When Doug Wilson Misled His Congregation



On Tuesday, October 27th, 2015 Douglas Wilson, pastor of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho held a Heads of Household meeting specifically to discuss the "recent controversies", namely the Sitler and Wight/Greenfield situations. The meeting was secretly recorded and the transcript was provided to me. It's many pages long so rather than share the transcript all at once in its entirety, I've decided to present and address several segments of it over a series of blog posts. I'll be addressing only segments concerning my abuse, though a portion of the meeting was about Steven Sitler's crimes. 

Please note, this is not hearsay. This is a transcript written verbatim from an audio recording of Doug Wilson's words to his congregation - irrefutable quotes from Doug himself which reveal something extremely important: a rampant and dangerous misunderstanding of sexual abuse, its effects, and how it should be handled.

A brief guide to this post: I have italicized the transcribed sections and have highlighted sections of particular concern, which I then address in regular font directly after the section of concern.


Opening Words

Doug Wilson: 

"I think you all know why we’re gathered here. I want to explain a few things about how we wanted to do this and why. I have two timelines basically, I want to walk through some highlights of the timelines. The first one is a timeline on the Sitler case, and the second is on the Greenfield/Wight case. And then I’ve got notebooks on the table here. The far one is...I have here ten copies of the Sitler timeline and then I’ve got ten copies on the Greenfield/Wight timeline. Any of you are welcome to come up and look over the timeline. Timelines are color coded for different things you’re interested in. What we’re trying to do is prevent these timelines from showing up on the internet. We want members of our congregations to have access to them and  to be able to ask questions about them but  not to take one away and have somebody else publish every third word and misrepresent what’s happening, which has been a great deal of this controversy thus far. We’re covering a bunch of stuff all at once, but feel free to follow up if you want to ask any questions about this. 


Doug points out to his congregation that a great deal of this controversy is due to an internet misrepresentation of what's actually taken place. I'm aware that Doug thinks I am lying, misleading, telling my story inaccurately, and a variety of other indecencies he has publicly accused me of. The implication of people believing my story doesn't bode well for Christ Church and so Doug desperately wants me to be disbelieved.


Another thing I should say, you may ask me a question on which I’ll say for pastoral confidentiality reasons, I’ve got a black box here and the answer to your question is in the black box, sorry, not gonna bring it up. There are some things like that. There are more in the Greenfield/Wight situation than there were in the Sitler situation.  


I have written openly and honestly about every aspect of my abuse. No rock has been left unturned. There is nothing in Doug's "black box" which would alter what happened to me or how it was handled. Doug has used this argument again and again, telling people they "only know half of the story" or that he cannot divulge certain pieces of information due to pastoral confidentiality. My story has been told in its entirety and leading people to believe there are secrets that cannot be revealed is a weak deflection tactic, one that does not change what happened or the neglectful and inappropriate way it was dealt with.  


In this, the color key is practical support for the Greenfields, yellow; holding Jamin responsible, green; attempts to protect Natalie blue, turquoise; discipline of Gary Greenfield for abusive treatment of his family in gray. That last item is the one that is singularly absent from most of the discussions and accusations on the internet. So. A short time before the first entry in the minutes here, I received a phone call from [a woman] over in [redacted]. Her daughter [redacted] was engaged to Jamin Wight and had received a phone call from Natalie Greenfield, who told her of her relationship with Jamin a number of years before. So Jamin and Natalie were in a relationship in around 2002...That relationship ended, Jamin went on, he got engaged to another girl in 2005, and um, and then when he got engaged to this other girl, Natalie, who had been 14 at the time of the relationship and was now 17, called up the fiancee and said “this is what happened,” and the whole thing erupted.


I have a number of problems with this highlighted portion.

Throughout the entire 24 page transcript, Doug never once calls what Jamin did to me abuse. Instead, he insists on referring to my abuse as a "relationship." In fact, during the church meeting he referred to what happened to me as a "relationship" 13 times. This alone is enough to clearly show that Doug has little understanding of sexual abuse and has no qualms about downplaying the situation. The severity of the abuse I suffered is perpetually downplayed and made out to be something different than what it actually was. 

The second point I'll address is the story of me calling Jamin's fiance to tell her what happened. This is simply false. I never made such a phone call. When my father found out what happened to me he traveled to her parent's home in another city and met with them to tell them about what Jamin had done. I pointed out this error on Twitter several weeks ago and in Doug's words, he "spent a few days chasing it down" and withdrew this statement. In spite of his later admittance that this was an error, his words in the transcription don't relay any doubt or uncertainty of how he remembered it happening. In fact, he quotes me as saying "this is what happened." His confidence in relaying misinformation to his congregation is unsettling. 

