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Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Sexual Impurity in the Church and the Holy Men Who Run Interference

By JTO Editor Nathan Lee Lewis

I have been investigating the alleged rape of a 15-year-old-girl by a ROCOR priest. I prepared a full investigative document with new information and evidence. It went through all of the appropriate PRIVATE channels - Priest-Vicar-Metropolitan, only to receive an "already been looked at...nothing to see here" response. The event allegedly happened 14 years ago, but the mother of the girl has been shouting to the high heavens, publicly and privately appealing to anyone, everyone, to listen and bring justice. All the while, she was attacked, maligned, accused, and threatened, particularly by clergy.

Prior to the posting, I sent out a floater-announcement on Facebook saying that the article Rape and the Holy Man, that exposes a sexual crime by a ROCOR priest, was coming. I was immediately assailed, via IM, by a ROCOR priest who objected strongly to the use of social media:

"Don't post that on Social Media! An accusation of sexual misconduct of clergy should always be dealt with in-house, not for all the world to see. If you post it on Social Media, it never turns out well as it allows people not connected with the matter to weigh in, give views, criticize, spread rumors, empower others to come forward with accusations, and only discredits the religious hierarchs. Nothing good ever comes out of it... blah... blah.. blah..."


Fact of life: If an event occurs and is discovered, it is likely to appear on SM.  So, what is Social Media?

social media: 

the means of widely reaching and influencing a multitude of societies via the current communication mechanisms available

"Just as television turned a nation of people who listened to media content into watchers of media content in the 1950s to the 1980s, the emergence of social media has created a nation of media content creators. According to 2011 Pew Research data, nearly 80% of American adults are online and nearly 60% of them use social networking sites. More Americans get their news via the Internet than from newspapers or radio, as well as three-fourths who say they get news from e-mail or social media sites updates, according to a report published by CNN. The survey suggests that Facebook and Twitter make news a more participatory experience than before as people share news articles and comment on other people's posts. According to CNN, in 2010 75% of people got their news forwarded through e-mail or social media posts, whereas 37% of people shared a news item via Facebook or Twitter."
Here is the exchange between ROCOR priest, Father Samuel Seamans and the JTO editor after the FB floater-announcement and prior to the posting of the article: 
JTO Editor: Samuel! I deleted your comments because you are yet uniformed.
Until the article is released it is futile to debate the merits or the methods...especially on FB. The story, Rape and the Holy Man is a journalistic investigation that has been years in the making. Using protocol of our church, I have shared the document with my priest. He shared it with Father xxxx and Father xxxx shared it with our Metropolitan who responded to me in writing. I do not agree that social media is not the place for such to be released, It would depend on how many people have failed to take action and how many years have passed allowing a deacon who allegedly raped a 15-year-old girl, badgered her to keep quiet, and then lied to OUR Metropolitan in order to become a ROCOR priest. I have first hand knowledge of the individuals involved. I had a long talk with Father xxxx. Seems both of you share having been a police officer (my daughter is a cop in xxxx). I would hope that our clergy such as you and he would become part of an investigative team that deals with these issues in our Church. We have failed miserably in this case and we are going to have egg on our face, not because of what I am doing but because of what a criminal priest did, and ROCOR's failure to deal with it in a timely and efficient manner. I know I will take some heat. So be it. I am advocating for the health of our Church, the girl, and her grieving mother. P.S. I serve in the ROCOR xxxx Mission in xxxx and am from xxxx. Pray for me a sinner.
Samuel: Thanks for writing to me. I would love to serve to investigate claims such as this, BUT, I do NOT agree that taking to blogs and Facebook is the best thing for the Church. It will be spread with comments that are inaccurate and will only serve to give those who hate ROCOR more to hate us for. The Hierarchs are responsible to God for this stuff, and no matter how we may claim we are only "shedding sunlight" it will serve Satan more than it will the cause of Christ. We just disagree, that is all. Just because something may be true doesn't mean that social media is the place to hash it out. I hope you have prayed about it as much as you have researched it. Thanks for listening, God bless, Samuel+ (sinner also in need of prayer)

Samuel: There are better ways to advocate for the health of the Church imo, but oh well.

