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Long Story by Washingtonian Magazine about C.J. Mahaney, Covenant Life Church, & Sovereign Grace Ministries Hits Newsstands Tomorrow

For the last 10 months, Washingtonian Magazine has been working on a long-form story (i.e., longer than an article, shorter than a novel) about C.J. Mahaney, Covenant Life Church and Sovereign Grace Ministries.  It hits the newsstands tomorrow.  In the next week or two, it will be posted on their website.  The magazine is read by hundreds of thousands of people and will address the conspiracy to cover up the sexual abuse of children and other pertinent issues.  

The featured article in the February issue is titled, “The Fall of a Mega Church.”  The online edition is called, The Sex Scandal That Devastated a Suburban Megachurch - Inside the rise and fall of Sovereign Grace Ministries.  It is written by Tiffany Stanley.  Here’s her brief description found in the table of contents. 

Over four decades, a Gaithersburg church became a global evangelical empire—the center of a cloistered world many locals knew nothing about.  Then things went terribly wrong.”  

Here’s a description of the magazine and its website.  

About Us 

Washingtonian, the magazine Washington lives by, is the region’s top source of information for dining, shopping, entertainment, and personalities.  It has been Washington’s most trusted guide to living, working, and playing in the area for more than four decades thanks to features like “100 Very Best Restaurants,” “Top Doctors,” and “Great Places to Live.”  The magazine is read each month by more than 400,000 people, who spend an average of 96 minutes with each issue and save each issue for an average of five months.  The Washingtonian is a five-time National Magazine Award winner for its reporting and writing., the online extension of the magazine, helps hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors explore and live in the nation’s capital.  From planning a night out on the town to locating the best pediatrician or lining up a new hairstylist, is the region’s premier destination for lifestyle information.  Through online chats with editors, online columns, events calendars, and blogs, the site helps readers keep up with everything happening around them.  Whether you’re contemplating moving and want to know the area’s best places to live or contemplating switching jobs and want to know the region’s best places to work, is the national capital region's one stop for trustworthy, dependable, and thoughtful advice. 

For over three years, I have worked with victims, child abuse experts, lawyers and law enforcement.  I hoped to have completed a book length treatise on the conspiracy by now; but that was not possible given health challenges that arose over the past year.  People need to hear the whole story because they have been ill-informed and misinformed – that includes the members of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD formerly led by C.J. Mahaney and Joshua Harris.  

Though I’ve not yet read the story in the Washingtonian, I am hopeful it will shed light on the conspiracy to commit and cover up child sexual abuse by leaders in Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) and Covenant Life Church (CLC).     

For example, C.J. Mahaney’s lawyer told CLC’s lawyer, Lar Liebeler, that Mahaney knew absolutely nothing about the sexual abuse of boys by Nathaniel Morales even though at least seven of his CLC pastors (i.e., Grant Layman and Chris Glass in 1991; Robin Boisvert in 1992; Gary Ricucci in 1993; Joshua Harris, Kenneth Maresco, and Corby Megorden in 2007) were apprised of Morales’ sexual abuse as a matter of fact.  These facts were established under oath in two separate trials and Morales was subsequently sentenced to 40 years in prison in August 2014.  

Mahaney oversaw these men as their senior pastor from 1980-2004 and as President/Chairman of SGM from 2005-2011.  I believe he is lying when claiming complete ignorance about Morales’ crimes.  Such extraordinary information would most certainly have been reported to him by his pastors.  It is inconceivable he had no knowledge.  No pastor employed by him would have dared withhold it from him.  I know – I worked for Mahaney for 25 years.  He micromanaged crises in the church and the larger ministry.  Withholding that kind of information from him could get you fired – and in this case, understandably.  Of course, you tell the senior pastor about children in the church who are being sexually abused!        

