Seventh-day Adventist Church Retaliates against Abuse Victim and her family.

This is a story about a woman who spoke out about her sexual, emotional, and spiritual abuse by her now ex-husband. Her local Church, the Conference, and the Union didn’t believe her story. Today, the Seventh-day Adventist Church is still retaliating against her and her family. Her father expects to be fired from his position as conference president this Sunday. And despite an array of experts ranging from psychologists, physicians, Child Protection Services, Police, child psychiatrists, and social workers giving their reports and expert opinions in the State Courts and their conclusions testifying to her ex-husband’s abuse of her and her children, the Church remains resolutely unmoved. There are currently nine ongoing cases, including two criminal cases.

Anita Erdeg Trto grew up in the home of an Adventist minister. Her mother worked as a Bible worker. Her father, Pastor Robert Erdeg, is currently the conference president of the North Conference.

Anita first met Caleb Quispe online when organizing a mission trip to Romania. Because she was underage, she could not go on the trip, but they kept in touch, and over time the relationship grew. After a whirlwind of long-distance dating, they were married on February 20, 2011, in Peru. Caleb took up the job of being a pastor in Peru.

While Anita was a virgin, Caleb had had sex before marriage. He agreed that they would remain chaste during their dating until they were married. She wrote, “our wedding night was a traumatic experience where I cried myself to sleep. On the other hand, he believed there is a problem in my head.” In a foreign country, not knowing the language or the culture, Anita felt isolated and alone until she learned the language. A couple of months into their marriage, she was raped while asleep after taking a sleeping pill. She reports that she “woke up to excruciating pain that comes with rape.”

She almost lost both babies in the first trimester. Her pregnancies were very complicated, which her husband couldn’t “understand since his grandmother gave birth, took a shower, and went back to the fields to work. So, he believed it’s not that bad.” He thought she was overreacting when she expressed pain during her first pregnancy at a game night. He was reluctant to leave the game night since being the center of attention was essential to him.

With her second pregnancy, she was hospitalized because the birth started too early, and the baby wasn’t ready to breathe on its own yet. She was on constant IV medication to keep the baby inside her. Her husband demanded the doctor induce labor or discharge her because he was unwilling to pay “such a high bill,” even though the Church was paying 75% of the medical costs. She was discharged against medical advice, and the baby was born prematurely. When he was six weeks old, he had to have surgery and got sepsis from the surgery and barely survived. He continued to have multiple health problems, including “hip problems, a tumor, and autoimmune disease.” Because of his early health struggles, he must be on a stringent diet. When it came to the divorce, Caleb said to her, “I will take (their daughter), and you keep (their son). He is sick anyways.”

The doctor forbade them from having sex not to endanger the fetus during the pregnancies. Caleb would complain to young girls about how hard it was to control his libido and ask them how they control their libido and have other inappropriate conversations with them that included sexting.

According to Anita’s testimony,[1] Caleb “always had a lot of female friends. He always had to guide them, give them advice, check up on them, tell them how beautiful and sexy they were to boost their self-esteem, or bring them closer to God.” His rationale was that, in his culture, men like to flirt a lot.”

When Anita found inappropriate messages and photos on his cellphone, he locked down all his electronic devices for years because he said he “needed his privacy. I am too jealous and don’t understand his ‘friendships.'”

Throughout their marriage, she suspected her Caleb of cheating on her. There were times when he would accidentally forget to close his chat windows or forget to delete his chats. Once, she found a chat where he told a girl to meet up with him at night because he had told his wife he would play football. Anita’s mother-in-law saw the chat and called him back home. Another time, when he helped a female friend, and she asked him how she could repay the favor, he replied, “with some good sex.” He treated it as a joke among friends. And there were the times when Anita found photos of “girls in their underwear, and half-naked girls” on his phone when it was unlocked. He usually had a good explanation for them and sometimes no explanation, but she had to accept it.

His flirting, sexting and affairs were her fault. He spent all their money every month, and her family was forced to pay to help them get to the end of the month. They paid for his university education, vacations, and medical bills. She was never skinny enough or fit enough. He wanted her to get breast implants “for her good.” She was never allowed to have any friends or talk about what was happening at home because he believed all of them were backstabbers and as a pastor’s family, “they could trust no one.” He had full access to her social media accounts and blocked off her friends when it suited him. He would take great care to project an image of a happy family. He would “upload [her] photos after he photoshopped them, so that [she] had a smaller waist and bigger breasts, smoother skin, and digital makeup. It all had to be perfect.”

