Relationship Connection: A man in my church congregation is a registered sex offender

Question

I am a single female. For the past year, I have been unhappy with one of the two men assigned to fellowship me in my home. While I appreciate this man’s willingness to serve, I learned he is on our state’s sex offender list.

Now I do not feel comfortable sharing personal things with him and the other man when they visit.

It also bothers me that he was assigned to come to my home without anyone letting me know he is on the list. Also, in the past I have been asked to do service for him and was not told of his background. I accidentally discovered his classification by looking on the registry, as the local police page shared the link.

I realize I can discuss my frustration with my church leader. I realize the value of people changing. I respect what he has probably changed. I do not know the background story. But I do not think it is fair for me to have this situation when I do not trust.

How do I approach this without sounding judgmental and like a busy body? Thank you for guidance.

Answer

It can be shocking to learn of someone’s past mistakes, especially when it’s discovered the way you did. Even though this man hasn’t personally violated your trust, it can be difficult to know that he has violated someone’s personal safety. You’re in a vulnerable position as a single lady and need to know that the men who visit your home are above reproach.

You can ask your church leader for a new assignment if you don’t feel comfortable with this man. You don’t need to defend your decision any more than this man owes you an explanation for what he did in his past.

You’re also worried about how your request may be viewed by others. You can certainly hope that your church leaders will keep your request confidential. However, you need to feel comfortable in your own home when these men visit, so that becomes more important than how others view your request. Again, you have nothing to defend.

If you feel you need to explain yourself to your church leaders, please do not hesitate to meet with them. This isn’t the same as defending yourself. You can see this as an opportunity to educate them about your experience and feelings. You can even let them know how this has affected you. Perhaps they will receive ideas for how to best use this man for fellowshipping others in your church.

That said, it’s critical that you don’t gossip about this man with other people in the church. You know nothing of his past. As you stated, he needs the freedom to change even though he has a record. This is one of the difficult consequences of his past choices, but none of us has the right to add to his burden by gossiping.

The sex offender registry is full of men who have made amends, restitution and changed their lives. Of course, there are plenty of offenders who haven’t improved their lives or repaired the damage they’ve caused. Either way, the registry is there to create public accountability to protect the innocent. However, it doesn’t provide any information on their restitution or recovery efforts.

You can always protect yourself and then encourage your leaders to be sensitive to families with minor children and single ladies. It’s a sensitive situation, for sure, but if this man is working to rebuild his life, he’ll do it best in a community full of people who are, as it says in the book of Matthew “wise as serpents and harmless as doves,” establishing sensible boundaries while finding ways to fellowship someone who has made serious mistakes.

Stay connected!

Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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35 Comments

  • 42214 October 18, 2017 at 7:25 am

    Only one?

  • Anon October 18, 2017 at 8:22 am

    Firstly, I want to say that I absolutely believe that this woman has every right to who she admits to her home and whom she serves. That said, in this situation, I would check to see what the back story was, if the man is willing to tell her or allow her religious leader to tell her. In the state of Utah, you can be put on the sex offenders registry for a myriad of dumb charges. There was a story not too far back of a man who was accused of lewdness with a minor. He was drunk and urinated in a park. At night. When there weren’t any kids near by. But he is now on the sex offenders’ registry. Another case I saw in my time in an attorney’s office was a young man who had just turned 18. His girl friend was 15, I think, and the parents of the girl (who hadn’t had an issue with him up to that point) pressed charges of statutory rape and lewdness with a minor. Now he is on the sex offenders’ registry. I do not want to down-play the seriousness of sexual crimes or the usefulness of the sex offenders’ registry as a public service. Only to point out that there may be more to the story than meets the eye. Before you add your name to list of those who will condemn him for his past (which you have a right to do) try to find out the backstory. You don’t have to have him in your home, but you may still find a place in your heart to fellowship him and show him kindness as he recovers from his past.

    • Ladyk October 18, 2017 at 9:07 pm

      Well said Anon, context is very important in this situation. There really needs to be different levels when it comes to the sex offender list or a time frame to be removed off the list for those who’s offenses are very minor. Some on the list are absolutly dangerous offenders and should be on there the restmof their lives for the protection of the public. In the case of the man relieving himself, other than the ewww factor, it is just crazy for him to a registered sex offender.

      In this casd talking to your church leader and let them know what you have found out is the right thing to do. You have the right to be safe but just remember what the scriptures say about judging someone.

  • ladybugavenger October 18, 2017 at 8:45 am

    You dont have to have anyone in your home that makes you feel uncomfortable. First and foremost, it’s your home. You should feel safe in your home.

    Protect your home and yourself and do not worry about what your church or others think.

    Bottom line, anyone that makes you feel uncomfortable, anyone, regardless of their past (do you hear me? Anyone) you do not have to let them in your home for any reason. They could be a well educated, respected high priest or a registered sex offender, it doesn’t matter, you don’t have to let people in you’re home and you don’t have to confess anything to them.

