A United Methodist pastor has continued to minister at two Jefferson County churches even though he has been awaiting trial since August 2007 on charges that he molested two women at a mental health center.
The Rev. Michael Clair Garvey, 59, of Worthville, also faces a lawsuit filed by one of those women. He serves the Coolspring United Methodist Church in Coolspring and Ramseytown United Methodist Church, Knoxdale.
No church members are involved in the cases pending against him. He was arrested for molesting two clients and a counselor at Brookville Behavioral Health, where, according to court records, he also was a counselor until July 2007.
Ah. So good to see the Methodist Church looking out for the vulnerable. Ann Rodgers has the story in today's Post-Gazette.
The Rev. Robert Higginbotham, assistant to Bishop Thomas Bickerton, of the United Methodist Conference of Western Pennsylvania, knew of the charges. But he said no one had complained to church officials about the Rev. Garvey and that the conference was waiting for the matter to be resolved in court.
“There is a presumption of innocence until guilt is proved,” he said.
“The fact that this has gone on for a year and a half gives some indication to the seriousness of the allegations. I would think that if there was some hard evidence, this would not drag on.”
So Reverend Higginbotham is a lawyer with an extensive background in judicial proceedings? I don't think so.
Here comes the part where they disparage the alleged victims character.
“They have set court dates again and again and the folks who made the allegations never show up,” the Rev. Schwab said. “We are just waiting to see if there is any truth to the allegation.”
But according to the judge's summary, two accusers testified at a hearing in December 2007 and the third in January.
Apparently, the church leaders aren't even paying attention to the facts in the case. Well done. Good to know that the faithful little Methodist women who belong to his two churches are being looked out for with such rigor and scrutiny by their church leaders.
Garvey's lawyer plays “why did they wait so long? card.
The Rev. Garvey's attorney, Blair Hindman, said his client is innocent of the charges.
“We're dealing with two women … who, a year and a half after these actions allegedly occur, come forward to make accusations,” he said. If it was true, “you would think someone would have complained about it earlier.”
Here's someone who actually thinks criminal proceedings based on sexually victimizing people under his power and influence warrants being proactive to protect others in similar vulnerability.
The appropriate church reaction would have been to immediately suspend him, and for the bishop to go to each church and … at a bare minimum say that anyone who has any information that could prove or disprove the allegations has a moral duty to speak up,” said David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, which responds to victims from all denominations.
The fact that no complaints have come from the Rev. Garvey's churches proves nothing because victims are reluctant to accuse pastors, he said.
What? People are reluctant to accuse pastors? Where on earth does that revelation come from? Is there any precedent for pastors victimizing their flock? Hmmm.
The Methodist Church in Jefferson County sucks. Does this disgust you? Sick of the hypocrisy of churches blasting the LGBTQ community for being the anti-Christ while they provide cover for sexual predators?
Bishop Bickerton firstname.lastname@example.org
Reverend Higginbotham BishopAssistant@wpaumc.org
Reverend Schwab email@example.com
Reverend Garvey firstname.lastname@example.org
This is just a pathetic backwater good old boys club attempt to preserve the power of the pulpit no matter the risk to the faithful. These so-called leaders should writhe in shame at their failure to balance the needs of their church members with the rights of Reverend Garvey. What kind of message does this send to women in the Methodist Church?
The message that your church won't believe you if you bring clerical abuse to light. Period. They won't believe you and they will even say so in the leading newspaper in the region. They are not protecting you and your families from potential predators garbed in clerical robes.
They didn't learn a damn think from the Catholic abuse scandal.