COMMUNION OF REFORMED
Presiding Ministers’ Report
Wight Abuse Case
Trinity Reformed Church
August 15, 2017
I. Commendations . . . . 6
- Legal Cooperation . . . . 6
- Pastoral Counseling . . . . 6
- Social Media . . . . 7
- Confession, Repentance, Forgiveness . . . . 10
II. Corrections . . . . 10
- Evaluation and Support of Wight . . . . 10
- Counseling Practices in an Abusive Situation . . . . 12
- Care and Protection for the Abuse Victim . . . . 13
III. Recommendations . . . . 14
Conclusion . . . . 16
Appendix — Wight Cases Annotated Timeline . . . . 18
Review Committee Background and Composition
The mission of the church includes bringing comfort, healing, and hope to victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence. Sexual abuse and domestic violence are contrary to God’s will in every way, and those who have power in the church (and state) should do all they can to eradicate these crimes and to help restore victims. The Lord says he is a “refuge for the oppressed” (Psalm 9:9); thus, those who minister in his name must seek to provide support and safety for those who are victimized.
As a way of addressing these issues as they arose in the context of two criminal cases in Moscow, Idaho, a review committee was formed in October 2015 in response to requests from the two CREC churches involved, Christ Church and Trinity Reformed Church. The committee has been asked to assess the responses (wisdom, pastoral care, counseling) of the two churches. The committee’s work is in accordance with CREC Constitution, Article IV. C. 9. b., which authorizes Presiding Ministers to inquire into the “spiritual and doctrinal health . . . of the churches.” In this case, because Douglas Wilson is both Presiding Minister of the CREC and pastor of Christ Church, he recused himself and asked the Pro Tern Presiding Minister of the CREC, along with the Presiding Ministers of the seven CREC presbyteries, to serve as the review committee. The invitation from Pastor Toby Sumpter, on behalf of Trinity Reformed Church, to the committee gave us the following task:
I’m writing on behalf of the Trinity Reformed Church elders to formally invite you and the newly formed committee made up of all the presiding ministers of the other CREC presbyteries to review Trinity Reformed Church’s handling of a recent situation in our church. In an effort to keep things simple, some of the language below intentionally echoes the letter you received from Douglas Wilson on behalf of the Christ Church session, but please note that there are several significant differences as well. . .
We are issuing this invitation with the knowledge that Christ Church has issued a similar one and your committee has been formed to look into the difficult pastoral situations they have faced over the last ten years or so (e.g., Sitler/Wight). While we are not at the center of those particular concerns, we are tangentially connected through our pastoral care of Jamin Wight after the Greenfield scandal. He subsequently married a young woman, their marriage imploded, and Jamin was later convicted of physical abuse against his (now) ex-wife.
Our invitation is asking you and the other presiding ministers to inquire into the pastoral care and counseling ministry of Trinity, with particular regard to our handling of abuse cases, including our handling of the deeply troubled Wight marriage. In short, are our practices in this area operating within a biblical framework and consistent with the law? Are we operating competently and in good faith?
This invitation means that we invite you along with any of these men to ask any questions of members of our session and pastoral staff, and we gladly grant access to our minutes, records, correspondence, etc. We would ask you to issue a public report by the end of the year, and while it may go without saying, we would ask that it be a separate report from the one you issue for Christ Church.
We are not asking you to re-litigate any particular case or to adjudicate any of the current disputes over our handling of this case, but we are requesting that the presiding ministers satisfy themselves as to the health and soundness of our pastoral care in such circumstances, and to provide us with their counsel and advice where they see any deficiencies. . .
Each of the men on the committee is a pastor in a CREC church and has been duly elected by his respective presbytery to serve a three-year term as Presiding Minister. They are, therefore, truly representative of the churches in their presbyteries. The committee’s members are:
Alan Burrow Knox Presbytery Tim Bushong Tyndale Presbytery (Pro Tem Presiding Minister of Presbytery) Garrett Craw Calvin Presbytery Todd Davis Wycliffe Presbytery Duane Garner Augustine Presbytery Rich Lusk Athanasius Presbytery Jack Phelps Anselm Presbytery
Former CREC Pro Tem Presiding Minister Randy Booth was initially part of the committee, but resigned his office shortly after the committee was formed. The committee does not have an official chairman, but Jack Phelps, the new Pro Tern Presiding Minister of the CREC, has served as discussion moderator and spokesman as necessary.
