Monday, February 09, 2009

More New Life Church Revelations

A Colorado Springs bail bondsman and sometime bounty hunter who has been investigating New Life Church and Ted Haggard for several years appeared on my show late on Friday and told me that he now has information on ten more cases of sexual misconduct on the part of Ted Haggard and that three of these involve minors. He also said that New Life Church had suppressed from the media an earlier case of a pastor at the church (which has many pastors under the senior pastor) who was convicted of sexual assault against a child under the age of 15 and got off easy with help from the church, only to later have his probation revoked. The convicted pastor then illegally left the country, he said, and he speculates that New Life Church may have helped him do so.

Bobby Brown, reading from what he said was a detective’s affidavit, told me that the pastor, Stephen Evans, was convicted in 1999 of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy and admitted to sexual contact with his own 14-year-old son and his own 15-year-old daughter, in a case that Brown says was somehow kept out of the media and has not been reported until now. Brown says that with the help and backing of New Life Church, Evans served no jail time at all, cutting a plea deal in which he’d agree to a “restoration” at the church – yes, just like the one that Ted Haggard went through to supposedly make him straight! – while serving five years on probation. It is likely that Ted Haggard, as senior pastor at the time, oversaw Evans’ restoration.

In 2001, for reasons that Brown doesn’t yet know, Evans’ probation was revoked. But rather than turn himself in, Evans apparently skipped the country, immediately becoming a wanted man, and apparently he is known to be in London. Brown believes New Life Church may have helped him leave the U.S., fearful that he might talk about the church.

I was able to independently confirm through the State of Colorado Court Database (there is a pdf of the document at the bottom of this post) that indeed a Stephen Michael Evans was arrested and convicted in El Paso County (where Colorado Springs is located) in 1999 of sexual assault against a child under 15 and sentenced to five years probation. In the fall of 2001, the court records show, a warrant was issued for his arrest for “failure to comply” and indeed his probation was revoked.

Brown also talked with me about Christopher Beard, a youth counselor who left New Life Church due to sexual misconduct shortly after Ted Haggard's fall. Beard ran the 24/7 program, which Grant Haas told me was like a bizarre Christian military boot camp for young men which Haggard and Beard appeared to get off on, working out and showering with the 18-23-year-old men every morning. Beard left the church amid sexual allegations, but no details were given about the gender of the person with whom he engaged in sexual misconduct. The church said he’d had sexual contact with a consenting adult, but Brown believes otherwise and explained some discrepancies to me that lead him to believe this.

Brown, now a TV personality who is one of the sidekicks on the hit A & E series Dog the Bounty Hunter, has been conducting the investigation on his own, for no money. Several times he assured me – without my asking -- that he is not doing this as part of any agenda against homosexuality (and is critical of those who are antigay) and that his interest is solely in exposing criminal activity on the part of New Life Church and its leaders: the hush money and where it came from, as well any sexual assault on minors and what knowledge the church had.

Below is a partial transcript of the part of my conversation with Bobby Brown about the ten allegations against Ted Haggard that he says he has information about, followed by a lengthier video clip of the conversation:

Bobby Brown: I am currently investigating, it's up to ten [cases of sexual misconduct that have not been reported on the part of Ted Haggard] right now...

MS: But they’ve come to talk to you?

BB: Yes, they’ve come forward --

MS: Will any of them be going public?...Will you be going public with the names, with these people?

BB: As they agree to do so, absolutely.

MS: And are any of them at that point?

BB: We are working on it right now. And I’ll be honest with you, my first move, obviously before I would go public, would be to contact our district attorney’s office and..If they’re willing to talk to the district attorney, if in fact it’s a situation that requires that, that would be the first step---

MS: Are any of these individuals underage?

BB: I am looking at probably three that I know for a fact.

MS: That were underage when this happened?

BB: Right, according to them.

Below is a partial transcript of the the part of my interview with Brown regarding the convicted former New Life pastor he says left the country, Stephen Evans, followed by a lengthier video clip:

MS: You’ve been looking into a former pastor who ended up fleeing the country to London after he was convicted of sexual assault [in 1999] named Steve Evans...

BB: I can tell you everything about that, and it’s a very interesting situation because of the fact that my bail bond company is the company that actually bonded him out of jail…I have a copy of the actual affidavit which is only one page, and if I could just read a real short portion of it, I can tell you exactly what happened.

MS: Sure.

BB: This is prepared by a detective from the police department here. It says, “I interviewed Steve Evans...He was a youth minister for local Christian organization...Steve Evans told me that in January of ‘99 he was under pain medication from a shoulder operation. Steve Evans told me that he had gone into the room of his [14-year-old] son,” -- his natural son, mind you – “laid on the floor with his son and a 14-year-old boy from the church [who had been abandoned by his parents]. Steve Evans told me that he then touched the boy [from the church] on the penis with his hand. Steve Evans stated that this was skin to skin contact. Steve Evans told me that he reported this incident to the president of the Christian organization. In another interview he blurted out that in 1989 while on a mission trip to Taiwan, he had another incident of sexual contact with a young boy. I interviewed the president of the Christian organization, Mr. Gary Black. Mr. Gary Black told me that Stephen Evans had told him of contact with the 14-year-old. Mr. Black said that Stephen stated that he was under medication, that touching did occur in the Evans home. Stephen had initially touched the child on the penis. After the 14-year-old boy had pushed him away he then returned to the boy and touched him on his penis a second time. The case was reviewed by John Newson at the district attorney’s office and found to meet requirements for filing…” They issued a warrant. But he also in a police report admitted to having incestuous contact with his 14-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter.

MS: ...What role did the church play in his parole?

BB: In the plea agreement he was sentenced to, that he would go to “restoration” and he would be treated for this problem...The exact words were “defendant would be placed on five years probation...He was to remain at the family center and participate in all offense-specific treatment for sex perpetrators and cooperate with all ongoing treatment recommendations...”

That was in 1999. On Oct 26 2001, Evans’ probation was revoked. Brown doesn’t know exactly why. Evans did not turn himself in, however, and disappeared, not having finished his requirements, including paying over $2000 in restitution, Brown said. A warrant was issued, and he at that time became a wanted man in El Paso County. He is apparently in London and Brown believes the church helped him to get out of the country.

Brown said that it’s clear that local law enforcement has been intimidated by the New Life Church and by all the megachurches of Colorado Springs, which is like the Vatican of the evangelical movement. He noted that Ted Haggard continually bragged about how he had friends in the district attorney’s office and police department.

"I'm investigating a very, very large theft case that Ted Haggard allegedly had taken care of," Brown said in support of his claim. He noted, however, that a new district attorney was recently elected and is taking a close look at the Stephen Evans case. He’s hopeful that we may well see an investigation and an attempt, perhaps, to bring Evans back from London and bring him to justice. But that would only be scratching the surface of what surely seems like a web of deceit, cover-ups and possible criminal activity at New Life Church that appears to go back many years and perhaps involves many individuals.

UPDATE: Below is a pdf of the court document. Click the image.