Doug Wilson Misleads His Congregation: Part 2
This is the second post in a series addressing the recording of a recent church meeting which was held to discuss the controversy surrounding two cases of sexual abuse in my former church. The first part in this series can be found here. The introduction for each post is the same. The transcript sections and my responses can be found below.
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 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.
Doug Wilson: In early September, September 1st, I distributed a...letter to the father of the daughter, Gary Greenfield, for the elders to edit, and this is part of the process for things this weighty, uh, the elders have their input on...and so on. Uh, the Greyfriars were dismissed early during this discussion, and I was authorized to send the letter. That letter to Gary is the letter that was published; Natalie published it online in the last go around.
In that letter I said, “The elders were very distressed over the way Jamin took sinful advantage of your daughter, but we also have to say that we are just as distressed by your extremely poor judgment as a father and protector. We understand you have confessed your sin and folly in this, but we remain very concerned about the possibility that this whole legal process could proceed in a way that continues to leave Natalie unprotected.” So our concern was, he didn’t protect her in the setup of the house, and now we’re going to go into this legal meat grinder, and we were afraid that Natalie is going to be re-hurt by this, as I believe subsequent events show that she in fact was.
Um, then I wrote another letter to Gary, which the elders reviewed, and I said to Gary, “Your sin did create a vulnerability for Natalie -- a vulnerability that Jamin took sinful advantage of. What we are doing is exhorting you to make protection of Natalie your highest priority in the months to come, because we are convinced that she will need it.” So again, our charge to Gary was, “You must protect Natalie.” Later in the same letter I said, “The problem was that you had a young man in his twenties living in your home, in a relationship that you knew about with your 14 year old daughter. You kept the relationship secret from others, which contributed to Natalie’s vulnerability.” Also in the same letter I said, “Again, Jamin is in no way justified by any of this, and we have no problem with his prosecution.” So...we had no problem with Jamin paying for what he did, being punished for what he did. But we just wanted to deal with all the factors, um, in this.
Doug explained to his congregation that Jamin took "sinful advantage" of me. This is an example of how Doug has habitually chosen soft language to describe Jamin's actions. I believe this word-smithing was a deliberate move on Doug's part to plant his version of history in the minds of his congregants.
He went on to read from a letter in which he said my father was culpable in my abuse. It should be of interest that his grounds for saying this were actually false. I addressed the matter of “secret courtship” in my last post so I won’t go over it again (I've linked to it at the beginning of this post for those of you who haven’t read it.). Obviously, even if I had been in a secret courtship with Jamin, that would not have had any significant bearing on the nature of his crimes; nonetheless, Doug has repeatedly used this lie to downplay Jamin's crimes and make them seem easier to understand.
Doug’s treatment of my father is a gross misuse of pastoral admonishment and one that comes from a years-deep foundation of disdain for my father. (My father recently wrote a blog post about this topic, which you can read here.) Though I had been aware of the rocky nature of Doug and my father’s relationship, I wouldn't have predicted he’d use my father as a vehicle to carry as much of the blame as could be piled onto him.
Someone recently asked me if I thought my father bore any responsibility for what happened to me. My answer was yes, of course he did. Let's say a parent tells their child they're not to play in the front yard, then the parent gets distracted with housework. The child disobeys and goes into the front yard anyway and a lurking predator snatches the child and absconds with them.
Does the parent bear some responsibility for what happened to their child? Yes, they do. And they will undoubtedly bear the weight of that responsibility for the rest of their life. I have witnessed this in my father for the last 10 years. He will always be sorry for what happened to me and he will always feel as though he should have done more to prevent it.
But how should the community respond to the parent who has suffered an unimaginable loss? Should they point fingers at the parent and say, “This is your fault. We told you not to let your child play unattended in the front yard. We told you something might happen to them, and look! Something terrible has happened. What that criminal did is awful but what you did is just as bad.”
Doug pounced on my father in his moment of deep suffering and inflicted more pain, telling my father that I was likely to continue being harmed because of his failure to protect me.
I watched what this did to my family. At the time I blamed myself for much of it, though in hindsight I believe Doug sacrificed our family at the altar of his ministry and life-long investments, pinning blame on the most vulnerable individuals in order to draw attention away from his own failings and those of a dangerous criminal.
After Jamin pled guilty, there was actually a plea arrangement -- he pled guilty on one count, and he was later temporarily listed as a sex offender. Part of the battle, a big part of the battle, had to do with Jamin being willing to go to prison for what he did, which was sexual behavior with an underage minor -- he was willing to take the rap for that, but he didn’t want to be identified as a sexual… a pedophile. So he didn’t want to be in the same category as the pedophiles; he wanted to pay the price for having been in a foolish relationship with an underage girl.
