When James "Jay" Virtue Robinson IV was accused of having sexual relationships with a 16 year old, he turned himself in to the police, then was released on a $20,000 bond. Pastor Virtue returned to his pulpit and put things in perspective by saying the parents were manipulated by 'wolves in sheep's clothing'.
The majority of the church believe him, except of course, the police who regard Pastor Virtue as a 'wolf in sheep's clothing'.
This would be a good time to visit SNAP's website. Specifically, their 21 points on how to conduct yourself if your pastor, or priest, is caught in a sex scandal.
Number fourteen is rather appropriate:
14) Support the accused priest PRIVATELY.
Calls, visits, letters, gifts, and prayers - all of these are appropriate ways to express your love and concern for the accused priest. Public displays of support, however, are not. They only intimidate others into keeping silent. In fact, it is terribly hurtful to victims to see parishioners openly rallying behind an accused priest. You may want to publicly defend a priest, collect funds for the priest's defense, and take similar steps. Please don't. Express your appreciation of the priest in a direct, quiet ways. Even if the priest is innocent, somewhere in the parish is a young girl being molested by a relative or a boy being abused by his coach or youth leader. If these children see adults they love and respect publicly rallying around accused perpetrators, they will be less likely to report their own victimization to their parents, the police, or other authorities. They will be scared into remaining silent, and their horrific pain will continue.
I think that sums it up. It would have been better had Pastor Virtue (gotta love that name!) said something like this:
"Although I am innocent of the charges, child abuse is still a major problem in this country. Abusers should be confronted and have their day in a court of law. Since I am innocent, I welcome this opportunity and I pray for those, in this church, who have history of abuse in their lives." Or, something to that effect.
Instead, we get Elmer Gantry! Church leaders have been forcibly ejected from the sanctuary. There's more drama than an episode of Dallas!
It's a pity they can't all be like Jack Graham of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. After Prestonwood's pastor, Joe Barron, was arrested in a sting, allegedly for pursuing sex with a 13 year old (actually, police officer posing as one), Graham took to the pulpit and, according to a report, 'acknowledged pain but praised God for purifying the church. He exhorted his congregation to uphold Christian standards of morality. And he even thanked reporters for their coverage'.
Pastor Virtue, by contrast, declared that members had an 'illegal meeting' and used that as an excuse to throw out a pastor, and some members, whom he believed conspired against him.
I'm pleased that Trinity Baptist Church, in Jacksonville, has not stooped to those methods. The situation is disturbing at my former church, but, as the story of Pastor Virtue demonstrates, things could be worse.
Pastor Virtue has minister forcibly removed from church.
Chief Pastor Jack Graham comments on Prestonwood situation.
SNAP's guidelines on 'What to do when your priest is accused of abuse.'