After three years of working as a pastor in Peru, the Union decided that it was time to ordain him. They came to their house to prepare them for his ordination. Then suddenly, there was a change of plans, and they were sent away to another Union where he would continue to serve as a district pastor. After their divorce, Anita found out that he had an inappropriate relationship at his workplace, and that is why the Union transferred him so that no one would find out. Caleb told her that “God is calling me to another place.” Anita suffered sexually transmitted infections (STIs) during her time in Peru. After her divorce, those STI events ended.

After their divorce, some church members contacted her from Peru and told her they could see that she was being abused, but they stayed quiet because she didn’t verbalize it. A family of a girl who had an affair with her ex-husband reached out to her. Caleb would bring her around to the house and tell Anita that she had nowhere to go. Anita sent that particular “confession” of the affair from that girl’s family to Nataśha Mihajlović, who forwarded it to her husband, Conference President, Boźidar Mihajlović.

Bit by bit, her mental and emotional strength began to crumble. She could not let others know that she was unhappy and was afraid of what people would think and say. Who would ever believe her because their marriage looked perfect from the outside? Caleb told her that the source of their unhappiness was the lack of support from the administration. And her lack of adjustment to the Peruvian culture, and since she was unhappy, they both were unhappy.

So, when the call came for them to move to Bosnia to work, she was overjoyed. Caleb was joyful, too, as his affairs were beginning to surface. Anita feels that the move to Bosnia saved her life, and she will forever be grateful to them for giving her and her children a chance at a normal existence because if she had stayed in Peru, Caleb would have never let her leave with her children. She truly believed that a location change would bring a change in her marriage and that they would be able to figure out how to function together.

Alas, after coming to Mostar, nothing changed. Caleb spent most of his days watching movies and porn at night and sleeping half the day. He would preach and help with any tech work the media department needed. The rest was done by Anita, including taking care of the kids, filing legal documents, writing monthly reports of her husband’s ministry work. If she complained, he would say, “We came here for you; now be happy.” And worst of all, he started up right where he left in Peru, talking to pretty girls in both cities that he worked in – Trebinje and Mostar. He again started receiving inappropriate images and started deleting his history, but there were times that he forgot to do it. He talked to these girls in the middle of the night, telling them how pretty they were, and sending them valentines’ day greetings. He reasoned that this was all in attempts to “bring them closer to the church.”

Caleb would repeat the cycle of abuse, “honeymoon phase,” and then re-abuse. The honeymoon phase was the time when he would take her out to nice restaurants, get her presents, and treat her well. After years of gaslighting, Anita believed that the problem was with her, not him. And she was desperate to do anything to get back to the “honeymoon phase” of their relationship. And since she had promised to stay married in good times and bad, she felt that after the “bad time” or mistreatment would come the good times again. And they kept going through these cycles. Whenever Anita brought up the idea of counseling, Caleb steadfastly denied it, saying that the problem was between her and God.

After enduring seven years of gaslighting, abuse, and cheating, Anita writes that she made “the most horrible mistake.” She had an affair. Her therapist says she believes that she had an affair hoping that Caleb would leave her. But Anita feels that no explanation is “ethical to give because what I did was simply not moral nor ethical.” She takes full responsibility for her actions and her affair. However, she doubts she would have had an affair if she hadn’t been abused. “I was desperate to be enough, to be accepted, to feel loved, to have someone to be gentle with me, and that is where I fell.” But she was more miserable than ever. She couldn’t look at herself in the mirror, so she broke it off.

She confessed her affair to Caleb.

After the affair, Caleb agreed to professional counseling for the first time. Her parents paid for the sessions. However, he soon decided that he had a better way. He began confiding with a woman who had previously caused problems in their marriage. Caleb’s reason for confiding in her was that she wouldn’t share the details with anyone they knew. He had vacationed in Peru with her previously. And while he was complaining to Anita’s parents about how he missed her, he had sex video calls that were found on his computer, including one dated just before a baptism that he performed the following day.

After her confession, Caleb upped the psychological abuse. He kept her up at night for months. To get “closure,” he repeatedly asked her for every detail of her affair. He blackmailed the man she had an affair with and began to harass him until that man wanted to protect himself. Caleb then blamed Anita for “putting his life in danger.” [Editor’s Note: Years later, Caleb and others would falsely allege that Anita’s current husband was the man she had an affair with while she was with Caleb. Anita states that she never contacted that man she had an affair with ever again.]

Soon it was time for Caleb to be ordained.

Anita couldn’t bring herself to stand by his side with a clean conscience and lie to the Church for him to be ordained. Caleb wanted her to stay with him until he got his ordination, and then they could separate. He began to restrict her from going anywhere with her children for fear that she would leave with them and not come back. Somehow Anita’s parents, who lived in the neighboring country of Serbia, were able to go and help her and the kids leave.

