Subscribe by Email

Brent Detwiler's Tweets

Hush Fund Set Up by Top SGM Leaders to Meet the Demands of a SGM Pastor Whose Son Was Sexually Abused 

Story Highlights 

Two years ago a “hush fund” masquerading as a benevolence fund was deceptively set up by Mark Prater (Executive Director for SGM), Paul Buckley (Chairman of the SGM Board), and Tommy Hill (Director of Finance & Administration for SGM) in order to surreptitiously meet the demands of a SGM pastor whose son was sexually abused by the son of another SGM pastor in the same church.  

The fund came about because the father of the victim was thinking about joining the sex abuse lawsuit against SGM if SGM did not agree to reforms and if he did not receive restitution monies from SGM for harms done.  Insurance lawyers told SGM leaders they would lose their liability coverage if payouts were made; thereby, arguably admitting fault.  Instead, SGM lawyer Chip Grange suggested a plan whereby monies be raised for the victim’s family as “a collection and private gift to help him avoid eviction.”  This plan was approved by C.J. Mahaney and the SGM Board of Directors and implemented by Mark Prater.  

As a result, many SGM pastors who knew the pastor that was the father of the victim were contacted and asked to give benevolence to the family.  Prater, Buckley, Hill and the Board deceived these pastors into giving personal and church monies to a benevolence fund that effectively functioned as a hush fund.  The pastors had no idea what was really going on behind the scenes.  They were intentionally deceived in the matter. 

People inside and outside of SGM must come to grips with the corruption that characterizes the leadership of SGM starting with C.J. Mahaney.  He was the President of SGM when this hush fund was set up.  No one should be supporting or following any of these men.  As I’ve demonstrated countless times, you cannot believe anything they tell you.  


What follows is a presentation of hard evidence starting with the initial letter from the pastor who was the father of the victim (henceforth referred to as Pastor-Father of Victim) to Tommy Hill requesting reform and asking for $35,000 in restitution from SGM

When I’ve added comments within the hard evidence (i.e., the actual correspondence), I’ve done so in bold print.   

From: [Pastor-Father of Victim]
Date: March 5, 2013, 11:01:02 AM EST
To: Tommy Hill (
Subject: Confidential request for Reform & Restitution

Hi Tommy. 

I wanted to reach out to you (SGM), to request reform, and ask for restitution to my family for the way our son’s sexual abuse was handled.  This situation was conducted in a clumsy, incompetent, and willfully negligent manner, resulting in unnecessary emotional, mental, relational, physical, and financial harm to my family.  

Comment: The father is asking for restitution because the “son’s sexual abuse was handled” in a “willfully negligent manner” that resulted in multiple harms.  That makes it a reasonable and justifiable request. 

Reform: I’d like to ask for three simple things to be done (in the first 48 hours), in future cases of sexual abuse.  First, every single time there is an instance of possible sexual abuse, I’d like all parties involved (victim’s family, offender’s family, and church leaders), to receive a copy of the SGM paper on “How to Respond to Sexual Abuse”.  Second, I’d like the families of the victim and offender to be referred to a qualified, experienced, biblically trained sexual abuse counselor.  Third, I’d like a qualified, experienced, biblically trained mediator from outside of SGM (Peacemakers) to be assigned to serve the family of the victim as they seek to walk through the process. 

Comment:  SGM has still not produce official written policies informing the public on how they handle these and many other issues including the mandatory reporting of suspected sex abusers.  I’ve appealed to them several times over the past 2 ½ years to standardize policies and procedures as part of their denominational polity found in the Book of Church Order.  They have steadfastly refused to write out their legal, ethical and pastoral commitments when sexual abuse occurs or is suspected in their churches.  

Restitution: I’m seeking an account established in my son’s name with $10,000 for future counseling or other needs.  Additionally, I’m seeking $25,000 to be paid to me in restitution for harm caused to my family.  

I respectfully ask for your immediate reply to this request. 

[Pastor-Father of Victim]  

The Pastor-Father of Victim asks for an immediate reply from Hill in all likelihood because he was in contact with Susan Burke who was the lead attorney for the Plaintiffs in the growing sex abuse lawsuit against SGM and others.  At this point in time, Ms. Burke was working on the third version of the lawsuit called the Second Amended Complaint.  I helped her efforts by providing a five page affidavit on behalf of the Plaintiffs.  The Pastor-Father of Victim was thinking about joining the lawsuit but first he gave SGM a chance to respond to his conditions.  The next morning he followed up with Hill

From: [Pastor-Father of Victim]
Sent: Wednesday, March 06, 2013 10:01 AM
To: Tommy Hill
Subject: Confidential request for Reform & Restitutionst for Reform & Restitution 

Hi Tommy, 

I have not received a response to my email yesterday (see below).  Please reply that you have received this request, and let me know your intentions.  It is my sincere hope that we can resolve this matter quickly, and that my family can have closure to this matter.  However time is if [of] the essence, and I must receive a response from you by 3:00pm today indicating that you have received my request, and communicating your intentions. 

[Pastor-father of the victim]  

Time was of the essence if he was going to join the Second Amended Complaint which was being prepared.  He sets a deadline of 3:00 pm the same day.  Hill is forced to respond. 

From: Tommy Hill <>
Sent: Wednesday, March 06, 2013 3:35 PM
To: [Pastor-Father of Victim]
Subject: Confidential request for Reform & Restitutionst for Reform & Restitution 

Hi [Pastor-Father of Victim].  I did receive your 2 emails and have forwarded them to the board for their consideration.  Is there a number I can call you at so that you can help me understand why events that apparently happened several years ago suddenly require a substantive response within hours of your email this morning? 


This email was sent by Hill on March 6, 2013 when C.J. Mahaney was President of SGM, Paul Buckley was Chairman of the Board and Mark Prater was Acting Director of Church Planting & Church Care.  Buckley, Prater and Hill were working with Mahaney on how to respond.  The proposal was forwarded to the entire Board of Directors which included Mickey Connolly, Ian McConnell, Ken Mellinger, Phil Sasser, Ron Boomsma and Al Pino

The abuse took place in March 2010.  The request for reform and restitution took place in March 2013.  Three years had elapsed.  Hill probably suspected the Pastor-Father of Victim was thinking about joining the lawsuit against SGM.  He asks to talk by phone rather than use email.  He refers to the sexual abuse as something that “apparently happened.”  This provides legal cover but understandably offends the Pastor-Father of Victim. 

From: [Pastor-Father of Victim]
Sent: Wednesday, March 06, 2013 4:02 PM
To: Tommy Hill
Subject: Re: Confidential request for Reform & Restitutionst for Reform & Restitution 

Hi Tommy,  

Thank you for your reply.  Having not received a reply to my email from yesterday morning, I was simply asking for acknowledgement of receipt, and some indication that you intended to give earnest consideration in a timely manner.  

As for the years that have passed, yes it’s been almost three years to the day since my son was repeatedly sodomized

I hope that your choice of words “apparently happened”, is not an attempt to dismiss or minimize the sexual abuse that absolutely did happen and is well documented. 

I would hope for a substantive response by week’s end. 

[Pastor-Father of Victim]  

Once again the Pastor-Father of Victim asks for an “earnest consideration in a timely manner” and “a substantive response by week’s end.”  He also challenges Hill on his apparent attempt “to dismiss or minimize the sexual abuse that absolutely did happen and is well documented.”  The lawsuit and documentation were key in forcing SGM to respond.  They could not make this go away with denials or cover ups if the Pastor-Father of Victim decided to go public. 

Tragically, we discover the young boy was forced to endure repeated acts of anal intercourse.  These heinous crimes involved terribly perverse indignities.  The Pastor-Father of Victim was right to hold SGM accountable for their neglect but he should have also held the perpetrator accountable by prosecuting him in a court of law.          

Hill writes the Pastor-Father of Victim back.  This time he asserts the Board “know[s] very little, if anything, about the situation.”  Once again, he endeavors to interact by phone rather than email which leaves a document trail.  

From: Tommy Hill < >
Date: March 11, 2013, 5:41:48 PM EDT
To: [Pastor-Father of Victim]
Subject: RE: Confidential request for Reform & Restitutionst for Reform & Restitution 

Dear [Pastor-Father of Victim], 

Our desire is to care for you in this situation as a brother in Christ and friend.  You are asking the board to consider your request.  But they know very little, if anything, about the situation and would like to understand what happened.  Would you be willing to give me your phone number to begin that process? 

