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Thursday
Feb282019

The Inside Story: Al Mohler Severed All Personal Ties With C.J. Mahaney & Sovereign Grace Churches Because Mahaney Deceived Him Into Believing An “Independent Investigation” of Abuse Was Done

I hope you will read the entire article in order to fully grasp why the action taken by Al Mohler in cutting all ties to C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. was so necessary.  It has taken me three weeks to write this documentary account.  It preserves a historical record but more importantly it illustrates what I consider to be the greatest problem in the evangelical church.  Elders, pastors, overseers are not held accountable to the qualifications of Scripture found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9.  The examples are endless and it has done extraordinary harm to the gospel. 

Evangelical leaders must resolve to act without partiality and favoritism when dealing with fellow leaders who are not above reproach (1 Tim. 5:19-22).  Witnesses must be heard, evidence examined, and corrective action taken.  This has not been the case with C.J. Mahaney or the leaders of Sovereign Grace Churches over the past 8 years.  Tragically, so many of our top Bible teachers, authors, bloggers, professors, seminary presidents, parachurch leaders, and church planting experts have shown no discernment and refused to study the evidence.  The good ole’ boy network has covered up for one its own.  And yet, no one is fessing up to it. 

In the providence of God, Al Mohler was forced to reveal his severing of ties but there is much more for him to do.  Here are some highlights from my article followed by the full length article.  I hope you take the time to read it all.

## 

C.J. Mahaney deceived Al Mohler into thinking an investigation of sexual abuse done by Covenant Life Church included the investigation of Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc.  When Mohler found out otherwise, he severed the relationship but didn’t reveal it until Robert Downen of the Houston Chronicle starting asking him questions.  Mahaney and SGC were never investigated.  Mohler was duped by his closest of friends.  I call that betrayal.  Understandably, all ties with Mahaney & SGC were completely severed.  That has been a secret until now.  Here’s the inside story. 

Mohler: “I did not realize until this past year that SGC and its leaders had not participated in that investigation.”   

Mahaney never told Mohler he refused to participate in the very investigation he used to assure Mohler all was well.  He is a con artist.  And he never told Mohler that John Loftness and Gary Ricucci refused to participate even though they were accused of terrible acts in the lawsuit.  Loftness remains a regional leader in SGC.  Ricucci is Mahaney’s brother-in-law, on his pastoral staff, and works for SGC.   

For five years (2013-2018), Mohler been under the delusion the investigation included Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. and its leaders.  If he is being truthful, he had no idea the investigation by Lars Liebeler was confined to Covenant Life Church.  We must bear in mind, these lies are the same lies Mahaney and the Sovereign Grace Leadership Team have been telling leaders around the nation that come to them in “good faith.”  

The same is true of Sovereign Grace pastors with their church members.  It’s the same line.  “Everyone and everything has been investigated.  Courts threw out the ridiculous lawsuit.  Nothing to it.  The victims lied for money.  C.J. is an incredible man of integrity.  He’s being persecuted like Job.  We’re all good!  Trust us and obey us!  Make our job a joy!”    

Mohler: “I wrongly believed that an investigation had been done, and relied on that assurance and the court dismissal of the civil suit, along with my personal knowledge of CJ, when I issued my statement of support in 2013.  I deeply regret this.”   

Mohler “wrongly believed” because he was deceived by Mahaney.  Mahaney had assured him “an investigation had been done.”  That was not the case.  Mahaney, Loftness, Ricucci, et al. were never investigated.  In fact, Liebeler didn’t talk to ANY of the victims in the lawsuit!  

Mahaney and the Sovereign Grace Leadership Team were also spinning the dismissal of the lawsuit as evidence the substance of the lawsuit was without merit.  It was another of their deceptions.  The dismissal by the Judge was based upon the statute of limitations expiring in Maryland and an improper filing for the victims from Virginia.  It had NOTHING to do with the merits of the lawsuit! 

Moher: “When this issue resurfaced a year ago, I was made painfully aware of my serious mistakes.  I immediately urged that an independent investigation be conducted and agreed that CJ needed to step down from public ministry until that took place.  This resulted in a severing of all personal and ministry ties, and I have had no relationship with CJ or SGC since that time.” 

For years, Mohler had defended Mahaney because he refused to study the evidence and blindly accepted Mahaney’s talking points.  It was a pain-filled epiphany.  Mohler says he “immediately urged that an independent investigation be conducted and agreed that CJ needed to step down from public ministry until that took place.”  Mahaney refused on both counts.  He wouldn’t listen to Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., the most powerful leader in American evangelicalism.  But more grievously, C.J. wouldn’t listen to his Together for the Gospel friend forever.  

It is another example of the fierce pride that grip’s C.J.’s soul.  His ambition and love of reputation have come before the gospel of Jesus Christ for a long time.  He brought destruction to Covenant Life Church, Sovereign Grace Ministries, and now Together for the Gospel.  That is his legacy. 

Mohler states, “This resulted in a severing of all personal and ministry ties, and I have had no relationship with CJ or SGC since that time.”  That is radical!  All ties cut!  No relationship since!  Not with C.J.  Not with anyone in SGC including Bob Kauflin and Jeff Purswell.  That is shocking but the severing was for good reason.  

Mohler was now keenly aware no independent investigation had ever been done.  He also realized Mahaney and his surrogates had deceived him into believing otherwise.  He was betrayed by his friend and others he trusted. 

Mohler: “I was deeply affected by the documentation offered by Rachael Denhollander.  I met with Jacob and Rachael soon after she released the documentation and I have deeply appreciated her counsel.  That first conversation fundamentally changed my understanding of this issue.” 

Mohler says, “That first conversation fundamentally changed my understanding of this issue.”  It was then Mohler discovered 1) Lars Liebeler was not qualified to do the investigation though competent in other fields of law; 2) Liebeler was retained by Covenant Life Church as their lawyer; therefore, the investigation could never be “independent;” 3) Liebeler did not talk to any of the victims in the lawsuit; 4) Liebeler withheld incriminating evidence in his oral reports; 5) the investigation was confined to Covenant Life Church; 6) it did not include other churches or leaders in Sovereign Grace Ministries; 7) C.J., John Loftness, and Gary Ricucci refused to participate though they had been pastors at Covenant Life Church; 8) no written report was published documenting Liebeler’s findings; 9) the lawsuit was dismissed on technicalities, not its merits; and 10) Mahaney had beguiled him about the whole thing. 

Mohler: “I wish I had spoken more forcefully.  I should have been very clear about insisting on an independent, credible, third-party investigation right from the time these allegations arose.” 

There is still a great need for Mohler to speak “more forcefully.”  He should make explicit what is implicit in his recent statement.  He needs to explain how he was betrayed, deceived and beguiled.  

Bottom line.  C.J. Mahaney should not be in ministry.  I’ve documented why for 8 years.  It is not just about his unwillingness to step down while an investigation is done; it is about his pervasive pride, deceit, hypocrisy and independence.  

In order for this to happen, Al Mohler, Mark Dever and Ligon Duncan need to confront him starting with his lying about the CLC investigation. … I still hope C.J. repents as a result of Al, Mark, and Lig practicing what they preach from Matthew 18:15-17 about church discipline, from 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9 about qualifications for leadership, and from 1 Timothy 5:19-22 about the need for impartial public rebuke when a leader continues in sin so that other elders fear sinning.  

If he does, Mahaney will make a public confession and voluntarily step down from all ministry.  He will also seek reconciliation with the many people he has grievously sinned against.  If he doesn’t repent, Mohler, Dever and Duncan should tell the evangelical church and relate to him as a pagan or tax collector unwilling to turn from sin.  What a minute, that is what Mohler has secretly been doing for the past year.  Well, Dever and Duncan need to join him.  

Mohler: “I can only speak for myself, but I wish to do so clearly, acknowledging these errors, grieving at the harm that was done, and committing to do everything I can to lead well and to serve Christ faithfully.” 

Mohler is the most influential leader in evangelicalism today.  I hope his commitment “to do everything I can to lead well” bears fruit.  Thus far, no one from Together for the Gospel or The Gospel Coalition has joined him in publicly “insisting on an independent, credible third-party investigation” or requiring Mahaney to “step down from public ministry until that [takes] place.”  

But the issue now, is not about doing an investigation.  The issue is about C.J. Mahaney badly deceiving Al Mohler.  It’s about C.J. and his representatives deceiving scores of other national leaders in private meetings and conversations.  These leaders need to make their experiences known.  The deception has been widespread.  That is the reason why everyone should sever their ties and relationships with C.J. Mahaney, the Leadership Team, the Pastors College, the WorshipGod Conference (Jul 31-Aug 3), and Sovereign Grace Churches. 

##

HERE IS THE ENTIRE ARTICLE.  THERE IS MUCH MORE TO IT.  

C.J. Mahaney deceived Al Mohler into thinking an investigation of sexual abuse done by Covenant Life Chruch included the investigation of Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc.  When Mohler found out otherwise, he severed their relationship but didn’t reveal it until Robert Downen of the Houston Chronicle starting asking him questions.  Mahaney and SGC were never investigated.  Mohler was duped by his closest of friends.  I call that betrayal.  Understandably, all ties with Mahaney & SGC were completely severed.  That has been a secret until now.  Here’s the inside story. 

The Original Complaint (lawsuit) against C.J. Mahaney and others was filed on October 17, 2012.  As more victims came forward, it was amended twice with new filings on January 11, 2013 and May 14, 2013.  

The Second Amended Complaint was 46-pages long with 11 plaintiffs and 14 defendants involving 13 credibly accused perpetrators.  Five perpetrators have been convicted to date.  The lawsuit alleged a conspiracy to commit and cover-up the sexual abuse of children in Covenant Life Church, Sovereign Grace Church of Fairfax (now Redeeming Grace Church) and elsewhere.  The accounts of abuse are horrific and the attempts to cover them up unconscionable.      

Because of the controversy following the lawsuit, Mahaney was forced to step down as a featured speaker at Together for the Gospel 2014 held April 8-10.  Six weeks later he put out this statement.  The underling is mine.    

A Statement from C.J. Mahaney
May 22, 2014

For nearly two years now, I have remained silent about a civil lawsuit brought against various parties including myself.  During that time, many have urged me to respond publicly and address the accusations against me.  These pleas have only intensified over the last week in light of reports of testimony in a recent trial.  I look forward to the day when I can speak freely.  For now, the simple and extraordinarily unsatisfying reality—for myself and others—is that in the face of an ongoing civil lawsuit, I simply cannot speak publicly to the specifics of these events.  Even with those constraints, however, let me be clear about this: I have never conspired to protect a child predator, and I also deny all the claims made against me in the civil suit 

I am deeply grieved for those who suffered abuse while part of Covenant Life Church, as well as those beyond the church who were abused—and I continue to pray for justice to be served on their behalf and for God’s healing grace in their lives.  I’m saddened, too, by the confusion and damage that has resulted from public comments and speculation about these events.  Still, my trust remains in the Lord, who comforts the brokenhearted and promises in his justice and in his time to right every wrong.  

