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Questions for the Law Firm Thaler Liebeler LLP Regarding Investigation of Covenant Life Church

Joshua Harris sent out the following letter yesterday to the members of Covenant Life Church regarding an investigation to be done by the law firm of Thaler Liebeler LLP.  

From: Joshua Harris - Covenant Life Church <>
Sent: Wed, Aug 28, 2013 5:44 pm
Subject: Independent Investigation Update 

Dear friends, 

At the June 23 Members Meeting, I shared that we had decided to commission an investigation into the issues raised in the civil lawsuit against our church. This update is to let you know that the investigation is in progress. Basically, this means opening up our actions, policies and procedures, especially those that relate to child protection, to scrutiny. We see the investigation as a way to learn everything we can and grow from walking through the lawsuit. 

After sharing our intention with the congregation on June 23, we proceeded to retain the nationally recognized, independent law firm of Thaler Liebeler LLP to do this work. This Washington, D.C. firm is an impartial third party with no prior connection to our church or the matters the lawsuit references. As we prayed and sought counsel from the Financial Advisory Committee and the church’s attorneys, we concluded that an investigation could help provide an added measure of clarity and closure over and above what the legal process provides, and serve to reassure both our church and the wider community. 

Thaler Liebeler’s investigators will be gathering information from a variety of different sources. If you or someone you know within our church community has information that may be relevant to the investigation, you are invited to share that information with Thaler Liebeler LLP. You may provide information via e-mail to or by mail to the following address: 

CLC Investigation
Thaler Liebeler LLP
1825 Eye Street, N.W.
Suite 400
Washington, D.C. 20006 

You may provide contact information to the investigators for follow up, or you may choose to provide information anonymously. 

Our goal is to be a church that looks to God in the midst of a public and highly sensitive lawsuit and reflects his holiness, compassion and mercy—to “aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man” (2 Corinthians 8:21). This means going the extra mile to see the situation resolved in a way that promotes justice, brings forth the truth, identifies false or distorted accusations, and most of all, that brings glory to God and draws people to know the love of Jesus Christ. 

Even though the investigation will probably be accomplished in a matter of months, the lawsuit has been appealed and could be active for another year or more. The way the appeal process unfolds will be key in determining the best time to share the results of the investigation. But we’re committed to learning and applying all we can from the investigation and communicating its results at the earliest appropriate date. Please pray with us for the date to be sooner rather than later and for God’s guiding hand on every step in this process. 

One final development of note: On August 8 the Circuit Court for Montgomery County issued an order denying the Plaintiffs' Motion to Reconsider, and also noted that since a Third Amended Complaint was not filed, the case is closed. However, as I mentioned above, the Plaintiffs' Notice of Appeal, filed with the Maryland Court of Special Appeals on June 14, 2013, is still pending. 

As always, we welcome your input and questions. We’ve posted a brief chronology of the lawsuit in the member area of the church website to give you perspective. Also, if you missed the June 23 Members Meeting, you are still welcome to pick up an audio CD at the church office. 

Thank you for continuing to pray for the glory of God and the gospel to be made known through our church. 

In Christ,
Joshua Harris 

I’ve asked the law firm some clarifying questions. 

From: Brent Detwiler []
Sent: Thursday, August 29, 2013 9:50 AM
Subject: Information and Evidence 

Please access my blog at  It contains hundreds of pages of information and evidence. 


From: Brent Detwiler []
Sent: Thursday, August 29, 2013 10:25 AM
Subject: RE: Information and Evidence

I will gladly help in your investigation.  Please contact me in this regard.   

From: Brent Detwiler []
Sent: Thursday, August 29, 2013 10:09 AM
Subject: RE: Information and Evidence

At the conclusion of your investigation will you be sharing all your findings with Covenant Life Church?  In other words, do you intend to share incriminating evidence with the public that could result in fines or jail time for CLC employees (e.g. Grant Layman), former employees (e.g. C.J. Mahaney, John Loftness, Gary Ricucci, Stephen Griney), or current members (e.g. Mark Hoffman, Dave Mayo, Charlie Llewellyn)?


From: Brent Detwiler []
Sent: Thursday, August 29, 2013 12:29 PM
Cc:; Susan Burke; William O’Neil; Adam Malcolm; Ben Wikner; Bob Schickler; Braden Greer; Corby Megorden; Dave Brewer; Don DeVries; Don Nalle; Eric Sheffer; Eric Simmons; Grant Layman; Issac Hydoski; Jamie Leach; Joe Lee; Jon Smith; Joshua Harris; Keith Welton; Kenneth Maresco; Mark Mitchell; Matt Maka; Robin Boisvert
Subject: RE: Information and Evidence 

To Whom It Concerns at Thaler Liebeler LLP, 

Would you please answer an additional question for me?  It is one many people at Covenant Life Church are asking.  Will you be sharing all the evidence you discover as you discover it with the Montgomery County Police Department (e.g. Detective Sally Magee)?  Or do plan to withhold that information from law enforcement under attorney-client privilege? 

