Covenant Life Church Women Members Defend Church At Maryland State Senate Hearing

By | March 11, 2016

On March 8, 2016 Pam and Dominic Palmer were once again in front of a panel of Maryland Senators.   They testified in favor of SB69, a proposed Maryland Bill which would extend the Statute of Limitations for victims of sexual abuse. You may recall the Palmer’s daughter was sexually abused while they were members of Covenant Life Church; she was 3-years-old.

In March 2015 the Palmers testified in favor of SB668.  Below is a recording of Pam Palmer’s testimony. Please listen to that as background information for my current post.

You will notice that at the end of her testimony, Pam Palmer stated:

“I am offended that the only group testifying against this bill are representing the Roman Catholic Church, who through neglect are responsible for the rape of thousands of children and now are denying justice (or attempting to deny justice)  for my daughter, just to protect their own assets.”

At the recent Senate hearing, representatives of the Roman Catholic Church were nowhere to be found. The only voices speaking in opposition to the bill were two women from Covenant Life Church!  That’s right, Covenant Life Church of Gaithersburg, MD.  The home church of former senior pastors CJ Mahaney and Joshua Harris.  CLC, the former flagship of Sovereign Grace Churches.  Ground zero for what some have called the largest sexual abuse scandal to hit the Evangelical church.

Charlotte Ennis and Terry Mayo were the women who testified.  Charlotte Ennis declared in her testimony that she didn’t know whether CLC knew she would be testifying at this hearing,

I find that hard to believe.

Detwiler, Shank, Mahaney, Harvey and Ennis

Detwiler, Shank, Mahaney, Harvey and Ennis

Charlotte Ennis is married to Pat Ennis.  Pat headed up the search committee for P.J. Smyth, the new Senior Pastor at CLC.  Pat Ennis was the Executive Director for SGM until 2010.  Pat reportedly talks to everybody in CLC leadership. Below is a great quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer tweeted by Pat Ennis.  I wonder if Mr. Ennis knew of the CLC meeting in 2007 when the pastors decided not to tell authorities about Nathaniel Morales, the sexual predator?  My guess is he did. Brent Detwiler posted copies of two confessions CJ Mahaney made in 2004.  All the top leaders of Sovereign Grace Ministries were CC’ed. Pat Ennis was one of those leaders.

2016-03-12 Pat Ennis quotes Bonhoffer

In 2010 we see Pat Ennis is still a member of the trusted inner circle of Mahaney’s.  Below is a screen capture from Brent Detwiler’s blog.

2016-03-12 Mahaney cc's Pat Ennis

All this to say that Charlotte Ennis’ testimony opposing the extension of the Statute of Limitations is not merely the words of a disinterested third party.  Her husband was a major player in Sovereign Grace during the time that much of the sexual abuse occurred.  It is highly unlikely CLC was unaware that she would be testifying in opposition to the proposed SB69.  It is my opinion that both Charlotte and Terry testified in place of their husbands because attorney Susan Burke has stated she will be filing another lawsuit against Sovereign Grace and Covenant Life Church in Virginia.  If Pat Ennis or Dave Mayo were to have testified at this senate hearing they may have unintentionally provided information that could strengthen the claims of the plaintiffs in the upcoming lawsuit.

Terry Mayo was queried by a senator after her testimony on how she found out about the hearing.  It seems the senator was trying to determine whether CLC had put her up to the task.  Mayo was clearly rattled by the question, stumbled around a bit and then said she heard about it through social media.  Pressed further she said she heard it via Pam Palmer on social media.  Judging from Mayo’s reactions, it is my opinion she was not telling the whole truth.  I would guess men in positions of leadership in CLC recruited her.

Below is a partial clip of these two women’s testimony.  You can view the whole proceeding here. I would encourage you to watch the whole session as both Pam and Dominic, two of my heroes, testified again.

Also of note regarding the testimony of Charlotte Ennis – notice how her response to questions about convicted pedophile Nathaniel Morales closely followed this dishonest statement published by Covenant Life Church in 2013.  It seems she has the company line down quite well.  And Ms. Ennis would have us believe that her testimony was done without the knowledge of Covenant Life Church?

2016-03-16 Dishonest CLC statement on when they knew about Morales

 

2016-02-19 Just heads of T4G speakers

 

In the clip below, attorney Susan Burke testifies in front of a Maryland House of Representatives subcommittee hearing on March 10, 2016. The House has their own  proposed bill to extend the Statute of Limitations for victims of sexual abuse.  Susan Burke is one of the attorneys who filed the lawsuit against Sovereign Grace Ministries; the suit was subsequently dismissed due to Statute of Limitations constraints.   In her testimony, Burke speaks to the ridiculous manner Sovereign Grace pastors handled one case of abuse.  She said, “this is the type of conduct that as a society we should penalize.”  Burke then goes on to counter what Charlotte Ennis and Terry Mayo said in their testimony opposing increasing the SOL.

Below you will find the account to which Ms. Burke said, “this is the type of conduct that as a society we should penalize;” the conduct which Covenant Life Church members Charlotte Ennis and Terry Mayo  urged Maryland senators to prevent ever being heard in a court of law! (The entire article may be found here.)

Screenshot 2016-03-16 08.42.15

TAYLOR’S STORY: 

I’m afraid my story is not unique. I shared my daughter’s story because for years I have read similar stories and thought, “Oh no, not another one!” and would relive it all over again. The fact that it is STILL happening, that children are still being dreadfully, horribly hurt and families torn apart, and those pastors are allowed to continue to perpetuate the atmosphere that allows it to happen made me have to finally speak out about our own experience. I am just one of many. And if this many stories are public, many more are never going to be known. 