  • Kyle L. October 18, 2017 at 8:50 am

    I think that it is absolutely silly that a church would sent a man over to a single woman’s house by himself. Way to set both of you up to make a mistake. If this is truly the stance of the church you attend you should bring up to the leadership the scripture verse that talks about avoiding even the appearance of evil. A man being at a single woman’s home can be seen, by different people, in very different ways. Why would you even want anyone to think that something was going on between the two of you? Just saying.

    • ladybugavenger October 18, 2017 at 9:10 am

      I love it Kyle! – Avoid all appearances of evil. That’s perfect!

      A man or men should not be going into a single woman’s home. It doesn’t matter what they are there for. The appearance to others may look suspicious!

    • statusquo October 18, 2017 at 1:21 pm

      Amen! Send a woman, not a man to minister to a single woman. I would not call this a “church” for their lack of adherence to Biblical principles in this situation.

    • Ladyk October 18, 2017 at 9:12 pm

      Kyle in the LDS church men are called to be “home teachers”. It is to make sure that church members have access to the Priesthood for spiritual reasons. However they ALWAYS have a companion that they come with to avoid the possibility of anything inappropriate happening. They are told not to go into a single woman’s home alone and if their companion us not available then they can take their wife or another neighbor. Anything other than that would be wrong.

    • Larry October 19, 2017 at 5:06 am

      No Were in this story did (she) say This Man was sent over to her house Alone. But if you have a bias or ax to grind I guess you will read what you wish it to say.

      • Kyle L. October 19, 2017 at 8:21 am

        I totally missed the part about “one of two men”. Sorry. Here is what the Bible says in Titus about who should teach the younger women: Titus 2: 3 The aged women likewise, that [they be] in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;

        4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,

        5 [To be] discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

  • theone October 18, 2017 at 10:08 am

    There are approximately 7000 registered sex offenders in Utah alone. I was told by a friend in law enforcement on average there are 4 offenders in every LDS ward who are either being investigated or convicted. I’m not discounting other Churches, I just haven’t been informed of their statistics. Now whether those figures are accurate or not I can’t say for certain, but I’m inclined to believe they’re close considering the number of offenders in Utah already on the register. Sadly we find most religions tend to police their own before going to the proper authorities which I think is a crime in and of itself. If her Church leaders knew this guys status, they should have informed her. After all, it’s public record for a reason. She deserves to be and feel safe no matter where she is, and if the offence was minor let her decide what’s best by being informed.
    I can’t help but remind everyone a Serpent is not wise, in fact, they have zero ability to reason. Maybe it’s time to stop being delusional and use rationale instead.

    • Brian October 18, 2017 at 10:46 am

      There are 7,699 registered sex offenders in Utah, and 5,069 wards in Utah. So there are on average 1.51 registered sex offenders per ward boundary.

      • theone October 18, 2017 at 12:56 pm

        Brian considering the LDS population is 62.64% of Utah, it stands to reason that a high percentage of those sex offenders are LDS. I would think my friend who has access to the Utah FBI stats for sex offenders is much more accurate than your general equation. I’ll go with his information over yours, but thanks for chiming in.

        • high5 October 19, 2017 at 8:27 am

          All Knowing Mormon Brian knows it all! LMFAO

      • ladybugavenger October 18, 2017 at 1:57 pm

        According to theone’s post, it includes being investigated.

        Your math equation may be correct Brian. But why the heck are there so many wards in Utah? It’s not an overly populated state.

        I’m sorry, when I here ward, my first thought is psychiatric ward.

        If I do the equation and add theone’s post. There are 2.49 people being investigated for sexual crimes in each ward, (on average)

      • Larry October 19, 2017 at 5:25 am

        Brian’s Math is correct “1.51sex offenders/Ward boundary. And if you use the theone’s added stat of 62.64% of those in Utah being LDS, That would be less one person whom is LDS within that ward boundary would be on the Sex offender list. So it seams that your friend in Law Enforcement is playing fast and loose with the numbers. (even if you consider those currently being “investigated”). Anyone can access the Sex Offender Registry to see whom are living near you.

        • theone October 20, 2017 at 8:56 am

          Larry,
          My friend is a high ranking officer as well as a prominent high ranking figure in the LDS Church. He has no need to fabricate something to garner attention.
          Just last year I went to a baby blessing ( I do it just for support ) and there were two people I know that were attending Church that day who are on the registry.
          In the end, I will say, one in every ward is too many, and to put them in any kind of official capacity where they have access to unsuspecting persons, is wrong period.
          They can’t apply for a teachers job, but religion and it’s ignorant forging nature has led to many injustices against innocence. Religion is a parasite on the skin of humanity, and the sooner it’s gone the better for all.

  • Who October 18, 2017 at 10:36 am

    Is she Lds or Jw??

  • ladybugavenger October 18, 2017 at 11:02 am

    At work, I ask people for their drivers license. I’ve seen 2 drivers license with registered sex offender on them. I’m not quick to judge, and I’m not inclined to ask, what happened? While I’m on the clock. What I do know is, it could have been as simple as peeing in public or that 18 yr old who had an underage girlfriend. I was not threatened by them because I’m not personally involved with them and just because someone has sex offender on their drivers license doesn’t mean that the well dressed man with a clean shave standing behind them isn’t a rapist.

