Jun 242012

In a Bombshell lawsuit sent to CalvaryChapelNews.com, attorneys for the defense invoke the “doctrine of ecclesiastical abstention” due to Calvary Chapel’s “ecclesiastical hierarchical structure” which they say, includes CCOF, which is the licensing arm of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa (and Chuck Smith is president of CCOF per IRS documents). According to the suit, Calvary Chapel believed the court had “no jurisdiction” in ruling on what Calvary Chapel called “an internal affair” that should be handled by the church, not the courts.

Citing a “disciplinary and restoration process”, the defense argued that the Court could not be involved in hearing the matter at hand without getting itself inter-mingled with church doctrine, beliefs and practices.

The lawsuit has been described as “incredible” and a “bombshell” with regards to two current Child Molestation lawsuits against Calvary Chapel that are currently pending in the Idaho Court System.

Chuck Smith has made public statements recently that Calvary Chapel “has no control, has exercised no control” and “has no responsibility” for other “100 percent independent” Calvary Chapel Affiliates. Smith and his surrogates have further claimed that they have no authority and “have never gotten involved” in individual Calvary Chapel Affiliate matters. The Arizona lawsuit seems to indicate otherwise.

At issue with the Calvary Chapel Child Molestation lawsuits is the doctrine of Agency and Implied Agency according to legal experts who have spoken with CalvaryChapelNews.com. If the plaintiffs in the Calvary Chapel Child Molestation lawsuits can prove that there is a connection between CCCM/CCOF and the so-called “100 percent independent” Calvary Chapel Affiliates, then the doctrine of Implied/Apparent Agency is in play and Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and CCOF have responsibility in doing the most they can to protect children in their 2,000 Affiliate Calvary Chapel System.

Currently, Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa (and their attorneys) deny any liability and any responsibility for what goes on in their 2,000 Affiliated churches…and have stated recently in phone calls, interviews and an in-person meeting with Chuck Smith, Dave Rolph and Attorney Janet Carter that Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and CCOF “have never gotten involved” with matters affecting other CC’s and have never tried to influence or control issues that have gone on in other Calvary Chapels.

Link to the Arizona Lawsuit Docs here:

Arizona Lawsuit: CC defense proves “ecclesiastical hierarchical structure” and direct link to CCOF/CCCM “disciplinary and restoration process” with regards to what Chuck Smith calls “100 percent independent” Calvary Chapel Affiliate

“Statement of Facts” from CC defense showing CCOF as an active authority in Affiliate CC matters, despite Chuck Smith’s claims to the contrary

 Posted by at 5:08 pm
Jun 242012

Chuck Smith, founder of Calvary Chapel, president of CCOF per IRS documents and pastor/president of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa’s attorneys claim no connection between CCCM and CCOF to their other Affiliates in the Calvary Chapel System according to a Child Molestation lawsuit currently pending in the Idaho Court System.

The Child Molestation lawsuit alleges that four boys (now young men) were molested by a Calvary Chapel employ/volunteer, Anthony Iglesias, who they met through Calvary Chapel Youth Groups while attending their local Calvary Chapels. The suit alleges that Iglesias had a history of pedophilia and that this was known by Calvary Chapel. The suit goes on to claim that Iglesias was removed from being with children for a period of approximately 6 months and then “restored” to ministry with children after some sort of disciplinary time-out process. Iglesias continued to meet children through his Calvary Chapel positions as Youth Leader and went on to molest more victims, according to the suit.

Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and CCOF (the licensing arm which grants the rights to Affiliated Calvary Chapel pastors to utilize the CCCM owned Calvary Chapel name and Dove logo and rights to claim an official connection to Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and attend the official CC Senior Pastor’s Conferences, etc) are claiming there is “no connection” between what many in what has been described as the “non-denomination Denomination’s Mothership” CCCM and the other Calvary Chapels. According to former Calvary Chapel lawyers, and seconded by leading Child Abuse Advocates like Kelly Clark, this legal strategy is due to the issue of Agency and liability for Chuck Smith’s Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa/CCOF with regards to the actions and abuses of other Affiliated Calvary Chapels.

