Brent Detwiler’s Factual Rebuttal of Covenant Life Church Apologist

By | February 14, 2017

In a previous post titled “Covenant Life Church Sure Knows How To Pick’em” we had several comments from a Covenant Life Church apologist named “Crumbled” in which he/she attempted to rewrite the history of CLC. While this blatant disregard of factual information may work when one attempts to skew history in favor of your fairy tale version of history on Wikipedia, we at “Thou Art The Man” make a serious attempt to be truthful in the articles we publish.

Towards that end we reached out to the premier expert on the history of Covenant Life Church and Sovereign Grace Ministries, Brent Detwiler, and asked him if he would be so kind as to set the record straight. We thank him for willingly  taking the time to write a detailed response and, we believe, once again correct the mythical view of events so often repeated by CLC pastors and members.

Detwiler’s website is the most complete and accurate source of information regarding anything having to do with Sovereign Grace Ministries that I know of.  Those of you in search of truthful information regarding the sexual abuse of children and the conspiracy to cover-up that abuse would do well to pay a visit to Detwiler’s website.

What follows is Crumbled’s claims, readily distinguished by the blue bar and italicized font, followed by Detwiler’s rebuttal in normal font.


I can’t even figure out why CLC is even mentioned in regards to the sexual abuse lawsuits. 


Really?  That’s an easy one.  Covenant Life Church and Covenant Life School were both named as institutional defendants and C.J. Mahaney, Gary Ricucci, John Loftness and Grant Layman (all top CLC pastors) were named as individual defendants in the 46-page lawsuit.


Furthermore, Loftness and Ricucci were accused of committing crimes against children, not just covering them up.  Tragically and inexplicably, the “independent investigation” done by CLC lawyer, Lars Liebeler, which cost 100k, did not include an investigation of these men or their alleged crimes.  The investigation should have started with these men because they were pastors and the allegations of fact regarding sexual sadism against Loftness could not have been more serious.  This amounts to a cover-up in my opinion.  How can you not thoroughly investigate them?


Moreover, the investigation was anything but independent.  Genuine independence and a full reporting to the church was promised by Joshua Harris before the investigation began.  Neither occurred.  He broke his promises.  Liebeler did not even interview the victims in the lawsuit.  Only the perpetrators.  Could anything be more biased?  He also left out vital and incriminating evidence like the court testimony of Rachael Bates-Paci that she told Grant Layman and Chris Glass (another CLC pastor) about the sexual abuse of boys in CLC by Nate Morales in June 1991.  Liebeler knew about this but left it out of his report.


The current leaders (Robin excluded) were not there and had nothing to do with events in the 1980’s or any of the events of that time.  I think you are mixing CLC ups with Sovereign Grace Ministries.  The leaders from the 1980’s formed SGM and fled discipline when confronted by Josh Harris and the other pastors at CLC.   The pastors and congregation of CLC voted to leave SGM when the leaders refused to repent or reconcile with the congregation. 


C.J. Mahaney, Gary Ricucci, Grant Layman, Robin Boisvert, Kenneth Maresco and Chris Glass were all there in the 1980’s and 1990’s and had knowledge of sexual abuse but did not report it.  All were employed by CLC as pastors.  Layman clearly testified at the Morales trial in August 2014 that he knew it was illegal not to report Morales to law enforcement in 1993.  He could have been arrested in the courtroom according to the Assistant State’s Attorney prosecuting the case.  Layman also testified that none of the CLC pastors who knew about Morales reported him either.  Layman was youngest or next to youngest on staff.  If he knew it was illegal not to report, so did the rest of the pastors.  And it is no small thing that Boisvert was on the staff then and now.  He’s known about sexual abuse in CLC since at least 1992 but has never reported it.