In the grace of the gospel,  

C.J. Mahaney  

Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville 

Mahaney claims, “I am deeply grieved for those who suffered abuse while part of Covenant Life Church.”  No he isn’t.  He, the pastors of CLC, and the Leadership Team of Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. (formerly Sovereign Grace Ministries) have claimed four of the six CLC victims are liars who conjured up their stories for money! 

And contrary to his boast, “I look forward to the day when I can speak freely,” Mahaney has adamantly and steadfastly refused “to respond publicly and address the accusations” against him.  He only allows for private settings where he can lie and deceive and hope not to be discovered. 

Four years later and because of public pressure and protests leading up to Together for the Gospel held April 11-13, he was forced to withdraw again as a featured speaker and did not attend the event.  Nevertheless, the co-founders of Together for the Gospel - Al Mohler, Mark Dever and Ligon Duncan - allowed Mahaney to post this categorical statement rejecting all wrong-doing and presenting himself as the consummate servant.  Moreover, Mahaney expected all the featured speakers – John Piper, Kevin DeYoung, David Platt, John MacArthur, Matt Chandler, and Thabiti Anyabwile – to defend his innocence if called upon.   

A Letter From CJ Mahaney
March 7, 2018

My Friends, 

Given the recent, renewed controversy surrounding Sovereign Grace Churches and me individually, I have decided to withdraw from the 2018 T4G conference. 

This conference exists to serve pastors with the gospel and exalt the Lord Jesus.  I want to do all I can to promote that purpose.  Mark, Lig, Al and the other speakers should also be able to devote themselves to that purpose without the distraction of having to defend me or answer questions about Sovereign Grace Churches.  They should be preparing their sermons, caring for their families, and serving their unique and strategic ministries. 

I am responsible, where necessary and appropriate, to defend myself and Sovereign Grace, and this I continue to do as I have for the last several years.  Sovereign Grace churches are led by godly men and filled with good and godly people who love Christ and his gospel.  So that there is no lack of clarity on this: I am innocent of the allegations that have been made against me personally, and the recent, public characterizations of Sovereign Grace as a whole are absolutely false.  I categorically reject the suggestion that I have ever [sic] conspired to cover up sexual abuse or other wrong-doing.  No one should interpret my withdrawal as an acknowledgment of guilt.  I withdraw out of care for my friends and for the sake of this conference and the cause of Christ. 

I do not want this wonderful conference to become a context where questions about me or Sovereign Grace distract from the exaltation of Christ and him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2).  I desire the run up to this conference to be filled with nothing but joyful anticipation.  I want the experience of the conference to be the deep edification of pastors through preaching, singing, praying, conversation, laughter, food, and buying as many books as one’s credit card allows, all for the glory of God. 

T4G is sold out [12,000 attended].  In 2006, when we held our first conference, we met in a cramped hotel ballroom.  Mark, Lig, Al and I did not imagine the conference ever reaching the Yum! Center – much less filling it.  It is amazing and humbling.  When the four of us are together, we fumble for the right words to describe all that has unexpectedly taken place in and through T4G.  I think the psalmist best captures it when he writes, “This is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes” (Ps. 118:23).  I’m praying this T4G will be the best gathering in the history of this blessed conference. 

CJ Mahaney 

In response, I wrote the article below and sent it over 100 national leaders including Al Moher, Ligon Duncan and Mark Dever. 

Mahaney’s Withdrawal from Together for the Gospel Is Meaningless as He Continues to Run from an Independent Investigation with the Help of Al Mohler, Ligon Duncan, Mark Dever, et al.
Friday, March 9, 2018 at 5:24PM
Brent Detwiler

In his statement, Mahaney says, “I am responsible, where necessary and appropriate, to defend myself and Sovereign Grace, and this I continue to do as I have for the last several years.”  But here is what  everyone needs to know - he only defends himself in secret!  He has never been willing to talk to WORLD magazine, Christianity Today, Washingtonian magazine, The Washington Post, Medium Corporation or anyone else.  That includes Lar Liebeler, the lawyer who did the investigation at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland.  The “where necessary and appropriate” is tightly controlled.  In these private meetings, he can spin his web of deception.  That won’t work with professional investigative journalists.  When they coming knocking, he runs and hides.    

The Leadership Team for Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. has done the same thing.  Here is what they said. 

A Response to Allegations Against Sovereign Grace Churches
February 13, 2018 by Sovereign Grace Staff 

Over the past few years, we have regularly shared details on these matters privately with those who have approached us in good faith with understandable concerns.  However, in our public statements, we have been reluctant to share many details concerning these accusations.  Far from hiding facts, we have sought to be discreet in our communications to protect those involved—first and foremost victims and their families.

They will only meet “privately with those who have approached us in good faith.”  In other words, people who are favorably inclined to believe their “details on these matters.”  But they won’t share those same details in public because “first and foremost” they want to protect the “victims and their families.”  What a crock!  

Five of the six Covenant Life victims in the lawsuit used their real names.  The details are known about them!  The sixth victim, Grace Goe, asked me to write an article about her abuse and expose her father, Charlie Llewellyn for the alleged physical and sexual abuse of his children.  Mahaney and his staff covered it up including Joshua Harris.  Read this article. 

The Conspiracy Surrounding Plaintiff Grace Goe at Covenant Life Church
Tuesday, June 4, 2013 at 5:18PM
Brent Detwiler

Four of the six victims were also labeled liars by C.J. Mahaney, Mark Prater (Executive Director for SGC), Mark Mitchell (Executive Pastor for CLC) and the Leadership Team for SGC.  “Far from hiding facts” is nothing but pure spin!  They don’t want people to know about the “facts” (i.e., their lies, slanders, and distortions) that go on is these private meetings.  That’s why they won’t reveal them to the public where they can be tested and exposed by the victims themselves! 

In the T4G 2018 statement above, Mahaney proclaims his innocence by divine fiat (with a typo), “I have ever [sic] conspired to cover up sexual abuse or other wrong-doing.”  “Ever” (not never) is the truth of the matter!  He has been conspiring to cover up evil since 1981 beginning with Charles Schmitt who preyed upon young men.  And since the lawsuit came out in 2012, he has refused to put forth his defense in public.  Why?  Because he has been shut up by his lawyers.  His “I look forward to the day when I can speak freely” was never going to happen.  

This T4G 2018 statement has remained prominent on the T4G website for the past year until last week.  Now I can’t find it although the old link is still active.  Al Mohler, Mark Dever and Ligon Duncan need to publicly ask forgiveness for their unqualified support of Mahaney since 2011 when I sent them The Documents and argued for his removal from ministry.  And they also need to ask forgiveness for their unqualified support since February 2013 when I sent them the lawsuit in An Appeal to 77 National Leaders Regarding C.J. Mahaney.    

For eight years, they have treated Mahaney with extreme partiality and extraordinary favoritism as part of the good ole boy network of celebrity leaders.  He has not been held to the standards and qualifications of Scripture.  That is the fundamental issue – the authority of Scripture!  

Moving on.  The primary defense used by Mark Dever and Al Mohler to defend Mahaney’s innocence has been the “independent investigation” done by Covenant Life Church.  The same is true of the Leadership Team for Sovereign Grace Churches.  Here is what the latter said about the investigation in response to Rachael Denhollander.  Follow carefully. 

A Response to Allegations Against Sovereign Grace Churches
February 13, 2018 by Sovereign Grace Staff 

Over the past several days, Rachael Denhollander has twice raised allegations—first in an interview in Christianity Today (CT) and then in a Facebook post—concerning Sovereign Grace Churches (SGC) and its handling of sexual abuse cases. … 

In addition to various investigations by authorities, one of the two churches [Covenant Life Church] that were accused of wrongdoing commissioned an independent investigation of its involvement in these matters.  Because this church is no longer part of SGC, we have not been given access to this independent report, but one of the church’s pastors [Mark Mitchell] publicly disclosed certain conclusions from the investigation, and we will refer to some of these below. … 

Moreover, in 2016 a pastor of one of the churches named in the civil suit, in response to accusations of conspiracy to cover up child abuse, stated publicly that: “We denied those charges and allegations from the beginning.  Not only that, we hired an independent investigator to look into those allegations.  The investigator concluded that there was not any evidence to support that conspiracy or obstruction had taken place.”… 

As noted above, one of the churches named in the lawsuit had an independent investigation performed, and we repeat here the public summary made by one of their pastors: “We denied those charges and allegations from the beginning.  Not only that, we hired an independent investigator [Lars Liebeler] to look into those allegations.  The investigator concluded that there was not any evidence to say that the conspiracy or obstruction of justice had taken place.” … 

For the past six years, SGC has found itself in a difficult situation in addressing the accusations lodged against us and our pastors.  It is difficult to communicate complex details involving painful circumstances decades after the fact.  It is difficult to respond to false accusations without appearing defensive and, far worse, unsympathetic to victims of abuse. 

The Sovereign Grace Churches Leadership Team          

The Leadership Team is comprised of Mark PraterMickey ConnollyTommy HillBob KauflinIan McConnellJeff Purswell, and Rich Richardson.  They all cite Mark Mitchell as their singular expert witness on the farcical investigation.  “There was not any evidence to say that the conspiracy or obstruction of justice had taken place.”  They refer to Rachael Denhollander’s assertions as “false accusations.”  Where have I heard that before?  See her decimating Response to Sovereign Grace Churches from March 1, 2018. 

Mark Mitchell is the Executive Pastor of Covenant Life Church.  He has been at the center of the cover-up in recent years.  It is no wonder the Sovereign Grace Leadership Team quotes him, not once, but twice.  And it is no wonder they leave his name out and don’t give a reference for his public statement.  Mitchell is as untruthful as Mahaney when it comes to the conspiracy!  More on Mitchell later.  

There is no question, Mahaney used the quote by Mitchell over and over again in his secret meetings to justify himself.  For instance with Al Moher.  I can hear it now.  

“Hey Al.  Here is what one of the men I trained, hired and promoted said about the investigation.  He is extremely trustworthy.  He’s a friend and great guy.  And he’s the Executive Pastor of Covenant Life now. ‘The investigator concluded that there was not any evidence to say that the conspiracy or obstruction of justice had taken place.’” 

Al’s response, 

“Wow C.J.  That’s amazing.  I believe you and I believe Mark.  And I believe the investigator.  There’s not a shred of evidence to support the conspiracy.  The lawsuit is wicked.  Those victims made it up in conjunction with their evil lawyer, Susan Burke.  I agree with you.  No conspiracy.  No obstruction of justice.  No nothing.  Okay, we better head over to the KFC Yum! Center for Together for the Gospel 2016.  You’re my hero C.J.  You’ve been maligned like righteous Job.  I’ll include that in my introduction of you and I’ll make some disparaging comments about internet bloggers and the victims.  Thanks for being my humble friend.”  