In Christ, 


A few days later Hill receives an email from a senior pastor who is no longer part of SGM (henceforth referred to as Former SGM Pastor) stating he had talked at length about the abuse with five Board Members (i.e., Dave Harvey, Ian McConnell, Aron Osborne, Mark Prater and John Loftness) and also with Ambassadors of Reconciliation at the Group Reconciliation meetings in November 2011.  Subsequently, AoR provided a report to the Board on their findings of sexual abuse in SGM.  The Former SGM Pastor was a friend of the Pastor-Father of Victim and very concerned about Hill’s claim the Board knew “very little, if anything.”  He questions their honesty and appeals they “not compromise [their] consciences in any way.” 

The Former SGM Pastor also reveals the Pastor-Father of Victim is thinking about joining the civil suit against SGM.  

From: [Former SGM Pastor]
Sent: Monday, March 11, 2013 7:30 PM
To: [Tommy Hill]; [Ian McConnell]; Paul Buckley; Dave Harvey; [John Loftness]; [Mark Prater] 
Subject: [Pastor-Father of Victim]

Hi Guys, 

Hope you are all doing well in what I am sure is a challenging and busy time.  [Pastor-Father of Victim] just forwarded me the email below and I found the response very concerning in light of the conversations that I have had with the leaders on the ground in [Church A] and with you Tommy and you Ian [McConnell].  I have also had fairly detailed conversations about [Church A] with Mark Prater, Aron Osborne, Dave Harvey, and John Loftness.  I also did a lengthy interview with AoR [Ambassadors of Reconciliation] about it.  Do you guys honesty feel like very little is known?  

Comment:  The Former SGM Pastor was a weighty witness against SGM.  All of these men were up against the wall. 

What happened in [Church A] was tragic and the aftermath made it all the more painful.  I know it was a difficult situation, but in my opinion, the refusal to do any due diligence on the local church level, the [Victim’s Family] not being able to attend church as a family because the [Abuser’s Family] was unwilling to keep their son [the sodomizer] at home, and Aron [Osborne’s] and SGM’s response were all indefensible.  

Comment: The abuser’s father was the senior pastor (henceforth referred to as Sr. Pastor-Father of Abuser).  He should have resigned and reported his son’s abuse to Child Protective Services or law enforcement.   A thorough investigation by the police should have followed to see if other children had been abused by his son and if other abusers were operating in the church or known to be operating in other SGM churches.  This kind of heinous activity doesn’t usually happen in a vacuum.  There is often a wider circle of involvement.  That’s why an investigation by law enforcement professionals is vital in discovering and stopping sexual abuse.  Furthermore, the church should have been informed.  Instead it was covered up.  SGM refused “to do any due diligence on the local church level.”     

The victim was receiving professional counseling.  The counselor did not want the boy to attend the church if the abuser was present.  No matter, the Senior Pastor-Father of Abuser refused to keep his son at home thereby forcing the victim and other family members to stay at home.  I can’t think of anything more selfish under the circumstances and it was supported by Aron Osborne (the Regional Leader) and SGM 

This speaks volumes about the Sr. Pastor-Father of Abuser and demonstrates a complete lack of repentance.  It also highlights the preferential treatment he received from SGM.  The victim was forced to stay home while the perpetrator got a front row seat.  There was no care for the victim or his family in the matter.  The needs of the victim and his family were disregarded.  I imagine the senior pastor and SGM leaders feared people asking questions if his son stopped showing up on Sunday mornings.  In contrast, the victim’s family “disadvantaged themselves as much as they possibly could.” 

Recently, Boz Tchividjian wrote an excellent article titled "Righteous" reputations of church who don’t care.  Here is an excerpt. 

“A church that cares will encourage and assist the victim to immediately report the crime to the police, regardless of the consequences such a report will have upon the church’s reputation.  A church that cares will immediately remove the alleged offender from the church staff and prohibit him/her from being on the church premises. A victim should never have to fear encountering this offender in the place that should be the safest. … A church that cares will inform its members of the allegations knowing that sexual offenders often have many victims.  It will also encourage them to immediately report any suspected abuse to the police.”  

I think the [Victim’s Family] have disadvantaged themselves as much as they possibly could to serve [Church A], SGM, and the [Abuser’s Family].  The lack of response has left them open to considering joining the lawsuit for the first time and I think that is tragic.  I think all they ever wanted on the local level was care for their son and proper due diligence in the church.  I am still at a loss as to why this situation was handled in the way it was even after John’s [Loftness] document was made available to all the churches.  All of this grieves me. 

Comment:  Eleven months earlier at the Sovereign Grace Pastors Conference, C.J. Mahaney handed out a paper by John Loftness called “When Child Abuse Occurs” and exhorted the pastors to givefive times” more care to victims of sexual abuse and their families than to abusers and their families.  Here’s a quote.     

“Our first response and our most important response is to rush, run, as fast as we can and as many pastors as can, immediately rush to the side of the parents of the victim and the victim to surround them, to care for them.  And to care for them in this particular and specific way; to simply grieve with them, to as much as possible feel the full impact of their grief and sadness and as much as possible identify with their grief and sadness. … Here is my recommended policy in Sovereign Grace Churches.  Pastoral teams, let’s provide five times more care for the victim than we do the perpetrator if the perpetrator is in your church.  Five times.  You don’t need to neglect the perpetrator.  Care for the perpetrator and the family but our care for them is to some degree different.  There is an accent on correction appropriately communicated with the perpetrator.  There is a specialized kind of care for the parents of the perpetrator.  But let there be five times more care for the parents of the victim and the victim. … Clear your schedule.  Communicate your availability and make sure that you have some contact every day, multiple times a day without missing a day for an indefinite period of time.” (C.J. Mahaney, SG Pastors Conference, April 7, 2009)  

Former SGM Pastor is “still at a loss as to why this situation was handled in the way it was even after” after the 2009 Pastors Conference.  He is stunned by “the lack of response [that] has left them [the Victim’s Family] open to considering joining the lawsuit for the first time” when all they “ever wanted on the local level was care for their son and proper due diligence in the church.” 

This is a classic example of Mahaney’s hypocrisy.  The victim and his family received less care than the abuser and his family.  Mahaney was directing Dave Harvey and Harvey was directing Aron Osborne in how to handle this situation.  Osborne was one of eight Regional Leaders for SGM.  The “indefensible” response of SGM was due to these three men.  They were in charge.  By the way, I wrote Osborne over two weeks ago and asked if he cared to comment on this email from the Former SGM Pastor.  I’ve not heard back from him. 

Most of you know [Pastor-Father of Victim] and the way he and his family have sacrificed over the years.  Can anyone answer the question of why things were handled so badly in [Church A]?  Someone will certainly answer to the Lord some day for it all.  Praise God for his redeeming grace!  I don’t know what the right next step is in this, but I do pray that you men will do what you believe to be right and not compromise your consciences in any way.  

Comment:  The Former SGM Pastor asks the question, “Why [were] things handled so badly” in 2010 given the sacrifices made by the Pastor-Father of Victim and his family over the years.  I doubt he ever got an answer to his question because it would have been indicting.  I know all the parties involved in this situation.  By 2010, the Pastor-Father of Victim had little influence in SGM.  On the other hand, the Pastor-Father of Abuser was on the rise.  He was a senior pastor being positioned for regional responsibilities in SGM and well connected to influential leaders in SGM like Harvey, Osborne and others.   He was unquestionably treated with partiality and favoritism under the oversight of Mahaney.  Policies don’t mean anything when you don’t follow them! 

Your brother in Christ, 

[Former SGM Pastor] 

After receiving this email, Paul Buckley, Chairman of the Board, emails Mark Prater and Tommy Hill three plans of action with pros and cons.  All three plans are corrupt, devious and insincere.  Buckley is not interested in doing what is right or biblical.  He is only interested in doing what will serve the self-interests of SGM

Plan A and B seek to silence the Pastor-Father of Victim by meeting ”most or all of his financial expectations” and securing a “legally binding agreement” that prevents him from suing SGM.  Plan C entails a fierce commitment to fight any lawsuit he files in court. 

This is how SGM does damage control or in Buckley’s words “helps us navigate through this as wisely as we can.”  In particular, note how he states SGM must “avoid any admission of fault” in all three plans. 

From: Paul Buckley <>
Sent: Saturday, March 16, 2013 12:52 PM
To: [Mark Prater]; Tommy Hill
Subject: CONFIDENTIAL – [Pastor-Father of Victim] 


Here is my attempt to organize our thoughts on scenarios for responding to [Pastor-Father of Victim’s] situation.  I trust this helps us navigate through this as wisely as we can. 