My husband and I spent many years at our Sovereign Grace church, first as young adults and then later after we married and had kids. We homeschooled, we got involved in home group, and created a nice little bubble for ourselves. We looked the part and believed what we were told to believe and even though we never fit the mold, we kept trying. 

The thing was, though, my husband had a porn addiction that was kept hidden (because a Godly wife doesn’t reveal her husband’s sins to the world, or even to close friends). He would get caught, he would “repent” and humble himself, and I was to forgive him. A vicious pattern that would repeat itself over and over, and would set the stage for what was to come. 

It all came to a head when I discovered that my husband had been sexually abusing our 10-year-old daughter. I had felt something was not quite right for a couple months, but could not figure out what was going on, and kept telling myself that I was imagining things, that it was Satan putting evil thoughts in my head, that it couldn’t possibly be anything like I thought. My husband had always expressed such disgust at this sort of thing that I was sure he wasn’t capable of it. And yet the thoughts and feelings continued. I would catch them alone in a room, with my daughter sitting on his lap, or he would call her down to the basement to do some chore with him alone. He started spending a long time putting her to bed each night, but only a few minutes with our other children, while I was busy with the toddler. 

One night, I am not sure why I did this, but I went into my daughter’s room to kiss her goodnight after her father had gone downstairs to get on the computer, and I said to her, “You know, honey, NO one, not even me or Daddy, has the right to touch you in your private areas”. And she started crying and said that Daddy had been doing just that every day for a long time, and making her touch him as well. 

I fainted right there across her bed. Then quickly came to, and comforted her. I told her that it would NEVER happen again, and she would be safe from then on. 

Then I went downstairs and confronted him. He fell to his knees and begged me not to tell anyone. I said I had to protect our daughter, so I called our associate pastor, whom I’ll call Pastor Bill. As I told Pastor Bill what had happened, my husband ran out of the house and got in the car. I ran after him and told him not to leave and he said he didn’t have any choice because now he was going to jail and he just couldn’t face it and indicated he would rather die than go to jail, then drove off. 

We spent three days in agony not knowing where he was or if he was still alive. He turned off his cell phone. Pastor Bill came over to our house and talked with my daughter and made her tell him everything that my husband had done to her and for how long. After the first 24 hours, Pastor Bill gave the situation over to another pastor, “Pastor Fred,” to handle. 

I was praised up and down for not calling the police but for contacting them first, for being a “Godly example” of a Christian wife, etc. When we went to church the first Sunday after the crisis, I was with two of my close woman friends, and they asked me what was going on, and I told them what had happened, feeling the need for support and help. 

When I told Pastor Fred I had told them, he was quite upset with me for telling anyone, and reprimanded me for gossiping, and then had to meet with them and our care group to do damage control, to make sure no one would know what was really happening or had happened. 

Finally my husband answered his phone on the fourth day, and the pastors convinced him to come back. But not to our house. They sent us to stay with my husband’s relatives (another family from our SG church) for several days and let my husband come get his things and move in with his mother. 

We were all brought in for counseling with the pastors, first me and my daughter separately, where she had to again tell what had happened, and where she was told she needed to forgive her father, that she was a sinner too, and didn’t she feel that she had sinned by not telling me sooner, and we were made to feel that she had somehow sinned by allowing it to continue, even insinuating that maybe she had even wanted that attention a bit. She was TEN YEARS OLD. 

I should also add that I was told by Pastor Fred that I should not get outside counseling for my daughter at all. He said it would expose her to ungodly counsel and do more harm than good, that God was the only healing she needed. So we never got any outside professional help, but my husband got counseling for about 4 months from the pastors. It is the “trickle down” theory of taking care of the “head” and it will trickle down to the wife and kids. 

During this time that they were separately meeting with my husband, they counseled him and they met with his boss (another church member) to inform him of what had happened and why he was absent from work. It turned out that all of his late night work at the office had really been opportunities for viewing porn, including child porn, on the office computers, and he was fired from his job. 

The pastors knew that so many people knew about what had happened that they were required by law to report it, so they told my husband that he needed to turn himself in instead of their doing it. That was how they got out of their legal responsibility to report it. My husband’s relative who is a lawyer told him not to do it himself, but to use a certain lawyer he knew. The lawyer he had suggested met with my husband and I together, and he said that no, my husband shouldn’t turn himself in because if he did then he would go to jail and we would be without any income, instead since he was now obligated by law to report the crime, he would talk to the state’s attorney and let us know what to do. We didn’t hear anything from him for weeks and weeks, and were left to constantly wonder why. 

After about two months of this kind of counseling by the pastors, I was told that in order to truly be a Godly wife, I had to forgive my husband because my sins as a less than Godly wife had also contributed to my daughter’s abuse. I was told that had I better met my husband’s needs physically, he wouldn’t have been tempted elsewhere. A meeting was held at Pastor Fred’s house, where my husband could apologize to my daughter for hurting her and ask her to forgive him. Again she was reminded by Pastor Fred that she was a sinner too, and that Jesus had forgiven her, so she must forgive her father to be a good Christian. 

So I was told to allow him to move back home, and to make sure I had physical relations with him regularly, and books were offered telling me how to have a Godly sexual relationship with him, like Intended for Pleasure: Sex Technique and Sexual Fulfillment in Christian Marriage, and The Five Love Languages. 

I was told to put a lock on my daughter’s door, on the inside, and every night after I had kissed her goodnight, she had to lock her door to keep her father out. 

