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Saturday
Apr282018

The “Independent” Investigation of Sexual Abuse at Covenant Life Church Didn’t Include Talking to the Victims of Abuse – Incredulously, Executive Pastor Mark Mitchell Says Exclusion Was Due to “Limited Finances”  

Three and half years ago, I asked Lars Libeler why he was chosen by the pastors of Covenant Life Church to do an investigation of child sexual abuse when he had no expertise in the field.  

From: Brent Detwiler [mailto:abrentdetwiler@gmail.com]
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,
Brent       

Liebeler never answered my questions and made no effort to “help me understand” why the pastors chose him.  In fact, I wrote Liebeler two more times and asked the same questions about his lack of legal experience and qualifications to investigate sex crimes.  He refused to be forthcoming and answer me. 

Rachael Denhollander brought up the same issue in her Response to Sovereign Grace Churches on March 1, 2018.  

“The review, called the Thaler-Liebeler report, was conducted by a firm and an attorney with no known or recorded experience in criminal law or investigative work.  Rather, the firm specialized in various forms of business litigation and business law, as did the attorney hired to investigate, Mr. Liebeler.  Anyone familiar with sexual assault, institutional dynamics, or simply the process for independent investigations, would immediately recognize that this type of firm is not in any way the type of firm normally retained for such endeavors, and that the skill set and expertise necessary for this type of investigation, simply was not present. … As noted above, Mr. Liebeler appears to have no training or experience in criminal investigations or criminal law, much less with investigating sexual assault, making his incorrect reasoning understandable, but not excusable or accurate.”

Mark Mitchell is the executive pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD.  At a Members’ Meeting on March 4, three days after Denhollander’s statement above, he was asked by the moderator why the pastors chose Lars Liebeler to head up the “independent investigation” regarding the alleged conspiracy to commit and cover up the sexual abuse of children.   

“Mark, Matt asked about the particular investigator who did our investigation here and the particular choice of him that is raised in Rachael’s post, do you want to say anything about that?” 

Mitchell responds.  

“Yea.  Just a little bit.  He came to us, he came recommended, and so we took the recommendation.  Um, and, ah, you know, so that’s, that’s basically why he was chosen.”  

That is all Mitchell says which is extremely revealing.  First, it reveals the complete lack of leadership by the CLC pastors.  They did not investigate the recommendation.  They just took the recommendation.  Second, Mitchell’s answer begs the question, “Who made the recommendation in the first place?”  Unfortunately, members asking questions in the meeting were not allowed to ask follow-up questions or cross examine the answers given by the pastors, so it was never addressed. 

According to Liebeler, the recommendation had to come from someone (e.g. some lawyer or law firm) outside of CLC and SGM.  Here is what he told CLC during the first part of his oral report on October 12, 2014. 

“And prior to this engagement, I had no prior knowledge or connection with Covenant Life Church or its members.  I am a Christian.  I am a member of an Anglican Church in Arlington, VA but my church has no affliction with Covenant Life or with its former parent organization, Sovereign Grace Ministries.”  

So, the recommendation had to come from someone outside of CLC and SGM.  Lars Liebeler left the law firm, Thaler-Liebeler LLP, sometime after the investigation was completed in November 2014 and started his own firm, Lars Liebeler PC.  If you go to Areas of Practice on his website, you will notice his practice does not include anything related to the investigation of child sexual abuse.  Therefore, the question remains, why in the world would anyone recommend him to CLC and why in the world would the CLC pastors take the recommendation.  

One possible answer, everyone involved in the recommendation and decision was incompetent.  I don’t believe that was the case.   

The other answer is more nefarious.  In my opinion, no one respectable, would recommend Liebeler for this kind of work given his complete lack of expertise and experience in investigating sexual abuse and assault.  Therefore, why was he recommended and did that recommendation include retaining him?  Did the person(s) hope the investigation would be done poorly and with bias as a result?  My best guess is the insurance lawyers representing Covenant Life Church recommended him.  If so, that also explains why the pastors “took the recommendation.”  They were likely under pressure. 