There was no time to alert the Bosnian Conference administration that Anita felt her life and her kids’ lives were in danger. They were immediately put under police and social services protection when they arrived in Serbia. So, while she sought medical treatments for some medical conditions such as ulcerative colitis, she was not in a good mental state to share her story with any male administrators. However, she did share her story with two wives of the top administrators of the Conference.

After escaping to her parent’s home, which was meant to be for a week, Caleb started text messaging her father, asking him to take Anita to a psychologist to help her understand that she needed to return to him. She went to a therapist, and the therapist diagnosed that she had been abused for years and had clear signs of trauma. Caleb refused to accept the therapist’s findings; he asked her to go to an “Adventist therapist who is pro-family.” But the Adventist therapist said the same thing. Then he requested that she go to a therapist of his choosing, but now Anita declined. Her mother took her to the Social worker’s office. As mandated reporters, they acted and opened a case for her immediately, beginning what has now turned into several civil cases and two criminal cases: one for domestic violence and the other for sexual abuse of a minor.

Over time, the police filed three emergency restraining orders on Caleb, and the Courts extended those restraining orders by thirty days at a time.

Conference Grievance Committee

The Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual provides a procedure for discipline that involves two mechanisms:[2]

  1. By a Vote of Censure
  2. By a Vote to remove from membership.

The Church Manual procedure (Page 63) is very clear that:

“Removing individuals from membership in the Church, the body of Christ, is the ultimate discipline that the Church can administer. Only after the instruction given in this chapter has been followed, after counsel from the pastor or the Conference when the pastor is unavailable, and after all possible efforts have been made to win and restore them to right paths should an individual be removed from membership.”

Several months later, at the end of May or the beginning of June 2019, the Union president, Dragan Gruijic, came to her parents’ home and interviewed Anita and Caleb separately. After the interview, Anita says that the President said that he had never met someone so manipulative as Caleb. He agreed that the Church should get rid of him as soon as possible. From that day on, Anita regularly sent President Gruijic updates on all aspects of her cases against her husband with details on every shred of uncovered evidence from the police, the child protection services, and the social workers. Each time, he promised that Caleb would be fired. He assured her that it would be taken care of and that she and her kids would be safe. After their separation, Anita’s absence was noted by the former women’s ministry director, Aranka Bajic, who contacted her directly. Anita let Mrs. Bajic know that she had fled to her family’s home due to Caleb’s abuse.

Aranka Bajic contacted her during the summer months. She tried to convince Anita to return to Caleb. Nothing Anita told her regarding the abuse in her marriage was a good enough reason for divorce. Mrs. Bajic believed that in the eyes of God, Anita would stay married to Caleb “forever.” “Divorce was just a paper.” “There is no rape in marriage.” “Just pray, and it will get better.” “If the people of the church ask you, don’t tell them anything because Caleb is staying as a pastor, and our dirty laundry would prevent them from coming to church.” After a while, Anita gave up talking to her. Mrs. Bajic’s husband would be a member of the Conference Grievance committee to evaluate her allegations against her husband.

Despite the assurances of the Union President that Caleb would be fired, in October of 2019, she was presented with a document to sign certifying that Caleb was “morally fit to be a pastor.” Anita refused. In December 2019, the Union board fired Caleb from ministry and recommended that he not be re-hired in any capacity for employment in the Church. The Union president and the General Secretary modified that order and allowed him to be re-hired as a studio technician (a demotion). Several board members later complained regarding this modification. Almost a year later, Anita brought up this in a tense phone call with the President of the Union.

In February 2020, Anita discovered that Caleb had been sent to Ukraine to represent the Bosnian Conference at a tech summit. She first spoke with the President of the Bosnian Conference about this. Later she talked to the youth director, Natasa Mihajlovic, who agreed to speak with her husband, President of the Bosnian Conference. After several months of delay, he finally decided to hear Anita’s story. For 1.5 hours, she met with him alone and told the entire story of her traumatic marriage down to the smallest detail. The experience was excruciating for her. After she was finished, he informed her that she would now have to tell the same story to a committee comprised of three individuals, all of whom were men. Anita objected to doing so because it was triggering her trauma. After some negotiation, the Conference agreed to form a Grievance Committee comprised of four people: Božidar Mihajlović – President of the Conference, Bojan Topic – Secretary of the Conference, Milan Bajić – (Anita’s relative, treasurer), Natasa Mihajlovic (Youth director – Anita asked that she be part of the committee). The committee then considered her testimony or conversation with the President and a letter in which she had outlined all her allegations against her husband, Pastor Caleb Quispe.[3]

