9.03.2011

Pastoral Rape Of Children And Adults – The Assaults Behind The Church Doors – Part III


By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc

You attend a church for twenty years only to find out that your pastor has been sleeping with multiple women in the church. Taking you back in time, approximately 1985, a church in Burien, Washington was teaching the Oneness Pentecostalism Doctrine. According to the pastor, Pastor Donald Barnett, at the Community Chapel and Bible Training Center, he believed and taught his congregation that each person has a spirit of their own, but if they came together as one, their spirits could reach new levels never experienced before, especially when it came to experiencing sexual intimacy with one another, including children.

According to Wikipedia:

Don Barnett preaching
http://www.ccbtc.info/Chapel/BriefHistory.htm
Pastor Donald Burnett
Community Chapel and Bible Training Center was a controversial independent church created in 1967 and pastored by Donald Lee Barnett in which he taught his version of Oneness Pentecostalism. The church eventually grew to a membership of over 3,000 before splitting and losing significant numbers in 1988 because of numerous lawsuits brought against Barnett and others in the church leadership for sexual improprieties. Community Chapel became famous for a practice its leaders advocated known as "spiritual connections." This practice involved seeking intense emotional experiences of love with another person, usually not one's spouse, while dancing together in worship. It was taught at the Chapel that through this experience, Jesus, specially known to the participants as "the glorified Son of Man" because of the teaching of Barnett, was connecting the members of his church together in love as he had always meant them to be.

The outcome of the Oneness Pentecostalism Doctrine was an investigation by the King County Police was created. A major child sexual abuse investigation was initiated not only against the parishioners who participated in using this doctrine, but the pastors who counseled those who were wounded by this doctrine, and the pastors who participated in the sexual acting out with women, men, and children.

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The King County Police conducted over thirty investigations where some of the pastors and parishioners were arrested for crimes that ranged from the non-reporting of child abuse, to child sexual and physical abuse and neglect.

As a Detective assigned to the investigation of the alleged sexual assault(s) allegations, I conducted hundreds of interviews, made approximately twenty-six arrests and saw many men and women go to jail for the above stated reasons. The problem with churches is, sometimes due to the doctrine the parishioners are forced to abide by, the games become high stakes and the children become the ultimate victims.

The investigation was initiated by a mother who had heard of my investigative work in the community and wanted to tell me about a church where the pastors and parishioners were having sex with the children of the congregation.

The investigation took many months and several of the parishioners didn’t want to talk to the law enforcement authorities. The problem was the church began excommunicating those in the church who would not participate in the oneness doctrine. Family members were not allowed to socialize with those who had been excommunicated. The church made the rules and if they were not followed explicitly then the parishioner had to leave the church. Here are some of the rules which they had to live by:

The parishioners were not allowed to watch television; they were not allowed to read newspapers and etc. The Internet had just been discovered and only a few individuals and organizations were using the Internet as a means of communication.

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The effects on the parishioner’s families were out of control and a lot of families were being torn apart. Divorces were a common problem. Suicides and homicides were frequent, and the feelings of depression were something the parishioners and pastors dealt with on a daily basis.

Factions of parishioners who no longer would play by Pastor Barnett’s rules came together and began supporting one another. Those who were divorced found different relationships and some were married shortly after their divorces.

The behaviors of the pastors and parishioners were unconscionable and these sexual predators needed to be held accountable.  The King County Prosecutor’s Office supported my investigation by assigning me a deputy prosecutor by the name of DPA Kate Flack. She was an amazing attorney and instead of being intimidated by the pastor’s and parishioner’s’ attorneys, she took control of the case and did not fall short to the excuses and manipulation attempted by the defense attorneys representing these sexual offenders.

The one murder which I am frequently reminded of is the seven-year-old girl who was taken to a Portland, Oregon motel, where her mother drowned her. The father, a convicted sexual offender, was arrested by me and sentenced to several years in prison for molesting several boys who attended the church.

At the time I began the sexual assaults allegations, the church was strong i.e. they had an attendance of some 4,000 parishioners. When I got through with the sexual assault investigations the church had some 150 parishioners remaining.

The church was located just outside the city of Normandy Park. Some police department officials of Normandy Park attended the church. Upon DPA Flack and I contacting a child victim at the church, their security force came into the interview room where we were talking to the child victim about the sexual offenders and the sexual assaults. They walked into the interview room and grabbed the child and attempted to run down the hall away from me with the child victim. The result- two security officers were arrested for obstruction of justice. The problem with this scenario was-they were both Normandy Park Reserve Police Officers. There was a major conflict of interest by these law enforcement officials, you guessed it.

In the next two years following all of the arrests and convictions, the church sold their facilities to the State of Washington Criminal Justice Training Center. The facilities are where police officers must attend in order to follow the training requirements for police officers; to remain as police officers.

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The community was satisfied with the job the King County Prosecutor’s Office and the King County Police had done. Over the past 25 years, it has taken a long time for those remaining in the community to find a new church to attend.

This is just one of many cases I investigated while assigned to the Special Assault Unit. Child sexual abuse is something that occurs on a daily basis in the community where you live in.  The above church case may have seemed complex, but it wasn’t. It came down to bad people enforcing inappropriate rules so they could have sexual relations with a minor.  

Tomorrow, I will continue to lead you through some more complex sexual assault investigations which will demonstrate that your pastor isn’t the only one who is under the microscope or investigation for allegedly sexually assaulting children. 

Lawrence W. Daly
Forensic Educator, Investigator and Interviewer
“Specializing Nationwide in Investigating Child Sexual Abuse Allegations”

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