Editor’s Note: While this is a secondary source that this story is told through, I do have verification that alleged incident happened through a family member of one of the victims.
I was close friends with a young woman who had been at the church since Smithton’s early days. She was very revered and respected there.
She told me one day that years previously, before I joined the church, that her child had been molested by a man in the church. He was single adult man at the time and her child was very young. She of course reported it to the church. I don’t know how many in the leadership knew about this besides Steve, but I speculate that it had to be more, because most likely she wouldn’t have just told Steve directly – he was unapproachable.
Whoever she told, told Steve. It was probably one of his siblings who were pastors there as well. But wait until you hear how it was handled.
Steve instructed her to forgive the man and forget about it. Steve would deal with the man and restore him. The authorities were not notified. The child did not receive professional counseling. The man was not reported as a child sex offender. In fact, the man was not just forgiven and saved from prosecution, prison and being on a registry of sex offenders – HE WAS PUT IN A POSITION AS THE HEAD OF THE CHILDREN’S MINISTRY.
When I first visited the church at Smithton, he was the one who led the congregation in bowing down to Steve in submission and declaring their undying loyalty to him. No wonder! Steve had saved him from prison!
This young mother was put on display as a huge world-changer for Jesus and she thought she was doing the right thing. Her children continued to go to the children’s church and even help as volunteers in the children’s ministry. I guess the message to them was the same as it was to all of us, what you experience, think and feel doesn’t matter. No one cares.
The pedophile was also given a woman from the church to be his wife. The woman was very sweet – and she told me once that Steve brought her in to meet this man and they were told that they should date and get married. That was a major privilege. Wow! Almighty Steve himself set you two up as a couple. I wonder if she was told before she dated or married him that her husband was a child molester?
They went on to have a child together and this man was touted as husband and father of the year. He remained the head of the children’s ministry for years. Up until the church moved to Kansas City and even a couple of years afterward.
I ask myself why I didn’t run for the hills when I saw Steve being worshipped – or heard about the molestation. I have no excuse except that I was brainwashed and terrified of ever leaving the church for fear of eternal damnation. Please forgive me. I know better now.