Christ Community Chapel provided a written version of this statement published in the Akron Beacon Journal on August 4. Coffey read the statement at a meeting held after church services that day. He prefaced the statement with the following introduction:
Hi everybody, church. Thanks so much for coming. I love this church (inaudible)
I want to tell you a couple things as we get started. First, there will be an opportunity to ask questions, after you’ve read the review, and after you’ve heard the comments that I’ve made, but we will not have a Q&A today. The second thing is, I want you to know that we received this review Tuesday night this week. We promised that we would share the review with you when we got it.
And I tell you that because I want you to know that this is not a response to the Cleveland Scene article or a response to the Akron Beacon Journal. This is a response to a promise that we made to you back in September, when we asked for an independent review. And we want you to have this, and so I’m gonna make comments on what we have found out and how are we responding, and then I’m going to ask Jim Colledge to come up and pray. I’m actually gonna read the comments because I want them to be precise in what I tell you.
Prepared statement full text [PDF]
As a pastor there are some things you only learn through experience. Seminary teaches a lot of things but there’s no course on what to do if your good friend, former missionary and new staff member is arrested in the Philippines and how to respond to allegations of sexual abuse 6000 miles away. The reason we asked for an independent review is we wanted to know the mistakes we made so we can learn from this experience. I’m grateful to Suzanne Johnson for providing us with this review.
Tom Randall was hired on staff at CCC in the Fall of 2013. At the time he was also the Director of World Harvest, a ministry he and his wife Karen started. World Harvest provided funds for different ministries and projects mostly in the Philippines including an orphanage called Sankey Samaritan. There were 32 children who were raised and cared for at Sankey Samaritan and in 2013 the majority were in their late teens. Two months after Tom came to CCC he went over to the Philippines for a mission trip with World Harvest. While he was there he was arrested during a raid on the Sankey Samaritan Orphanage along with two Filipino workers.
The Filipino workers were initially charged with human trafficking. Those charges were dropped however new charges of sexual abuse and contact with the wards of Sankey Samaritan filed. Tom was charged with obstruction. Those charges were subsequently dropped and Tom was released after 22 days in jail in Manila.
After more than 3 years the charges against the Filipino workers were dropped after the prosecution failed to produce witnesses.
WHAT WE LEARNED FROM THE REVIEW
One of our distinctives here at CCC is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” We want to be about justice, mercy and humility. This whole situation has cried out for justice and mercy. Part of the desire for an independent review was to walk through this with humility and be open to what God wanted to teach us.
The first thing we learned was that Sankey Samaritan was governed by a board of directors. World Harvest provided funds but Tom was not on the board and had no official position in the orphanage. That meant that Tom had no legal authority or responsibility over the orphanage but felt a moral responsibility for the well being of the children.
When Tom was arrested, funds from World Harvest, which at that time was completely separate from CCC, were used to secure legal representation for both Tom and the Filipino workers. At the time it was believed there was a legal obligation to provide representation because it was believed the Filipino workers were employees of World Harvest. But because World Harvest only provided funding for the orphanage and Sankey Samaritan was a separate entity there was no legal obligation to provide representation for the workers. That assumption was wrong. When Tom returned from the Philippines in February of 2014 the board of directors of World Harvest asked if CCC would absorb World Harvest as one of the ministries of CCC. The by-laws of World Harvest required the board of directors to find a like-minded ministry to assume all assets and liabilities if World Harvest ever decided to close. In the Fall of 2014 CCC accepted all World Harvest assets and liabilities. Funds continued to be sent over to the Philippines for the young adults of Sankey Samaritan as well as providing representation for the Filipino workers. The money was being wired to an account that unbeknownst to us was accessible to Perfecto Luchavez, one of the accused Filipino workers. This was inexcusable and indefensible.
There were two bombshells revealed in the review. The review found that given probable cause standard abuse likely occurred. I didn’t expect that. Tom has been a friend for a long time. He was our primary source of information. Tom believed the Filipino workers were innocent so I believed the Filipino workers were innocent. I thought the review would bear that out. It didn’t.That means I made and ultimately led many of you to make the horrible mistake of discrediting an accuser. That was wrong and I am very sorry. I realize I blindly trusted Tom because of our history together and my feeling that he had been falsely accused and imprisoned. Only listening to one source of information ended up to be a grave mistake in judgment. There was evidence I overlooked or didn’t see because of that trust. That was a mistake. That means that some of the criticisms that have been leveled at me or at CCC were true and I’m sorry I didn’t listen. Every accuser deserves to be heard and not dismissed and if you or someone you know has had that happen to you I’m really sorry. We are taking steps to reach out to apologize and support the young adults that were not heard and responded to because of our actions and lack of action.
Tom Randall has been a dear friend and someone I have done ministry with for many years so this is the hardest part of what we learned. During the course of the review it also came to light that Tom had falsified emails. Tom created an email of a first-person account when in fact Tom had written the email himself. When confronted Tom admitted he had in fact done so. This was immediately brought to the elders because it was aa clear violation of pastoral ethics. Tom was asked to tender his resignation on June 3rd and a week later the elders accepted his resignation. Tom is no longer a pastor or part of the staff of CCC.
In learning what we have learned we have begun to put next steps in place that we want you to know about. As we have more time to process the information from this review we expect there will be additional next steps – but here is a start.
We want to continue justice and mercy work around the world, but we recognize that it is vital to thoroughly vet and follow up with ministries that work with children to ensure that kids are safe. We are developing improved protocols to that end.
The safety and protection of your kids and any child in our care is a top priority. We have policies in place for our children’s ministry but have and will continue to assess those policies to make sure your children are safe and protected at all times.
This whole situation has heightened our awareness of the people sitting in this room who are victims trauma and abuse. We want to be about healing and restoration because Jesus is about healing and restoration. We want to create opportunities for people to share and heal from abuse trauma that they have gone through. Support groups will be starting shortly aimed at helping people who have experienced abuse.
This whole thing has broken my heart. I’m sorry we didn’t handle it better and I’m sorry I didn’t lead you better as your pastor. I’m grateful to Suzanne Johnson and the many hours she put into this review. We will post the 27-page review on our website because our desire is to be transparent.
Our hope is that even though this is a broken and messy situation that our God who delights in redeeming people and situations will shine through. We are praying for the young adults that have been affected over these past 5 years and we pray for victims here and around the world that have been silenced or afraid to speak out about their pain. We hope that you will join us in praying for them too.