It’s a little weird because most of us have crossed paths from when we were still going to Smithton Community Church.
My family left early, before the move etc. – so, I was younger, and while I have memories, I don’t have specific dates like I would if I had been older while attending.
My family attended from1994-1998/1999, and I remember attending one service with my dad in 2000 on Easter. So, once the revival started we had been going on for a while. The main services were held in the gymnasium. Small children (Infant and toddler) services were in the basement, Youth was in the old church sanctuary.
Steve’s nephew, (REDACTED), his sister and mom (Steve’s sister – Nancy) and dad had moved from Aura, IL, and became part of the church. Well, as we all were in a pre-teen group together, I remember being led to the basement by Steve’s nephew numerous times all with different excuses.
They first started off as legitimate – Helping Steve and Kathy or the deacons getting things, helping with the little kids, etc. Until it wasn’t that anymore.
I was being taken to a dark room and fondled. The bad thing is it happened so much, and so often I don’t remember how many times it happened. There was a bathroom in the basement, and it happened there too. Always in the basement.
Till his family moved away. We continued to attend. This never came up with my family until after we left.
When it did come out, I was taken to the police department in my hometown. At that point, my parents weren’t concerned about me though. They wanted ammunition to use against Steve. Even after we left, he still controlled them for some time. To the point when we quit going, I was scared what would happen to us when we didn’t show up for church.
Steve’s sisters family had already moved out of state, so after the report was made we were told within a few days after they had been contacted, and came in to give a statement, and nothing would be done because we were both underage. Legally.
For years, I have been trying to process what actually happened while at this church. The fact that I was molested by the pastor’s nephew in the basement of that church was set up for other families to feel superior because they were close to Steve and Kathy and other families and members to strive to be in the inner circle or be close to them. He knew, he knew what position he was in by being close to Steve and Kathy, and used it to his advantage. This only can be seen in context when you look at the way the kids at SCC were raised. We were raised to be quiet, not to ask questions. Never question authority.
There was absolutely no sexual education because any pre-martial anything was a sin. We were raised to be scared. Beaten into submission. I was a bad child. Not one worthy of being close to Steve and Kathy.
We were always trying to keep up with the Jones. Working to be closer to them was salvation.
So, when I acted out around the time the molestation started, instead of seeking me a real therapist, I was pulled out of public school and homeschooling began. Taken out of the public so the only people I saw were my family and church people. I was taken into Steve’s office multiple times with my parents, to scare me where he encouraged them to discipline me. Sent away for a weekend with the youth leaders to fix me.
Specifically, one night I was prayed for by a woman in the old sanctuary, which was sometimes used for overflow. My mother was there telling this woman this about me. While she prayed over me – and even at that age, it had over the course of a few months started to click what a sham this was when nothing happened. I didn’t shake, dance, fall to the floor.
The next day in my home, I was beaten because I didn’t feel anything when this woman prayed for me. Unfortunately, this was not the first or last time it happened.
This was the scare tactic that was used that if we didn’t put on a spiritual show to make our family look good – there would be consequences. Six years — the last two were the worse. My mother starved herself for 40 days drinking only water, fasting and praying at the direction of Steve. Food was withheld from me multiple times to pray better. This was a regular thing. Sleep overs with friends on Friday or Saturday so we would return to church together – only to hear their sibling get beaten in the basement, or the mother beat the child in front of you. Years and years of stories like that.
Every now and then, you look back and these things never should have happened. However, at the direction of Steve and Kathy Gray they did for years. We got out early, I can’t even imagine what the families went through that stayed longer than us.
By the way, they were all aware. My mother told Steve and Kathy after the initial report was made, and a few close people that still went to SCC, but left shortly after us. REDACTED’s parents were contacted by their local police in IL once our local police took the report.
He was interviewed with his parents because he was a minor. My mother then was still in correspondence with Steve and Kathy after we left when the report was made. I remember there being phone calls and letters. I remember going back to the police station days after the report was made when we were told what happened when they contact with REDACTED’s family in IL. That was when the police told us nothing would happen to him. He did it on church property and had a police report made about it.