Mission and Purpose
The committee acknowledges at the outset that crimes of sexual abuse and domestic violence within the church are grievous sins and that the church as a whole suffers with those individuals who are suffering because of these sins. While our mission is to evaluate the work of the requesting churches and report to them our findings, the committee also wants to make sure that those most affected by crimes of sexual abuse and domestic violence are cared for and helped, and we believe this emphasis is fully consistent with the spirit in which the sessions of the two churches asked us to undertake this work. The committee hopes its work will lead to the establishment of protections and protocols that will help prevent future occurrences of abuse in CREC churches, and to prepare the churches to properly respond to abuse situations that may arise.
At the same time, it is important to understand what the Committee is not. This Committee is not a church court. No ecclesiastical charges have been filed, nor have any formal complaints been made under any provision of the CREC Constitution or Book of Procedures. At no time has there been any allegation that anyone in leadership is personally guilty, or suspected of, any sexual impropriety or criminal offense. The men on the committee are pastors, and the committee’s task is pastoral toward all involved. We have been called upon to determine whether there were errors, sins, or mistakes committed by the leadership of Trinity Reformed Church in their handling of the case under review, so that any failures can be dealt with appropriately and pastorally. We want to hold our pastors and elders to the highest possible standards of integrity, humility, charity, and pastoral sensitivity. While we are certainly concerned that our churches operate in accordance with civil law in these matters, the bar is set far higher than basic legal compliance. We are concerned not merely with the civil administration of justice, but also with assuring that the Church’s ministry of truth, grace, and compassion has been faithfully carried out in the situation under review.
We have gathered the facts to the best of our ability through interaction with as many involved parties as possible. All interaction with involved parties was, of course, voluntary, and we did not put anyone under oath. To help complete the work and ensure its integrity, the committee sought help from MinistrySafe, a consulting group with expertise in assisting churches as they navigate these issues.1
With that in mind, the Committee sought answers to two basic sets of questions:
- In handling the case under review, did the pastors or elders commit sins against anyone involved? If so, have they repented? Were there any pastoral mistakes made, any attempted cover-up, or any failure to cooperate properly with legal authorities? Did either session, acting on what they knew at the time, do anything they should not have done, or fail to do anything they should have done? Did they treat everyone involved according to biblical standards and with pastoral competence? Did they love and serve those in their respective flocks?
- With what is now known, are there matters that should have been handled differently by the leadership or that should be handled differently if similar cases arise in the future? Looking back on these cases, what can the sessions of the churches and the CREC as a whole learn from them going forward? How can our churches better minister to victims and prevent victimization? How can we improve our shepherding and counseling ministries?
In conducting its work, the committee has asked for and has been given complete access to the session’s records of the case. We have been allowed to interview anyone in a leadership position at either church who is serving or was serving at the time of the events. We have also sought to interview a wide range of affected parties and to review relevant documents from a wide range of sources, including session minutes, court records, and correspondence between many different people with some connection to the case.
The committee has attempted to be as thorough as possible, given our providential situations as busy pastors and elders spread across the country. We acknowledge it has taken far longer to produce this report than was hoped, but as we progressed in our labors, we began to realize not only the mountain of detail involved in the history of these cases and the controversy surrounding them, but also the extent to which the underlying issues would affect more than just the two Moscow churches. We wanted to be thorough in dealing with the matters in a way that would bring benefit to all CREC churches. As a result, much time, effort, and expense has been invested in this process.
In all, working on cases for both churches, the committee has conducted approximately 50 hours of interviews, and reviewed thousands of pages of documents. We have had numerous hours of committee meetings via video conferencing and carried on extensive email exchanges. We heard from numerous people who are or had been members at Trinity Reformed Church during the timeframe in which Wight’s abuse of his wife was uncovered and pastorally and legally. We are especially grateful that Wight’s victim and ex-wife, [redacted] was willing to speak with us extensively.
Conducting extensive interviews and examining documents helped give the committee a fairly detailed overview of the facts of the cases and the feelings of those involved. Of course, the committee also faced some limiting factors. Given that the case under review took place several years ago, many we talked with confessed to having imperfect or incomplete recollections of what had occurred or who had been told what and when. This report will not attempt to reconstruct all of our detailed findings, but rather summarize them to provide the “big picture.”
The committee expresses its gratitude to all those who helped us in our research. We did find many conflicting accounts, not all of which were resolvable, but the information gleaned from direct interaction with involved parties was extremely helpful.
Overview of the Facts
For an overview of Jamin Wight’s abusive crimes against Natalie Greenfield, see the report of this committee delivered to Christ Church. The focus in this report is primarily Wight’s treatment of his [redacted] and events which took place after he moved his membership from Christ Church Reformed Church.