And he moved back into our house on Christmas Eve that year. We resumed looking like a “normal” Sovereign Grace Ministries family, my husband was greatly praised for repenting and we were praised for reconciling, and every time we had sex I got sick to my stomach afterwards. Every time he moved or got up in the night, I sat bolt upright in bed. If he went out of our room, I lay there listening to make sure he didn’t go near any of the children’s bedrooms. 

The only “counseling” I myself received during this time was when Pastor Fred would ask me to join him and my husband in their sessions, and he would ask how it was going, having sex with my husband, and would want specifics, and right in front of him so I couldn’t really be honest but would just say it was ok. 

(As an aside, it seems to me personally that the pastors at SGM have a weird and unhealthy fascination with details of sexual encounters. I know a teen girl who was having relations with her boyfriend, and when she was caught and brought in for counseling, the SGM pastor made her “confess” each and every detail of every sexual encounter the two of them had had, before he could say that she was repentant. I just find it sick. They made my daughter do the same thing, giving every detail of her father’s molestations, but not so they could report it.) 

I kept calling the lawyer asking if he had heard anything, and he kept saying no, not yet. Then in February I finally got some specific answers from him. No, he hadn’t actually turned in a deposition. He had simply written a hypothetical report up and put it on the attorney’s desk. Unless I wanted to go in and file charges against my husband, nothing would happen. I called the pastors and told them all of this, and they said that it was obviously a gift of grace from God, and that as a Christian I was not to bring civil authorities into it, and that I was to let it drop and not press charges because my husband was repentant and had agreed to their counseling, and they felt like everything had been discharged properly and what wonderful examples of God’s grace and mercy we were. 

A little over a year later, there was a new church plant, and we were told to be a part of that. How convenient for them… 

We were part of it, but soon after the church plant happened, I caught my husband looking in the bathroom window from outside when my daughter went in there to use the toilet. I told her to get out of the bathroom quickly, that he was out there looking in at her and not to use that bathroom any more

I called “Pastor Kevin,” the pastor of the newly planted SGM church, and told him what had happened. He said that sin was insidious and that I should expect my husband to have moments of weakness, and that I was wrong to warn my daughter because I was further damaging her relationship with her father and preventing it from being reconciled. And that was the end of it. 

At that moment I knew that not only was I and my children without protection from the church, but that I was truly alone and would just have to make the best of it. I could not rely on any more help from the pastors and it was up to me to protect my children as best I could. 

For five years I struggled to be that protection for them. My daughter continued to lock her bedroom door every night. I continued to not sleep deeply and to always be alert to his prowling at night, and we maintained our facade as a healed and reconciled family. I forced myself to allow him to have sex with me, even though it made me physically ill. The toll on my self-esteem, my self-respect, and my family was huge. My marriage relationship was dead, but I was trapped inside it trying to be that “Godly Wife”. 

However, we were kept at arm’s length from the rest of the church. Other parents did not include my daughter in birthday parties or other activities because they were afraid she might tell their children what had happened. She was damaged in their eyes. Other parents pulled away from me as well, except for one friend. 

Finally, I just burned out. I just couldn’t do it any longer. I couldn’t pretend to love a man who had sexually assaulted my child every day for months. But I didn’t know how to get out. So I started sleeping in my son’s room on a cot, pretending that I had just accidentally fallen asleep while putting him to bed. Not coming out unless my husband actually came to get me. 

It was only with the strength and support of my one remaining friend that I was able to finally get the courage to divorce him and leave the church, when my daughter was 16. It was a long two-year process, in which I was shunned and ostracized by the church body under instructions by the pastors for “abandoning my family” and breaking my marriage vows. I was told I couldn’t leave the church because as long as my husband was a member, I was a member also. But I finally got my divorce and broke free, and maintained custody of my children. 

My ex-husband still attends that same Sovereign Grace Ministries church, even though several of the founding families and the pastors all know that he is a child molester. I would venture to say that none of the rest of the church has any idea, though. He is remarried, and when he has visitation with our younger children, he still takes them to church events. 

My older children are now grown and don’t have much to do with my ex-husband at all. They are also very bitter towards Sovereign Grace Ministries and want nothing to do with them. Their relationship with God has been destroyed, and it will take the work of the Holy Spirit alone to restore it, in His time. But otherwise, they are happy and doing well. 

I have found a wonderful church that has helped me realize that the world, and God, are so much bigger than Sovereign Grace Ministries ever taught. I have learned that there is room in God’s house for all different types of people, and theologies and doctrines. And although it took several years, I have begun to trust God again, and read his word with new eyes. God IS good, and even Sovereign Grace Ministries can’t destroy that.

 

2016-02-19 Just heads of T4G speakers

Here are a few good comments by “exCLCer.” This is the woman Charlotte Ennis attempted to discredit in her testimony before the MD Senate subcommittee:

 

2016-03-28 exCLCer refutes Charlotte Ennis

 

2016-03-28 great comment by exclcer

2016-02-19 Just heads of T4G speakers

 

Further information:

Maryland senate panel hears two sides of evangelical sex abuse scandal

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Lynda Gruen

Hi,

I’ve been trying to learn what I can about the Sovereign Grace denomination, particularly with regards to the roles of leadership in the lives of members, the role of males / husbands in the lives of females / wives, and allegations by church leadership of abuse victims’ testimonies being false.

With regards to that third part, I’m basically just trying to figure out who’s telling the truth.

