Sweeping Sexual Assault Under the Rug

Posted on August 28, 2015

Libby Anne is a blogger who grew up in a Fundamentalist church, who endured a Patriarchal, Quiverfull culture and, more importantly, became an escapee from all of that bondage.

She penned an article today giving a background expose on the church and ministry that Josh Duggar is attending as “rehab” for his sexual addiction.  Here is the article.

Allow me to quote two parts of the article and then interact with what she is saying:

 As others have reported already, Reformers Unanimous does not appear to have any licensed counselors on staff, and its residential program appears to be made up entirely of physical labor and Bible study. This is a path Josh Duggar has been down before, but it is the only path his parents seem able to envision. Questioning the beliefs and dynamics that lead to abuse is difficult; solving problems with a larger dose of Bible reading is the familiar default.

As of this week, Josh is at Reformers Unanimous, whose chairman and cofounder, Paul Kingsbury, had a long term working relationship with convicted sexual predator Jack Schaap, is allegedly protecting an accused sex offender from justice, and allegedly has a habit of failing to notify people when a known sexual predator is in their midst. How an individual alleged to have such a troubled relationship with both legal accountability for sex offenses and established best practices for handling cases of sexual abuse can be expected to run an effective and above-board rehab program for individuals who come to him seeking help for addictions to porn or sex is perhaps question of the week.

Libby Anne is questioning the validity and legitimacy of the “treatment” Josh Duggar is receiving at Reformer’s Unanimous. This organization is a Patriarchal group consistent with all the Duggar family believes and practices. Josh Duggar will not get any better there; he will simply learn to submerge and cover it up better.

I began working in counseling with sex offenders for the Province of British Columbia starting in 1982. Very few counselors were willing to do that because they were mortified when they had to listen to the details of sexual assault. I freely admit that for several years I would be sick to my stomach as I listened to the stories as I helped these men work through their sin and bondage. Eventually I stopped feeling that way as I regained some compassion for their own personal degradation. However, not once was I excusing any of their behavior.

I have now worked with almost 100 men who have either been caught or self-reported sexual assault or abuse. Some of these men have been pastors and missionaries. I have three rules when I begin working with them:

1. What they are doing is completely their fault and I will not allow them to blame others.
2. If there is any crime they have not admitted publicly to, and they admit it to me, either they will report it to the police or I will.
3. I advise families that even if an offender repents, they are never to trust them again. They should never be allowed near the people they have offended and should never be allowed near children if that is the object of their offense.

Do these principles seem harsh? I hope so. This is the only way for a sex offender to be rehabilitated. They have put their victims through hell and have taken away their victims’ rights to have control over their own bodies. Those have permanent effects.

The statistics vary, but it is commonly held that once a person starts sexually abusing children or people under their authority, they will not stop doing it until they are forced to stop. I counseled one man who admitted to molesting 62 children before he was sent to jail. He kept a journal of all he had done to them. The rule of thumb among counselors is that you must stop them at any cost or they will do it again.

Some Christians will ask, “But don’t we believe in the power of the Holy Spirit to change lives? So how then can we say there are some people beyond help?” I didn’t say these men were beyond help. I said that we cannot allow them unencumbered access to potential victims. As  you read Libby Anne’s accounting of the group Josh Duggar is getting “help” from,  you will realize they are simply perpetuating the cycle of abuse by not treating it as seriously as it needs to be treated.

I speak of this from first-hand experience. Years ago, I was contacted by a woman who admitted she had been molested by a traveling evangelist. When she told me his name, I was blown away. In my undergraduate days, I had lived in a dormitory named after this guy. This woman, after getting the help she needed for recovery, pointed several other women my way for counseling. They told a similar story; that they too had been accosted by the youth evangelist. I did some investigating and found that the rumors of his crime had spread to other churches in the state. The denomination at one point heard about all of these rumors and they approached him. He denied doing anything, but agreed to some counseling.

I talked to the man who counseled him. He assured me the evangelist had repented of his sin before he passed away. I asked him if the evangelist had admitted doing any molestation and sexual assault. The counselor said he had and that they had walked through several sessions of repentance. I asked him why he had not turned him  into the police. Here was his answer:

“That’s not how God wants us to handle things in the Body of Christ.”

That evangelist had already passed away by the time I was investigating. At last count, he had sexually assaulted almost 20 girls during his years in that state. And that’s the ones we know about.

This has gone on long enough. No more hiding sexual assault. No more hiding molestations. This is not how we handle it as followers of Christ.

I feel sorry for Josh Duggar, after all I have said. He is not going to get  help at this place. He is going to get worse. I feel for his future victims. I feel for his wife. I feel for the Body of Jesus that must bear the ignominy of all of this.