This much I know for certain, the members of CLC must demand answers regarding who made the recommendation and why the CLC pastors acted upon it.  Mitchell clearly did not want to provide this information in his answer.  In all probability, something disingenuous or ethically incriminating is being cover-up.   

There were six plaintiffs in the lawsuit against CLC.  Lars Liebeler did not talk to five of them.  Nor did he talk to their parents or siblings.  And there is no evidence he talked to the sixth plaintiff.  All have gone public with their accounts of abuse and the attempts to cover them up.  I’ve included numerical references to the legal complaints in their lawsuit, so you can read the horrors they experienced.  And yet, Liebeler and his team didn’t even bother to call or email at least five of the six plaintiffs.  That is incomprehensible!   

I list them as the appear in the lawsuit and include my correspondence regarding Liebeler.

1.  Heather Thompson-Bryant (Complaints 4, 56-84, 90, 173) 

From: Brent Detwiler 
Sent: Monday, February 12, 2018 7:38 AM
To: Heather Thompson-Bryant
Subject: Lars Liebeler 

Did Lars Liebeler ever attempt to contact you as part of his investigation?  I don’t believe so but wanted to confirm. 

From: Heather Thompson
Sent: Monday, February 12, 2018 9:43 AM
To: Brent Detwiler
Subject: Re: Lars Liebeler 

Nope.  He didn’t.  Not at all. 

2.  Jessica Roberts-Thomas (Complaints 5, 21, 59, 86-93, 182) 

See her brother’s response below.

3.  Dara Sutherland (Complaints 6, 40-43, 45-55) 

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Sunday, April 8, 2018 1:44 PM
To: Dara Sutherland
Subject: Lars Liebeler 

Hi Dara, 

Could you answer a quick question for me?  Lars Liebeler was the lawyer hired by CLC in 2014 to do an “independent” investigation of the allege conspiracy to commit and cover up the sexual abuse of children.  Did he ever contact you, your mom or Davina to ask questions about how the pastors handled the situation with David? 

Thanks

Brent

From: imadarable 
Sent: Monday, April 9, 2018 5:54 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Subject: Re: Lars Liebeler

No. 

4.  Renee Palmer-Gamby (Complaints 7, 85, 94-106, 183)

Facebook
April 8, 2019 1:02 PM 

Brent
Hi Pam...quick question if I may.  Did Liebeler ever contact you or Renee during his investigation?  Thanks.

Pam
No, no one from our immediate family.  Dom, me or our two kids.

5.  James Roberts (Complaints 8, 32-39, 44, 46)

Facebook
5/26/2016, 6:53pm
Kimo Kaleohano
[his Hawaiian name]

No I have never been contacted by anyone other than our attorneys.

I’ll ask my sister [Jessica Roberts-Thomas] if she was contacted.  Supposedly someone was supposed to do an independent investigation for CLC or something but I never heard from that person either. 

5/27/16, 8:04am
Brent Detwiler
 

That was Lars Liebeler. He was the lawyer hired by CLC to do an “independent” investigation and yet he did not contact victims like you.  He talked to the predators but not their victims in the lawsuit.  Hardly independent.

6.  Olivia Llewellyn-Graham (Complaints 13, 152-161)

Olivia asked me to write and publish, The Conspiracy Surrounding Plaintiff Grace Goe at Covenant Life Church.  It concerns the physical and sexual abuse of her and her siblings by their father and its cover up by CLC pastors.  Denhollander summates the sources who reported the abuse in her Response to Sovereign Grace Churches last month.  

“Five additional alleged perpetrators were reported to pastors at SGM churches and were never reported to the police.  This includes a perpetrator [Charlie Lewellyn] who was reported by four separate sources: two sister victims [Olivia and her older sister] who each claim individually to have reported to Gary Ricucci, as well as the grandmother of the victims, and a housekeeper [Mary Burcham] who personally witnessed the assaults and also reported them.”  

