The following correspondence is between Philippines missionary Priscilla Leighton and Christ Community Chapel staff and leaders. Responses are from campus pastor Mark Lile and elder board chair Jim Gaul.
Leighton, who had in March 2019 come forward with her account of being molested by former CCC pastor Tom Randall, initiated the correspondence on Aug 9, 2019, because Christ Community Chapel had still not responded to her.
Priscilla Leighton to CCC staff and leaders (Aug 9, 2019 @ 9:51 AM)
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I beg you to please carve out the time to read my entire email. Please read it with an open heart and mind. Please seriously consider the implications of this knowledge. Understand that knowledge brings responsibility which leads to commitment and actions. Ignorance is a choice you make and has its own set of consequences.
I am deeply concerned that Suzanne Lewis-Johnson did not present the whole truth in her internal review of Tom Randall, the Sankey situation, and CCC. One of many missing pieces is the fact that Tom Randall groomed and then molested me when I was a young teenager.
My entire story became available for public access through the Wartburg Watch on March 27, 2019. Additionally, it was linked on JusticesforSankey.com. Suzanne Lewis-Johnson was informed about my story through a video conversation with my sister, Miriam. Being a former FBI agent, I have confidence in her ability to seek out sources and get the information she wants. When Skyping with my parents, she was also told about Tom’s behavior with me. However, she failed to initiate any form of communication with me. As of today, I have never heard from her. Additionally, she did not seem concerned about Tom’s behavior when talking to my sister, Miriam, and was only interested in whether or not I had ever reported. She willfully choose to ignore Tom’s grooming behaviors. Because she clearly compromised in this area, I must ask what other facts about CCC did she choose to hide to protect the image and well-being of her spiritual leaders and friends.
According to Susane Lewis-Johnsons report, CCC let Tom go in June of 2019 because they discovered emails he had fabricated. I’m concerned that the leaders of CCC allowed an accused child molester to remain on staff, have access to children and speak at events after allegations were made public. I’m concerned that these allegations weren’t taken seriously or even mentioned. Rather, it was the shady emails that were questioned. These actions indicate that CCC is not a safe place for victims and it is not a safe place for children and young teens. If you are a mother, father, or grandparent, attending CCC, let that sink in.
Abuse situations are rarely isolated. Abusers, specifically child groomers/molesters, never have just one. I’m deeply concerned for other young girls who were groomed and possibly molested by Tom. Moreover, I’m grieved that CCC is not a safe place for them to speak out. Look what happened to those who dared to speak the truth about Toto and Jake (accused child molesters). The reaction of CCC to the allegation of abuse at Sankey made me fearful of speaking the truth about Tom. If information just about Tom’s friends was not even received by CCC, how intimidating and terrifying it is to bring forth information about Tom himself.
It is with humility and embarrassment that I share my story. It brings me no joy. My only goal in sharing something so personal is that it will ignite change in systems, churches, attitudes, and people. My hope is that these changes will protect future victims and make Christian communities a safe place for children and teens, rather than a safe place for predators.
I understand that CCC appears interested in offering an apology to some advocates and victims surrounding the Sankey situation. Apologies are nice. But actions speak louder than words. It is critical that CCC asks an independent, 3rd party team, trained in abuse situations, to bring their professional help to the church and those affected. Hiring GRACE (Goldy Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) https://www.netgrace.org/ would be a start. Following recommendation for restoration published by professionals trained in abuse situations would be the fruits of repentance. Yes, this is hard. very hard. But we can do hard things with Christ and for Christ.
My Story- (please read)
I first remember Tom Randall from when I was about 10 years old (1991). He was a missionary who became a close friend of my father, Joe Mauk. As my parents’ close friend, Tom and Karen showed great interest in me and my sisters. But not all of us and not consistently. He showed us the greatest interest when we were teenagers. So, over all, we are talking about 20+ years of friendship between the Mauks and Randalls.
Being overseas missionaries in the Philippines, we did not have relatives nearby. However, unlike other many other missionary families, we never called people “Aunt” and “Uncle” who were not a sibling of my parents. I clearly remember the day that my parents met with us and we unanimously decided to call Mr and Mrs Randall, Uncle Tom and Aunt Karen. My family has no one else that close who bears that honour. Though everyone calls Uncle Tom, “Uncle Tom”, for our family, it was an honour only given to him.
