Charges against James Childs, director of the ELCA Studies on Sexuality, are "misinformed," said John Brooks of the ELCA Department for Communication. SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said Childs "participated in a cover-up" of allegations of sexual abuse against Gerald Patrick Thomas, who was a seminary student at Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, Ohio, while Childs was the school's dean.
In February 2003, a Texas court convicted Thomas of 11 counts of child sexual abuse, handing him a 397-year sentence (June 2003, page 30).
SNAP called for Childs' immediate resignation or removal as head of the task force. SNAP charged that Childs had testified in a July 2003 deposition—related to a lawsuit brought by some of Thomas' victims— that he had received three memos regarding sexual abuse allegations but took no action.
"It is unfortunate that [SNAP] has been misinformed about the lawsuit," Brooks said. "The circumstances of Rev. Childs' involvement ... are not accurately portrayed and do not call into question his fine leadership of the ELCA Studies on Sexuality." Brooks declined further comment on the case because it is pending in court. The suit names the ELCA, Childs, Trinity and ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson among others. Stan Olson and Rebecca Larson, directors, respectively, of the ELCA Division for Ministry and Division for Church in Society, said in a statement that charges against Childs are "false" and they have "complete confidence" in Childs' "fine leadership."
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