The Lars Liebeler “independent” investigation of CLC in 2013-2014 was not independent.  How could it be?  Liebeler was hired by the pastors to investigate the pastors while retained as their lawyer.  Because of this arrangement, Liebeler could not put the CLC pastors or church members in legal jeopardy.  He could not report criminal findings.  Such is forbidden under the law governing attorney-client privilege and confidentiality.  Any incriminating evidence had to be withheld from his oral report to CLC in October 2014.  

[January 25 update:  I am now told that “The results of the contract [investigation] were to be reported to the CLC leadership…with any public reporting being at CLC leadership’s discretion.”  In other words, the CLC pastors and their lawyers had the final say on what was reported to the church.  That is one reason why the public comments made by Liebeler, Mitchell, Harris, Layman, Boisvert, Maresco, and Megorden were so scripted.]

I contacted Mr. Liebeler to discuss this and other matters but he refused to engage me.  So too the CLC pastors on several occasions.  They would not meet with me.  

[January 25 update I now know why they would not answer my questions, meet with me or make the contract available.  I would have discovered that what was reported to the church in October 2014 was under the control of the pastors.  That was completely contrary to all their promises that the “independent investigator” would report independently.]  

From: Brent Detwiler []
Sent: Saturday, November 29, 2014 1:31 PM
To: Joshua Harris; Robin Boisvert; Dave Brewer; Don DeVries; Isaac Hydoski; Jamie Leach; Joe Lee; Adam Malcolm; Kenneth Maresco; Corby Megorden; Mark Mitchell; Kevin Rogers; Eric Sheffer; Greg Somerville; Keith Welton; Ben Wikner; Bob Schickler
Subject: Concerns for Liebeler Report

I am concerned for the Lars Liebeler report to CLC for various reasons.  The same is true for comments made by Mark [Mitchell].  I’d like to request an audience so I can share those concerns in a redemptive manner and also ask you some questions.  I am willing to drive up or talk via a conference call.  I hope you respond in the affirmative. 


From: Brent Detwiler []
Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2014 11:30 AM
To: Joshua Harris; Robin Boisvert; Dave Brewer; Don DeVries; Isaac Hydoski; Jamie Leach; Joe Lee; Adam Malcolm; Kenneth Maresco; Corby Megorden; Mark Mitchell; Kevin Rogers; Eric Sheffer; Greg Somerville; Keith Welton; Ben Wikner; Bob Schickler
Subject: Re: Concerns for the Liebeler Report

I assume you are uninterested in hearing my concerns since I’ve heard nothing from you.  That’s your decision but please know I genuinely wanted to help you and give you the opportunity to respond to my observations. 

From: Brent Detwiler []
Sent: Thursday, December 18, 2014 9:43 AM
To: Joshua Harris
Subject: Please Meet 

Dear Joshua, 

Would you please call me or meet with me?  I’d like to talk about how you, the pastors, and the church can prosper once again.  I don’t desire your demise in any way.  I want to help.  


I even wrote Joshua Harris the night before he announced his resignation as senior pastor.  I pleaded with him to be honest with the church.  All for naught.  

From: Brent Detwiler 
Sent: Saturday, January 24, 2015 9:22 PM
To: Harris Joshua
Subject: Confidential

I hope you will be honest tomorrow morning and tell the church about the conspiracy (i.e. agreement) not to report Nate [Morales] or Charlie [Llewellyn] to law enforcement.  You know this is the plain truth despite claims by Mark [Mitchell] to the contrary.  You also know the Liebeler report withheld incriminating evidence of a serious nature from CLC.  This too needs to be confessed.  Lastly I hope you will acknowledge the many times you sinfully protected CJ, broke promises to hold him accountable and allowed him to [spiritually] abuse others without consequence.  You have covered up for him like you covered up for known and alleged [sex] abusers by not reporting them.  Josh, I am fervently praying you will clear your guilty conscience by acknowledging these things to the Lord and CLC as you resign in the morning.  I’d love to see you serve the Lord with gladness once again instead of living under the constant conviction of the Holy Spirit.  Put your man pleasing to death and put on integrity for the glory of God!