The Wight case resulted in criminal charges and conviction. There is no question Wight was guilty of both physical/sexual and emotional abuse. He had an established pattern of harming and of threatening harm against [redacted] and their children. The church eventually judged that his ex-wife [redacted] had grounds for divorce and the marriage was legally dissolved. She has since happily remarried and is still a member at Trinity Reformed Church. Wight is no longer at Trinity Reformed Church.
An annotated timeline of events related to Wight (including criminal activities while he was a member at Christ Church) is included as an appendix to this report.
We will evaluate the Trinity Reformed leadership in three areas: matters for which they are to be commended, matters which require correction, and recommendations for the future. In our final recommendations, we will provide counsel that is applicable to all CREC churches. Note that we have not provided full documentation for our commendations, corrections, and recommendations. In the nature of the case, providing full documentation is simply not possible or wise, as some aspects of the case should remain private. We understand that using evidence not available to the public might make it difficult for readers of this report to evaluate the committee’s work, but there is no reasonable alternative.
Overall, we commend Trinity Reformed Church leadership for their faithful handling of a difficult pastoral counseling situation. As our committee conducted numerous interviews, we asked each person if they believed they were sinned against in any way by church leadership. We wanted to know if they believed anyone in church leadership needed to repent of any specific actions. The overwhelming response from interviewees was that church leadership had not committed any major offenses.
Specific areas of commendation include the following:
A. Legal Cooperation
We found no evidence that the leadership sought to protect the legal consequences of his actions. Church leadership encouraged [redacted] to contact police if and when she felt threatened by Jamin. Law enforcement was once the allegations of domestic abuse became known, and the church was cooperative with the criminal justice process. Overall, church leadership recognized crimes and sins for what they were. In our review of the case, we found no issues on the part of the leadership with regard to compliance with the law.
B. Pastoral Counseling
In dealing with the domestic violence and abuse Wight inflicted on his wife, [redacted] several different counselors from multiple churches were involved. Outside experts also consulted to provide further counsel and to provide psychological evaluation of Wight. Overall, we again commend Trinity Reformed Church leadership for being diligent in providing pastoral care in what was obviously a difficult situation. Domestic abuse is antithetical to the gospel and abhorrent in every way, and Trinity Reformed Church took a firm stand against Wight’s violence, thus demonstrating that such abuse is not to be tolerated in any way in Christian marriage or in the of the church. We are grateful that Trinity Reformed Church eventually granted [redacted] grounds for divorce (with a clear explanation of those grounds to the congregation), encouraged her to take advantage of those grounds, and left the final decision to her. We are also grateful the leadership of Trinity Reformed Church eventually pursued an appropriate course of admonition and discipline against Wight for his crimes and sins within the marriage.
C. Social Media
In the report delivered to Christ Church, we assess the wisdom of how their leadership used social media in the context of these cases, with a view to providing some counsel for the entirety of the CREC. We encourage Trinity leadership to review that portion of the Christ Church report, especially the section titled Principles for Engaging on Social Media. We will here briefly address Pastor Toby Sumpter’s use of social media regarding his church’s involvement in the Wight case. Pastor Sumpter posted a congregational letter to his blog on September 25, 2015. In part, the letter reads:
Given a number of recent events and the many public questions and concerns that have arisen surrounding our pastoral care of the Jamin Wight family, we, the elders of Trinity Reformed Church, find it our duty and privilege to give testimony to the faithfulness of God over the last number of years as we have walked down a difficult and challenging path. What follows is a recounting of what we believe are some of the most significant parts of the public record, and we are happy to answer any of your questions on these matters to the best of our ability. However, it is also our duty not to divulge matters of a private nature in order to protect victims and their pastoral care.
We are grateful to God for our church’s former pastor, Dr. Peter Leithart, who had previously pastored Jamin Wight through another difficult situation, in which Jamin sinned against a young teenage girl and was convicted of lewd conduct with a minor. Dr. Leithart has recently published a statement regarding several mistakes he believes he made in his pastoral care of Jamin. Together, we learned a number of lessons that became important in our ministry to Jamin when he later married a young woman without the knowledge of the Trinity Reformed Church elders.
