It is necessary to take the pink colored glasses off and stare reality in the face. It might not be pretty what we see, but it is real and acknowledging and understanding the reality in which we live is the best protection we can have. Ignorance is not bliss despite it appearing to be a dominant feature of Western society.


A story in the news a few days ago brought an ugly reality to show its face again. It was yet another story of a sexual predator, who walked free from court with just a token sentence. This time it was the story of archbishop Earl Paulk from an Atlanta megachurch:

Archbishop pleads guilty to perjury
ATLANTA (AP) - Court officials say the 80-year-old leader of a suburban Atlanta megachurch pleaded guilty Wednesday to a charge he lied under oath. Cobb County Superior Court Judge Frank Cox said Archbishop Earl Paulk of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit at Chapel Hill Harvester Church was sentenced to 10 years probation and a $1,000 fine for the felony charge.

Paulk turned himself in to authorities Tuesday night after a warrant was issued for his arrest the previous day. The charges stem from a deposition Paulk gave as part of a civil lawsuit against him, his brother Don and the church by a former church employee who says she was coerced into an affair.

In a 2006 deposition for the lawsuit, the archbishop said under oath that the only woman he had ever had sex with outside of his marriage was former church worker Mona Brewer.

But the results of a court-ordered paternity test revealed in October that Paulk is the biological father of his brother's son, D.E. Paulk, who is now head pastor at the church. As part of Brewer's lawsuit, eight women have given sworn depositions that they were coerced into sexual relationships with Earl Paulk.

Paulk's attorney, Joel Pugh, said he had been working with Cobb County District Attorney Pat Head for weeks on negotiating a deal.

"It was a fair and just resolution of the case for a man who has lived his whole life and done wonderful things but made a mistake," Pugh said. "He's ready to move on."

Pugh had said earlier the warrant came as a surprise to the Paulk family.
The warrant was the result of a months-long probe by Head and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Head called the sentence "certainly adequate" for Paulk, who had never been charged criminally before.

"There are a lot of allegations about things he has done over the past 15 or 20 years," Head said. "In trying to determine what is a fair sentence, I can't look at what he's been alleged to have done in other counties."

Paulk's home and church are in DeKalb County, but the deposition he gave was in an attorney's office in Cobb County.

Cox said the sentence was not unusual for someone like Paulk, who has no prior record and whose health is "frail."

Paulk has been in bad health for the last couple of years after a battle with cancer, limiting his activity with the independent charismatic church he and his brother founded in 1960.

At its peak in the early 1990s, the Cathedral at Chapel Hill claimed about 10,000 members and 24 pastors and was a media powerhouse. The church was able to build a Bible college, two schools, a worldwide TV ministry and a $12 million sanctuary the size of a fortress in Decatur outside Atlanta.

Today membership is down to about 1,500, the church has 18 pastors, most of them volunteers, and the Bible College and TV ministry have shuttered - a downturn blamed largely on complaints about the sexual scandals.
Anne Simpkinson writes in an article named Soul Betrayal - Sexual abuse by spiritual leaders from 1996:

Sometimes what psychologists call a personality disorder compels a person to exploit, manipulate, and hurt those in their spiritual care. While publicly charming, ebullient, devoted, hard-working, and inspiring, this leader proves himself cunning, slick, seductive, and cruel in private. Involved in multiple, simultaneous relationships, he can sweet-talk his victims into compliance -- "Our love is special and holy" -- or bully them into submission.
Sounds very much like the description of the common psychopath. Robert Hare is the foremost expert today on psychopathy and the author of several books on the subject. He defines psychopathy as follows:

Psychopathy is a personality disorder described by the personality traits and behaviors that form the basis of this book [Snakes in Suit]. Psychopaths are without conscience and incapable of empathy, guilt, or loyalty to anyone but themselves.
These are some of the common traits of psychopathy:

lack of remorse or empathy
shallow emotions
low frustration tolerance
episodic relationships
parasitic lifestyle
persistent violation of social norms
Simkinson continues:

United Church of Christ minister Marie Fortune, in her book Is Nothing Sacred?, details the havoc and pain wreaked on individual women and the congregation by the sexual misconduct of one of the church's pastors. Fortune notes that sexual predators go to great lengths to choose women whose current circumstances might make them vulnerable: for instance, the death of a parent, a divorce, problems with children, or an illness. The situation that sends Fortune "over the edge" is one in which a congregant approaches a minister for help in dealing with childhood sexual abuse. Often that confidence is seen by the minister as a "green light" to seduce the person. One clergyman whom Fortune heard about told his victim that the way to heal from childhood sexual abuse was to re-enact the experiences with him. "I am amazed at the creativity that perpetrators have," Fortune says, "the manipulation of theology and scripture and ritual, the moral rationalization they bring to bear: 'No, there is nothing wrong with this because God's love for you is flowing through me, and this is a holy kiss.'"

