Rich Richardson is on the Leadership Team of Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. In that capacity, he called Rachael Denhollander a false witness and five victims of abuse in the lawsuit against SGC, liars. He also broke a confidentiality agreement with Denhollander (read here) and adamantly refuses to allow an independent investigation of SGC (read here).
He is also the lead pastor of Sovereign Grace Church in Gilbert, AZ. This year Jason Hansen and Tyler Jenner (two of his staff pastors) left the church over differences with Rich (they wanted the church to leave the denomination) and planted Anchor Church Gilbert 19 minutes away (read here). Rich and his father, Trey, also vouched for two convicted child abusers that came to their church this year (read here).
Lastly, Richardson is on the Steering Team for the Arizona chapter of The Gospel Coalition. In February, he did a Revival Conference at his church building in Gilbert with H.B. Charles, Jr. and Sam Storms. Charles and Storms are on the national Council for The Gospel Coalition. They are staunch supporters of C.J. Mahaney and SGC.
That is why H.B. Charles is a featured speaker at the upcoming SGC Pastors Conference and Sam Storms is a guest teacher in the SGC Pastors College. These men have believed the talking points put out by Richardson, Mahaney, Mark Prater, Bob Kauflin, Jeff Purswell, et al. for years.
On April 22, 2019, Richardson posted an article on his Facebook page by Douglas Wilson that criticized Rachael Denhollander. A lot of comments followed in its wake. See Rich’s page.
In this article, I have taken select comments by Richardson (and a few others) and provided the responses I posted on his Facebook page. Who knows how long they will last there. The comments by Richardson reveal the current on-going propaganda put out by the SGC Leadership Team which is designed to deceive anyone who will listen including national leaders. That includes calling me a untrustworthy liar. Their strategy has not changed since I sent out The Documents in July 2011. They have slandered me for nine years but never addressed the incriminating evidence I have posited against them. This is just the latest example. Here we go. My comments are in bold print.
Rich Richardson - Some refreshingly biblical thinking in murky times. I can’t vouch 100% for the tone, but I do agree with the argument.
Higher Than Scripture, Holier Than God | Blog & Mablog
Tyler Thompson - What really gets me is that these [Sovereign Grace] guys only want to cover themselves. These are kids we are talking about and the church should be the safest place possible for them. I don’t want to hear their excuses any longer. It should be absolutely appalling to them and everyone that this happened in the church. They should want to do anything and everything in their power to make sure this never happens again under their or anyone’s watch.
Rich Richardson - Agreed. The troubling part in all this is that people have the impression that criminals [sex abusers] got off. They did not. The police throughly investigated the claims of the 2012 Civil Lawsuit and did not file criminal charges. The call for an independent investigation is essentially the police don’t know what they are doing.
Brent Detwiler Rich, you got the date wrong. The Second Amended Complaint was filed on May 14, 2013. Read it here.
The criminals did get off for three reasons [clarification - five abusers were convicted]. First, in some cases the detectives were not able to build a case that would meet the legal threshold of “beyond a reasonable doubt” in the minds of 12 jurors. That said, there was no question regarding the guilt of certain plaintiffs (i.e. abusers). That is what they told the victims. In a civil suit, you only have to prove a “preponderance of the evidence.” That is why dismissing the lawsuit because the statute of limitations had run out in Maryland was so devastating. If the lawsuit had gone forward, it would have been much easier for the victims to win their civil case.
Second, some victims have not wanted to prosecute because of trauma, fear of repercussions, concern for loss of reputation, wrong notions of forgiveness, etc.
Three, the State’s Attorney for Montgomery County, John McCarthy, was not willing to prosecute the Covenant Life Church pastors for conspiring to cover up the sexual abuse of children. This was contrary to the aspirations of both his Assistant State’s Attorneys, Amanda Michalski & Jessica Hall, who successfully prosecuted the case against Nathaniel Morales. They wanted “the church” to be held accountable for covering up his “heinous crimes.”
I was at the Morales’ trial. Lead ASA Michalski told people in the courtroom she could have arrested CLC pastor Grant Layman on the spot but did not have permission of her boss. Layman confessed under oath he broke the law by not reporting Morales’ crimes. So did all the other pastors involved (e.g. C.J. Mahaney, Gary Ricucci, Robin Boisvert, Chris Glass, Joshua Harris, Corby Megorden, Kenneth Maresco). That is a matter of record. You know it, Rich.