The same conspiracy was at work in August 2007, when the entire governing board of CLC (i.e., Joshua Harris, Corby Megorden, Grant Layman, Robin Boisvert, and Kenneth Maresco) were told about Morales’ sexual abuse of children in The New Testament Church before coming to CLC in 1982.  They knew he was excommunicated in 1981 for the serial molestation of boys in that ministry.  They also learned more about Morales’ abuse of boys during his years in CLC (1982-1991).  Additionally, Layman talked to Morales in August 2007.  During the phone call, Morales confessed to the sexual abuse of two boys in CLC (Liebeler also left this criminal element out of his report).  Layman told the other board members.  He also told them Morales was now a pastor.  These five men knew Morales was a confessed, excommunicated, serial child predator going back to the 1970’s that abused many boys in CLC.  Despite this, they intentionally decided not to obey mandatory reporting laws and inform law enforcement.  No clergy confidentiality applied.  As a result, Morales continued to sexually abuse boys after 2007 until arrested in 2012.


The division between SGM and CLC would never have happened if Joshua Harris and other pastors like Kenneth Maresco and Grant Layman had stood with me in August 2004 when I/we confronted Mahaney on life-long patterns of sin.  Read Response Regarding Friendship & Doctrine, pp. 7-34.  They failed to follow through on commitments they made to hold C.J. accountable out of cowardice.  Harris said so in public.  C.J. also sinfully turned these men against me.  Harris said so in public.  And as a matter of fact, Harris, Layman, Maresco, and Bob Kauflin covered up for C.J. and protected C.J. after 2004.


Furthermore, the CLC pastors did NOT discipline C.J. in 2010-2011.  They did the opposite.  They enabled him and failed to publicly rebuke him for his ongoing and egregious sins despite countless appeals from me and many church members.  Harris and the pastors refused to speak out against Mahaney and remove him from ministry despite the clear teaching of Scripture.  Yes, CLC left SGM in Dec 2012 but thereafter Harris publicly commended C.J. as a man worthy of planting the SGM church in Louisville and expressed his full support.


Josh Harris told the pastors he would resign if they were not completely honest with the congregation.  He’s not the bad guy and was a child when the abuse occurred. 


Harris and the pastors were “not completely honest” when they apologized to CLC (they did not acknowledge or ask forgiveness for any sin) in October 2014 for how they handled the sexual abuse of children.  Nor was Mark Mitchell or Lars Liebeler.    Furthermore, Harris lied on multiple other occasions.  Like when he told news reporter, Greta Kruez in October 2012, “We are very committed to involving the authorities.”  That was blatantly false.  There was no history of reporting suspected sexual abuse or involving law enforcement.  Only a 40-year history of not reporting and involving!


In fact, Corby Megorden, who worked for Harris as the church administrator, told CLC members in August 2011, they had a policy of not reporting the suspected sexual abuse of children.  Instead, they did internal investigations to determine guilt and then consulted their lawyer (Chip Grange) to see if there was any possibility of being sued.  According to Lars Liebeler in his oral report to CLC in Oct 2014, Grange gave them bad counsel about potential lawsuits which deterred them from reporting suspected or known child abuse.


In one case, Harris, Layman and Ricucci were told about the alleged physical and sexual abuse of the Llewellyn children by their father from his three oldest daughters at various times.  None of these men reported it to law enforcement.  Bottom line, CLC has never claimed to have reported anyone to law enforcement they suspected of sexually abusing children.  They supposedly ended this heinous policy of conspiring not to report in Oct 2014.


Harris did some good things but plenty of bad things.  He could have made the difference in dealing with Mahaney and coming clean regarding the conspiracy to cover up the sexual abuse of children.  Harris was abused; that is all the more reason he should have been reporting abuse to police instead of covering it up by not reporting.  To my knowledge, Harris never said whether he reported his own abuse or sought to prosecute his offender(s).  Inevitably, whoever abused him, abused others.


Nate Morales was not a youth worker at CLC.  He was an administrator for a Christian school not affiliated with CLC and his victims were primarily students in the school.   He briefly attended CLC but held no official leadership position.  Some of his student victims attended CLC as well.  But, it was a school-related crime rather than a church-related crime.  Pastors who counseled victims let the parents decide whether to press charges or not, as was the custom everywhere in the 1980’s. 


