August 2, 2018
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
Redeemer Presbyterian Church and City to City recently sent out a joint email to the entire church and CFW constituents regarding allegations that I have wanted to be forthright about from the beginning. Upon reading their email, I was devastated and heartbroken by the manner in which they communicated the allegations and the mischaracterization of my termination. Having failed to do an independent investigation months ago despite my urging, CTC has forced me and my family to this damaging point. I hope in this statement to clarify what happened in the past and to address how I believe this situation was grossly mishandled through a deeply unjust and dehumanizing process.
In mid-May, CTC shared with me that they had received allegations against me of past misconduct. Although they did not share the actual allegations or the name of my accuser with me, I was immediately forthcoming regarding the only confusing interaction I have ever had with a woman from 17 years ago. Upon hearing my brief response, CTC promised that an independent investigation would take place, and I was assured that I would be given an opportunity to provide a full description of the interaction and context regarding the situation. In the meantime, I was asked not to speak with anyone regarding the matter and placed on leave.
During the next week, two different third-party investigators introduced themselves via email to me but did not attempt to gather any facts or interview me. Although I promptly responded and made myself fully available, I never heard back from either one. I began gathering evidence I thought would provide critical context. About two weeks later, concerned that I had heard nothing from CTC or an investigator, I reached out to CTC’s CEO. In response, I was asked to attend a meeting at his apartment. Because I had not yet been given an opportunity to fully share with an investigator or anyone at CTC, I expected this to be a conversation updating me as to the process of the investigation. Instead, with no CTC HR representative present, I was told that I was being terminated and was presented with a Separation Agreement (which included a one-year non-compete provision precluding me from engaging in faith and work ministry). I discovered then that there was no independent investigation, that my accuser had intensified and added claims to her initial allegations, and that nobody had ever questioned or interviewed her. I was never notified about any of this, never had the opportunity to defend myself, and again, was never shown the specific allegations.
I want to be absolutely clear: I have never sexually assaulted or abused anyone as has been alleged by a woman with whom I was friends for many years. Had CTC conducted an independent investigation as promised, I would have been able to share relevant detail, context, and evidence, and that information would have confirmed that I handled this situation appropriately. I first met this friend 18 years ago when I was a seminary student working at a student-led campus Christian fellowship. She was a senior at the time, and I was a few years older than her. Over a period of several months, we had grown closer, bonding over shared mutual interests. One evening she was at my house, and we were both studying and talking. At one point during the night, while sitting close to me, she told me that her back and neck were bothering her. I offered to give her a massage, and she accepted. She seemed appreciative, and it was in this context, believing that she was reciprocating interest, that I briefly touched her chest over her shirt. I believed my affection was mutual and the physical contact was consensual, and she gave me no indication to the contrary. At no point did she express any verbal or non-verbal discomfort or refusal, nor did she move away or ask me to stop. Afterwards, we continued to study, and there was no other physical contact with her. It was only later that she told me that she had felt uncomfortable with what happened between us. Upon hearing this, I felt absolutely terrible. I immediately apologized and asked for forgiveness, which she readily granted.
After our interaction and my apology, we continued to keep in touch as friends for about five more years, hanging out together one-on-one and in groups, talking on the phone, exchanging friendly emails, and sharing prayer concerns. Other than this brief encounter and occasional hugs to greet one another, I never had any physical contact with her. We talked about that evening a few times during the course of our friendship, and I again conveyed my sorrow, and she affirmed her forgiveness and never expressed any anger or ill-will. I never asked her not to share about the interaction with other people. When she asked me to share about it with our pastor, I willingly did so, and he counseled me. When I became ordained, she wrote to congratulate me and expressed her sadness about not being able to attend the ceremony. She supported me in my ministry financially and through prayer support for years, with every indication that we were engaged in a healthy friendship and that the encounter from 17 years ago had been completely resolved between adult Christian friends.
This is why it was a complete shock to learn about this recent allegation of sexual assault and abuse. Although I was forthright in the initial conversation with CTC about this single interaction with her, I could not give the full context to CTC because my recounting was only a few minutes long and CTC did not advise me of the specific allegations. After the initial conversation with CTC, I was not given any opportunity to provide any further information as was promised. Although I clearly and repeatedly told CTC that I would fully cooperate with an independent investigation and made myself available to be interviewed by the investigators, the investigation never took place. I felt deceived, and as I was told not to speak to anyone about this pending the investigation, I never had the opportunity to fully explain the situation or defend myself. To this day, CTC still refuses to provide me with the specific allegations made by her, and I do not know exactly what she has accused me of.
I also wish to address specific aspects of the email from CTC and Redeemer about the termination of my employment at CTC as I believe it was misleading.
First, the statement that I acknowledged “crossing boundaries” misleadingly suggests that I acknowledged that the woman’s “serious allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct” (allegations which apparently changed over time) were true. They were not true. I believed I engaged in a consensual interaction while we were studying together, and any issue between me and her was fully resolved 17 years ago.
Second, CTC has never presented me with a copy of the specific allegations. I candidly and voluntarily shared this single interaction from 17 years ago, but I was never given the opportunity to “object to” and dispute more specific claims (as the email says), much less provide evidence that the specific allegations weren’t true and that we had resolved the situation as Christian friends. CTC’s and Redeemer’s statement to the contrary is incorrect.
Third, the email gives the impression that CTC terminated my employment only after “launching an investigation” that gave me a full and fair opportunity to respond to the allegations. This is also misleading. CTC promised that it would undertake an independent third-party investigation, but I was never interviewed by an investigator. As CTC’s own email acknowledges, it has still not completed any fact-finding or obtained a final conclusion from any independent investigator, yet it terminated my employment nonetheless. In fact, far from CTC conducting a proper investigation on its own initiative as the email suggests, just days ago I pleaded with the Redeemer leadership to conduct the independent investigation that CTC had originally promised but never conducted, as I wanted the opportunity to clear my name. CTC’s email suggests that CTC is finally taking that step, possibly in response to my plea and to a restricted Facebook post this woman made criticizing Redeemer. But I still have not been interviewed, and of course an investigation after my termination provides me with no real opportunity to defend myself against the false allegations.
CTC ended my more than ten years of service at the Center for Faith and Work based on false allegations about me, without giving me the courtesy of an appropriate investigation. I still do not know why they failed to conduct one, both for my sake and this woman’s, as well as for the good of our greater community. I reached out to CTC multiple times to try to rectify this wrongful termination in a Gospel-grounded way that respects relationships and avoids escalating this issue. I remained patient in the face of this flawed and veiled process in the hopes of avoiding unnecessary damage to people and institutions I care for, but as a result of the repeated mishandling of the situation by CTC, I am now forced to consider all my options to restore my name and reputation.
My family and I have been absolutely devastated by these egregious accusations, misleading communications, and the process we’ve been through with an organization that we once deeply believed in. By sharing all the relevant facts, I hope to shed light on this situation and begin the process of healing. Ultimately, my hope for restoration is grounded in the Gospel promise that everything broken will be made new again, and I covet your prayers to this end for me and my family, for the woman involved, and for the Redeemer and CTC leadership and communities.