The committee considered testimony from “relevant people” from Caleb’s district and then issued its findings but didn’t hear testimony from Anita’s parents:

  1. They found Caleb guilty of “sexual misbehavior which included watching pornography, online sex chat rooms, inappropriate messages and behavior to people of the opposite sex, including you (Anita).”
  2. They determined that the conference president had found out several months before the Grievance Committee meeting he had been “sexually addicted for many years,” which “had a negative impact on his entire life as well as on your (Anita’s) marital relationship.” Caleb had been asked to enroll in a “recovery process” and that he had finished that 3-month process.
  3. He was “sanctioned at the Session of the Conference Board held on June 2, 2020.” The Grievance committee found Caleb guilty of sexual addiction and, to some extent, of emotional abuse, especially in the last year of [your] marriage. The committee, therefore, made a recommendation to the Conference Board to terminate the contract with Caleb for his pastoral ministry.

These recommendations were accepted by the Conference Board at its session on June 2, 2020, and added another decision not to allow Caleb to give sermons in churches.  Therefore, the Board terminated his employment as a pastor. 

It was also proposed that Caleb be given a new opportunity by being employed in a studio as a technician and given a conditional one-year contract which the Board accepted. If positive changes are seen in his life, then the contract could be extended.

  • The committee did “not find Caleb guilty of sexual or physical abuse. We consider him guilty of emotional abuse to some extent, especially during the last year of your marriage after your affair and adultery with a lover in Mostar.”
  • They “[could] not accept the accusation of “rape” [their emphasis], as such, we believe that a better qualification of that act would be sexual intercourse without mutual consent because you were sleeping during the intercourse and there was no physical coercion.
  • The committee did not consider Caleb guilty of any abuse of children. On the contrary, “we believe from numerous gatherings, camps, trips, that the children were attached to Caleb and showed love and intimacy (kisses, hugs…). We do not believe that Caleb threatens the safety of your children.
  • The committee then gave its rationale for why they couldn’t accept Anita’s accusations of Caleb’s abusive behavior:
    • During the three years of their stay in Bosnia and Herzegovina, she never complained to her friends about the abuse.
    • Anita never mentioned it to her parents, who are employees within the same Union.
    • Even after separating from Caleb, Anita didn’t make any abuse allegations, but rather “they evolved over time.”

Anita was crushed.

She appealed to the Union.

The Union formed a seven-person committee comprising three women, one of whom was a trained psychologist, and four men. The psychologist complained in an email that:

“None of you wore a mask to the meetings. Zelimir sneezed to his left and his right. You invited me to be a part of the committee that decides to hear my opinion, which I expressed at all three meetings. However, not a single word of mine was taken into account when making the decision, and it seems to me that I was not the only one who thought so. The message of your decision is that no victim of sexual violence can be trusted because it cannot be proven, and it is better for the victim to remain silent and suffer. They know that they will be a double victim, not just the perpetrator, if they speak. But also the environment that does not trust her. If a victim of violence dares to make her life happy, she will not be forgiven! I don’t want my name to be included as part of the conclusion. – Zorica Kuburić

Another woman from the committee also expressed reservations about the Union’s findings.

The union committee voted to recommend disfellowship of Anita from the Seventh-day Adventist Church.  

Analysis:

When her kids went to school, the teacher found out about their abuse, after reading Anita’s daughter’s diary, at the hands of their father. The school psychologist then alerted Child Protection Services (CPS) as mandated reporters. CPS then filed several court-ordered evaluations finding that reinstating contact with the father would harm the children’s psychological development.

The local Conference in Bosnia and the local Church where Caleb and Anita were members took the side of Caleb. They initiated proceedings to disfellowship her. When those efforts stalled, they recently circulated a defamatory letter or petition to the Conference and the Union to discredit her where her admitted prior infidelity and other sensitive details were made public. When Anita contacted Pastor Zelimir to explain the Union’s decision, he wrote her not to contact them anymore, writing, “may this be our final letter.”

[4] The Conference attempted their investigation in which they refused to have a psychologist and concluded that she was not raped; it was “only intercourse without mutual consent because you were asleep.”[5] The then-director for women’s ministry went so far as to discuss with Anita that “I do not understand how is rape possible inside of a marriage.” When she appealed to the Union, her claims were evaluated by a psychologist on the investigation team and found credible. Still, according to several email conversation threads, in my possession, the psychologist complained that they were ignoring their expert opinion and not taking it into account. The South-East Union-Conference eventually dismissed her appeal as well.[6]

The Conference and the Union have made contradictory and demonstrably false statements regarding their findings on Anita’s “involuntary sexual intercourse”[7] and regarding Caleb’s employment and his employment-based immigration visa.[8] They had claimed he was “no longer employed by the church.” He was still working for the church or parachurch entities as a studio technician. Later, when Caleb’s work leaked, the Church claimed he was “suspended” from employment for the Church. Despite the severe nature of the allegations against him, he continues to be active as a leader in his local Church. 