Following is a document sent to an Affiliated Calvary Chapel pastor by Paul Smith, Chuck Smith’s brother, who was the head of CCOF at the time of the action. The letter is dated December 7, 2007, well after the dates of the molestations tied to the lawsuit:

CCOF Letter 12/7/2007

Sources close to Calvary Chapel state the CCCM/CCOF and Paul Smith kept “files” regarding many of the Calvary Chapel actions they were directly involved in with many Affiliated Calvary Chapels. Currently, CCCM/CCOF require an “Agreement” according to their website at http://www.ccofministry.org between a prospective affiliated Calvary Chapel Senior Pastor and CCCM/CCOF and there is an “application process” that is reviewed and either accepted or denied by Calvary Chapel to get the rights to be an official Calvary Chapel and participate as a Calvary Chapel in CC sponsored events and ministries.

According to Chuck Smith’s recent public proclamations here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4yE6p1WgNM and here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6ydHm_lwKs

In the audio clips above, Chuck Smith states that Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and CCOF have “no control” and “no responsibility” for the other “100% independent” Calvary Chapels in the System. However, the actions of involvement between CCCM/CCOF in licensing who is and who isn’t “official” Calvary Chapel Senior Pastor representatives of the Brand and the history of getting directly involved with many “100% independent” Calvary Chapel situations by CCCM/CCOF is proof, according to former CC lawyers and current Child Abuse advocates, that Chuck Smith is attempting a strategy to dodge any legal liability for the Movement/Organization he created and still benefits from financially (as do his heirs and successors).

These issues raise a lot of legal questions, but even more importantly according to many, they raise a lot of spiritual questions about integrity in the pulpit and whether a church historical figure like Chuck Smith is finishing well or is setting a bad example for future Calvary Chapel pastors.

The Jerry Sandusky and Penn State molestation case seems to be showing that the “world” takes more responsibility and shows more care for the victims of child molestation within an Organization than does the “church”…at least in this example by Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel. Instead of doing the most to dodge responsibility and to limit liability, I personally would expect a “man of God” like Chuck Smith to want to do the most to protect children in his Movement and to help these victims of molestation as much as he can before he dies of cancer.

What would Jesus do?

 Posted by at 11:58 am
Jun 232012

Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and CCOF are still battling a Child Molestation Lawsuit in Idaho. Chuck Smith's lawyers are attempting to get one of the two pending lawsuits dismissed, claiming they have "no connection" to other Calvary Chapels.

from CDAPress.com:

COEUR d’ALENE – Attorneys for Pastor Robert “Bob” Davis of North Country Chapel in Post Falls and the California-based parent church Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa asked a judge Thursday to dismiss a lawsuit filed against them alleging a failure to protect children from a sexual predator.

The lawsuit, filed in August 2011 in 1st District Court, names four men as plaintiffs who said they were sexually abused as teenagers in 2000 to 2003 by a man who was known to have targeted boys in the past.

The lawsuit names the perpetrator as Anthony L. Iglesias, who is currently being held in a Boise prison because of convictions in Kootenai County for lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor. Iglesias was in his early 20s when he allegedly had sexual contact with the four boys. The alleged victims today are in their early 20s.

A separate and previous lawsuit names North Country Chapel and Calvary Rathdrum as defendants, saying Iglesias provided youth services for both institutions while targeting the boys. That case is pending.

Also named in the newer lawsuit, and asking the court for dismissal, is Calvary Chapel Outreach Fellowship, which like Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa is based in Santa Ana, Calif. Calvary Chapel Outreach Fellowship affiliates new pastors and churches to the Calvary Chapel family of churches.

District Court Judge Benjamin Simpson didn’t rule on the requests for dismissal following arguments from the defendants’ attorneys and Coeur d’Alene attorney Leander James, who represents the four alleged victims in the two church cases.

Pastor Bob Davis’ attorney, Virginia McNulty Robinson, called allegations “absurd” that Davis withheld Iglesias’ criminal sexual past from members of North Country Chapel while Iglesias was working in the church’s youth ministry.

The lawsuit said Iglesias had been charged as a teenage juvenile in California with having sexual contact with a younger boy. It said he was removed from youth ministry for a Calvary Chapel church in Diamond Bar, Calif., at the time due to that charge.

It also said he had sexual contact with multiple underage teenage boys while working as an adult missionary in Thailand.

Attorney Randall Adams, representing Calvary Chapel Outreach Fellowship, said, “The plaintiffs are stretching to keep the deep pockets in this lawsuit.”

