February 12, 2005

Victim of "Clergy Abuse" Now Helps Others

News 10

It was the ultimate test of faith for a deeply religious couple. Steve and Samantha Nelson looked up to the pastor at their Bay Area church as both a man of God and a trusted advisor. But they say their trust was betrayed in an ugly sequence of events that nearly destroyed their marriage.

Samantha Nelson approached her pastor for spiritual counseling in 1999. "He was 27 years older than me," she explained. "He was a father figure to us."

Samantha said the counseling sessions eventually led to a sexual relationship through what she calls a process of "grooming." The pastor, she says, took advantage of her fragile emotional condition and used biblical scripture to justify his advances.

The Nelsons bristle at the suggestion it was simply an affair between consenting adults. "An affair implies the two people are equals," said Samantha. "And that was never the case and it never is the case in pastoral abuse because the pastor is in a position of power and authority."

Posted by kshaw at February 12, 2005 08:32 AM