We are grateful to God for the many members of the body of Christ who were active and vigilant when the Wight marriage began showing signs of significant turmoil and dysfunction. Several close friends of the young woman challenged her to confront her husband’s sins and to seek pastoral counsel, and we eventually worked together to stage an intervention to urge a separation when things were particularly dark. We are grateful for the advice of a professional Christian counselor who came to Moscow to advise Pastor and Mrs. Leithart as they counseled the Wights during their separation. Her independent observations and counsel marked a significant turning point in our pastoral care of the Wights when the young woman decided to move back home. Over the years, elders from three other local churches have counseled the Wight family and each one worked together with us as their marriage deteriorated. We required Jamin to see a professional psychologist who evaluates mental, emotional, and behavioral issues, and with Jamin’s consent, he provided us with his expert assessment. We are also grateful for the many friends who reached out to the Wights to offer words of encouragement, admonition, and grace.
We are grateful for God’s grace ministered to Jamin through a lengthy suspension from the Lord’s Table, numerous private admonitions, several public rebukes, and a clear answer to our prayers when he was restored to the Table and almost immediately came under God’s judgment when his sinful treatment of his wife became clear and public. We advised the young lady to go the police if Jamin ever put her and her children in any kind of physical danger, and we are thankful for the friends who stood by her and were prepared to receive her when she was ready to flee an abusive situation. We are thankful for the involvement of law enforcement, the Latah County Prosecutor’s office, the young woman’s courageous testimony, and the conviction, sentencing, and stem words of the Judge who oversaw Jamin’s criminal trial.
We are grateful for God’s Word that protects and provides ways of escape for women in abusive marriages. After a period of due diligence and prayer, the young woman sought our counsel, and we recommended that she file for divorce, which she did. God has also provided protection for her through closely monitored and chaperoned child visitation arrangements, a continuing long term no-contact order, and vigilant friends who have always kept an eye out for her. And most recently, we are grateful for the courageous man that God has raised up to be her husband and for their new marriage. We are so thankful for the story God has told in this young woman’s life. It is a story of hope overcoming despair, of freedom overcoming bondage, of light overcoming darkness.
We are thankful for the lessons we have learned about abuse, forgiveness, trust, and working with fallen human beings. Perhaps most central has been a somewhat paradoxical lesson about the complexity of human beings. On the one hand, everything comes down to the difference between Adam and Christ, light and darkness, yet we also see the mysterious mixtures of sincerity, pain, manipulation, anger, and insecurity. Somehow, God’s grace winds through it all. We have also learned the necessity of careful communication and true accountability. We learned to forgive freely, to trust warily, to verify claims constantly, and to define perpetrators and victims biblically. We also learned how friends close to a situation can be sources of help and encouragement, and also sources of unhelpful complication due to their investment and deep loyalties. We thank God for carrying us through many challenges, which supplied the most important lessons to us. We look forward in hope to what He will accomplish in the future through all of it.
We are grateful for these and many other lessons we learned, including those we learned from our own missteps. We thank God for the occasions we sought and received forgiveness from the young lady and her close friends, for the second chances we were given, and for the course corrections we made. We are thankful for the current set of challenges, for the honest questions, for the false accusations, for the misguided opposition, for the constructive disagreement, for ardent enemies, for true and faithful friends and their kind words of encouragement, and for all the prayers offered on our behalf.
We are particularly thankful for the continued love and support of every member of Trinity Reformed Church. We love your joy, your hospitality, your ready laughter, your love of singing and worship, and your love and compassion for the lost and hurting and lonely. We love you, and we are so proud to call you our people. You are our delight and joy to serve.
Most of all, we are grateful for the faithfulness of our Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ, who shepherds the shepherds and all of His beloved sheep. We are grateful for His blood that was shed to wash away all our guilt and shame. We are grateful to Him for leading us through the dark shadows and again and again to still waters and green pastures and to His Table and for causing our cup to run over with His goodness and mercy.
We have learned much, yet we still have much to learn. We are grateful for this opportunity to testify to our God’s goodness. He has done all of these things, and therefore we are not ashamed of any of it. God’s goodness is amazing and more than sufficient, and so we are bold to boast in His grace.2
We believe this letter satisfies the criteria of appropriate social media communications in publicly addressing a difficult pastoral situation. The letter is discrete, sharing only what must be known. It is humble, acknowledging the leadership is not perfect and can always learn more about handling these situations; further, the letter points out that church leadership sought outside expertise when the complexity of the situation warranted such. The letter is gracious, thanking those in other churches and in the congregation who sought to help the troubled marriage, as well as expressing gratitude to the legal system for its role in administering justice. Finally, the letter avoids unnecessary inflammatory language (and thus, did not create a firestorm of responses on the internet from those who might be inclined to attack the church or the ministry of its leaders).