Almost everything in this paragraph is false.  Lifeline was the name of the youth ministry.  It included junior high, senior high, and college-aged youth.  As a part of it, Morales oversaw the International Student Ministry at Montgomery College in Rockville for Layman.  He was also on the CLC payroll per Liebeler.  Layman perjured himself on the stand during the Morale’s trial, when he told ASA Michalski, “He was just a member.”  I sent Michalski the evidence but she decided not to prosecute.  You are completely wrong when you say, Morales “held no official leadership position.”


You are also badly mistaken when you say, “His victims were primarily in the school” and “it was a school-related crime rather than a church-related crime.”  Eight boys were listed in the police reports as victims.  They were all members of CLC though Jeremy Cook and his family left CLC early on.  I knew the parents of six victims.  None of the reported crimes occurred at the “Christian school not affiliated with CLC.”  One occurred at Magruder High School where CLC was meeting on Sunday mornings.  Most all of the crimes happened in the homes of CLC members.


You claim Morales “briefly attended CLC.”  No, he attended for 10 years from 1982-1991 and became a well-known and highly respected member that was prominently featured by Mahaney, Layman, etc.  Everyone knew and liked Nate Morales.


You refer to “the custom everywhere in the 1980’s.”  That’s why laws were being introduced in the 1980’s that required mandatory reporting.  That’s why that state of Maryland introduced mandatory reporting laws in 1987.  Layman and the pastors knew about these laws.  So did Chip Grange, their lawyer.  Under the law, everyone was required to report including parents.


The CLC pastors did not learn about Morales abuse in the 1980’s.  That is inaccurate and misleading.  They learned about it in the 1990’s and knew he was a serial predator with many victims.  Still, they did not stop him.  They had an obligation to report.  So did the parents.  At that point in time, it was not “the custom everywhere” to violate the law.


The trial of Nate Morales for criminal charges was not related to the lawsuit, although he was mentioned by a victim.   


Once again you are misleading or just plain ignorant.  There was a third trial scheduled for Morales because he had been indicted for “sex offense third degree” against James Roberts.  Roberts was a plaintiff in the lawsuit against Covenant Life Church where he and his family were members.  Contrary to your assertion, the criminal charges were related to the lawsuit.  What Robert’s alleged in the Second Amended Complaint (paragraph 36) would have been presented in court.  The only reason this did not happen was because the State Attorney’s Office canceled the trial because it was unnecessary.  The first two trials resulted in convictions on seven counts.  They didn’t need the third one.  They knew Morales would be sentenced for the remainder of his natural life.  It was a matter of “judicial prudence” as they called it.


In the two CLC sex abuse situations, one involved a teenage babysitter and one involved a stepfather, both in contexts outside of church.  Given the thousands of people who have attended CLC over forty years, it would appear CLC was significantly safer for children than the general public as well as other organizations. 


Why are you not honest with your readers?  You make it sound like there have only been “two sex abuse situations” over the past 40 years.  You don’t even include Nate Morales and his conviction for abusing multiple boys in CLC in your equation!  That is so wrong.  Pure spin.


Moreover, you don’t make clear you are only referring to two criminal convictions but excluding the many real and alleged “CLC sex abuse situations” like with Charlie Llewellyn, or those individuals in the lawsuit you write off as liars or other victims in CLC who don’t want to press charges for various reasons.  I’ve interacted with these people.


The policies of not reporting suspected abusers and not warning members in harms’ way of suspected or convicted abusers in their midst made CLC extremely unsafe!  Convicted sex abuse felons were in the church and members did not know.  Not reporting is why Morales was allowed to go on and abuse boys, including two stepsons, around the United States for 20 years after leaving CLC.  It is so sickening.  The CLC pastors should have been arrested and jailed.  They haven’t even asked forgiveness of the stepsons or Morales’ ex-wife, Marcia.


Furthermore, these same dreadful policies were carried out by C.J. Mahaney, John Loftness and Kenneth Maresco (all CLC pastors) in Sovereign Grace Church of Fairfax (aka Redeeming Grace Church) in the 1990’s and 2000’s.  In one case, a pastor’s son confessed to sexual abusing a younger boy but was not reported.  His family was moved to another SGM church.  That is still happening in SGM.  Read “Hush Fund Set Up by Top SGM Leaders to Meet the Demands of a SGM Pastor Whose Son Was Sexually Abused.”