Liebeler never talked to any of these sources.  Moreover, he didn’t even mention (let alone address) Olivia’s horrendous account of physical and sexual abuse.  Why?  Probably because he concluded guilt and was therefore prohibited from sharing it with Covenant Life Church as their lawyer.  That explains why he left it completely out of his report to CLC in October 2014!

This post is primarily about Mark Mitchell.  In the future, I will deal with Liebeler’s scandalous investigation and report to CLC at length.  For now, people must understand Lars Liebeler spent NO TIME with five of the six CLC plaintiffs or their families and siblings; but he spent A LOT OF TIME with his clients – the CLC pastors and alleged perpetrators.  That is evident in his report. 

Therefore, it is no wonder he completely vindicated them.  He was acting as their attorney and representing their interests.  He was not acting as an independent investigator.  He did a favorable internal investigation like you would expect from an attorney hired to defend you.  People should read, Are abuse survivors best served when institutions investigate themselves? by Boz Tchividjian.  He talks about the difference between an internal review and an external (independent) investigation.  The members of CLC should demand a copy of the contract the governing board of pastors signed with Liebeler.  It would spell out the terms of his employment.     

On two occasions, I wrote Thaler-Liebeler LLP about whether the firm would report criminal activity to the church and law enforcement.  I included those letters in  Questions for the Law Firm Thaler Liebeler LLP Regarding Investigation of Covenant Life Church (August 29, 2013). 

From: Brent Detwiler [mailto:abrentdetwiler@gmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, August 29, 2013 10:09 AM
To: CLCInvestigation@TL-LawFirm.com
Subject: RE: Information and Evidence 

At the conclusion of your investigation will you be sharing all your findings with Covenant Life Church?  In other words, do you intend to share incriminating evidence with the public that could result in fines or jail time for CLC employees (e.g. Grant Layman), former employees (e.g. C.J. Mahaney, John Loftness, Gary Ricucci, Stephen Griney), or current members (e.g. Mark Hoffman, Dave Mayo, Charlie Llewellyn)? 

Thanks
Brent 

##

From: Brent Detwiler [mailto:abrentdetwiler@gmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, August 29, 2013 12:29 PM
To: CLCInvestigation@TL-LawFirm.com
Cc: sally.magee@montgomerycountymd.gov; Susan Burke; William O’Neil; Adam Malcolm; Ben Wikner; Bob Schickler; Braden Greer; Corby Megorden; Dave Brewer; Don DeVries; Don Nalle; Eric Sheffer; Eric Simmons; Grant Layman; Issac Hydoski; Jamie Leach; Joe Lee; Jon Smith; Joshua Harris; Keith Welton; Kenneth Maresco; Mark Mitchell; Matt Maka; Robin Boisvert
Subject: RE: Information and Evidence 

To Whom It Concerns at Thaler Liebeler LLP, 

Would you please answer an additional question for me?  It is one many people at Covenant Life Church are asking.  Will you be sharing all the evidence you discover as you discover it with the Montgomery County Police Department (e.g. Detective Sally Magee)?  Or do plan to withhold that information from law enforcement under attorney-client privilege

I’d appreciate a candid response.  

Thanks
Brent 

These questions were never answered but in time I came to understand he could not “share incriminating evidence with the public” and withheld “that information from law enforcement under attorney-client privilege.”  That is why the pastors retained him as their attorney.  They wanted legal protection, not an authentic independent investigation. 

Mark Mitchell and Lars Liebeler reported to CLC on October 12 and 26, 2014.  I was sent the audio from which I made a complete transcription.  It was alarming for so many reasons.  I asked to meet with CLC pastors.  I never heard back from them.     

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.  

Thanks
Brent 

The CLC pastors were not interested in hearing my concerns for their good.  

On two other occasions, I wrote Liebeler about his bias, prejudice, and withholding of evidence. 

From: Brent Detwiler [mailto:abrentdetwiler@gmail.com]
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.
Brent

##

From: Brent Detwiler [mailto:abrentdetwiler@gmail.com]
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. 

