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RCA seeking legal analyst

September 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Report COGIC Abuse is seeking a legal analyst for general opinion/commentary on cases involving clergy sexual abuse, land-property issues, and various other COGIC related situations involving legal aspects.

Description: A legal analyst is a legal professional who thinks about legal problems, developing written communications which summarize legal issues and discuss several approaches to legal challenges.

RCA seeks to help COGIC laypersons understand more fully what legal ramifications could come to bear as cases arise at greater frequency. In addition, analyze and interpret official denominational responses to legal issues, proposed policy in the aforementioned spectrum.

Qualifications desired: knowledge of jurisprudence and how it may apply to religiously connected issues, a member or former member of COGIC with a good working knowledge of COGIC polity and US sexual abuse laws.  Will consider mature law student.

This position is unpaid and voluntary. If interested, please contact Toni Loving, staff researcher at anntwalov@yahoo.com. In the subject line, please include “legal analyst”.

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Categories: announcements

Breaking news: Bishop Charles Brown sexual abuse survivors speak out publicly

September 19, 2012 5 comments

New ground has been broken in favor of COGIC clergy sexual abuse survivors. The three victims of Bishop Charles Brown are telling their story publicly for the first time. Brown, who currently sits as pastor of the Williams Temple COGIC in Houston escaped prison earlier this year on a legal technicality.

Four days after that ruling,  the denomination’s General Board immediately reinstated Blake’s longtime friend to office. The previous suspension was lifted “without further comment”.  This left the impression that Brown was not guilty.  But Brown was never exonerated of his sexual crimes against the three young girls, thus he should have never been reinstated.   Report COGIC Abuse also published an exclusive report exposing the General Board who secretly paid off the victims.

But now, those women are speaking out in an exclusive interview with Dunamis Word blog which has helped to document the coverup and complicity by the Blake administration.

The time has come to hold Bishop Charles Blake, Sr. accountable for his role in these matters. According to one of the victims only one other person knew them as well as Brown knew them.

[…]one of the survivors states that until the interviews, which can be heard above, only ONE other person in the church has ever made contact with any of them. That was the Bishop Charles E. Blake, who spoke to one of the victims, as he knew them very well for a number of years. Unfortunately, that conversation was over some 15 years ago before Bishop Blake became Presiding Bishop.”

Report COGIC Abuse calls on faithful bishops in the church to immediately remove Bishop Charles Brown from office and launch a full and independent investigation as to Bishop Blake’s personal knowledge of these crimes. There is nothing more important than the truth.

Read the story and listen to the audio interviews here.

COGIC officials in Albany NY kept pedophile elders secret

September 19, 2012 Leave a comment

A SPECIAL RCA REPORT

Beginning in the late 70s, Church of God in Christ officials in New York’s capital city knew about multiple child sex abuses committed by five different  pedophiles. Instead of protecting children, church officials shielded the pedophiles and concealed their crimes. In one case, three generations of family members had been sexually molested. Two of the pedophile elders were in position at Wilborn Temple COGIC, the other three at St Johns COGIC.  That’s what a lengthy and detailed letter made public last month, alleges. The two stately looking, intown churches have for decades harbored pedophiles who preyed on a still undetermined number of children.

Written by Christopher Davis, a project management consultant and son of a local COGIC pastor in Albany, New York, the letter characterized what he had uncovered as a “coming storm” due to the layers of deceit and ignorance of the Albany COGIC community.

“You can choose to ignore this coming storm and leave yourself to its perils or you can arm yourself with knowledge, understanding and wisdom. You can choose to think for yourself or let someone else think for you, but know in your choice is your fate. Know and understand that in judgment you stand alone and on your works and your deeds. The single thing which separates man from all of God’s creations is the ability of cognitive thought; it is this in which we are made in His image. In relinquishing your right and responsibility to think for yourself you have forsaken your humanity and in turn you have forsaken God who created you in His image.”

Davis, who now lives in New Jersey, said that he came upon the decades long sexual abuse situations while he was in the process of helping a church deal with rebuilding after fire damage.

“In January 2012 Blessed Hope Worship Center, a COGIC affiliate under Pastor Ronald Howard, experienced a fire which damaged their church home on Central Avenue in Albany, New York. The damage to the church was extensive and Pastor Howard recognized his limitations in navigating the church through the many hurdles they would have to face in rebuilding. Through then Superintendent and Pastor James Davis, Pastor Howard contacted me, to ask for my assistance in their endeavors to rebuild.”

Conversations with Howard eventually revealed an incidence of pedophilia committed against a 10 year old boy  of which the perpetrator was still an active COGIC leader.

Davis told Report COGIC Abuse that despite damning evidence he presented (including the personal testimony of a victim), he encountered a shocking corporate attitude among COGIC leaders, including  Western New York First jurisdiction Bishop James R. Wright. Most of the leaders showed more concern for the doctrine and rules of the church, than the victim. The callous and insensitive responses sounded like the words issued by COGIC’s Presiding Bishop in October 2007, when clergy sexual abuse issues begin to gain attention.