Liebeler’s oral report to CLC was partial and prejudicial in my opinion.  For example, he did not interview the victims of abuse that both he and Mark Mitchell (the executive pastor) disparaged in their public statements in October 2014.  How can you vindicate alleged perpetrators with whom you do talk while you condemn alleged victims with whom you do not talk?  That bears no resemblance to justice or independency.  For that reason alone, the report should have been rejected as biased. 

Furthermore, Mr. Liebeler had no expertise in investigating sexual abuse cases.  He is a fine lawyer in civil litigation, with an emphasis in the areas of commercial and technology law, but he should never have been hired for this task.  He wasn’t qualified in my opinion.  Boz Tchividjian and his team from G.R.A.C.E. (i.e., Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment), or a group like them, should have been hired.  You want multidisciplinary experts with years of experience in the field of child sex abuse to do this kind of an investigation.      

I wrote Mr. Liebeler about his apparent lack of experience in relating to sex abuse victims and investigating sex abuse perpetrators.  I asked him to correct my conclusion.  He never did.

From: Brent Detwiler 
Sent: Saturday, November 29, 2014 4:56 PM
To: Lars Liebeler
Subject: Experience in Family Law?

Hello Lars,

As I reviewed your resume and public comments, it appears you have no experience in dealing with sex abusers either in the defense or prosecution of charges against them.  Is that a correct conclusion?  In other words, have you ever defended a person arrested for sex crimes or represented a victim against whom sex crimes were committed?  

In a similar vein, have you ever been hired by a victim or worked with law enforcement as a private investigator of a suspected sex abuser before your work commenced for Covenant Life Church? 

Per your website, you have “expertise in the areas of antitrust and trade regulation, contracts, and constitutional law.”  There is no mention of anything related to family law (i.e. child sex abuse).  Would you please comment on your experience in this field of jurisprudence?  I am wondering why the CLC pastors chose you and your firm to investigate sex crimes and provide counsel on child abuse policies.  From my perspective, they should have chosen a law firm and lawyer with extensive experience in dealing with victims and abusers. 

Please help me to understand. 

Thank you,

I’d like to know who, how and why Liebeler was chosen.  No one will answer.  CLC members should find out and ask to see the employment contract he signed with the church.  That contract would spell out the terms of his investigation and the restraints placed upon him by virtue of being their lawyer.  Ask that this document be made available to the church so members can know the legal and contractual limits placed upon his investigation and oral report.           

Liebeler also failed to tell the church that Morales confessed to executive pastor Grant Layman in 2007 that he was guilty of sexually abusing children in CLC.  Layman passed that information on to Harris, Boisvert, Maresco, and Megorden.  These same pastors also knew Morales was a serial sex abuser before coming to CLC in 1982 according to testimony given by Layman at the second Morales trial in May 2014.  They knew Morales was excommunicated by The New Testament Church in 1981 for the sexual abuse of boys in that Pentecostal denomination.  This too was left out of Liebeler’s report to CLC. 

From: Brent Detwiler []
Sent: Friday, December 05, 2014 9:26 AM
To: Lars Liebeler
Subject: Request for Phone Conversation

Dear Lars,

Could we set up a time to talk by phone?  I have concerns for your report to CLC that I’d like to share with you in person.  For example, you left out vital pieces of evidence regarding the events of 2007.  I’d like to discuss these concerns.  I would not make this request unless it was important.  Your investigation continues so it is not too late to amend your findings. 

Please contact me at your earliest convenience.  I’d also appreciate an answer to my previous question about your legal experience in dealing with sex abusers.

Thanks for your consideration.


From: Lars Liebeler []
Sent: Tuesday, December 09, 2014 12:45 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Subject: RE: Request for Phone Conversation

Dear Mr. Detwiler,

Thank you for your email and interest in the accuracy of the investigation.  If you have any evidence that you believe is relevant to the investigation, feel free to forward that evidence to me via email or US Mail.  I will review what you send to me carefully and make a determination of whether a follow up telephone conversation or an in person meeting would be helpful. 