You say, “The call for an independent investigation is essentially the police don’t know what they are doing.” Not at all! You are spinning the facts. In some cases, the police just couldn’t meet the high bar needed for criminal prosecution but that does not clear or exonerate anyone. Read this article.
In other cases, there was plenty of evidence to convict. For instance with Charlie Llewellyn. He was a wealthy and prominent member in CLC. The only reason he is not in prison today is because his daughters have yet to prosecute him. The evidence is overwhelming. His daughter Olivia asked me to write this article.
Lastly, I expect some of the criminals that “got off” will be arrested in the coming year.
Tyler Thompson - Rich Richardson if the police got it right and there is nothing to hide, they should welcome an independent investigation to show this and put the truth into the light. It would honestly do a lot more for their credibility than their current PR which is one of the worst I’ve seen this side of the Catholic Church.
Rich Richardson - That’s just it the two churches in question are not even in SG. We have no jurisdiction in those churches. We have no right to call for an independent investigation there. There is nothing to hide. Unlike the RC [Roman Catholics], No pastor has ever been charged or moved or anything like that to avoid prosecution. That is what is totally missing in this online conversation. People are willing to paint with a broad brush without engaging with what actually happened.
Brent Detwiler - The two churches in question were Covenant Life Church and Sovereign Grace Church of Fairfax (now Redeeming Grace Church). The factual allegations in the lawsuit concerned the time period during which C.J. Mahaney was sr. pastor of CLC and overseeing SGCF. He was the one the directing the cover-up in both locations. You can and must call for an investigation of C.J. There is a ton that has been hidden. Read this article.
You reference “the two churches in question.” There are many churches in question. I know. More incriminating information will be coming out.
You say, “No pastor has ever been charged or moved or anything like that to avoid prosecution.” To date, that is technically true but you do not reveal that Nathaniel Morales was on the CLC payroll for nine months and was the Overseer of the International Student Ministry at the University of Maryland under Grant Layman. This has been covered up by CLC and SGM. He was sentenced to 40 years for the sexual abuse of three boys in CLC. He victimized many more.
Here is what Lars Liebeler reported to CLC on October 12, 2014. “I did review a historical record of all the persons entered into the Covenant Life payroll accounting system. It does show that Nathaniel Morales was in that category, in an undesignated category with a hire date of July 1, 1987 and a termination date several months later of April 1, 1998, 1988, excuse me.” “Several months” was actually nine months!
You add the qualifier “to avoid prosecution.” That is deceptive. Two pastors were moved by C.J. because their sons had committed crimes. One from OH to NJ. The other from VA to FL. You know who I am talking about. Sovereign Grace is the only one who will not engage with what actually happened.
Brent Paliga - Rich, I love you bro. You know I do. I also read the article. I 1000% agree with Tyler Thompson on this. If there isn’t anything to hide, why not let a third party come in to confirm the police? We all know the police aren’t perfect just like I am not.
Rich Richardson - The issue isn’t a third party--the issue is an independent investigation. They are two different things. A third party has already reviewed the work by the police years ago.
Brent Detwiler - Rich, you are totally incoherent. Covenant Life Church hired the law firm, Thaler-Liebeler LLP to do an “independent investigation” as “a third party.” They are the exact same thing. That took place from July 2013 to December 2014. Lars Liebeler headed up the investigation. I quote him above regarding Morales.
Further, Liebeler did not review “the work by the police years ago.” You have no evidence to prove your assertion. He made two oral reports to Covenant Life Church in October 2014. He told the church precisely who he talked to during his investigation. It did NOT include the police and he never referenced their work. Did you ever listened to his two reports on the CD made available to CLC members? I did. I even made transcripts.
Tyler Thompson - Rich Richardson, I guess we will have to agree to disagree that it was an actual unbiased 3rd party which is exactly the reason why an Independent, not SGM affiliated, 3rd party needs to come in. And for the author [Douglas Wilson] to suggest that accountability is Un-Biblical is laughable at best.
Rich Richardson - No, what I am saying is that it is a fact that the 3rd party was unbiased. We had nothing to do with it. They didn’t like the outcome and said, “Let’s do it over.” That is not debatable. And further, the unbiblical piece Wilson is not saying independent investigations are wrong but they are of higher standards of justice than the Bible. That is laughable.