In March 2016, Rachael Denhollander and I were in contact and she asked me for help and assistance.  She conveyed she was going public with the Larry Nassar story and told me she had read and studied all I had written.  She also asked for additional evidence.  One of the things I did was contact all the victims or their families to put them in contact with her if interested.      

In February 2018, I sent her via an intermediary, the complete transcripts I made of Lars Liebeler and Mark Mitchell’s oral reports to Covenant Life Church regarding the investigation in two confidential members’ only meetings.  I pre-arranged for the oral presentations to be recorded.  I’ve not yet released those transcripts.  

When I sent her the transcripts, I also wrote her and one other person, whose name I have redacted.  I provided the following “Information on Lars Liebeler and His ‘Independent’ Investigation.”  Mr. Liebeler no longer works for Thaler Liebeler LLP.  He started his own law firm.  

From: Brent Detwiler 
Sent: Thursday, February 15, 2018 3:58 PM
To: [Redacted]; Rachael Denhollander
Subject: Information on Lars Liebeler and His “Independent” Investigation

In Lars Liebeler’s remarks to CLC on Oct 12, 2014, he said:

“And prior to this engagement, I had no prior knowledge or connection with Covenant Life Church or its members.  I am a Christian.  I am a member of an Anglican Church in Arlington, VA but my church has no affliction with Covenant Life or with its former parent organization, Sovereign Grace Ministries.”  (audio recording 18:34-18:52)

This begs the question, who recommended him and on what basis?  He claims to have no connection with any member in the church including longtime CLC lawyer, Chip Grange.  If Liebeler had agreed to talk with me, I would have asked him about these matters.  He refused.

No one ever explained how the pastors happened upon Liebeler.  That information was concealed.  Maybe insurance lawyers [thought] he was corruptible and recommended him to the CLC pastors.  Here is a synopsis.

Lars Liebeler was retained by CLC as their lawyer and asked to do an “independent” investigation regarding the conspiracy to commit and cover-up the sexual abuse of children in CLC.  The investigation took place from July 2013 to November 2014.  It was anything but independent.  

The post below doesn’t contain a lot of information because it was written before Liebeler concluded his investigation, but it outlines my concerns in advance.     

Questions for the Law Firm Thaler Liebeler LLP Regarding Investigation of Covenant Life Church
Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 12:56PM

Liebeler gave two oral reports to CLC (but would not release his written report to CLC) on Oct 12 & 26, 2014.  He withheld evidence from CLC and did the investigation, as anticipated, with great bias and prejudice.  He vindicated alleged abusers Stephen Griney, Dave Mayo, and Mark Hoffman but didn’t even interview their victims.  Nor did he deal with the evidence against Dave Adams (pertaining to the alleged abuse of John Roberts), Charlie Llewellyn, John Loftness or Gary Ricucci.    

I wrote the CLC pastors about my concerns. 

Sent: Saturday, November 29, 2014 1:31 PM
To: Joshua Harris; Robin Boisvert; Dave Brewer; Don DeVries; Isaac Hydoski; Jamie Leach; Joe Lee; Adam Malcolm; Kenneth Maresco; Corby Megorden; Mark Mitchell; Kevin Rogers; Eric Sheffer; Greg Somerville; Keith Welton; Ben Wikner; Bob Schickler
Subject: Concerns for Liebeler Report

I am concerned for the Lars Liebeler report to CLC for various reasons.  The same is true for comments made by Mark [Mitchell].  I’d like to request an audience so I can share those concerns in a redemptive manner and also ask you some questions.  I am willing to drive up or talk via a conference call.  I hope you respond in the affirmative.  

Thanks
Brent

I did not hear back from CLC.  I also wrote Liebeler.  He never answered my question about his qualifications and he never responded to my request to discuss the evidence he withheld.  

From: Brent Detwiler 
Sent: Saturday, November 29, 2014 4:56 PM
To: Lars Liebeler
Subject: Experience in Family Law? 

Hello Lars, 

As I reviewed your resume and public comments, it appears you have no experience in dealing with sex abusers either in the defense or prosecution of charges against them.  Is that a correct conclusion?  In other words, have you ever defended a person arrested for sex crimes or represented a victim against whom sex crimes were committed?  

In a similar vein, have you ever been hired by a victim or worked with law enforcement as a private investigator of a suspected sex abuser before your work commenced for Covenant Life Church? 

Per your website, you have “expertise in the areas of antitrust and trade regulation, contracts, and constitutional law.”  There is no mention of anything related to family law (i.e. child sex abuse).  Would you please comment on your experience in this field of jurisprudence?  I am wondering why the CLC pastors chose you and your firm to investigate sex crimes and provide counsel on child abuse policies.  From my perspective, they should have chosen a law firm and lawyer with extensive experience in dealing with victims and abusers. 

Please help me to understand. 

Thank you,
Brent      

From: Brent Detwiler 
Sent: Friday, December 05, 2014 9:26 AM
To: Lars Liebeler
Subject: Request for Phone Conversation 

Dear Lars, 

Could we set up a time to talk by phone?  I have concerns for your report to CLC that I’d like to share with you in person.  For example, you left out vital pieces of evidence regarding the events of 2007.  I’d like to discuss these concerns.  I would not make this request unless it was important.  Your investigation continues so it is not too late to amend your findings.  

Please contact me at your earliest convenience.  I’d also appreciate an answer to my previous question about your legal experience in dealing with sex abusers. 

Thanks for your consideration. 

Brent

From: Lars Liebeler 
Sent: Tuesday, December 09, 2014 12:45 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Subject: RE: Request for Phone Conversation  

Dear Mr. Detwiler, 

Thank you for your email and interest in the accuracy of the investigation.  If you have any evidence that you believe is relevant to the investigation, feel free to forward that evidence to me via email or US Mail.  I will review what you send to me carefully and make a determination of whether a follow up telephone conversation or an in person meeting would be helpful.  

Regards, 

Lars H. Liebeler  

Thaler Liebeler LLP
International Square
1825 Eye Street, N.W.
Suite 400
Washington, D.C. 20006
Direct: 202-587-4747
Main: 202-466-4110
Fax: 202-466-2693
www.TL-LawFirm.com 

From: Brent Detwiler 
Sent: Tuesday, December 09, 2014 4:44 PM
To: Lars Liebeler
Subject: RE: Request for Phone Conversation 

You seem to have misunderstood the nature of my request.  I don’t have additional evidence that needs to be forwarded.  I want to discuss the evidence in both our possessions and ask why you withheld some of it from your presentation to CLC.  From my perspective, you acted in a partial manner, not an independent manner, in the reporting of evidence.  That is my primary concern. 

I’d also like to know about your past legal experience in dealing with sex abusers.  I think that too is germane to your findings.  I hope you will answer my questions regarding the same. 

Brent 

The Liebeler “independent” investigation cost 100k.  Like a “good” defense lawyer, he singularly protected his clients - that is, the alleged conspirators and sex abusers.  He showed no regard for the testimony of those abused.  His report was biased, partial, prejudicial and unethical and left out vital evidence against his clients. 

[End

Rachael took the information I sent her about the investigation and summated it in her response to the Sovereign Grace Leadership Team.  Here is the relevant section under the subheading, “SGC Statement – The ‘Independent Review.’”   

Response to Sovereign Grace Churches
Rachel Denhollander
Thursday, March 1, 2018 

SGC Statement – The “Independent Review” 

In their response, SGC claims that no third-party independent review is necessary because, among other things, Covenant Life Church (CLC) commissioned an independent investigation into how matters were handled.  While the SGC statement simply describes CLC as “a church that was then part of Sovereign Grace,” CLC was in fact the flagship church of the denomination.  Furthermore, CJ Mahaney was the lead pastor at the time nearly all the alleged mishandlings of abuse at CLC took place, including the abuses perpetrated by Nathaniel Morales.  Because the SGC statement relies heavily on the conclusions of this independent review, it bears further scrutiny here. There are several aspects which ought to have been disclosed, related to this review.  

  • The review, called the Thaler-Liebeler report, was conducted by a firm and an attorney with no known or recorded experience in criminal law or investigative work.  Rather, the firm specialized in various forms of business litigation and business law, as did the attorney hired to investigate, Mr. Liebeler.  Anyone familiar with sexual assault, institutional dynamics, or simply the process for independent investigations, would immediately recognize that this type of firm is not in any way the type of firm normally retained for such endeavors, and that the skill set and expertise necessary for this type of investigation, simply was not present.
  • This review did not examine any claims arising outside of Covenant Life Church.  Thus, it never examined the allegations of systemic failures within the denomination to report domestic or sexual abuse. 
  • CJ Mahaney, Gary Ricucci and John Loftness – all of whom had been pastors at CLC during these events – refused to participate in the review by virtue of their status in the civil lawsuit.  Thus, the role of key figures in the Sovereign Grace organization has not even been cursorily examined by any type of investigation. 
  • Key witnesses regarding the claims against SGM were not contacted or interviewed for this review.  This includes alleged victims, known sexual assault victims including some of the victims of Nathaniel Morales, and corroborating witnesses such as parents, siblings and those involved in reconciliation meetings.  Thus, this review did not include speaking with many of the very people raising the charges and concerns, or witnesses on behalf of these people. 
  • CLC retained the firm as their attorney, meaning that all information found during the investigation was protected under attorney-client privilege, and was not released.  This is the precise tactic used by Michigan State University in the Larry Nassar case, when they retained an attorney to conduct a private review.  They rightfully received public scorn for this maneuver and have now submitted to a truly independent review, which has already produced significant incriminating evidence somehow “missed” by the initial review.  CLC and Sovereign Grace, by contrast, never have consented to such an investigation. 
  • It should further be noted that the rationale for refusing to disclose the report or discuss the case further – that is, SGC’s supposed concern for the victims and their families – has no merit: first, because most of the victims discussed in the report were already speaking publicly and, second, because other institutions who have conducted independent reviews, including Penn State University and now Michigan State University, have managed to do so without violating privacy.  It is common practice to conduct these reviews without breaching privacy, and CLC and SGM could easily have done so, had they actually desired an independent, transparent, and public review. 

In short, the firm and investigators had none of the expertise normally required of any team charged with handling such an investigation.  The firm used poor methodology.  They chose not to speak with key witnesses, including those who had raised the allegations, and were not allowed to speak with others key witnesses, including leaders at SGM.  Further, as discussed below, they did not disclose key evidence and blatantly misrepresented additional key evidence.  Finally, they used attorney-client privilege as a shield against public accountability and refused to disclose evidence or even the final written report - save for an oral retelling of the report to the members of CLC. (I have transcripts of this report and access to the audio recording, which was provided to me by survivors.)            

 [End

I provided the “transcripts of this report” to a survivor who forwarded them to Rachael.  I wrote her again after her response to SGC. 