D. Confession, Repentance, Forgiveness
In cases like these, one of the high points is when those in leadership humble themselves and seek forgiveness for shortcomings, not in an attempt to appease critics, but simply because it is the right thing to do. We are grateful that Peter Leithart (pastor of Trinity Reformed Church at the time) offered an extensive and detailed public apology to the Greenfield family for errors in judgment regarding Wight.3 Likewise, we are grateful for the spirit of humility in Toby Sumpter’s online letter, in which he acknowledges “missteps,” already cited above.
From the committee’s assessment, there are a number of areas where church leadership could have been expected to act with greater wisdom or care than were demonstrated. Granted, our evaluation has the advantage of being retrospective, and we do not doubt leadership acted in good faith based on what they knew and believed to be right at the time. The motives and intentions of church leadership are not in question; nevertheless, there are some areas where the church leadership could have been more diligent or more prudent as the Wight marriage unraveled. Note that it is impossible to fully disentangle the role of Trinity Reformed Church from Christ Church since Wight was part of both congregations at different times and leadership from both were involved in providing marital counseling to the Wights; thus both are touched on here in our evaluation. We offer these correctives in love and humility.
A. Evaluation and Support of Wight
As we point out in our report to Christ Church, the Christ Church leadership should have been far more careful and rigorous in evaluating Wight’s character and fitness for ministry when he was enrolled in the Greyfriar’s program, and could have done so at a much earlier date. When Wight joined Trinity Reformed Church, it appears that the church leadership was not given a comprehensive picture of Wight’s deep character flaws. In particular, the scalding review he was given by the elders of Ancient Hope Church (Los Angeles, CA; now defunct) in the summer of 2003 seems to have been lost in the shuffle. This report was simply not given the attention it deserved, and not everyone who should have seen it was given access to it. There were clear indicators in the Ancient Hope report that Wight had serious problems with authority and with treating women with proper respect (resulting in a terminated internship), but this report did not seem to be widely known among Christ Church leadership, was not fully factored into his ongoing training at Greyfriars Hall (e.g., Mike Lawyer had no recollection of it), and it was not provided to the elders at Trinity Reformed Church after Wight transferred his membership. We never received an adequate explanation for this oversight. While Wight was required to make an apology to the elders at Ancient Hope, more should have been done to re-evaluate his fitness for ministry and his trustworthiness at that time. In our judgment, the terminated internship should have been considered grounds for terminating Wight’s ministerial training.
Looking back, Wight was clearly a hypocrite, and hypocrites, in the nature of the case, cannot always be detected, but Christ Church leadership overlooked some of the clues for longer than they should have, and Trinity Reformed Church’s elders do not seem to have inquired into the outcome of the California internship when Jamin came under their care. In the end, Wight proved to have a long-standing pattern of evading responsibility, manipulating, and deceiving. Wight was rightly dropped from the Greyfriars program when his abuse of Natalie Greenfield was brought to the attention of the Session, but had the internship evaluation been given more weight, he presumably would have been dropped sooner.
Further, it is doubtful that pastors would have written letters to the court on his behalf (the timeline from 2006-06-28 shows that Toby Sumpter and Peter Leithart submitted letters of recommendation; note: these letters are sealed as part of court testimony). Jamin also would have been treated with more suspicion than trust in the aftermath of his abuse of Greenfield coming to light. His version of events would have been more carefully examined, questioned, and challenged rather than broadly accepted. It certainly would have been more difficult for him to continue his pattern of abusive and deceptive relationships within the church later on (e.g., keeping secret his domestic abuse of his wife [redacted] breaking probation rules in the company of Trinity Reformed Church members and then lying about it, resulting in perjury charges; etc.). It also would have made it less likely that Trinity Reformed Church would have praised Wight in congregational correspondence for his “ministry” while incarcerated at the North Idaho Correctional Institution. Finally, it is doubtful that the church would have sent Wight as a representative of the congregation on a mission trip to Haiti in 2010, a highly questionable decision in retrospect. In short, the incredible amount of damage caused by Wight could have been mitigated by more rigorous forms of evaluation, examination, and accountability.