Let me know of any edits you would have. 

Tommy – feel free to send to legal team once they are ready to meet. 

Comment: Remember, the First Amended Complaint came out in January 2013.  It is now March 2013.  A much larger legal team is being assembled from several law firms.  The Second Amended Complaint will come out two months later. 




We shift the conversation from legal liability to provision of care and consider how we can care for [Pastor-Father of Victim] given his previous service and subsequent hardship.  We meet most or all of his financial expectations.  We secure a legally-binding agreement not to pursue this matter further.  We avoid any admission of fault.  

Comment:  This is the friendly version but it is a con.  Any conversation with the Pastor-Father of Victim should have started with the “provision of care” not debating the “legal liability” of SGM.  Buckley proposes they “shift the conversation” from SGM’s obligations under the law in order to manipulate the Pastor-Father of Victim under the pretense of sincere care.  This becomes obvious in Plan C.  Plan A calls for “love bombing,” the payout of money in exchange for a legally binding agreement and no admission of fault in any way.   


o  Minimizes further damage to the [Victim’s Family].
o  Avoids negative implications of further legal action.
o  Secures a solution for this situation.
o  Protects us from further ill will from the [Victim’s Family, Former SGM Pastor] and others.      


o  Could be understood as a pay off.
o  Could be used in the class action lawsuit as an admission of guilt.
o  May be precluded by our insurance company.
o  Will have to pay $10-35K, perhaps out of our own pockets.


We enter into negotiation with [Pastor-Father of Victim] for a gracious settlement if he lets the statue [statute] of limitations lapse.  We frame the ball park figure in light of the assistance that [Pastor-Father of Abuser] received.  We secure a legally-binding agreement not to pursue this matter further. 

Comment: In my opinion, this is the paying of a bribe and/or extortion.  The Pastor-Father of Victim only gets the negotiated “gracious settlement” if he agrees to let “the statute of limitations lapse.”  In other words, the payoff is contingent on him signing a “legally-binding agreement” that prevents him from filing a lawsuit in a timely manner.  Once the statute of limitations expires he cannot sue SGM.      

In 2010, the Pastor-Father of Abuser received $25,000 in assistance for an “internship” he did in another church after he resigned, was honored by the church and left the state.  Buckley wants to “frame“ the amount of the settlement as assistance rather than a payoff. 

Like Plan A, monies will only be paid out if SGM is released from any obligation to admit fault. 


o  We avoid any admission of fault.     
o  Keeps the case out of the class action lawsuit.
o  May reduce the total financial contribution.
o  Minimizes further damage to the [Victim’s Family].
o  Avoids negative implications of further legal action.
o  Secures a solution for this situation.
o  Protects us from further ill will from the [Victim’s Family, Former SGM Pastor] and others.      


o  May be rejected by the [Victim’s Family] because of loss of negotiating advantage to them.
o  Could be understood as a pay off.
o  Could be used in the class action lawsuit as an admission of guilt.
o  May be precluded by our insurance company.
o  Will have to pay $10-35K, perhaps out of our own pockets.


We refuse to entertain [Pastor-Father of Victim’s] request in any way and allow him to possibly sue us either as part of the class action lawsuit or on his own.

Comment:  This is the opposite of love bombing.  This is just bombing.  It means blowing up the Pastor-Father of Victim at every turn and giving him and his family nothing in terms of care or restitution.  And like Plans A and B, there will be no admitting of fault even though the fault is ever so great.  These men have no consciences.  Plan C was the chosen method of attack against the victims of sexual abuse in the Second Amended Complaint. 

Moreover, notice the reference to “what the Insurance carrier requires.”  Mahaney, Buckley, Prater and the Board of Directors are not submitted to the Lord Jesus Christ or the teaching of Scripture, they are submitted to the evil counsel of lawyers from the insurance company that would have to pay out damages if SGM admitted its fault and the truth prevailed.


o  Avoids a precedent of settling financially.
o  Avoids admitting any fault.
o  We could win and have no legal or financial liabilities.
o  It may be what the Insurance carrier requires.      


o  Could cause the class action lawsuit to shift negatively in favor of the plaintiffs.
o  Could cause additional harm to our reputation and subsequent loss of support.
o  Could create further ill will towards SGM in [Pastor-Father of Victim] and others.

Paul Buckley

Lead Pastor
King of Grace Church
28 Chadwick St.
Haverhill, MA 01835

Remember the three plans above are Buckley’s “attempt to organize our thoughts on scenarios for responding to [the Pastor-Father of Victim’s] situation.”  The “our” includes Mark Prater and Tommy Hill in the immediate context but the larger context must be understood.  These three men were working for C.J. Mahaney, not independently of C.J. Mahaney.  Keep in mind the following.   

  • Mahaney was the President of SGM when all this was happening in March 2013.  He “transitioned” out of the Presidency the following month on April 12.
  • Mahaney was training and positioning Prater to replace him at this time.  They were working very closely with each other.  Prater was chosen to be the President (i.e. the Executive Director) the following month on April 23.
  • John Loftness resigned as Chairman of the Board on February 18, 2013.  Buckley immediately replaced him.  Mahaney was also training Buckley at this time.  They too were working very closely with each other.
  • Mahaney also worked very closely with Tommy Hill on everything related to SGM because he was a close friend and the Director of Finance and Administration.  Hill was also a member of Mahaney’s church in Louisville and led the SGM staff that was based there. 

My point is obvious.  Mahaney was behind everything these three men were doing and discussing.  These men did nothing without Mahaney’s knowledge, counsel and support.  Prater responds to the three scenarios put forward by Buckley. 

From: Mark Prater <>
Sent: Saturday, March 16, 2013 11:33 PM
To:; Tommy Hill
Subject: RE: CONFIDENTIAL – [Pastor-Father of Victim]


Thanks for working on this.  I’m praying for wisdom and I know God will help up [us]. 

Comment: This reveals the depths of Prater’s deception.  He is praying for “wisdom.”  Prater must believe God’s wisdom includes the use of lies, deceit, and manipulation.  Prater should have rebuked Buckley for his scheming; but of course, Buckley is simply organizing the options discussed by him, Prater, and Hill under Mahaney’s supervision.  

Here are some thoughts to consider for edits: 

1.  Similar to Tommy’s thought, I wonder if we should include Christian conciliation in Plan B.  If we haven’t cared for [Pastor-Father of Victim] well, or cared for him in a way that was inferior to [the Sr. Pastor-Father of Abuser] that gives us a chance to own that and be reconciled.  I still wonder if he is angry or offended in some way.

Comment:  Prater wonders if “Christian conciliation” should be added to all three plans (see below).  There is no harm in doing so because the Pastor-Father of Victim would have to sign a confidentiality agreement in addition to a legally binding agreement.  This means he would swear not to talk to anyone about what happen.  SGM might acknowledge “inferior” care in a controlled environment but they will never admit fault in public.  On occasion SGM has “owned” something in private in an attempt to keep it from becoming public.  That is what Mahaney did with me.  See C.J.’s Foxhole Conversion.  So often, these are strategic confessions, not sincere confessions. 

Of course, Prater still wonders if the Pastor-Father of Victim is motivated by sinful anger and personal offense.  Why else would he be asking for reform and restitution?  That is par for the course.  SGM leaders constantly play the bitterness card when people seek to correct or hold them accountable.  

2.  This suggestion could be put in all 3 plan options below in either the Pros and/or the Cons.  Given that this happened in [Church A], if this goes to court it will have a real affect on the SGM church there.  This is a church that is just turning the corner and is a strong supporter of SGM.  If there is a way for us to avoid the difficulty and ramifications that a lawsuit would uniquely have on [Church A] it would be helpful and caring.  I don’t think we should be led by [the Pastor-Father of Victim] or manipulated by him, but I’m praying that God gives us wisdom so [Church A] in particular isn’t affected.

Comment:  Prater’s real concern is not for the Pastor-Father of Victim and his family.  His real concern is for the church if a lawsuit is filed because it “is a strong supporter of SGM.”  Not all churches are treated the same in SGM.  Churches that are staunch supporters and personal favorites get preferential treatment.  Prater is willing to go to bat for this particular church. 

Prater’s true colors come out when he asserts “I don’t think we should be led by…or manipulated by him.”  The request for godly reform and restitution are viewed as manipulation.  Prater, Buckley and Hill will not be “led” by this manipulator.  Prater is the consummate hypocrite because he is blind to the horrendous manipulation contained in all three plans. 