From: Brent Detwiler 
Sent: Saturday, March 19, 2016 10:10 AM
To: Rachael Denhollander
Subject: C.J. Mahaney’s Knowledge of Child Sexual Abuse

The lawsuit was dismissed on May 18, 2014 [correction: 20113].  C.J. made his categorical statement on May 22, 2014.  “Let me be clear about this: I have never conspired to protect a child predator, and I also deny all the claims made against me in the civil suit.”  The lawsuit was officially closed on Sept 22, 2016.  Lars Liebeler, the “independent” investigator, gave oral reports to CLC at members’ only meetings on Oct 12 and Oct 26, 2014.

Here is what Liebeler said at the second meeting about C.J. having no knowledge of Nate Morales’ crimes.  It is an exact quote.

“Let’s see.  There were a couple of other questions let me thumb through.  There is a long question emailed that talked about this question about why it’s possible that two different reports that came into two different pastors [Robin Boisvert, Gary Ricucci], is it possible that both of them didn’t share it with anybody else on the pastoral team.  More specifically, people said, “Well gee, C.J. Mahaney must have known about this.”  I did not have access to C.J. Mahaney to ask that question.  He is a defendant in the suit, he is represented by counsel during the pendency of the civil suit in particular, they made the decision not to talk about things.  I do know from speaking to his lawyer that his position is that he did not know.”

Liebeler misleads the church by saying he did not have access to Mahaney because Mahaney had to remain silent “during the pendency of the civil trial” having “made the decision not to talk about things.”  The pendency ended on Sept 22.  Liebeler is giving this report on Oct 26.  He could have talked to Mahaney, and vice versa, from Sept 22 and Oct 26.  He doesn’t make this sequence of events clear.

Liebeler did talk to Mahaney’s lawyer, however, presumably after Sept 22.  The lawyer tells Liebeler that C.J.’s “position is that he did not know” about the abuse of children by Morales.  That is absurd.  I will present compelling evidence in my book that could not have been the case. 

The point being, Mahaney has never acknowledged any wrong doing or any knowledge of sexual abuse in CLC including that by Nate Morales. 

Liebeler’s report was biased and prejudicial.  He also withheld evidence from his oral report and he refused to make his written report public.  Just one example from above.  Liebeler says, “I did not have access to C.J. Mahaney to ask that question.”  True during pendency.  He did have access to Boisvert who remains a pastor in CLC.  He never tells us if he asked Boisvert, “Did C.J. know about Morales?”  That kind of thing is evident throughout his report. 

Further, you may or may not know, but Liebeler was retained by CLC.  He had an attorney client relationship with CLC.  Therefore, he was forbidden from sharing incriminating evidence with the church or law enforcement.  His investigation was not independent.  It was internal.  There is a world of difference.

I assume you have this statement by SGM but in case not (it has been scrubbed from the website), I am providing it because SGM states, “Please note that this ruling does not specifically address the substance of the plaintiffs’ allegations.”  I’m sure SGM regrets the inclusion of that sentence.  They have repeatedly and deceitfully used the dismissal as a pretense for telling people the allegations were fallacious.

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

The following is an update from the Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) Board on the civil lawsuit filed against SGM.

SGM’s motion to dismiss the suit was heard by Judge Sharon V. Burrell in Maryland’s Montgomery County Circuit Court on Friday, May 17, 2013.  The following summarizes the results of the hearing we received from our attorneys:

Judge Burrell dismissed 9 of the 11 plaintiffs on the grounds that their claims fell outside of the statute of limitations.  She also dismissed the claims of all 11 plaintiffs as to the Virginia-based defendants (for lack of jurisdiction) and as to Covenant Life School, Inc. (for being the incorrect corporate entity associated with the timeframe of the claims).  With respect to the claims of the two remaining plaintiffs against the remaining defendants (including SGM), Judge Burrell dismissed the Second Amended Complaint.  She allowed plaintiffs’ counsel 10 days to file a third amended complaint to attempt to clarify with specificity any allegations by the two remaining plaintiffs against each remaining defendant.  The court indicated that plaintiff’s counsel may not add new claims or new parties to the third amended complaint. 

Please note that this ruling does not specifically address the substance of the plaintiffs’ allegations.  This was a civil lawsuit requesting financial damages relating to an alleged cover up of abuse.  It was not a criminal case trying the innocence or guilt of any of these individuals.  Sadly, these allegations have damaged the reputations of the named defendants and leave us all in the difficult place of having no clear way to restore them.  Let us reiterate that our review of the allegations has not produced any evidence of any cover-up or conspiracy by SGM.  Likewise, defendant John Loftness, our former chairman, has publicly denied having ever physically or sexually abused a child. 

We are firmly committed to fully cooperating with authorities should any charges ever be brought against any individual associated with SGM.  Furthermore, we are fully committed to compliance with all laws regarding reporting of known or suspected child abuse. 

We, like everyone else, abhor sexual abuse of any kind, especially against children.  It is evil and a sin against God and humanity.  And we grieve for the very real pain and suffering that any victim of abuse has experienced.   We believe children are a gift from God and commit to do all we can to love, care for, and protect them.

We are most grateful for your ongoing support and prayer through this challenging season.  Please continue to pray for all those affected by this civil suit, for God’s will to be done, and for SGM to work through these challenging circumstances in a manner that honors him and that demonstrates that our hope and trust are in him. 

The Sovereign Grace Ministries Board of Directors 

[End] 

Rachael wrote me back. 

From: Rachael Denhollander 
Sent: Sunday, March 20, 2016 9:18 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Subject: RE: C.J. Mahaney’s Knowledge of Child Sexual Abuse

Thank you, that is very helpful, I hadn’t been able to confirm some of this, so I appreciate it.

Okay, the plot thickens.  With this evidence and information, Rachael and her husband Jacob, were able to sit down with Al Mohler and expose the bogus nature of the investigation.

Keep in mind, I sent her this material on February 15 and March 19, 2018.  In between on March 1, she posted her devastating response to the Leadership Team of Sovereign Grace Churches.  It had no impact on Al Mohler, Mark Dever and Ligon Duncan or perhaps they did not read it. 

We know this because on March 7, Mohler, Dever and Duncan allowed Mahaney to post his “I have ever [sic] conspired to cover up sexual abuse or other wrong-doing” on the Together for the Gospel website.  In so doing, they supported and promoted his innocence. 

T4G 2018 was held on April 11-13.  During the conference there was NO mention of Mahaney by any of the speakers. 

I don’t know this for a fact, but I suspect Rachael and Jacob met with Mohler between March 19 (after my second email to her re: the investigation) and April 11 and exposed the fallacious investigation.  That’s why the silence about Mahaney at the conference.  Nevertheless, Mahaney’s statement of innocence has remained on the T4G website in prominent view until just recently.  Mohler allowed this despite his severing of relationship with Mahaney a year ago.  He needs to explain why. 

I don’t know this for a fact either, but there could be division between Mohler and Dever and perhaps Duncan.  This too needs to be cleared up.  Where do Mark Dever and Ligon Duncan stand today?  Are they still defending Mahaney?   Or have they severed ties and called for an investigation?  Do they realized Mahaney deceived them too?  Or do they still believe his lies?  Its time to speak up.

Over the past year, I watched closely and observed there was no interaction between Mohler and Mahaney.  So did others.  For instance, the  Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, honored Dr. Mohler in October for 25 years of service as President.  Mahaney didn’t even mentioned the historic event in a tweet.

Before the breakup of their friendship, Mohler would have made him a guest of honor and likely a speaker on the occasion of his honoring.  C.J., for his part, would have showered Al and Mary with gifts galore, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with a hefty donation, and written an over the top tribute on the Sovereign Grace website.  That is how he wins friends and influences people.  Gifts, donations, and excessive praise (i.e. flattery).  That is, until you offend him.  Al joins a long, long, long list of former friends.

The T4G History still reads as follows.

“What began as a friendship between four pastors [Mahaney, Mohler, Dever, and Duncan] from across denominational traditions has burgeoned into a biennial conference for thousands of pastors and church leaders who, for all their differences, are committed to standing together for the main thing—the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Two weeks ago, I sent the following email to the investitive journalists at the Houston Chronicle who wrote about the widespread abuse of children in Southern Baptist churches.

From: Brent Detwiler <abrentdetwiler@gmail.com>
Sent: Sunday, February 10, 2019 5:13 PM
To: Robert Downen <robert.downen@chron.com>; Lise Olsen <lise.olsen@chron.com>; John Tedesco <john.tedesco@chron.com>; Jon Shapley jon.shapley@chron.com
Subject: Abuse of Faith Related to C.J. Mahaney & Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc.
Importance: High

Hello Robert, Lise, John and Jon,

I’m sure you are inundated with responses to your excellent article, “Abuse of Faith” so I will keep my introduction brief.

I’ve written close to 100 articles about C.J. Mahaney, Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc., and the national leaders who have covered up for the man and ministry.  That body of work has been used by law enforcement, the national press, bloggers, et al.  

100 Articles from 2012-2018 on the Conspiracy to Commit & Cover Up the Sexual Abuse of Children in Sovereign Grace Ministries
Wednesday, January 9, 2019 at 11:05AM

Southern Baptist leaders, more than any other group of leaders, have covered up for Mahaney and promoted Mahaney.  I assume you are aware of this fact.  In particular, Al Mohler & Mark Dever.

I have been sending evidence to national leaders regarding the situation for the past six years.  My first article is below.  No one listened and I was condemned by the leaders of Together for the Gospel and The Gospel Coalition.  And of course, by Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. (formerly Sovereign Grace Ministries) as a gossip and slanderer.

An Appeal to 77 National Leaders Regarding C.J. Mahaney
Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 5:38PM

I used to be the number 2 leader in Sovereign Grace Ministries.  I was C.J.’s longest and closest friend in SGM.  I served on the Board of Directors for 25 years.  In 2011, however, it was necessary for me to send out The Documents.  That is, six-hundred pages of documents illustrating the growing corruption and hypocrisy in the organization unrelated to sexual abuse of which I was unaware. 

Later in 2012, I began to expose the conspiracy to commit and cover up the sexual abuse of children when a lawsuit was filed.  The second amendment included 11 victims.  All this information was hidden from me by Mahaney because he knew I would have insisted it be reported to law enforcement.  That was my practice.  Here is one article that gives you a feel for my work.

C.J. Mahaney, Covenant Life Church & the Conspiracy to Cover-up the Sexual Abuse of Children
Tuesday, February 13, 2018 at 12:42PM

Mahaney is close friends with Al Mohler, Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, David Platt, John Piper, John MacArthur, Matt Chandler, Kevin DeYoung, Don Carson, Justin Taylor, Thabiti Anyabwile, et al.  They have all covered up for him and promoted him even though Christianity Today called for an independent investigation.  It is genuinely reprehensible.