Brent

I did not hear back from Liebeler regarding my request to talk about his bias, prejudice and withholding of evidence.

Denhollander generally made the same point in her response to SGC on March 1. 

“Key witnesses regarding the claims against SGM were not contacted or interviewed for this review.  This includes alleged victims, known sexual assault victims including some of the victims of Nathaniel Morales, and corroborating witnesses such as parents, siblings and those involved in reconciliation meetings.  Thus, this review did not include speaking with many of the very people raising the charges and concerns, or witnesses on behalf of these people.” 

Mark Galli, editor in chief for Christianity Today, rightly gave special attention to this comment in his article, We Need an Independent Investigation of Sovereign Grace Ministries (March 22, 2018) 

“Of the many matters of concern, Denhollander says that Liebeler did not contact most of those raising allegations, nor witnesses on behalf of those making allegations.  If this is true, it raises many questions. … Given the substantial nature of the accusations, given the prominence of SGC, given the aborted court case on procedural grounds, given the crucial questions left hanging in the air, a new independent investigation is in order.” 

I’ve covered Mitchell’s response to why Liebeler was chosen.  I’ve not covered Mitchell’s response to why Liebeler did not reach out to victims.  His answer is ridiculous.  No, that is too nice.  It is diabolical.  First, let me restate the question and give his full reply.  

Moderator: Mark, Matt asked about the particular investigator who did our investigation here and the particular choice of him that is raised in Rachael’s post, do you want to say anything about that? 

Mitchell: Yea.  Just a little bit.  He came to us, he came recommended, and so we took the recommendation.  Um, and, ah, you know, so that’s, that’s basically why he was chosen.  One of the things we do have to remember is, number one, we felt the need, at that time, to have someone other than us, look into many of the allegations and the various things that were being alleged in the civil lawsuit.  And there were even a few things outside of that, that were brought to our attention.  We felt the need to do something about that and recognizes that it needed to be a third party, outside of the eldership.  We had limited finances, to dedicate to this, and that is a really, really important thing.  We had originally budgeted $50,000.  I believe we ended up spending just shy of a $100,000.  The Penn State situation was 6.5 million.  So, to recognize that he didn’t get to everyone, it is understandable, there were real limitations with the resources, and therefore what we were trying to get accomplish with those resources.  So, that’s probably the two significant things that I would say.  Obviously, we read many of the criticisms that Rachael has put forward regarding his work and his conclusions.  And as I mentioned in my email, the elders have just begun to give that careful consideration.  We still have a lot more conversation to have about that.  And that is kind of where we are at.  

The abuses were not confined to the victims in the lawsuit.  “There were even a few things outside of that, that were brought to our attention.”  None of those additional allegations were included in the Liebeler report.  

The pastors were extremely concerned about the effect of the lawsuit on the reputation of CLC because it was resulting in the loss of money and members.  See Budget Crisis at Covenant Life Church after Attendance Drops 1,600 People over Last Three Years (Nov. 22, 2014) 

Joshua Harris put it this way in a letter to CLC on August 28, 2013. 

“As we prayed and sought counsel from the Financial Advisory Committee and the church’s attorneys, we concluded that an investigation could help provide an added measure of clarity and closure over and above what the legal process provides, and serve to reassure both our church and the wider community. … This means going the extra mile to see the situation resolved in a way that promotes justice, brings forth the truth, identifies false or distorted accusations.” 

The investigation was for an “added measure of clarity and closure,” “to reassure both our church and the wider community,” and to identify “false or distorted accusations.”  The verdict was in even before the trial began.  Innocent on all counts. 

But now I come to my main point in this post.  Mitchell’s explanation for why the plaintiffs and victims in the lawsuit were not contacted. 

“We had limited finances, to dedicate to this [investigation], and that is a really, really important thing.  We had originally budgeted $50,000.  I believe we ended up spending just shy of a $100,000.  The Penn State situation was 6.5 million.  So, to recognize that he didn’t get to everyone, it is understandable, there were real limitations with the resources, and therefore what we were trying to get accomplish with those resources.  So, that’s probably the two significant things that I would say.” 

