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Posts for February, 2009

Allegations of Sexual Misconduct By Another New Life Pastor

Jim Burroway

February 9th, 2009

Michelangelo Signorile apparently had another blockbuster program last Friday:

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.

It appears that in 2001, Evans’ probation was revoked and he may have skipped the country. He’s believed to be in London now.

Brown also confirms that Christopher Beard, the counselor at New Life Church’s 24/7 program which Grant Haas spoke of, left the church due to sexual misconduct shortly after Haggard’s fall.

More From The Grant Haas Interview

Jim Burroway

February 5th, 2009

There’s more from Grant Haas’ appearance on Michelangelo Signorile’s show this week. If you want to know more about “Ted Two,” you’ll have to check that out on Michael’s web site, along with his defense of why he thinks it’s newsworthy. I’m not so sure, myself. But this one, I think, is. It’s where Grant Haas describes the first time he revealed his “struggles” to Ted Haggard.

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An unofficial transcript of this interview is available after the jump.

New Life Church’s 24/7 Program: “The Best Job In The World”

Jim Burroway

February 4th, 2009

Grant Haas, the young man who came forward last week with new allegations about Ted Haggard, appeared on Michelangelo Signorile’s program yesterday and spoke for about an hour and a half. Mike will be posting shorter audio portions over the next few days.

Today, he posted an edited clip of their discussion of New Life Church’s 24/7 program. This was, as Mike describes it:

…a sort of Bible boot camp where young men, 18-23, are worked out intensely and get all cut up and muscled while also praying to Jesus, immersed in this 24 hours a day, often being woken up at all hours of the night. Haggard and another man who is described as “struggling with homosexuality” often oversaw the program, including going to the gym with the young men in the morning to work out and shower with them. They often went on training missions — including simulated counter-terrorism missions, as Christians under attack, and you’ll hear about all of that. (Please don’t mind the grimaces on my face throughout: I really wasn’t that shocked and disgusted about what I was hearing! We had some technical/sound issues in the studio, and I was trying to cope with those problems, on the computer and to my producers, and was pretty frustrated by them, hence some of the looks on my face).

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As we reported yesterday, Pam Spaulding live-blogged the interview. Her highlights included:

  • Haggard told Grant that he would have an easier time going straight because he’s a top and “an asshole is similar to a vagina.”
  • Haggard revealed his “party formula” to Grant, involving crystal meth, poppers, Viagra, renting porn and masturbation, either alone or with others. Haggard said that he knew a lot of people who were into this type of activity.
  • Haggard suggested that Grant find a nice girl to marry, and offered his own daughter — the worst sort of “ex-gay” advice anyone could give.
  • Christopher Beard, the church volunteer who left New Life Church a month after Haggard’s downfall, headed the church’s 24/7 program for troubled young men. Beard told Grant that he and Haggard enjoyed watching the men in the locker room.
  • Haggard’s drug use was much worse than previously disclosed, including being high at the pulpit.

Haggard Accuser On Signorile Program

Jim Burroway

February 3rd, 2009

Grant Haas, who came forward last week with fresh allegations about Ted Haggard’s sexual inproprieties and drug use, was on Michelangelo Signorile’s radio program today. I wasn’t able to hear it, but according to Pam Spaulding, he really spilled quite a few beans:

Classic sleaze: Haas was asked by Haggard about the young man’s sexual preferences in the bedroom —  bondage, toys, groups, bathhouses, top, bottom, versatile, drugs. Ted told Haas that “since I preferred to be in a “top” position that it would be easy to become straight because “an asshole is similar to a vagina.” …

After going on and on in detail about same-sex action, Haggard would then back off and tell Haas that he needed to find a good woman to marry. And listen to this: Haggard offered up his daughter as a dating/marriage prospect for Haas! Knowingly offering to guide his own daughter into a relationship with a closeted man!

There’s more at Pam’s place. Some of it — “Ted Two” specifically — is definitely TMI, but all of it is disturbing. This definitely shows a man who is deeply troubled. I look forward to the audio of the interview being posted online before too much longer.

Thank You, Mike Jones

Jim Burroway

January 27th, 2009

I don’t know about you, but when I watched the KRDO report on Grant Haas’s accusations against Ted Haggard, I was disturbed to see how they treated their brief mention of Mike Jones. He’s the one who first exposed Haggard’s gay sexual activities to the national media. But when the KRDO reporter mentioned “Mike Jones, a gay escort,” the picture suddenly appeared grainy and menacing while ominous music rumbled underneath.

Sex workers certainly have it tough. They’re looked down upon, despised, and mistrusted. My point here isn’t to defend this line of work, but to defend these people as human beings and sometimes as heroes. Mike Jones is just one hero. He did the right thing. Ted Haggard even agrees.

Mike Jones did several things to earn a living. He was a personal trainer, but that’s not how he met Ted Haggard. Mike was also a masseur and an escort. He did for money some of the things that many of us do for love, what others do for lust, and what virtually all of us do for free. Maybe that’s why many seem to suspect that Mike only exposed Ted Haggard in order to collect the twenties on the table. They treat the very idea preposterous that a sex worker could do something honorable.

