THORNTON, Colo. — Several former members of Agape Bible Church are coming forward, claiming they have also been victims of sexual assault because of the church.
The FOX31 Problem Solvers first reported last week that associate pastor Robert “Bob” Wyatt turned himself into police. He is accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl at the church over a period of two years.
After police documents were released, the Problem Solvers reported Agape’s head pastor, Darrell Ferguson, might have known about Wyatt’s alleged crime and did not report it to police.
Ferguson said under Colorado law he was not legally obligated to report the suspected crime because the information was divulged during a confidential counseling session.
Now former church members said they believe Ferguson and Agape have a history of abuse and covering it up.
A police report filed in Douglas County in 2014 alleges Ferguson’s son was involved in a sexting incident with at least three girls in the church’s youth group dating back to 2012.
According to the documents, all of the parties involved were younger than 18 years old when the alleged sexting began.
“The day that our kids started going, the pastor’s son started texting my kids incessantly,” one of the alleged victim’s mothers said.
At first, she said the texts to her 16-year-old daughter were innocent, but she checked with the boy’s father, Darrell Ferguson, to make sure.
“I asked him if I should be concerned that his son had been texting my daughter all day. And he said that his son often liked to text the girls, the kids in the youth group encouragement and Bible verses,” the woman said.
According to the police report, investigators discovered the boy sent her daughter emails and Snapchat messages containing pornographic images, including male genitals.
It also alleges the woman’s daughter sent back pornographic images in return. She told police the pastor’s son was pressuring her daughter into sending the images.
“It was very abusive in nature. Manipulative,” she said.
She believes her daughter is the victim of a crime and that other girls at Agape were victims too.
“I felt very special. I think that was the thing, I thought that I was the only one,” said a young woman who says she was also victimized.
She was also a member of the youth group at Agape and said the pastor’s son harassed her through text messaging for months.
“I was crying all the time. I was shaking. I couldn’t sleep,” she said. “It evolved into unwanted pictures and videos and a demand asking me of those things.”
Both families said when the church leaders found out about what the pastor’s son was accused of, they swept it under the rug.
“We knew that the leadership of the church, the youth pastor knew, the leadership knew and the pastor himself knew and it had not been reported. We waited for him to report it and they didn’t,” the first alleged victim’s mother said.
She filed a police report against the pastor’s son in August 2014.
No one was charged with a crime because, according to the police report, “key evidence [was] no longer available and both parties participated willingly in the incident.”
A former leader at Agape said she left the church when Ferguson and the other elders refused to report the sexting to police or get outside help for the pastor’s son.
According to the former church leader, the boy was given biblical counseling led by Ferguson and Wyatt.
“I find it horrible that Bob was counseling someone for sexual problems when at that time he was engaged in abuse of this girl,” she said.
She claims there is a pattern of abuse and cover-ups involving sexual crimes at Agape.
However, in a recording of a meeting with church leaders in 2014 that brought those accusations to light, Agape leaders deny any cover-ups.
A former member is heard accusing the church of covering up the sexting incidents and then one of the leaders responds, “I did not cover it up. This is not covered up.”
Still, former members believe Agape is not a safe place for children and want a full investigation of the leadership.
“I believe that for any kids that are at Agape, for any parents, I would beg of them please take them and leave. Run,” the former alleged victim said.
A Thornton Police Department spokesman said there are portions of the case that are still actively being investigated to determine if anyone else could face charges.
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