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:
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.
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?