I attended Pearl Kim’s presentation in the afternoon. Pearl is the assistant DA in Delaware county. She works on SVU cases. I did not take notes during this presentation due to her excellent PPT and visuals (video clips, case materials). Sadly, she did not want her talk recorded so I cannot forward anything to readers. But, here are some important takeaways:
1. Abusers almost always “find Jesus” while awaiting sentencing. Pearl believes one of her many cases was in fact true. How does she know? This person asked her to give him the maximum sentence so he could get help and so he would not be able to abuse others. She commented on another convicted offender (rapist, attempted murder) who claimed to have found Jesus and even acknowledged that if it hadn’t been for Pearl’s work, he might not have stopped his behavior. However, this offender continued to violate an order of protection by mailing letters to the victim from jail. His refusal to obey a protection order suggests he is less than repentant.
2. Churches are too gullible. Repentance is not in a few words and tears (also mentioned by Diane). Recognize that the average! number of abuse victims for an offender before first arrest is about 50 with about 150 before incarceration.
3. Allow the legal system to do its job. While not perfect, the legal system is designed to work with victims and offenders. When churches try to determine truth (rather than reporting the possible abuse), they may make it impossible for an offender to be convicted. It is easy to contaminate a case, especially when child victims are involved.
4. Churches can do some good things: background checks for all childcare workers, policies for ministry leaders and their time with vulnerable parishioners, making the church a safe place.