Current Situation: Escalation in Patterns of Victim Intimidation and Hostility

With the family court now ready to rule on its findings, Caleb’s lawyers have resorted to delaying tactics such as requesting a new judge. In criminal cases, they have raised jurisdictional matters.

There has also been a steady rise in false allegations against Anita and her family members, including her father, Conference President, and Pastor Robert Erdeg. The public petition alleged financial improprieties by Pastor Erdeg. He was investigated and cleared of any financial misconduct.

The Union President shared his views on Anita’s cases in a recent meeting on March 2. Intelligent Adventist received a partial transcript of the President’s remarks in which he “spoke honestly and openly.” He spoke the quiet part out loud.

The main summary of the remarks is included here, and the transcript is provided in the list of exhibits.

  1. He remarked that the “TED (Trans European Division) does not see it is legitimate to convene a board because he [Pastor Robert Erdeg, Conference President and Anita’s father] doesn’t have any moral nor financial problem.
  2. The problem is his daughter.
  3. That the church members are divided over the cases between Caleb and Anita.
  4. Two conferences are “at war.”
  5. He repeated the Conference and Union Grievance Committee findings regarding Anita’s allegations that “a gradual story is being built.”
  6. That he would try to have another conversation with Pastor Erdeg asking him to “withdraw himself” [resign].
  7. Church official, Marcikic also repeated finding that Anita’s allegations “evolved.” And that Aranka Bajic and Milan are relatives of Anita, and they didn’t believe her. [If you recall, Aranka couldn’t think that rape was possible in marriage].
  8. That Anita’s allegations of Caleb being a pedophile [molesting her daughter] only started after the divorce proceedings had started.
  9. The whole marriage broke down only because of the discovery of Anita’s affair.
  10. That Anita talked to the “End It Now” people and became “enlightened” that “she was abused mentally and emotionally.”
  11. In the beginning, there were no “stories” of pedophilia or rape.
  12. That the judge found Anita’s evidence to be not credible. [This is a false claim].
  13. The judge asked for special evaluations only after Anita went live on national TV with her allegations and built-up public pressure for her case.
  14. The President said that he presented to the committee at the TED for union presidents for half an hour on the case.
  15. The TED has known about this from the beginning. And they said to leave it to the court to make a decision.
  16. The view of the TED was that they had treated Caleb unfairly, and now he could sue the Union because they fired him before the process was over. [I find this analysis to conflict with the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s “Zero Tolerance Policy” on Abuse. Anita’s testimony of Sexually transmitted infections in Peru, where neither Caleb nor the Conference has alleged that she had any affairs, along with her testimony of Caleb’s non-ordination because of an “inappropriate work relationship” to be all material evidence of marital infidelity].

According to a whistleblower, several pastors voiced concerns regarding his characterization of the cases and took offense at minimizing the abuse. One individual present in the meeting decided to record the Union President’s comments regarding Pastor Robert Erdeg. According to Anita, her father found the statements were defamatory and false.

The Union administration had never officially contacted Pastor Erdeg with any request for resignation. However, in the meeting, the Union president was recorded saying that “they had already asked him to resign, and he didn’t want to.”

According to Anita, Pastor Erdeg confronted the union president with the word-for-word transcript of his remarks and point-by-point refutation. Correction: The union president was enraged that Pastor Robert had shared his rebuttal with other pastors. Not that he was enraged at Pastor Erdeg’s rebuttal itself. Through a colleague, he threatened him with a lawsuit. Last week, Pastor Zelimir Stanic then gave him “friendly advice” to Pastor Erdeg that “it would be best if he resigned.” 

When confronted that someone had recorded the meeting, an official demanded that all present at the committee meeting sign a document certifying that they didn’t record the session. All present signed the document.

There is pressure for Pastor Erdeg to censure his daughter for speaking out to the national media and for attending an interview on the Sabbath. I find no rule against members speaking to the media on any day of the week in our church manual, working policy, or our 28 fundamental beliefs. Human rights do not end on the Sabbath. Indeed, a mother trying to get the courts to move on her case is no different than the widow who badgered the judge in Christ’s parable to grant her justice.[9]

From the start of her marriage, through the flawed disciplinary processes of the Church, evidenced by the Union president himself, who at one time promised to protect her, but is now committed to saving the Union from financial and legal consequences, Anita never had a chance.