Doug goes on to say "the whole thing erupted" after I made this supposed phone call to Jamin's fiance. This comment is flippant and concerning. "The whole thing erupted" when I was abused and raped for years. That was the event. I stayed silent for nearly 3 years and then I found it within myself to tell someone. Doug speaks as though I spoke up and consequently started a giant mess. Jamin made this mess and then Doug and the elders contributed to it. Doug's inference that I caused this ruckus by telling my story is more evidence of his habitual and harmful victim blaming. 


This was also in 2005 so, this was, um, I reported to the elders in August of 2005 that Jamin Wight had been arrested, and this is um, oh, five months after the Sitler news broke. So … we had a year. [laughter] Um, so, um, this happened, Jamin was 23 when he was in the relationship with Natalie when she was 14, not only so, but he was in the Greyfriar program, he was a ministerial student in the Greyfriars program. He was dropped from the program right away, he was arrested for sexual misconduct with a minor. 

Um, Jamin wrote... when he was caught, he wrote a full confession of everything.  A complaint had been filed by the family against him, and he was facing the possibility of life imprisonment also. 


Jamin did not write a full confession of everything once he was caught. This is a misleading comment which implies that Jamin was cooperative and repentant. In reality, after I told my  parents about the abuse my father consulted an attorney. At his attorney's advice, and in order to expedite the legal process, my father then went to Jamin and convinced him to write a confession, which Jamin did. My father gave the confession to me to read. After doing so I informed my father that it was grossly inaccurate and incomplete. My father demanded that Jamin re-write the confession, and this second confession was the one given to the police. 

Later in the legal process Jamin wrote a more detailed version of what happened, one I was not permitted to read until just before the sentencing. It was full of lies. My point is that Jamin's intention was never one of transparency and repentance. He was saying and doing whatever he thought would most effectively protect himself. Doug and the elders took him at his word, though it was never merited. 


Um, “Doug Wilson exhorted the elders not to mention the family’s name; we’re saying the Greenfield name now because it’s … it has been revealed since then, but at the time we were trying to keep it close. Um, in a letter to Officer Green, who was the investigating officer of this, I wrote, “Jamin’s crime” ...this is Green holding Jamin responsible. We are not blaming Natalie. We are holding Jamin responsible for this, not Natalie. That’s not to say that Natalie had NO responsibility, we believe she was old enough to be a moral agent, but she did not have commensurate responsibility, at all. 


According to Doug, I did play a part in my own abuse. He says I did not have "commensurate responsibility", meaning my responsibility was not equal to that of Jamin's, but he clearly points out that as a moral agent I did bear some responsibility for what happened to me. I was 13 years old when Jamin, a 23 year old man, started grooming me. I was a child and yet Doug has no problem publicly stating to his congregation that at the tender age of 13 years old, I bore responsibility for the abuse I suffered. The idea that a portion of the pain I suffered rested on my own shoulders directly led to the severe mishandling of my abuse. From the beginning, I was considered a guilty party and this affected every other aspect of the way the situation was handled.


“Jamin’s crime and sin in this was of a particularly egregious nature.” Later I say, “and his behavior involved a great deal of calculated deception.” Also, this is to the investigating officer -- “We have verbally instructed him and followed it up with a letter, that he is responsible to own his crime and take full responsibility for the consequences of it.” All right, so. We believe that Jamin needed to go to jail. We did not have a problem with his prosecutionbut we, it was a tangled messy situation, which will become apparent in a moment...more apparent in a moment. 


Doug states that he had no problem with the prosecution, but in fact, within a year of the abuse becoming public he told a close friend of mine that he was upset with my father for going to the police and instigating a legal process without first hearing the church's "plan." Additionally, Doug strongly encouraged my parents to settle the case through mediation rather than a public trial. 

Doug claims this was to protect me and my family but it seems more likely to me that his decisions were beneficial to his church and ministry. 


The difficulty was that Jamin had been brought… and… well, before I state this next thing... This is not the first time this controversy has erupted online, but this go around is the first time I have been talking about it as freely as I am now, because I was holding back certain information in the Greenfield --black box situation -- because I was protecting not myself, but protecting the Greenfields. This happened because Jamin had been invited into the boarding house to live with the Greenfields, in order to conduct a secret courtship with Natalie. So, Jamin and Natalie were in a relationship, the parents knew about the relationship, encouraged the relationship, and set certain boundaries for that relationship, that would have been reasonable boundaries if she was a lot older and he was living somewhere else. So, it was a normal courtship except for the part that wasn’t normal [laughter]. 