I looked up the Sovereign Grace Wikipedia article today, and portions of Charlotte Ennis’ and Terry Mayo’s testimonies seem to be going unchallenged, even as abuse survivors’ testimonies do not appear to be represented all that much. It would seem that folks here might have a different perspective?

I was wondering: have some members of CLC tried to remove abuse survivors’ testimonies / rebuttals on Wikipedia? I ask, b/c I am aware of this potentially being the case with 1-2 other abusive / controversial ministries.

Obviously, I’d like to think the best of all Christian denominations, churches and ministries; but there is no place for covering up abuses in the body of Christ. I’m interested in the truth, although I understand if I cannot find sufficient documentation to substantiate claims being made one way or another.

With regards to the audio / video segments you got here on this blog post, I will admit that not knowing these individuals, I’d be inclined to find Ennis’ testimony the least credible, although I realize that she does to a degree have a point about false accusation, when the accusation is legitimately false. That’s a matter of providing credible evidence, which hopefully the courts / judges would recognize. But, what I didn’t get was how she did not seem to be able to provide specific examples. It also seems to me that the Nate Morales trial was part of the issue. But, whatever.

For the record, like Ennis, I am also a survivor of sexual abuse — although in my case, it was two isolated incidents of sexual assault by the same guy (who did not go to my church as far as I know). No, this did not happen through CLC or Sovereign Grace, but the incidents did come about, due in part to the theology and practices of my college church, which I have been informed had been influenced by several groups, People of Destiny International (PDI) among them. I bring this up, because she seemed to want to play the “I’m a victim, too” card. Well, that’s ok: I can play that game, too. It can be very hard to come from a survivor’s background and stand up and deal with these situations in a calm, organized manner. I get that — and sometimes I definitely become too impassioned when I believe strongly in something. But, before the courts and in public hearings, we have a responsibility to be clear and demonstrate credibility, so that people might be more inclined to hear us out.

For the record, my college church practiced complementarianism — sometimes hyper-headship-ism — and covering theology while I was there. I am now a variant of an egalitarian, primarily because I now recognize the limitations of these doctrines, and how they can harm churches and women (and children).

Anyway, thanks for your time!

Thank you for the thoughtful comment, Lynda! I will respond in-depth as soon as I can.

In the mean time, I made a 9-minute video about CLC’s history of covering up abuse. It is based on legal documents and other credible primary and secondary sources.

http://covlifechurchabuse.info

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

P.S. – Terry Mayo constantly claims that her husband, Dave Mayo, is innocent of the allegations of committing child sexual abuse against him. However, interestingly, Mr. Mayo has never publicly claimed, on his own, that he is not guilty. He just hides behind his wife, which does not seem like the sort of thing a genuinely falsely accused person would do.

Mr. Mayo’s accuser also used her real name in the lawsuit against him, so the Mayos could easily have filed a counter-suit alleging libel or slander, against this reported victim, at any time.

I think it’s telling that they have not.

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

” It also seems to me that the Nate Morales trial was part of the issue. But, whatever.”

There actually seems to be some confusion about this issue. Based on what I’ve been told by people close to the case, the following is true. The first version of the lawsuit may have contained allegations against Mr. Morales but the second amended complaint of the lawsuit did not.

This is because the Morales victims were testifying against him in a criminal case when the second version of the lawsuit came out. Apparently, Morales’ victims could not both testify against him in a criminal trial and also participate in a lawsuit in which he was named. Several of the victims wanted to join the lawsuit after the criminal trial was over, but it had already been dismissed based on technicalities.

Even if the above was not true, the allegations in the lawsuit mirror the ones found in Mr. Morales criminal trial regarding Covenant Life Church’s habit of discouraging sexual abuse victims from contacting the police or other civil authorities.

Therefore, I think it is ridiculous for Mrs. Ennis to have suggested that the Morales case had nothing to do with the allegations in the lawsuit.

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

“I’ve been trying to learn what I can about the Sovereign Grace denomination, particularly with regards to the roles of leadership in the lives of members, the role of males / husbands in the lives of females / wives, and allegations by church leadership of abuse victims’ testimonies being false.”

How much time do you have? 😉 It might be best for us to correspond by e-mail Lynda, as there’s so much credible, sourced information available about the subjects you’re interested that citing it all in the comments section of a blog article would be tough. I imagine that what’s on Wikipedia is complete garbage. Most of what’s on Wikipedia about any controversial subject, in my view, is baloney that’s not worth refuting because responsible commentary just gets erased on that site by trolls.

I’m a little tied up today, yet will shoot you an e-mail as soon as a I can.

A few things off the cuff:

You might like an article written by well-respected journalist, Tiffany Stanley, in the Washingtonian magazine about the scandals pertaining to Covenant Life Church’s cover-up of child sexual abuse. She focuses on the criminal cases, not the civil ones, but there’s overlap between the two.

https://www.washingtonian.com/2016/02/14/the-sex-abuse-scandal-that-devastated-a-suburban-megachurch-sovereign-grace-ministries/

Several legal documents pertaining to the class-action lawsuit against Covenant Life Church, including the second amended complaint, which is a must-read, can be found here:

http://www.brentdetwiler.com/class-action-lawsuit/

None of the defendants in the lawsuit, including Covenant Life Church, disputed the allegations of the victims directly. Instead they sought to have the case dismissed based solely on technicalities, one of which was the assertion that the First Amendment gives clergy the right to cover up child sexual abuse.

I’m not making that up. Covenant Life’s official position is that even if they did discourage (and by that I mean harass and bully) reported sexual abuse victims from taking their complaints to the police or other civil authorities, they have the right to do that per the religious freedom clauses in the American constitution.

