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Clergy Abuse Scandal in Texas Empties Pews

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A sex scandal has sparked an exodus from Faith Crossing Church in Forney, Texas, according to one of its former youth ministers, according to an article in the Dallas Morning News.

The church’s pastor, 45-year-old Lester A. Cody III, faces two counts of sexually assaulting a young family friend who belonged to the church when it was in Mesquite. The girl was 15 at the time, in 2002. Now 20, she went to authorities in October after finally telling her mother what had happened, according to a Mesquite police affidavit, the article states.

The church, which had more than 100 members, now has only four or five families, according to the report. Cody, who was arrested in November and indicted in January, has however maintained his innocence at his first court appearance Monday. He has denied all charges and his wife and parents stand by him, reportedly. If convicted, Mr. Cody would face up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine on each charge.

According to the young woman, Cody engaged in oral and other sex acts with her, but not intercourse, over a five-month period. She told police that the encounters occurred at his home and in his car. During the time of the alleged incidents, the girl was 15. She left the church and began avoiding him shortly after she turned 16, she says.

A youth minister at the church also told the newspaper that he once asked the pastor to stop going on youth trips because of what he considered “inappropriate touching.” Cody was “persuasive and articulate” according to this youth minister.

Of course, the defendant in this case is still awaiting trial and is yet to be proven guilty. But to me, two words stand out from this story – the minister’s description of this pastor as a charming guy. In my experience, you rarely hear about a pastor, a priest or a rabbi who was introverted and inarticulate molesting a child.

Molesters, who have admitted guilt and been proven guilty, are often charismatic. They attract young people with their “coolness” and their apparent ability to erase generational boundaries and communicate with anyone despite their age, abilities or status in society.

They first go about winning the approval or admiration of their victims and their families and then go for the kill. It’s chilling when you think about it. I’m not surprised that this pastor’s flock disappeared in no time. If that doesn’t send a clear message I don’t know what does.

My heart goes out to this girl and her family. Often it takes years or even decades for victims to come out of their shell and point to their accuser.

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