. Ideally, something where a third party can observe the interaction without hearing the conversations. I don’t think the pastor’s basement qualifies as safe.
There is another option to consider. Most large employers have an employee assistance program. One of the features of some programs is a hot line that employees can use if they are experiencing abuse. After the initial contact, generic information related to the nature of the abuse can be fed back to the business. If the business is a church, the elders can function like the managers they should be and investigate allegations without endangering the victim. It’s a safety net of sorts, and cheap.