Over a month ago, reporters Miles Moffeit and Sue Ambrose of the Dallas Morning News published a shocking story about alleged sexual abuse against Pastor Rickie Rush (below), the 60-year-old head of “The Inspiring Body of Christ Church,” one of the largest churches in Texas.
One victim told the story of how Rush had repeatedly violated her boundaries without consent, beginning when she was only 15. She finally got the courage to tell her story via a Facebook post not long after the #MeToo movement began — 25 years after that first incident — only to discover that her own sister and nephew were also victims. (Her nephew said Rush had been violent, not sexual, towards him.)
Rush had told all these people never to tell anybody about their encounters, saying privately that “Satan would plant things” in their minds and they shouldn’t listen.
The News pieced together this story by reviewing hundreds of pages of documents including court depositions, police affidavits, church memos, school records, photographs, memoirs, calendars and therapists’ evaluations. More than 50 people were interviewed about various aspects of the church Renee attended.
Most people The News spoke with were too fearful to be identified as saying anything negative about the church, citing the pastor’s consistent warnings against doing so.
Overall, the reporters had testimonies from five alleged victims of abuse. But it remained up in the air if Rush could be prosecuted for any of this because the stories were well outside the statute of limitations.
Yesterday, the same reporters published another story about Rush based on what happened since that first investigation. More people are starting to come out, knowing they aren’t alone.
The former members came forward after The Dallas Morning News published an investigation last month into allegations that Rush, now 60, had sexually or physically assaulted five other members since the early 1990s, when the church was founded. Three said they were beaten with paddles when they were teens. One said she was hit so hard she blacked out. Rush has denied those allegations.
“The Rush investigation remains active and ongoing,” Police Chief U. Reneé Hall said in a statement last week.
There’s one damning detail that should’ve raised more red flags: Rush once asked parents who attended his church for permission to punish their kids for acting out. Many people agreed, assuming this was some mild form of discipline. It wasn’t. Multiple kids said Rush paddled them, beat them, and worse. His punishments sometimes drew blood.
“You’re either bent over with your hands on his desk, with your hands on your toes, or you’re laying flat down on the floor on your stomach, rolling around trying to fight the pain,” [one victim] told The News. “Most of the time, he swings wildly. He doesn’t swing with the intent of hitting just one spot.”
… One swing was so hard, it severed the handcuffs. He couldn’t move his wrist without pain for weeks, he said.
Despite protests outside the church in recent weeks, Rush is still the pastor of the church. Hell, he just preached yesterday. I doubt much will change unless the police investigation uncovers anything actionable. But this story highlights how a self-described man of God received unearned trust from countless families, then used that trust to allegedly take advantage of the kids in his care.
It happens far too often. And we cannot trust church leaders to police themselves.
(Screenshot via YouTube)