How Church Leaders Cover Up Abuse

UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.


We have already discussed Romans 13 and the fact that the church does not have venue/jurisdiction in criminal cases.  And yet, as numbers of current cases are showing, pastors and church leaders and church members often have a mentality that the state is the enemy of the church and that ALL matters are to be handled “in house” without the involvement of the civil authorities.  And this is how the cover up of evil begins.

Recently a victim of severe, ongoing abuse was pressured by her pastor in the following manner.  She was working with the civil authorities as they sought to build a criminal case against her abuser:

1.  The pastor approached her and told her she needed to “pray” further before cooperating anymore with the civil authorities.

2.  The pastor told her that the whole criminal process would come back and “bite her” and she would regret ever reporting the matter.

3.  The pastor gave her a rather obscure example of how someone he knew had been wrongly accused by the justice system because someone had told lies about him.

In other words, this pastor was covertly allying himself with the abuser and working to convince the victim not to proceed in any further way with her accusations.  Also, through his citing of the story of his friend, he was accusing the victim of lying about the whole thing.  Needless to say this all sent her into a real cycle of confusion and false guilt.

This is evil. In fact, one wonders if the pastor’s actions do not approach the level of tampering with a witness or hindering prosecution?

Don’t ever listen to such a person no matter who they are.  The church has no venue in criminal cases.  Our job is to report the matter to the civil authorities and then let them handle it.  Once a case has been proved then the church can perform its duty in regard to discipline.   In the case of this particular pastor, his attitude is identical to that of pastors in churches in which it has been discovered that grievous cases of abuse, including the molestation of children, has been covered up.

To this man, I say – go find yourself another occupation and do Christ’s people a big favor.

10 thoughts on “How Church Leaders Cover Up Abuse”

  1. I completely agree with this post, Jeff!

    In reading it, I can’t help but think how easily we can be misled…do things we never intended to do…simply because of blindness.

    A pastor starts with being completely (though wrongly) convinced that divorce is always sin and that God’s will is always for reconciliation no matter how horrible the relationship. From there, it’s an easy step to discourage choices that are likely to lead toward divorce.

    Before he knows it, the pastor is actively engaged in illegal and immoral behavior: tampering with witnesses, not reporting illegal activity, and covering up felonies…and probably doesn’t even see his behavior as sinful or illegal…actually believes he has given wise council…

    It is both scandalous and so very sad a state of affairs.

    And it all starts with choosing to interpret the Bible based on traditions of men rather than on the character of Christ. I discuss this in my recent post: Light of the World [Internet Archive link]

  2. Ooooo…feisty, Jeff. I do wish that the ones that hurt God’s people would leave the “ministry,” also. I know the feelings of this one who is seeking the law of the land to aid, which the Bible says is right: The laws of the land and those set up as leaders of the land are there for the punishment of evil doers. The church is busy calling good-evil and evil-good. When we deny the word of God concerning Creation and embrace whatever form of Evolution that scientists want to throw at us, so that we may be a more palatable place for nonbelievers to come to, we lose power. When we misconstrue the word of God and form it as a weapon to destroy believers or further our own misled and non-inspired doctrines, we prove the loss of power. It is time for a church house cleansing, and that comes with persecution…which is on its way, brothers and sisters.

  3. Jeff,

    Something has been bugging me lately. I am thinking of the laws that require clergy to report abuse (at least child abuse, I’m not sure if there are the same requirements about adult abuse) and how often this is not done. But the clergy are not held accountable for this. I mean, there are no charges filed or arrests made or what have you. But isn’t that supposed to be against the law?

    Is what this pastor did a crime? Was he obstructing justice by telling her to drop the charges? And if so, how would he be prosecuted?

    1. Barnabas – In almost all states pastors are classified as mandatory reporters of domestic violence and/or child abuse. Clergy confidentiality privilege very rarely applies in any of these cases. And there are indeed criminal penalties (misdemeanor usually) for not reporting. Why there are rarely charges filed I can only speculate. But there have been some cases where clergy have been prosecuted. Perhaps district attorneys are hesitant to prosecute “the church.” However, we in the church should be the first to expose non-reporters and expect them to be prosecuted just like anyone else.

      Morally, yes, this pastor was obstructing justice / hindering prosecution / tampering with a witness. Whether there is enough there to prosecute him criminally I don’t know. But again, it should be the church that leads in nailing this kind of behavior.

      1. How do you find out if your state has mandatory reporting for adult abuse? I tried to find out if mine has that but all I could find referenced child abuse, which I already knew.

      2. Every search I did on the internet, like you, was quite unclear regarding domestic violence mandatory reporting. The police are required to make arrests for DV. Clergy are mandatory reporters in most all states. But I think for a specific and clear answer you could ask the local prosecutor’s office or check with a local women’s resource center. Of course we are not only seeing cases of pastors not reporting DV abuse, but of child sexual abuse too. I would say that every pastor should report abuse to the police if the abuse constitutes a criminal offense. Assault, harassment, stalking, unlawful imprisonment, interfering with a 911 call (pulling the phone out of the wall) and so on. But don’t investigate yourself. Call the police and let them determine if it is a criminal action. I suspect that emotional and verbal abuse is not criminal according to state laws, but if either of these is brought to the attention of a pastor, the church must deal with it through church discipline, protecting the victim or whatever other resources are available and reasonable. Sometimes of course a victim’s report requires confidentiality for her safety. Each case must be examined on its own specific details.

  4. It seems to me that the pastor forget one of the Ten Commandments, the one about “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” We have tended to think of “false witness” in terms of saying something negative against someone that is NOT TRUE. But isn’t falsely denying witnessing a crime also a “false witness”? And doesn’t that false witness collude with the guilty against future innocent victims? Just thinking…

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