On Tuesday February 3, 2015, Kareem Mitchell, a 42-year-old choir director at New Testament Baptist Church located in North Highlands, California, was arrested for sexually assaulting a minor.
According to a media advisory/press release by the Sacramento Police Department, in September 2014, the Sacramento Police Department received a report that Mitchell initiated a sexual relationship with a male minor while working as a choir director at New Testament Baptist Church. The now adult victim indicated that the relationship began in 2005 and ended in 2008.
This is not the first time that allegations of child sexual assault were raised against Mitchell. He was investigated on similar allegations in the past while working as the choir director, but charges were never filed.
Mitchell is currently in the Sacramento County Main Jail and has been booked on multiple charges including sodomy, oral copulation, and other sexual acts with a child.
The Sacramento Police Department urges anyone that may believe they were a victim of any crimes associated with Suspect Mitchell to contact the Sacramento Police Department.
The Sacramento Police Department urges anyone with information pertaining to this crime to contact the dispatch center at (916) 264-5471 or Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP (4357) or text in a tip to 274637 (CRIMES). Enter SACTIP followed by the tip information. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.
This tragic situation, among countless others, demonstrates that many churches are negligent in how they respond to allegations of child sexual assault, which makes them magnets for child sexual predators.
Of course, child sexual predators can be found anywhere that children are present. But it is also true that many churches put out a “welcome mat” for child sexual predators by lacking proper oversight and safeguards to prevent child sexual assault, having little to no meaningful accountability, and automatically siding with offenders and brushing off the allegations of victims. There’s also this tendency to brush things under the rug in order to protect the image and reputation of their church rather than being more concerned about the well-being and safety of children.
This lack of oversight and safeguards, little to no accountability, partiality towards leadership, and desire to protect the image and reputation of the church before protecting children creates the perfect cocktail for child sexual predators.
As the Sacramento Police Department press release stated, Kareem Mitchell was investigated for similar allegations in the past. So I have to ask. . . .
Why didn’t NTBC leadership at that time fire him and remove him from the church?
Why didn’t NTBC church leadership at that time take the allegations seriously?
Why did NTBC leadership at that time protect Kareem and blow off a victim?
Why did NTBC leadership at that time allow Kareem Mitchell to invite young boys over his house for sleep overs? Sleepovers are dangerous and inappropriate, as it gives child sexual predators unsupervised and unfettered access to children and puts children at-risk for sexual assault by youth leaders.
Many churches have a policy of forbidding these sort of sleep overs, in order to protect children and prevent situations where children can be sexually assaulted.
Parents, especially single mothers, should consider it a red flag when a youth leader invites children over to their home for a sleep over. While it’s normal for children to invite one another over for sleep overs, this is not normal behavior for an adult.
It doesn’t matter if said church leader is married with children, and their spouse and children will be present at the sleep over. That still doesn’t make it a safe environment, because in many cases, even when their spouse is present at a sleep over where child sexual assault occurs, their spouse knows about it but conceals it and insists that their husband or wife is innocent.
Take for example Dottie Sandusy, Jerry Sandusky’s wife. Some victims alleged that Dottie was present at times when they were attacked by her husband at sleep overs. But if you let Dottie tell it, she claims that her husband is innocent, the victims are lying, and she has “no idea” why 8 men would say that her husband raped them.
In some cases, the perpetrators were also molesting their own children (biological, step, or adopted). For example, Matt Sandusky, Jerry Sandusky’s adopted son, said that Sandusky had also sexually abused him.
Former church leader Hugo Fluellen, 54, who is currently serving six consecutive life sentences for child sexual assault, impregnated his own daughter. . . . and his wife, Rosie Evans Fluellen, knew about it. She is currently serving 28 years in prison.
My point here is that we should not assume that it’s safe to let our children attend sleep overs with church leaders just because he or she is married with children. Their spouse does not count as “supervision,” and their children being present doesn’t mean that it’s a safe environment and that nothing bad can happen.
I personally believe that NTBC leaders who were aware of past allegations share in the culpability of Kareem Mitchell’s alleged sex crimes against children.
They knew of Mitchell’s dangerous and exploitative propensities as a sexual predator, yet despite this knowledge, they failed to warn those who came in contact with Mitchell.
Their “negligent failure to warn” NTBC parents and whoever else came in contact with Mitchell, allowed Mitchell to assume an unfettered position of trust and authority as a spiritual leader in the church and local community.
This negligent failure to warn allowed Mitchell to coerce and induce future victims into alleged sexual relationships with him.
I also believe that NTBC leaders who were aware of past allegations are guilty of a negligent failure to intervene to prevent said conduct, a negligent failure to protect children, negligent failure to supervise, and negligent retention.
They retained Mitchell as an employee of NTBC, even though they were aware that he had a propensity to engage in sexually inappropriate conduct with children, and therefore was incompetent or otherwise unable to perform his job duties in an ordinary, reasonable, and lawful manner.
Churches that fail to prevent and properly address child sexual assault are engaging in modern day child sacrifice.
To my knowledge, Kareem Mitchell is on administrative leave, which means that he is on “temporary leave” from his job assignment with PAY and BENEFITS intact.
It’s bad enough that he wasn’t fired and removed from the church years ago when the initial allegations were made. But even now, after he’s been charged, booked, and sent to jail, there’s STILL this hesitancy to fire him and remove his membership from the church. Why? I will never understand why some churches allow seedy individuals to remain on their membership roster and payroll.
I do not agree with placing an alleged SERIAL child sexual predator on administrative leave, so that he can continue to receive benefits from church funds. After all of the disturbing allegations that have been made, Mitchell should be fired and removed from the church.
Nor do I agree with “just praying about it“ when it comes to allegations of child sexual assault.
If I may share a forgotten and ignored passage of Scripture:
“7 Get rid of the old “yeast” by removing this wicked person from among you. Then you will be like a fresh batch of dough made without yeast, which is what you really are. Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us.
9 When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin.
10 But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that.
11 I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people.
12 It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning.
13 God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, “You must remove the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:7, 9-13)
“11 Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them.
12 It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret.
13 But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them,” (Ephesians 5:11-13)
Jesus removed workers of iniquity from the house of God (John 2:15). The apostles said do not even eat with them, but remove them from among us. Yet Kareem Mitchell is being placed on “administrative leave.”
I leave you with this stern warning from our meek and gentle Savior Jesus Christ:
“but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)