Mike Lewis, Pastor of the New Life Center in Cedar Grove, released a statement confirming he was one of the boys whom Shrewsbury Church of God pastor Sandy Martin Cook is charged with sexually assaulting over a decade ago.
Cook is charged with three counts of sexual abuse by a person of trust and 44 counts of third-degree sexual assault.
“For 13 years I have hidden this secret in the deepest part of my being, never to let it out,” Lewis said in a public statement. “Over these past years I have shared this secret with no one. Not my wife, parents, family or leaders.”
Lewis accused Church of God leaders of ignoring reports of the abuse:
“The realization of the fact that this person’s sexual abuses were brought to the attention of other local Church of God pastors, as well as the State Overseer of the Church of God, and that it was swept under a rug and not reported to the authorities is simply appalling…
“I assumed that my abuse had been limited to me alone and that no one else was suffering what I suffered. My assumptions were wrong …
“I now know that I was not alone and I have a right & responsibility to speak up. I would have taken this secret to my grave, but when investigators approached me and asked the question . . . ‘Are you also a victim’, I could not lie.”
I thought this story was important because it confirms so many fundamental truths that I have seen time after time representing victims of sexual abuse.
Sexual abuse by religious leaders is not just a Catholic problem .
The abuse claims that become public are just the tip of the iceberg.
Church Leaders cover up allegations of sexual abuse.
Most important: SECRECY PROTECTS CHILD ABUSERS ; when predators’ names come out, other victims of the same perpetrator are empowered to come forward.
If you are a victim of sexual abuse…tell someone. You are not alone.