Vincent Daniel Lavello, a 50-year-old Calvary Chapel West Grove volunteer church leader, was arrested and charged with one felony count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a child at least 10 years younger than the defendant and six felony counts of lewd acts upon a child, according to Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
According to police reports, the victim is a 14-year-old girl.
OC Weekly broke the story here: http://blogs.ocweekly.com/navelgazing/2014/11/vincent_daniel_lavello_calvary_chapel_child_sex.php
According to the OC Weekly report, it was Lavello’s wife who first became aware of the alleged sexual abuses and then she went to the Calvary Chapel West Grove pastor and reported her allegations, including “inappropriate text messages.”
The article states that the Calvary Chapel West Grove pastor immediately contacted the police.
CalvaryChapelAbuse.com contacted lead pastor Brad Young. He confirmed that he did report the matter to authorities right away and did not try to handle it in-house. When asked if his Calvary Chapel franchise had Child Protection Policies in place, his reply was “of course we do” but he was hesitant to discuss the matter further stating he wasn’t excited about another article coming out about this situation.
If you have any information about Vincent Lavello you are asked to contact Garden Grove Police Detective Dave Young at 714.741.5836 or Supervising District Attorney Investigator Kelly Core at 714.347.8794.
CalvaryChapelAbuse.com Commentary and Opinion:
Terrible tragedy, too common among church “leaders” and volunteers…we see this happen far too frequently in Calvary Chapel as well as other Church Organizations like the Roman Catholic Church and even institutions like Penn State University.
The message here is: It’s not a matter of “if” there are criminals and sexual abusers in our midst in the halls of church “leadership”…it is “when” will they offend…and is that church and the rest of the leadership there doing the best they can to protect kids from these predators.
In this case, from initial reports, it looks like Calvary Chapel West Grove and their pastor did what they should…they reported to the police right away. This is in stark contrast to the Elizabeth Ayub statutory rape by then Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa pastor John Flores….where leadership there, according to inside sources, first wanted to handle the crime in-house and send the teen girl to the Calvary Chapel castle in Austria and make things go away. This example of immediate reporting is also contrasted by reports from the victims’ family that Bob Grenier of Calvary Chapel Visalia was made aware that an employ of his was molesting his two step-daughters. According to the victims and family, Grenier told them not to go to police and attempted to handle the matter in-house…which is against the laws of mandatory reporting by clergy. Fortunately, the mother eventually reported to police, the step-father copped to the molestations and the family was able to make eventual amends. The family reports that Calvary Chapel Pastor Grenier essentially kicked them out of church for not submitting to his authority on the matter by going to police.
Good job Calvary Chapel West Grove for immediately reporting the sexual crime. Unfortunately, the mindset in many Calvary Chapels is still to handle things in-house and to not immediately report, which is now a crime due to Mandatory Reporting laws. It is my opinion that Pastors like Grenier and others tried to cover up the scandal because they believe it would affect the reputation of their church and attendance and giving if it was found out that such a crime occurred at the hands of one of their leaders, staff, volunteers or pastors. Could it also be that pastors who don’t report are themselves guilty of abuse? Either way, it is very wrong.
Again, I call on the Calvary Chapel Association, the Body that hands out the official “Affiliation” to Calvary Chapel Pastors to use the name and logo rights owned and controlled by Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and Chuck Smith’s Estate…to implement Mandatory Child Protection Policies as By-Laws in prospective Calvary Chapel franchises/affiliates. Why is this not required? Why does Calvary Chapel continue to leave it to the individual franchise holders to make up their own rules with regards to Child Protection Policies…yet requires the same franchisees to sign off on other rules regarding doctrinal agreement, agreement to follow the rules of the Calvary Chapel Distinctives, etc?
Good examples are out there. Calvary Chapel Boise, for instance, has solid Child Protection Policies in place and maintains and executes a policy of reporting alleged abuses immediately to the authorities. Calvary Chapel Boise also background checks all volunteers, employs, pastors, leaders etc. screening for child abuse, sexual abuse, felonies etc. I have had a lengthy discussion with Pastor Bob Caldwell about what he would do in the case of a report/allegation/accusation of Child Abuse at his Calvary Chapel franchise…he told me he would take the matter seriously and would report immediately to local authorities and not try to handle such a matter in-house…no matter who was accused.
Pastor Young did the right thing by immediately reporting. I understand his hesitance and not wanting to discuss the matter and draw more attention to a bad situation…however, the story needs to be told and lessons need to be learned. This stuff does happen and, unfortunately, other CC Pastors have a history of doing the wrong thing when it does happen. Pastors, like it or not, you are on the front lines of this stuff. Most folks will seek YOU out as their pastor first, instead of the authorities. It is your job to have a plan of how to deal with these matters and to deal with them lawfully and correctly.
May Calvary Chapel find Accountability Jesus in this important area, Organization wide.