When Doug Wilson Wrote To My Father

It's been a while since I've blogged here. My general sentiment when it comes to blogging about my experience of sexual abuse within the church is to 'write when the spirit says write' and it's been over a year since I've felt the need to do so. This was my last post, if you're a first-time reader here you can fill yourself in on my backstory there. But in light of the recent and rather broad coverage of the Steven Sitler situation (and tangentially the Jamin Wight situation) I feel the need to issue a current statement of my own and do a little dismantling.

There seems to be a sentiment shared by many of Doug Wilson's supporters that I am something of a banshee - bitter, angry and screaming lies and slander about the way Christ Church handled the abuse and everything that followed. Only the thing is, I'm not. I desire change, not vengeance. I'm not even worried about getting some personal apology from the church for the pain inflicted on me. Is a mass apology warranted? Absolutely. Are drastic changes in the way the church at large handles sexual abuse called for? Most definitely. But my own personal agenda actually has very little to do with me and everything to do with other innocent women and children in the church.

Every aspect of my story is true, insomuch as it is my perception of the way things happened and unfolded. While I'm pretty certain I know exactly what was in the heart of the criminal who took my innocence and broke my spirit, I can't pretend to know what was in the heart of Doug and the elders when they stood behind him, and I certainly can't pretend to know the reasoning behind leaving me out in the cold with no support, no love, compassion, or empathy, not even so much as a consoling pat on the back for all I'd been through. But I have my own theory.

There's a couple of ideas about this lack of support I received floating around and I've heard them over the years - one of them is that the church leaders didn't feel they were in a position to reach out to me because my father had expressly told them to stay away from his family and reaching out to me would be disrespecting his position as head of our household, which may be true, except there's a problem with that theory, one that thickens the plot. In the letter pictured below from Doug Wilson to my father, Doug, writing on behalf of the elders of Christ Church, clearly places a great deal of blame on my father for the abuse I suffered and treats him with a coldness and severity that I find heartbreaking. I truly cannot image being a father who'd just found out his daughter was horrifically abused for years under his roof and then being told his "sin and folly" of not protecting her is equally as distressing as the sins of the criminal who molested his little girl for years. My father was a destroyed man when I came out about my abuse, and what father wouldn't be? His tears of sadness and broken-ness went on for years, and still to this day he breaks down on occasion and begs my forgiveness for the hurt I suffered, and I always tell him the same thing: It's not your fault. Because it wasn't. I was taken advantage of by a predator who carefully calculated and carried out his crime and he was good at it. 

He knew how to not get caught and boy was he a master liar. While he lived with our family we had a joke that Jamin Wight could "Wight Wash" things because he was so skilled at successfully shifting blame away from himself in any given situation. The Prosecuting Attorney on the case stated that based on the psycho-sexual evaluation Jamin completed during his short stay at Cottonwood Prison, he was a 'textbook pedophile' and at high risk to re-offend with crimes of violent and sexual nature, which of course he did, not with a child as far as anyone knows but with his (now ex) wife.

How my father could be placed at a similar level of blame to this monster is completely unfathomable to me. My father's response was shock and injury, and while I know there were many previous instances of him realizing this church was not a place particularly well-versed in exhibiting the love of Christ, I believe this was something of a nail in the coffin for him, as would be expected. I recently spoke with my father about the details of his additional communication with Doug concerning my abuse and it is true that my father told them to stay away from his family, but not until after he saw the despicable way the situation was being handled.

In hindsight, perhaps it's a good thing I wasn't much ministered to. I knew I was being blamed for a good deal of the 'sexual sin' in my abuse from Jamin (not strictly from Doug but also from many other individuals in the church, mostly men and many of whom I had previously considered to be like older brothers to me, who wrote to the judge citing varying degrees of unladylike behaviors and temptress-like qualities I possessed as a 13 year old girl), and while the damage the deafening silence did to my psyche was extensive, it's now clear to me they had no idea what they were doing. Not a clue. Doug's daughter, Rachel, admitted as much when we met for coffee late last year to discuss her father's involvement and my misgivings. She wasn't privy to many of the details surrounding the situation but her general impression was that nobody really knew what to do for me. Considering their utter lack of knowledge in dealing with sexual abuse, I shudder to think of what support would have looked like, had I received any.

In all fairness to my father, it seems to me that if the church's version of 'support' for him was any indication of the nature of what might have been extended to me, I'd have told them to stay the hell away, too. Isn't it plain to see? My father was protecting me from what he perceived as potential further harm. From the beginning, Wilson's intention was not to support me but rather to deflect any blame or responsibility for what had happened.