I have addressed the matter of "secret courtship" many times in the last several months and will gladly do so again. Jamin and I were not in a secret courtship. It is true that there was discussion of some kind of altered long-term courtship until I was of marrying age (a fact my parents have long since expressed embarrassment and remorse over) but my father quickly make it very clear that there was to be no relationship between Jamin and I. My father did set boundaries for the "relationship", that is, he forbade it. 


We thought that this was an extraordinarily foolish setup. So, also in my letter to Officer Green, I said the Greenfields “did this by inviting Jamin to move in with them, encouraging and permitting a relationship between Jamin and Natalie, while keeping that relationship secret from the broader community.” So when this all blew up, we didn’t have a problem with the prosecution of Jamin; we had a problem with us treating that as though Jamin were a predator outside of the schoolyard. There were more factors involved in the setup of this than just Jamin being a predator


These are words any sexual criminal would love to hear in their defense. Doug minimizes Jamin's crimes by saying Jamin was not akin to a predator outside the schoolyard and that there were more factors involved. Of course there were more factors involved, there are nearly always layers and surrounding factors in any case of childhood sexual abuse. It's rare that a child is simply approached and molested without surrounding factors being involved. The problem here is that Doug is once again using the idea that this was a highly convoluted situation, one that can't possibly be accurately assessed from the outside without all of the "relevant information". He is leading his congregants to believe that they do not have the ability to discern what happened even though I have plainly told my story. Jamin was a predator who targeted, groomed, and then abused me for 2 years. The other characters in my story have no relevance to the severity of Jamin's crimes. They do not change what happened to me nor do they change the motives and intent of my abuser, as much as Doug would like to convince you of that. 

The frightening thing about this is that in Doug's eyes there are mitigating factors to sexually abusing a child. In order to evade any of his own responsibility in his poor handling of my abuse, he constantly seeks to place disproportionate blame on me and on my parents while lessening the severity of Jamin's crimes and directing attention away from his own failings. He has defended my abuser since the day he found out what happened to me and continues that defense to this day. 


Um, in a letter to Gary, I’m sorry, in a letter to Jamin Wight, also in August, we said to him, “We want your first thought in all your practical choices -- uh, what to plead, how to handle yourself -- we want your first thought in all your practical choices to be protection of the Greenfields, and particularly Natalie.” We don’t want you to attack her. Um, Jamin came in later that month and um, sought the elders forgiveness, in early September, September 1st


Doug admonished my abuser to protect me. He told him not to attack me. And then my abuser repented. The criminal who for several years physically, emotionally, and sexually attacked and defiled me was encouraged by his pastor and elders to protect me? Why would my name be brought up in this way in a letter to my abuser?  I understand admonishing Jamin to own his actions and put his own safety aside, but it seems highly inappropriate to used the words "protect Natalie" directly after he has been accused of raping me. There is a softness in their language to Jamin that was not earned. Trusting Jamin's account seems to have been their default. 

And where trust is concerned, I think is also important to note that Jamin did not come forward and repent of his crimes on his own accord. He was caught. The assumption should be that he would have remained quiet about his crimes forever. There is no reason to believe that he would have ever sought forgiveness had I not exposed him for what he truly was, and yet Doug Wilson thought it reasonable to admonish him to protect me and then saw fit to accept his speedy repentance, though after such a severe crime it would seem fitting for a criminal to earn trust and forgiveness through time and merit. It's a shame that Jamin's counterfeit repentance was so readily trusted. That displaced trust is the very thing that allowed him to go on to harm more women and girls after his brief imprisonment.


There is much more in the transcript to cover, but in order to avoid an extremely long post I'll end this one here and continue in another post, which I'll publish in the next week or two. 

In writing about my abuse and my former church's mishandling of it, my motives have always been the same: Change. My situation has taught me a myriad of things about how I want to parent, live my life, and interact with those around me. In the same way that I have learned and continue to learn invaluable lessons from this painful portion of my past, our churches and communities must learn lessons as well. We have a responsibility to protect the innocent among us and we have been given examples of how to do just that, when we ignore those examples we tell past, present, and future victims they do not matter enough for us to admit failings and work toward changes that will save lives. 

I speak for the change I know is possible. 

Comments

  1. There's a lot of laughter in the transcript that sickens me.

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  2. Keep up the good work! This shows that the Kirk will not own up to their mistake. Pride and stubbornness have caused me to make huge mistakes. They have also made me fall really hard. Pray that their hearts and stiff necks are softened, or God may give them a hard lesson. #Healthekirk

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for your support. This means a lot to me.