This is the same kind of duplicitous tale Mitchell has been pandering to CLC members regarding lead pastor, P.J. Smyth, who denied all knowledge of any allegations against his famous father of voyeurism, exhibitionism and sexual sadism and involving scores of boys and young men when the story broke on three continents in February 2017.  Not only did he have full knowledge, he defended his father against these charges.  If disclosed during the interview process with CLC in 2015, Symth would not have been hired.  The CLC pastors have been covering up for him for over a year.       

P.J. Smyth & Mark Mitchell Refuse to Answer Question at Members’ Meeting About Reliable Witnesses Calling P.J. a Liar for Denying Knowledge of Father’s Violent Beating of Boys
Thursday, April 5, 2018 at 5:38PM    

New & Indisputable Evidence Proves P.J. Smyth Knew All About Father’s Violent Beating of Boys – He & Pastors Continue to Deceive Covenant Life Church Despite My Appeals
Friday, March 2, 2018 at 2:40PM

Back to my main point.  Lars Liebeler and his colleagues began their investigation in July 2013.  They finished it 16 months later in November or December 2014.  

“As background, my firm is called Thaler Liebeler LLP.  It is a small law firm in Washington D.C.  And I was retained in July of 2013.  I am the chief investigator.  I’ve had a couple of my colleagues help me on this, but I am chiefly responsible for the work of the report and I’ve reviewed all of the report.” 

Mitchell would have you believe Liebeler did not contact Heather Thompson-Bryant, Jessica Roberts-Thomas, Dara Sutherland, Renee Palmer Gamby, or James Roberts because “we had limited resources.”  Furthermore, and this is “the really, really important thing,” “it is understandable” “he didn’t get to everyone.”  Not it is not!  It is absolutely reprehensible he did not get to the victims.  And I will go further, there is every reason to believe their exclusion was intentional.  And please don’t use Penn State as a ruse. 

If you’re hired to investigate sexual abuse, your START with the victims, and you FOCUS on the victims.  Liebeler’s three-person team didn’t even call them or email them over the course of 16 months!  That omission has NOTHING to do with limited finances.  That has to do with bias, prejudice and extreme neglect.  Liebeler spent his time with the alleged perpetrators and conspirators.  For example, he vindicated Steve Griney, Dave Mayo and Mark Hoffman, but he didn’t even contact their victims or family members for evidence against the men.  That is abhorrently UNJUST!    

In his comments to CLC in October 2014, Mark Mitchell refers to Lars Liebeler 23 times as an “independent investigator.”  He beat this deceptive misnomer into the heads of CLC members time after time after time but there is nothing “independent” about an “investigation” that doesn’t interact with the victims.  Mitchell knew the investigation was biased and prejudicial and so did all the pastors at the time including lead pastor Joshua Harris because they knew the victims were excluded.  

As indicated above, I asked to meet with these men on November 29, 2014 (i.e., 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).  Each one of these men should publicly ask forgiveness of the victims and CLC for their duplicity and complicity in a bogus investigation. 

A few weeks later, I wrote this on my Facebook page.

Brent Detwiler
December 12, 2014 
Covenant Life Church should never have hired the law firm, Thaler Liebeler LLP. Mr. Liebeler was the chief investigator but had no expertise in the investigation of child molesters.  Far worse, he was hired by CLC to do the “independent investigation” as their LAWYER.  That is inexplicable.  There is absolutely no comparison between the work Liebeler did for CLC and the work GRACE did for Bob Jones University.  Liebeler won’t even release his written report.  GRACE is putting out a detailed 300-page report.  CLC is still covering up.  Liebeler withheld incriminating evidence in his oral report to CLC in October.  That was totally expected.  As their attorney he couldn’t share anything that would incriminate the pastors or members of the church.  It is shameful Joshua Harris, Mark Mitchell, et al. used Thaler Liebeler LLP.  I don’t believe they were ever interested in a truly independent investigation.  They should have hired GRACE (or a comparable organization) if they desired credible results.  And guess what...they know it! 

