This is by far one of the most despicable acts I’ve heard about- especially as a former youth pastor myself! Many of you have read my story on dealing with childhood sexual abuse and know my sensitivity to it. This kind of thing is probably more common than we are aware of but never gets reported. The sick part is that somehow he continued as their youth pastor and even got engaged to one of the girls. This drives home my point that we need to discuss these type of issues more openly and not pretend like they can’t happen at our church.
The other side of this is that I wish that he had talked with someone before he made his choice. He was dealing with all of these inappropriate sexual feelings towards kids under his care and couldn’t tell anyone. There’s a topic that needs to be addressed- especially to those working with students. How many people are there that wrestle with being attracted to “older” minors that they are overseeing but never act on those feelings?
I think if he could have told someone then he would have been advised to resign and walk away. Instead he lived with this secret, violated these girls and now countless lives are damaged.
AUGUST 8–Using a hidden video camera, a Texas man filmed four naked, honey-drenched teenage girls while they showered at a church where he worked as a youth pastor.
But since the statute of limitations has already expired, prosecutors today were forced to dismiss felony charges lodged against Thomas Fortenberry, who allegedly did the surreptitious filming in November 2007 at the Greater Harvest Community Church in Pasadena.
The 30-year-old Fortenberry, investigators alleged, organized a “Fear Factor” game that included honey being poured over four girls he had picked to participate. After the contest, Fortenberry instructed the minors that they “could take a shower and wash the honey” off their bodies.
It was at this point that he allegedly videotaped the four teenagers with a camera he had hidden in the church bathroom.
Investigators learned about the filming from one of the girls, who eventually went on to date Fortenberry. “When they became closer and it looked like they might be married,” Fortenberry, pictured above, told the victim, now 21, “that he had secretly videotaped her taking a shower” at the church.
The woman, who was 17 at the time of the “Fear Factor” incident, added that Fortenberry confessed to secretly videotaping three other girls (two 15-year-olds and a 17-year-old). When confronted by a police officer, Fortenberry would not deny having filmed the teenagers. “The defendant would only say that he has done things that he should not have done.”
Either way, Texas prosecutors today announced that they could not pursue charges against Fortenberry since the incident occurred more than three years ago, beyond the statute of limitations for the improper photography/visual recording count. The felony complaints, which were filed against Fortenberry on August 4, were dismissed today by the Harris County District Attorney’s office.