The Tom White child sex abuse scandal is going national. A widely published Associated Press story has spread the news that White, age 64, the longtime executive director of the international Christian Right organization Voice of the Martyrs (VOM), apparently committed suicide last week as police investigated the alleged molestation of a ten year old girl.
I detailed the basics of the story and the implications for the wider Religious Right in a post here at Daily Kos on Sunday.
I wrote, among other things:
The movement that claims that it is about defending and/or restoring the sacredness and primacy of the nuclear family far too often fails its own central value. It also too often fails to come clean about the ways in which its own culture enables pedophiles and take appropriate action. It further notably fails in holding perpetrators accountable.While the Bartlesville, Oklahoma-based VOM and others may wish to close the case as quickly as possible, we can hope that the investigation will not end with White's death. The story as reported by several outlets raises some interesting points.
Given this movement's concern about the integrity of the family as among the highest of values, we would reasonably expect that it would hold itself to very high standards. But the simple truth is that that has not happened.
-- The VOM board of directors claims it had no knowledge of the allegations of child sex abuse -- however the local chief of police is a member of the VOM board.
-- The allegation of molestation of a ten year old girl by the 64 year old, if true, necessarily raises the question of whether there were others, locally or in his international travels over three decades with VOM.
-- The Baptist Press, reporting on the scandal, quotes Jeff King, president of International Christian Concern, an allied organization: "We would like to voice our support for [VOM], which had nothing to do with the leader's scandal." How does King know this? The state medical examiner has not yet even determined the cause of death.
As we have seen in the many child sex abuse cases in the Catholic Church in recent years, there are often many people who are aware of, enable, or fail to report child sex abusers. Very little information has actually come out so far. It is way too soon to assume that anyone else was or was not involved.