Because of the innocence and vulnerability of the victims, perhaps the most heinous crime perpetrated by sexual predators is the abuse of children. Trust, innocence, and sense of self all shatter, leaving behind shards of fear, shame, distrust, and self-loathing.
The spiritual scene provides a fertile ground for sexual predators to prey, as trust and complete faith is often given to if not demanded by the various religions leaders. A cartoon on the internet illustrates this well:


This idea is being supported and promoted widely amongst the followers of the various religions, namely that the priest, guru, satsang giver or "enlightened" leader is God's representative, a divine incarnation or god himself here on earth and who is often seen as the means to get closer to god, or get enlightened or healed. But this idea is also what makes people vulnerable to predators who have seen this to be a fertile feeding ground for their parasitic life style. One of the problems lies in the issue of belief, as it is a poor substitute for knowledge. Anna Salter writes in her book Predators, pedophiles, rapists and other sex offenders:

One molester, who was himself a minister, said:
"I considered church people easy to fool...they have a trust that comes from being Christians...They tend to be better folks all around. And they seem to want to believe in the good that exists in all people. ..I think they want to believe in people. And because of that, you can easily convince, with or without convincing words."

...The growing crisis in the Catholic Church just underlines the fact that offenders can recognize ideal settings for child molesters even if the rest of us can't. In truth, a deeply religious and trusting group of people, plus the requirement of celibacy (an ideal cover for any man who has no sexual interest in adults), plus a hierarchy that doesn't report complaints to the police and simply moves the offender on to new and fresh territory with new potential victims, is the ideal setting for pedophiles. Even without such extreme conditions, however interviews with offenders have convinced me that people in general are just plain easy to fool. What makes fooling us so easy is not the worst in us, it is often the best. As one rapist said:

"Because people want to believe in something. They want to hope. And they want to believe. They want to , there's something inside of people that makes them want to believe the best in things and the best in others. Because the alternative is not very nice."

True enough. The alternative is not very nice.(emphasis added)
A quick browse through google will show that this is by no means limited to the Christian faith:

Sogyal Rinpoche: Best-selling Buddhist author accused of sexual abuse
Sathya Sai Baba: Major exposure of alleged sexual abuses by Sathya Sai Baba
Swami Rama: Sexual predator at the Himalayan International Institute
Jewish Survivors of Spiritual Abuse
Bail set for Rabbi in sex abuse case
Baltimore roiled by abuse charge against late Rabbi
Midwood Rabbi faces kiddie sex charges
Archbishop Robert Sanchez shielded pedophile priests
Abused alterboys sue church for millions
Sexual abuse and manipulation

In the New Age movement, the situation is no different. Here the movement with seekers desperate for enlightenment is a fertile ground for sexual predators, who are keen on bestowing special initiations to innocent followers all in the name of destroying the ego, fast tracking the goal of enlightenment or any other paramoralistic reason to force themselves on their followers.

A recent case (original link) comes to mind, that has disturbing signs of fitting this description, but where the accused person is acquitted:
Institute leader acquitted of sex charges
HOLLY DANKS - HILLSBORO -- A Washington County Circuit judge called the leader of a metaphysical Internet sales company manipulative and controlling and his testimony unbelievable, even as he acquitted him Wednesday of charges that he had sex with an underage boy.

Judge Steven L. Price, after a five-day trial without a jury, found Eric James Pepin, 40, not guilty of two counts of second-degree sexual abuse, four counts of third-degree sexual abuse and one count of using a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct.

Also acquitted of third-degree sexual abuse and using a child in a pornographic display was Jamison Dwight Priebe, 21, who has worked for Pepin's Higher Balance Institute since he was 18.

"Everybody has stood by me who knows me," Pepin said Wednesday after hugging supporters. "They had faith in me, prayed for me. I told them I wouldn't let them down. I did nothing of what was alleged. I've been nothing but honorable and impeccable."

However, Price said it was "probable that the conduct alleged in all counts occurred," but he wasn't convinced beyond a reasonable doubt. "There's a lack of strong corroboration," such as a date-stamp on a videotape of the sexual encounter, the judge said.

The accuser testified Pepin had him take off his shirt the first day they met at Pepin's Beaverton home in April 2004.

"He was going to try and fix my energy and he needed me to trust him," the accuser said. Pepin touched the teen's "chakra points" on his heart, head and lower abdomen.