Samuel: I've never seen parading the sins of others, even clergy, help anything very much, in fact, it usually does just the opposite. Have a good one.

JTO Editor: I look forward to hearing from you after the release of the article.Journeytoorthodoxy.blogspot.com

Samuel: I have spoken to your priest and to Fr. xxxx, and you do NOT have their blessing, nor the blessing of our Metropolitan to rlease such an "article". I don't know what your investment in this is, and i don't care if you have spent 5 minutes or 5 years preparing it, your primary focus in the Church is NOT to be a journalist or "movie maker" but to be obedient. IF you release this you are not being obedient to those in authority over you,and just reveal yourself to be a congregationalist at heart. This is NOT the way Nathan.

Samuel: Check your pride, have some humility, and let GOD handle this situation. The Church doesn't need self-styled "Heraldo Rivera's" with "investigative reports" to tend to her business. Please pray about this and what you are doing. Nothing good can come from a "CNN investigative report" on something like this.

Samuel: Talk to your priest!

Samuel: A man can grow a beard to the floor, use a prayer rope, attend Divine Liturgy, and do all other outward actions, but obedience to those in spiritual authority over him tells the true tale........every time.....

JTO Editor: Thanks for your opinion. Please submit future comments to journeytoorthodoxy@gmail.com

Samuel:
No way. I am talking to you directly. I am done my friend. If you go forward it is for your own purposes, so don't delude yourself about "helping the Church". Follow the advice of those that God has placed over you. Peace. Samuel+

Samuel: Really, I am not trying to "hide" a thing, but this is not the proper way. St. Paul would be horrified at "airing in a civil lawsuit" such a thing. I pray you will reconsider. The blogosphere will only serve the purposes of those who hate us, and will convince no serious people who care about the Church. Take care.

Samuel: Whether the event happened or not, without a complainant, it is all "allegations", and this will not serve to help at all. I am so tired of our own launching crusades that only serve to discredit us.

JTO Editor: You said you were done. Go to journeytoorthodoxy@gmail.com with further communications.

Samuel: Okay, I hear you. I am. May the justice of God prevail.

JTO Editor: Thank you. I look forward to your comments once you read the article.

Samuel: Nope. I will not justify such a thing with my comments. You are convinced. I shall tend to the plank in my own eye.


Chat Conversation End

I only have 28 things to say in response to Father Samuel (with a little help from the thesaurus):

"nonsense, rubbish, claptrap, balderdash, blather, moonshine, garbage, rot, tripe, jive, hogwash, baloney, drivel, bilge, bunk, eyewash, piffle, phooey, twaddle, bushwa, malarkey, gobbledygook, mumbo jumbo, bunkum, tommyrot, vulgar slangcrapola, verbal diarrhea!
"St. Paul would be horrified at "airing in a civil lawsuit" such a thing"?  No, holding the company line in regards to a sexual offender in the church would horrify Saint Paul. Saint Paul would not forget the words of Christ that we are to render to Caesar that which is Caesar's and to God that which is God's. We, as a church and you as a priest and our Bishop as a Bishop are obligated by civil law and by ecclesiastical mandate to report a crime to civil authorities. Did the ROCOR priest, to whom the victim reported the crime, contact the civil authorities? No. Did he contact even the parents? No. Did he contact his Bishop? He reportedly did not. THAT would horrify Saint Paul. What horrified Saint Paul in the church was allowing sexual impurity in the church to remain. A whole chapter in 1 Corinthians is devoted to the matter:

1 Corinthians 5 King James Version (KJV)
1 It is reported commonly [as has been done in this case for 14 years] that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife. [or a deacon raped a 15-year-old girl, HIS GODDAUGHTER, and afterward was ordained a priest]
2 And ye are puffed up, [that means "pride"] and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. [rather, you are mourning that numerous people are reporting it. Would you attempt to dissuade Saint Paul from writing his letter as I and others have done about this matter? Seems Saint Paul's letter went public also.] 
3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, [do we pronounce shame on Saint Paul for pronouncing judgment?] as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,

4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,

5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. [or you can care more about the reputation of ROCOR. The priest's soul be damned]

6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? [Paul would be horrified at those who would cover for the sin of one man and not have the health of the whole church in mind.]