Once again, I’m not making that up.

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

A. Brent Detwiler

I sent this message to Bob Allen at Baptist News Global regarding Charlotte Ennis, Dara Adams Sutherland, and Olivia Llewellyn Graham.

Thanks Todd for your good work on reporting this story.

From: Brent Detwiler [mailto:abrentdetwiler@gmail.com]
Sent: Friday, March 11, 2016 4:51 PM
To: Bob Allen bob@baptistnews.com
Subject: RE: Maryland Senate Testimony Claiming SGM/CLC lawsuit was false

I am intimately familiar with all of this and Charlotte Ennis is not testifying truthfully. In the future, I will expose the testimony she gave before the MD Senate Judiciary Committee. I find it obscene.

I worked closely with her husband, Pat. In fact, I just spent five hours with him in January. During that time, I challenged him with the evidence. I even offered to send him the particular evidence regarding the “hush fund” set up to silence the family of a victim who was abused by the sr. pastor‘s son. He told me not to send it. He didn’t want to see it.

Honestly, these people are not interested in the evidence. They maliciously maligned the victims and their families. So much of Charlotte’s statement is misleading, erroneous and untruthful. That is not hard to demonstrate.

Here is one example. She says in her press statement, “Ennis noted that a second plaintiff was a convicted felon who had admitted she was not sexually abused, yet had claimed in the lawsuit that the church had incarcerated her.”

She is talking about plaintiff Dara Adams Sutherland. First, she discredits Dara by pointing out she is “a convicted felon” and then uses that to imply Dara covered up the fact that she was not abused. Dara never covered up the fact that she was not abused by her adoptive father, David Adams. That is why she joined the lawsuit on behalf of her sister, who was unable because she was “psychologically disabled from the assaults” (SAC 42). I find the association by Ennis despicable.

Dara and the family were devastated as a result of her adoptive father and the CLC pastors who catered to him and covered up for him. Dara’s mother, Peggy (who is not a felon), has written about this at length. Dara wrote me about the terrible impact this had upon her in February 2015. Here is a small excerpt.

“I was sent away to live in shelters and juvenile homes, my only interaction was the occasional family court dates where I would be brought to court by a social worker and see the pastors there as character witnesses and supporting Dave’s attempt to fight against child support and gain visitation and custody of the rest of the kids. I wasn’t temporarily placed in foster care — I spent the rest of my youth in group homes, shelters, juvenile facilities, etc. and aged out of the system at 18. I never made it home. Neither did my younger brother or my sister. It was for years.”

Lastly as it pertains to this example. Ennis asserts that Dara “claimed in the lawsuit that the church had incarcerated her.” This is absurd. A complete and total fabrication. Dara never claimed anything of the sort in the lawsuit. Her allegations of fact are found in paragraphs 40-43 and 45-55.

One more example though there are others. Ennis claims, “Another plaintiff has recanted her story altogether, admitting it was false.” She is referring to Olivia Llewellyn Graham. I cared for and counseled Olivia for 7 months during which time her parents, Charlie and Greer, pressured her to drop the lawsuit because it would have ruined them financially. I have pages of evidence I will produce in the future. They never asked her to drop the lawsuit because her allegations were false, only because it would destroy their wealth.

You should also know that two others sisters have accused their father of sexually abusing them but have not been willing to prosecute him thus far. I have confronted Charlie and Greer with these realities in person and told them I hoped it goes to trial so I can testify against them. The only reason Olivia “recanted” is because she is a fragile and desperate soul that needs their “support” to manage and survive. Olivia shared most everything with me about her personal life, marriage, family, and parents.

There was also a hearing before the House judiciary committee the following day on Thursday, March 9. Susan Burke testified. She was brilliant. It is incredulous that Charlotte Ennis and Terry Mayo are seeking to block the MD General Assembly from extending the statute of limitations. For years, Roman Catholic Church officials have shown up at these hearings in MD (like in other states) to oppose the extension in order to protect priests, bishops, cardinals and dioceses from being sued for their abuses and cover ups. This year, for the first time, Catholic officials did not testify. Maybe because of the movie Spotlight. Instead, these two Protestant women from Covenant Life Church took up the arguments of the Roman Catholic hierarchy and opposed extending the statute of limitations from 7 years to 20 despite all the evidence that most victims need more time before they are ready or able to come forward. It is outrageous.

You can quote me entirely and hope you do.

Thanks for the excellent comment, Brent. It sounds like Charlotte Ennis deliberately and maliciously slandered Dara Adams Sutherland to the point that she could be sued for doing so. I also wonder if it’s occurred to Ms. Ennis that Ms. Sutherland might not be a felon if her childhood had not been ruined because Covenant Life Church Pastors and members protected her adopted father, someone credibly accused of being a child molester, as opposed to caring for his family.

It does not surprise me they sent the “submissive easily deceived women” to do their dirty work. But I have to wonder what would be their rational argument for keeping the statute of limitations where they are now? So we can continue to protect our pedophiles?

Thanks, Lydia. Neither woman had an explanation as to how their defenses of Covenant Life Church had anything to do with the legislation being discussed. They just wanted to litigate CLC’s case at a public hearing to spite the Palmers, it seems.

Further, as I recall, the class-action lawsuit filed by the plaintiffs’ attorneys did not affect the statute of limitations pertaining to suing someone who has directly abused you, which is what last Tuesday’s hearing was all about. Rather, the plaintiffs’ lawyers argued that the 3-year statute of limitations for CLC’s alleged obstruction of justice applied generally but should start at 2011 (I believe) when the conspiracy was discovered by the plaintiffs, not when the actual abuse occurred.