Women at the General Conference, such as Heather Dawn, and Audrey Andersson, the Executive Secretary at the Trans European Division, expressed horror at how the Church was acting against her. While in some emails, they even encouraged her to gather evidence to sue the Union itself, they never offered anything more than their moral support.

She spoke up about her abuse, and then the Seventh-day Adventist Church came after her, her children, and her extended family.

Pastor Erdeg’s local church group voted unanimously not to censure her, where Anita is currently a member. One member who had stopped coming to church came specifically for this vote.

A regional meeting is going on right now; Pastor Erdeg expects to be fired.[10]

Update: After a 5-hour meeting, Pastor Erdeg was fired from his position as President of the North Conference. We will update this story as we get more information.

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[1] See Exhibit 1: Anita’s Testimony. While he was the doting husband in public, at home, Anita writes,

“There were no hugs and kisses unless it led to sex. Sex was never enough, never good enough. He told me that I should be grateful I turned on my husband. He was gentle and kind and caring in public, but at home, it only happened if he knew he would get something out of it. I would wake up several times at night, and he had already started undressing me. It got to the point that my body built up a natural defense mechanism, and the minute I would feel his hands taking off my PJs, I would immediately push him off, and then he would pretend he was asleep and knew nothing.”

[2] Process of Discipline (Church Manual Page 63)

When grievous sins are involved, the church has two ways in which disciplinary measures must be taken:

  1. By a vote of censure.
  2. By a vote to remove from membership.
  3. Discipline by Censure—In cases where the offense is not considered by the church to be so serious as to warrant the extreme course of removing membership, the church may express its disapproval by a vote of censure.
  4. Censure has two purposes: (1) To enable the church to express its disapproval of a grievous offense that has brought disgrace upon the cause of God and (2) to impress offending members with the need for a change of life and reformation of conduct and to give them a period of grace and probation during which to make those changes.
  5. A vote of censure is for a stated period of from a minimum of one month to a maximum of 12 months. It terminates an erring member’s election or appointment to all offices and removes the privilege of election while it is in effect. Members under censure have no right to participate by voice or by vote in the affairs of the church or lead church activities, such as teaching a Sabbath School class. They are not deprived, however, of the privilege of sharing the blessings of Sabbath School, church worship, or communion. Membership may not be transferred during the period of censure.
  6. Votes of censure must not carry any provision involving removal of membership in case of failure to comply with any condition imposed. Assessment should be made at the expiration of the period of censure to determine whether the disciplined members have changed course. If their conduct is satisfactory, they may then be considered in regular standing without further action and shall be notified that the censure has ended. If their conduct is not satisfactory, the church again should consider appropriate discipline. Any return to church office must be by election.

Discipline by Removal From Membership—Removing individuals from membership in the church, the body of Christ, is the ultimate discipline that the church can administer. Only after the instruction given in this chapter has been followed, after counsel from the pastor or the conference when the pastor is unavailable, and after all possible efforts have been made to win and restore them to right paths, should an individual be removed from membership. Page 63

[3] Please see the email from Božidar Mihajlović – President of the Conference to Anita in List of Exhibits.

[4] A sample from an email from the women’s ministry leader, Aranka Bajic, “For example, I do not understand how is rape possible inside of a marriage, because I believe we step into this union to make the other one happy and not to only think about ourselves, every normal woman finds it impressive when her husband finds her attractive…whenever (or anytime) it happens. For example, in our 38 years together we never said no to each other, even if we were not feeling good, because love conquers all.
When it comes to the church board, I agree that they should have listened to both sides, but don’t you think you should have kept yourself to that also when talking to the psychologists, sociologists and police officers in Novi Sad. Somehow, I cannot believe that they are real professionals if they didn’t ask for Caleb’s side of the story.”

[5] Anita had taken a sleeping pill and was incapacitated.

[6] Two decisions were made: They recommended that she be disfellowshipped due to her prior affair. The other was to suspend Caleb until the end of the court’s process. The psychologist asked to remove her name from the decision and that this action was re-victimizing Anita.

[7] In an evaluation, the church redacted and deleted several of their written statements regarding Caleb’s known problems with sexual addiction and falsified their evaluation decision. I currently possess both “versions.”

[8] A day after the church claimed he was suspended, Caleb claimed to CPS during an evaluation that he was in possession of a religious worker visa and continued to be employed and paid by the church.

[9] See Luke 18:1-8.

[10] According to Anita.

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30 Comments

    1. The key to remember is that the church is made up of flawed people and they will make mistakes. Christ is our leader, and only by looking to Him and walking with Him, we will be transformed into His Image.

