A Message For Applegate Survivors: Paul Coughlin
As a former newspaper editor, reporter, and founder of an international anti-bullying organization, I’ve been asked to be part of an important effort to determine if an abuse of power has taken place at Applegate Christian Fellowship.
Part of this effort is collaborating with journalist Rebecca Hopkins, who was a missionary for 14 years. Our goal is to attack no one. Our goal is to unearth the truth, so people can make an informed decision as to where they attend.
More importantly, our goal is to support those who have been abused, and to help them tell their story. Here’s a message from Rebecca. Please read and share with those who you know have important information to share. The first step is often the hardest, so they may need to lean on your encouragement.
I’m looking for other women who may have stories of concern about Jon or Ben Courson. These could include stories of sexual harassment, sexual abuse (a physical “relationship” with a pastor is considered abuse of power), or sexual assault (a sexual advance against your will). It could also include what could be considered grooming.
It could also include an attempt you made to report to leaders an assault by someone else in the church or another church and you were rebuffed or dismissed. You may not think your story is big or important and you may not even be sure how to characterize it because of the manipulation, spiritual language or gaslighting, but sometimes they’re an important piece of the puzzle.
If enough people come forward with similar stories, the strength of the truth is in the numbers and in the pattern. According to journalism ethics, women who are the recipient of these sexual types of abuse and harassment can stay anonymous and we work with the women to make sure that identifying facets of their story and identity are concealed. We want there to be safety from retaliation. Also, you get to decide which questions to answer or how much of your story to tell.
There is certainly emotional cost to retelling painful stories and we honor and are grateful for the courage of those who have come forward or may decide to come forward. Even if you’re not sure about whether to talk, you are welcome to contact me to talk through concerns you may have. Here’s my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org . Thank you.
A note from Michael:
I’ve spoken with Rebecca…and I trust her heart and instincts.
She has treated me and those I know who have spoken with her with great respect.
I commend both of these people to you.