Three days later Prater sends the Conciliation Proposal he has just finished to Hill.  He copies Buckley.  Remember, Prater is simply the Acting (Interim) Director of Church Planting and Church Care having just replaced Dave Harvey.  He is not even on the Board of Directors.  So who gave him the assignment to write up this proposal?  President Mahaney of course!   

Hill is asked to “look this over and send me any thoughts.”  Hill would never do this without getting Mahaney’s input.  I know because I was Mahaney’s right hand man from 1991 to 2007.  Hill is a go between.  It would never happen any other way. 

From: Mark Prater <>
Sent: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 7:19 AM
To: Tommy Hill
Cc: [Paul Buckley]
Subject: Confidential 

Hey Tommy, 

Attached is the Conciliation Proposal for [Pastor-Father of Victim].  I had this finished yesterday but our server was down until this morning so I didn’t have e-mail access.  Please look this over and send me any thoughts.

Comment:  This proposal concerns the Pastor-Father of Victim but it is written for the Board of Directors.  It had to be rubber stamped by them.




Overview:  On March 5, 2013, [Pastor-Father of Victim] e-mailed Tommy Hill asking that SGM take steps of reform and make restitution to his family for the way his son’s sexual abuse case was handled when he was an elder and member of [Church A].  [Pastor-Father of Victim] was serving as a pastor and elder at [Church A].  

Comment: There is no question about the fact of sexual abuse even though Hill tried to frame it as “apparently happened.” 

In February 2010 he stepped down from his vocational role (retaining his eldership) because [Pastor-Father of Victim] and [Sr. Pastor-Father of Abuser] were having trouble working together and because the church couldn’t support both men financially.  

Comment: This raises other concerns for the Sr. Pastor-Father of Abuser.  Why were these men “having trouble working together” and why was the church doing so poorly?  

In March 2010 [the Sr. Pastor’s] son sexually abused [the Pastor’s] son during a sleep over at the [Sr. Pastor’s] home.  This incident was reported to Aron Osborne on March 30, 2010 and subsequently was reported to law enforcement authorities.  

Comment: The first sentence is frightening.  Of all the families in a church, you’d never expect your child to be raped by the Senior Pastor’s son during a sleepover at their house.  The truth be told, numerous pastors or their children have been accused of sexual abuse in SGM.  In all these cases, SGM has worked hard to cover up the alleged crimes. 

This situation is no different.  The church was simply told that, “Someone in the [Sr. Pastor’s] family sinned against someone in the [Pastor’s] family.”  Then the members of the church were instructed not to discuss the matter with each other.  This is a common means by which SGM controls people and keeps them from discovering the truth.    

Adult members in the church should have been told the truth in a private meeting.  The victim’s name could have been withheld but not the perpetrator’s name.  Parents had the right to know so they could talk with their children if they had any reason to believe they might have been abused by the senior pastor's son or anyone else.  This would also allow the parents to cut off any relationship their children had with the perpetrator and/or begin to look for a new church if so inclined.  That’s a major reason why SGM covers up sexual abuse. 

I think this is partly what Former SGM Pastor has in mind when he says, “The refusal to do any due diligence on the local church level…and Aron’s [Osborne] and SGM’s response were all indefensible.”  

This was a great opportunity to educate the church about sexual abuse and protect the church against other adult and/or juvenile sex abusers that may have been operating in their midst.  How many other kids participated in sleep overs?  Were there other victims?  Were there other juvenile abusers?  Did other families do sleepovers where abuse occurred?  I don’t know but all of this should have been thoroughly investigated by law enforcement.  

Furthermore, what does this say about the son?  How did he become a sodomizer willing to force himself upon a boy?  Where or from whom did he learn this reprobate perversity?  What other sinful behaviors or crimes did he concealed from his father?  Was he sexually abused (which is often the case with juvenile abusers)?  What friends did he influence inside and outside of the church?  Did he take advantage of girls also?  

Moreover, what does this say about the father?  A lot according to Scripture (1 Timothy 3:4-5; Titus 1:6).  He is clearly disqualified from ministry but that didn’t matter to SGM.  He continued, and continues, as a SGM pastor.  Members in his current church have no idea about his son’s sexual abuse. 

Prater says, “This incident was reported to Aron Osborne on March 30, 2010 and subsequently was reported to law enforcement authorities.”  He gives the impression that Osborne reported the crimes to law enforcement but that is not the case according to my sources.  

Remember, Prater is writing this proposal for the new SGM Board of Directors (i.e., Paul Buckley, Mickey Connolly, Ian McConnell, Ken Mellinger, Phil Sasser, Ron Boomsma and Al Pino,).  It is a sanitized presentation intended to make the old SGM Board (C.J. Mahaney, Dave Harvey, Jeff Purswell, Joshua Harris) look as good and as law abiding as possible for their handling of this situation in 2010.  No one in SGM reported it to police as required by law.  

The crimes were only reported to law enforcement sometime after Osborne was told because the victim ended up seeing a professional counselor and that counselor reported the crimes as required by law.  The Senior Pastor’s son would have been arrested, investigated, tried and sentenced in all likelihood if charges were pressed and pursued.  Everything was “well-documented.”  They were not and that was a grave mistake.  Mahaney, Harvey, Osborne should have encouraged the victim’s family to prosecute the sex abuser and exhorted the sex abuser to fully cooperate with law enforcement.   

One other point.  The incident was reported to Osborne three weeks after the fact according to Prater.  Why not sooner?  Did the Sr. Pastor-Father of Abuser try to conceal it from him?  

Over the next 12 months [Church A’s] Leadership Team and Aron Osborne (Regional Leader for SGM) invested significant time attempting to care for the [Abuser’s Family] and the [Victim’s Family] during a most difficult situation.  It is [Pastor-Father of Victim’s] contention that SGM did not handle this situation well and care for his family sufficiently.  

Comment:  Prater will not admit to any lack of care for the victim or the victim’s family.  In fact, he commends the Leadership Team and Osborne for their heroic attempts at caring.  Nor will he admit to any mishandling of the situation by Osborne or anyone else.  He is deceiving the Board.  In Prater’s distorted view, it is the Pastor-Father of Victim that has it all wrong. 

Therefore, it is proposed that SGM respond to [Pastor-Father of Victim] by offering him a conciliation process for the purpose of reconciliation and to learn if there are any additional care steps that SGM needs to consider taking.  One purpose of this process is to move this situation out of the realm of a legal dispute and into a relational one.  Should a Conciliation Process be agreed to, it will be important that SGM avoid any admission of legal fault during the process. 

Comment:  What’s important to Prater?  That SGM avoid any admission of legal fault.  That is standard operating procedure.  He is extremely concerned about this going to court because he knows there is legal fault that can be proven.  Prater makes it clear that SGM will never acknowledged any legal wrong doing for which it and its leaders could be sued in a civil court or prosecuted in a criminal court.  He wants this “out of the realm of a legal dispute”!  All Prater is willing to do is “learn if there are any additional care steps that SGM needs to consider taking.”  One step he has in mind is providing monies to silence the Pastor-Father of Victim. 

History:  Listed below is a brief history of how [Church A] and Sovereign Grace Ministries financially participated in the care of [Sr. Pastor-Father of Abuser] and [Pastor–Father of Victim]. 


[Sr. Pastor–Father of Abuser]

Four month severance package (after he resigned as Sr. Pastor of [Church A])
May have helped cover medical benefits for a period of time

[Pastor-Father of Victim]

Four month severance package (after his resignation as a pastor)
May have helped cover medical benefits for a period of time
May have helped cover the counseling expense for [Pastor-Father of Victim’s] son
Benevolence of approximately $5,000


[Sr. Pastor-Father of Abuser]

Gave a $25,000 grant to [Church B] to help support a 1 year pastoral internship for [Sr. Pastor-Father of Abuser] after he resigned as Sr. Pastor at [Church A].

Pastor-Father of Victim]

Benevolence of approximately $8,000

Comment:  The Sr. Pastor-Father of Abuser and the Pastor-Father of Victim each received approximately $25,000 from Church A. 

The Sr. Pastor-Father of Abuser received an additional $25,000 from SGM.  The Pastor-Father of Victim received approximately $8,000.

The Sr. Pastor-Father of Abuser left Church A when his four months of severance were over for a new job in Church B.  He experienced no financial consequences and continued in pastoral ministry unimpeded.  After his “internship” at Church B, he was transferred and became a pastor in Church C.

