by Adventist Today News Team
In a court hearing on Tuesday (July 23), Pastor Marlon Holder was presented with six charges of sexual assault on a 15-year-old girl in 2011, according to a report in the Express national newspaper. The report quotes Pastor Clyde Lewis, secretary-treasurer of the Tobago Mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, that Holder "resigned from the ministry on June 30, 2013, and the matter is now in the hands of the police."
The police detective testified that "the victim was formerly a member of his congregation and was 15 years old at the time" and that "the acts were committed at his former home" in another part of the island. Magistrate Nannette Forde-John ordered $100,000 bail but did not ask Holder to plead because an indictment is being considered by authorities.
The newspaper stated that Lewis was "questioned why the church took so long to deal with the situation" and reported that Lewis said "the hierarchy of the church did everything to support Holder." It quoted Lewis, "We arranged several counseling sessions with him hoping that he would mend his ways."
"The hierarchy of the Catholic Church in Europe and the United States is being severely criticized for using the approach of counseling to deal with sexual offenders in the clergy, instead of immediately reporting them to law enforcement" a retired Adventist administrator told Adventist Today. "You would think that our leaders would have learned this lesson by now."
The Family Ministries Department of the denomination's General Conference is clearly on record against any delay in reporting sexual abuse cases to authorities, as is the Working Policy of its North American Division. Adventist Today has reported cases in which this resulted in immediate law enforcement action in the United States.