The Reformed Presbyterian Church has placed an Indiana pastor on leave as it investigates accusations of covering up sexual abuse involving minors in his congregation.
Pastor Jared Olivetti of Immanuel Reformed Presbyterian Church in West Lafayette will go through an ecclesiastical trial in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America and must refrain from exercising his duties as pastor pending the result, according to the denomination’s synod judicial commission.
“By imposing this requirement, the SJC in no way pre-judges the case, but acknowledges the gravity of the accusations against Mr. Olivetti,” said a letter sent by the commission, according to IndyStar.
The incidents of abuse took place on and off church property between spring 2019 and March 2020, according to the news outlet, which revealed that eight victims from multiple families reported over- and under-clothes touching, oral-genital contact and penetration by a boy at the church.
The boy is a relative of Olivetti, who, along with some other elders, failed to act with urgency, said the news outlet, which investigated the sexual abuse last month. The pastor didn’t immediately recuse himself but used his leadership position to interfere with the church’s response, according to the probe.
Many church members told the news outlet that elders chose to “publicly minimize the nature of the incidents and protected their pastor over the congregation’s children.”
“We’re not sending a report up,” Olivetti told the pastor of a neighboring church in July 2020. “It’s not going to be in our regular session minutes. It’s going to be in a different (record),” he was quoted as saying.
An ecclesiastical judicial commission, formed in late 2020, investigated the accusations and found that the pastor used “undue, excessive, or improper” influence to shape the church’s response, among other findings.
Olivetti has written for ChurchLeaders.com and GentleReformation.com, The Roys Report noted, adding that he also wrote an article based on one of his sermons on the need to exercise authority in a godly manner lest leaders endanger the vulnerable and enable the wicked.
Olivetti’s trial is likely to begin in March.