Mark Galli, Editor in Chief of Christianity Today, Calls for a Fresh & Thorough Independent Investigation of Sovereign Grace Ministries
Thursday, March 22, 2018 at 4:56PM

Finally, C.J.’s church, Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville is also a Southern Baptist Church.  J.D. Greear should have it removed from the SBC.  I’ve written J.D.  He is well-aware of all things pertaining to C.J.

I hope you are able to give this some attention in your remaining articles.  If I can answer any questions or be of any assistance, please call (704-497-7986) or email me abrentdetwiler@gmail.com.

Thanks for the hard work you have done in covering this story for the sake of past victims, and the prevention of future victims!  It is greatly appreciated!

Brent Detwiler

That correspondence resulted in phone conversations and further interaction via email.  Robert Downen contacted Al Mohler to interview him about the three articles published in the Houston Chronicle and about his relationship to Mahaney.  The articles were published on February 10, 12, and 13.  Mohler was interviewed on February 14. 

Part 1: Abuse of Faith
20 years, 700 victims: Southern Baptist sexual abuse spreads as leaders resist reform
By Robert Downen, Lise Olsen, and John Tedesco
Multimedia by Jon Shapley
Sunday, February 10, 2019

Past 2: Offend, then repeat
Southern Baptist churches hired ozens of leaders previously accused of  sex offenses
By John Tedesco, Robert Downen, and Lise Olsen
Multimedia by Jon Shapley
Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Part 3: Preying on teens
More than 100 Southern Baptist youth pastors convicted or charged in sex crimes
By Lise Olsen, Robert Downen, and John Tedesco
Multimedia by Jon Shapley
Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Mohler was expecting to be asked about the articles.  I don’t think he was expecting to be asked about his relationship with Mahaney.  I sent them my information four days before the interview.

In addition, Ben Sledge was in contact with the Houston Chronicle before I was in contact with them.   Ben had just written the article, Together for the Go$pel.  It was published by Medium Corporation on January 28, 2019.  The mega online publisher featured the article and sent out notice to 2.3 million people on its Twitter list.  It has been widely read.  

The subtitle for the article was “Amid backlash, evangelical leaders are finally acknowledging sexual abuse—but not a high profile preacher allegedly facilitating it.  Why?”  Of course, he was referring C.J. Mahaney.  Ben took leaders like Mohler to task for their support of Mahaney despite the evidence.  Here are a few excerpts.

“In every interview I conducted, victims, whistleblowers, and other sources repeated one phase to explain why abuse goes unreported and victims are dismissed: “The ol’ boy network.”

“When I spoke with Brent Detwiler—the former pastor inside Sovereign Grace—I asked if men like J.D. Greear and Russell Moore were aware of the allegations against Mahaney.  He confirmed that he’d sent both Greear and Moore the evidence he’d collected regarding Mahaney’s cover-ups.

“I asked Detwiler why they remain silent when so much evidence remains unanswered for.

“If C.J. goes down, they all go down.  They would have to admit they were entirely wrong…and refused to listen to anyone.  Instead, what’s happened is that they’ve slowly and progressively backed away from him, especially given Rachael’s (Denhollander) recent remarks.”

Ben concludes,

“Those like Mahaney and his cohorts have a level of power, influence, and money that’s unparalleled and, when threatened, can use those means to silence their opponents or victims.  They can use large sums of money for cover-ups or hush funds while using taxpayer dollars to subsidize their homes.  They can easily dismiss victims and whistleblowers by appealing to their hordes of faithful followers.  They can even distort their sacred literature [the Bible] to shame those who would dare speak for the victims.”

Ben also states in the article, “Medium reached out to the above individuals to confirm whether they still support Mahaney and received no response.”  In context, he was referring to Al Mohler, Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan and Denny Burke.  This put Mohler under considerable pressure to make his position known.  

By the way, “Denny Burk is the President of CBMW. He also serves as a Professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College, the undergraduate school of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.”  Burk effectively works for Mohler but still has his “co-sign” of Mohler, Dever, and Duncan issue statement in support of C.J. Mahaney from May 2013 up on his website and Jeff Purswell remains on his CBMW Board.  I hope that changes. 

Ben was kind enough to recommend the Houston Chronicle contact me.  All that to say, Robert Downen, the Houston Chronicle journalist, was equipped to ask Al Mohler about his unqualified support, defense and promotion of C.J. Mahaney despite all the documented allegations of a conspiracy to cover up the sexual abuse of children.  That put Mohler under extraordinary pressure.

Robert Downen did the interview with Mohler on Thursday, February 14.  He published the article that evening.  Here is the section dealing with Mohler.  Downen’s words are in bold italic print and my commentary in regular print.  I’ve added underling.  I’ve sectioned off his paragraphs using ##.

##

Leading Southern Baptist apologizes for supporting leader, church at center of sex abuse scandal
By Robert Downen
Updated 6:45 pm CST, Thursday, February 14, 2019

A leading Southern Baptist figure on Thursday apologized for supporting a religious leader who was accused of helping conceal sexual abuses at his former church, and for making a joke that he said downplayed the severity of the allegations.

Mohler “apologized” – he did not ask forgiveness for any particular sin.

##

In an interview with the Houston Chronicle, Al Mohler said for the first time publicly that he regrets his embrace of C.J. Mahaney, the former leader of the non-Southern Baptist group Sovereign Grace Ministries, now known as Sovereign Grace Churches.

He expresses “regrets” – not sorrow for his sin in embracing Mahaney all these years despite the overwhelming evidence of guilt provided him.  He turned a blind eye.

##

Mahaney and his former organization were sued in 2013 by 11 people alleging that their abuses were concealed by leaders, at least one of whom was later convicted.

Nathaniel Morales was convicted in May 2014.  He sexually abused at least seven boys in Mahaney’s church according to police reports and court testimony.  Grant Layman, Mahaney’ brother-in-law and staff pastor, testified at trial that he covered up the abuse along with the other pastors.  He could have been arrested.  Seven different pastors were involved in the situation – no one reported.  Mahaney claims he never heard anything about Morales from his staff.  He is lying.  Mahaney and SGC have also said the “11 people alleging…their abuses were concealed by leaders” are lying.    

##

Mahaney has long denied the accusations, and the lawsuit was later dismissed because of the statute of limitations.  Despite the high-profile and well-publicized scandal, Mohler and others continued to welcome Mahaney at religious conferences, and at one point released a statement in which they called him a “friend” with “personal integrity.”

Downen is correct.  “Mohler and others continued to welcome Mahaney” including Don Carson, Justin Taylor, Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, John Piper, John MacArthur, Matt Chandler, David Platt, Kevin DeYoung, Thabiti Anyabwile, Don Carson,  Justin Taylor, and a host of other national leaders. They all need to ask forgiveness of the victims and the Body of Christ for the extraordinary harm caused by their ungodly support.

He also used heavy handed tactics to pressure Janet Mefferd into have Mickey Connolly on her nationally syndicated talk show to defend Mahaney.  She risked her career by opposing Mohler.  He needs to ask her forgiveness.  Please read Janet’s article about the horrible experience and listen to the recent interview I did with her here.  Mohler was a bully for evil.  Connolly is a cult-like leader.

A Must Read: “Al Mohler’s Incomplete Apology: My Story” by Talk Show Hose Janet Mefferd
Saturday, February 16, 2019 at 12:04PM

Mohler has also been the consummate hypocrite.  Rachael Denhollander pointed this out in her Christianity Today interview when referencing Mohler’s outspoken condemnation of the sex abuse scandal at Penn State University.   

“We are very happy to use sexual assault as a convenient whipping block when it’s outside our community.  When the Penn State scandal broke, prominent evangelical leaders [especially Mohler] were very, very quick to call for accountability, to call for change.  But when it was within our own community, the immediate response was to vilify the victims or to say things that were at times blatantly and demonstratively untrue about the organization [Sovereign Grace Ministries] and the leader [Mahaney] of the organization.  There was a complete refusal to engage with the evidence.  It did not even matter. 

Read this article for additional insight into Mohler’s hypocrisy.

The Tragic Lessons of Penn State — A Call to Action by Al Mohler
Friday, April 05, 2013 at 3:17PM
Brent Detwiler

Finally, Mohler arrogantly refused to follow the resolution passed by his own Southern Baptist Convention on June 12-13, 2013 that had him, Mark Dever, C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries particularly in view.  It read as follows.

“RESOLVED: that we encourage all denominational leaders and employees of the Southern Baptist Convention to utilize the highest sense of discernment in affiliating with groups and/or individuals that possess questionable policies and practices in protecting our children from criminal abuse; and be it finally”

In context, the resolution had Mohler and Dever primarily in mind.  Three weeks earlier, they posted their unqualified statement of support on the T4G website.  This resolution was a reproof to them.  Yet, they showed no discernment and continued to wholeheartedly affiliate with Mahaney and SGM.  For a better understanding of context read this article.

Southern Baptist Convention Passes Resolutions on Sex Abuse and Affiliations with Groups Like Sovereign Grace Ministries
Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 11:26AM
Brent Detwiler

## 

“I believe in retrospect I erred in being part of a statement supportive of (Mahaney) and rather dismissive of the charges,” Mohler said.  “And I regret that action, which I think was taken without due regard to the claims made by the victims and survivors at the time, and frankly without an adequate knowledge on my part, for which I’m responsible.”

Mohler says “I erred” and “I regret” – he never says I sinned.  Mahaney, Covenant Life Church and Sovereign Grace Churches trashed the victims from the time the original lawsuit was file in October 2012.  In defending Mahaney all these years, Mohler has defended the libeling and slandering of the victims and their families. 

Mohler needs to ask forgiveness for his heavy handedness, defense of evil, hypocrisy and arrogance.  The President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary didn’t even listen to the Southern Baptist Convention.

Furthermore, Mohler is exceedingly “responsible” for dismissing the allegations “without an adequate knowledge.”  Why?  Because he chose to be unjust, ignorant, and prejudicial.  I sent him hundreds and hundreds of pages of evidence concerning “the charges” beginning in February 2013. 

##

Mohler, the longtime president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., has long been silent about his support for Mahaney.  His comments to the Chronicle on Thursday came just days after the newspaper reported hundreds of sexual abuses committed by Southern Baptist church leaders and volunteers, some of which were not reported to law enforcement.

“Has long been silent about his support for Mahaney.” This may mean Mohler has been silent about his withdrawal of support over the past year until now.  I’m not sure.  In any case, Mohler was still supporting Mahaney in March 2018 when Mahaney posted his letter of denial on the T4G website.

##

After resigning from the Maryland-based organization, Mahaney started a new church in Louisville in part, he said, to be closer to Mohler’s seminary. 

Mohler also apologized for a joke he made while introducing Mahaney at a 2016 conference that was being protested by former Sovereign Grace members and others.

I cover later.

##

“What I did was wrong and caused hurt to the victims and survivors who felt that their experience had been trivialized and dismissed,” Mohler said. “And I grieve that, I apologize for that, it was wrong.  I would never make such a comment again.”

