It is important for any church leader and congregation to know that when a person is charged with sexual abuse of a minor, or convicted of a sexual offence against a minor, in each instance that alleged offender, or convicted offender is “Release on their Own Recognizance” to make sure that at no time are they to be alone or even physically near any child under the age of 18yrs. or 16yrs depending on the age of the victim.

This means that just because the church doesn’t think it is necessary to supervise a known sex offender in their midst, the offender is still breaking his “Condition of Release” and, if discovered by the police, the offender will be arrested.

In other words, just because a church leader or a congregation does not see the need to supervise a known convicted sex offender or an alleged offender waiting for a trial date, does not let the convicted offender or alleged offender off the hook. They will still be arrested if discovered to be “Breaching their condition of release.”

Some may say that a person is innocent until proven guilty, therefore this person should not have to comply with such a “condition” until or if they are convicted.

This is not wise thinking in the case of a sexual crime. This “condition” that is put on a person awaiting trial should be viewed as much as protection for the alleged offender as for the alleged victim.

(a) because if it is a false allegation then the offender is protected against any further false allegations and

(b) if the offender is guilty, then it prevents he or she from having the opportunity to approach the victim and intimidate them into withdrawing the charges. (The Police say that churches are commonly negligent in this respect and victims are revictimised and often run out of the congregation by a guilty perpetrator.)

So if you have this situation in your church and the leadership is not seeing the need to put protective boundaries in place for the sake of the children, you do have the option of phoning the police. They will check their computer to confirm the “Condition of Release” for this offender, and, if it is seen to be the case, they will come straight to your church and arrest the unsupervised person then and there, right in the middle of the worship service.

Even if the police do not find out about any breach of “Condition of Release,” If another offence occurs, the victim and their family have legal course to sue not only the church, but the church leader personally. It is important that we enlighten our church leaders to the danger of potential litigation. It is important that we enlighten our church leaders to the legal requirements of offenders. It is important that we support our church leaders when they are doing the very difficult task of implementing Child Abuse Prevention Strategies.

Protect the children!

Pastor Marion

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