      1. There is no excuse for abuse.
        This exact mentality is why religious abusers get away with such horrible abuse, because they can be forgiven and essentially washed clean by Jesus’ blood. This rhetoric enables the abuse cycle to continue. It absolutely disgusts me.

        Forgiveness is a farce abusers use to get away with horrific abuse. I no longer believe forgiveness should be used with victims of abuse.

      2. as you said yourself: rumours. What is a rumour? according to Wikipedia “Rumors are propositions designed to be believed, and that are transmitted from person to person, usually orally, without the existence of data to verify their veracity or unfounded with a minimum of manipulated information.”
        You just said it: this whole mess is a rumour. I am from Peru, I studied at UPeU, and I met Caleb from a distance. A boy like any other, and I think his worst mistake was marrying that snake with the face of an angel. I don’t know her but I doubt all the things he says because without thinking about his children, he has gone out openly on public television to talk about this case that will affect his children in the future. The truth comes out sooner or later, and I’ll be happy when his lie is discovered. Because I am 100% sure that the true truth will come out soon because God HATES lies and injustice.

        1. There are expert reports that determine that a minor was raped. I know you may find this hard to believe or that you are his friend. There are dozens of stories of administrative mismanagement in Peru. You have to open your mind. The worst thing you can do is believe Caleb is innocent. You can’t discriminate against Anita because of her face. You defend Caleb just because you have seen him from a distance, I have friends who have badmouthed him. Only God judges

          1. It’s just strange to me that the whole church opposed Anita and that so many people don’t trust her, and now it turns out that everyone is working against the Erdeg family …
            I think they were both had some problems, Anita and Caleb. According to the stories that are circulating, they both had affairs, watched porn movies together, nothing is clear to me …
            Also, Anita very quickly married a third man, I’m not saying she’s lying, nor do I know that, but there is certainly a reason why the church doesn’t trust her … In my opinion, the church should have fired Caleb as soon as they found out about his problems, and for their affair …
            Only God knows what’s going on here. We pray to God that all this is clarified …

        2. So you seen him from a dustance and that is evidence he is not guilty, and also you seen her and she has snake face and you just know it she is evil?
          Don’t be hypocritical.

        3. Seriously? You are from the same ilk as Caleb. Machista a no más poder. Everyone knows the Hispanic culture is a culture where men have to rule and you just proved it with your comment. You really need to let God change you. I’ll say a prayer for you.

        4. @Chisca Seriously? You are from the same ilk as Caleb. Machista a no más poder. Everyone knows the Hispanic culture is a culture where men have to rule and you just proved it with your comment. You really need to let God change you. I’ll say a prayer for you.

        5. tu misma dices ahí, no conozco ni a el ni a ella, solo de “lejos” entonces, tu comentario tampoco es empático con nadie, solo eres una persona que lastimosamente menciona de Dios para justificar tu mala practica y amor al prójimo, se quiere que se aclare para ambos.

        6. I’m Peruvian and I know how how manipulative Peruvian man are. We can not dined are culture, we should be careful accusing or giving names to the mother of the little ones. I hope never abuse your sister, daughter, nice or friend. En la tierra podemos esconder los trapos sucios y ni siquiera lavarlos pero un día El Señor acabara con toda la injusticia, cuidemos las avenidas del alma

      3. “Christ is our leader…” I have heard that MANY times before. We CANNOT use that as an excuse to cover up abuse/mistreatment/manipulation. Of course He is our leader, but He hates abuse, so why do we need to tolerate that? We may not be perfect, but that does not justify that people need to be abused.

  1. I believe in Anita’s version. I have heard about Caleb Quispe’s perversion when he was a teacher at the Adventist University in Peru. Some young people are more motivated by ambition than by service. This information is very important as it is rumored that there are similar cases of pastors with these problems in Peru.

  2. It is sad that where there is power, there is also corruption. Even more sad is when it is in the church. While this story is anguishing, it is also not completely surprising that it happened because we have also experienced abuse of power and lack of moral integrity from people in power. I fully support the Church as a whole as I believe God is in control of it. However I do not support the actions of individuals inside the church who abuse their power and misrepresent the mission of the church. Blaming the church for this is incorrect. People making the poor decisions are to blame, not the organization. Praying for healing.

  3. From what I am reading and if correct this is outrageous. This is certainly not the church that Jesus wants to have. We know that church is not perfect we know that there are wheat and tares in the organization.