Brent Detwiler - Rich, before you were incoherent, now you are unintelligible. You say, “It is a fact that the 3rd party was unbiased.” Lars Liebeler was terribly biased. He even withheld incriminating evidence. That is proven by the facts. Furthermore, he didn’t even attempt to talk with the victims in the lawsuit. Read this article.
You are extremely hard to follow. You say, “They didn’t like the outcome and said, “Let’s do it over.” Are you referring to the victims? If so, that is because they were never contacted by the lead investigator, Lars Liebeler. That said, I’m not aware of any victims saying, “Let’s do it over.” Why? They had no confidence that CLC or SGC would ever have a just investigation done by independent investigators.
Rich Richardson - It is a classic case of a Red Herring fallacy. All of a sudden police and past investigations and all other independent inquiries are not enough. She [Rachael Denhollander] is demanding something and saying that the only way to be totally transparent. Point to the problem and then say, “Only my way can remedy this.” It is a textbook red herring.
Brent Detwiler - “Red Herring” is the official fish of Sovereign Grace Churches and you employ the fishy fallacy in this very paragraph. Past police investigations do not invalidate the need for an independent investigation if you are interested in the truth. You should also point out that churches in SGC are calling for an investigation (as well as Christian leaders from around the nation) and reproving your arrogance for refusing to do one. If you are innocent, this presents a tremendous opportunity to prove it! The Book of Church Order does NOT prevent you. Read this article.
The 2019 Pastors Conference in Orlando is coming up on November 5-7. I’ve been told numerous churches will leave unless the Council of Elders approves an independent investigation during their pre-conference business meeting. That won’t happened because the majority of elders will vote against the motion. The demise of SGC will continue due to its pride.
And why the hype? “All of a sudden…all other independent inquiries are not enough.” There was only one investigation and it was confined to Covenant Life Church. Moreover, C.J., Gary Ricucci, and John Loftness refused to participate according to Liebeler! Your statement is deceptive. “It is textbook red herring.”
Tyler Thompson - Rich Richardson by this logic, no one should investigate the Catholic Church either because clearly they already looked into it, the police looked into it and their were no problems. Nothing to see here, let’s move along.
Rich Richardson - Nope. The Catholic church moved priests to avoid prosecution and covered it up. That is not even being alleged against us. Totally different. As different as lightning is from a lightning bug.
Brent Detwiler - No one has alleged you have moved pastors to avoid prosecution but what is alleged in the lawsuit and beyond the lawsuit is just as evil. That is a conspiracy to commit and cover up sexual assault and child molestation going back to 1980 with Charles Schmitt at Gathering of Believers (aka Covenant Life Church). Read this article.
Rich Richardson - Tyler Thompson I’m happy buy you coffee and talk about this if you want. I will answer any question. I don’t mindlessly tow the party line. If I were not 100% I would not trot this stuff out there. PM me and I’ll give you my cell, if you don’t already have it.
Brent Detwiler - When have you ever not towed the party line on anything of significance. For instance, you are on the SGC Leadership Team. You have called Rachael Denhollander a false witness. You have called five of the victims in the lawsuit liars claiming they made up their “sensational” stories. Quote: “Another five of the plaintiffs made allegations of abuse that were purported to have occurred years earlier. These allegations were sensational. … We strongly believe these allegations to be false.” (A Response to Allegations Against SGC, Feb. 13, 2018)
You have adamantly asserted it is impossible for Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. to do an independent investigation because its supposedly forbidden by the Book of Church Order. You agreed to funnel monies through a “hush” fund to keep a victim’s family from joining the lawsuit. The list goes on and on. I have never seen you do anything contrary to the company line. Read this article & this article.
Rich Richardson - Hey Chris, Great to hear from you. I’ll try and relate to those questions. I appreciate you asking. 1. It is not that CJ can’t [cooperate with an investigation]--that was all investigated by SG, the police and CLC (as you know after the lawsuit was dismissed CJ offered to add his testimony and they declined), but why again? And why if there are not two or three witnesses? Rachael is not a witness. 2. It may not be impossible, it is definitely improbable. Covlife told us they would not cooperate. So unless they change their mind....
Brent Detwiler - The lawsuit was “dismissed” (closed) on September 22, 2014. Lars Liebeler told CLC on October 26, 2014 the following. “More specifically, people said, ‘Well gee, C.J. Mahaney must have known about this [Morales].’ I did not have access to C.J. Mahaney to ask that question.” Someone is not telling the truth.
