In North Olmsted, Ohio, youth pastor Brian Mitchell, 31, raped a 16-year-old girl who was a member of his church. He was caught and subsequently pleaded guilty to four counts of sexual battery. According to reports, Mitchell sexually abused the teenage girl on at least two separate occasions.
The girl said she came to church looking for spiritual guidance and that she looked up to Mitchell, whom she saw as a mentor. He started texting her more frequently and talking about more personal things. Then he sexually abused her at least twice.
“I did not give him permission. I clearly said 'no, I didn't want to,'” the unnamed teen wrote in a letter to the court.
Mitchell will now spend the next decade of his life in prison.
As horrifying and appalling as an adult pastor sexually abusing a minor is, it also has become nothing very new. It's what happened next that make this story particularly heinous.
After Mitchell was arrested and convicted for repeatedly raping the girl, leaders at the Columbia Road Baptist Church—where Mitchell and the teen were members—forbade the family of the teen victim from attending services again until the unnamed girl apologized to Mitchell's wife.
That’s right. Church officials required that the young victim apologize to the youth pastor's wife for being raped by her husband. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports:
“The girl's mother said in court that church officials told her their family couldn't return to the church until she apologized to Mitchell's wife.”
Instead, of course, the family left the church.
When it came out that the church had blamed and shamed the victim for the crime, Columbia Road Baptist Church posted to their Facebook page a statement that said, in part:
… the accusation that an apology was required from the victim or her family to return was a result of a serious misunderstanding and does not reflect what actually transpired.”
The Facebook page has since been taken down. Only a one-sentence statement remains on the church's website:
“In regard to recent news stories featuring our church, Columbia Road Baptist Church has fully cooperated with the authorities and have nothing to add.”
As for Mitchell, the former youth pastor has received around three dozen letters of support, many of them from church members.
Photo Credits: Christian Post