Monday, September 24, 2012

They did not call the cops...and have been arrested.

"They" would be five employees of Tulsa megachurch, Victory Christian Center, who were informed of a rape of a 13 year old girl on church property but who waited two weeks to report the crime to authorities.

Tulsa megachurch officials suspected of waiting 2 weeks to report rape of 13-year-old girl by church worker

Prosecutors this week also charged five church employees — including [Pastor Sharon] Daugherty’s son and daughter-in-law, who are both youth pastors — with failing to report the alleged assault between Aug. 15 and Aug. 30. John Daugherty, Charica Daugherty, Paul Willemstein, Anna George and Harold “Frank” Sullivan each face one misdemeanor count of failing to report child abuse and are due to be arraigned Wednesday in Tulsa County District Court.
The accused is, or was, a 20-year-old employee of the church. When church leaders, apparently not including the pastor, were informed of the crime, they took a week to do an internal investigation before reporting it to their Human Resources Department. The HR department took another week to call the cops.

The church has issued a statement saying that "its employees failed to follow a written policy requiring any allegation of abuse to be reported by employees to the state’s Department of Human Services, and internally within one hour to their department head and the director of human resources."

A few observations:

1. Churches should have written child protection policies but should also have annual mandatory training on those policies. How could a thirteen year old claim to be raped and a volunteer worker or even the lowest paid employee NOT think, "We have to call the police"?

2. A tight church leadership circle, family in this case or just ministerial staff in most SBC churches, is an additional risk factor. There is always a temptation to keep bad news in-house.

3. Although this is a megachurch, average-sized churches are no less susceptible to such things. The typical single staff SBC church is less likely to have any written child protection policies at all. Let's be honest, churches sometimes have a default mode of, "Let's handle this in-house."

4. In my state, anyone who works with children is a mandatory reporter. This would include all church volunteer workers, even the worker who spends just an occasional Sunday morning in the church nursery or preschool department.

5. Fail to pick up the phone and call the cops and you will be arrested.

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