Lars H. Liebeler

Thaler Liebeler LLP
International Square
1825 Eye Street, N.W.
Suite 400
Washington, D.C. 20006
Direct: 202-587-4747
Main: 202-466-4110
Fax: 202-466-2693 
From: Brent Detwiler []
Sent: Tuesday, December 09, 2014 4:44 PM
To: Lars Liebeler
Subject: RE: Request for Phone Conversation

You seem to have misunderstood the nature of my request.  I don’t have additional evidence that needs to be forwarded.  I want to discuss the evidence in both our possessions and ask why you withheld some of it from your presentation to CLC.  From my perspective, you acted in a partial manner, not an independent manner, in the reporting of evidence.  That is my primary concern.

I’d also like to know about your past legal experience in dealing with sex abusers.  I think that too is germane to your findings.  I hope you will answer my questions regarding the same.


Liebeler never answered my questions about his qualifications or the withholding of evidence in his prejudicial presentation to CLC. 

Despite their knowledge that Morales was a serial predatory sex abuser, Joshua Harris, Grant Layman, Robin Boisvert, Kenneth Maresco, and Corby Megorden agreed not to report him for fear of a lawsuit.  They were following the erroneous counsel given them by longtime CLC member and lawyer Chip Grange that the possibility of a lawsuit should be a consideration in whether or not to report him.  

Being sued, however, is not a concern under the law in Maryland.  You are protected from lawsuits for reporting the alleged physical or sexual abuse of children.  But even if a lawsuit was a possibility, you still have a legal and ethical responsibility to report sex abusers!  These men were more concerned about the loss of money and other “harms” than they were about the well-being of children.  That is clear.  They let a serial predator loose.  He went on to abuse more children.  

Liebeler made much of clergy confidentiality in his remarks to CLC but no clergy exemption for reporting sex abusers applied given the circumstances in 2007.  Scott Bates (father) and Rachel Bates-Paci (daughter) were concerned Morales was still abusing children like he did Sam Bates (brother) and Daniel Bates (brother) in the 1980’s and early 1990’s.  As a result, Scott contacted Robin Boisvert and Grant Layman at Rachel’s encouragement because they wanted the pastors to take action and make certain Morales was no longer abusing.  No such definitive action was taken by them.  

This was nothing new.  Grant Layman and Chris Glass first learned about Morales’ abuse of boys from Rachel Bates-Paci many years earlier in June 1991 according to her sworn testimony.  She was 17 and two boys (not her brothers) had just confided in her that they had been sexually abused by Morales.  She wanted him stopped.  Layman and Glass did nothing.  This information would have been passed onto Mahaney by them.  Obviously, he did nothing.  His practice was not to report sex offenders. 

From then, until his arrest, Morales abused boys in different parts of the United States including two steps sons because he was not reported to police.  The pastors at CLC who knew about Morales are largely to blame.  At the time of his sentencing, criminal investigations were underway in five states.  They were dropped once he was sentenced for what should be the remainder of his life. 

It came to end because Sam Bates finally contacted the Family Crimes Division in Montgomery County, MD in October 2009.  A three-year investigation followed.  Morales was arrested in October 2012, tried in May 2014, and sentenced in August 2014.  What C.J. Mahaney and others should have stopped in 1991 was finally stopped 23 years later. 

Morales had a known history of sexual abuse going back to 1980 and yet the five leading pastors at Covenant Life Church including Harris, the senior pastor and a victim of child sexual abuse himself, never reported him to police in 2007.  If you don’t report a known serial predator like Morales, who are you going to report?  No one.  

And yet Harris told news anchor, Greta Kreuz for WJLA-TV in Washington D.C. in October 2012 that, “The church has never tried to cover up abuse.  There has never been a policy like that.  We are very committed to involving the authorities.”  That was a blatant lie.  