“We now live in a litigious society. People file lawsuits for every conceivable grievance, whether real or imagined. To protect the name, image, and assets of the Church of God in Christ, we must take positive steps to seriously investigate very case of alleged sexual abuse by the clergy. We must stand behind and support those who are falsely accused of sexual improprieties and found innocent by the courts. We must also insure that the Church act quickly to take firm and positive action against those who violate the sanctity of their positions and are found guilty of sexual abuse and other sexual improprieties.”

Although, he was no longer connected to the COGIC community he grew up in, Davis said  the plight of the victims and the cloud of darkness compelled him to move forward to uncover the truth.

“In May 2012 I began a series of interviews with this victim. The victim has long been a member of various COGIC and non-COGIC churches as a musician. The victim provided a fairly detailed account of abuse he had endured beginning at the age of 6 and continuing through becoming an adult. According to victim’s testimony, abuse in COGIC began at St. John’s church at the age of 12. For this individual, the cycle of church abuse began with a minister who at first was musically connected to the victim but soon this connection led into sexual activity which continued over several years. In addition to the victim’s adolescent involvement with the aforementioned minister, testimony of involvement with an elder involved with numerous musical groups, an adult church musician, a minister and an adult church lay member were all detailed. Of the five noted pedophiles, three were members of St. John’s and two members of Wilborn’s Temple at the time of the abuse in the mid-1970’s. Abuse by the elder involved with numerous musical groups began at the age of 14 years old and involved not only the abuser and the abused but other adults and minors as well. The abuse victim states that he was introduced to orgies in the loft at Garland Brothers Funeral Home.”

Despite the evidence, after the meeting, Davis discovered Bishop Wright was unsympathetic to the victims.  He wrote, “Based on the previous day’s meeting with Superintendent Clark having disclosed additional issues with the offending pastor I was quite confident that Bishop Wright had to be aware of these issues as well. In the end, Bishop Wright stated that his concern was exposing the church (COGIC) to a lawsuit from the pedophile and that the jurisdiction didn’t have money to deal with the victims anyways. Completely disgusted with the response from Bishop Wright I alerted him of my resolve to contact the national church organization and that I would bring this issue to the forefront in the coming months.”

Depending on the outcome of the case, COGIC, Inc could be facing for the first time a federal level investigation into child sex crimes.  In October last year a  Kansas City Catholic bishop was arrested for failing to report suspected child sexual abuse.

At the table

COGIC officials identified in the letter as attending various meetings where information about the pedophile activities of COGIC elders in Western NY First Jurisdiction was discussed.

Supt McKinley Johnson
Bishop Jeffery Melvin
Elder Alexander
Bishop James Wright
Supt Cornelius Clark
Pastor Ronald Howard
Supt JL Griffin
Supt James Davis
Dr. Charles Guthrie
Bishop Leroy Anderson (deceased 2008)

House of Prayer or Den of Thieves?

Churches which have been identified as harboring pedophile COGIC ministers

St John’s COGIC
Wilborn Temple

Read or download the entire letter addressed to Capitol Region COGIC Churches

Visit Christopher Davis’ website  for additional information

RCA marks 3 year anniversary today

September 8, 2012 Leave a comment

Today on the birthday of our beloved founder CH Mason, we give praises to God for 3 years of labor to bring awareness, accountability and assistance to victims of clergy sexual abuse in the Church of God in Christ.   In 2009, God gave us a vision where the river of justice was blocked with debris and our goal has been to remove the debris and allow the river of justice to flow freely. We first launched the website, then as the mission expanded in March 2011, we added this blog to make information and education more accessible.   I want to thank Ms Toni Loving for joining me in this great effort to help heal the hurts of so many who had no where to turn. Also gratitude to Pastor Burnett and Elder Stidham for hours and hours of consulting and advice so that God would be glorified in this difficult, but needed assignment. Still, our work is not done. As we move forward, we anticipate in faith that the will of God will be done despite the obstruction of ungodly men. In this, we ask for your prayers and support until victory is won. —Pastor DL Foster

Repost from our original announcement.

September 8, 2009

On behalf on a growing group of concerned parents, leaders and former clergy sexual abuse survivors of the Church of God in Christ, I am pleased to announce the launch of ReportCOGICAbuse.com.

The site has been in months of planning, researching and developing.  And we felt it appropriate to launch it on Bishop CH Mason’s birthday to honor his call to holiness, purity and righteousness and to alert people to a growing problem affecting a cross section of the church’s constituency.

Mason, called one of the most influential spiritual leaders of the 20th century, was born September 8, 1866 just outside Memphis, Tennessee and later founded what has become the nation’s largest black pentecostal denomination.

The site’s main goal is to empower the people of COGIC with solid information, resources and a grass roots friendly instrument to fight the culture of silence and inaction which emboldens sexual predators to continue their devastation upon innocent men, women and children. We believe  Bishop Mason would not have stood by silently in the face of such grave abuses of someone’s sexual sanctity.  The site also raises up the profile and plight of victims and the families who are often quickly pushed to the side and forgotten.

We also take this occasion to once again call on Bishop Charles Blake and the leadership of COGIC to demonstrate true leadership by supporting reform and stricter accountability measures in the church.