I’d appreciate a candid response.  



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It’s Been a Good Week!

This week, I’ve been reflecting on the events of last week.  Last week, C.J. Mahaney was canonized and I was demonized.  I thank God for this development.  It’s been a good week!  

In case you’re not following, the national Council of Elders for Sovereign Grace Ministries put out a statement last week in which they highly commended C.J. and royally condemn me.  It was an answer to prayer!  

In fact, the statement not only justified C.J., it justified every leader in SGM against whom I have brought formal charges.  I am genuinely grateful to God for the clarity found in their unequivocal pronouncement.  We now know the position taken by the new governing body of SGM.  No accused leader in SGM is guilty of lying, deception, hypocrisy, conspiracy, or abuse. 

According to the Council of Elders, my 3,000 pages of documented charges are baseless and the 46 page class action lawsuit is bogus.  There is no conspiracy to commit or cover up sex crimes by C.J. Mahaney, John Loftness, Gary Ricucci or anyone else!  The alleged conspiracy is pure fiction per the Council of Elders and its Executive Committee.  In their view, not one shred of evidence exists in support of a conspiracy!  They agree with the former Board of Directors. 

Statement on the Amended Civil Lawsuit Filed
May 14, 2013 

Our careful review of the allegations to date has not produced any evidence of any cover-up or conspiracy. 

SGM Board: Update on the Amended Civil Lawsuit
May 20, 2013 

Let us reiterate that our review of the allegations has not produced any evidence of any cover-up or conspiracy by SGM. 

This continues to be the position of SGM.  That means the 11 Plaintiffs are nuts!  The collective evidence they have put forth in the lawsuit is nothing but a tall tale.  These victims of physical and sexual abuse made up the conspiracy.  No one worked together to commit crimes.  No one decided together to cover them up.  Their allegations of fact are nothing by vacuous lies per the Council of Elders.  They are slanderers just like me.  Let it be written! 

As I’ve written before in C.J.’s Foxhole Conversion.  

“I am reminded of Bill Clinton.  He would deny, deny, deny (and his denials were crafty lies – “I did not have sexual relations (i.e., intercourse) with that woman.”) until the evidence was so overwhelming and the consequences so severe, it was expedient for him to admit to wrong doing.  But even then he would acknowledge as little as possible and only in the most general terms.  Later he’d be forced to say a little more when additional evidence built up.  There was nothing proactive about his comments.  He always got caught or pressed to the wall with evidence.”  

C.J., Mark Prater, the Executive Committee and the Council of Elders are like the former President.  They deny everything and admit to nothing unless damage control forces them to issue a minimalistic apology.  For instance, here is C.J.’s response to the victims of sex abuse in SGM when Ambassadors of Reconciliation came out with their report.  “We freely acknowledge…inconsistent and/or insensitive handling of sexual misconduct cases.” (Response to AoR Group Reconciliation Report, April 10, 2012, p. 2)  That says it all.  SGM has been inconsistent and insensitive!  

A journalist for a major publication wrote me about the sex abuse scandal. 

“I have covered sexual abuse for more than a decade, not only in Catholic churches but also among Jehovah’s Witnesses, Presbyterians, Southern Baptists and others.  I have heard some very revolting stories before and spent many hours with victims.  I’m mindful that parties are [legally] innocent until proven guilty and that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.  But this is as devastating as anything I’ve ever heard.” 

Or as Basyle ‘Boz’ Tchividjian (former Chief Prosecutor for Sexual Crimes in central Florida, current law professor and noted expert on sex abuse in the church) put it.  

“Earlier this week, I read the second amended complaint [lawsuit] filed by eleven plaintiffs against SGM, two churches, and a number of individuals, including a man named CJ Mahaney.  I won’t go into the factual details of this complaint here (if interested, you can read it here), but it is one of the most disturbing accounts of child sexual abuse and institutional “cover up” I have read in my almost 20 years of addressing this issue.  Besides the horrific accounts of child victimization (some of which allegedly occurred on church property), what struck me most about these allegations is the systematic efforts by these churches to discourage and sometimes prevent the families of children who had been victimized by church officials from speaking out and reporting to law enforcement.  Another aspect that struck me as I read (and re-read) through this complaint were the myriad of common threads related to the efforts made by these SGM churches to silence these survivors.  As a former prosecutor, much credibility is given to disclosures made by more than one person that have distinct and unique similarities…these did.” (May 24, 2013) 

All of this is lost upon the Council of Elders.  That’s why their statement from last Monday is extremely helpful.  It sets forth in no uncertain terms their present view.  Anyone who reads it is up to date on what they believe about C.J. Mahaney and themselves.  Simply put, it is “all good” in SGM!  No sins.  No crimes.  No conspiracy.  All good!!!  