Two years and three months later, Harris proved himself a liar in comments he made to Michelle Boorstein, a religion reporter for The Washington Post.  This was right after Harris announced in January 2015 that he would be resigning as the senior pastor of CLC and heading off to seminary in Canada.  He was on his way out and must have felt safe telling Boorstein the truth even though it condemned him. 

Pastor Joshua Harris, an evangelical outlier, heads to mainstream seminary
By Michelle Boorstein January 30, 2015 at 9:32 PM   

A former Covenant Life member [Nate Morales] who helped with the youth group was convicted last year of molesting three boys in the 1980s.  Trial testimony showed that the victims or their families had gone to church leaders for help and that the church officials did not call police.  Harris said the thinking of the church was that such allegations should be handled as an internal, spiritual issue.

This was deceptive speech by Harris.  He makes it sound like this was the policy back in 1980’s and early 1990’s before he arrived in 1997 but not his own policy.  That is not true.  Harris became Mahaney’s executive pastor in September 2001.  He became the senior pastor under Mahaney’s tutelage in September 2004.  Mahaney’s policy of not reporting was also Harris’ policy of not reporting. 

Harris was correct that “the thinking of the church” [i.e., C.J. Mahaney and his pastors] was that allegations of child sexual abuse “should be handled as an internal, spiritual issue.”  This is precisely what pastor John Loftness told Dominic and Pam Palmer in 1993 according to the lawsuit filed against him and Covenant Life Church. 

Second Amended Complaint
May 14, 2013 

95. On or about March 17, 1993, [name withheld pending court ruling on defense motion], a teenager who was likely a victim himself, sexually assaulted Renee Palmer, who was two years old at the time of the sexual assault and living in Gaithersburg, Maryland. 

96. On or about March 18, 1993, Dominic and Pamela Palmer, Renee’s parents, learned of the assault and immediately called the police and reported the assault. They then called Defendant Loftness, who immediately advised them “do not call the police.”  When the Palmers told Defendant Loftness that they had already called the police, he expressed his displeasure (stating “that is going to be a problem”), and explained that such matters were handled internally by the church leadership, not by secular authorities.

Remember, Harris told news anchor, Greta Kreuz for WJLA-TV in Washington D.C. in October 2012 that, “The church has never tried to cover up abuse.  There has never been a policy like that.  We are very committed to involving the authorities.”  But now he tells Michelle Boorstein of The Washington Post that there was no commitment to involve authorities.  

Harris also claimed C.J. Mahaney and the CLC pastors “never tried to cover up abuse” because they “never [had] a policy like that.”  In fact, according to Harris, they had always been “very committed to involving the authorities.”  

But the truth be told, there was a cover up policy.  That is, you don’t report the sexual abuse of children to any civil authority and you don’t involve law enforcement in an investigation.  Rather, the sexual abuse of children is handled internally as a spiritual matter.  This statement by Harris proves the CLC pastors acted as co-conspirators in agreeing not to follow the law and report child sex abusers as a matter of unwritten policy. 

But what was true of the pastors in the 1980’s and 1990’s was also true of the pastors in the 2000’s.  The pastors had no history of involving law enforcement in cases of alleged or known child sexual abuse.  That’s why they never cited any cases of reporting as proof of innocence.  Nor did Lars Liebeler in his report.  That could easily have been done without using any identifying details about the victims.     

This same basic policy was outlined by Corby Megorden, the church administrator in August 2011 at a closed meeting with members of Covenant Life Church.  It was the policy Joshua Harris and his governing board followed with Morales in August 2007. 

“Whenever a report comes, it comes as a report of potential abuse because we need to confirm that. … First, we will first try to determine the validity of the report.  Has there actually been abuse?  They next thing we do is contact our legal counsel to get their assessment. … And at times, yes, we want to protect.  That is our responsibility to protect the church.  It is our responsibility to protect the church from harm and that includes a lawsuit against the church.  So we want to make sure we are doing this wisely and well.”   

