March 19th, 2010
Andrew Comiskey, of the ex-gay group Desert Stream Ministries, posted an admission on his blog that a staffer at DSM was found to have sexually abused at least one teenager under their “care.” But instead of an apology to either the teenager, his family, Comiskey’s church or the ex-gay movement, Comiskey pens a strange, rambling post in which he portrays himself as a victim of a blackmail attempt and expresses gratitude that the entire episode escape public scrutiny in the press:
Before we as a ministry even knew what had actually happened, one relative of the boy, savvy in the ways of insurance, insisted on a face-to-face meeting with Jonathan Hunter and I. He wrote down an astronomical figure that he insisted we pay out to him, or else. He threatened to take the case to the press and a flamboyant celebrity lawyer in LA. (He assumed that our large and prominent new home–Vineyard Anaheim—had millions for such settlements).
The post goes on to express Comiskey’s anguish over the sad affair. Not the anguish for the molestation that the teens experienced, mind you, but the anguish of the humiliating police interrogations, anguish at being interrogated by their liability insurers and their lawyers., the anguish of facing church elders at Vinyard Anaheim (with which the ministry was affiliated at the time), and the anguish of losing a valued staffer who abused the teens. Apparently, the unnamed staffer was a key player in the ministry, as well as a close personal friend to Comiskey and his wife.
But what about the anguish the teens faced? And what about the anguish they must assuredly feel again should they come across this post? If Comiskey had an ounce of compassion for what those teens experienced, it’s hard to see it here. What possible good could a post like this serve anyone, except to aggrandize Comiskey’s own standing before a god who, according to Comiskey, saved his ministry from his enemies:
At the end of 3 years, the case was settled. Our insurance covered most of the costs. Our groups were reinstated at the Vineyard, with new boundaries and requirements intact. Not one story was printed about the tragedy. God spared us. His mercy leveled and sustained DSM.
Good for you, Andy. Your god smiled upon you. But God bless the teens who were left to pick up the pieces afterward.
According to a comment by Ex-Gay Watch‘s David Roberts left at Love Is An Orientation, the incident described in the post occurred in 1997. Another allegation of sexual abuse was lodged five years later. In 2005, Comiskey moved his ministry to Kansas City, where he became associated with the extremist charismatic group known as the International House of Prayer. According to ex-gay Survivor Peterson Toscano, Desert Stream’s Living Waters program “uses extreme methods that involve forms of exorcism (deliverance/healing prayer) and rely on teachings that believe that people become gay through demonic influences and the sins of ancestors.” Desert Stream is an affiliated ministry of Exodus International.
[Hat tip: Love Is An Orientation and several BTB readers]
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Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
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