In 1997, a man met at separate times with two teenagers in the name of DSM/LW and made sexual overtures to them and committed some acts. The details are unknown to us. He, like any predator, hid what he had done. We became aware of one of these instances at the end of 1997; the teen and his parents came forward, and the man was promptly fired then jailed. The teenager received help for the spiritual and sexual abuse that had occurred. We knew that another teen had met with this man, also in 1997; when asked, the teen claimed that nothing had happened. 5 years later, as a young man, he claimed that he had been abused by that man in 1997.
We believed him, and made a lengthy and weighty restitution for the sins committed against him. Since 1997, under legal counsel, we have established new and strong boundaries for all of our dealings with participants. (We no longer offer help to minors.) As many of our adult participants have been subject to sexual abuse as children, we take very seriously our responsibility to ensure that we do not abuse them further. The weight of these offenses committed in our name, and the amount of time and money we have spent to help repair the damage done, has helped teach us that lesson.
As we became aware of the sexual abuse, we began a ten-year process of seeking restitution with these two teenagers and their families. Desert Stream/Living Waters faced several civil lawsuits, and criminal charges were filed against the perpetrator, our ex-staff member.
Our restitution involved taking responsibility and seeking forgiveness for our sins and doing all we could to repair the damage done. This was all under legal guidance, which placed guidelines as to what we could and could not say publicly about their families and their suffering.
To prevent further violations, we sought and submitted to legal counsel in crafting better boundaries between lay leaders and those they served.
Within the legal constraints on what we can say publicly, we have taken many opportunities to make known the sexual abuse and its implications for us as a ministry.