The Pastor-Father of Victim received an approximate total of $33,000 in 2010 and was persuaded to be content, keep quiet and take no legal action.  It was only after the First Amended Complaint (i.e., the second edition of lawsuit) came out in 2013 that he sought reform in SGM and restitution from SGM.  At that point, he realized sexual abuse, the failure to report sexual abuse, and the mistreatment of victims were grave issues in SGM.  He was not the only one.


o  It is proposed that SGM seek the services of a biblically trained Conciliator who has experience with cases that involve sexual abuse.
o  If possible find 2-3 potential conciliators that would be presented to [Pastor-Father of Victim] as options so that a mutually agreeable Conciliator is chosen.  (Peacemakers, Bryce Thomas, etc).
o  SGM would agree to cover the cost for the Conciliator’s fees and expenses.
o  The Conciliation Process would start as soon as possible.
o  Based on the findings of the conciliation process, SGM may be required to give some sort of benevolence.

Comment: Prater knows a “Conciliation Process” will result in everything being covered up.  That’s what happened with Peacemakers and with Bryce Thomas from Ambassadors of Reconciliation.  Both organizations refused to expose the profound abuse and corruption they learned about in SGM.  See for example, Ken Sande Counseled C.J. Mahaney to Confess He Was “So Very Guilty” of Attacking & Ambushing Me.   You can also do a search for “Kober” at this link and a dozen posts will come up dealing with Ted Kober and Bryce Thomas from Ambassadors of Reconciliation. 

There is only one drawback to Prater’s proposal – “SGM may be required to give some sort of benevolence.”  No big deal!  Prater is willing to spend donor money in order to keep this from going to court.  His proposal continues with two mega “conditions.”


o  SGM, [Pastor-Father of Victim] and the Conciliator sign a confidentiality agreement to protect the [Victim’s Family] and the [Abuser’s Family].
o  The Conciliator or SGM asks [Pastor-Father of Victim] to sign a legally binding agreement not to pursue this matter beyond the conciliation process. 

Comment:  These are non-negotiables!  1) The Pastor-Father of Victim must never tell a soul about the sexual abuse of his son or about SGM’s negligent handling of the abuse.  2) He must never file a lawsuit against the abuser or SGM for damages in a civil court and he must never press charges against the abuser or SGM in a criminal court.  Prater audaciously claims all of this protects the Victim’s Family.  None sense!  It protects Prater and SGM 

It also shields the abuser from any consequences for his crimes and his father from disqualification.  The purpose of these two conditions is to “protect the…Abuser’s Family” according to Prater.  That’s for sure!  From my perspective, this amounts to an agreed upon cover up carried out by Prater and the Board of Directors.  On May 22, 2014, C.J. Mahaney said, “Let me be clear about this: I have never conspired to protect a child predator.”  I think the conditions in this official proposal while he was President contradict that statement.   

In a despicable fashion, SGM will hire a “Conciliator” to get this done.  Prater knows the statute of limitation in this state has not run out.  If this victim is added to the lawsuit, SGM would not get off on a technicality.  Prater has no interest in doing what is right.  He just wants to make sure the sex abuser is never prosecuted, SGM is never sued, and Church A is never informed. 

This is how SGM operates.  They will use all means possible to silence people including money given as “benevolence” or “severance” but not until you sign a confidentiality agreement and/or legally binding agreement.  SGM tried to silence me with severance in 2010.  I was pressured to sign an agreement that said in part: 

“You agree to refrain from disclosing the terms of the Agreement, except as set forth in this paragraph, and will avoid direct or indirect references, whether by your actions and/or words, to the terms of the Agreement.  Except as otherwise required by law, you will not show the Agreement to, nor discuss its contents with, any person other than your attorneys or accountants, and you must insure that these individuals keep the terms of this Agreement confidential.” 

When I refused to sign the agreement, SGM went into a panic and threw on the emergency brake.  I’ll be writing about this attempt to silence me with severance in my next post. Prater now lays out the risks and benefits. 

Risks and Benefits of a Conciliation Process 


o  The Conciliation Process proposal could be rejected by the [Family of Victim] because they lose negotiation ability.
o  If some form of benevolence is given, it could be seen as a pay off.
o  If some form of benevolence is given, SGM would have to cover this unbudgeted expense.
o  The Conciliation Process could be used in the class action suit as an admission of guilt.
o  Could set a precedent where SGM would be required to offer a Conciliation Process to other former aggrieved SGM pastors. 

Comment:  Prater is lost.  He is not governed by God-centered ethics.  He is governed by man-centered pragmatism.  He is only concerned for the interests of SGM, not Jesus Christ.  

I love this statement, “If some form of benevolence is given, it could be seen as a pay off.”  No kidding!  That’s because it is a payoff! 


o  The Conciliation Process demonstrates an effort on SGM’s part to reconcile with, and care for the [Victims’ Family] thereby minimizing any further ill will with the [Victim’s Family] and also the [Former SGM Pastor].
o  Potentially keeps this situation out of the class action lawsuit.
o  If the Conciliation Process keeps this situation out of the lawsuit, it potentially prevents additional harm to SGM’s reputation and helps maintain our base of support without eroding trust.
o  If the Conciliation Process keeps this situation out of the lawsuit, it potentially prevents the lawsuit from shifting in favor of the plaintiffs.
o  If the Conciliation Process keeps this situation out of the lawsuit, it protects [Church A] from a potential damaging conflict and process. ([Church A] is starting to turn a corner and is a strong supporter of SGM)
o  Should this case enter the legal realm the Conciliation Process demonstrates our desire to care for the [Victim’s Family] and offers SGM pastors an explanation that would potentially prevent an erosion of trust.
o  Given the Conciliation Process could avoid legal fees; the net total cost to SGM may be lower. 

Comment: The overriding purpose for a Conciliation Process is to silence the Victim’s Family and keep them from filing a lawsuit by getting them to sign a confidentiality agreement and a legally binding agreement.  Prater is not concerned about caring for the Victim’s Family; he is concerned about manipulating the Victim’s Family with the appearance of care and interest in reconciliation.  

Prater and the Board were extremely concerned about “additional harm to SGM’s reputation” even though they publicly claimed they never covered up sexual abuse out of concern for reputational harm.  Yet, that is what they are attempting to do in this situation. 

Prater was also very concerned to “maintain our base of support without eroding trust.”  At this point in time, financial support for SGM was fast eroding because trust was fast eroding.  Twenty-five churches, scores of pastors, and thousands of people had left SGM over the previous 10 months and the hemorrhaging only continued.        

Prater also wants to offer the Conciliation Process so it can be used against the Pastor-Father of Victim if he refuses to participate and decides to joins the lawsuit.  Such a rejection “offers SGM pastors an explanation that would potentially prevent an erosion of trust.”  In other words, the pastors can tell people in their churches that SGM offered a process for conciliation in order to care for the family and pursue reconciliation with the family but it was refused by the family.  Instead, the family joined the lawsuit.  SGM did this kind of thing with me.  It is downright wicked! 

Finally, Prater likes the Conciliation Process because “the net total cost to SGM may be lower” by avoiding legal fees even though “SGM may be required to give some sort of benevolence.”  The Conciliation Process is cost effective.  

Four days after Prater puts forward the “Conciliation Process,” Chip Grange from the law firm of Gammon & Grange, P.C, weighs in on the matter of providing monies to the Pastor-Father of Victim.  He is the longtime lawyer for Covenant Life Church and Sovereign Grace Ministries.  He counsels Prater, Buckley, Hill, et al., to organize a collection and private gift for the Pastor-Father of Victim that appears unrelated to the request for $35,000 in restitution.    

On Mar 23, 2013, at 12:19 PM, “Chip Grange” <> wrote:


The easy and safest answer is to avoid any payments that could be misinterpreted in the blogs or in the suit as “hush money” or attempts to induce [Pastor-Father of Victim] not to accede to Susan Burke’s attempts to get him to join her lawsuit. 

Comment: Prater, Buckley and Hill have already made it clear they are willing to payout “hush money” to the Pastor-Father of Victim if he agrees to remain silent and stay out of the lawsuit.  Grange knows this is illegal and “could be misinterpreted” if carried out.  Susan Burke is the lead attorney for the Plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Sovereign Grace Ministries, C.J. Mahaney and others. 

The more nuanced answer regarding benevolence, depends on the SGM benevolence policy and especially its documented benevolence practices in similar situations.  If for example SGM can document the following, then it would have stronger grounds to explain and defend such payment as standard benevolence, which was unrelated (except by coincidence) to [Pastor-Father of Victim’s] demands for restitution for alleged negligence by SGM:  

o  has a benevolence policy, and
o  has on many (or at least more than a few) occasions in the last 5 or 10 years, extended benevolence o  to current or former employees or pastors of SGM churches who have similar dire financial needs, and
o  has an objective needs assessment and selection process for all similarly situated needy persons within its circle of care, and
o  has set prudent limits for financial assessment, within which this $3k one time gift reasonably fits, and
o  has followed and documented its standard operating practice and policy through out this process.

