A pastor’s wife and teacher from Burbank, Illinois, has been arrested and charged after she allegedly supplied alcohol to a 15-year-old student at Jordan Baptist School, a ministry of Jordan Baptist Church, and had sex with him at least five times before it was legal for her to do so.
Shannon Griffin, 49, wife of Pastor Thomas Griffin who led both Jordan Baptist Church and the affiliated school during the period of the crimes, is alleged to have sent nude images to the student she is alleged to have had sex with as well as a 16-year-old boy using Snapchat and asking for illicit images in return, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The pastor’s wife, who some members in her community allege had been abusing underage kids for years, was allegedly pictured in some photos getting into the shower attached to text messages such as “Come on in” and “Missing you,” Assistant State’s Attorney Kyle Gruca told the publication.
The Christian Post reached out to the church for comment Thursday but did not immediately receive a response. Former members protested Sunday in the parking lot and turned away potential worshipers who were in the dark about the alleged crimes that had been taking place at the church.
Former church member Mike Mollo Jr. explained in a Facebook live broadcast during the protest at the church that he was the one who blew the whistle on the pastor’s wife after he came across explicit videos of her earlier this year.
“I found out back in March and I pulled my kids out of the school immediately. We left the church. We were going to other churches trying to find one and this place man. It’s demonic. I told the pastor first. I said ‘What’s going on? You gotta get in front of this.’ I said ‘there’s people sending videos around here,” Mollo said.
He explained that Pastor Griffin denied it was his wife in the alleged videos and “as soon as he said that I called the police.”
“It’s a cult … there’s more people coming forward that was abused in this place, in the school and the church,” he said. “I’m the last person that would talk bad about a Christian establishment or something like that but I got news for you — when this kind of stuff goes on, everyone should tell.”
Court records cited by the Tribune said police began investigating the allegations against Shannon Griffin after the Burbank Police Department received an anonymous tip in early March.
Five of the alleged sexual encounters occurred when the victim was a student, beginning at age 15. A sixth encounter occurred after he graduated in 2016, Gruca explained at a hearing a week ago. The student is now 21.
A relationship developed between the student, who was an athlete, when Griffin, who was a cheerleading coach, began traveling on the school bus to sporting events. It further developed on Snapchat which they used to schedule their illegal encounters, the first of which happened in November 2013. Griffin allegedly gave the student one bottle of Maker’s Mark (bourbon) after that encounter.
They had further encounters in December 2013, November 2014, November 2015, and December 2015.
After the sixth encounter, which occurred when he was 18, Griffin allegedly gave the student $120 worth of alcohol.
In the second case against Griffin, police alleged that she shared nude images with a 16-year-old student at Jordan Baptist in January 2018. The student, who is now 17, took six screenshots of images and messages that he allegedly got from Griffin on Snapchat.
While the attorney for the pastor’s wife say none of the images showed her face, the student told police he was able to identify Griffin because of an arrow tattoo on her hip and her Snapchat username, Gruca told the Tribune. Police were also able to verify that the images were sent from Griffin’s bathroom at her home.
Cook County Judge John Mahoney ordered Griffin to be held on a total of $750,000 bond for both cases during a hearing last week, according to the Tribune. Mahoney further called the allegations “horrible” and ordered that she have no contact with the alleged victims in the case or with any minors. Griffin is the mother of three adult daughters, two of whom were also listed as members of the school’s staff.
“It boggles my mind,” said Mahoney during the hearing where her husband was present. “What a betrayal.”
Griffin and her husband have been married since 1991. The Jordan Baptist School website, which has been disabled since her arrest, shows that the school was founded in 1992. The school is located within the church building and uses the space that serves as Sunday School rooms.
“At Jordan Baptist School our philosophy is clear and forward. We believe that the student should be committed to our Savior, Jesus Christ through modest dress, proper entertainment, Christ-honoring relationships, a walk with God, and church involvement,” the website says. “If what we believe, teach, and practice is what you desire for your children, we look forward to joining you in training them for the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Protesters on Sunday alleged that there are still many victims coming forward as far back as 20 years ago.
It was unclear if Thomas Griffin is still the pastor of the church but Tiffany Lauren, a former member who also attended the school, explained in a Facebook live broadcast that his name had been removed from church signs and he had reportedly resigned.
“This is the place I grew up, this is the school I grew up going to. It’s refreshing in a way to see justice finally being served after years and years of watching this family, watching this staff get away with so much racism, covering up a racist who pedophiles is just, it’s nice to see that justice is finally being served,” she said.
“And it’s sad. I’m very sad for the victims and those that crossed through these doors trusting with their families and with their children and thinking that this is a good place to raise a family. My family came here from the time I was a toddler. I was born and bred going to school here and going to church here for years. It’s just mind-blowing that this is probably the end."