After all, it wouldn't look good that a member in good standing with the church and attending Greyfriar's Seminary (and very close to being placed as a pastor of a congregation, I might add) had abused a young girl for the duration of his studies toward a career in pastoral work. Blame the father, swiftly and disproportionately, and perhaps people would be distracted. Defend the criminal and plead for mercy on his behalf and perhaps his crimes wouldn't seem quite so horrendous. Believe his cries of repentance, welcome him back into the fold, and everybody goes home happy.

Except the family ripped apart by abuse. Fortunately for Wilson, several problematic members of said family left the church hastily and with gaping wounds, making it that much easier to paint them as impulsive crazies, embittered and wayward, unwilling to stay and talk it out like big kids.

So Doug's current reasoning of respecting the privacy of church members who have confessed sins to him and confided secrets in him during sessions of pastoral counseling doesn't hold much water from where I stand, not in this case anyway. Yes, my parent's marriage crumbled and yes, it was messy and of course it had to do with all the shenanigans surrounding the abuse. But that's no secret. The relentless shaming and mud-slinging my father experienced afterward that in his own words brought him "to a lower place than any man can go to and still be alive"? That might have been a bit of a secret, but not anymore.

No more lies. No more cover up. No more face-saving. It's time for the church to admit wrongdoing.

We are all human and we make mistakes and sometimes they're really big ones that hurt a lot of people, and after that happens it's time to say 'I'm sorry' and figure out how you can do things differently in the future so nobody else gets hurt. That's how I'd explain it to my children, anyhow. Even they understand how to stand up for the small kid on the playground who can't defend himself against the bully. That's what Christ would have done, that's what the church needs to do.

And while this post is not specifically about how we can do things differently in the future to prevent the rampant sexual abuse that takes place in churches worldwide (that's a topic for another post altogether) let's please start by doing one thing: Stop writing letters to the judicial system requesting leniency for and lauding the character of sexual criminals. Resounding support from men in positions of leadership and with good reputations among their followers are bound to have quite an effect on a judge's opinion of a defendant's character. Especially when the victims are children and teens scarred by abuse and who cannot yet speak for themselves and adequately tell their own stories. Young people who have been shamed into silence from every direction.

This is where I stand: I am not bitter but I am earnest and unashamed. I have nothing to hide, I have told my story and will continue to do so and not because I love telling it, I hate telling it. Believe me when I say it hurts and it dredges up all kinds of old pains that I would love to be rid of forever, but I have to tell it. Because if there is even the smallest chance that telling my story means another little girl doesn't have to someday, then I will tell it everyday for the rest of my life.


Here's the letter from Doug to my father:


Here's the link to a fellow outspoken woman of strength, Katie Botkin, a journalist and an advocate for truth and change: http://kbotkin.com/2015/09/10/the-letter-on-christ-church-stationary/


Comments

  1. You are an amazing voice of strength, Natalie. I applaud you for speaking out so boldly. Your testimony shows clarity and grace, not an ounce of vindictiveness despite the fact that you were grossly harmed and abandoned by those who should have protected you. The letter shows Doug Wilson's true colors. Your spiritual shepherd failed you and behaved more like a wolf than a shepherd. I'm so sorry.

    Grace and peace to you, Natalie.

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  2. Thank for being brave and open with us. I am truly sorry for all you went through. My heart breaks for your father and I am appalled reading the letter that Doug Wilson wrote to him. Did he not have enough guilt without having more heaped on his head? It's horrendous! I truly believe that Wilson's attitude and actions grieve Christ himself, as to me it is clear that he is a wolf in sheep's clothing who is leading the flock astray.

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  3. Wow, Natalie, I can not believe anyone could ever condone writing a letter like that to a grieving father of child victim of sexual abuse.

    It reeks of subtle shame and insinuating loss of social acceptance and further more access to God via a religious practice such as taking communion. All of which lead into this completely out of line advice / warning of how he's going participate in the legal process, which almost seems like intimidation.. Which is really questionable!

    My heart goes out to your dad, and the absolute betrayal he must have felt.

    And as far as what other "Christian" brothers wrote about you, that's ignorant. A woman's beauty shouldn't be a liability to be held against her, and as a young girl if you were bubbly and friendly and kind that doesn't mean you were flirtatious.... it means you were a kid.

