Megachurch Embraces Molester; Congregants Leave

The father of a 3-year-old girl who was molested by a congregant left the megachurch along with his family when church members began showing support for the accused man.

Terry Van Gorp, 57, who admitted to molesting the young girl while babysitting her at his home in February 2006, is schedule for a May 14 trial and could face up to 108 years in prison.

Meanwhile, the 2,400-member College Park Church in Carmel, Ind., has provided financial assistance to Van Gorp and for the girl's counseling, reported elder John Schmidler, according to The Indianapolis Star. The family of the victim also received a $1,000 check from the church.

Support to Van Gorp, however, caused the girl's family and others to leave the congregation.

"It's a disgrace that the church would embrace a criminal and turn its back on the victim, especially one that's a young child," said the father, who is not identified in the local newspaper. The Indianapolis Star does not identify victims of sexual assault.

Doug Pabody, counseling director at the church, described College Park as "a hospital for sinners" and said they would be shirking their duties if they did not attempt to help "both the crime victim and the victimizer," according to the local newspaper.

"I've been in churches where things like this would happen and no attempt would be made to minister [to the accused], which is a shame," Pabody told the Star. "They're pushed out the door and made to go away, and I, for one, am very proud to be part of a church family that isn't afraid to go into the trenches."

Congregants were told to rally around Van Gorp and his wife, the church's office manager, according to Schmidler.

Van Gorp had admitted to molesting the girl after receiving counseling from Kimber Kauffman, former senior pastor of the church. Kauffman had encouraged the congregation to forgive and love him.

The former pastor resigned in December, saying he did not believe he could fulfill his pastoral duties, Schmidler told The Indianapolis Star.

Van Gorp is not allowed in the church building without an escort. He faces two counts of Class A felony child molesting and a count of Class C felony child molesting.