There is one further issue we need to address here, regarding the way certain members of Trinity Reformed Church interacted with Jamin during of this period. One of the recurring factors in Jamin’s tantrums and abuse toward [redacted] was alcohol abuse, and one of the regular sources of that alcohol, tragically, was two Trinity families that befriended the Wights and regularly had them over for social interaction. The friendship aspect of this was well and good, but the serving of alcohol was not, for Jamin was on probation, and one of his court ordered conditions (indeed, a standard condition of probation) was to abstain from the use of drugs or alcohol. Jamin had to obtain special permission from the court even to partake of the minuscule amount of wine involved in the Lord’s Supper, as well as to have a single glass of wine at his wedding (see Timeline at 6, 2006-12-07 Order modifying probation condition #6). Yet, as admitted by both of the men of these families in their statements to law enforcement, as well as in the testimony of one of the gentlemen at Wight’s preliminary hearing, they knew that Jamin was on probation and was not supposed to use alcohol, and yet they served it to him on a regular basis — and one of these gentlemen was a police officer who certainly should have known better (see Timeline at 8-9, 2013-05-02 Criminal Complaint with supporting affidavit, and 2013-06-26 Preliminary Hearing testimony). Church leadership must ensure as far as possible that member families understand they are not free to set aside the law or substitute their own judgment for that of civil or church authorities. Regardless of their intentions, church members are doing no favors to those they are trying to minister to if they are undermining the authority or judgment of civil or church officials. Moreover, they may be feeding the very problem they are trying to help solve. We do not necessarily hold Trinity Reformed Church’s elders responsible for the actions of its members in this case since we know they would not have approved of what happened, but this is an important caution for church leaders to keep in mind.
B. Counseling Practices in an Abusive Situation
We have commended Trinity Reformed Church for its counseling ministry to the Wights in many respects, but we also found areas for improvement. The situation is complex because the Wights went through a series of counselors from multiple churches, and the counsel given was not always consistent. In such cases, it is best if the counselors involved work together as much as possible to make sure they are all agreed on the facts of the case when the couple is passed from one counselor to another, and further to assure as much as possible that the counselors are sharing the same basic strategy in seeking to bring about a resolution or make recommendations to the couple. In this case, counselors included Toby Sumpter, Douglas and Nancy Wilson, Jim Wilson, Peter Leithart, as well as outside professionals brought in for additional consultation. Because these counselors were not always keeping one another fully informed, Jamin was able to maintain his deceptions and manipulations and thus continue to evade full responsibility for his actions for much longer than should have been possible. The lack of consistency left [redacted] more vulnerable and unprotected than she should have been.
We must also note some specific issues regarding the way in which Trinity Reformed Church leadership counseled the couple. In dealing with the Jamin [redacted] marriage situation, it seems that it would have been wiser for the Christ Church) counselors to have had more individual sessions with [redacted] separate from Jamin, since it appears that as often intimidated by Jamin’s presence in the joint sessions, and thus facts the counselors needed to get to the heart of the matter were not revealed. Even though [redacted] was the victim, it seems her shortcomings as a wife were often more the focus of counseling than Jamin’s failures (which is a significant mistake given that the kinds of sins he was committing were so serious). This is not say that Jamin’s sins were ever excused by his counselors, but he was able to get away with serious failures as a husband and father far longer than he should have been. He was given the benefit of the doubt too much and for too long.
Had the counselors been more suspicious of Jamin’s credibility, the extent of the domestic abuse might have come to light more quickly and been addressed more firmly. There is some evidence that the various counselors involved may have tried to save the marriage longer than was wise, putting [redacted] at unnecessary risk. Jamin proved to be a master manipulator and this pattern of blame-shifting was not detected as early as it could have been. Better training on how to detect and deal with domestic abuse situations would have been helpful.
C. Care and Protection for the Abuse Victim
When a woman is no longer safe in her own home, where is she to tum? She should be able to look to her church and to the police for protection. Sadly, all too often churches underreact, or move too slowly, when an abusive situation arises. In this particular case, there is no question that Jamin was emotionally, verbally, and physically abusive towards [redacted] Forms of abuse included verbal threats, physical violence, use of pornography with the express intent of hurting her, reckless driving intended to endanger [redacted] and the children, taking [redacted] phone and/or keys when she indicated she might seek help, and so on. This was a classic case of an aggressive, angry, out of control male intimidating, oppressing, and seeking to control a vulnerable female, using manipulation and deception to cover his wicked actions.
It is absolutely crucial for marital counselors to identify and categorize abusive situations since they are very different from more “normal” marital problems commonly encountered. Typical forms of marriage counseling simply are not effective when abuse is involved, and can in fact backfire, making the situation even worse for the victim. For example, telling an abused wife she should respect her husband, or confess her sins to him, or give him the benefit of the doubt, is likely to be counter-productive and only intensify her suffering. While the various counselors from the churches involved did finally identify the situation for what it is was, it should have happened earlier and the counsel given should have been tailored more appropriately to an abusive relationship.
