A former South Dakota Lutheran Pastor is accused of molesting boys and girls in more than one South Dakota congregation, and his own son apologizes to the alleged victims. But the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America will not talk about it.
Pastor Floyd Bacon died in 1997, but a number of people claiming sexual abuse have just now begun to come forward.
KELOLAND News had two conversations with leaders in the ELCA church. Bishop Andrea DeGroot-Nesdahl of the South Dakota Synod sent just a brief written statement. Communications director John Brooks of the ELCA News Service says the allegations are none of the public's business.
In a written statement acknowledging alleged inappropriate sexual contact with children at the hands of Pastor Floyd Bacon, the South Dakota Synod of the ELCA states it has been in contact with victims and has disclosed information to several congregations.
That raises a number of questions, but few answers.
First, how many victims have come forward?
South Dakota Synod Bishop Andrea DeGroot-Nesdahl says the church won't release that information. She also would not disclose which congregations may have been affected by the suspected abuse, or when the abuse may have happened at those specific churches.
We then contacted John Brooks of the national office of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. He said these allegations are not a matter for the media. He said the ELCA will not release which churches Pastor Bacon served, and over which periods of time.
When asked to explain why it is better to keep this information from the public, rather than reach out to victims who may have since moved away, he said, "This conversation is over." And he hung up the phone.
According to the Synod's statement, the church's commitment is to stand with victims of abuse. But church leaders will not explain why it believes alleged abuse should stay quiet.
Pastor Floyd Bacon's son David is currently a pastor in Renner. He gave this statement: "Our family feels very sad for the victims. We are also very sad for this blemish on the Gospel Message by one who was entrusted to care for souls."
To read the full statement from the South Dakota Synod, click here.
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