Southern Baptist pastor told member to “keep his mouth shut”
Failing to report child abuse is a crime for which there is no justifiable church exemption. And as Christa Brown brought to our attention, the consequences of failure to report fell on the heads of a New Hampshire Southern Baptist pastor and two elders last week.
In New Hampshire, [at Valley Christian Church] Southern Baptist pastor Timothy Dillmuth and two church elders, Richard Eland and Robert Gagnon, were found guilty of failing to report child sex abuse. … According to the judge’s written ruling, pastor Dillmuth “had met with the parents of a child who had been molested by a member of the church, which he later confirmed after talking to the child.
“The information was shared with other members of the board of elders in September 2009,” and was discussed at some meetings of the church board.
A month later, when another member of the church urged the child’s parents to report the matter to authorities, pastor Dillmuth talked to the concerned church member and told him to “keep his mouth shut.”
They sought a religious exception to the law, the Union leader reported:
The three men, [District Court of Northern Carroll County Judge Pamela Albee] wrote, sought to have immunity from criminal liability in failing to report the case of suspected child abuse, “arguing that they acted in good faith in persuading the parents and the perpetrator to make report of abuse.” The men were arrested in early February by Conway police and charged that they had reason to suspect a girl had been sexually abused but did not report it as required by state law.
Suppression of the sort they sought punishes the victim, is shameful and deserves legal action.
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