Almost seven years ago, we learned that in the past, Charles Sweet had sexually abused a member of his family when they were a child fifteen years ago. When we became aware of the abuse, we reported the abuse to the police and they began an investigation. We cooperated completely with their investigation and followed their counsel concerning how to notify the congregation. It has always been our desire to be transparent with the congregation while also protecting the privacy of the victim. So, at our members’ meeting on September 9th, 2012, we notified the congregation that due to grievous sin we were not only removing Charles Sweet from membership, but that he would no longer be allowed to attend Hays Hills. Investigators continued their investigation, but no charge or arrest was made.
We learned earlier this year that investigators in Travis County reopened the investigation as another victim had come forward. We are not aware of any instances of sexual abuse that occurred at our church campus.
As members of the body of Christ, we want to demonstrate Christ’s care and compassion to these women. We want to take this opportunity to ask for prayer for the victims and their families. We are heartbroken by the pain of this circumstance and desire justice and healing for all.
Hays Hills Baptist Church will not tolerate abuse of any kind and ensuring the health and safety of our children and students is of paramount importance. At Hays Hills, all allegations of sexual abuse are reported to appropriate law enforcement and child protection authorities. In addition, we are committed to providing counseling and spiritual care to any impacted by past abuse. We recognize the critical importance of treating sexual abuse seriously and its victims with compassion. We intend to speak with transparency and to honor Christ in the way we care for any who have experienced past abuse.
We believe that this circumstance can be redeemed for good; we see this as an opportunity to emphasize the call of the church to be a safe harbor for children and youth. To this end, we are offering to provide professional counseling to the girls, now women, who were abused by this man who was once in our midst. As well, we are partnering with MinistrySafe, national experts in child sexual abuse issues, to provide training to staff members and volunteers serving minors at Hays Hills.
Above all else, we are concerned for the victims.
If additional information is desired, please contact Pastor Aaron Kahler at the church office or by email: email@example.com.