This was the “wisely and well” policy of the pastors in 2011, not 1991.  If someone brings a report to the pastors that a child has been sexually abused the pastors DO NOT report it to the police.  Instead, they investigate the allegations internally with no help from law enforcement and determine whether the allegations are valid and true.  Who needs expert detectives from the Family Crimes Division!  

Then, even if the report is deemed true, the pastors still DO NOT report it to the police.  They report it to their legal counsel, Chip Grange, to see if the abuser might sue them for reporting it to the police.  If Grange considers that a possibility, the implication is clear, the pastors do not report to police.  That is precisely what Harris, Layman, Boisvert, Maresco and Megorden did with Nate Morales in 2007 based on the counsel they received from Grange.  

And yet Harris has the gall to tell Greta Kreuz the following year that The church has never tried to cover up abuse.  There has never been a policy like that.  We are very committed to involving the authorities.”  I hate lying and corruption! 

Liebeler makes no mention of this long standing practice which was clearly contrary to the law and motivated by a desire to avoid various harms including financial harm due to imagined lawsuits.  Liebeler should have exposed and condemned this policy in the strongest possible terms.  That is the work of an independent investigator.  

That is also what CLC pastors did with Charlie Llewellyn when his two oldest daughters reported to Joshua Harris, Grant Layman and Gary Ricucci that he sexually abused them.  Mahaney was also told about the allegations of sexual abuse.  None of them reported Llewellyn to law enforcement.  I wrote about this in The Conspiracy Regarding Grace Goe at Covenant Life Church

Llewellyn’s third oldest daughter has also accused him of the same.  I confronted Charlie Llewellyn with this evidence in person in June 2015.  He did not deny his daughters’ accusations.  Nor did he protest their allegations.  I told him about other evidence in my possession and my determination to testify against him in a court of law if his daughters decide to press charges.  This is another clear example of the pastors not reporting serious allegations of sexual abuse.         

Harris, Layman, Maresco, Boisvert and Megorden were never “very committed” to police involvement.  Nor were Mahaney, John Loftness, Gary Ricucci, or Chris Glass.  Moreover, Loftness was accused of being a sexual sadist and Ricucci an accomplice.  No, the opposite was true.  There was a 30-year history of intentionally not involving law enforcement.  That’s why Lars Liebeler cited no evidence in his oral report to CLC that law enforcement was ever involved.  No such commitment existed.  Just the opposite was true.  Sexual abuse was handled internally.  

It is no wonder Harris is in Vancouver, Grant Layman resigned as a pastor, Corby Megorden resigned as administrator, and Kenneth Maresco was “led by the Holy Spirit” to Sovereign Grace Church of Fairfax.  There are skeletons in their closets.  Only Robin Boisvert remains at CLC as a pastor and there are real evidentiary reasons to be concerned about his integrity that have not been made public. 

But worst of all is C.J. Mahaney.  This longstanding policy was established by him when he became the senior pastor in 1980.  At the time, there were allegations of sexual abuse against Charles Schmitt but Mahaney did not report them to law enforcement.  This policy of not involving law enforcement was enforced by him and carried out by his staff for 25 years.  Harris carried on the wretched tradition. 

And yet Mahaney continues to lie and cover his tracks.  After the Morales trial in May 2014, he put out this statement. 

“Let me be clear about this: I have never conspired to protect a child predator, and I also deny all the claims made against me in the civil suit.” 

These words were posted by Mahaney on his church website a week after incriminating testimony was given at the Morales trial by his brother-in-law, Grant Layman and several other witnesses.  In my opinion, this emphatic and universal denial constitutes Mahaney’s most serious lie to date.  

Listen carefully to these remarks by Assistant State’s Attorney Jessica Hall in her opening statement at the first trial of Nathaniel Morales when he was found guilty on all five counts of child sex abuse and offense against Sam Bates, Jeremy Cook, and Brian Wolohan. 