In any case, you continue to push a false narrative that C.J. was investigated by Liebeler and CLC. He was not. That is completely untrue. That is why he must be investigated now. I’m glad you agree that can be done.
Far worse, you say, “And why [a new investigation] if there are not two or three witnesses? Rachael is not a witness.” Rich, there are 11 plaintiffs in the lawsuit; ten of which are victims. There are four additional victims specifically referenced in the lawsuit. And then there are seven other references to victims at large. And beyond the lawsuit, other victims that have come forward. I have worked with Rachael. I agree with her comment on The Story with Martha MacCallum on the Fox News Channel. “Within Sovereign Grace Ministries you see a consistent pattern over decades of mishandling sexual assault allegations. You have pastors on record, including in police reports, who acknowledge that the practice was to handle things internally. You have multiple pedophiles, who were convicted, where the pastors are alleged by these families, independent of each other, to have interfered with the police investigations. You have allegations in almost half of the Sovereign Grace Churches across the country of this pattern and that is without any investigative reporting having even been done.”
Rich Richardson - Isaac I’m no [not] denying that we would all do many things differently. Amen. I’m saying there is an impression of criminal activity that just did not take place. Could we all have done better? Yes. Could we have cared for folks better? Yes. Is there criminal activity? No.
Brent Detwiler - You are not being honest. Of course, there was criminal activity. That was pointed out by Jessica Hall, the Assistant State’s Attorney, at the Morales trial. In sum she said,
“The church covered it up. The church protected Mr. Morales. … The church would cover up for Mr. Morales. … The church would protect a man who molested children. … The church did nothing. … They ignored the fact that heinous crimes had been committed.”
By church, she primarily meant the pastors. Furthermore, Grant Layman testified at the same trial that he intentionally broke the law by not reporting Morales’ sexual abuse of boys to law enforcement. The way he, Mahaney, and Joshua Harris covered up for Morales is the same way they covered up for other perpetrators. People need to read this article for the facts.
Bob Campbell - I am grieved at wstching [watching] Rich having to defend something he (1) wasn’t part of, (2) and can''t do anything about. Which was investigated by authorities and was determined to be crime free but mishandled. Which churches are no longer part of the SGC. Which has since put in safe guards and policies to protect kids---which is the concern of interested parties. Especially when the allegations are from a woman [Rachael Denhollander] with a misplaced agenda and an organization with current allegations in the hundreds. There is no positive gospel advancing purpose here.
Brent Detwiler - Bob, it was not “determined to be crime free.” That is a terrible distortion being put forth by Rich and Sovereign Grace. It was determined there was not the kind of evidence necessary to prosecute and prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” in some cases but that is NOT a statement of innocence. Moreover, the State’s Attorney’s Office of Montgomery County, Maryland said crimes had been committed by the pastors in conspiring to cover up the sexual abuse of children. They just didn’t prosecute them for it. See my letter of appeal to them.
You say Rachael’s agenda is “misplaced.” That is absurd but it also mild compared to what Rich and the SGC Leadership Team (of which Rich is a member) said about her being a false witness. It is the same thing they did with five of the victims in the lawsuit.
Rich Richardson - Chris many people have different perspectives and all are owed due process. We are not fighting to move on. We are standing for due process. Isaac was there, I’m not denying that but it is a fact that CLC declined to share their findings [from the Lars Liebeler “independent” investigation] and also that the men offered to participate. Chris—I can understand why if you look at the social media uproar why you don’t think enough has been done.
Brent Detwiler - Sovereign Grace is not about due process. I asked and worked for due process starting in 2004 when confronting C.J. The CLC elders covered up for him thereafter. Later in 2011, I was repeatedly promised all my allegations against C.J. and others in The Documents would be heard by an objective independent third party. Just the opposite happened. Everyone knows it. It was a total miscarriage of justice. The same has happened to scores of victims of sexual abuse in SGM. They were not even contacted by Lars Liebeler.
You say, “CLC declined to share their findings” from the Liebeler investigation. That is only half true. They withheld their written report but they gave two oral reports regarding their “findings.” The oral reports were clearly given to vindicate the abusers and effectively condemn the victims. On the other hand, I think the written report contained incriminating evidence and was therefore sealed. Remember, Liebeler did the bogus investigation while retained as CLC’s lawyer. He could not say or do anything that would incriminate his client! That’s why his undertaking was totally worthless.