We were contacted by a victim from Colombia who is currently studying at an educational institution in the United States. From age 12 till age 16, she was groomed by a youth/pathfinder leader in her local Adventist church and raped by him. His local church in Colombia disfellowshipped him on March 22, 2022.
She filed a criminal case against him, and he fled the country. According to her, he attempted to cross the border illegally on March 14, 2022 and was detained for two months before being paroled into the United States.
This victim recently discovered that her abuser is attending a local Adventist church in the United States, in the New Jersey Conference. He has ingratiated himself with the local church community and has spoken at several week of prayer events at other churches. And he is working with Pathfinders and the adolescents in the church.
[See note below] The victim contacted
the local a church pastor to alert them about the risk this person poses to underage females. They, in turn, informed a pastor in the New Jersey conference, who contacted the Jersey City Pastor. However, this individual continued to attend church-sponsored youth events and associate with underage adolescent females.
She contacted Intelligent Adventist to assist her in alerting the Conference of the danger posed by this individual. We called the Conference and alerted them to the issue. We were assured that the Conference would investigate the matter.
Subsequent inquiries into the membership status of this individual in Colombia have revealed several disfellowships at various Adventist churches and subsequent re-baptisms and being accepted by profession of faith.
IA is unsure how this individual has been allowed to participate in Pathfinder activities with a history of being disfellowshipped specifically due to sexual sin. We aren’t sure what his current membership status is with the local church in New Jersey. And how someone who isn’t baptized or has been disfellowshipped overseas can associate with adolescents here without being given membership status here.
When the victim contacted the pastor [IA Editor Line Retraction Note: We misunderstood the victim. She clarified that when she said she talked with the pastor, she was talking about another individual who had discussed the situation with a pastor in New Jersey. This conversation happened over a month ago, and the urgency and risk remains.]; this person, who the victim spoke to, said the local pastor shared that the accused individual disclosed that one of his disfellowships in Colombia was due to “an incident with an adult female.” However, the victim believes the pastor was told less than the whole truth as her abuse spanned from age 12 to 16. IA has learned that he has previously targeted other underage and young adult women in Colombia. According to the testimony of one young adult woman, he forcibly attempted to kiss her after leading her down a dark pathway. In another incident with another female, he kissed her; she rebuffed him, and he bit her on the lips. Both incidents were without consent.
There is a place for the presumption of innocence. However, in the case of sexual misconduct involving minors, we believe that the individual should be separated from associating with children during the investigation. This has not occurred in this case.
We cannot wait for the New Jersey Conference to convince the local Adventist church to separate this individual from youth events at church, pending an investigation. Our responsibility is to the public, including the Seventh-day Adventist church members.
As we initially advised the New Jersey Conference, we believe the risk to adolescent and young adult females is real. This individual has a history of sexting underage girls and using manipulation, coercion, and threats to perpetrate sexual violence against them.
We encourage parents whose girls attend these churches to search their daughters’ phones to ensure their safety. If they find concerning images or texts, we encourage them to contact law enforcement directly and immediately.
Good record-keeping at local churches is essential and careful reporting of members to the next church should be encouraged in cases of sexual abuse. As members of our church move from region to region, it is the responsibility of our local churches to reach back to the previous congregation to inquire about the individual. The local church should require criminal background checks to be conducted, but they may not reveal past indiscretions in other countries. And in cases where an actual criminal case is pending, but no convictions are yet procured, these individuals should be withheld from service in our church.
The local churches where this individual is attending and is participating in youth and pathfinder events are listed here:
Jersey City Heights SDA Church at 66-68 Bowers Street, Jersey City [Active Member] and the
Nuevo Amanecer SDA Church.
There may be other churches where he has attended or associated with youth at this Conference and elsewhere. Please contact Pastor Lee at the New Jersey Conference for more information on this case.
IA Note: This story has a line retraction and was updated on March 13, 2023. We previously stated that the victim contacted the local pastor at the Jersey City Heights church directly. We misunderstood the victim. Neither the pastor from Jersey City nor the pastor who spoke with the victim has spoken with IA or contributed to this story. The conversation with the victim was informal and private, and the victim decided to share it with IA and it wasn’t the pastor’s intention to have it published by the victim. We regret the misunderstanding on our part.
Terrible y que pruebas hay de la persona q acusa o es solo su palabra? Por q hoy día cualquiera puede perjudicar a alguien solo con decirlo pero si hay pruebas es diferente
Hay que tener cuidado con las publicaciones que hacen sin tener pruebas esto es delito ya que dañan la reputación de las personas lo digo por que no todo lo que alguien dice es cierto hay gente que dice cosas solo por dañar reputación y uds se prestan para esto
Exacto, solo le gusta hablar, pero no tiene nada q la apoye a dicha acusación, lo q busca es solo protagonismo, q triste q busque eso.