My family’s ministries was two hours away from the missionary school that my sisters and I attended. It was a long ride over mountain roads. To help with the commute, we spent every Tuesday night with Uncle Tom and Aunt Karen. Aunt Karen was loving and practical, and so much like my mom. She was my mom’s best friend.
Tom and Karen were ministry partners with my Dad. They donated money to finish building “The Villa” at Caliriya. Half of the top floor was my family’s house, and the other half was Tom and Karen’s. The plan was that they would eventually spend more and more time out there.
Around this time, Uncle Tom started Sankey Samaritan Children’s Home. I remember by name and face the first kids to join. My mom and I would make regular trips to the home. And Uncle Tom was always having groups of westerners over to help with the orphanage. Interestingly, I clearly recall that Tom’s reason for starting the orphanage was so that he would have a place to bring short term missionaries. Tom always did short term projects and there was some concern about him diving into something long term. I also remember how odd it was when we were no longer welcomed at the orphanage; eventually we stopped going entirely. But this isn’t about the orphanage. It’s about Tom and me.
We spent Christmases together and Uncle Tom was always good for an adventure and great story. My parents had even told us that if they were do die, we would go to Tom and Karen. They were our Guardians. He would joke about my older sister, who’s a nurse, taking care of him in retirement. He also just loved to buy me things. I think it’s safe to say he bought me whatever I wanted. When I was 12 and still getting to know him, he bought me a horse. I still remember the day that Dutches came to me in the back of a truck. But, Tom most especially loved to take me shopping. In 7th grade, the sister closest to me left the Philippines for college. Tom would make a fuss about her being beautiful and loved to buy her clothes too. As I grew older, his attention towards me intensified. He had a picture of me that he carried around in his wallet. I remember thinking that was kind of odd. Then he added a picture of Aunt Karen to the other side of his wallet. Friends from school would tell me they met uncle Tom and he showed them my picture in his wallet and he really liked me. He called me “his princess” and was always complimenting my appearance. Since Uncle Tom didn’t have kids of his own, it seemed wonderful that he would treat me like a “daughter”. Though really, our relationship was not father-daughter at all.
In high school Uncle Tom and Aunt Karen moved back to America, but still frequently visited the Philippines. He took me shopping for school clothes and I always had to try on the clothes for him to see.
When they were still living in the Philippines, I remember a girl my age (teenager) came to stay with him and Karen. She was from Australia and had a beautiful singing voice. She was also his princess and she and I hit it off. I think I felt connected to her because he called her “Princess,” too.
One Christmas, my sister gave me a push-up bra. Tom thought that was interesting and made a few jokes about it. Later that week we were walking along and he pulled open my shirt and looked down. I pulled away and said “Hey…. what are you doing?” He said that he was just checking what kind of bra I was wearing. I thought that was weird, but since he was such an amazing man, I thought it was okay.
My parents were very strict with me and boys. I was never allowed to be alone with a boy and boys were never allowed in my room.
When I was a freshman in High School, just my little sister and I were making the two hour commute to school with our driver. One morning, our driver tried passing on a hairpin turn and hit a jeepney full on. My knee crashed into my sternum and I felt like I was going to die. Our driver flagged down a jeepney and laid me on the floor. He took us to a “hospital” and called my parents. Uncle Tom happened to be visiting and immediately came to the rescue. Because we were Americans, some of the hospital people tried to keep us in and started claiming additional charges. Uncle Tom paid everyone off and got us out fast.
He was so worried about us. I was in a lot of pain from the crash. My sternum hurt. Uncle Tom was very into massages. Because he was sporty, it seemed logical they he knew about injuries and massages. He insisted on giving a series “medical massages,” as he called them. I did not like this idea at all. It made me very uncomfortable, but it seemed like what was necessary for healing. He was allowed in my room and would close the door all but an inch. My bed was behind the door. Before coming in he would tell me to take off my bra and prepare myself. I laid face-up while he massaged my stomach and chest under my t-shirt. I felt terribly uncomfortable but thought it was normal. I had never had a massage before so this must be what they are like, and people just love massages. He massaged around and around my breasts, touching everything but my nipple- therefore I thought nothing was wrong.