Not only was CLC unsafe, these men made much of Sovereign Grace Ministries unsafe.  The policies of CLC were exported.  They were also passed on to men like Joshua Harris.  How can you call CLC safe, when your five leading pastors did not report Morales in 2007, even though they knew he was a self-confessed, serial sexual predator of 40 years responsible for abusing at least 8 boys in CLC?  If you don’t report Morales, you don’t report anyone!  That is the long and horribly unsafe history of pastors in CLC.


The babysitter case was certainly an injustice as the parents were scolded for notifying authorities before notifying pastors and significant care was given to the teenage perpetrator. 


No, no, no.  You are watering down and mispresenting what happened.  John Loftness told Dominic and Pam Palmer, “Do not call the police” before he found out they already had.  That is not simply a personal injustice, it is a violation of the law.  That same practice was followed by all the pastors.  That is why Loftness “explained [to them] that such matters were handled internally by the church leadership, not by secular authorities.”  That is exactly what Corby Megorden told CLC in 2011 and Joshua Harris told Michelle Boorstein from the Washington Post in 2015.


The stepfather case was a tragic lose-lose situation in which the mother lost custody of her 9 children to foster care and the church attempted to restore the children to the father in the hope of getting them out of foster care. 


This is too complicated to address here but the mother, Peggy Adams, has written at length about the abusive ways she was treated by the CLC pastors.  So has her daughter, Dara Sutherland, who was a plaintiff in the lawsuit.  Further, Child Protective Services would never have allowed the Adam’s children out of foster care so they could return to their father, David Adams.  He was a convicted felon for sexually abusing one of his adopted daughters for four years before getting caught.  CLC pastors pressured Peggy to do this but she refused.


The other accusations in the lawsuit occurred in Sovereign Grace at large and not at CLC. 


That is a blatant lie.  For example, all the accusations brought by Jessica Roberts Thomas and Heather Thompson Bryant had to do with Covenant Life members, leaders, or pastors.


Any remaining cases at CLC are largely regarded as fiction. 


That is because CLC has been duped by the kind of false reporting found in your comments.  For example, Bo Lotinsky, a CLC pastor, told me Olivia Llewellyn lied about being sexually abused by her father.  That is absurd!  I counseled Olivia for seven months.  I also confronted her parents, Charlie and Greer, in person with evidence which they did not deny or refute.  Like an incriminating letter from Greer to Olivia on June 6, 2013, that states, “Even if daddy & I deserved the shame [in the lawsuit], your siblings do not.”  Throughout the letter, Greer pressures Olivia to drop the lawsuit not because they are innocent but because “there is little hope that we will have anything – income at all or ever, we will have to sell everything (farm, land, can’t even sell the company) if you continue to pursue the lawsuit.”


So, you should address your concerns with SGM, not CLC.  And Josh Harris was a hero for putting his job on the line to tell the truth. 


The policy of not reporting suspected sex abusers began with CLC and was sustained by CLC.  Mahaney’s commitment not to report sex abusers was most prominently featured in CLC as the sr. pastor for 25 years.  It spread to SGM with the help of CLC pastors.


Josh put his job on the line but not for telling the truth.  He put his job on the line because he was an enabler, appeaser and law breaker and this resulted in the further exploitation of children and increasing corruption in CLC and SGM.  Josh is not a hero.  A hero is characterized by courage and integrity.  As a matter of fact, Josh often lied.  For example, he promised an “independent investigation” with full disclosure.  Nothing of the sort happened.  In large measure, the investigation was a crafty cover-up that left out lots of incriminating evidence.  Your rewriting of history is more of the same.


Crumbled, I’d sure like to know who you are.  That is the problem with an alias.  You could be a sex abuser.  You could be a CLC pastor.  You could be anything in between.  This much I know, you are not honest!  Stop the propaganda!

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