  4. It’s just strange to me that the whole church opposed Anita and that so many people don’t trust her, and now it turns out that everyone is working against the Erdeg family …
    I think they were both had problems, Anita and Caleb. According to the stories that are circulating, they both had affairs, watched porn movies together and other…nothing is clear to me …
    Also, Anita very quickly married a third man, I’m not saying she’s lying, nor do I know that, but there is certainly a reason why the church doesn’t trust her … In my opinion, the church should have fired Caleb as soon as they found out about his problems, and for their affair …
    Only God knows what’s going on here. We pray to God that all this is clarified …

    1. How do you mean third man? And if you read reports Caleb is one who took porn addction course, not Anita. Rumors are one thing, facts another. He admited he is addicted now suddeny she is as gulty as he is without a shread of evidence. For me that does not fly.

  5. One thing is also unclear to me …. A person from Anita’s environment said that Anita had an affair with a married man from Mostar … So it is not enough for her that she was abused in marriage and humiliated by her husband, but she and someone else’s marriage destroys … In my opinion, they are both guilty, I say that again, and the church should have excluded them both at the very beginning and to distance itself from them and let the world court decide who is right and who is not … I’m sorry children the most and if it is true that Caleb also raped his daughter, we pray to God that this be revealed and that the children be protected

    1. @Magy There are many places where you can educate yourself regarding the classic responses a married victim of mental and sexual abuse can show and Anita fits the description quite well. Did Anita make mistakes? Sure. However, these mistakes were in response to the trauma she was enduring. Church leadership failed miserably, that is the truth. I hope and pray church leadership around the world learn from this story and do what’s correct in the eyes of God instead of worrying about their own image.

    2. As I read on the internet and heard from others, she had an affair with a married man from Mostar, and then with another after him, whom she married immediately after the divorce … I understand her trauma, but everything she did led church leaders to question her story. That is why I say that both Caleb and Anita are problematic people, and that the church should not have gotten too involved in their relationship. They should have fired him immediately, expelled her from the church and left it to the world court to decide who is guilty and who is not. This is how church leaders are characterized as criminals defending rapists and pedophiles, and I believe these people are not like that.

      1. MAGY, leíste y escuchaste— pero tu te cercioraste ? hablaste con las personas indicadas ? HABLASTE CON EL O CON ELLA? como dice el dicho “Lo que Juan dice de Pedro dice más de Juan que de Pedro” Hay que tener mucho cuidado de ir por allí regando chismes que no nos consta! eso también es pecado. Hay que ser benevolente con nuestro prójimo.

    1. MARCO L. como sabes tu? tu eres testigo de eso? para llamarte un ” buen hombre” dejas mucho que desear!

  6. MAGY, you read and listened – but did you make sure? did you talk to the right people ? As the saying goes, “What John says about Peter says more about John than about Peter.” We must be very careful about going around spreading gossip that we don’t know about, that is also a sin. We must be benevolent with our neighbor.

  7. MARCO L. how do you know? you are a witness to that? to call yourself a “good man” leaves much to be desired!

  8. Abuse should not be tolerated to no extent no matter who you are. Church leaders need training and background checks for everyone. All abuse, physical, sexual and emotional need to be reported to the police and social services and the victim must not be silenced. Speak up until someone hears you, think about all the other females or males at risk for you not saying anything. Satan and his demons are everywhere even in the church. I pray Jesus comes soon because this world is getting worse

  9. Drear friends
    this problem brought out in public is a manifestation of lucid and inadequate management on all levels including Bosnian and Serbian conference and ultimately UNion, amazingly they are hoping to get guidelines from general counsel from GC and TED, wow talk about competency level .
    It is very rare occasion when a mother makes the accusation that the father of her children is a rapist and pedophile, the mere fact that this has taken place put’s the church and its leaders on big orality test which in my opinion the have failed on all levels. Did anybody do a search of Calebs activities in Peru prior to marriage and during the marriage whilst living in Peru, was there any implications which would indicate that what the wife is alleging has merits.
    I read a comment here that church leaders need training in to back ground checks , I think this ideal is so lime that if accusation is made of sexual abuse and pedofile activity then church has or should not have any dilemma but to severe ties with the accused irrespective of the eventual outcome.It would be safe to assume that where there is smoke there is a fire as well. Question in this instance not to stand that church leaders took, real issue is WHY?

  10. There have been several reported cases of ministers from different parts of the world (Africa, USA) who are incurably narcissistic and abusive toward women. It is compounded by church leadership when they take the side of the man against the woman, and the sexual abuse becomes compounded by sexual harassment and oppression. Anita’s story is typical and should be a warning to young women everywhere.

    Nothing will change if such events are swept under the rug. Training in ethics and leadership must include set of values of conflict resolution, sexual and consent – based relations, awareness by both men and women, etc.

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