Generally speaking, trusted Christian counselors are agreed on many “best practices” in abusive situations. While counseling the spouses together can be important in order to get a full read on the situation, it is vital they also be counseled separately. The abused spouse may be afraid to describe what is truly happening in the home in front of the abusive spouse, lest the abuser later intensify the abuse as punishment for any revelations. An abused wife should be given a safe place to describe in detail what she is facing at home without fear of intimidation or reprisal. Such a wife should also be encouraged to reach out to law enforcement immediately if she is harmed or endangered in any way. Likewise, the abuser should be directly confronted and should be required to demonstrate tangible ways in which he is repenting of his actions. He should be required to submit to a program of strict accountability.
In typical marital situations, counselors can assume that both spouses are at fault in various ways and both spouses want to make the marriage work. But in abusive situations, the abuser very clearly only wants what is best for himself, not what is best for the marriage; he is using his spouse and has no interest in actually improving the marriage. Counselors should recognize this and deal with the situation accordingly. In this case, Jamin showed virtually no credible evidence of a willingness to deal with his own sin and do what needed to be done to salvage the marriage. Yet, his side of the story was given considerable weight for quite some time.
At times, the counsel [redacted] received at least partially blamed her for Jamin’s outbursts. We believe this was a mistake, and enabled Jamin to continue getting away with abuse. An abused woman should never be made to feel as if she deserves the abuse or has somehow brought it on herself. This is especially true when the abuser is a master deceiver and manipulator, like Jamin was.
Finally, in abusive situations counselors must be careful not to invest more in saving the marriage than in protecting the victim. It is possible to attempt to save a marriage at the expense of an abused spouse, thus prolonging the abuse. A pattern of abuse should certainly provide grounds for divorce for the victim (cf. Exodus 21:10–11). In such cases, it is crucial for the church to assure the abused spouse that she will be taken care of if she pursues a dissolution of the marriage.
We believe the counseling provided by church leadership in this case did genuinely seek to protect [redacted] but not always in ways fully consistent with the sorts of “best practices” described above.
Wide-ranging recommendations to the CREC as a whole are also found in our report delivered to Christ Church. The following recommendations especially arise from Trinity Reformed Church’s efforts to deal with the Wight family.
A. Domestic Abuse Counseling Training
We have commended Trinity Reformed Church’s handling of Wight’s abusive treatment of his wife [redacted] in many respects, but we believe our churches would benefit from more training in this area. Thus, we recommend that all CREC church leaders who are going to be responsible for counseling receive specialized instruction in how to recognize and handle domestic abuse. If such training proves impossible to secure, CREC pastors should connect with qualified, biblically grounded Christian counselors in their geographic location who can provide counseling services (at the church’s expense if needed) for those involved in cases of domestic abuse.
Churches that (rightly) teach and practice masculine headship, as set forth in the Scriptures, need to be especially sensitive to potential abuses of that headship. In recent years, we have seen many associated with some form of “patriarchalism” fall into serious sins involving sexual and/or physical abuse of women. It needs to be very clear, both within our congregations and in our public witness to the world, that our churches do not condone such practices. Indeed, we stand against them with all our might. Church leaders are called upon to protect women and children from those who would harm them or prey upon them. Our churches rightly uphold male, masculine leadership, but this does not make women voiceless or powerless; indeed, when women have no recourse and no power, abuse can go on unchecked. Church leaders should work hard to protect women from men who would prey on them. We should Work hard to detect and root out any forms of abuse in our community. We should make it clear by our words and actions that true masculine leadership entails sacrificial care for the weak and the vulnerable. Christian men do not take advantage of women, but serve them; they do not abuse women, but honor them.
A sermon from Bethlehem Baptist (Minneapolis, MN) pastor Jason Meyers includes helpful instruction about the nature of abusive sins within marriage.4 This is a key excerpt:
Second — and perhaps the most far-reaching lesson I learned — is the need to distinguish between two types of marital sinfulness: normative sinfulness and abusive sinfulness. I believe failure to discern the difference between these two things has been our biggest mistake at Bethlehem, and it is one that we have sought to correct.
Every marriage involves sinfulness. Every marriage will include moments of rudeness, selfishness, pride, false accusation, and conflict. We could call this normal sinfulness, not because we condone these sins but because they fall within the range of normal marriage issues when two sinners say, “I do.” These sins must be faced honestly and repented of soberly so that a rhythm of reconciliation can take place by the grace of God in Jesus Christ. This rhythm and these patterns are to be expected; they are not abusive. In situations of normative sinfulness, biblical counseling aims to help each spouse work on his or her individual issues that contribute to the overall conflict. The counselor can also help the couple communicate and resolve conflicts better.