Comment: Grange counsels the Board to “avoid any payments” “for restitution for alleged negligence by SGM” but advises them to make a “payment as standard benevolence” provided it adheres to SGM policy so SGM has “stronger grounds to explain and defend such a payment.”  This is a workaround in my opinion.  In so doing, the SGM Board can claim the payment, given under the pretense of benevolence, “was unrelated (except by coincidence) to the Pastor-Father of Victim’s demands for restitution.”

If such process and documentation would be challenging then, SGM should avoid such ad hoc payments.  Alternatively, any on this email or other friends of [Pastor-Father of Victim] could privately organize a collection and private gift to help him avoid eviction.  That’s not to suggest that private collections, might not also be misconstrued, but it would be a weaker link in trying to daisy-chain attribution to SGM, especially if the collection is organized by, or significantly involves friends who are not part of the SGM leadership.

Comment: If SGM can’t “defend such a payment as standard benevolence,” then they “should avoid such ad hoc payments.”  Grange introduces a second workaround for getting monies to the Pastor-Father of Victim.  Instead of SGM making a direct payment, he recommends others “privately organize a collection and private gift to help him avoid eviction.”  This too could be “misconstrued” if the request for $35,000 in restitution from 18 days earlier ever got out in public; therefore, it is better if the collection effort “significantly involves friends who are not part of the SGM leadership.”  This will require more deception by Prater and the Board of Directors, so nothing can be traced back to them.   

Hope this helps.

Call or email with follow up questions.


Tommy Hill responds to Chip Grange’s recommendation with a recommendation of his own to Mark Prater and Paul Buckley. 

From: Tommy Hill
Sent: Saturday, March 23, 2013 12:45 PM
To: [Mark Prater]; [Paul Buckley]
Subject: Re: 0633 SGM: Confidential

Do you think given the difficult position we have been put in by [the Pastor-Father of Victim’s] initial request, that if we explained it to [the Former SGM Pastor] that his church would consider an initial payment of benevolence?

What is the “difficult position”?  On March 5, the Pastor-Father of Victim made his initial request of Hill and SGM

“I wanted to reach out to you (SGM), to request reform, and ask for restitution to my family for the way our son’s sexual abuse was handled. … I’m seeking an account established in my son’s name with $10,000 for future counseling or other needs.  Additionally, I’m seeking $25,000 to be paid to me in restitution for harm caused to my family.  I respectfully ask for your immediate reply to this request.”

And a little later,

“It is my sincere hope that we can resolve this matter quickly, and that my family can have closure to this matter.  However time is if [of] the essence, and I must receive a response from you by 3:00 pm today indicating that you have received my request, and communicating your intentions.” 

The clock is ticking and Hill is concerned the Pastor-Father of Victim will join the class action lawsuit if he doesn’t get his money but this puts Hill in a “difficult position.”  He knows SGM can’t make a restitution payment because that is tantamount to an admission of legal guilt.  Therefore, Hill suggests they explain their difficulty to the Former SGM Pastor and ask if his church will quickly make “an initial payment of benevolence” to stave off legal action.  That way the money cannot be traced back to SGM, or so they think. 

I believe the Pastor-Father of Victim deserved restitution, and I’m glad the Former SGM Pastor was willing to help him, but neither of them should have agreed to this terribly deceitful arrangement.  Former SGM Pastor follows through on SGM’s request and sets up a benevolence fund that is fraudulent in intent.  Within days, Prater writes different fund-raising letters to different pastors in SGM including some who don’t know the Pastor-Father of Victim asking them or their church to contribute money.  Here is one of those letters.

[End of March]

Hey Guys,

Many of you know [Pastor-Father of Victim].  For those of you who don’t, [Pastor-Father of Victim] served on the pastoral team in [Church 1].  After attending the Pastors College he did a church planting internship at [Church 2] before planting [Church 3].  He transitioned from [Church 3] and served in pastoral ministry at [Church A] before transitioning out of pastoral ministry.  Recently I was made aware that [Pastor-Father of Victim] is facing some real financial challenges including a potential eviction from his home in [name of city] in the next couple of weeks.  In an attempt to help [Pastor-Father of Victim] in a time of need, [Former SGM Pastor] has established a Benevolence Fund at his church so that those who want to give to [Pastor-Father of Victim’s] need can make a contribution.  Because many of you know [Pastor-Father of Victim] I thought you might want to be aware of his need and the opportunity to give.  If you decide to do so, here is the benevolence fund information:

[Church 4]
[Mailing address] 

You can designate the check this way:  Benevolence Fund: [Pastor-Father of Victim] 



Mark Prater willfully and intentionally deceives the pastors with the full support of Mahaney, Buckley, Hill and the other Board of Directors that included, Mickey Connolly, Ken Mellinger, Ian McConnell, Phil Sasser, Ron Boomsma, and Al Pino

Connolly and Mellinger are still on the Board of Directors which is now called the Executive Committee.  McConnell is the Director of Church Planting and Mission on the national Leadership Team.  Sasser was the Director of Church Governance on the national Leadership Team until he recently resigned.  These key leaders knew Prater was deceiving the pastors but they nevertheless agreed with scheme.     

A similar thing happened in 2014 when these same leaders, and several new additions to the Executive Committee (i.e. Warren Boettcher, Wayne Brooks, Andy Farmer, Jon Payer Rich Richardson, Keith Collins), deceived everyone in SGM during their annual fund-raising drive.  See SGM Uses “Strategic Global Projects” to Fraudulently Raise Money.  I don’t make these things up.

Anyway, I didn’t know about Prater’s duplicitous fund-raising letters at the time; but I did know about Prater’s duplicitous character.  One month after this letter was sent out, the Executive Committee (i.e. Board of Directors) chose Prater to be the Executive Director.  They wrote an adoring letter to all the pastors in SGM claiming Prater was the best choice to bring about “the restoration of trust and unity among the elders of Sovereign Grace.”  This is deception upon deception.  

I wrote about it on my blog.  I’d highly recommend it be read in entirety.  It also describes the masterful deception employed by Dave Harvey especially as the Interim President of SGM.  Harvey trained Prater.  Prater was following his example of corrupt leadership.  Here is an excerpt 

Mark Prater Is the Best Choice to Restore Trust and Unity [According to SGM]
Friday, April 26, 2013 at 2:09 PM
Brent Detwiler

Mark [Prater] is not the orator or leader Dave [Harvey] was but he is every bit the charmer.  In selecting Mark, the Executive Committee has chosen a man complicit in all the cunning that has characterized the time period since July 2011.  His choice is a reflection of the Committee and a bad one at that!  Mark cannot possibly clean up SGM because he is one of the men who made it so grimy.  

In particular the Committee claims Mark is the best choice to bring about “the restoration of trust and unity among the elders of Sovereign Grace.”  This is foolhardy.  Mark cannot possibly restore trust because he is one of the key men responsible for the loss of trust.  This selection is a slap in the face.  Mark is not the man for the job if you’re interested in restoring a trust based upon trustworthiness or a unity based upon transparency.  

Under Mark the internal workings of SGM will be more secret than the cultic rites of Freemasonry.  For instance, we’ll have no idea what strings C.J. is pulling.  Mark was an exceptional pharmaceutical salesman with a high school diploma.  That is his strength.  He will sell SGM and put forward a believable brand.  He’s not a high powered speaker but he will bring in the big guns for SGM conferences.  Under his leadership the policy of “believe the best” when the best is not true will flourish.

Furthermore, Mark is the safe choice!  By that I mean no one in all of SGM need fear being held accountable for any of their past actions.  Especially not C.J., the old Board, Interim Board or recent Board.  Everyone will be granted amnesty under the Prater Administration.  There will be no review or repair of the past.  The Executive Committee was not about to pick someone who would investigate them and call other cronies to account.  

Time after time over the past five years, I have illustrated the systemic corruption that characterizes leaders in SGM in thousands of pages of carefully documented evidence.  THIS IS NOTHING NEW!  It is just another example of their deceit.  

For certain, no Christian organization in America has been more deceptive since the advent of Modern Evangelicalism in the 1940’s.  Yet many of the most powerful evangelical leaders in America continue to support and promote C.J. Mahaney and SGM to their abject shame.  They have refused to study the evidence and been deceived by SGM’s talking points.     

