Justice is Coming
These last few years, I have silently begun to work on myself, to regain my humanity from the angry animal I once was. I have begun to ask myself, "how can I put the rage, the triggers, the flashbacks and all that comes with it to the side, and find out what it means to be a normal human? What does it mean to be someone other than a bleeding hulk of fleshy fury?" These last few years, I have become less focused on the details of the abuse and what circumstances caused me to be prey. As a result, I have been able to calm down. I think I know all I care to know. It was abuse, it was purely sexual, it was rape. it was ritualistic, religious and evil. It took place over several years. Wayne Pendelton did not feel remorse for his actions and New Creation Church was complicit in allowing this to occur. The final thing I have learned is that it wasn't just once. It wasn't just a few times, it was week after week, month after month, year after year, totaling at least (by my calculations) over ONE HUNDRED TIMES!!
I now know that it was the refusal of my mother to guide me into adulthood that caused the abuse to occur. It was her refusal to listen, to advise, to form a relationship with me during my childhood. It was her fear that without a male rolemodel in my life that I would become what she viewed as a homosexual abomination and I would be damned to eternal hell. This opened the door for the monster behind the aluminum curtain to use his power and influence against me.
These revelations are difficult to know, and to be sure, it has taken me a very long time to calm down. Rage was my driving emotion. Rage at the act, rage at the neglect of those who promised and failed to care for me, rage at those who promised and failed to protect me. Rage at my biological family, my church family, and the leadership that looked the other way as I walked into the building, walked past the offices and into AFB's clutches.
I have written about some of these times here in gory detail, and how I have tried to cope with each new detail, each new sensation and each shocking recovered memory. These things should never have happened! I can only say that if I could forget the whole thing and go back to amnesia, block it all out of my memory I would do it in less than a heartbeat.
It wasn't just me that suffered these last few years as I learned of the horror of my abuse. My family suffered as well; my wife, my children, my relationships with others and more that I may not even be able to name. They suffered as I tried to heal, as I tried to comprehend the incomprehensible. They suffered as I felt the ghostly body memories, they suffered as I remembered it over and over during dinner, at the movies, at the park or driving to school. They got the sharpness of my confusion and I deeply regret my behavior. I wish that I could have coped differently, behaved more gently and lovingly toward them. I only hope that one day I will forgive myself as they have forgiven me.
There is one thing missing, one thing that I cannot let go of. It is a pang that never ends. It is a constant yearning that I cannot find relief with anything that I have tried. My soul longs for it, like an emaciated junkie craves his next fix. Everyday, I wake up with the same desperate heart longing. It is an emptiness and aching knowing that this one desire is just out of reach. I desire justice.
The search for Justice
In the beginning of my journey, after the first recovered memory, way back in 2011, I went into the garage where I spent that month reading about love in the book of John. I made a call to the Longmont Police to report the crime of sexual abuse by AFB. They told me at the time that because of the Statute of Limitations (SOL) I would be unable to file a report and that the case was closed. They told me that I had seven years from the time of the abuse to file a report. It was devastating to find out that crimes like this have an expiration date. I was infuriated that AFB would never serve time in prison for what he did to me.
I even tried the "Christian" thing to do and wrote a letter to him, his church, and my former pastor in Colorado Springs to set up a meeting of reconciliation. I provided my information, the police reports and news articles about other victims to substantiate my claim. AFB confirmed that it was him. My pastor and his pastor were overwhelmed by the grace of the actions, but ultimately, his pastor's church board wouldn't allow it because there was too much liability. Not even a "Christian" resolution - what I was supposed to do - would result in closure. No justice. Still thirsty.
Years later, I tried for a civil suit against AFB, I reasoned that if I couldn't pursue criminal charges against him that I would try to sue, take him for everything he had, his car, his house and his career. I would try for something to quell the dry-mouthed thirst for justice. I had no idea where to search. Perhaps one of the ambulance chasers that advertised on TV would take the case. Someone like Frank Azar, one of the Sawoya team or even Saul Goodman.
One day, while scrolling through social media, I clicked on an advertisement that promised to bring civil restitution to survivors. It was a large firm based in Texas. I sent them a request for more information and after a few exchanges of email, they agreed to take my case. Painstakingly and painfully I described my story and the details of the abuse, they promised to get back to me after they compiled a case. I was hopeful that my time had come.
Months later, I received an email. My heart leapt for joy as I selected the message and opened the attachment. It was not the news I was hoping for. The law firm informed me that due to the SOL, there was nothing that they could do for me. They told me that the time frame for civil suits in my state was ten years from the crime. Since it was at least thirty years from the crime there was nothing they could do. They thanked me for my time and wished me luck.
I was broken. It felt like the justice system was biased against survivors and favored the powerful. There was no justice for Joel, no justice for survivors, no justice for children. There was only pain and loss. I felt small and unimportant. I felt unseen and unheard, just like when I was growing up after my father died. Invisible.
After that, the longing in my heart only got worse. There was nothing that could be done. I needed justice, yet, anything I tried to do legally was denied. I had run out of options. I couldn't report the crime because of the SOL. I couldn't sue because of the SOL. The Statute of Limitations was limiting my ability to find peace. My only remaining choice was to do something outside of the boundaries of the law. I thought about my next steps. I wanted to burn his house down, slash his tires and his neck with the same knife. Destroy him like he destroyed me. Walk into his church and cry, "That man, raped me! He is a monster and deserves the hangman's noose along with the endless torture of hellfire and burning sulpher!"
As I considered my choices of violence or humiliation, patience or peace, I thought over the following weeks about the possible consequences of my next actions. Would I know vengeance? would I be satisfied as his blood dripped off my hands and into a large pool on the floor? Would the screams of his family pleading for mercy be enough? Would I have the courage to go through with it? I knew that if I listened to the rage and bloodlust in my heart that I would immediately turn myself in and confess to my crimes of hate. If I did that, I knew that I would never see my family again. I would never know the comfort of lying on the couch and watching a car show on TV. I would never be able to kiss my wife and children. I would never know freedom. I questioned, "Was malice worth the cost?"
I felt that if I went through with it, with how unfair it was that the justice system would prosecute me and not AFB , the price of violently entering the criminal justice system myself, would be simply too high. Not only would I destroy my life, which, by my estimation, was already destroyed, that jail time meant nothing to me. I would destroy the lives of everyone around me and that was just unacceptable. It was the love of my family, my wife and children, that prevented me. Love prevented me. I chose patience. I was going to wait until I was given an opportunity to try again.
Years later, in August of 2021, another attorney promising compensation (justice) for survivors of sexual abuse. I immediately sent him an email inquiring if he could help me. After a few days, he replied back telling me that in the state of Colorado the SOL would end in 2022. That would provide a "lookback" period for victims of past crimes to make civil suits. We only have a year to act. It was now. Now I needed to seek justice. We met and reviewed my case. He said something profound to me. This was not just the evil act of the individual, but the negligence of the church where all of the abuse occurred. We may not be able to incarcerate Wayne Pendleton. We are going to sue the church.