Mike did write a book, but it didn’t sell well. He didn’t make a lot of money off of this. I don’t know whether he expected to or not. Writing a book and not making much off of it is pretty normal, even for heroes. The truth is that heroes are rarely rewarded for being heroic. At best, most can expect a few brief moments in the spotlight when they’re typically thanked for what they did. And then it ends.

But Mike will always be known as an escort or a “massage therapist” in scare quotes. A sex worker. His full name is not Mike Jones, but Mike Jones A Gay Escort.

I don’t know what he expected when he went public with his story, and I’m not saying we should have all gone out and bought his book as our way of thanking him. But we should thank him.

Ted Haggard actively promoted and defended a particular message which brings suffering and hardship to a lot of LGBT people — especially to young people — while indulging in a dark and twisted caricature of the very thing he denounced. Mike Jones brought him down. By focusing on Mike as an escort and not as a hero, we miss seeing a clearer picture of what he did. Much like that grainy, frightening picture we saw of Mike on KRDO.

Haggard Accuser Says Haggard Encouraged Sex, Drug Use

Jim Burroway

January 27th, 2009

Last night, Colorado Springs’ KRDO aired their long-promised report on Grant Haas, a former New Life Church volunteer who came forward with more allegations about then-pastor Ted Haggard.

Grant joined New Life Church after having been kicked out of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago for revealing his sexual orientation to the Dean of Students. He told the dean that he was “struggling” and asked for help. The Dean told him they wouldn’t be able to help him, but suggested he go to Colorado Springs. Hass was only a semester away from getting a Bachelors degree in Pastoral Theology.

Four months after arriving in Colorado Springs and becoming a part of New Life Church, Ted Haggard asked him “What’s your story and what are you doing here?” Haas explained his situation, and he said Haggard’s eyes lit up and his whole demeanor changed toward him from then on.

In the KRDO video report, Grant does not confirm that any direct sexual contact took place bewteen himself and Haggard. Instead, in the accompanying article, Grant describes an incident when the two went on a trip to Cripple Creek:

“He asked me if we were going to be godly or bad that night,” Grant says, recalling their trip. The former volunteer says that meant either hanging out as friends, or buying Haggard porn and masturbate. I told him that I didn’t want that,” says Grant.

After a day in the small mountain town, both went back to Haggard’s hotel room. Grant says he just wanted Haggard to be his pastor and friend, but according to the young man, as they were lying in bed Haggard asked if he could masturbate. Grant told him no, but says Haggard did it anyway. “I couldn’t move,” says Grant. Grant was fearful to say anything to anyone. “He kind of made me have a guilt trip about it, so I wouldn’t say anything about it,” Grant remembers.

According to the video report, “after that life-changing night at Cripple Creek, Grant says he fell back into isolation, drinking heavily and taking prescription drugs. He says he even tried to commit suicide four separate times.”

Meanwhile over the next several months, Haas and Haggard exchanged between 1,000 to 2,000 text messages a month, many of them concerning sex and drug use. “It was like he had two personalities, it was like here is this 50-year-old pastor who is the ultimate man of God and then, this 16-year old horny boy who couldn’t keep himself together,” Grant said.

New Life Church agreed to pay Haas $180,000 for counseling and other expenses, with a stipulation that neither party talk about what transpired between Haas and Haggard. But Grant says that despite the agreement, the church continually neglected to pay his medical bills.

“I really felt the church staff did what they could to get me to move to a different city, to get me to stop going to the church, to make these promises to do whatever they could to help, but their main focus was to cover it up,” says Grant. “They think Ted Haggard is not a harm to this community and I really think they’re wrong, they’re dead wrong.”

The KRDO video report also contains excerpts from taped telephone conversations between Haas and Haggard, in which Haggard acknowledged and apologized for his inappropriate behavior and thanked Grant for deleting the text messages.

Here is the full KRDO video report:

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Breaking: Mike Jones Speaks Out About Latest Ted Haggard Revelations

Jim Burroway

January 25th, 2009

In a new, emotionally charged YouTube video, Mike Jones voices his anger with New Life Church and their past refusal to admit what they had known all along: that there were others in the church who had had a sexual relationship with then-Pastor Ted Haggard. In this video statement, Jones reveals that he tried to contact New Life Church when others were coming to him with stories about similar contacts with Ted Haggard:

I knew that there were others, others that I could not publicly out. They had to do it themselves. But they were scared. Some of their parents knew about what was going on at the church. And some of the parents just wanted to turn a blind eye to it.

I also realized it was going to be just probably me, out there all alone facing the press, facing the criticism.

Now when Brady Boyd took over as pastor of New Life Church, I contacted him. I wanted to talk to him about these other young men that were coming to me with their stories. This was serious.

And you know, Pastor Boyd refused to meet with me.