Jessica Hall
Assistant State’s Attorney
Opening Statement
Monday, May 12, 2014 

“The church covered it up.  The church protected Mr. Morales. … The church would cover up for Mr. Morales. … The church would protect a man who molested children. … The church did nothing. … They ignored the fact that heinous crimes had been committed.”

The State’s Attorney’s Office is well aware that Mahaney is the mastermind behind the cover up they allege.  When Hall says “the church would protect a man who molested children,” she has Mahaney primarily in mind and I believe she has the evidence to prove he is lying when he says “I have never conspired to protect a child predator.”  

God in his Providence has exposed spiritual abuse and sexual abuse in Sovereign Grace Ministries in order to warn and educate the Body of Christ at large.  This despite extensive efforts at covering up these abuses by its leaders.  Ten months ago, I wrote about a “hush fund” that was set up in 2013 when Mahaney was President of SGM in order to prevent a victim and his family from joining the lawsuit against SGM.  It is a shocking example of mind boggling corruption by the top leaders in SGM.  Here’s an excerpt.   

Hush Fund Set Up by Top SGM Leaders to Meet the Demands of a SGM Pastor Whose Son Was Sexually Abused 
Monday, March 30, 2015 at 1:56 PM
Brent Detwiler 

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’s longstanding 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 and 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.  I’ve interspersed some of my own comments in the email evidence in bold print. … 

This entire piece should be carefully read in order to see the original emails that demonstrate in no uncertain terms the predictable deception and manipulation employed by the top leaders in SGM under C.J.’s direction.  It is evil.  The “Hush Fund” was set up in 2013.  This is recent history and yet nothing has been done about it.  Prater, Buckley and Hill maintain their leading roles.  Mahaney also.  

Tomorrow Washingtonian magazine comes out.  Mahaney knows it is coming and I’m sure he is prepared to send out talking points to national leaders and Christian publications.  I expect executive director, Mark Prater, will do the same with Sovereign Grace pastors and churches.  These men are masters of manipulation. 

In the past, Mahaney and his enablers have put him forward as the object of persecution by the liberal press who hate the gospel.  That is what D.A. Carson, Kevin DeYoung and Justin Taylor said about Mahaney in May 2013 when the lawsuit came out claiming he covered-up child sex abuse by not reporting it to law enforcement in keeping with the law. 

“High-profile Christians [like C.J.] are sometimes targeted not because they are guilty, but because they are well known. … Surely as brothers and sisters in Christ we must understand how much gain there is for those who hate the gospel when Christian leaders are unfairly attacked and diminished.” 

Tomorrow, I suspect C.J. will consider himself “unfairly attacked and diminished” by Washingtonian magazine.  He will not humble himself.  He will not acknowledge wrong doing.  He will not repair the past.  He will claim he is being persecuted by the liberal press and false witnesses out to get him.  

Mahaney is a master of deceit.  He will continue to lie about his role in the conspiracy to cover up the sexual abuse of children in Covenant Life Church and other churches in Sovereign Grace Ministries.  Law enforcement may not go after him but they are not fooled by him.  That includes Federal authorities.  They know about his interstate role in not having SGM pastors report incidences of sex abuse to law enforcement.  But in their world, C.J. is a small fish.  They are focused on syndicated sex traffickers and the like.       

What I have included in this article represents a small portion of all the evidence in my possession.  So much more needs to be said but that is not possible now. 

Since I released The Documents in July 2011, Sovereign Grace Ministries has used every means possible to attack, discredit and silence me; but by the grace of God I have persevered in documenting the pervasive corruption that characterizes the ministry including the conspiracy to commit and cover up the sexual abuse of children.  

As a result, I am now materially poor though I remain spiritually rich.  My personal resources are depleted from the last six years of work which I have largely financed.  Regardless, I am grateful to God for all the good that has been accomplished.  Victims and their families have been helped, serious corruption has been exposed, and the evangelical church is better equipped to recognize, prevent, and respond to child abuse. 