So extending the SOL from 7 to 20 years, for lawsuits pertaining to direct abuse would not have affected the lawsuit against CLC.

CLC’s acting a little strangely about the dismissed lawsuit in general. First they went out of their way to get it dismissed on technicalities and now they seem to be upset that they didn’t get a chance to try and discredit the victims in a court of law. That doesn’t make much logical sense, guys.

Terry Mayo probably fits into the “submissive easily deceived woman” category but Charlotte Ennis has a very strong persona. However, neither woman came off very well, in my opinion. I have no idea what Terry Mayo was testifying about since her husband has not been sued for alleged abuse, to my knowledge, so extending the statute of limitations for suing an alleged sexual predator does not apply to him.

Charlotte Ennis just told one lie or mis-statement (I’m differentiating between the two words because Ennis may have simply been ignorant about some of the false claims she made) after another and her arrogant high-handed entitled manner was very irritating.

Her attitude appeared to be, “my Church was subject to false accusations so therefore you all (the Senators) should change the entire civil legal system and declare open season on anyone who alleges that they’ve been sexually abused.”

No thanks, gals/CLC. I think ya’ll should have to abide by the laws and basic moral standards pertaining to protecting children from abuse that the rest of us have to adhere to.

As I mentioned before, listening to this nonsense in person was 10 times worse than reviewing it online.

Thanks again for coming by, Lydia. 😉 Janna

Lydia:

I don’t necessarily agree with them but there were some rational reasons for wanting to tweak the legislation to protect people who are falsely accused and the concept of due process generally.I’ll try to find you the reference in the hearing, as one woman lawyer who advocates for abused children did a great job answering questions about the possible downsides to the legislation, that a couple Senators raised.

One, there’s the perception that people who are accused of sexual abuse, after many years, will have trouble exonerating themselves because there won’t be much evidence, either way, that a crime occurred so the litigation may be a “he said/she said” situation that primarily hurts/is unfair to the accused. I don’t think that this is a reason not to extend the SOL but acknowledge there’s some validity to this argument, as most of us would have trouble accounting for our time regarding an event that may have happened 20 years ago.

This is my lay person’s understanding of what the lawyer said about that issue. I may have misunderstood her.

The lawyer said that requiring people to go through additional hoops, such as a preliminary trial to prove there is concrete evidence that a crime may have occurred many years ago, would preserve due process while still allowing the statute of limitations for sexual abuse to be extended from 7 to 20 years. I believe she claimed that medical malpractice lawsuits are handled in this manner.

Two, the legislation is actually retroactive to 2009, which raises the general ex post facto question, “is it fair to hold people or organizations responsible for committing crimes that weren’t considered crimes at the time they acted?” The lawyer acknowledged that this was a valid concern and suggested that perhaps the legislation should not be retroactive.

Those are the only two rational reasons for tweaking or voting against the legislation that I remember.

Thanks. Janna

[…] For those not familiar with Sovereign Grace Ministries,  I am referring to Steve Shank, former Sovereign Grace apostle, more recently a Regional Director, and one time confidant of CJ Mahaney. Below is a photo of Steve Shank from happier days in Sovereign Grace.  Included in this trusted inner ring of Mahaney’s is, from left to right, Brent Detwiler, Steve Shank, CJ Mahaney, Dave Harvey and Pat Ennis.  Detwiler and Harvey fell out of the good graces of Mahaney, and now I think it is safe to say Steve Shank can also be listed as a former friend.  I am not certain how tight Mahaney and Ennis are these days, since Ennis remained a member of Covenant Llife Church when the church withdrew from the Sovereign Grace family of churches.  In a recent blog I mentioned Ennis because his wife, Charlotte, not surprisingly, testified in opposition to proposed Maryland Senate Bill 69. This Bill would extend the Statute of Limitations for victims of sexual abuse.  For more details go to this link. […]

Haha Todd, you know it! Apparently it’s fine for CLC to send out its women to testify in front of a Senate, but heaven forbid she preach the gospel in front of men on a Sunday morning.

Thanks, Paula. Given the number of Gospel Glitterati who supported Sarah Palin, it sounds like a woman can be trusted with nuclear codes but cannot preach in a Church on Sunday. Also, I asked around and it sounds like you’re probably right about Grant Layman giving some interesting new explanations about his testimony during the Morales trial.

😉

I so agree with you Janna, and I’m glad you were there. I re-watched your reaction to hearing Charlotte Ennis identify herself as a member of Covenant Life Church, and I can relate to the horror you must have felt when you realized the citizens of Crazytown had entered the room. Were Ennis & Mayo sitting there the whole time I wonder, having heard all the previous testimony? Or did they conceal themselves in the hallway until the time came for them to speak out against the bill came?

Terry & Charlotte clearly came with the same agenda, which they probably hashed out “when they sat together in a room around a table and discussed these things.” It must have been ok in Charlotte’s mind for her and Terry to conspire together like they did, but it was it was wrong for the victims and their families to talk among themselves because they were liars.

But, of course, Charlotte knows her discussions with Terry would never fall under the category of “conspiracy” because they have the approval of the church. As a good, little CLC member, Charlotte knows that any conversation which calls into question the integrity of the church leadership is “gossip” and “slander.” For years it’s been drilled into her head that it’s always bad to doubt the veracity of her Pastors, and to never give them cause for sorrow but to always be a joy for them to serve!

What is it with these women? Carrier Pigeons are certainly extinct, but it appears the Stool Pigeons are alive and well at CLC.