"Eric asked me to tell him everything I had done in my life that I was ashamed about," the teen added.
Asking the person to tell everything they have done, which they are ashamed about, gives the perpetrator the upper hand in knowing all the vulnerable spots to then mine for personal use later. Hare and Babiak write in "Snakes in Suits" about what they call the assessment phase:

The chance to con or manipulate others is a primary motivator for someone with a psychopathic personality disorder; psychopaths like to play games with people. They often are on the lookout for individuals to swindle or scam, and this first phase of the psychopathic approach involves identifying and assessing targets or prey. Some psychopaths are opportunistic, aggressive predators who will take advantage of almost anyone they meet, while others are more patient, waiting for the perfect, innocent victim to cross their path. In each case, the psychopath is constantly sizing up the potential usefulness of an individual as a source of money, power, sex, or influence.
Back to the article:

The accuser said Pepin asked him how old he was the first day they met and that he told him the truth.

"He said students had to be 18 because he didn't like parents fussing around," the accuser said.
Maybe the reason was that he didn't like parents, who being more streetwise would be able to see through the manipulations and the sexual predation that was going on.

But within days the two were having sex, including a three-way encounter with Priebe, the youth testified. Pepin called it "crossing the abyss," the accuser said, "surrendering yourself to your teacher, your master."
All in the name of spiritual advancement and dropping the ego.

Pepin testified he is gay and has had sexual relationships with most of his 11 employees, but not before they were 18. Pepin said he gave his accuser a job, even though the teen was a poor worker, and continued to be intimate with him and give him money after he was fired, to help him out.
Though the court case was principally about whether the person was 18 years of age, it seems evident that the accused used his position to prey on young and innocent people for personal sexual satisfaction. By accusing the victim, the accused cleverly turns it around, so that the reader will start to doubt his own reason and will start to think that maybe the victim was in the wrong all along. Even if he was a poor worker, that does not make it legitimate to force sex on the young man. The facts on the ground, namely of having had sex with most of his staff, who by the sounds are mostly just over 18 years of age, does not add credibility to the alleged perpetrator. Even if the victim was 18 years of age, it has disturbing signs of predation.

Stephen A. Houze, Pepin's private defense attorney, called the accuser a liar more than 100 times in his closing argument and noted that Pepin was "the perfect patsy" because society wants to believe the worst of a gay man. Houze said the accuser brought the charges because he wanted to shake down Pepin.
Calling a young victim a liar is a common way to discredit accusations, especially as the perpetrators and their defending lawyers often are respected people of the community. This has been seen time and again and Anna Salter in her book Predators, pedophiles, rapists and other sex offenders gives many examples to illustrate this point.

Pepin's Higher Balance Institute, now on Northwest Saltzman Road in Cedar Mill, reached an annual high of $2 million in Internet sales of meditation CDs, tapes and books before his arrest in July.

Pepin touts himself as a psychic and "remote viewer" who has found lost submarines and missing people, and says he created the "psychic pill" Magneurol6-S that enhances brain function, heals nerve damage, heightens paranormal experiences and relieves stress for $79 a bottle.
Unfortunately too many people fall over backwards in awe of someone claiming to be a psychic or to be able to remote view.

Andrew Erwin, deputy district attorney, called Higher Balance nothing more than a sex cult run by a "snake oil" salesman who preys on the troubled.

The accuser had nothing to gain by going to police and turned down $250,000 from Pepin to drop the sex charges, Erwin said.

"I'm disappointed," Erwin said of the verdicts. "The judge wants proof beyond all doubt and that's too high a standard."
To be willing to pay $250,000 in order for the victim to drop the charges shows just how keen the accused was in not getting to court.

In most cases the perpetrator gets away with it due to lack of evidence or because they are trusted more than a young victim. In this case the judge said that he found Eric Pepin "manipulative and controlling and his testimony unbelievable", but "he wasn't convinced beyond a reasonable doubt." And thus he was acquitted.

It is rare to hear a judge say such strong words about an acquitted, and though he was acquitted of underage sex which was the charge, his behavior does appear to be parasitic and manipulative and one of preying on young gullible men, as he didn't dispute the fact of having sex with the young man, but only that he was 18 years of age at the time.

So what does one do?
Well, thinking that it is not happening where we live is not supported by the facts. Gavin de Becker, the author of The Gift of Fear sites statistics that show that in the US there is one child molester per square mile. Robert Hare says that the prevalence of psychopaths are such "that most of us will come across at least one psychopath during a typical day." So it is a reality that we would do well to understand and come to terms with as it is unlikely to go away.

In the introduction to her book mentioned above Anna Salter gives this sound advice:
This is not a book with a complete and comfortable answers. It will not finish with a checklist for identifying a sex offender: Just add up the points, and you too can spot your neighborhood pedophile or rapist. But if I do my job right, reading this book will make it harder for sex offenders to get access to you or your children. It will make it harder because knowing how they think and act and operate is the best protection that we have. Indeed, it is the only protection that is possible.
Yes, it is necessary to take the pink colored glasses off and stare reality in the face. It might not be pretty what we see, but it is real and acknowledging and understanding the reality in which we live is the best protection we can have. Ignorance is not bliss despite it appearing to be a dominant feature of Western society.