I cover later.

##

Mohler said he should have been more forceful in his denunciation of Mahaney. 

“Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes,” he said. “I should have been very clear about insisting on an independent, credible third-party investigation.”

Mohler asked for “an independent, credible third-party investigation” in private with Mahaney.  He did not insist upon it.  Every leader in America should insist upon it now.  For instance, Don Carson, Kevin DeYoung and Justin Taylor and the 80 speakers at their upcoming conference for The Gospel Coalition on April 1-3 in Indianapolis.

##

He added, “I should have said nothing until I had heard from those who were victims and who were making the allegations.  I should have sought at that time the advice and counsel of agencies and authorities who were even then on the front lines of dealing with these kinds of allegations.”

The only people Mohler heard from were Mahaney and his defenders like Mark Dever.  That was altogether foolish and decidedly unjust!  I asked Mohler and other leaders to talk to the victims.  I also asked him to talk with me.  I was working with “agencies and authorities” (i.e., law enforcement).  I could easily have put him in touch with them.  Not a chance.  Mohler was intentionally partial.  He and many other leaders showed no interest in the truth.  Not only that, they defended and promoted Mahaney for the past 8 years.  When will they repent for that scandalous sin?

[End]

The next day, Mohler expanded upon these comments in an official statement posted on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary website.  I have broken down his long paragraphs into shorter paragraphs and provide commentary after each one.   I also section off each paragraph using ##.  Mohler’s words are in bold italic print and my commentary in regular print.  

This statement gets to the heart of the matter and this article.  Mahaney deceived Mohler about the Covenant Life Church investigation.  That resulted in the severing of their friendship.    

Statement from R. Albert Mohler Jr. on Sovereign Grace Churches
R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
Friday, February 15, 2019

As many are aware, I have recently apologized and asked forgiveness for serious errors I made in how I responded to concerns that were raised about Sovereign Grace Churches and CJ Mahaney. 

Mohler expressed regret and apologized in the Houston Chronicle article but he did NOT ask forgiveness for anything.  Notice how he frames the issue.  He made “serious errors” in how he “responded to concerns.”  Not, he committed serious sins.  This is a superficial confession.  He needs to ask personal forgiveness of the victims who he defamed by his categorical support of Mahaney and SGC.  Not make an impersonal apology on his website or in a newspaper article.   If he is serious about repentance, he will call each one of the victims, hear their stories, ask forgiveness, and make this intent publicly known as a means of accountability.  

For instance, this was reported by the Associated Press in an article the same day Mohler put out his official statement on February 15. 

“Heather Thompson Bryant was the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit against Sovereign Grace.  She said seeing prominent Christian leaders defend Mahaney and vilify victims felt like a “violation.”  And she is concerned that the way she was treated has prevented other victims from coming forward.” 

Exactly right.  Vilified.  Violated.  Prevented other victims from coming forward.  When will Mohler use this kind of terminology?  When will he contact this victim to hear her story and ask her forgiveness?  When will he acknowledge the impact of his actions on other victims?  I hope very soon. 

## 

In 2013 I was part of a statement supportive of CJ and dismissive of the allegations and concerns raised regarding SGC’s handling of sexual and domestic abuse claims.  

You can find the May 23, 2013 statement here.  It said in part,    

“We have stood beside our friend, C. J. Mahaney, and we can speak to his personal integrity. … A Christian leader, charged with any credible, serious, and direct wrongdoing, would usually be well advised to step down from public ministry.  No such accusation of direct wrongdoing was ever made against C. J. Mahaney.  Instead, he was charged with founding a ministry and for teaching doctrines and principles that are held to be true by vast millions of American evangelicals.  For this reason, we, along with many others, refused to step away from C. J. in any way.”

I responded to this absurdity in an article that also addressed Don Carson, Kevin DeYoung and Justin Taylor from The Gospel Coalition.  It is one the best and most important articles I have written. 

Conclusive Evidence Don Carson, Kevin DeYoung, & Justin Taylor Never Read Sex Abuse Lawsuit against C.J. Mahaney
Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 4:41PM
Brent Detwiler 

## 

This was motivated by several factors.  At the time the allegations surfaced, I did request that CJ and the ministry participate in an independent investigation, and I was pointed to the investigation that Covenant Life Church had commissioned.  

The “allegations surfaced” on October 17, 2012.  They were amended on January 11, 2013 and again on May 14, 2013.  I don’t know when Mohler called for “an independent investigation.”  I do know Mohler absolved Mahaney of ALL wrong doing on May 23, 2013 on the T4G website.  That was 18 months before the investigation was completed! 

The investigation Mohler seemingly called for was commissioned and begun in July 2013.  It concluded in November 2014.  Joshua Harris was the senior pastor of Covenant Life Church.

From: Joshua Harris - Covenant Life Church <dnalle@covlife.org>
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. … 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. 

## 

I did not realize until this past year that SGC and its leaders had not participated in that investigation.   

Mahaney never told Mohler he refused to participate in the very investigation he used to assure Mohler all was well.  He is a con artist.  And he never told Mohler that John Loftness and Gary Ricucci refused to participate even though they were accused of terrible acts in the lawsuit.  Loftness remains a regional leader in SGC.  Ricucci is Mahaney’s brother-in-law, on his pastoral staff, and works for SGC.   

Here are two articles I wrote about them.  I’ve included short excerpts.  Mahaney, Loftness, and Ricucci went uninvestigated in the investigation Mahaney used as proof of his innocence and everyone else!  As Mohler points out, none of the SGM leaders participated!  The conspiracy is not just about Mahaney.  Many of his lieutenants participated in the same.  They all need to be investigated.  

John Loftness in Focus – Former Chairman of the SGM Board & Alleged Sexual Sadist
Sunday, July 14, 2013 at 5:32PM
Brent Detwiler

John, you were a friend for 30 years but based upon all the evidence in my possession, I believe you are guilty of physically and sexually abusing children.  That evidence exceeds the testimony of more than two credible witnesses as required by Scripture. 

## 

Gary Ricucci & the Conspiracy Surrounding Convicted Felon, David Adams
Friday, August 2, 2013 at 8:11PM
Brent Detwiler

In this post, I’m primarily addressing the conspiracy surrounding convicted felon,  David Adams, but the reader should also be aware Defendant Ricucci is named as a co-conspirator in relation to alleged abusers John Loftness (Complaint 90), Stephen Griney (Complaint 90), the teenager who assaulted Plaintiff Renee Palmer Gamby (Complaints 94-106) and Charlie Llewellyn (Complaints 152-161). …

Loftness is accused of physically and sexually abusing Plaintiff Jessica Roberts-Thomas and Plaintiff Heather Thompson Bryan but that’s not all.  He and Ricucci are alleged to have worked with Stephen Griney, the Covenant Life school teacher, in carrying out a conspiracy to actually commit sex crimes, not just cover them up.

None of this was investigated but there is more to Mohler’s comment.  He says, “I did not realize until this past year that SGC and its leaders had not participated in that investigation.”  

Are you catching his meaning?  This is crucial!  For five years (2013-2018), Mohler been under the delusion the investigation included Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. and its leaders.  If he is being truthful, he had no idea the investigation by Lars Liebeler was confined to Covenant Life Church.  We must bear in mind, these lies are the same lies Mahaney and the Sovereign Grace Leadership Team have been telling leaders around the nation that come to them in “good faith.”  

The same is true of Sovereign Grace pastors with their church members.  It’s the same line.  “Everyone and everything has been investigated.  Courts threw out the ridiculous lawsuit.  Nothing to it.  The victims lied for money.  C.J. is an incredible man of integrity.  He’s being persecuted like Job.  We’re all good!  Trust us and obey us!  Make our job a joy!”    

This should come as no surprise to anyone!  For eight years, I have been documenting the deceptive practices of Mahaney and Sovereign Grace leaders and pastors in hundreds of illustrations - literally. 

Three months before the original lawsuit came out in October 2013, I wrote these two articles chronicling the 50 most serious lies by Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries.  What I documented was not contrived.  These articles shine a light on the pervasive corruption that was evident even before the sex abuse scandal was known. 

The Ethical Demise of Sovereign Grace Ministries (Part 1)
Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 4:50PM

The Ethical Demise of Sovereign Grace Ministries (Part 2)
Friday, August 17, 2012 at 9:02AM 

## 

Nor was I equipped to know the shortcomings of how that investigation was conducted. 

Mahaney did not tell Mohler anything about “the shortcomings” that I covered with Rachael Denhollander.  He was intentionally not “equipped” by Mahaney.  Anyone familiar with how the “investigation was conducted” would know there was never an independent investigation.  Covenant Life hired a lawyer to defend their interests.  He couldn’t criminalize his client.  He had to protect the guilty like a defense attorney arguing in a courtroom. 

## 

I wrongly believed that an investigation had been done, and relied on that assurance and the court dismissal of the civil suit, along with my personal knowledge of CJ, when I issued my statement of support in 2013.  I deeply regret this.   

Mohler “wrongly believed” because he was deceived by Mahaney.  Mahaney had assured him “an investigation had been done.”  That was not the case.  Mahaney, Loftness, Ricucci, et al. were never investigated.  In fact, Liebeler didn’t talk to ANY of the victims in the lawsuit!  

When I exposed this scandal, Mark Mitchell, the executive pastor of Covenant Life Church actually told members in an attempt to cover up that Liebeler and his team didn’t talk to the victims because they ran out of money.  I’m serious.  The investigation took place over 17 months but Liebeler and his staff could not afford to even call or email any of the victims!  That’s because Liebeler spent most all his time talking to the perpetrators and conspirators!  

The “Independent” Investigation of Sexual Abuse at Covenant Life Church Didn’t Include Talking to the Victims of Abuse – Incredulously, Executive Pastor Mark Mitchell Says Exclusion Was Due to “Limited Finances”  
Saturday, April 28, 2018 at 1:50PM
Brent Detwiler 

Mahaney and the Sovereign Grace Leadership Team were also spinning the dismissal of the lawsuit as evidence the substance of the lawsuit was without merit.  It was another of their deceptions.  The dismissal by the Judge was based upon the statute of limitations expiring in Maryland and an improper filing for the victims from Virginia.  It had NOTHING to do with the merits of the lawsuit! 

At the time, Mohler also relied upon his “personal knowledge of C.J.”  That was his biggest mistake and for that there is no excuse!  Mohler had hundreds and hundreds of pages of evidence that proved C.J. was deceitful and untrustworthy.  For instance, lying about the real reason he moved Sovereign Grace Ministries from Gaithersburg, MD to Louisville, KY in 2012.  It was all a hoax.  C.J. also left a wake of destruction behind him at Covenant Life Church which he often called “the happiness place on earth.”  Today it is desolate. 