Jamin was never listed as a sexual offender for his crimes. Not for a minute. The plea bargain let him out of that. In actuality, Jamin was originally charged with three very serious crimes that could have inflicted a life-sentence, and those were reduced to one charge of Injury To A Child, which Jamin pled guilty to and was sentenced for.
Doug said Jamin was willing to go to prison for what he did, which he then described as “sexual behavior with a minor.” It's important to be aware of Doug's refusal to call what took place anything but "abuse."
Also, Jamin was not "willing to go to prison" for what he did. He was quite opposed to that idea, in fact, which is why he wrote an incomplete and inaccurate confession when first confronted by my father. It's also why he convinced friends, family members, pastors, and even classmates at the seminary he was attending, to write letters of character recommendation on his behalf. Jamin certainly did not act like a man who was willing to thoroughly own and pay for his actions.
Doug then said Jamin did not want to be identified “as a sexual…a pedophile.” I imagine no sexual criminal would like to be identified as a pedophile; unfortunately when you make choices as a 23-25 year old man to repeatedly rape a minor, the law has terms for the crimes you’ve committed. Doug went on to say that instead Jamin “wanted to pay the price for having been in a foolish relationship with an underage girl.” Again, this was a polite, understated, and false way of describing the crimes committed. Doug does not have an accurate understanding of abuse.
Assuming Doug knew even half of what was done to me, which I know he did, there is absolutely no excuse for his insistence on mis-informing his congregation about the nature of what happened. I wrote an account of what happened, which I gave to my parents and to the police. Jamin also wrote a confession and at least one other fuller account of his crimes. Doug has claimed on multiple occasions to have nearly unlimited access to court documents, including sealed documents. Based on this, I have reason to believe that Doug did know the severity of the crimes committed, including uncomfortable details of the sexual acts themselves.
On the other hand, if we’re to assume for the sake of argument that perhaps Doug did not know the details of the sexual abuse, I believe it should have been required of him as a pastor to investigate the situation and find out as much as possible about what did happen so that he could adequately minister to me, protect the rest of his congregation, and deal with the perpetrator, insomuch as was fitting once the legal system had finished dealing with him.
There is no scenario in which it is appropriate for Doug Wilson to misinform his congregation of the nature of Jamin's crimes. By downplaying the situation and placing undue blame onto myself and my family, I believe Doug has forfeited his right to any position in which he is responsible for counseling or protecting others.
(note, in the following section, congregants were permitted to ask questions. I've posted the question and then Doug's response.)
Q: Was Jamin’s behavior predatory or grooming?
Doug Wilson: Um, well, listen...In a letter, I think it was to Officer Green, I said “that Jamin is in no way a sexual predator.” What I meant by that at the time was, he was not a pedophile. He was not “come here little girl let me give you some candy.”So that’s what I was denying. Was Jamin a predator in the sense that a guy in a sleazy bar on the make is predatory? Yeah, he was. Was he a sexual predator in the sense of a pedophile? No, and that’s what the whole collision was over: was he a pedophile or not? But if you wanted me to say, was he in that relationship for his own uh, own jollies, his own good, and not thinking of other people, not thinking of his position, not thinking of the Greyfriars program, yeah, he was after something and he pursued it...
Doug's response to the congregant's question is cause for great concern. Altering the definition of a crime does not alter the crime itself, but Doug seems to believe that if he calls what Jamin did something other than what it actually was, it makes it so. The reality of the situation is that Jamin met me when I was 13 years old and he was 23. He targeted me and began grooming me almost immediately. His intent was criminal. He sought out sexual gratification from a child. It does not matter what I looked like, it does not matter what I said or how I felt - I was a child and Jamin was an adult 10 years my senior, who was also in training for the ministry. His predatory behavior was worlds away from that of a "guy in a sleazy bar" and there should be absolutely no "collision" over this fact.
Doug said Jamin was in the "relationship" for his own jollies and not thinking of things like his position in the Greyfriars program, but I assure you he was thinking of his position. He warned me on a regular basis about what would happen to his position in the community if I were to tell anyone about what went on between us. He was extremely careful about the way he committed his crimes so that he was not caught, because he was thinking about what it would mean. His actions were deliberate, calculated and systematic. He was not a man foolishly blinded by lust, he was a calculated and deceptive predator, one who continued fooling people long after he was finished with me.
I'm not sure that Doug Wilson will ever admit that he was fooled by Jamin Wight. It's not an easy thing to do, not to mention the fact that after hanging on to his errors for this long it would undoubtedly compromise Doug's position of power to admit to the depth of this cover up. In order for Jamin to have committed the various crimes in his past he's had to manipulate and deceive not only his victims but his friends, his family, and his pastors.
His success has meant he's been able to continue inflicting irreversible harm to innocent women and children.