Archive for April, 2012

COGIC leadership committed to “justice”?

April 25, 2012 1 comment

How hypocritical of the COGIC leadership to issue a pile-on, statement about “justice” in the Martin-Zimmerman saga, but continue to be the source of injustice to victims of clergy sexual abuse and sexual immorality within the denomination. According to a statement filed April 16th on the church’s website, it allegedly is “committed to the principle that justice must indeed be blind”.

“That belief was in the minds of the founding fathers as they labored to create an enduring nation. Adherence to that principle requires all those who are alleged to have broken the law be required to appear before the bar of justice to answer for their alleged actions.

The circumstances surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin raise reasonable questions about the legality of George Zimmerman’s actions. The appropriate venue to determine if his actions were lawful or unlawful is within a court of law where Zimmerman’s guilt or innocence will be determined by a jury of his peers according to the best traditions of our system of justice.”

But there has been little justice for the numerous victims of clergy sexual abuse in the denomination. The Church hasn’t pursued any justice for victims of gross sexual misconduct in its own ranks. Over and over it plays possum or acts as if the crimes committed its clergy (which continue to increase) are isolated problems which have nothing to do with it photoshopped policies. Women and children (both male and female) are abused, raped, molested, manipulated by bishops, superintendents, pastors and ministers.  For a denomination that has such a poor public record on justice, its shameful to issue such a message.

Its especially egregious considering that April is Sexual Assault/Molestation Awareness Month.  For obvious reasons, there was no statement issued by COGIC on  sexual assault awareness.

Steve Nelson, President of The Hope of Survivors states,“For a victim, the church is a haven of refuge—a harbor of safety—and when abuse is perpetrated from a spiritual leader, that abuse is directly connected to Christ. It appears as if God Himself approved the terrible pain and suffering they experienced by His representative. For this reason, God had to act [referring to the case of Eli & his sons] to preserve the sacredness of His holy character. For the sake of His people, justice demanded that judgment be served.”

He continues, “And today, thousands of years later, there are those who still fail in their responsibility to protect the vulnerable sheep from the devastating effects of abuse by a spiritual leader. When a transgression of this nature takes place, those who refuse to correct the evil done by a fallen minister are guilty of the same sinful neglect to God’s heritage as was Eli.”

The Elis in COGIC have allowed its “sons” to run unchecked and undisciplined long enough. And until victory is won, Report COGIC Abuse will continue to cry aloud and spare not, showing this people their sins and transgressions.

More: Reporting sexual misconduct in COGIC; resources for survivors of clergy sexual abuse click here and here

COGIC Pastor Milton Wells to stand trial for 10 counts of sexual assault

April 13, 2012 1 comment

A Michigan news outlet reported March 8th that the brother of General Board member Bishop Nathaniel Wells has been ordered by a Michigan judge to stand trial on multiple counts of criminal sexual assault of two young girls who were members of his local church.
Pastor Milton Wells had served as a Southeast Regional Administrator for Western Michigan Jurisdiction and was a well known community activist.  News media reports say that after an investigation was launched in 2010, Wells “stepped down” as pastor of the Open Door Ministries COGIC in Kalamazoo.

The charges are serious and according to detectives who investigated, Wells carried on the sexual assault of two girls under 13 years old at his home, his church and at a movie theater. [source]

A well-known Kalamazoo pastor and local coordinator for the county’s prisoner re-entry program has been charged with 10 counts of felony sexual assault, court records show.

Milton Wells, 62, was arraigned Wednesday in Kalamazoo County District Court on two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and eight counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct.

The charges involve two victims under the age of 13 and stem from incidents that are alleged to have occurred between January 2010 and June 2011 and May to July 2011, district court records show.

Wells, reached by phone Thursday, declined to comment about the case but did confirm that he stepped down as pastor at Open Door Ministries Church of God In Christ in 2010 when the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office began investigating him. He said he also stepped down as the local coordinator for Kalamazoo County’s Michigan Prisoner Re-entry Initiative, as well as other leadership positions.

The married community activist, charged with sexually assaulting the two girls who were members of his former congregation,  waived an evidentiary hearing Thursday in Kalamazoo County District Court and was ordered to stand trial.

A Kalamazoo County sheriff’s detective who obtained an arrest warrant for Wells in January told a district court judge that Wells allegedly took one of the girls to the Kalamazoo 10 movie theater on West Main Street on a regular basis and would sexually assault her while a movie was playing.

The detective also testified at the Jan. 30 court hearing that the girl estimated she and Wells had sex 19 to 20 times at locations that included his Texas Township home and his former church at 416 Phelps St. in Kalamazoo.

“Dark shadows” over the church

Local station WWMT TV 3 reported the mother of one the victims said, “We regret that a dark shadow has been cast upon the church, but this is something that cant be overlooked or swept away. We want there to be an awareness of being an advocate for your children and protecting your children in any case.”

“Our families are very hurt, angry and dissappointed (sic) at how things have come to the forefront. How [can] a man that we trusted, not only spiritually but naturally, manipulate not only our children but our families?”

Dark shadows indeed. Although the mother wants an “awareness” and advocacy, unfortunately there is none in COGIC. The denomination’s Women’s Department has a blackout silence on the issue although most of the victims are women and children. Few COGIC bishops address the issue openly and a victims advocacy plan presented to the church’s general board was rejected without comment. Victims of COGIC clergy can only expect to be treated with silent disdain as if they have sullied the name, image and assets of the denomination. If a court rules against the church it will pay money fix the problems. Presiding Bishop Blake complained to the church’s General Assembly about increasing settlement costs in 2010.

But despite the silent indifference of COGIC leadership, the evidence against them is clear and mounting without fail. Far too many COGIC leaders are enslaved to unrestrained sexual immorality —both homosexual and heterosexual. Since Report COGIC Abuse began documenting cases of sexual abuse in 2010, almost 70 cases involving all levels of leadership  have been unearthed. [sources here and here].

Related: Watch Wells talk about his community work with poverty. [VIDEO]