Mike Jones also talks about what he endured — including from within the gay community — after revealing his sexual contact with Ted Haggard. Mike expresses considerable anger over what he went through, particularly those who  dismissed him as “just a whore” who was “just escorting.”

But the greater part of his anger reserved for New Life Church, which for the past two years maintained the fiction that Mike was the only person Ted Haggard had sexual contact with — even though they knew differently:

[M]ost of my anger is at New Life Church. For over two years, I have suffered being all alone out there, taking all the heat for all that’s going on. For all this time, they knew there were others. And they paid hush money to this man to be quiet, when they could have admitted it, that there were others right at that moment. And that would have helped me out so much, instead of putting me out there to face it all on my own.

I am so angry at the church. They stated at that time that Mike Jones was the only man out there that had relations with Ted Haggard. And it’s wrong and it was a lie. And they owe me an apology.

Watch it:

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[Video filmed and edited by BTB's Daniel Gonzales on behalf of Mike Jones]

Click here to read a transcript of Mike Jones’ statement

Update On Latest Ted Haggard Revelation

Jim Burroway

January 25th, 2009

Colorado Springs KRDO television reporter Tak Landrock appeared in a teaser of a report promising a full report on Monday about a second accuser against Ted Haggard. The unnamed young man, described as being in his twenties, said that some of his sexual encounters with Ted Haggard as non-consensual, and he revealed that the church paid him a large sum of money to keep quiet about it.

The KRDO teaser contained a brief telephone conversation between the young man and Haggard, in which Haggard admits to the relationship. New Life Church, which Ted Haggard founded and pastored  until his fall from grace, has refused to respond to questions from KRDO.

We noticed that the church’s statement on the latest accusations acknowledged that there were others who had a sexual relationship with Ted Haggard. KRDO has confirmed that observation.

Haggard is scheduled to appear on CNN’s Larry King Live on Thursday, and he already has taped a segment on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”  “The Trials of Ted Haggard,” a documentary about Ted Haggard’s fall from grace, will premiere on HBO on Thursday.

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.

Review: “The Trials Of Ted Haggard”

Daniel Gonzales

January 22nd, 2009

What’s this, a new author? If you take a look at the left side of this page you’ll see there are three authors listed here at BTB. As a former patient of ex-gay therapist and NARTH founder Joe Nicolosi my specialty is ex-gay issues and video projects documenting ex-gay harm.

I admit I’d grown sick of following Haggard’s most recent media circus when a screener of Alexandra Pelosi’s upcoming documentary fell into my lap so I didn’t have a clue what to expect from it. First let me tell you what the film is not about — it’s not about the initial breaking of scandal in Colorado Springs nor is it about Ted’s ex-gay therapy sessions. Rather it’s about Ted trying to put his his life and the life of his family back together after being banished from Colorado and the effects of his cripplingly harsh severance agreement. This agreement dictated he may never work in any form of ministry or reside in the state of Colorado ever again (the Colorado restriction is dropped after a year). Additionally Ted’s presumably vast Christian social network had largely abandoned him leading Pelosi to ask (while holding the camera at Ted) “Where have all your friends gone?” I found that question so shockingly harsh I let out an audible gasp in sympathy.

That’s very much what this film is about, feeling sympathetic for Ted because of the way his former friends and church have abandoned him. Viewers see the Haggard family move repeatedly between Phoenix area motels and “safe houses,” trying unsuccessfully to put their lives back together. We see Ted try and secure steady employment, and failing at that, take out a loan against their home back in The Springs.

I’m listing all the ways the film makes you sympathize with Ted, but don’t worry about Pelosi presenting it in an overly sentimental way. The film’s very raison d’être is to look at Ted’s unglamorous new life in Arizona and give him a fair chance to tell his side of the story. Of note is Ted’s explanation that he never claimed to be “completely heterosexual” after three weeks of therapy, a claim which he says originated with a member of his “restoration team.” Also of note are a couple of very brief interviews with his wife, which are some of the most profound and telling scenes in the entire film. With those two exceptions the film focuses far more on Ted’s alienation from his old social networks than what’s going on in ex-gay therapy or his marriage.

Pelosi does an excelent job shooting compelling footage to illustrate how far the Haggard family has fallen and how much of a trial their lives have become. She pulls no punches with her questions for Ted, who answers them with the most genuine thought and emotion of any of his public statements since the scandal broke.

I still have a great deal of criticism for Ted and personally would liked to have seen Pelosi focus on other aspects of his life and behavior, but as I’ve made it pretty clear this film is about the trials which Ted Haggard’s family endured after being banished to Arizona. For succeeding in that I absolutely recommend spending 41 minutes of your life watching this film and possibly feeling human emotion for someone you’d previously felt nothing but loathing and disdain for.

“The Trials Of Ted Haggard” premiers on HBO January 29th at 8pm “HBO East” and 11pm “HBO West” with multiple re-broadcasts (all times Eastern). View a full schedule here.