Deliver us from evil

Deliver us from evil

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6/7/2019

Florida Conference gets served a sexual abuse lawsuit

Deliver us from evil

Billy Leveille, former pastor of Bethel Eglise Haitienne Des Adventistes Church in Orange County, Florida, was arrested in March 2018 after Kenia Gilles and her father pressed charges against him for unlawful sexual activity with a minor as well as child abuse, while Jeny Desronvil decided not to press charges. The abuse of two girls, Gilles and Desronvil, began in summer 2016 when they began working in secretarial positions at the church. At the time, Gilles was 17 and Desronvil was 21.

Viral contamination

According to incident reports, Leveille had sex with the teenager three times at different hotels. This was apparently done through coercion and manipulation with trips to hotels disguised as conducting business for the church. In March of 2017, a video surfaced on social media of the two women engaging in sexual activity with Leveille. This video is what brought this case to the attention of authorities. It was shared thousands of times, resulting, according to the girls, in embarrassment and ridicule from their peers. Gilles further reported that a difficult senior year of high school was made worse due to the release and sharing of the video. After all of this came to the Florida Conference’s attention, Leveille was immediately fired.

On the basis of sex

The women have now filed a lawsuit against the Floria Conference “on the basis that it employed Leveille without a background check and did not properly supervise his behavior.” They want to see the organization change its policies to better prevent abusers from placement in leadership. At this time, it is unclear if the women are seeking anything in damages.

Why now?

When questioned about the timing of the lawsuit and why the two women did not speak out earlier, Desronvil explained, "In a Haitian church, it's difficult to really speak out on behalf of the pastor and say, 'This is what the pastor is doing to you.'" She added, "I'm tired of being mentally, physically, emotionally and even spiritually abused. I feel like my truth should be known."

Ready, aim...who do we fire?

Leveille pleaded guilty in May 2018 to two counts of child abuse and was sentenced to seven years of probation as a result of a plea bargain, according to court records. This conviction has no impact on the civil lawsuit, since it is against the Florida Conference and not Leveille. His arrest, sentencing, and conviction do, however, provide an important context for understanding why the women's lawsuit is against the Florida Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

Word on the street is…

Not much, since very little has been shared in the public sphere about this incident. Some have questioned if the Florida Conference was really negligent, suggesting that without a history or public record of abuse, the Florida Conference could not have been expected to catch this, even with a rigorous hiring system of background checks, in the hiring of Billy Leveille (since he wasn’t exactly announcing his extra “business for the church”). At the time of this Brief, there have not been any official statements from the Florida Conference.

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La Sierra University Announces New President

The forecast for La Sierra is Fehr weather

You may recall from an earlier brief that, Dr. Randal Wisbey, president of La Sierra University, announced his plans to step down at the end of June because of ongoing medical challenges. On May 29, the La Sierra board of trustees elected Dr. Joy Fehr to serve as the university’s next president. Dr. Fehr has served as provost for the past 3 years, and as assistant provost for one year before that. She came to La Sierra from Burman University (previously Canadian Union College) in Canada, where she was vice president for academic administration from 2010-2015. She previously served at Burman as dean of the arts division and as an English professor. The board of trustees elected Dr. Fehr as president on Wednesday, May 29. She will begin her new position on July 1.

Adventist named new prime minister of Papua New Guinea

DM this JPG of SDA PM in the PNG

After a tumultuous appointment and eventual resignation of former prime minister (PM) Peter O'Neill, Seventh-day Adventist James Marape was elected as the new PM. The BBC reports that the ex-prime minister’s leadership was heavily criticized by the public because of tensions over a multi-billion-dollar gas project between French company Total and ExxonMobil. President Marape was voted in with a 101— 8 vote from lawmakers. South Pacific Division President Glenn Townend said, “South Pacific Division congratulates the Honorable James Marape on becoming the eighth Papua New Guinean Prime Minister.” Marape said on Facebook, “It is a privilege to be the chief servant of this nation of a thousand tribes. I don’t promise I will be [the] answer to all of our nation’s problems but I do promise I will give my very best effort to make a difference! Without God I would not have come thus far from nothing. The least I can do is do my best for God’s children in PNG."

New Adventist Scientist Association formed in the Philippines

They asked if I wanted to join NASA; I said...I’ll PASA

On May 20-21, 42 people (including 37 scientists) met for the first National Adventist Scientists Conference in Palawan, Philippines. The meeting’s goals were to promote creation science, encourage and motivate members of their mission, and celebrate Adventist scientists’ contributions to the church. As a result of these meetings, The Philippines Adventist Scientist Association (PASA) was officially founded. The purpose of PASA is to “motivate and empower Adventist scientists to use their profession for the church’s mission.” Some of PASA’s proposed projects include the publishing of a yearly scientific journal and the development of annual scientific conferences.

Who said Catholics and Adventists have nothing in common?

School’s out for...ever?