An Iowa youth pastor has hit the headlines for sexually abusing at least four teenage boys in an apparent bid to turn them straight.
Former youth pastor Brent Allen Girouex, then 31, was arrested in 2011 under 61 counts of sexual exploitation by a counselor or therapist and 28 counts of third-degree sexual abuse dating back as far as 2007, this after four men came forward saying they were sexually abused by Girouex while in his care. Another eight people later came forward during the course of the investigation claiming they had been abused.
Dubbed the “rape away the gay” pastor by the press, Girouex reportedly subscribed to the notion that he could keep the boys “sexually pure” through sexual contact.
He infamously said after entering a guilty plea in November 2011 that he and his victims would pray during sexual contact and when “they [his victims] would ejaculate, they would be getting rid of the evil thoughts in their mind.”
Girouex claimed that he’d had “mutual” contact with the victims some 25-50 times. The unnamed victims have disputed this figure, saying the forced contact occurred between 50 and 100 times.
Questions were raised as to whether the church Girouex was part of, the Victory Fellowship Church in Council Bluffs, had done enough to prevent this kind of abuse given what was perceived by some at the time as its lax approach to safeguarding the young people under its care.
It should be noted, however, that there appears no evidence that the church ever knowingly allowed for this kind of conduct or ever tried to cover it up. In fact, the church played a significant part in exposing the abuse scandal and later petitioned for tough sentencing.
Despite all this, and Girouex’s readily admitting his guilt, Girouex was handed only a 17-year prison sentence in March 2012.
Even more astonishingly, Fourth District Judicial Court judge Greg Steensland then suspended that sentence in favor of mandating Girouex to continue sex offender rehabilitation treatment. He also slapped Girouex with the maximum probation allowed under law — just 5 years. In short, Girouex has so far served not one day in prison for the crimes he readily confessed to.
This apparently lenient sentence prompted one pastor at Victory Fellowship Church, Lonnie Parton, to write an open letter to the judge asking what the judge was thinking. He wrote, “Brent used his ‘family man’ reputation and his hard-working record to earn the trust of unsuspecting parents. Brent employed careful grooming techniques to win the trust of his innocent and unsuspecting victims — and he inflicted untold damage.”
Girouex’s estranged wife Erin also spoke out against what seems like an extraordinarily lenient sentence.
[Said Erin Girouex:] “If that’s what it takes to get him away from people, then yes … I don’t want (my children) anywhere near him.” She added that what she wants is for other victims of sexual misconduct to speak out before it’s too late. Erin plans to file for divorce, but according to KCCI “the hang-up is that her husband wants to see their children.” Currently, Brent Girouex has a court-ordered, twice-per-month visitation schedule, where he must be supervised by his own mother.
If this story first emerged in 2011 and resurfaced in 2012, and no new information is forthcoming, why are we hearing about it again now?
The website UPI seems to be the source of this latest wave of interest, having published an article on September 4 as though the story is new. However, the reasons why the story is getting widespread attention are slightly more interesting.
The renewed interest in the Girouex case comes in the wake of a Montana judge sentencing a convicted rapist to only 30 days in jail after his 14-year-old victim committed suicide because, the judge said, he had “suffered enough” for his crimes.
That case, which outraged many and made international headlines, brought heightened attention to the startlingly poor conviction rates and small jail terms issued as answer to sexual abuse and rape cases.
Victims and victim support groups say stories like these are not unusual and they point to stories like the Girouex case as evidence that the USA needs to address serious concerns about the trial system and its perhaps even dangerously lenient treatment of rapists and sex offenders.
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