Lo triste es q una entidad de estas se preste para esto sin tener pruebas, yo creo q como están tan seguras, podrían aceptar la demanda por calumnia q se les puede venir y responder tanto la susodicha como uds ante entes legales para fundamentar dicho escrito.
Before putting a person in public ridicule, it is necessary that they get good advice. You administrators should not be carried away by comments from a resentful and mentally ill old woman who takes advantage of alleged facts that are still the subject of investigation. You can be sued for these types of posts.
There is so much to learn from this article …
1. Background checks are not enough.
2. Child protection training is not enough.
3. Mandated Reporter Training is not enough.
4. We ALL should be vigilant!
5. Stop believing our churches are 100% safe spaces for our kids.
6. Parents need to be with their kids always! Please stop letting the kids at church by themselves… yes, we have fantastic and loving human beings in our communities. Still, there is always the chance of having a predator trying to find an opportunity. (predators are EVERYWHERE),
6. I still don’t understand why a victim has to do all this process. It feels like the victim must be repeatedly revictimized, trying to “tell” her story. The system is failing/ has failed her.
7. Everyone deserves a second chance. (True) However, if an investigation is still OPEN, this person SHOULD NOT be near our kids! PERIOD. Why is the church hesitant? Parents need to be informed!
8. To the victim: whoever you are, you are a brave human being! Sorry, this happened to you. Don’t let anyone stop you from telling your truth! You are not alone.
9. Silence will never help; talking about it will bring change! Stop covering our eyes and pretend this doesn’t happen in our church! We need to protect our kiddos proactively!
Sexual predators do not deserve a second chance. They should never be allowed to worship in a congregation again, ever.
Wow…it’s a good thing God doesn’t have the same attitude as you do. This is not to say a person who has fallen in this way isn’t to be carefully scrutinized, but to flat out pose as jury, judge, and executioner, you elevate yourself to the position of the Divine.
I feel similarly, T. J. However, it is wise to set boundaries, if necessary. Sex offenders need education, reformation, and counseling. They are humans too.
No tienen fundamento para tal acusasion aunque depredadores o seres con malas intensiones existan aun en nuestra Amanda Iglesia catolica, deberian investigar a la persona que se hace la victima. y tal acusasion, algo tan delicado como eso en un 90% o mas cuando es real las victimas no duran tanto tiempo calladas algun beneficio personal busca. Tengo un familiar que si fue abusado y sus padres notaron cambios comportamentales por eso sin pasar mucho tiempo se descubrio lo que sucedia y se hizo lo pertinente, Es dudosa la investigacion y la acusasion. Tengan cuidado podria haber demandar por calumnia e infamia solo por creer en un supuesto relato sin material probatorio, (Testigos, pruebas etc,)…
Yo pienso que para esta época hay que tener mucho cuidado con esas acusaciones si no hay pruebas… desafortunadamente las mujeres de hoy en día hacen demasiado daño…tengo una sobrina que desde pequeña su papá le daba besos en la boca y despertó en ella placer, siendo aún niña , entrando en la adolescencia, tuvo una relación con un familiar directo de ella por parte del papá, y de ahí era muy fácil buscar a los hombres que le gustaban e inducirlos a tener relaciones, los que no le hacían caso los acusaba de violadores…estuvo en tratamiento psicológico pero no quedó sana completamente… maneja mucha obsesión con ciertos hombres, y ahora hasta con los novios que tuvo dice que ellos la violaban… así que esto deja mucho que aprender, porque obviamente la familia de ella, nosotros, la defendimos, otros le siguen creyendo , pero siempre es bueno tener las dos versiones y pruebas para la ley..
I believe this is an interesting analysis. It is true that no place is completely safe for children alone, especially those who have no awareness of personal danger. However, no human can be trusted 100%.
Then, the real question is the following: “Who is trustworthy?” God is trustworthy. I agree it is important to be alert and attentive yet not paranoid to the point of extreme fear. Knowing God’s love and care and being attentive to His leading and not one’s own can help one avoid problems.
Just having parents with children does not stop crime, but it can definitely help. Having parents with children who are righteous will save them from much evil for, “Home is a peaceful and ever full feeling a place where the soul safely hides” (Michael Card, 1994), and “Society is composed of families, and is what the heads of families make it” (White, Adventist Home, pg. 15, para, 1).
If we as an intelligent Seventh-day Adventist church want to stop abuse, I think it would be wise to start classes on proper etiquette, professionalism, citizenship, logic, and team-building rather than focusing on fear-mongering. Everyone can see the truth that this world is a dangerous place. There is no peace anywhere except in following God’s perfect will for you and I. Will you follow God? He will lead you into paths of peace (Psalms 23).