For example, last year Mahaney told Lars Liebeler, the lawyer who headed a nine-month investigation at Covenant Life Church that he never knew about the sexual abuse of multiple boys in the church by Nathaniel Morales even though pastors Grant Layman, Gary Ricucci, Robin Boisvert, Chris Glass and likely others did.  Mahaney is lying big time.  In several weeks, I hope to finish up an eBook that presents the evidence against Mahaney and other pastors at Covenant Life Church who agreed not to report Morales to the police even though they knew Morales was a long time, serial predator with multiple victims.  Last May, Morales was convicted on seven counts in two trials and sentenced to 40 years in prison.  See this link.  

It is nothing for Prater to lie and spin.  That is one of the reasons Mahaney promoted him to be his replacement.  He knew this about him.  The same is true about Buckley.  Executive Director Prater and Chairman Buckley are the two most powerful men in Sovereign Grace Ministries and they are very willing to deceive the leaders, pastors and people in the denomination if it serves their self-serving agenda.    

In a previous post, I raised serious concerns for Prater’s ethics before he became a pastor in SGM.  Here is an excerpt 

Supermajority of Florida Churches Leave Sovereign Grace Ministries 
Brent Detwiler
Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 9:53 AM 

Mark Prater was trained in crisis management, public relations, and communications techniques while a regional manager with Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in the 1990’s.  Wyeth marketed the infamous Norplant implant.  “By 1996, more than 50,000 women had filed lawsuits, including 70 class actions, against Wyeth and/or its subsidiaries, or doctors who prescribed Norplant.”  

I don’t know for certain if Mark Prater knew the progestin only drug in the Norplant device caused abortions.  It is hard to imagine he did not.  I plan to write and ask him.  I also plan to contact the Executive Committee and Leadership Team of Sovereign Grace Ministries.  This issue needs to be addressed.  I do know, Prater left Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in order to start Providence Church in Pittsburgh in 1996 at the behest of Dave Harvey. 

I followed through and wrote Prater.  I also copied the Executive Committee and other top leaders in SGM.  They never answered my questions.  Here’s what I said in part.

From: Brent Detwiler []
Sent: Thursday, July 10, 2014 3:46 PM
To: Warren Boettcher; Wayne Brooks; Paul Buckley; Keith Collins; Mickey Connolly; Andy Farmer; Ken Mellinger; Jon Payne; Mark Prater; Rich Richardson
Cc: Craig Cabaniss; Tommy Hill; Bob Kauflin; Ian McConnell; Jeff Purswell; Phil Sasser; Jim Cannon; Mickey Connolly; Rick Gamache; Aron Osborne; Billy Raies; Steve Shank; Tim Shorey
Subject: Questions About Your Knowledge of Norplant Device While at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals 


When you worked at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in the 1990’s, did you know the progestin only drug in the Norplant device caused abortions?  I can’t imagine you didn’t possess this knowledge given the major role you had in making sure obstetricians around the county inserted and removed the devise properly in order to avoid lawsuits.  And as a Christian in that industry, you certainly should have investigated the “contraceptive” device to make sure it didn’t cause abortions.  

Obviously, this is a big deal.  You were training doctors to use a product that was an abortifacient.  The Norplant devise ended the lives of countless preborn children.  Did you knowingly contribute to their destruction?  This is a matter of the highest ethical importance.  Being complicit in training doctors to use a product that killed preborn children to order to make a living is abominable.  It bespeaks of a seared conscience. 

I’ve done further research since then and there is every reason to conclude Prater knew the Norplant device caused abortions.  For example, he went to pharmacy school for four years though he never graduated.  He knew how the mechanism worked.  So did other executives around Prater.  It troubled them.  Furthermore, the findings of Randy Alcorn that this device was abortive were well known by leaders in Prater's church (see for example page 116 in Alcorn's Pro Life Answers to Pro Choice Arguments published in 1992).  This apparent knowledge didn’t matter.  Training doctors to use a product that caused abortions was the means whereby he climbed the corporate ladder and was handsomely rewarded for his accomplishments.  This was the immediately context in which he became a pastor in SGM.  By all accounts, Mahaney and Harvey were impressed by his high position and charismatic personality.  They hired him.  The rest is history.

Here is a small sampling of additional evidence against them including Buckley’s attempts to secretly get rid of Mahaney as President in 2012 while telling all the pastors and people in SGM there was unanimous support for Mahaney’s presidency.  It was a blatant lie.  Both of these men should have been fired by now, but they continue in their roles because the leaders around them are like them.  I am not exaggerating or making any of this up.  Only a person committed to ignorance would deny it. 

Paul Buckley, Chairman of the SGM Board & Other Top Level Leaders Secretly Plotted C.J. Mahaney’s Removal as President
Brent Detwiler
Saturday, August 2, 2014

More Evidence Surrounding the Request for Mahaney’s Resignation & Its Cover Up
Brent Detwiler
Thursday, August 7, 2014 at 10:54 AM

An Open Letter to the Leaders & Pastors of SGM Regarding Their Cowardice & Corruption
Brent Detwiler
Friday, August 08, 2014 at 5:01 PM 

The Cover-up of Buckley’s Cover-up of Mahaney Is Underway
Brent Detwiler
Tuesday, August 18, 2014 

Mark Prater Is the Best Choice to Restore Trust and Unity [According to SGM]
Friday, April 26, 2013 at 2:09 PM
Brent Detwiler 

Executive Director Mark Prater Effectively Calls Victims of Sexual Abuse Liars on Behalf of All Sovereign Grace Leaders
Brent Detwiler
October 10, 2014

Now back to the original story.  This benevolence fund would NEVER have been set up if not for the $35,000 request in restitution and the possibility of the Victim’s Family joining the lawsuit if it was not paid.  I was a top leader in SGM for 27 years and I don’t ever remember us (the Board) sending out a nationwide request for benevolence for a SGM pastor.  We raised money for disaster relief on special occasions, but I don’t think any pastor in SGM ever received this kind of singular attention.  

Regardless, Prater says, 

“Recently I was made aware that [Pastor-Father of Victim] is facing some real financial challenges including a potential eviction from his home in [name of city] in the next couple of weeks.” 

I’ve not been able to confirm there were “some real financial challenges” or find out the cause of those supposed challenges.  It doesn’t matter.  The money started coming in big time.  Within weeks the Pastor-Father of Victim was able to buy a small business.  He quickly went from being evicted to being a business owner. 

No reasonable person looking at this body of evidence can deny what is going on.  There may have been a financial need but Prater is using it as a pretense to raise a large amount of money for the Pastor-Father of Victim so he does not sue SGM independently or join the existing lawsuit against SGM

To this end Prater is willing to deceive all the pastors.  Furthermore, by setting up this “benevolence fund,” SGM won’t have to pay out a dime.  Money sacrificially given by church members will be used so SGM doesn’t have to pay the $35,000 in restitution.  What a deal!  That is, what a crooked deal! 

So rather than SGM pay their own hush money, it will be easier, cheaper, and more expedient to trick well intentioned pastors in SGM churches to take their members’ money and give it to the Pastor-Father of Victim with no idea of his demand for justice or restitution.  

Mahaney, Prater, Buckley, Hill, Connolly, Mellinger, McConnell, and Sasser should all be fired for this reason alone (though many other reasons exist).  But nothing will happen to them as a consequence.  No one will press charges or work for their removal in keeping with their Book of Church Order.  These men, and others like them on the Executive Committee and Leadership Team, incessantly cover up for one another and with their consolidated power run SGM.  

Soon after Prater sent out his fund-raising letters to SGM pastors, Hill emails Prater and Buckley on April 5 reminding them that if the Board of Directors sends any money to the Pastor-Father of Victim it would void their liability insurance covering all costs and potential damages for harms done in the alleged conspiracy to commit and cover up sexual abuse in SGM

From: Tommy Hill []
Sent: Friday, April 05, 2013 11:56 AM
To:  [Mark Prater]; Paul Buckley 
Subject: Confidential 

One point of clarification regarding [Pastor-Father of Victim] that I think we are already following.  Per insurers, if we make any kind of payment from SGM to [Pastor-Father of Victim], voluntary or not, it would void our insurance coverage. 


The lawyers for the insurance companies make it absolutely clear that if SGM makes “any kind of payment,” “voluntary or not” (in the form of benevolence or restitution), their liability coverage will be dropped.  That’s because both forms of payment imply or convey guilt and are intended to silence the Pastor-Father of Victim.  Remember his words about SGM’s guilt.  That’s why he is asking for compensation. 

