When I worked as a teacher at the Watkinson School, I also worked as a Critical Friends Group coach and as such assisted other teachers in their professional development. A key part of the process consisted of groups of teachers meeting around one teacher’s dilemma or lesson plans in order to ask a series of questions to help the teacher understand her/his issue in a deeper way. Most helpful was the probing question. (Yes, I know it sounds naughty, but that is just your dirty mind at work).
The current news story of Love in Action participant Chad Joseph Stoffel’s arrest for child molestation while still a teacher at the Summit Christian School, in Florida before he entered the LIA program, raises questions.
According to one news report, Stoffel confessed his crime to an LIA counselor who then contacted the police. This may be exactly how it all happened, but I also know some reporters simplify a story and even get details completely wrong. Perhaps it is that simple, but I hope that investigative reporters, law enforcement agents and even those involved in the case consider some vital probing questions.
- How soon after leaving Summit Christian School did Stoffel enter LIA?
- During the intensive intake process that staff at LIA conduct, did any questions or admissions of sexual misconduct with a minor come up?
- When exactly did LIA staff find out about the alleged abuse, and how long after that did they contact authorities?
- If the abuse did not come out during the intensive intake process, how did such an important life issue fall through the cracks, especially in light of the fact that LIA runs a program for minors that has had sessions together with adults?
- Did LIA pursue questions of abuse and turn Stoffel in only after getting pressure from law enforcement agents? If they hadn’t been contacted by authorities would they have ever informed law enforcement agents about Stoffel’s misconduct?
- Does LIA currently have any participants who are known or suspected sexual offenders and as such should not be in sessions or contact with minors?
- If LIA does have adults who admit to temptations around sex with minors and even prior sexual misconduct with youth, how useful is it to place these adults in sessions with minors which may only trigger their addictions?
- How much did Summit Christian School know about the misconduct before Stoffel entered LIA and what role did the school play in Stoffel’s entrance and acceptance into LIA? (When I entered, we had to provide letters of recommendation)
- Why does LIA have a program for minors and how did they come to change their views on “ex-gay” youth work. (I spoke with Wade Richards last night who back in 1998, when Richards was 18 years old, had to beg John Smid and LIA staff to allow him to enter the program. At that time they expressed that anyone that young could not seriously work their programs. Have youth changed so much in less than a decade?)
- Does LIA continue to run a program that mixes queer and questioning youth with adult men and women who admit to struggles with sexual addiction, pedophilia, beastiality and engaging in paying for or working as prostitutes?
- Similar to the unchallenged behavior of many Roman Catholic bishops, after enabling unhealthy behavior then relocating the alleged abuser, will Summit School and LIA scapegoat Stoffel and walk away free from any guilt connected with aiding and abetting an alleged child abuser and fugative?
I guess my final question for the Summit Christian School, Love in Action and Exodus would be — When an incident of sexual impropriety comes up with one of your people, is your motivation to save souls or save face?