But this exalted view has only produced greater concerns for SGM in the hearts and minds of those inside and outside the organization.  People around the nation, and even the world, are shocked by the pride and heavy handedness evident in their statement.     

A well-known spokesperson in the Body of Christ wrote me.  

“I’m sorry, but I’ve never seen a more dysfunctional church body in my life than SGM.  The denomination’s elders are putting out condemning statements about you?  Why is everything in their world someone else’s fault?  Why don’t they spend some energy on something important, like - say - stopping their denomination from hemorrhaging?  Or reaching out in true Christian love to the SGM lawsuit plaintiffs?  I simply don’t get the insular, bitter cultishness of this group.” 

This is a typical, not atypical, response.  Large portions of the Reformed and evangelical church have been following the events of the last two years.  They are stunned by the categorical denials of wrong doing and the attempt to cut people off from the evidence contained in my writings.  People throughout the Body of Christ realize the issues enumerated in my documents are being played out before their very eyes.         

This latest action by the Council of Elders was self-defeating.  From my perspective, the Lord sent a spirit of confusion into their “camp” like he did with the Egyptians (Exodus 14:24), the Amorites (Joshua 10:10) and the Philistines (1 Sam 14:20) of old .  The Council of Elders conceived a plan for victory but they were handed a defeat by the Lord.  Their commendation of C.J. and condemnation of me only heightened people’s concern for SGM.    

Ten times we are told in the book of Exodus that the Pharaoh hardened his heart.  Ten times we are told God hardened his heart.  Human responsibility and God’s sovereignty are at work in judgment.  If we resist his dealings it leads to judicial hardening.  SGM has been hardened.  

I wish it were not so, but C.J. and its leaders have disgraced themselves again.  They are not concerned about the truth.  They are only concerned about self-preservation.  Nothing has changed.  The proud and abusive leadership culture continues unabated.  

As a result, more people are reading my documents and the Seconded Amended Complaint.  They no longer content themselves with the talking points put out by SGM and their agents.  They’re beginning to study the evidential facts.  As a result, the tide is starting to turn.  

Now when people read my documents they discover they are carefully written manuscripts designed to help C.J. and bring reform to SGM.  They also realize the charges are proven by factual documentation, not hearsay evidence.  As I’ve pointed out before, here’s how Joshua Harris viewed them.       

July 1, 2011 


Your documents have helped me to face issues that I have not wanted to face.  I told CJ and Dave [Harvey] and Jeff [Purswell] that I have played a part in failing to challenge CJ.  If I had been more courageous 7 years ago he might not be at this same place [today].  I feel that I have failed many people.  And so I feel a great weight of regret and I know the Lord is disciplining me in this process too. 


The documents Joshua is referring to are Response Regarding Friendship & Doctrine, A Final Appeal and Concluding Remarks

I am grateful for this statement by the Council of Elders because it brings closure to the question, “Has SGM changed like they confidently claim?”  The answer is a resounding “no.”  Nothing is different except for external changes in polity.  There is no change of heart.  No ethical reform.  They have indicted themselves yet again in this statement.  Until they deal with the “lying, deception, hypocrisy, conspiracy, abuse, etc.” the Lord will continue to oppose them.     

The self-justifying statement of SGM actually positions me to move on to other aspects of God’s will for my life because I know they have no interest in dealing with the past or acknowledging any wrongdoing in the present.  They continue to make the charge of slander but offer no proof and allow for no hearing of evidence against them.  Playing the slander card is their only option.     

That doesn’t mean I won’t write further about SGM.  I will continue to write as stories break upon the scene like indictments, arrests, and trials or further revelations of corruption.  In fact, my next post will cover another aspect of C.J.’s role in the conspiracy. 

On a personal note.  I have suffered greatly over the past 10 years but that has not produced a bitterness or vindictiveness in my soul.  It has produced a zeal for righteousness, a love for the victims of injustice, and a determination to serve Christ alone.  

In myself, I am weak, fearful and a man pleaser.  I have often been tempted to quit and  despair.  Nevertheless, God has seen fit to enable and sustain me by his grace.  Sometimes that grace has comes through the kind words of those who have experienced unimaginable physical and sexual abuse, about which I was never told, like this victim, who is not a Plaintiff.  This note arrived yesterday.     

“Just because the courts have ruled NOT in favor of the victims in this [civil] case, doesn’t mean there aren’t victims out there - and a lot MORE victims than those who joined the class action. 

“Brent, I don’t want you to feel that your efforts have been fruitless.  I want you to know that what you have done for me - in terms of listening and caring and encouraging and affirming - has been immensely healing for me.  You really don’t know what a difference you’ve made in one Sovereign Grace family…but the Lord knows!” 

Every day is a wonderful day because it holds forth the joy and privilege of serving Christ.  The same is true of weeks and months and years.  Last week, however, was an especially good week in the providence of God’s gracious ordinations.  He reigns!  


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