Mandy's Story

Mandy and her Mother

Mandy's church membership was dwindling and the church began to search for a new pastor. The pastor that they hired had previously known Mandy when she was a child and he was a teenager. When he started at the church, he asked Mandy to be in the praise team. Over the next couple of years, Mandy became heavily involved in her church and saw the pastor daily. At age 16, Mandy began dating, but on the advice of the pastor, she ended the relationship. The pastor stated that he would make sure she wasn't alone. He would slap Mandy on her hips, even in front of others, justifying his behavior by saying that it was how basketball players acted with one another. His jokes with Mandy became more sexual and he began expressing thoughts to her that he was afraid his wife would die in childbirth, and that he was worried but felt that God was preparing him. Mandy's parents left the church, but she stayed behind. When she turned 18 his advances became more aggressive and they became sexually involved. Mandy moved in with her great-grandmother, and he would drive to visit her and bring gifts. He had begun to send her pictures over the phone. In an attempt to free herself, Mandy began leaving her phone unlocked hoping someone would see the picture. One day her niece picked up the phone and told her mother about the pornographic pictures there that the pastor had sent. Mandy felt relieved that the truth was out. Mandy has lost her friends and has isolated herself. She is still in the midst of a legal battle.

Belinda, Mandy's mother, was worried about the state of their church. In an effort to save the church they hired a young man fresh out of seminary. After an incident in the church Belinda and her husband decided to leave the church, but permitted their daughter to stay, due to her active involvement. Belinda says that the pastor would also ask her daughter to make visits to his house and would seek her advice on sermon topics. Belinda started to notice something was wrong. Mandy began having unexplained headaches, and then Belinda saw the pictures. Mandy had left the phone out one day and Belinda's granddaughter had picked it up. When Belinda took the phone away she saw the pornographic pictures of the pastor. Belinda put her daughter into counseling. The pastor told Mandy to tell her parents the relationship was a lie and that they were just playing games. Belinda demanded that the pastor step down and seek counseling. Belinda sought out help from their denomination. They requested that Mandy go in front of the church and ask for forgiveness and also refrain from any individual contact with the opposite sex. The church finally decided to ask the pastor to step down and gave him a severance package. They later reinstated him. The family pulled away from church but not from God. Legal action is still in progress.

One year later, Belinda says that the pastor is still a full-time pastor and recently gave the address at a local high school graduation ceremony. Many families who have heard what happened have stopped attending any local churches and have been shaken by this man's continued presence in the pulpit.