Because the one-sided investigation resulted in fatally flawed “findings” that cleared CLC, it is no surprise Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. “claims that no third-party independent review is necessary because, among other things, Covenant Life Church (CLC) commissioned an independent investigation into how matters were handled” as pointed out by Rachael Denhollander. 

Mark Galli, editor in chief for Christianity Today, rightly gave special attention to this issue in his article, We Need an Independent Investigation of Sovereign Grace Ministries (March 22, 2018).  

“Of the many matters of concern, Denhollander says that Liebeler did not contact most of those raising allegations, nor witnesses on behalf of those making allegations.  If this is true, it raises many questions. … Given the substantial nature of the accusations, given the prominence of SGC, given the aborted court case on procedural grounds, given the crucial questions left hanging in the air, a new independent investigation is in order.” 

Finally, Mitchell claims the elders are giving “careful consideration” to the many criticisms Denhollander put forward regarding Liebeler’s work and conclusions.  That was eight weeks ago.  I have heard nothing.  

“Obviously, we read many of the criticisms that Rachael has put forward regarding his work and his conclusions.  And as I mentioned in my email, the elders have just begun to give that careful consideration.  We still have a lot more conversation to have about that.  And that is kind of where we are at.”  

Remember, these are the same staff pastors who blindly took the recommendation to hire him and worked out a legal arrangement that assured the investigation would be prejudicial.  These pastors are crooked, and they are the ones giving “careful consideration” to their crooked deeds.  They knew full-well Liebeler was excluding contact with the plaintiffs during his investigation.     

If the CLC pastors had any integrity, they would have rejected his work and his report based on that fact it was biased and did not include incriminating evidence.  But of course, that would be hypocritical since they were the ones that retained him which never should have been done.  That is like Hillary Clinton hiring a personal attorney to investigate her email scandal knowing full-well the attorney cannot discuss or report any criminal wrong doing to anyone.  Liebeler was just doing his job.  

After giving the answer above, Mitchell is asked another question.  This time from a woman in the church named Marissa. 

“So as you guys probably know, Rachael Denhollander, she recently proposed that there be a third-party with GRACE to conduct an investigation in relation to concerns of how our church dealt with child and sexual abuse.  So I was wondering what are your thoughts on the case she made and her points.  That is one of my first questions.  The next one related to that is, what do you believe was valid that we need to repent of?  And the third one is, would it hurt to be open to being examined to see if there be any grievous ways within us?”  

Here is Mitchell’s response from eight weeks ago. 

“The first thing that I would say is; right now, the elders need to take time, to give considerable, careful consideration to what she has written.  And we haven’t had that time yet.  So that is really the simple thing.  In terms of how our heart posture, priority number one should always be how to please the Lord.  Making decisions that are worthy of the gospel.  Decisions that bring honor and glory to the name of Jesus Christ.  And then, after that, it is what decisions need to be made for the good of this body.  You all.  So those are the things that will inform how we process her post.  She raises good questions.  She makes some good points in some different places.  But what we don’t want to do right now is speculate on what the right response is but we are considering all of the things.  We will certainly consider all of the things she puts forward in her post.  But much prayerful and careful consideration still needs to be given.” 

Mitchell gives a theologically correct answer, but it is not something he or the pastors have practiced.  They have shown no inclination to please the Lord or make decisions worthy of the gospel in their handling of P.J. Smyth or the conspiracy to commit and cover up the sexual abuse of children or the discipline of C.J. Mahaney for dividing and abandoning the church.  If they genuinely wanted to please the Lord they would follow the passionate request of Mark Galli and the editorial staff at Christianity Today.  

“We desperately need a fresh and thorough independent investigation by an organization that specializes in these matters. … We call for this on behalf of potential victims who may have yet to be heard.  And for the sake of SGC and for the integrity of evangelical churches everywhere.  And especially for the sake of the gospel.” 