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  3. Just a note of clarification. If I'm right, a "head of household" meeting is where the men of the church are gathered for questions and discussions of such issues in a church's life instead of the whole congregation. It doesn't really change any of the particulars of Doug's dissembling or what happened, it just means that the whole body of believers, male and female, are further being kept in the dark about what happened.

    I hope you will be able to have a merry Christmas Mrs. Greenfield.

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    Replies
    1. You're right, and thank you for clarifying. This particular HOH meeting was different in that the wives were also invited to attend.

      Delete
  4. I am so sorry, Natalie. I finally reached a point where I feel comfortable enough to give you support in a more public way (by sharing this). I choose to no longer hear DW or give him a moment of my time reading blog posts/et cetera. Nausea convulses my brain just thinking about DW and how he has responded to this situation.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Bethany. Your support means a lot.

      Delete
  5. I am beyond sorry that you were abused. Your choice to share this story is a step toward the larger church understanding sexual abuse and battery. Thank you for serving by sharing the truth.

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  6. "So we had had a year" Once again, it's all about how victimized Doug/CC are by these situations that just happen all by themselves. Classic sociopathy. Read "The Sociopath Next Door."

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    Replies
    1. I disagree. This is not classic sociopathy. This is classic narcissism.

      I know a fair bit about sociopathy. I score really high on the sociopathy scale myself, and this isn't how I would have acted.

      This is how a narcissist would act. It is ALL about them. No one else matters.

      Based on Doug's writings that I've read (a bit of his blog), and his statements in the transcript, he looks like a narcissist to me.

      But I am not a psychiatrist. My qualifications come from doing a lot of reading. And I write. Horror stories.

      Delete
  7. In the past I have limited my disdain to Doug Wilson and the church officers who support him. After reading this I realized how wrong I have been. Anyone who thinks sexual abuse is a laughing matter is as depraved and shallow as Doug, Toby Sumpter and their elders, deacons. Anyone who sits under their spiritual direction is a coward for not confronting the lot of them for their complete failure as confessing Christians and ministers of the Gospel. Walk, no run out of their churches, schools,and totally unprofessional and woefully inadequate counseling center.
    Honor and respect the courage of Natalie by turning your back on the laughing morons at the HOH meeting. They ought to be ashamed of themselves, and if you stay at T.R. or Christ Church you should be too.
    Rose Huskey

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  8. Doug is a scumbag. You have come through a tremendous amount, and despite everything you've become your own person who is courageous and wise and powerful. I hope voices like yours drown out this pathetic man and his horrible belief systems. Best wishes for you in 2016 and on!

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  9. "she did not have commensurate responsibility, at all. "
    Doug Wilson, the victim was not responsible. Your stance as a believer demonstrates the sick bankruptcy of your patriarchal Christianity. Because Natalie Rose Greenfield was abused, you assume that she has some authorship in the matter and you do this even though she was a child.
    This is but one reason why I utterly reject your Christian stance, that you can abuse children like this and simply claim that all have sinned and so Natalie sinned. (Well, not as big a sin but she sinned...)
    Doug Wilson, this is abuse of children and you are blinded to it just as you are blind to your own corporal punishment as a child and claim that you deserved it. It is never, not ever acceptable to strike a child and it is never, not ever okay in any manner to ascribe sin to the victim of rape.
    This theology that bites back is harmful and I fail to understand how people still bring children into your church. Pastor (sic), What big teeth you have...

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  10. All I can say is "Holy Crap" -- this man (can only be called a man by gender, not by moral values) has psychopathic tendencies. Why do people continue to follow him? I suppose that is the skill of polished cult leaders.

    You were but a child Natalie, a sweet innocent child. D.W. can run and scurry, but cannot hide behind his mask of deception forever. His ghosts will find him, they will haunt him, they will expose him. His ghosts are stronger than the little man he is.

    Stay strong, Natilie, stay strong. You are not alone, truth has power.

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  11. Stay strong, Natalie. Keep exposing Doug for the monster that he is. The real church is listening.

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  12. The laughter in the transcript due to its context is both disturbing and disgusting.

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  13. Many have already noted the inappropriateness of the laughter when addressing such a sober topic as child abuse. What the laughter suggests to me is arrogance beyond the pale, because they have no intention of seeking the truth in what happened. They laugh because they so flippantly and snidely believe the victim (which is you Natalie) to be a liar. There is no humility on DW's part in these scandals that plague him and his Kirk. And because of this, scandals will continue to follow DW and by extension his loyal sycophants.

    ReplyDelete

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