Future plans include press conferences, awareness seminars, cross-denominational partnering and an expanded database of convicted clergy sexual offenders.

Visit www.reportCOGICabuse.com

COGIC ‘business as usual’ an indictment

September 7, 2012 1 comment

COGIC leaders are in Memphis today conducting “business as usual” despite new, public accusations that a prominent Detroit based Bishop has impregnated a young woman and offered to pay for an abortion. That Bishop is widely believed to be AIM Chairman J. Drew Sheard, son of the Board of Bishops Chairman John H. Sheard. Sheard is also husband of gospel singer Karen Clark Sheard. Any allegations of sexual immorality among leaders should be cause for immediate suspension until such time as an individual has been cleared legally and spiritually, but not when you operate under the business as usual schema. That became clear after Bishop Charles Blake consecrated the grossly immoral Joesph Hogan, Sr. to the bishopric. Hogan’s consecration sent a message to every immoral leader in the church that it was okay to continue business as usual. Whether that was impregnating women and paying for abortions, sex with young men and paying them to keep quiet, using prostitutes during Holy Convocation or protecting the sex secrets of fellow leaders, it would be okay. The ONLY exception seems to be money. Only then will certain prosecution follow.

Bishopping 101
The bible is clear and there is no shadow of turning in its qualifying instructions for the man who would be bishop. Titus 1: 7 For an overseer,[e] as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. (our bold).

When it comes to the flesh and sex, a bishop must exercise self control and discipline. Otherwise with the magnitude of his influence, the attraction of his persona, his charisma will bring him numerous opportunities to indulge himself sexually. If he does not exercise due diligence in his sexual life (apart from his wife or 100% celibate if single) he will endanger the flock and invite the same spirits to have free reign among those under his jurisdiction.

Secondly, 1 Timothy 3:7 adds this qualifier: Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

A bishop cannot have a bad character/reputation report. This doesnt include false accusations, it means that there is a consistent cloud of suspicious/unseemly behavior following him due to his own actions. This extends even to the unsaved. They must not be able to “spot” the bishop’s life inasmuch as his ethics is concerned.

If this is not valued, the bishop will “fall into reproach by giving way to the excesses of his former life [of sin].

So, listen closely as the speaker Dickerson Wells (who himself was fired after accusations of theft) lays out with stunning accuracy the corporate leadership culture of the Church of God in Christ. Sexual immorality under the Blake administration has literally exploded with no end in sight. Notice also the nervous expressions and body language of the seated leaders behind him. Some of them (and their relatives in leadership) are guilty of the sins he calls out. Many of them attempt to play off the conviction falling upon them, but the obvious is obvious.

Business as usual conclusion.

Delaware money battle ignites more legal threats

September 4, 2012 3 comments

The festering  fallout after the November 2011 trial of embattled Delaware Bishop Thomas Holsey has flared up again.

This time, charges of perjury and what could amount to receiving stolen property have been aired, implicating  the Church of God in Christ’s top leaders including its Presiding Bishop and 1st Assistant Presiding Bishop.

In response, threats of lawsuits and legal challenges have surfaced after Holsey sent a letter to Board of Bishop’s Chair John Sheard, demanding assistance in recouping loans from his jurisdiction totaling over $700,000.  The largest indebtor?: Bishop PA Brooks who is accused of receiving almost $200,000 of some four million dollars of “missing money”. In response, both Blake and Brooks have released open letters of defense against the charges.

Brooks wrote to Delaware jurisdictional leaders that Bishop Blake had removed Holsey for insubordination and even cited Titus 1:7 requiring that a bishop be blameless as biblical justification for the removal from office.

“As of July 16th, 2010, due to Bishop Thomas Holsey [sic] refusal to cooperate with the Episcopal Oversight Committee (EOC), having no other remedy to protect the best interest of the Jurisdiction but to place interim leadership; pursuant to page 5, paragraph (a) and pages 17 and 18, of the Official Manual, over the Jurisdiction. As noted, “Given the gravity and the emergency nature of the situation”, Bishop Blake has appointed me as the interim Jurisdictional Bishop until such time things are stable or other leadership protocols are defined an [sic] implemented.” [source]

Holsey later faced a trial of his peers, but according to some sources the verdict was overturned. Then in July, a letter from a group claiming to represent the Board of Bishops demanded Bishop Blake cease from “degrading” Holsey’s character. An intervention was staged during the 2012 AIM convention in Birmingham.

Shouldn’t a bishop be blameless?

With all of the accusations, charges, counter-charges and legal threats, wouldn’t such actions  disqualify a bishop according to 1 Timothy 3:2? A bishop must be blameless, it reads. By blameless, it should be understood that sinless perfection is not the standard, but rather that a bishop’s life should be above reproach before consecration and remain above reproach after consecration. If Holsey is in violation of Titus 1:7 and 1 Timothy 3:2, wouldn’t Blake and Brooks both be equally at blame until the matter is free and clear? Neither’s episcopal career has met the “above and beyond reproach” plumbline test.

All letters associated with this story can be found under the Letters and Document section.