I never really thought about that again until 5 years ago when things came out about the orphanage. I was talking with my sisters wondering how Uncle Tom could allow something like that to happen. Then I reflected that as an adult (32 years old then, now I’m 37), I have had dozens of massages, and not once did a massage person touch me like Tom did. So, I told my sister for the first time. Then I told my Dad. He later told me that what made it even worse was Tom had asked his permission to give me a ‘medical massage’ and he had said yes. He had no idea that Tom told me to take off my bra etc etc.
Anyway, Uncle Tom continued to be a very special person. He gave me money for my prom dress and jewelry. Another time my best friend and I were going to a school party and getting all dressed up. He rented a hotel room for us to spend the night with him after the party. And we did. My friend and I drank way too much iced tea at the party. We were up giggling in bed and needing to pee a million times. We wondered if he was awake in bed too and were very aware of his presence. It was uncomfortable but we got to stay in a really nice hotel room and only got to do that because of him.
I soon went off to college. That’s when our relationship ended. After all the attention, affirmation, and money, Uncle Tom was not interested in me anymore. I just didn’t understand it. I clearly remember my 3rd year of college. He was playing golf in Ventura. My husband (boyfriend at the time) and I went to watch him play golf. We actually got engaged the following weekend. I was so excited to see Tom and could not wait for him to hang out with my boyfriend and thought he would be so happy for us. However, he didn’t seem that happy to see us. In fact, it oddly felt like a break up. He told me that he had lots of princesses. Being the chaplain, he was giving a talk that night on the validity of scripture. He said he would introduce me to the group and I needed to introduce myself as Uncle Tom’s favorite princess. He said everyone would think that was funny because he had so many. I felt sick and couldn’t explain why.
After getting engaged, our parents and us agreed to have Uncle Tom officiate our wedding. He was our closest family friend. Then I never really saw him again. My husband and I bought a house in Chino California and soon had two kids. Tom was often preaching at a church 20 minutes from my house. I couldn’t fathom why he wouldn’t tell me he was there and never wanted to see me or my kids. Certainly a close family friend, my Dad’s best friend, would let me know when he was 20 minutes away. One time my Dad told me what services he was speaking at and said I could try to catch him. I didn’t want to. He had clearly cut me off. I decided that he was my Dad’s best friend and under no obligation to be nice to me.
In June of 2013, my little sister (Miriam Bongolan) got married. Of course, Uncle Tom was asked to officiate her wedding. It was just months later that the whole thing with Sankey broke out. Understanding how close he was to our family should paint a picture of how serious it was. Tom was our everything- the family we never had on the mission field, the friend my Dad desperately needed, the provider of gifts and treats we’d never be able to afford on a missionary salary, the relative who showed-up to make holidays special, my spiritual hero- always there to save the day and give God the glory for it. I have nothing to gain by sharing this, but plenty to lose.
I sincerely thank you for taking the time to read this. Again, please seriously consider the implications of this knowledge. Understand that knowledge brings responsibility which leads to commitment and actions. And who knows, maybe you were born for such a time as this.
Priscilla (Mauk) Leighton
Mark Lile to Priscilla Leighton (Aug 9, 2019 @ 1:00 PM)
Sent from my iPhone
Jim Gaul to Priscilla Leighton (Aug 15, 2019 @ 5:02 PM)
It is with great sadness that I reply to you regarding your email sent this past Friday, August 9.
The Elders and I take this matter seriously and want to acknowledge your pain in what has been a very difficult time. We are in the process of taking steps to evaluate what we should have done before, what we can do now and what we will do going forward to remain vigilant about such issues.
There are a few things I can share with you now:
Upon learning of your experiences, we reported the matter to the local bureau of the FBI for investigation. It is up to them how they proceed and they will have our full support in any next steps they take.
We are re-evaluating our internal processes regarding the partners with whom we affiliate to better understand their backgrounds and mission in support of God’s work. Appropriate changes will be engaged as they are identified.
As you know, Tom Randall is no longer employed by or affiliated with CCC.
We are saddened at what you have relayed and in no way condone any such actions. They simply have no place in this world and we are concerned for your well being moving forward.
Thank you for sharing this information with us and please let me know if there is anything you need from us at this time.
Elder Chair, CCC