    In a world full of “don’t judge” people need to get some judgment. Use your gut and trust that voice telling you, something’s not right.

    • ladybugavenger October 18, 2017 at 3:07 pm

      The first sex offender drivers license I saw, I gasped. I don’t know if it showed on the outside, I’m sure it did. I tried to be normal about it, like I didn’t see it. He was just a kid, 20. He was with his mom. He looked scared, he looked lost but his mom was there standing by him. Bless her heart.

      The second one was an old man in his late 70’s. He probably had been registered for a long time and didn’t seem affected by it.

      There are many sex offenders who aren’t rapist and murderers and they don’t get caught. Be careful out there

      • comments October 18, 2017 at 4:16 pm

        would be something if they whipped out the driver’s license and it had the label “CONVICTED RAPIST” in big bold lettering branded over the top. i’ve never heard that they tagged it onto drivers licenses, at least any place i’ve lived. Must be an Okie thing

        • ladybugavenger October 18, 2017 at 5:40 pm

          Holy Moly Bob. You’re right.

          Here’s the ok law requirement for sex offender on drivers license: The people who have to have the words sex offender stamped on their driver’s license are people convicted of first and second degree rape, sodomy, rape by instrumentation, sexual battery, sexual abuse of a child, incest, lewd acts or proposals to a child or someone who has committed two or more sex crimes that require registration.

          It practically means rapist!

          • ladybugavenger October 18, 2017 at 5:48 pm

            I did get a little freaked out when I read that. And now I know what kind of thing they did to get that on the drivers license.

            Do you think this is a good or bad law?

            Should all states have this law?

          • comments October 18, 2017 at 8:41 pm

            I don’t know. It’d be a bit embarrassing for them I’m sure. Does everyone who checks their ID need to know? It seems strange more than anything

          • comments October 18, 2017 at 8:54 pm

            I guess if you were looking to hire a babysitter and wanted to check their ID… would be convenient to see “convicted pedophile” stamped right on the ID. Would make that particular hiring decision a lot easier huh? Or a bus driver or an elementary school janitor, but those jobs already require background checks. I figure the liquor store or bank, etc, when checking IDs, doesn’t really need to know that they are a sex offender. I’m having some trouble figuring out the practicality of such a thing…. hmm

          • ladybugavenger October 18, 2017 at 10:31 pm

            It’s essentially a life sentence.

            I certainly did not need to know. I’m embarrassed that I had to see it on their drivers license.

  • Hataalii October 18, 2017 at 11:49 am

    As others have said, you do not have to allow this individual in your home. Everyone has “personality conflicts” now and then. Keep reading, and I will explain that thought shortly.
    It is quite possible that whoever it is that makes these teaching assignments has no idea that this person has some type of “history” as a predator. Now I believe you have the choice of telling the church why you are not going to allow him into your home, or just say “personality conflict.”
    This is a tough call for you to make. Should this individual continue to make house calls, and then take advantage of his position as a teacher to assault some one, how will you feel if you haven’t been completely open with your church leaders?

  • comments October 18, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    A sex offender out “fellowshipping” single women. Sounds like a rape just waiting to happen. It’s like you wouldn’t want a catholic priest out running around trying to “fellowship” little children. Those catholic priests aren’t even allowed to be alone with children anymore; I think they instituted a “buddy system” so the priests are always supervised when around children.

    On a side note: when I look up people on the sex offender database it actually says what they were convicted of, not in great detail, but it does list the conviction, so not sure wth website youre using, maybe not the official one?

    • comments October 18, 2017 at 1:41 pm

      It doesn’t sound like the LDS, since they wouldn’t usually send a single man out alone to “fellowship” single women. But if it’s a pair of men coming out together it could easily be LDS’ers

      • statusquo October 18, 2017 at 3:00 pm

        I thought with LDS it was one man with many women? Or did they change that?

  • comments October 18, 2017 at 4:25 pm

    for some reason I don’t find this at all interesting but it has lots of comments.

    Way I see it she has a few options. If she really likes this man she can straight up ask him about what he was convicted of. He may or may not tell the truth or the full story. Get that info and decide from there.

    If she doesn’t want a sex offender coming over to the house for chit chats she can just sever all ties. Might be a bit awkward seeing him in church after that, but oh well

    Shouldn’t be terribly hard to find out the conviction since it is public record. If it was in another state it might take a bit of digging, not sure.

    You find out if you got you a rapist or child molester coming over for tea and chat.

    There’s always a chance the guy will rape you. Overall not an interesting dilemma. It’s not like she’s thinking about marring the guy… or is she?

  • Ladyk October 18, 2017 at 9:18 pm

    If it is an LDS singles ward it would be a single guy going to the home of a single sister. However he should always have another male companion with him and not be alone.

  • ladybugavenger October 20, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    I wouldn’t want 2 men coming into my home, when im one women, unless they are paying my bills….just sayin’ 😉

  • Paratrooper501 October 20, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    This is a no brainer. Don’t let the dude in to your house. Its crazy how the concern of judgement from fellow church members clouds what should be the easiest decision to make. Yes, the argument could be made that the guy was peeing in a park; however, more than likely that is not the case.

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