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Haggard Faces More Sex Accusations; Church Says There Were Others Still Undisclosed

Jim Burroway

January 24th, 2009

More skeletons have come tumbling out of Ted Haggard’s closet. This time, it’s fresh accusations coming from a male volunteer at Haggard’s New Life Church:

Brady Boyd, who succeeded Haggard as senior pastor of the 10,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs, told The Associated Press that the man came forward to church officials in late 2006 shortly after a Denver male prostitute claimed to have had a three-year cash-for-sex relationship with Haggard.

Boyd said an “overwhelming pool of evidence” pointed to an “inappropriate, consensual sexual relationship” that “went on for a long period of time … it wasn’t a one-time act.” Boyd said the man was in his early 20s at the time. He said he was certain the man was of legal age when it began.

These accusations have surfaced just as HBO was preparing to air “The Trials of Ted Haggard,” on January 29. The documentary follows Ted Haggard in the aftermath of his fall from grace when Mike Jones, a Denver masseur, disclosed that he and Haggard had engaged in a sexual relationship.

According to the statement posted on the church’s web site suggesting that there are other credible allegations that the church knows about:

After Mr. Haggard’s fall, we received reports of a number of incidents of inappropriate behavior. In each case, we have tried our very best to do the right thing, including disciplinary action when appropriate. Our concern has been and continues to be for every person affected. We renew our invitation today for anyone who believes he or she has been hurt to please come forward.

In early 2007, New Life Church acknowledged that their investigation uncovered new evidence that Haggard engaged in “sordid conversation” and “improper relationships,” but they didn’t provide any details. A church board member earlier had denied that there was any evidence that Haggard was involved with anyone else. It now appears that there were several people involved.

According to the current pastor at New Life Church, a Colorado Springs TV station contacted him to say that the man was planning on going public with a detailed report on his relationship with Haggard. That contact has apparently triggered this latest disclosure by the pastor. He now acknowledges that the church had, in fact, entered into a settlement with the church volunteer at least two years ago.

The terms of that settlement include counseling and college tuition, but following the lead of how the Catholic church handled their clergy abuse scandals, this agreement also contains a clause requiring both parties to remain silent. Incredulously, pastor denies that the settlement amounted to hush money:

“It wasn’t at all a settlement to make him be quiet or not tell his story,” Boyd said. “Our desire was to help him. Here was a young man who wanted to get on with his life. We considered it more compassionate assistance — certainly not hush money. I know what’s what everyone will want to say because that’s the most salacious thing to say, but that’s not at all what it was.”

Boyd says now that that while it is within their legal rights to do so, they will not take any action against the man should he decide to go public.

Earlier this month, Haggard described his sexuality as one that doesn’t fit into “stereotypical boxes,” saying “I have struggled and continue to struggle from time to time with same sex attraction.” He also expressed support for same-sex marriage, although he reportedly retracted that statement within the hour according to an HBO spokesperson.

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deb
January 24th, 2009 | LINK

I posted about this today with comments about church leaders who use their power to bully and abuse the members of their congregations and clergy who are not straight.

Common Decency « Just Above Sunset
January 24th, 2009 | LINK

[…] in a long discussion of all of the details of the new scandal, and of the upcoming HBO special, here adds this […]

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