    And having worked with children who were sexually abused, once the abuse happens, some kids will transfer the interaction styles of how the perpetrator interacted with them, over to other people who could also be perpetrators, because that's one role where they know how to keep themselves safe, by just going along with it. And furthermore , for some survivors, it can become apart of their identity, as an attempt to feel more in control.

    Any judge with half a brain, who has worked in the system long enough, should have taken what those men testified to about you, and perceived it as confirmation of your victimization....... not as a means of villianizing a child.

    Blessings on your courage, passion, and creativity! Thank you for speaking up so others may not have to.

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  5. I am so very sorry for what you and your family went through, and I thank you for your courage in sharing your story. For those who are able, speaking out can help empower those who aren't there yet. You have my deep gratitude.

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  6. The world needs you, Natalie. Never quit.

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  7. Your courage is an example for all of us. By shining the light of truth on the spiritual and moral corruption of the leadership (pastor and elders of Christ Church) you may spare others from the pain you endured. You are a heroine.
    Rose Huskey

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  8. Thank you for having the courage to write this, and don't let any one tell you that you should not have written it or that you are wrong in standing up for how you believed things were handled. I once attended that church and I although I was much younger ( in my teens/early twenties) and very sheltered I can say that what you are writing it true! And even though this won't change things now there are other people that need to know the truth about these people! Thank you!

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  9. Just, Wow.

    I'm a long time Wilson reader. Can't say "supporter", because, really, I've only ever read his books and articles. But this is really quite a stunning revelation.

    That letter almost reads like Wilson is using it to establish a pattern of lack of proper parental supervision on your dad's part, to be used in court at some later time. It's almost like a threat. "Play nice, or we will point out how you have not properly supervised and protected your daughter."

    Again, just, wow.

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  10. It sounds to me like your father loves you deeply. Narcissists like Wilson often have a fine understanding of what people around them are feeling. This is not to be confused with empathy because THEY USE THIS KNOWLEDGE to fine tune their attacks. Had your father not loved you so much, Wilson would have chosen a different approach.
    I am so sorry that your family had to experience this.

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  11. Please Continue To live and love and not let your light be extinguished. Speak Truth to Power and Love as much as you can. Doug Wilson is a lost soul who parades under a guise of false witness and leads others into his example. God Loves you. and feels for your pain.

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  12. Brave lady, you are a truth teller. I am shaken and livid at the way your father was treated by Doug Wilson and the elders. I am thankful that he has had the courage to go on, and I hope that your great courage will help him in this journey. Keep on telling the truth about what happened to you and the response from the church. May God use this to shake the church universal, so that the truth can set us all free.

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  13. I've always respected you from a distance when your family came in to Howard Hughes to rent videos back when Wesley and I worked together. I've always enjoyed hearing your music and seeing what a great family you have created. I never had any idea what you were going through until today. I can see that the respect that I had for you was meager compared to the awesome power of your words. "Thank you for sharing" is insufficient but all I can muster.

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  14. Beautiful Natalie, thank you for writing with a desire for justice and restoration rather than bitterness. I see much more of the gospel in your than in Doug Wilson's wordy and smug explanations. That man does not have the character of Jesus in him and I am sorry you and your family were harmed by such a wolf. Peace to you.

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  15. I am truly sorry that you had to endure this pain, and I'm equally grateful that this experience did not destroy you. God bless you for your courage and for your heartfelt desire for the truth of Christ to prevail.

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  16. I am so sorry...... I went to Christ Church and even attended New St. Andrews. I used to worship Doug Wilson...... however, this makes my blood boil..... it is disgusting stuff like this that made me switch to a Bible church. God Bless!

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  17. Would to God that the people carefully dissecting your writing and your life to detect any hint of bitterness, they would also have that same exactitude in dissecting Doug Wilson's life and writing to see that utmost-ly his concern is for himself. Always.

    And not that there is any bitterness in your writing but if, IF there were the blame should fall upon the men who accused you, your father, your family for the sins of Jamin Wight.

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  18. I cannot believe Doug Wilson thinks he has the authority to un-invite people from the Lord's Supper. Christ died because we are ALL WELCOME TO THE TABLE.

    God bless you, Natalie. I ask him to heal your heart and protect you, keeping you and your family close to him. Thank you for being so brave, even when it is hard. God is proud of you and loves you.

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  19. I really appreciated reading this. It has to be difficult to come out so publicly.
    I know one of Steve Sitler's victims, grown now, married. She has not come out publicly, but is beside herself over the whole situation.

