In Lucena City an orphanage, the Sankey Samaritan Mission for poor children and youth, was raided by the NBI and an American, Tom Randall and orphanage manager Toto Luchavez and his son Jake Luchavez were arrested and are charged with trafficking and child abuse based on strong testimony of some of the 31 victims.
While we are sickened again by yet another case of child abuse in the ministry, this case highlights the difficulties involved in bringing these vile acts to the attention of the public and authorities.
The whistleblower in this case is a missionary in the Philippines named Joe Mauk.
From his Facebook page;
“It is understandable a lot of people are seeking some additional background information on the posts we made regarding the rescue of young people from an abusive institution. The foreign founder and funder is a highly respected and highly effective long-term missionary and servant of God. The institution began with a board of individuals of professional background who were charged with approving the policies of the institution and monitoring the administration. After the departure of two initial administrators, the foreign funder’s closest Filipino friend and confidante was placed as the administrator. Over the years the board evolved into what it is now. Total board members: The administrator, the administrator’s wife, the administrator’s son and two staff paid by the administrator. Even the foreign funder is not on the board that controls all of his investments in this institution. The only accountability over the administration is the foreign funder himself who visits the country once a year.
A year or so ago one of my church members was asked to be principal of the Christian school that operates on the same compound as the children’s institution. This past year she recruited one of our young people, a newly certified teacher, to join the faculty. She was assigned living space in the dorm of the girls. Some of the girls confided in her of the abuse they were experiencing by the administrator. She told my daughter Miriam Bongolan who is trained in detecting child abuse by the head start program in the US and has worked in missions involving anti-abuse and child trafficking. She brought the news to me. I asked if there was anything I could send to the foreign funder to verify this. Two girls from the institution, at great personal risk, smuggled out letters to the teacher who gave them to Miriam who gave them to me. I immediately scanned them and emailed them to the foreign funder. His response was that he knew about one of the girls, that she was emotionally disturbed and told stories and that he had probably received a dozen such letters from her. He said he didn’t know about the other girl but would handle it himself as he was due to visit in 6 weeks.
As a service to the institution, I had been providing security guards from the agency that provides security for our conference center. In anticipation of the foreign funder’s visit to handle things, upon legal advice, I moved to increase security there. This attempt was met with furious opposition by the administrator and the funder. Within a week my increased security was replaced with a new agency who hired the old guards. Realizing there was nothing more I could do to help and realizing the responsibility to report to authorities reports received of abuse, I turned all information I had over to my legal counsel and to a pastoral crisis intervention team to report the matter to authorities.
And, it might have stayed there but.. I have five daughters. They are all fierce warriors for what they believe is right. This makes for interesting family dynamics but was also useful in this case. They would not let my youngest daughter Miriam get discouraged or give up. She and her teacher friend persisted against great odds until they were able to reach the highest levels of Philippine law enforcement. Hence the action we reported in our posts.”
Mauk is not being held up as a hero in some circles, but as a villain.
Despite reports that the children were the ones to make the accusations, Mauk is being painted as an “accuser’ and “single man with a vendetta”.
As is too often the case, very little mention of the alleged victims is made by those defending Randall.
While there is little more damnable than false accusations of child abuse, ignoring such charges is.
We cannot assume guilt or innocence in this case, but we can and should allow the investigations and trials to proceed before we try to vindicate the accused without the victims getting their day in court.
More from Mauk;
“We are now being accused by supporters of the institution of terrible things but that’s okay, the kids are safe. This is the reason abuse in Christian institutions over the years has not come to light until years later. The refusal to accept reports is common. The resistance to any action is fierce and success in actual having charges filed is extremely difficult. Some of have been asking “How could Joe do this?” Simple answer: kids were being raped, what did you want me to do?”
We’ll be following this…