The senior pastor of a church in Colorado admitted he knew about the sexual assault allegations regarding an assistant pastor.
Darrell Ferguson, head of the Agape Bible Church in Thornton, was interviewed by the media after documents and testimonies surfaced saying he knew about what happened but chose not to report it to the police.
When asked why he did not report the incident to the police, Ferguson said the crime “wasn’t known until the arrest.”
“You’re saying you, as church leaders didn’t know that it was sexual assault against a child?” the reporter asked him.
“The, uh, the eldership, let’s see I’m just now getting on the highway here,” Ferguson replied. “The eldership, you’re asking when the eldership, when the leadership of the church discovered that it was sexual assault on a child? That happened the day of the arrest. That’s when that came out.”
Last weekend, Ferguson addressed the congregation through a letter confessing he released a “misleading” statement. He explained it was not his intention to deceive the reporter but only wanted to communicate that the church elders were not aware of the crime until the assistant pastor was arrested.
“Nevertheless, I do think what I said was wrong,” Ferguson said. ”I knew she wanted to know when I found out, and I had been advised by our lawyer not to discuss that in the press, so I got flustered and just tried to divert to something I did want to talk about rather than answer her question. This was wrong, and it ended up being very misleading."
He also clarified the elders learned about the crime the day before the arrest, not on the day of the arrest itself.
The pastor sent a separate statement to the media who did the interview and denied that there was collusion between him and the girl’s father to not go to the police.
He added that because the information was talked about in a confidential counseling session, he was not obligated by law to report it.
The accused pastor, 50-year-old Robert Wyatt, was said to have sexually assaulted a young girl for nearly two years, beginning when she was 12 years old. He is facing three charges: sexual assault on a child, sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust and sexual assault on a child as a pattern of conduct, according to ABC affiliate The Denver Channel.
After his arrest, a number of former church members spoke up about an alleged cover-up of abuses involving not Wyatt but Ferguson’s son.
Police documents show that a report was filed in 2014 saying Ferguson’s son had been sexting three girls in church, who happened to be minors.
One parent said she noticed the boy kept texting her 16-year-old daughter, so she asked Ferguson if it should be a concern.
“He said that his son often liked to text the girls, the kids in the youth group encouragement and Bible verses,” the girl’s mother said.
However, the texts from the boy soon included pornographic photos. Ferguson’s son reportedly pressured the girl to send pornographic photos back to him.
A young woman also talked about a similar incident. At first, she felt “special,” thinking she was the only one Ferguson’s son was giving attention to. But over the succeeding months, he began sending her “unwanted pictures.”
“I was crying all the time. I was shaking. I couldn’t sleep,” she said. “It evolved into unwanted pictures and videos and a demand asking me of those things.”
The complainants claimed the church leadership knew about these issues but covered them up.
The police dismissed the report, saying the evidence was not available anymore and “both parties participated willingly in the incident.”