The family of a molested 3-year-old girl has left College Park Church in Carmel, Ind., after it embraced her attacker — a former church elder — with support and money.
The Indianapolis Star reported that the family of the girl wishes to remain anonymous, but the father spoke out, saying the church is acting inappropriately by forgiving the elder.
"It's a disgrace that the church would embrace a criminal and turn its back on the victim, especially one that's a young child," the father told The Indianapolis Star.
During a confrontation with church members and his own family, Terry Van Gorp, 57, admitted to molesting the young girl. He later revealed to the girl’s father that he abused her while babysitting in February 2006. The family called police and filed charges, and Gorp faces a sentence of 42 to 108 years in prison.
College Park elder John Schmidler said church officials have encouraged parishioners to rally around Van Gorp and his wife, the church's office manager, but that Van Gorp is not allowed in the building without an escort. Since news of the molestation broke, the church's senior pastor has since left the congregation, saying he felt he could no longer fulfill his duties.
Fred Childers, a former member of the church who left because of how the situation was handled, said, “the (child's) family has been treated like they're overreacting."
College Park Church, which one counseling director called a “hospital for sinners,” would not be doing its job if it did not help "both the crime victim and the victimizer," Doug Pabody, a counseling director, told The Indianapolis Star.
"I've been in churches where things like this would happen and no attempt would be made to minister (to the accused), which is a shame," Pabody told the newspaper. "They're pushed out the door and made to go away, and I, for one, am very proud to be part of a church family that isn't afraid to go into the trenches."