Paula, I have go to services at a non-crazy Church pretty soon, yet want you to know that your insightful and witty comments are really cheering me up. I’ll write more later yet want to say that one of my favorite parts of Charlotte Ennis’ testimony was when she claimed that the victims or alleged victims were lying because their recollections of the furniture layouts at Covenant Life School were not accurate.

Has it not occurred to her/her CLC bosses that some of the accused may have gone over to Covenant Life School and moved the furniture around to make it look like the plaintiffs were lying? Or that even if the evidence was not deliberately tampered with, people sometimes change the placement of furnishings in a room over the 20-25 year time-frame she’s claiming elapsed between the time of the alleged abuse and the time the lawsuit was filed.

During the testimony, Mrs. Ennis said she was planning to testify against Pam Palmer. Given her performance at Tuesday’s hearing, I think that CLC might want to find someone else to perform that duty.

Thanks again for the morale booster, Paula.

😉 Janna

Her defense of Stephen Griney, who spent hours and hours and hours at the location where the alleged school abuses occurred, was laughable, too. I visited that location once many, many years ago after being invited there by a CLC neighbor of mine who sent all her children to school there. I could not understand why she drove 40 miles round trip every day to send her kids there, it was nothing special. The location was remote and at a distance from most of the student’s homes. The school was later housed within the facility CLC built on Manchester Mill Rd in Gaithersburg, but before that it was that old, dark building in Aspen Hill.

And I never understood the hype surrounding Steve and Denise Griney. I didn’t see it but my neighbor seemed to think they possessed super-human skills. Denise Griney may have had some previous teaching experience, but her husband Steve (the one with the back problems that Ennis defended) had none that I knew of. He also didn’t have children of his own, his stepdaughter being Denise’s child from a previous marriage. I think CLC was comfortable with Steve’s involvement at the school in as far as he provided his wife with a man’s “covering”. Then John Loftness, who also lacked credentials, was installed as the principal. And generally speaking the children who were sent to the school weren’t highly regarded because homeschooling was the only approved method of educating your kids. So, I think the children that attended the Griney’s school easier targets since none of them came from the higher echelon families within the church. This was also (I think) before the school was officially incorporated as a part of the church, although it was exclusively for members of the church the entire time.

Personally, it didn’t surprise me to hear Stephen Griney had been implicated. The whole situation at the school lacked professional oversight and accountability and was, in hindsight, an ideal environment for the abuses that were alleged to have happened there to occur. I’m certainly glad I never came close to sending my kids to that Aspen Hill school, and my interactions with the mother of the CLC I knew that did was often unnatural.

Why Charlotte Ennis would flat out deny that Stephen Griney did anything inappropriate to a child at a school where he spent countless hours as an unqualified teacher, citing his back problems as the reason, proves the disingenuous nature of her testimony in my opinion. And this after having admitted that she had been abused as a child? I guess her abuser didn’t have back problems, so in her experience, no one with back problems could ever molest a child.

Thanks for the additional information, Paula. Since Charlotte Ennis didn’t reference the names of the people she was defending or cite factual sources for her claims, figuring out what she was talking about was often difficult. To my knowledge, Stephen Griney has never publicly denied that he sexually abused a child(ren).

Why Charlotte Ennis and Terry Mayo are defending men who don’t even appear to be claiming to be innocent of the allegations of engaging in sexual abuse or covering up sexual abuse, directed at them, is beyond me.

Did the detailed descriptions of the sexual assaults on children, including the specific locations where the abuse allegedly occurred, derive from information gleaned from the abused children as they reported what happened to them in response to questions by child care advocates? IOW, to whom and by whom were the allegations made?

Hi Gerald, thanks for the comment. This a complex case so I suggest first reading through the text of the lawsuit that was discussed at the Senate hearing:

http://static1.1.sqspcdn.com/static/f/970485/22689936/1368570306447/second+amended+sgm+lawsuit.pdf?token=sXVjLKdSsAGw70PDOl6tITieSfU%3D

Please be aware that the descriptions of what happened to these kids are very disturbing and graphic. Thanks. Janna

Hi Gerald:

Also, since this article was written, a current member of Covenant Life Church was arrested on March 16, 2016 for 11 counts of child sexual abuse and false imprisonment. You can read more about that story in the following blog posts:

Another Covenant Life Church Member Arrested Pertaining to Charges of Child Sexual Abuse and False Imprisonment
Covenant Life Church Formally Extends Support to a Member Charged With 11 Counts of Child Sexual Abuse and False Imprisonment

In addition, in 2013, a long-term Pastor of Covenant Life Church testified under oath, during a criminal trial, that he and other Pastors of the Church knew they were supposed to report allegations of child sexual abuse to the police and chose not to.

The above documentation and many other facts found in credible primary and secondary sources support the allegation, in the lawsuit, that Covenant Life Church has been harboring a pedophile ring for decades and illegally conspiring to keep that information from reaching law enforcement or other civil authorities.

Thanks for your interest in this issue, Gerald. Janna

Well, obviously, being a member of a church does not mean the same as being a member of the Body of Christ. Members of the Body of Christ are concerned about protecting the least among them. Members of an institution/church are concerned with protecting the institution.

The one good thing about attending CLC for the number of years that I did is that it helped me to recognize and identify the characteristics of false believers. It took me awhile to learn that the quintessential members of CLC all followed a noticeable pattern, especially the extremely humble ones in leadership: all were immediately protective of their reputations. Large or small, it didn’t matter: they didn’t need to change – you did. It was so prevalent that it was pathological.

