An Idaho couple was arrested after the wife told authorities that her religious beliefs prohibited her from telling them her husband sexually abused their daughters.
She just prayed about it and hoped God would take care of everything.
The couple belongs to a church known for putting prayer over the safety of children:
Sarah Kester and her husband, Lester Kester Jr., are affiliated with the Followers of Christ Church. The church, which has a prominent following in Canyon County and in Oregon, faces criticism for refusing medical care for children and adults in favor of faith healing.
After her July 11 arrest, Sarah Kester told deputies from the Canyon County Sheriff’s Office that she didn’t tell police about her husband’s alleged abuse because it was against her belief system to involve agencies such as law enforcement, child protection services, or counseling services into personal or family matters, according to a sheriff’s office press release.
Lester Kester Jr., 48, was charged with four felony counts of lewd conduct with a minor under 16. Sarah Kester, 50, was charged with one felony count of injury to a child on the suspicion that she did not report the abuse.
At least they were both charged. In many cases, religion is used as an excuse to pardon abuse. Sarah’s prayers that God protect her children from “a demon” (i.e. her husband) were not answered — at least not in the way she wanted. Predictably, Lester Kester also blamed Satan for “causing” him to sexually abuse his daughters.
(Side note: I hope you appreciate how I’m not even calling attention to the name “Lester Kester” or the fact that his father with the same name thought it would be a good idea to do it again.)
It’s sad, but not shocking, that church groups which prohibit reporting abuse or seeking medical attention often suffer preventable tragedies. In these cases, correlation is causation. It’s convenient breeding grounds for abusers. And this church knows that better than most.
Let’s hope the Kester children get the justice they deserve.