“I wanted to reach out to you (SGM), to request reform, and ask for restitution to my family for the way our son’s sexual abuse was handled.  This situation was conducted in a clumsy, incompetent, and willfully negligent manner, resulting in unnecessary emotional, mental, relational, physical, and financial harm to my family.” 

The Pastor-Father of Victim accepted the money and agreed to the Conciliation Process as proposed by Prater which involved a confidentiality agreement and a legally binding agreement not to file a lawsuit, etc.  It also meant he would not bring criminal charges against the victim. 

Here is an email from the conciliator, David Schlachter to John Loftness, asking for his insights since Loftness had written a paper on child sex abuse and just resigned as Chairman of the Board on February 18, 2013.  Soon after on March 29, Loftness is alleged to have “physically and sexual abused a child” by the Plaintiffs lawyers.  Two months later, the allegations against Loftness were greatly expanded in the Second Amended Complaint (i.e., the third edition of the lawsuit).    

From: David Schlachter < >
Date: July 12, 2013 1:50:08 PM EDT
To: [John Loftness] < >
Cc: Bruce Chick < >, [Former SGM Pastor]
Subject: SGM – [Pastor-Father of Victim]

Dear John:  I have been asked to lead a reconciliation panel, consisting of myself, Bruce Chick and [Former SGM Pastor], to assist [Pastor-Father of Victim & his wife] and SGM representatives (Mark Prater & Aron Osborne) meet and discuss the handling of the situation involving [the Victim’s Family] and the church he was serving.  The goal for all is to understand the steps that were taken, examine where they could have handled things differently, and to seek full reconciliation between them.  As part of the panel’s preparation, we would like to have a telephone conference with you to receive any insight you may have regarding the situation.  While we are not a “fact-finding” or investigation” panel, hearing from you will help us prepare and serve the parties.  We will be meeting with the parties on August 20 & 21, 2013.  All of the parties are aware that we have asked to speak with you, and have concurred in the same. 

If you are available, we would like to schedule a call the week of July 22.  I believe we would need about an hour of your time.  Can you provide me the times that would work for you that week, and I will match them with the panel and confirm a time.  Thank you in advance for assisting us.  


David Schlachter
Crossroads Resolution Group LLC
503-764-9254 (office)
406-794-1770 (cell)

Loftness was dealing with multiple allegations of fact regarding sexual sadism.  His every move was being choreographed by his lawyer.  He was not talking to anyone.  He is now the senior pastor at Living Hope Church in Bowie, Maryland 

From: John Loftness <>
Sent: Friday, July 12, 2013 3:26 PM
To: Paul Buckley; Tommy Hill
Subject: Fwd: SGM – [Pastor-Father of Victim] 


Received this today with no warning.  I’m not sure what to do with it.  Could you tell me the impulse behind it, its goals, and your evaluation of it?  My participation is contingent on my attorney’s counsel, but I wanted some official SG background before I take that step. 


John Loftness
Senior Pastor
Solid Rock Church
5401 Good Luck Rd.
Riverdale, MD

Sovereign Grace Ministries has a long history of covering up child sexual abuse, but they continue to lie and deceive and admit no fault just like they do with Pastor-Father of Victim above.  Here are two more examples related to Mark Prater and pastors in his home church (i.e., Covenant Fellowship Church).

Sex Abuse Victim Asserts Prominent SGM Pastor Marty Machowski “Threw My Children & I to the Wolves”
Brent Detwiler
Friday, October 31, 2014  

A Victim’s Anguished Letter to Dave Harvey Revealing Sexual Abuse & Its Alleged Cover Up at Covenant Fellowship Church
Brent Detwiler
Saturday, November 08, 2014 at 2:10 PM

I was one of four men who started Sovereign Grace Ministries in 1982.  I loved my years in SGM until it leaders (my close friends like C.J.) began to act with great duplicity in 2004.  For the next seven years, I addressed the ever-growing abuse, hypocrisy, and corruption.  I was finally forced to go public in July 2011 when all private efforts failed and the deceit reached unimaginable heights.  This resulted in a public statement of condemnation by SGM and the predictable labeling of my documents as slander.  It served as a prime example of the spiritual abuse and lording I was addressing.  Large numbers of people in SGM spoke out and opposed this heavy handedness.  You can read about it here. 

The Five Resolutions on July 13, 2011
Friday, January 13, 2012 at 8:36 AM
Brent Detwiler

I think it is fair to say I knew more people by name in the movement than any other SGM leader when I left in 2009.  That’s why I continued to work for SGM’s reform, not its demise.  Nevertheless, the Lord brought about its demise in large measure because its leaders continually rejected the convicting work of the Holy Spirit.  The decline continues as churches keep leaving (for example in Myanmar/Burma) and people stop giving as well they should.  In 2012, there were 22 international churches.  Today, there are eight.    

When Paul wrote his Epistle to the Romans, he described the ethical decline that increasingly occurred when the Gentiles progressively dishonored God.  “For although they knew God, they did no honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their foolish hearts were darkened.”  This process of moral decay describes what has happened in SGM.  

When I read the interaction between Prater, Buckley, Hill, and others; I am immediately struck by their evil thinking and planning.  There is no wisdom, only futility.  There is no light, only darkness.  These men’s minds and hearts are under God’s judgment and yet they are the esteemed leaders and counselors of SGM – Prater and Buckley the highest ranking.  But the problem is far worse.  The leaders around them are like them.  The corruption has spread like gangrene.  

This doesn’t mean SGM can’t put on a good show of righteousness.  They are charismatic in every respect.  For example, Prater recently exhorted all the members in SGM churches to live lives worthy of the gospel in his latest funding pitch.  Bob Kauflin is doing worship conferences though he has covered up for Mahaney as much as anyone.  And SGM continues to brand the gospel.  It has been the key to its financial success.  I could go on.  

By a miracle of grace, I’d still love to see what remains of SGM repent like Nineveh but that won’t happen until the “king” of SGM, C.J. Mahaney, repents and utters a decree like the king of Nineveh. 

“When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust.  Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh: ‘By the decree of the king and his nobles: … Let everyone call urgently on God.  Let them give up their evil ways and their violence.  Who knows?  God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.’” (Jonah 3:6-9) 

This would be a great time for Mahaney to call for the removal of Prater, Buckley, Hill and others while confessing his own sins.  These men cannot remain in their positions if SGM has any interest whatsoever in integrity.  Every SGM pastor should be outraged by actions of these men and call for their resignations.  

Church members also have a responsibility to take action before the Lord and in submission to Scripture.  They must require their pastors to do righteousness, not pretend righteousness.  If their pastors refuse to take a stand and speak out, that tells you all you need to know about your pastors’ commitment to truth, courage and integrity.  You should leave and find a church with truthful men in whom the Lord delights because they hate what is false.  Don’t stay in SGM where the “wicked bring shame and disgrace” time after time.  It is never ending. 

Proverbs 12:22 The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.

Proverbs 13:5 The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked bring shame and disgrace.

In closing and on a personal note, the challenges Jenny and I face have never been greater.  I’ve provided an update on her health and my continued work here.  I’d appreciate your prayers and financial support.  Thank you.

[Note: I moved the update on Jenny’s health to my Facebook page.  See post for June 9 and my subsequent comments.]

Postscript - March 23, 2018

Toby Kurth was one of the pastors caring for the victim's family and appealing to SGM to do what was right.  He commented to Jon Bloom of Desiring God the following on Bloom's FB page.

March 7, 2018

AoR [Ambassadors of Reconciliation] intentionally omitted the details of a 2009 sex abuse case in Ohio.  One of the lead interviewers did a long interview with me and at least 4 others about the case that was covered up.  The interviewer told me it was atrocious and that he was baffled at how unhealthy the leadership culture in SGM was.  He promised me that it would all be reflected in their report.  He was surprisingly negative on SGM.  All the more surprising was that none of it appeared in the AoR report.  We should all obviously do our best to judge on the basis of truth.  Look into what is known.  Talk with a few victims.  There is so much more complexity than is often represented.  I can only tell you that the case I was involved in mediating was handled poorly, that the victim’s family was told not to report, and that little concern was shown for the victim.  It was sad and tragic.  Here’s the other thing though.  Repentance is awesome.  It is freeing.  It is life-giving. It blows my mind that there is so much resistance to repentance in all of this.

Related Post

Mahaney’s Withdrawal from Together for the Gospel Is Meaningless as He Continues to Run from an Independent Investigation with the Help of Al Mohler, Ligon Duncan, Mark Dever, et al.
Friday, March 9, 2018

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend