There are some people who I love, trust and respect who don’t think I should post this. There are other people who I love, trust and respect who believe that posting this is the right, loving and responsible thing to do.
I’ve decided to finally post this because of a discussion I had yesterday with my son. He had been the one who was repeatedly molested when he was six. I asked him what he thought about speaking out about what happened to our family. He paused for a long time then asked if ‘telling others’ was based out of anger or a way to ‘punish’ the Suarez’s. Then it was my turn to pause; I examined my motives (again) before telling him, “No, I’ve fully forgiven them and love them. My intent was purely to warn other families”. He told me he was glad to hear that and that he had forgiven them, too. But then he told me he wanted to speak plainly. He told me that he was angry — really angry — that his older cousin had forced him to live with such disgusting memories . He also told me that he hated the idea of being known as the kid who had ________ happen to him. He said he was fearful of having a tainted reputation and was nervous about being kept out of certain circles of friends who might look at him weird if they knew. I sat quietly and just listened to him as he spoke. And then what he said surprised me. He said, “I think that being concerned about how I’m viewed is selfish, though. I don’t want my reputation to be more important to me than knowing we might be able to help prevent others from having to live through what I have to deal with” This kid is 13, he’ll be 14 next week. All I could do is tear up and marvel at the grace and the strength and the maturity that God has blessed him with. He’s not a victim. The boy is a hero as far as I’m concerned.
We do not expect pastors to call out child offenders from the pulpit every Sunday (as somebody falsely suggested we were advocating).
Our issue is not with ‘repentant child sex offenders’. Local bodies can decide for themselves what measures to take to keep their congregations safe. That’s not where we take issue.
Our issue is with leaders who use their positions of power to enforce a ‘zero accountability’ policy for child sex offenders and then punish people who disagree with their (extreme) view.
We take issue with the practice of protecting a child molester (repentant or otherwise) at the expense of the victim and their family. I’ve been accused of ‘making my nephew out to be a monster’. I reject that accusation. A 14 / 15 year old who does monstrous things will have to live with the consequence of having committed monstrous things. Sin has consequences. Do I still love my nephew? Absolutely. There is full forgiveness and we love him and would welcome a relationship with him (if he decides to reach out) — but there are consequences for sin. To shield him from consequences wouldn’t be love. It would be potentially inviting disaster for others.
This is not just about how the Suarez’s wanted to protect their (then) teenage son. There have been two other child predators (that we know of) who the Suarez’s actively protected. They demanded silence from those who knew and insisted on letting those predators have unfiltered access to family gatherings / child focused events. They insisted that families accept (what amounts to) a ‘zero accountability’ stance in regard to those men because they said the men had ‘repented’. And families who voiced concerned, or alerted other families to a potential danger, or who chose not to include the predators in their groups, were told they were in sin and were then condemned by the Suarez’s. One man, Roy Ballard, was later imprisoned for sexual assault against children. The other man they protected, Mike Marcum, was also imprisoned (for possession of child pornography).
Again, if the Suarez’s hold a belief that they should protect the reputations of child molesters, that’s one thing. But to condemn concerned families and use the bible to berate them for rejecting their extreme views is indefensible. At least that’s my opinion.
I’ve been accused of trying to ‘vindictively take down The Old Schoolhouse Magazine’. I reject that accusation. Paul and Gena made the choice to habitually divide with believers over secondary issues. They have also made the choice to condemn (multiple) families who spoke out against child predators.
They made the choice to continue pursuing the spotlight as national leaders after knowing their highschooler repeatedly molested more than one child. In my opinion, they should have stepped down and dealt with their family issues. Instead, they built an audience and created a following. I feel no obligation to protect their leadership position in the homeschooling community. It was their choice to push this issue public.
They refused to deal with us privately (we tried repeatedly) and then seven years later, when they finally met with us (with a supposed ‘unbiased mediator’ ) they refused to acknowledge any error over their unbiblical belief of shunning Christians over secondary issues. Nor did they see a problem with condemning families who refused to accept what amounts to a ‘zero accountability’ stance for child sex predators. It is because of their choices that this is now playing out in front of an audience that they, themselves, created.
Here’s a helpful motto: Don’t do things that you don’t want people to find out about. It’s not the job of the ‘abused’ to protect their abusers ‘popularity’.
We take issue with a philosophy that proactively condemns and/or punishes families who alert others of a potential danger within their midst. We have witnessed a pattern of this. Not just a solitary incident… but a pattern.
Here are some questions that we have not yet received satisfactory answers to:
1) Paul and Gena Suarez, do you still maintain you were right in shunning the Igarashi’s seven years ago after they wouldn’t submit to your views on carrying out church discipline on a third party? On May 5th 2014 (in front of witnesses) you refused to concede that you should have handled the situation differently. And this leads to the next question… if Jenefer never ‘repented’ (and you maintained it was right to shun the Igarashi’s) then why did Gena suddenly agree to ‘un-shun’ Jenefer? Why are you willing to be ‘nice’ and ‘loving’ now? What changed? And why won’t you ‘un-shun’ the other families you’ve condemned who have approached you? Is it because they are not being as vocal about the abuse they suffered at your hands?
2) Are you able to comprehend how excruciatingly painful it was for a family to deal with a six year that had been molested by a highschooler from your household? Are you able to understand the absolute agony they then experienced at your hands when you shunned them, slandered them and encouraged others to divide with them over the next 7 years?
3) There are multiple families who you’ve condemned as sinners after they went against your zero accountability stance (for the child predators you were protecting). Julie Hauser reached out to you in a friendly, relationship-oriented way recently and you told her that a friendship couldn’t happen until she (Julie) repented. Are you truly unable to see the absurdity of this?
These are a few of the questions we still have and which were not dealt with in the ‘mediation process’
Paul and Gena Suarez have held steadfast to their skewed beliefs and use them to justify their destructive actions.
We’re not bitter, angry or vindictive. We have made every effort to come alongside the Suarez’s in love, hoping to show them that they’re hurting the Body.
Being habitually divisive and condemning families who alert others to possible danger to children is serious enough to speak up about. We are prayerful that my sister and her husband will humble themselves, abandon their extreme errant unbiblical views, and begin a new way of life that accepts accountability and brings restoration and healing to the body.
In the meantime, we are convinced (and feel convicted) that to stay silent would be wrong and would further present a danger to families who follow them.
I’m including a helpful link to an article by a friend, Eric Novak. I think it sums up pretty well where the homeschool community needs to grow. How Christian Legalism Creates A Culture of Sexual Abuse