    It sounds like you are doing remarkably well considering all you've been through. I don't think this could have been any better written than in was.

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  20. Douglas Wilson Mod John McNeely • 2 hours ago
    http://dougwils.com/s7-engaging-the-culture/the-only-kind-of-gospel-there-is.html#disqus_thread

    "I don't think that I did sit on Jamin's side of the courtroom. People say that, but I don't think it is accurate. I didn't create the system that led to her victimization. That is false."

    I was in the courtroom with a friend and the afternoon of Jamin's sentencing. I saw Doug Wilson there and he was indeed sitting of the defense "side" of the courtroom.

    Rose Huskey

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    1. That is so sleazy..... wow... just wow...... he LOVES to spin things and he is a pro at it.

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  21. Hi Natalie,

    First, I want to say how very brave you are...and I am so glad that you have stepped forward to tell the truth. I am glad you have a great husband and children.

    I am horrified that you and your father were threatened by that church the way you were in Idaho. Including with having no communion. I am in California and I would get on a plane and join you and your dad wherever you are and have communion with you, and I would buy the elements.

    This past year I was ordered to be excommunicated/shunned from my CA church because I had stood my ground with my pastors/elders who brought their friend a convicted Megan's List sex offender to church, gave him membership, didn't tell all adults and parents, gave him a position of trust and leadership, gave him carte blanche to attend all church events (including with children present), said he was *fine* and told me *he was coming off Megan's List* (his supervising law enforcement agency called that *all lies*), and I watched him run his hands through my friends' 4-year old son's hair. My friends didn't know the man was a sex offender.

    I would do it all again.

    I am known over at the Spiritual Sounding Board and The Wartburg Watch as "Velour".

    You are a lovely lady. We are with you!!!

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  22. Hi Natalie, I'm sending you lots of love and support. I often think about my own two daughters and, knowing that I can't be with them every moment of every day, hope to give them any tool/skill/knowledge possible to protect themselves as children and young women from sexual or physical abuse. It can be a scary world out there, but also so wonderful-I'm glad that you have found happiness with your family. Wishing you many joyful years to come and so glad you are part of our Moscow community!

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  23. I didn't know much about the cases surrounding this pastor and church until a few days ago. The only thing I can conclude from reading about how Doug Wilson has dealt is that he may just as well be 'in on' the type of activities these men are into. He may be able to be so 'sympathetic' for all the wrong reasons. I can't imagine any other reason why he would sound strongly defend men who are sexual predators and prey upon children. It's like the Josh Duggar case...the state trooper Josh's dad took him to 'confess' to was busted for child pornography a few years afterward and is now in prison. Also, the other thing that this situation smacks of is the patriarchy and 'slut shaming' culture that is far too rampant in Evangelical Churches. These men are making a mockery of the Church and are storing up the indignation and wrath of Jesus because Jesus himself said it would be better for a millstone to be hung around their necks and they be drowned in the sea than to hurt and abuse children. So, they may think they're 'getting away with' something here on earth, but I wouldn't want to be them at the day of judgment.

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  24. Bless you for standing up for yourself and for others like this.

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  25. Natalie, your courage is inspiring. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you..

    Stephen

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  26. ? This is the first I’m hearing about this and my family attends a CREC church in Texas. Where can I get more info about the back story and details so I can bring this up with the session of our church?

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    1. Please go to: http://sitler.moscowid.net/
      It contains the back story and also court documents involving Steven Sitler. It will give you an idea how pedophilia is handled by Doug Wilson and Christ church elders. I hope that a similar in depth website will soon expose the nightmare that is Jamin Wight.
      Rose Huskey

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  27. Natalie, you absolutely rock. Your words are eloquent and balanced and your music is remarkable. You have huge support because it is due.
    Your father has endured a great deal through all this and now, with his strength of character beside yours, he is telling the truth of his childhood horror too. Sometimes we are smart enough to let our children lead us in life and I think your astounding bravery, your spirit has been a great gift to your dad. I trust he will seek non-pastoral, professional guidance in dealing with his own history now coming to light.
    Years ago, while dealing with my past, I wrote to a blog sponsored by Alice Miller. I am sure you know her as a hero child-advocate. It was a safe place to share about abuse, to let out feelings, to be sad, to rage, whatever. I say this because of your remarkable balance in expression, the lack of bitter feelings evident. That is fine and dandy but not necessary, right? There is no wrong in raging against perpetrators and their minions, in slamming churchy cults and hate-mongering preachers saying, LOVE! LOVE!
    I will perhaps never lose my deep lack of forgiveness felt for perpetrators and those who harm children, youngsters. I will always rage inside that we maintain the pretty rugs in churches to sweep under all that is so spirit-crushing and harmful in our lives. It needs to be in the open, not quietly whispered to Jesus in some closet or church office. Thank-you for saying NO! to silence.