The perceptive reader will notice this comment by Mitchell.  “And then, after that, it is what decisions need to be made for the good of this body.”  This is the same kind of language used by Corby Megorden (a former top pastor) when he justified not reporting known or suspected child abusers like Nathaniel Morales to law enforcement because, “It is our responsibility to protect the church from harm and that includes a lawsuit against the church.”  

“The good of this body” has often entailed the harming of victims and doing what displeases the Lord.  That is a matter of fact.  Without even talking to the plaintiffs, Mitchell and Liebeler publicly condemned them as liars in October 2014!  That is “the good of this body.”  Denhollander was correct when she talked to Christianity Today about “the ultimate reality” in SGC.  

“The ultimate reality that I live with is that if my abuser had been Nathaniel Morales instead of Larry Nassar, if my enabler had been [an SGM pastor] instead of [MSU gymnastics coach] Kathie Klages, if the organization I was speaking out against was Sovereign Grace under the leadership of [Mahaney] instead of MSU under the leadership of Lou Anna Simon, I would not only not have evangelical support, I would be actively vilified and lied about by every single evangelical leader out there.  The only reason I am able to have the support of these leaders now is because I am speaking out against an organization not within their community.  Had I been so unfortunate so as to have been victimized by someone in their community, someone in the Sovereign Grace network, I would not only have their support, I would be massively shunned.  That’s the reality.” 

Rachael Denhollander’s devastating Response to Sovereign Grace Churches was also a devastating response to Covenant Life Church.  Mitchell could not deny it.  He had to give lip service to it. “She raises good questions.  She makes some good points in some different places.”  He even says, “We will certainly consider all of the things she puts forward in her post.”   

Sounds great Mark!  It has been eight weeks.  When will you tell CLC whether you will embrace a thorough-going professional investigation by G.R.A.C.E. or some other outside group or law firm with expertise that is not retained by you?  And when will you tell CLC what your thoughts are on the case Rachael made and her points?  And what do you believe was valid that you need to repent of?  Finally, have you and the pastoral staff found any grievous ways within the eldership or church?  

Mitchell is not going to answer these questions, just like he and Symth did not answer other questions in the Members Meeting, in an open, honest or detailed way.  I agree with Mark Galli, we need an independent investigation of Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. but I would quickly add, we need an investigation of Covenant Life Church that includes the pastors.  But obviously, neither will happen because “the good of this body” comes first.  That means victims are condemned, perpetrators are protected, and conspirators cover up.        

I’d highly recommend people read, Why Churches Disbelieve Victims and Believe Pastoral Abusers.  And I would add, pastoral conspirators.  It was posted this week by a former colleague of Ken Sande from Peacemakers.  It explains the sinful tactics that have been employed by SGC and CLC since the lawsuit was first filed in October 2012.  These same tactics have been used to cover up spiritual abuse for much longer.  People in both organizations have been badly deceived.  I hope it helps to open their eyes.        

The plaintiffs/victims of sexual abuse were not excluded from Liebeler’s investigation because of “limited finances.”  That is a complete hoax.  They were excluded because their testimony, and that of their families, was incriminating.  The pastors never intended to include that testimony in the report to Covenant Life Church.  Corrupt…so very corrupt!    

Related Posts 

Sovereign Grace Pastors Crack Down on Godly Dissent of Members Asking for an Investigation & Expressing Concern Over Response to Rachael Denhollander
Saturday, April 21, 2018 at 4:45PM

C.J. Mahaney, Covenant Life Church & the Conspiracy to Cover-up the Sexual Abuse of Children
Tuesday, February 13, 2018 at 12:42PM 

Brent Detwiler’s Factual Rebuttal of Covenant Life Church Apologist 
Tuesday, February 14, 2017 at 2:47PM 

Ken Sande Counseled C.J. Mahaney to Confess He Was “So Very Guilty” of Attacking & Ambushing Me
Friday, August 29, 2014 at 2:54PM

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