7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:

10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.

11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? [or..."What business of mine is it to judge those outside the church. ARE YOU NOT TO JUDGE THOSE INSIDE? God will judge those outside. EXPEL THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOU."]

13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.


FR Samuel Seamans
LT Samuel Seamans
The irony and hypocrisy of this priest, who has decided to run interference for an alleged sexual criminal, is illustrated by the fact that, in his prior career, this priest was a police lieutenant and is seen (photo) hauling in a sexual predator. What about in our own ROCOR, "Father LT"? Are you willing to haul in the sexual predator there or does he get a pass? You know, as well as I, that victims of sexual crimes, especially children, often do not come forward for years. This is why the Orthodox mother has been so active against her daughter's wishes and this is why this JTO Editor privately brought new evidence and investigation to the attention of the Metropolitan-which he brushed off. Another irony is that you attempt to dissuade the use of social media and yet you posted on Facebook a quote from John Chrysostom about speaking evil of another--with my full name attached to it. Did YOU get your Bishop's blessing to do so? 


Hypocrisy: the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one's own behavior does not conform; pretense.

It seems Father Samuel Seamans is also ripe for some proverbial wisdom: "He that answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame unto him." He rebuked me before even reading the article and seeing the evidence. I am seasoned enough to know that as a result of posting the article on social media [which is, in this case, this blog), I will be subject to more of this ignorant knee-jerk diatribe, while such attackers ignore the fact that, WE (allegedly) HAVE A CRIMINAL RAPIST PRIEST IN ROCOR! 

It was you, Father Seamans, in a published newspaper article, who said, 
"The truth is that since the beginning of time there have been good men and good women who have stood in the path of those who would do evil in our world, even if it would cost them their lives," said Seamans, the Mountain Home police department chaplain."
If good men and women police officers stand in the path of those who would do evil, you find that commendable, but if good men and women in the church discover embedded evil, they are to keep the path clear, be "obedient", shut up and sit down? How is this a righteous and godly stance?

When it comes to religious Hierarchy who fail repeatedly, over months or years, to ecclesiastically deal with sexual criminal clergy in their ranks, one will have to expect that SOCIAL MEDIA will be the next step. It is a fact of life, no matter how much clergy oppose it. Kind of hard to run interference when the issue is no longer subject to controllers. The controllers of information are, in essence, enablers to sexual misconduct and Social Media limits their power to hide the sin of their fellow clergy. Too bad if it breaks through their circle of ecclesiastical wagons. Too bad if it makes them feel vulnerable. Too bad if church enemies may use the bad report to attack the church. Rightfully so! If the church is in unrepentant sin, it deserves a public scouring. If the church does not choose righteousness, then our Lord may allow our enemies to buffet us until we repent. The alternative is that the hidden and secret leaven will fester and spread. Does anyone need to be reminded that a little leaven leavens the whole loaf? Why did God put prophets in the body of Christ if not to speak to, seek out, expose the leaven? How do we know of King David's sin today? Whoops! Someone talked. Wrote it down. It went public and did we not all learn from it? And the Body of Christ is still here. If Hierarchs decide to protect their see, priests or parishes, rather than protect the salvation of the people, then it is time to prophesy in the light of day. If they refuse to act according to the dictates of their office, then "Let their days be few and another take their office."

No, we, the Orthodox laymen and concerned clergy, will not be quiet, Father Seamans, and it is futile for anyone to use their position of authority to attack or intimidate the "good men and women" who expose sin. I will not be the first who has exposed the sin of a church only to be ecclesiastically censured, suspended, excommunicated for disobeying a "request" to be quiet. A request, not an order. One can decline a request, but an order must be given to be in disobedience. What will ROCOR say if they bring ecclesiastical pressure to bear on the messenger while allowing a rapist ROCOR priest to prepare the Eucharist for his parish next week? Why would the messenger be the problem? You may say, "Because you didn't handle it the right way." What? And ROCOR did? For 14 years ROCOR has known about this. ROCOR did not handle it the right way. ROCOR refused to correct its error in private when it had the opportunity. 