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  28. As a Christian and a preacher, I could learn more from John Wayne movies about how to behave and live like a man than most of the modern reformed organizations and churches.

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  29. May God honor your courage and faithfulness. And may He grant you peace and comfort.

    Thank you for your bold words.

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  30. Natalie,

    I was wondering if you could comment about your thoughts concerning Jesus, the gospel, and the church in your life currently. I noticed that these things are absent in your writings.

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    1. Anonymous, really? You think that Natalie's comments do not reflect her character, the 'gospel'? Why are you asking about her church life in this matter? And what exactly does her lack of Jesus' name in these matters have to do with anything? Please ask what you really want to ask, Anonymous!

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    2. Dear Anonymous, or should I refer to you as Dear Blind, Deaf, Dumb and Cowardly,
      My daughter has more of the Christ's love in her heart than most any so called Christian I've ever met. I commend her for having the fortitude to weather the storms of life she has had to deal with, without having sought the aid of any of these psuedo Christian churches that have no clue how to minister to sexually abused people.

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    3. This person is referring to the Gospel trademarked by the Gospel Coalition, which is used to spiritually manipulate people. If you are all about the gospel Mr. Anonymous, then why don't you sign your name?

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  31. This letter is very alarming. When you consider that these men knew each other very well, over a period of many years, you are left looking for the concern, compassion and shepherding heart than one might reasonably expect from a pastor, let alone a longtime friend. Instead, what you see is a not so thinly veiled threat; it is obvious that the concern is with keeping the issue quiet, rather than ministering to the needs of the individuals involved. It is this tragic and unforgivable use of 'church discipline' in Reformed churches that needs to be exposed. Like the medieval Cathlic church, Reformed churches are using it as a tool to maintain their image and control people. This letter ought to be given wide circulation - it reveals the true heart of Mr. Wilson, as well as the danger of 'church discipline' being used as a weapon.

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  32. Natalie - my thoughts go out to you and your family from here on out. Growing up knowing your family and many of the people involved in all this (and the church politics,) it is astounding to me that you have shown so much perseverance for so long. These are not forgiving people nor are they willing to admit their wrongdoings, and the fact that you've dealt with this within such a small group speaks volumes about your character.

    I don't even know how to start thanking you for writing this and exposing so much of the scariness of Christ Church / NSA. I hope that your story opens up the doors in CREC churches and families across the nation to start talks about sexual abuse, and what to do if it happens or is suspected - as someone with three younger sisters, your story especially hits home. I can only hope the unwavering support that Wilson has begins to crumble as he feebly tries to defend his actions. Thank you again for being the amazing person you are. You are loved.

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  33. Your dad is not to blame for Your abusers actions. Your abuser is. But your father lacked discernment in letting him under your roof and allowing any semblance of a relationship.

    This is a gross failure to protect his family. We are all not perfect, but honestly, it's common sense you don't let a man 9 years older than your 14 year old daughter live in your home and court her.

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  34. Hi Anonymous, thanks for weighing in here. I agree with you — my father is not to blame for my abuser’s actions.

    There are some issues with rest of your comment, though.

    In the community I was raised in, it is very common for college students to live with families in the church. This practice is encouraged and widely embraced. My family was no different than many other families in the congregation. During the time we lived in the house where my abuse took place, we housed at least a dozen other people, male and female, several at time and who lived on all floors of the house.

    Before he moved in with us, my family knew the man who abused me and all of us, including my father, believed him to be an honorable, respectful young man who would not, say, forcibly rape me in secret.

    In response to your comment about there being a secret relationship: I was not in a parent-approved relationship with my abuser. He did not court me. He did, however, sexually, emotionally, mentally, physically, and verbally abuse me. But no one approved that.

    My dad was destroyed when he found out about the abuse, as any good and loving parent would be. He felt a sense of responsibility, as any good and loving parent would. But for you to say that he “grossly failed” to protect me is both untruthful and cruel. Your complete lack of empathy and compassion in response to a family who experienced a devastating tragedy is sickening.

    May you be never be treated with the same unkindness and harsh judgement you have treated my family with.

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