Saturday, March 31, 2012

3 Letters (18)

The next several days were spent trying desperately to keep my emotions under control. All I wanted to do was scream. The pangs of betrayal, confusion and out-of-control rage was  becoming harder and harder to tolerate. I made a call to my church. I desperately needed to speak with Derrick; I needed some help and perspective.  Although my therapist was willing to listen to my rantings I found her to be less than helpful. I needed a two way conversation, someone that was going to reply to my words and offer encouragement and coping tips in order to get through the daily torture of confusion, rage, and unfathomable pain.  It wasn’t fair to Amy to make her listen me endlessly talk and try to process the agony I was in.

The next Friday was a tight schedule. I had booked a session with my therapist at 9:30 in the morning and a meeting with Derrick across town at 11:00. I was beginning to think driving an hour and half to Colorado Springs from Denver for therapy was a waste of time and effort. I spent the time in her office describing the pain and torture I was going through, and reflected back at me from the therapists face was a blank stare then, every 30 seconds or so, she would tap the spacebar on her desktop computer. I still wonder why she did that, it seemed to be a very pavlovian thing to do.

After my session, with the emotionless, empty, unhelpful drone, I got into my car and sped across town hoping to find some help and comfort in the one place I felt the most unsafe--a church.

I opened the glass doors and walked into the office reception area as Derrick handed me a steaming cup of freshly brewed coffee. “How are you?” I asked. As we walked into his office, he began to talk about some of the struggles he was going through as pastor of a vibrant and growing mid-sized church. Next, it was my turn to tell the story of the last several weeks.  He listened intently and gave feedback at appropriate places throughout (a stark contrast to the previous hour).

“I have come to know that AFB is now working as an assistant pastor of a church up the road from here,” I reported.

Disbelief and shock swept over Derrick’s face.

“I’m worried he may be up to his old tricks, using his influence and authority to do what he did to me on other innocent young children,” I said. “We must protect the children regardless of how I feel about AFB. The leader of that church needs to know.”

I left the meeting reassured that Derrick would be my proxy and call the pastor of the other church in an effort to arrange a meeting and ensure that AFB was not around children or doing any damage to them. (I really don’t think I could live with myself if I allowed that to happen.) The other pastor needed to know what his employee had done and possibly was doing.

Talking with my counselor and Derrick that day, did exactly what it was supposed to do. I was able to release some of the pent up energy and verbalize my intimate thoughts and fears in a safe environment. The next several weeks came and went with no word. I was growing fearful and anxious that I was being ignored by the other pastor and the likelihood that AFB was abusing other children was growing in my mind. If he wasn't going to answer Derrick’s calls for a face to face meeting, I was going to take the initiative.  Driving back to Denver from going to church in Colorado Springs one Sunday afternoon, I decided the other pastor needed to know who was working for him, and he needed to know right away. All I could hear in my head was the screaming of multiple children being raped by AFB. When my family and I got home, I set out to research where AFB lived. Based on some key information from the news articles that were sent to me a few months ago I had his current address within ten minutes of internet research. My wife wrote the letter and I signed my name to it. I agreed with everything it said and I couldn’t have put it better. If I had written the letter, it most certainly would be dripping with profanity and hate. My words would not have given me the result that I was looking for.

May 22, 2011

Dear Pastor _______,
Colorado Springs, Co

l am reaching out to you regarding a sensitive matter involving your associate, AFB. It is my understanding that AFB holds a leadership position within your organization, and that you may not be aware of AFB’s past behavior which could potentially put your organization at risk.

I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse perpetrated by AFB. When I was fifteen  years old and my family was attending his church in Longmont, CO, I suffered several months of abuse at the church after school when seeking counseling after my father died. I am only one of AFB‘s victims; however, I feel that I was probably one of the more severe cases. This was many years ago, well past the statute of limitations, and at the time, it was too taboo to speak out—l didn't even tell my mother. Subsequently, there were criminal charges brought against AFB by other victims resulting in minimal jail time for AFB.

You may or may not be aware of AFB’s past criminal history because by the time criminal charges were brought against him by other victims in 2002, it was also past the statute of limitations, and the one prosecutable case was minor. AFB did not have to register as a sex offender and made a plea deal reducing the sentence to a misdemeanor. I have enclosed several articles from the Longmont Times Call newspaper for your review. You may also contact the Longmont Police Department directly for additional information.

As a consequence of AFB’s actions, I have been on a healing journey, but my resulting hurt has affected my life, my marriage, my children, and my ministry. My goal is not to punish or in any way bring harm to AFB. My goal is to make you aware of the situation so that you can make your own best judgment moving forward, and to hopefully prevent any further hurts to others. I believe in the awesome gift of forgiveness and the restoring power of Jesus. I also believe that God gives us wisdom.

I am sending AFB a copy of this letter as well, so he has full knowledge of all I have said, and so you know that I am not trying conceal anything or make false accusations. I have not seen nor spoken to AFB since 1989, and I was not involved in the case against him 2002. I have not sought anything from AFB, nor am I looking for anything from AFB.
If you have any questions or would like any information from me, you may contact me at any of the contacts listed at the top of the letter. I am also open to a face to face meeting.

Thank you for taking the time to prayerfully consider this matter.

With a deep breath, I licked the last envelope and placed 3 letters into the mailbox. I sent one letter to the church where AFB worked, one to his home address and one to Derrick. I walked back into the house, curled into a tight ball and wept. I wondered how to break into the locked mailbox and retrieve the letters.

This set into motion a chain of events I could not have predicted until they happened.  All at once I was overcome by fear and regret while simultaneously feeling joy that I would be confronting my tormentor and justifying my months of misery.  The anticipation with every day’s awaited response created new feelings of insecurity and confidence.  I was a double-minded man, but I thought I had the breakthrough I needed to finally recover.

Little things set me off in either a torrent of joy or anger.  I laughed too loudly and I yelled too much.  My family was experiencing whiplash from the constant mood swings, and I thought I was finally getting better.  I was proud that I let the letter go out in its simpler, less violent format, but at the same time I wanted venom to course through the ink on the page and inflict as much devastation to AFB as possible.  I sent the letter to his house because I wanted him to know that I knew where he was and I wanted him to feel the pain--to remember his transgressions, to pay for his sins.  The words forgiveness and restoring power burned my mind like a molten hot poker sealing my lies.  I did want to punish him.  I thought by saying the words in the letter it would help me feel differently--it would lead me to that place that Derrick kept reminding me I needed to go--forgiveness. -- Fuck that!

A new darkness of unfathomable vulnerability engulfed me.  I struggled to think that my hatred for this man was consuming me and pushing me to an abyss that I did not want to enter.  I thought my exterior was concealing the cauldron of bitterness and hate swirling inside me.  The gravity of the reality of what I had done in simply mailing three letters was drawing me closer to that deep abyss.

It had been a couple of weeks and the anticipation of not knowing was eating me like little white maggots feasting on rotting putrid flesh.  I popped into Derrick’s office to get an update.  Derrick’s eyes were moist with tears.  “Brother, I was just going to call you.  I just got off the phone with AFB’s pastor.  He got the letter.”


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