And it doesn’t surprise me to hear Ennis, who said she knows former CLC Pastor Grant Layman and had spoken to him regarding his court appearance, claim his testimony had been taken out of context when he confessed to knowing about the sexual abuse in CLC and not reporting it. She blamed Layman’s questioner, not Layman’s answer! Now we know where Grant Layman stands. And I’m glad the Senator expressed his disgust and impatience with the web Charlotte Ennis tried weaving that day. Her demeanor said it all: “I’m a member of Covenant Life Church and I stand before you resistant and non-compliant to any force outside of the operative one within CLC that produces cyborgs like myself.”

Yes, thanks for the great comment, Paula. The CLC community has made it very clear that they don’t think they should have to abide by the rules and laws that govern all other institutions and individuals in the United States of America. That does not, however, prevent them from asking the community to subsidize their activities by letting them take advantage of every non-profit tax break the Church can dream up.

Just a note on Grant Layman’s testimony during the Nate Morales criminal trial. I’ve never heard anyone, including many people who attended the trial, contest his reputed statement that he knew he had to report child sexual abuse to the civil authorities and declined to do so. Therefore, given the number of lies and mis-statements Charlotte Ennis made during her testimony regarding the statute of limitations legislation in question, I would not assume that her comments represent Mr. Layman’s true beliefs.

Thanks. Janna

Hello All:

I’m Janna L. Chan, Todd’s moderator and tech partner on the blog. I just want to let folks know that I was at the hearing on Tuesday. I’m the woman in the white shirt on the far left of the video. In addition to having a cameo appearance in which I hold up pictures of abused kids while a woman from SNAP (Survivors of Abuse by Catholic Priests) testifies, you can see me jump and put my hand over my face when Charlotte Ennis, the first woman to speak on behalf of Covenant Life Church (CLC), declares that she’s a member of CLC.

We were expecting members of the Roman Catholic Church to oppose the bill, but it never occurred to me to think that Covenant Life Church would sink so low as to use a committee hearing, for a specific bill, as a venue for trying to discredit known (as in their claims are backed up by criminal convictions) sexual abuse victims of the Church.

Listening to the two women from Covenant Life Church lie about the facts pertaining to the lawsuit and criminal convictions related to abuse that the CLC Pastors covered up, after hearing so many victims of sexual abuse testify before them, was 10 times more gut-wrenching in real life than it was hearing it online.

Therefore, I’m taking a few days off before I write a long article about my experiences at the hearing.

However, I would like to make the following statement.

In my opinion, Charlotte Ennis, the first woman to speak from CLC, lied when she told the committee that the criminal convictions pertaining to Nathaniel Morales were a “separate issue” from the lawsuit against the Church that she was discussing.

The lawsuit and other documents pertaining to it, contained many allegations regarding the conduct of both Nathaniel Morales, the convicted pedophile and former youth leader at CLC, and the Pastors who, by their own admission in some cases, enabled him to keep abusing children even after he confessed to being a pedophile.

Most of those allegations were backed up by criminal convictions pertaining to Nathaniel Morales, who is now serving a long prison term for abusing kids at Covenant Life Church, whom he met in his capacity as a youth leader for the Church.

Therefore, I believe that the entire focus of Charlotte Ennis’ testimony was also a lie. She claimed or strongly implied that the Church was subjected to bizarre and unsubstantiated allegations, which constituted a grave miscarriage of justice.

However, that cannot be true if criminal convictions and thousands of pages of additional evidence pertaining to the civil lawsuit, which can be found at the Circuit Court in Rockville, Maryland, attest that the Church is at least guilty of enabling a self-confessed (Morales told at least two CLC Pastors that he was abusing kids) and now convicted pedophile to molest kids attending Covenant Life Church for many years.

Lastly, for now, please see the text of the law pertaining to whether or not clergy are required to report the sexual abuse of children to civil authorities, in Maryland, and decide for yourself whether or not Charlotte Ennis lied when she claimed that CLC Pastors were not required to report known instances of the sexual abuse of children.

Maryland
Child Abuse and Neglect
Clergy as Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect

To better understand this issue and to view it across States, download the PDF (439 KB) of this publication.

Citation: Md. Code Ann. Fam. Law § 5-705(a)(1), (a)(3)

Except as provided below, notwithstanding any other provision of law, including a law on privileged communications, a person other than a health practitioner, police officer, or educator or human service worker who has reason to believe that a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect shall notify the local department or the appropriate law enforcement agency.

A minister of the gospel, clergy member, or priest of an established church of any denomination is not required to provide notice [when they have reason to believe that a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect] if the notice would disclose matter in relation to any communication that is protected by the clergy-penitent privilege and:

The communication was made to the minister, clergy member, or priest in a professional character in the course of discipline enjoined by the church to which the minister, clergy member, or priest belongs.
The minister, clergy member, or priest is bound to maintain the confidentiality of that communication under canon law, church doctrine, or practice.

https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/systemwide/laws-policies/state/?CWIGFunctionsaction=statestatutes:main.getResults

Bill M

It is so good to see that CLC is turning over a new leaf and is now interested in the downtrodden and being a good witness. /sarcasm off

I wonder what biblical(TM) reasoning these two from CLC gave for opposing the extension of the Statute of Limitations for victims of sexual abuse. Oops, I forgot, I turned off sarcasm.

Thank you for posting this, Todd. I would encourage everyone to watch the video at the bottom of the post. The audacity for the first woman to even utter the words that pastors are not required by law to report sexual abuse speaks VOLUMES!