This is really sad. I painted this man in heroic terms during the early days of this blog. While everybody's innocent until proven guilty, what happens when they deny something is the truth, then later, after prodding, admit it?
Bob Gray, at first, denied there was any truth to the accusations against him, before, little by little, admitting to certain aspects of the accusations. Specifically, the french kissing of minors since that was a misdemeanor during the seventies, but today is a federal offense. He admitted to that. He apologized to victims. Messer apologized to victims for him, and on behalf of the church. But, when it came time for a 'guilty/not guilty', Gray elected for a 'not guilty' and Messer and friends elected to stay silent.
Now, Tom Bennett denied there was ever an investigation against him. Then, when the news reporter showed up with evidence, here's what happened:
Detectives interviewed Bennett extensively, but he denied the investigation ever happened.
"I'm telling you point blank that that never happened," said Bennett.
However when Eyewitness News reporter Steve Barrett showed him the investigation documents, his response was different.
"Evidently if she has an account of it, if she wrote it in there, it must be true," Bennett said.
The article further alleges:
The teacher and former principal pleaded guilty to felony stalking, extortion and witness tampering.
from Man Continues To Teach Amid Sex Allegations..
If true, this makes Tom Bennett the third teacher from Trinity Christian Academy (Jacksonville, Florida) to plead guilty to a felony.
When I think about my days at Trinity, I'm reminded of how we were taught to lie in the little things. Yes, I mean that as literally as you could take it. Taught to lie.
Consider the following advice I received at a soul winning clinic:
"If you're soul winning, and you come to a door that says 'no soliciting', knock anyway! We're not soliciting. Soliciting means you're selling. We're not selling anything!"
If a cop, or management, asked us if we were soliciting, we'd deny it even though we were obviously breaking the spirit of the law.
I think that's a normal thing for liars, or the truthfully challenged. They will spend hours going over the literal definition of words so they can gloss over their hypocrisy by not following the definition of words as the public perceives those definitions.
When Bob Gray said he was a guilty of a sin that was neither 'sexual nor immoral', he might have been telling the truth, from his point of view. Maybe he convinced himself that children have not grown to become full blown sexual beings, ergo, it's not sexual! If it's not sexual, it must not be immoral.
Strange logic, I know, but I have had conversations with Trinity Baptist College students that confound reason.
One interesting spin, not just from TBC students, but others who have graduated from fundamentalist schools, is the contention that it's impossible to rape your wife. She 'vowed' to obey you in all things at the altar. If you have sex with her, and she doesn't want it, too bad! She consented to doing anything you wanted when she took the vow!!!!
If a fundamentalist husband forces himself on his wife, it's not 'rape' no matter how many times she screams 'no'!
Nobody will ever admit to this in public, but I swear I've had these conversations.
When I read about Bennett denying there was an investigation, then admitting there was once the evidence is produced, I think back on all these moments where half-truths are given as much weight, if not more, than truth, and wonder if Bennett's answer is a symptom of growing up in fundamentalism? Where you're taught to tap dance with words so it can appear you're telling the truth.
If you're silent, you haven't lied.
Ergo, if you're silent, you're being truthful?
I did a search on 'Brad Bennett' and discovered this post at the FFF. Notice it was posted on 10/23/2006, three years before the wftv expose:
I can help you with Tom Bennett. He has changed his name to Brad Bennett. I live in South Florida but several years ago when traveling through Orlando, I saw a story about him on tv news--channel 6. He had been teaching high school at Seminole High School in Sanford and was fired for innappropriate assignments given to students. Then a couple of years later they (the tv station) tracked him down in Kentucky where he was teaching at a school. When the school was notified of his past history with children he was let go and on tv he said he was heading west. There were also mentions made on tv of allegations about him in New Smyrna Beach. You could probably contact someone at the station for archive information. His wife left him after he moved in with another man ten of fifteen years ago. He would always tell people that Bob Gray was his mentor. I guess he was!
from: Miamicane's post about Tom Bennett.
Read the entire thread:
FFF thread about Tom Bennett.