Unfortunately, I’m still stuck on the uncomfortable subject of child molestation, a subject that seems to be near and dear to my heart. For those of you who were hoping to read about Gwen Stefani, I apologize. There is nothing funny about this post. This post is about a man about whom I never had any doubts. Once again, to protect the guilty, we’ll use assumed names. His full name is Reverend K. Super Aims. My campus minister was a young, exciting and vibrant man with a seminary degree and a guitar. He was full of evangelism and ambition. It was a good thing he was already married to a very beautiful woman or we would have pounced on him like fresh meat.
Super, as he liked to be called, inherited an old house that used to be the parish home of the church next door and a small group of rag tag student leaders, of which I was one. There were really only five of us. We all had names that had the same letter at the beginning of our first or last names, something we thought in our youth was a coincidence of mystical importance. What we knew about Super before he arrived was very little. We knew he was a newlywed and that he had just returned from a year in England. The newlywed part stuck out in our heads, and since one of us had keys to the newlyweds’ condo we decided to get together one night and decorate the new place for their arrival. We used crepe paper and condoms, along with lipstick on the bathroom mirrors. I’m sure his wife wondered what on earth they had gotten themselves in for.
Super arrived the beginning of my sophomore year. He built a dying ministry of maybe twelve regulars into a flourishing one. He made it fun. He was a talented musician who played both guitar and piano and sang. He explained the Bible to us in ways that made it both understandable and relatable. He took us on retreats and camping trips. He took us on a journey of self-discovery and a journey to discover the nature of God. He seemed to be a moral man, but he was not judgmental. He made a very real difference to probably hundreds of students like me.
Super and I became close over the years. I was his Evangelism Intern for more than one semester. I led bible studies and took over some administrative duties. Once when he came down ill I led a retreat for the students. We became so close that I confessed to him about an incident from my childhood when the proverbial dirty old man had tried to molest me. Despite the fact that it’s now on the worldwide web, this is not a fact I usually disclose to just anyone.
We stayed close even after I graduated, and I would usually make an attempt to visit when I was in town. That whole group of students who “grew up” with Super stayed close, too. Those were some tight, quality friendships. Some of the names and faces changed as people graduated, but the feeling remained the same. Super married or somehow officiated in the weddings of several of the couples who came out of our little group.
One night in the year 2001, which along with the rest of the country, was a horrible year for me, my phone rang and one of my college buddies was calling me to let me know that Super had been arrested for child molestation. A couple of little girls in the neighborhood had wandered into the campus ministry house. They had been playing and needed to use the bathroom. Then they said the man in the house had offered to let them stay and play there. There was a pool table. By the time everything was said and done the little girls went home to one of their mothers and claimed that the man in the house with the pool table had touched them on their private parts in broad daylight.
We didn’t believe it. People rallied around him and raised money for his defense. I had never before in my life doubted a child who came forward to say that he or she has been molested. After all, what can they possibly have to gain by making such an accusation? If it had been anyone other than Reverend K. Super Aims I would have deemed him guilty on the spot. And indeed it seemed that I was right in my faith. A long time went by and there was no trial. It seemed that there was a lack of evidence. Eventually, Super moved to another state with his wife, where she got a job at a Christian university as a professor. A few years went by.
And then I learned. Another phone call. I had gotten out of touch with a lot of my old college friends. I remember who told me. He said that Super had made a plea bargain. The police had confiscated his old computer at the campus ministry and had been able to recover kiddie porn from it. He pled guilty to one of the convictions in order to escape the other, and he moved back to the state he came from and served his prison sentence. By the time I found out about it Super was already out of prison, divorced, and living with his brother. He is now branded for life as a convicted sex offender.
I called Super’s ex-wife. She told me how she found out, that he had confessed to her only after the police had backed him into a corner with the child pornography possession charges. He told her that was the first time that he had ever actually touched a little girl in that way. And she asked him if he thought possession of child pornography was a victimless crime. She told me that he had some credit cards in his name only that he’d had delivered to the campus ministry house instead of their home. He used those credit cards to pay for the porn. And then it struck me that I had often carried in those credit card bills myself when I gathered the mail. It had seemed odd at the time, but I would never have thought that he was hiding child pornography from his wife.
I talk with my old college buddies. We talk about Super on occasion, of course. One of us who went on to seminary and became an ordained minister for a time tried to befriend him after he got out of prison. He tried to be the better man, show compassion, be a Christian, and found that he could not. One of us refuses to accept that he’s guilty. She insists to this day that he was framed. I accept that he is guilty, and I never fail to be amazed at the wonders of this world that someone who had such profound evil in his heart had enough good to inspire others so deeply. I wonder, of course, if the bitter aftermath should taint all the good that came before it, if God chooses his instruments in mysterious ways, and if any of the K. Super Aims that I knew was genuine. I have no doubts that I’ll never know.
Entry filed under: Child Abuse, Children, Chrisitanity, Ethics, Faith, Human Rights, Sexual Abuse & Assault, Social Commentary. Tags: Child pornography, Child sexual abuse, Credit card, Crime, Legal Information, Sex Offenses.