For those under 30, it's a distinct reality that much of what we've known of organized religion is one sex scandal after another. Granted, those of us raised in the Catholic Church had a closer look than most -- I'm still unsure if the Father Nguyen to whom I once confessed, and who was later defrocked under sexual allegation, is currently imprisoned or not -- but between Jack Schaap, Ted Haggard, and Eddie Long, it seems that you can't toss a bucket of holy water without hitting a pastor trying to leave his sexual imprint on today's kids.
Now, coming out of The Church of Corinth, located just outside Dallas, comes another purportedly lascivious pastor lusting after one of his congregation's youth. And not only is there audio proof attached to the allegations of sexual impropriety, but we also have accusations that the church the pastor's left behind if trying to prohibit anyone from sending their public thoughts and prayers to the girl he allegedly attempted to force to disrobe.
Jeffrey Dale Williams has been charged with third-degree sexual assault, a felony which could send him away for up to a decade. According to the affidavit, Williams, who had been pastor at the church for nearly 15 years, entered a room with the girl, "locked the door and put a chair up against the door. ... [He] then tried to persuade her for over two hours off and on to remove her clothes so he could see her naked." WFAA further reported that Corinth police were looking for a second potential victim.
David Fink, a spokesperson for the church, emailed Hair Balls a statement regarding the case. "We have no knowledge of nor any reason to suspect any inappropriate behavior," Fink wrote. "We intend to and will fully investigate the allegations, and we will fully cooperate with the authorities. Our prayers go out to this family of our Church."
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However, Fink would not address the church's purported actions following Williams' arrest. Per Harold Cook, the former executive director of the Texas Democratic Party, the church has been allowing comments directing prayers to the pastor and his family -- but deleting those offering prayers for the young woman in question:
What kind of a church decides there's absolutely no room to pray for a child who has been sexually victimized? None of us are in a position to judge whether this pastor is a child molester. Although one would have to think that a two-hour audio tape will make things pretty clear in a hurry, that is ultimately for courts to decide. But what kind of church is so focused on circling the wagons and protecting their pastor that they specifically reject any notion of praying for victims who are children?
Among the comments deleted are such harsh words as "A prayer for your pastor is a good thing, I'm sure. But how about sparing a prayer for the young girl" and "Prayers for the young girl." Because Fink did not answer Hair Balls's questions on the purported whitewashing, we were going to put Cook's theory to the test -- but then the Church of Corinth decided to delete their Facebook page altogether. Better to bury the wagons than to keep circling them, we suppose.
We'll keep checking to see if the church's now-defunct URL comes back live, but until then, it may behoove the Church of Corinth to realize that the Internet has a long memory, and that you look especially venal if you're trying to block sympathy for a girl your pastor's accused of sexually assaulting.