Postscript 1
January 22, 2016 

P.J. Symth from Johannesburg, South Africa is the new lead pastor for CLC though he has yet to move to the United States with his family. The pastors and members are confident he will turn things around with his preaching, leadership and emphasis on missional outreach.  They expect the building will fill up and the money will come in to solve their budget woes.  Maybe so.  I just hope he calls all the men above to account with courage and conviction.  I am not impressed by great preachers.  I am impressed by men of integrity are willing to suffer for doing what is right in the sight of God. 

Postscript 2
January 23, 2016 

Someone asked on my FB page: 

“One thing you might want to address, Brent. You are quoted [in the Washingtonian] as to how very close you and CJ were -- which begs the questions of what you knew and when you knew it.  I believe the simple answer to this complex question is that everyone was expected to be completely up front with CJ, but he did not return the favor.” 

My answer: 

“Good question.  One I’ve answered on numerous occasions but fair to bring up again.  C.J. never told me about the sexual abuse of children that was going on in CLC or SGM. For example, with Morales.  Or for example, with Sovereign Grace Church of Fairfax.  I had no idea.  I learned about the abuses when the lawsuit came out.  Over the years, C.J. withheld information about abuse from me.  He knew I would tell him to report to police.  That was my proven policy.  I directly oversaw 23 churches.  On two occasions, I became aware of child sexual abuse in one of those churches.  That was it.  Both times, I told the sr. pastor to report it to law enforcement.  Both times, the offender went to jail.  Both times, I informed C.J.  I had a policy of reporting.  C.J. had a policy of not reporting.  Looking back, C.J. deceived me and others on many occasions about many things.  You are correct.  We were upfront with him.  He was not upfront with us.  It turns out C.J. was a pretender and hypocrite in many respects.”

Postscript 3
February 19, 2016 

I’ve now studied the article by Stanley in the Washingtonian and the subsequent interview she did with TIME magazine.  

As a result, I have written a follow-up post titled, A More In-Depth Look at “The Sex Scandal That Devastated a Suburban Megachurch” by Washingtonian Magazine and TIME Magazine.

Stanley features five victims of sexual abuse in SGM.  These five have told their stories before on a blog and in their allegations of fact found in the former lawsuit against CLC and SGM.  I provide that information so readers can comprehend their stories more fully.    

I also help readers sort through the various pseudonyms or middle names used by family members or victims in the Washingtonian article, the stories on SGMSurvivors and in the lawsuit.  It is confusing.

Lastly, I include information regarding other victims and comment on the upcoming lawsuit in VA, the need to prosecute perjurers and conspirators, C.J. Mahaney’s evangelical allies, the upcoming Together for the Gospel conference, and Mahaney’s refusal to talk with Stanley.     


Please Help Financially

I continue to hold SGM accountable, write about lessons to be learned, work for criminal justice, seek reform in the Body of Christ, and care for those who have been harmed including victims of child abuse. These endeavors have been my full time work.  You can assist these efforts by financially supporting me via PayPal or by a check made out to me and sent to my home address.    

Brent Detwiler
117 Tilton Drive
Mooresville, NC   28115  


Gifts to Brent & Jenny

I am also developing Aletheia Ministries – a 501(c)3 non-profit organization constituted for “freely preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and establishing and training believers in the grace of God.” I'm available for preaching, seminars or retreats on a wide array of topics including how to recognize, prevent and respond to child abuse in your church community.  Please contact me regarding speaking engagements at

You can support this ministry by making a tax-deductible donation via PayPal or by check made out to Aletheia Ministries and sent to my home address.

Aletheia Ministries
117 Tilton Drive
Mooresville, NC   28115  


Donations to Aletheia Ministries

Your support is deeply appreciated.  All gifts and contributions are kept strictly confidential.


Brent Detwiler

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