Adams said there is no evidence of a connection between his client or Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and the four alleged victims or Iglesias. He said the two don’t operate in Idaho, and had no information about Iglesias’ past before the alleged abuse of the four boys.

Adams also said the alleged victims brought their claims too late.

James blamed the defendants’ actions for the delay in filing the lawsuit.

James said the lawsuit is about protecting children and holding people accountable who don’t.

He said Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and Outreach Fellowship and Pastor Davis had a policy and practice described as “restoration,” in which they help people like Iglesias turn their lives around.

James said forgiving others is fine, but letting people like Iglesias who commit crimes work in youth ministry is negligent and puts children at risk. Not telling parents of Iglesias’ work at the church is concealment, he said.

Adams said, “Mr. James has a distorted definition of restoration.”

Robinson said there is no evidence that Davis preached restoration or supported the policy.

Link to article here: http://www.cdapress.com/news/local_news/article_f07839bf-2a24-50fa-9282-5dd30f421690.html

 Posted by at 11:44 am
Jun 112012

CC Pastors worshipping at CCSPC 2012. A positive shift is occurring in Calvary Chapel Land. Photo from Pastor Pat Sieler's twitter feed.

“This conference also featured seminars on financial accountability and protection for children and abuse reporting requirements…one long time senior pastor told me there was more focus on accountability in this conference than the ten previous ones put together.” –Michael Newnham, PhoenixPreacher.net

AWESOME! (sorry for the turrets outburst 🙂 )

This blog isn’t here without Michael Newnham and PhoenixPreacher.net.

We’ve had our disagreements and he has consistently encouraged me to change my style etc. and drove home the message that we open more ears and get more done toward good changes or reinforcing good things in CC by being more diplomatic and gracious than by being Hulk (Hulk smash!).

In other words, Relationships and Loving Criticism, rather than Hammers and Wrecking Balls.

Michael’s done a good job of exampling the former in recent years, rather than the latter.

What’s the point? People in CC ARE listening. There is a noticeable shift in direction and Leaders in the Movement are stepping up and leading…and the result, IMO, is that a sort of Good Split and Separation is occurring. The Good Guys are following the lead of the Good Guys…while some others who don’t like the New Direction and new responsible and Godly tone, are fighting it tooth and nail.

Great. It draws a distinction between what is good in CC and what is bad in CC…and my hope (our hope) is that the Good in CC will continue…and grow…and that the bad (the cancer…and not meaning CS, just a metaphor) will be cut out and separated and not taint and tarnish the whole Movement.

Let’s encourage the “good” and call out the “bad”. There is much to get behind (in a positive way) in what I’m hearing reported out of Brodersen’s/Laurie’s CC direction.

Link to the article on PhoenixPreacher.net here: http://phoenixpreacher.net/?p=12572

 Posted by at 9:26 am
Jun 092012

I have been an ardent critic of Calvary Chapel (for good reasons). The Panel Discussion above is good. This year’s CCSPC 2012 was good (in general). The direction and the emphasis seems to be constructive and more responsible. Leaders lead. This is good leadership in my opinion.

There are still things that can and should be done, but we’ve got to rejoice (and encourage) the good stuff and the good emphasis that does get done. There is a New Generation coming up in Calvary Chapel Land and from what I heard from some of the Lesser Names (from twitter feeds etc.)…plus the fact lesser names and younger guys were given a platform…was very refreshing.

The Big Guys, like the panel above, reinforced what looks to be a positive change in the Movement. I am, personally, cautiously optimistic.

Brian Brodersen may not be Chuck Smith (no one is)…and he may not be “the” guy…but this segment is good leadership personified in a very balanced and humble approach. I hope it’s contagious. It has the effect of putting wet blankets on fires and gives me a bit of hope that things in CC Land will improve so less people are negatively affected.

The other value to these types of discussions made public is that it “is” transparent and speaks directly to some issues and you get to hear it from the horses’ mouths. I would encourage CC Leaders to take this approach in the future. Explain your reasons for doing things. Answer questions and speculations that are out there, etc. Don’t put up Stone Walls…deal with the stuff (like these guys did in the example above).

Now if we can get some sort of Accountability Clause or mechanism (mandatory mediation) in the Affiliation/Fellowship Agreement, Transparency in Finances and a Standard List of Recommendations for a Child Safety Policy CC-wide, I would be a happy camper 🙂 …and Calvary Chapel would be better for it.


 Posted by at 6:21 am