Sovereign Grace Ministries' Relocation Announcement
Saturday, April 21, 2012 at 11:25PM
Brent Detwiler 

One more very important point.  It’s hard to catch unless you grasp the chronology of events.  Re-read this sentence. 

“I wrongly believed that an investigation had been done, and relied on that assurance and the court dismissal of the civil suit, along with my personal knowledge of CJ, when I issued my statement of support in 2013.  I deeply regret this.”  

Not only did Mohler believe an investigation was done, notice WHEN he thought the investigation was done.  At the time he posted his statement on May 23, 2013.  But here’s the problem.  The investigation didn’t commence until July 2013 and didn’t conclude until November 2014. 

If Mohler is being honest, that means Mahaney told him “an investigation had been done” even before it started.  Mohler gives three reasons for his statement of support.  In reverse order, his knowledge of C.J.  The dismissal of the civil suit on May 18, 2013.  And the completion of the investigation which had NOT begun. 

Is this plausible, or is Mohler covering his tracks?  I don’t know for sure.  Here is one possible explanation.  The First Amended Complaint was filed on January 11, 2103.  The Second Amended Complaint on May 14, 2013.  Mahaney withheld the Second Amended Complaint from Mohler and others because he was specifically named as a conspirator in it.  This was another of his deceptions.  I’ve written about it here.  Therefore, it is likely Mahaney lied to Mohler about a completed investigation before the investigation began.  

## 

I frankly was not equipped to sift through the allegations and did not grasp the situation, and I am responsible for that and for not seeking the counsel of those who were. 

This is hard to read.  Mohler chose not to be “equipped” except by Mahaney and his surrogates.  He did not “grasp the situation” because he did not look into the situation despite constant appeals over years to do so.  He did not seek “the counsel” of anyone who could have helped him.  I asked him to call me or meet with me several times.  I sent him hundreds of pages of evidence.  He chose ignorance.  He could have contacted me like Rachael Denhollander.  I could have put him in contact with the victims and law enforcement.    

##

I also deeply regret my introduction of CJ at Together for the Gospel the following year.  My words were intended to reference the general fog of information on the Internet, and I am grieved to acknowledge that I did not even grasp the context I was speaking into.  This was wrong, a serious error, and caused hurt to the victims and survivors who felt that their suffering had been trivialized and dismissed.  And I grieve that, I apologize for that, I am deeply sorry, it was wrong and I must say so without excuse or minimization.  I would never make such a comment again. 

“The general fog of information on the internet.”  No one has generated more “fog” on the internet then yours truly.  But Mohler is being generous now.  He has never referred to my writings as “fog.”  He has referred to them as slander and stated they are born out of a vendetta against Mahaney.  Moreover, Mohler lampooned other internet bloggers covering the story during his introduction of Mahaney at T4G 2016.  We were the ones defending the victims and documenting the evidence against Mahaney and SGC.  We were also calling attention to the protestors outside the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville at T4G.  

Mohler was arrogant and condescending.  By mocking us, he was exalting Mahaney and dismissing the victims and survivors.  They were the farthest thing from his mind.  He was determined to put down Mahaney’s critics so as to invalidate our writings and put forth Mahaney as an extraordinary man of God.  Mohler compared him to righteous Job.  The victims’ “experience” was “trivialized and dismissed” as a factor of fact, not a matter of feeling (cf. “victims and survivors who felt…”)  Until Mohler sees his self-righteous pride, he will “make such a comment again.” 

## 

When this issue resurfaced a year ago, I was made painfully aware of my serious mistakes.  I immediately urged that an independent investigation be conducted and agreed that CJ needed to step down from public ministry until that took place.  This resulted in a severing of all personal and ministry ties, and I have had no relationship with CJ or SGC since that time. 

The conspiracy to cover up the sexual abuse of children in Sovereign Grace Churches  resurfaced on January 31, 2018 when Rachael did her shock interview with Morgan Lee from Christianity Today.  Here are two excerpts. The notes in brackets [ ] were added by Morgan Lee for clarity.  

ML: Church leaders thought that your own experiences made you biased? 

RD: Correct.  So rather than engaging with the mountains of evidence that I brought, because this situation was one of the most well-documented cases of institutional cover-up I have ever seen, ever, there was a complete refusal [by her elders] to engage with the evidence.

ML: After you had confronted church leaders and you decided that you were going public with your own abuse, you realized that your church would never take this seriously?

RD: The ultimate reality that I live with is that if my abuser had been Nathaniel Morales instead of Larry Nassar, if my enabler had been [an SGM pastor] instead of [MSU gymnastics coach] Kathie Klages, if the organization I was speaking out against was Sovereign Grace under the leadership of [Mahaney] instead of MSU under the leadership of Lou Anna Simon, I would not only not have evangelical support, I would be actively vilified and lied about by every single evangelical leader out there.  The only reason I am able to have the support of these leaders now is because I am speaking out against an organization not within their community.  Had I been so unfortunate so as to have been victimized by someone in their community, someone in the Sovereign Grace network, I would not only have their support, I would be massively shunned.  That’s the reality.  The only reason I am able to have the support of these leaders now is because I am speaking out against an organization not within their community.  Had I been so unfortunate so as to have been victimized by someone in their community, someone in the Sovereign Grace network, I would not only have their support, I would be massively shunned.  That’s the reality. 

In response, I sent this article to leaders around the nation on February 7, 2018.

Denhollander Speaks Out Again in Response to Condemnation by Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. – I’ve Added Background Commentary
Wednesday, February 7, 2018 at 4:16PM 

Then I wrote two more evidentiary articles with proofs in order to support Rachael’s points.

C.J. Mahaney, Covenant Life Church & the Conspiracy to Cover-up the Sexual Abuse of Children
Tuesday, February 13, 2018 at 12:42PM

Sarah Kacala Speaks Out Against Covenant Fellowship Church for Trying to Stop Her from Exposing & Prosecuting Sex Abusers
Saturday, February 17, 2018 at 1:38PM

I sent these articles to over 100 national leaders in a separate article.  I also called out Justin Taylor, Ray Ortlund and Kevin DeYoung for their on-going support of Mahaney and exposed Dave Harvey and Marty Machowski for their cover-up of sexual abuse at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, PA.   

An Appeal to National Leaders for Action Against C.J. Mahaney & Sovereign Grace Ministries, Inc.
Saturday, February 17, 2018 at 6:41PM
Brent Detwiler 

Despite this and more, Mohler was still defending Mahaney until he met with Rachael and Jacob between March 19 and April 11.  At that point, he “was made painfully aware of my serious mistakes.”  For years, Mohler had defended Mahaney because he refused to study the evidence and blindly accepted Mahaney’s talking points.  It was a pain-filled epiphany. 

Mohler says he “immediately urged that an independent investigation be conducted and agreed that CJ needed to step down from public ministry until that took place.”  Mahaney refused on both counts.  He wouldn’t listen to Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., the most powerful leader in American evangelicalism.  But more grievously, C.J. wouldn’t listen to his Together for the Gospel friend forever.  

It is another example of the fierce pride that grip’s C.J.’s soul.  His ambition and love of reputation have come before the gospel of Jesus Christ for a long time.  He brought destruction to Covenant Life Church, Sovereign Grace Ministries, and now Together for the Gospel.  That is his legacy. 

Mohler states, “This resulted in a severing of all personal and ministry ties, and I have had no relationship with CJ or SGC since that time.”  That is radical!  All ties cut!  No relationship since!  Not with C.J.  Not with anyone in SGC including Bob Kauflin and Jeff Purswell.  That is shocking but the severing was for good reason.  

Mohler was now keenly aware no independent investigation had ever been done.  He also realized Mahaney and his surrogates had deceived him into believing otherwise.  He was betrayed by his friend and others he trusted.     

It is good to know all ties have been cut with the denomination.  It’s leaders are corrupt.  I don’t expect Kauflin will be leading worship at Together for the Gospel 2020.  I don’t expect Purswell will be getting any perks for his Pastor College students at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  And I don’t expect Executive Director, Mark Prater will be recruiting pastors to Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. at a Together for the Gospel 2020 exhibition booth.  

## 

I was deeply affected by the documentation offered by Rachael Denhollander.  I met with Jacob and Rachael soon after she released the documentation and I have deeply appreciated her counsel.  That first conversation fundamentally changed my understanding of this issue. 

Jacob and Rachael are part of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary community.  They live in Louisville and Jacob has been working on his Ph.D. at the school.  They know many of the professors.  It was natural for them to meet with Mohler.  He is their esteemed President. 

Rachael “released the documentation” on March 1, 2018 in her Response to Sovereign Grace Churches.  In large measure, it was a summary of what I sent Mohler and leaders around the nation for the past six year.  It also included information I sent her in private and additional information she gathered on her own from victims, etc.  It was a brilliant presentation.  She has skills I do not possess and her speaking out was a wonderful breakthrough for which I am exceedingly grateful.  The Lord raised up a new voice.  A louder voice.  A better voice.  One that could not be denied.  

Mohler says, “That first conversation fundamentally changed my understanding of this issue.”  It was then Mohler discovered 1) Lars Liebeler was not qualified to do the investigation though competent in other fields of law; 2) Liebeler was retained by Covenant Life Church as their lawyer; therefore, the investigation could never be “independent;” 3) Liebeler did not talk to any of the victims in the lawsuit; 4) Liebeler withheld incriminating evidence in his oral reports; 5) the investigation was confined to Covenant Life Church; 6) it did not include other churches or leaders in Sovereign Grace Ministries; 7) C.J., John Loftness, and Gary Ricucci refused to participate though they had been pastors at Covenant Life Church; 8) no written report was published documenting Liebeler’s findings; 9) the lawsuit was dismissed on technicalities, not its merits; and 10) Mahaney had beguiled him about the whole thing.  

Around the same time the Denhollander’s were meeting with Mohler, Christianity Today, publicly called for an independent investigation.  That took courage.  I wrote about it.  Mark Galli is the editor in chief. 

We Need an Independent Investigation of Sovereign Grace Ministries
Mark Galli   
March 22, 2018 

Here is an excerpt from Galli’s article.

“To repeat: While we find Denhollander’s and Detwiler’s allegations compelling, we are not ready to say each of their charges is the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And we are hardly ready to conclude SGC and the accused congregations and leaders are guilty of every charge brought against them.  We are grateful that SGC says (in its statement to CT), ‘It is our desire to walk transparently, to grow in our ability to better address this risk, and to honor Christ in the way we care for those who have experienced abuse.’  Still a number of its explanations for past events remain inadequate and leave too many questions unanswered.

“We desperately need a fresh and thorough independent investigation by an organization that specializes in these matters. … We call for this on behalf of potential victims who may have yet to be heard.  And for the sake of SGC and for the integrity of evangelical churches everywhere.  And especially for the sake of the gospel.” 