Allowing this 14-year-old leaven to remain has produced exactly what the scripture warns will happen. The leaven is spreading. A second sexual offender has recently been ordained by the same ROCOR Bishop...and this high profile offender, who was expelled from seminary, serves in YOUR church, Father Seamans. It is no wonder that this current exposure is particularly problematic for you and why you lobbied so hard to shut it down. 

I love our Lord. I love our church and I love our Metropolitan. I love the widow and the orphan. I love the innocent. I hate predators and the wolves who prey upon the innocent. THERE IS NO PLACE FOR THEM IN ROCOR! NONE! I also have little patience or respect for "Holy Men Who Run Interference". But the fact that they do is the very reason why good men and women are "launching crusades" as you say. It is for these reasons that I posted: RAPE AND THE HOLY MAN An expose' of the alleged rape of a 15-year-old girl by a priest in ROCOR. It is also for these reasons that the next JTO post will be:

Sex And The Seminarian -The expelled married seminarian who committed a high-profile sexual offense with an 18-year-old girl and the ROCOR Bishop who recently ordained him to the deoconate.

The father of the girl is now your fellow priest serving as an Orthodox Military Chaplain in Afganistan. Can you imagine his dismay to recently learn that the man who nearly destroyed his family was found worthy to be ordained a deacon, by ROCOR Bishop Hilarion and apparently deemed worthy by you, Father Seamans? Apparently, the sexual predator and adulterer was also found worthy, by Father Mark Rowe, Vicar of the ROCOR WR, to serve at the annual ROCOR WR youth camp. ROCOR parents, were you aware of this?

"And you are proud! Shouldn't you rather have been stricken with grief and removed from your fellowship the man who did this?" Saint Paul

But you, Father Seamans, suggest that I and others who would speak out publicly, not as the first resort but the last resort, are worthy as well... but only of vilification. This ought not so to be!


In times such as these, THANK GOD FOR SOCIAL MEDIA!

2 comments:

  1. Carol Stephens {Editor's Note: Mother in Rape And The Holy Man]
    Jan 24, 2019, 2:58 PM (3 days ago)
    to me

    I read the commentary by Fr. Samuel. What needs to be considered is what a shady operation Agape Community really was. The sons of Fr. Gregory WIlliams obviously felt entitled to the daughters of the parish and all were fair "game". They were oblivious to laws outside of their own little cult. Their skewed upbringing had a lot to do with it. Unfortunately, my promising (would have been) G.A.T.E. student (she had been invited to the program prior to my husband moving us to the cult) became prey. John Williams [Editor's Note: Father Matthew Williams' Brother] hit on most of my older daughters, including the married one. He seduced a girl and impregnated her from another familty prior to our arrival on the scene. [Name omitted]'s daughter was also seduced, as she was there on reform from a juvenile institution at the time. [She] was under the guise that she had her daughter in a safe environment for spiritual growth. I thought my kids were safe. Again, you are very much a hero. I am glad you remain in good standing. Religious scammers must be called out to maintain the purity of the church. Clergy are subject to the very same laws as the general public. Their immunity is a self propagated myth. I cleaned up all of the beer bottles at the Good Shepard House after the clergy conferences. Feel free to use this letter in any public forum.

    -Carole

    ReplyDelete
  2. What's more, my sons were god children of Fr. Matthew at the time and my three youngest daughters were god children of his matushka. I allowed this daughter to help them care for their young children. The couple formed an unhealthy alliance with my girl-- then she was raped on a babysitting errand. This daughter sang in the cleros from the age of ten. We were buying property from the father of Father Matthew (the late Fr. Gregory Williams of Agape Community ) but were ousted once I started my own investigation into the matter after my older children brought it to my attention. I circulated letters to every priest who knew Fr. Gregory and Fr. Matthew. Reader Nathan and the late Father Gordon Walker and Father Stephen Rogers are the only sympathetic clergy members who tried to help rectify the matter. Fr. Kentigern McCaffrey of Hanceville, AL was involved in the cover-up, as was Fr. Anastasy (who actually heard of the crime directly after it happened from my bewildered daughter who had come to him in tears). A senior priest should be categorized with teachers and doctors as a mandated reporter.

    ReplyDelete

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