Pennsylvania Church Demonstrates How To Deal With A Child-Molesting Pastor

While many churches defend pastors who have raped or molested children in their congregations, a church in Pennsylvania is showing them what doing the right thing looks like.

35-year-old youth pastor Wesley Ryan Blackburn is currently in jail waiting to be tried on “84 felony counts of statutory sexual assault, 84 misdemeanor counts of indecent assault and one felony count of corruption of minors,” according to The Tribune-Democrat.

Blackburn worked at Faith Brethren Bible Church in New Paris until last week when he admitted to his wife and state troopers that he impregnated a 15-year-old girl who was a member of the youth group he was teaching.

The so-called “man of God” admitted his crimes to his wife after she confronted him about his misconduct. He then told her he didn’t love her anymore and demanded a divorce.

Blackburn’s wife immediately called pastor James Espenshade and told him about her husband’s misconduct with the teen girl.

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But unlike other churches that have stood by pastors who commit sex crimes, the Faith Brethren Bible Church did the right thing and straight up fired Blackburn and called the police.

“We didn’t even care what he had to say,” Espenshade told WAJC. “We don’t tolerate this kind of stuff — it’s inappropriate, it’s reprehensible. There was never a discussion of anything else. We had to do what was right.”

Police questioned Blackburn while he was packing up his office and he was arrested and charged.

The way this church handled Blackburn stands in sharp contrast to the way Columbia Road Baptist Church in North Olmsted, Ohio handled a similar situation.

When youth pastor Brian Mitchell, a married man with three kids, was arrested and sentenced to ten years in prison for raping a teen girl, the church not only didn’t fire him after discovering inappropriate texts he had been sending her, they continued to stand by him even after he went to prison by blaming the victim and demanding that she apologize to Mitchell’s wife.

Like Mitchell, Blackburn will probably receive a similar sentence. But Faith Brethren Bible Church deserves praise for calling the police upon learning of Blackburn’s misconduct and for immediately terminating his employment. They also deserve praise for not blaming the teenage victim for Blackburn’s actions. This is the way churches should handle these situations, but sadly, far too many of them do not.


Featured image via Wikimedia