Tag: sexual abuse

The high costs of an abuse claim: Five guidelines to help churches of all sizes

The high costs of an abuse claim: Five guidelines to help churches of all sizes

Prevention, right coverage are critical to protecting churches.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | For Church Finance Today

Sexual abuse of a minor is the number one reason churches end up in court. It’s a statistic that’s been true for a number of years, according to attorney Richard R. Hammar. And churches must do all they can to prevent this type of tragedy. But churches also must be wise and purchase the right kind of insurance that will help cover any legal action that might occur because of abuse or alleged abuse on their property or during church-related events, trips, or activities.

Based on interviews with church insurance experts, attorneys, and a risk management specialist, Church Finance Today offers five guidelines to help churches of all sizes make sure they are financially prepared should the unthinkable ever happen.

  1. Don’t assume your general liability policy covers abuse claims. It usually does not.

“Some churches may not be aware that their typical church liability coverage doesn’t cover sexual abuse or misconduct,” said Eric Spacek, risk management and loss control director for GuideOne Insurance.

Read the full story.

Sidebar: Interview with attorney Richard J. Mathews.

This article appears on the August 2017 cover of Church Finance Today, a publication of Christianity Today.

‘We really want to be there for people who are victimized’

‘We really want to be there for people who are victimized’

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Lately, Kathy Hargis can’t turn on the television news without seeing another report of a sexual assault on a university campus.

From the case of a former Stanford University swimmer who attacked an unconscious woman near a dumpster to the furor over Baylor University’s mishandling of rape allegations against football players, the issue has jumped into the national spotlight.

“Unfortunately, there have been way too many headlines,” said Hargis, associate vice president for risk management and compliance at Lipscomb University, a 125-year-old higher education institution associated with Churches of Christ.

Hargis coordinates the 4,700-student university’s adherence to federal Title IX regulations on prevention and reporting of sexual harassment and misconduct.

Just a few months ago, Lipscomb — where 983 females and 555 males lived on campus this past school year — organized a sexual assault awareness week that included a prayer walk and an opportunity for victims to share their stories.

“To be honest, I think Christian schools struggle with it. It’s not a popular topic to talk about,” Hargis told The Christian Chronicle in an interview at the Bennett Campus Center. “But I think it’s very needed … to really have an open discussion.”

Read the full story.

This story appears in the July 2016 edition of The Christian Chronicle.

‘The devil is smart,’ says minister working to protect churches from child predators

‘The devil is smart,’ says minister working to protect churches from child predators: Pennsylvania preacher Jimmy Hinton says the stories he’s heard have ‘taken an emotional toll on me.’

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

The sex, lies and videotapes don’t surprise Jimmy Hinton anymore.

“No surprise at all,” the Pennsylvania preacher said of the latest case to make headlines — this one involving an Oklahoma youth minister.

“The devil is smart,” said Hinton, minister for the Somerset Church of Christ and co-founder of the nonprofit Church Protect Inc. “We assume that the church is safe, that nobody could fathom abusing a child if they are a Christian. Child predators know this and take advantage of this false assumption.”

The Christian Chronicle first profiled Hinton in a January 2015 story headlined “A child molester’s son shines a light.”

That story detailed how Hinton learned that his preacher father, John Hinton, was a longtime child molester who had sexually abused young girls and escaped discovery for decades. The younger Hinton reported his father to police, and John Hinton is now serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence.

This story appears in the online edition of The Christian Chronicle.

His dad was a preacher — and a pedophile

His dad was a preacher — and a pedophile

After discovering his father’s secret, Jimmy Hinton strives to create awareness of sexual predators.

First Place, Feature Writing, Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists

Second Place, Feature Article, Associated Church Press (a different story of mine won first place in this category)

Honorable mention (part of three-story portfolio), Magazine News Religion Reporting, Religion News Association

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

SOMERSET, Pa. — Jimmy Hinton grew up at the feet of the wolf.

For 27 years, his father, John Wayne Hinton, proclaimed the Gospel to the sheep of the Somerset Church of Christ — a century-old congregation in this southwestern Pennsylvania coal-mining community.

“I went into ministry because of him,” said Jimmy Hinton, 35, the middle child of 11 brothers and sisters.

But three years ago, the son — who became Somerset’s preacher in 2009 — learned a horrible secret: John Hinton was a longtime child molester who had sexually abused young girls and escaped discovery for decades.

Jimmy Hinton uncovered the truth after an adult molested as a child confided in him. The Holy Spirit, he believes, drove his response.

“I believe you,” he told the victim.

He reported his father to police and prompted an investigation that resulted in the pedophile preacher, now 65, pleading guilty to sexually assaulting and taking nude photographs of four young girls, ages 4 to 7.

While his father — inmate No. KP7163 — serves a 30- to 60-year sentence in Rockview State Prison, Jimmy Hinton works to help heal his home congregation and create awareness far beyond Somerset, a town of 6,300 about 75 miles east of Pittsburgh.

Read the full story.

This story appears in the January 2015 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.

Christians battle human trafficking in the U.S.

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Part of a special package tied to the abductions of 270 girls in Nigeria.

Christians battle human trafficking in the U.S. (reporting from Dallas): Across the nation, individuals and ministries associated with Churches of Christ bring hope and freedom to victims. 

DALLAS — Think of Katie Pedigo as a modern-day abolitionist.

A Church of Christ preacher’s daughter who grew up to become an attorney, Pedigo wages a daily battle against sex slavery — in the heart of the Bible Belt.

It’s a fight that surprises some Christians.

“A lot of people think that if it’s sex trafficking, then it’s happening overseas, it’s happening in India or Thailand or somewhere else,” said Pedigo, executive director of New Friends New Life, a faith-based nonprofit that works to restore and empower victims. “So it’s important for us to realize that it’s happening right here, in every city in our country.”

Once known as Amy’s Friends, New Friends New Life grew out of a grassroots ministry that started 16 years ago when a woman in the sex industry became involved in a women’s Bible study at the Preston Road Church of Christ.

“The average age that a girl enters the sex trade in America is between 13 and 14 years old,” said Pedigo, who has a 14-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son. “It’s not OK for your daughter, not OK for mine, to have to endure that trauma and the abuse that comes with that.”

Across the nation, individual members and ministries associated with Churches of Christ increasingly are taking up the fight to bring hope and freedom to trafficking victims, The Christian Chronicle found.

This story appears in the July 2014 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.

From modern-day slave to slave for Christ

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Part of a special package tied to the abductions of 270 girls in Nigeria.

From modern-day slave to slave for Christ: Chong Kim escaped captivity and became a crusader against human trafficking. 

Chong Kim had a secret.

She was pregnant, but that wasn’t her secret. Everybody knew about the baby. Her unborn daughter was what brought her to a Christian maternity home in West Texas.

She had worked as a prostitute, but that wasn’t her secret, either. She freely shared that part of her story, even seeming to enjoy the shock value.

But the young Korean-American feared revealing the full truth. Feared for her safety. Feared for her family’s safety.

No one at Christian Homes of Abilene knew about her abduction by a man she thought was her boyfriend.

No one knew about the untold hours she spent handcuffed and chained to a doorknob.

No one knew about her years-long captivity as a doped-up sex slave forced to perform countless tricks.

Certainly, no one knew that she struck a driver on the head with a stiletto heel and swiped a car outside a Las Vegas casino in a harrowing escape from a domestic human trafficking ring — a frantic effort to save her baby from being born into that lifestyle.

This story appears in the July 2014 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.