Monday, September 24, 2012

Megachurch. Megabusiness. Megaproblem

Call me a skeptic, but I don’t believe the good press surrounding Sharon Daugherty’s widely covered sermon where the Oklahoma megachurch pastor tells her parishioners to report child sexual abuse.

"I want to personally say, that if anybody here is aware of any child being neglected or abused, physically or sexually, that you should please inform the authorities immediately, Our children are precious, and we owe them our full protection."

Source: Okla. Pastor Tells Congregants to Talk About Abuse

A 13-year-old girl was raped in a stairwell by a church employee. At least two other children were abused and one other employee has been arrested. Church officials knew about the abuse and kept it quiet for two weeks. Daugherty knew about it herself and did not report it. Her excuse was that she had relied on the official administrative process and trusted that her employees would do the job correctly. The police did not charge her, but did charge four other members of the church, including Daugherty’s son and daughter-in-law, who were charged with failing to report. Daugherty should have been charged too.

"I was briefly told of an incident involving two ... employees and members of 24/7 (a youth group) ... and was told it was being reported but did not receive any details on the specific allegations," Daugherty said. "I was extremely disappointed to later hear of the delay in the time it was first reported."

Source: Victory Christian Center explains 2-week lapse in reporting rape claim

Victory Christian Center is a large church with thousands of members. It makes one wonder how much power, influence and money contributed to the decision not to charge her. I’m betting it was a factor. A lawsuit suggests the delay was an attempt at a cover up.

"Rather than contacting the appropriate authorities, defendant (Victory Christian Center) chose to conduct its own 'investigation' with the ultimate purpose of doing damage control as opposed to protecting" the victim, according to the lawsuit.

I would also like to point out that the victim’s parents could have reported the crime. Why would they delay reporting? Oh wait… the church lied to them. That makes sense given the church was trying to manage the damage. Arrest Daugherty. Charge her with failing to report. The facts are not in dispute. She knew about the crime. She violated her duty of care by not making sure the abuse was reported. It seems simple.