On Monday, the Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville “staff” (not necessarily Mahaney) said they were willing to “answer any questions the workgroup has for us.”  That is a reference to a workgroup for the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention who was asked to do an “inquiry” of SGCL.  That workgroup has no authority to investigate and no expertise if they did.  The SGCL staff will never allow for a “fresh and thorough independent investigation by an organization that specializes in these matters.” 

## 

I issued a statement in May making it clear that any ministry or organization facing these allegations must submit to an independent investigation.  I did not specify SCG by name because I was concerned it would appear self-serving and a political effort to save face.  In hindsight, I believe speaking more specifically, earlier, would have been wiser.  I sought to be clear by my actions in severing public ties and calling all ministries to a higher standard, but as I am learning more I have realized that this did not communicate to the extent I had intended it to. 

Mohler “issued a statement” on May 23, 2018 titled The Wrath of God Poured Out — The Humiliation of the Southern Baptist Convention.  That was nearly three months after Denhollander’s call for an independent investigation and two months after Galli’s call for the same.  I fail to see how calling for a specific investigation of Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Churches “would appear self-serving and a political effort to save face.”  I see it as just the opposite.  I think his silence was “self-serving and a political effort to save face.”  He would have gotten in a lot of trouble with other national leaders who were still defending Mahaney in public.  People like John Piper, Justin Taylor, Ray Ortlund, and Kevin DeYoung.  

Mohler says, “I sought to be clear by my actions in severing public ties and calling all ministries to a higher standard.”  Sought to be clear?  What?  It had the opposite effect.  I received emails from people telling me Mohler did not have Mahaney or Sovereign Grace Churches in mind when he made the statement, and therefore, I should stop saying he implicitly called for their investigation.  Here is what I wrote at the time, in part. 

Al Mohler Calls for an Independent, Third-Party Investigation of C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc.
Monday, May 28, 2018 at 6:22PM 

But not only has the terrible swift sword of public humiliation come with a vengeance to the Southern Baptist Convention, it has also come with a vengeance to the evangelical community at large, and that is due in large measure to Al Mohler for his unwavering support of C.J. Mahaney despite grave allegations of wrongdoing.    

That may be changing.  In his article, Mohler implicitly calls for an investigation which is so desperately needed. … So what does Mohler do now?  Here are some ideas. 

One, make explicit what is implicit.  Two, encourage other colleagues like Mark Dever and Ligon Duncan to call for an independent, third-party investigation.  Three, correct colleagues like Ray Ortlund who still recklessly defends Mahaney.  Four, don’t affiliate with Mahaney and SGC until they agree to an investigation.  Five, encourage other colleagues to do the same.  Six, ask Mahaney to step down from public ministry.  Seven, encourage him to cooperate with law enforcement even if it results in charges against himself. 

Mohler took some of these steps but no one knew.  Not the victims.  Not their families.  Not the Body of Christ at large.  Not me.   

And because he did not make his severing of all ties with Mahaney and SGC public, Mahaney has been able to hide this information from his church and all the other churches in  SGC.   The news came as a complete surprise to them.  Like so much else, Mahaney covers up anything negative about himself or the denomination.  Despite being kept in the dark that didn’t prevent his followers at Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville from giving him and the pastors a standing ovation the Sunday after Mohler went public.  

## 

I wish I had spoken more forcefully.  I should have been very clear about insisting on an independent, credible, third-party investigation right from the time these allegations arose.  I should have said nothing until I had heard from the survivors who were making those allegations.  I should have sought advice and counsel of agencies and authorities and experts who were even then on the front lines of dealing with these kinds of allegations. 

Mohler is acknowledging he let C.J. and SGC off the hook.  He did not insist on an authentic investigation in private.   He did not insist in public.  He effectively covered up for them.  He was still playing favorites until the Houston Chronicle was about to expose his relationship with Mahaney.  All this time, the evangelical Church has assumed things are good between Mohler and Mahaney and SGC because of his silence.  He misled the people of God. 

Furthermore, I could have put him in touch with “the survivors.”  I could have put him in touch with “agencies and authorities and experts.”  I was in contact with all these groups.  Most importantly, he could have talked to them himself if he wanted to know the truth.  Instead, he was trying to mute Janet Mefferd by pressuring her bosses to have someone on her show to promote Mahaney’s lies.  It was just part of a larger strategy to blast me.  Read this article. 

Baptist News Global: Ministry leaders blast whistleblower
Bob Allen
Wednesday, August 7, 2013 at 10:10AM

There is still a great need for Mohler to speak “more forcefully.”  He should make explicit what is implicit in his recent statement.  He needs to explain how he was betrayed, deceived and beguiled.  

Bottom line.  C.J. Mahaney should not be in ministry.  I’ve documented why for 8 years.  It is not just about his unwillingness to step down while an investigation is done; it is about his pervasive pride, deceit, hypocrisy and independence.  

In order for this to happen, Al Mohler, Mark Dever and Ligon Duncan need to confront him starting with his lying about the CLC investigation.  They also need to confront his pastoral staff who have been propagating the same lies.  Especially, Bob Kauflin and Jeff Purswell whom they know well.  Until all of them repent, every leader and every ministry should sever ties with them too.  For instance, Kauflin should not be participating in the upcoming Sing! conference. Purswell should not be on the Board of Directors for the Council of Biblical Manhood & Womanhood (CBMW).  These men have covered up Mahaney’s egregious sins out of self-interest since 2004.     

I still hope C.J. repents as a result of Al, Mark, and Lig practicing what they preach from Matthew 18:15-17 about church discipline, from 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9 about qualifications for leadership, and from 1 Timothy 5:19-22 about the need for impartial public rebuke when a leader continues in sin so that other elders fear sinning.  

Please remember, Mahaney is more than a local elder in a local church.  He is a national leader in the evangelical church at large.  His sins have also been against the Body of Christ.  Therefore, his accountability is far wider than that of a local pastor. 

If he does, Mahaney will make a public confession and voluntarily step down from all ministry.  He will also seek reconciliation with the many people he has grievously sinned against.  If he doesn’t repent, Mohler, Dever and Duncan should tell the evangelical church and relate to him as a pagan or tax collector unwilling to turn from sin.  What a minute, that is what Mohler has secretly been doing for the past year.  Well, Dever and Duncan need to join him.  But before they do, all three need to set an example and repent too!  They also have a lot to confess!  Especially Dever.  He more than anyone has aggressively defended Mahaney.    

## 

It is my own mistakes that, in large part, are driving my sense of urgency to respond clearly and forcefully to the problems in the SBC which the Houston Chronicle has detailed. 

A word to our students, particularly survivors on this campus: I want you to know that I am grieved at these errors, I am seeking input from those who know more.  We have stringent policies in place but are working on a public document outlining our policies for handling allegations of abuse and where to go for help, which we will post to ensure the greatest accountability possible.  We also have a liaison available to you if you have suffered abuse or harassment who can offer support, advocacy, and help. 

To the survivors who were hurt by my errors, please know how grieved I am.  Some will question whether the force of public pressure explains the timing of my statement and its public nature.  In all candor, this pressure is no doubt part of that explanation.  That fact should serve to encourage survivors and their advocates to maintain such pressure. 

Mohler is still using words like “mistakes” and “errors.”  When is he going to identify and confess root issues of sin behind his words and actions?  For years, Mohler defended Mahaney and thereby condemned the victims.  And even this past year, he has been no help to them by his silence.  All the while, SGC has used his silence to advance their evil cause.  Mohler is a textbook example for why victims don’t come forward.  The most powerful man in evangelicalism can’t be trusted to look out for their interests.  He still would not be talking if not for Rachael Denhollander, Ben Sledge, and Robert Downen. 

“Maintain such pressure.”  You’re welcome.  That is why I have worked so hard on this article the past three weeks. 

## 

And for survivors who may not yet have spoken up, especially regarding allegations of abuse that have not yet been investigated by law enforcement, I urge anyone with information to report to the proper legal authorities so justice and the truth can be pursued. 

Survivors have continued to come forward.  As Rachael pointed out on The Story With Martha MacCallum, nearly half the churches in the denomination have covered up the sexual abuse of children.  It is not only about Mahaney!  Many pastors have followed his counsel and example for decades.   

Mark Prater even set up an illegal “hush fund” to prevent a family from joining the lawsuit when their young son was repeatedly sodomized by the son of a senior pastor.  What did Mahaney do?  He relocated the pastor to another church where he continued employment as a pastor and never informed anyone or warned anyone in harm’s way.  

Hush Fund Set Up by Top SGM Leaders to Meet the Demands of a SGM Pastor Whose Son Was Sexually Abused 
Monday, March 30, 2015 at 1:56PM
Brent Detwiler

##              

I can only speak for myself, but I wish to do so clearly, acknowledging these errors, grieving at the harm that was done, and committing to do everything I can to lead well and to serve Christ faithfully. 

Mohler is the most influential leader in evangelicalism today.  I hope his commitment “to do everything I can to lead well” bears fruit.  Thus far, no one from Together for the Gospel or The Gospel Coalition has joined him in publicly “insisting on an independent, credible third-party investigation” or requiring Mahaney to “step down from public ministry until that [takes] place.”  

Several months ago Rachael, Jacob and their pastors met with leaders from Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. including Prater.  She continued to appeal for an investigation and make suggestions as to who and how and it could be done.  SGC leaders and pastors leaked the confidential meeting to make it look like things were well between them.  I wrote about it two weeks ago.  Here is an excerpt.

Mark Prater & Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. Violate Confidentially Agreement with Rachael Denhollander to Manipulate Journalists & Church Members Into Thinking All Is Well
Thursday, February 14, 2019 at 6:36PM
Brent Detwiler

As many have become aware, I did have a meeting with leadership from Sovereign Grace Churches (SGC) several months ago. … I have continued to urge SGC to conduct an independent investigation and suggested methodology for doing so.  I have also offered to help them locate a skilled group that can perform this and that offer still stands.  My detailed posts from last year, linked below, speak for themselves, and I continue to stand by them.

The meeting was several months ago.  I’ve been saying for years, SGC will never agree to an independent investigation because they are guilty.  If you were innocent, you would beg for an investigation.  You’d talk to every media outlet possible. 

But the issue now, is not about doing an investigation.  The issue is about C.J. Mahaney badly deceiving Al Mohler.  It’s about C.J. and his representatives deceiving scores of other national leaders in private meetings and conversations.  These leaders need to make their experiences known.  The deception has been widespread.  That is the reason why everyone should sever their ties and relationships with C.J. Mahaney, the Leadership Team, the Pastors College, the WorshipGod Conference (Jul 31-Aug 3), and Sovereign Grace Churches.  

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Albert Mohler, Jr.
Contact: Colby Adams, (502)-897-4139

I called Al the day his statement was published and left a detailed message.  That was February 15.  I asked him to return my call.  That was nearly three weeks ago.  I’ve not heard from him or his assistant.  That gives me little assurance things have changed at a heart level.  But maybe I am wrong.  I hope he’s been busy calling all the victims and helping C.J. to repent!

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