However, the dynamics change decidedly in situations of abusive sinfulness. In these situations, the conflict is not treated as normal marriage issues in which each spouse can look at what he or she is contributing. This is a predator/prey or abuser/abused situation. The prey needs to be protected from the predator. The abuser needs to be held accountable, and the abused needs to be shepherded to safety. Working on communication and having the couple go on dates is not the way to address abusive sinfulness. Telling the woman to submit better — and making her feel like she is to blame in some way — is the worst thing someone could say in that situation.
If there is continual destructive abuse, you should never ask the abused what they did to bring the abuse on. One of our counselors shared an analogy that stuck with me. It would be a little bit like the police on a 911 call coming into a crime scene where the wife has been shot and asking her what she did to bring on the bullets. The goal is to care for her and make sure she is safe and the shooter is arrested.
We believe that all pastors and elders involved in any kind of marital counseling should become familiar with the distinctions Meyers makes here, so that abusive situations can be recognized and addressed appropriately.
B. Domestic Abuse Memorial
In the same sermon cited above, Meyers provides a statement, adopted by the Bethlehem Baptist elders, which could serve as a starting point for a memorial to be adopted by the CREC:
Elders’ Statement on Domestic Abuse
We, the council of elders at Bethlehem Baptist Church, are resolved to root out all forms of domestic abuse (mental, emotional, physical, and sexual) in our midst. This destructive way of relating to a spouse is a satanic distortion of Christ-like male leadership because it defaces the depiction of Christ’s love for his bride. The shepherds of Bethlehem stand at the ready to protect the abused, call abusers to repentance, discipline the unrepentant, and hold up high the stunning picture of how much Christ loves his church. If you are a woman experiencing domestic abuse and would like counsel from a female “first responder” who is a member at Bethlehem, please contact. . .5
We think it would be wise for the CREC to adopt an official statement or memorial addressing domestic abuse and for CREC churches to implement policies to prevent domestic abuse and to deal with it in a gospel-based way if and when it arises. The statement should also specify the circumstances under which various forms of abuse could provide grounds for lawful dissolution of the marriage so that the full range of abusive behaviors that can rise to the level of covenant breaking are identified (though with the recognition that such cases are always complicated so decisions have to be made by wise and compassionate elders on a case by case basis). The memorial should also stress the importance and necessity of involving law enforcement when the abuse involved physical harm. The statement should also recognize that sometimes men are the victims of domestic abuse, and they need counsel and help as well. On the basis of this memorial, we would also encourage local churches to adopt their own policy statements on domestic and sexual abuse, condemning these manifestations of wickedness and setting out a plan for dealing with them should they arise.
We know this report will not satisfy everyone. Perhaps it will not satisfy anyone! But we do hope and pray many will find it helpful. Our main concern has been to encourage close examination of the practices and actions as requested when we undertook this work. It is our desire to equip CREC churches to prevent and handle cases of sexual and domestic abuse. In the process of addressing the circumstances that arose at Trinity Reformed Church several years ago, we found it necessary to speak to the CREC at large. It is our hope that our words carry the grace and wisdom of Christ.
We admit that in this report, we are simply not able to deal with every detail. But we are confident we have been able to grasp the big picture of how the case was handled by the church and we trust the Lord will use this report for the good of all. Specifically, we hope that this report will show abuse survivors that we empathize with their pain and hope they can find healing through the gospel in the context of Christ’s church. It is our intent, moving forward, to take proactive steps to equip CREC churches to prevent, report, and provide pastoral care in cases of domestic abuse. We hope this report will serve our churches well, particularly pastors and elders who are responsible for teaching, overseeing, guarding, counseling, disciplining, and leading their congregations. Finally, we hope that abusers will feel the weight of the wreckage caused by their sin, and will witness the forgiving and transforming grace of Christ.
JAMIN WIGHT CASES ANNOTATED TIMELINE
What is included
This timeline consists of a list of events documented in the public portion of the court record. In that regard, it should be noted that law enforcement reports are not typically part of the court file, and further that a number of items that are part of the court file are typically sealed and unavailable to the public, especially in cases involving sexual assault, and most especially in cases involving under-aged victims. Examples of items typically sealed include: (1) the law enforcement investigation referral to the prosecutor; (2) affidavits from experts; (3) the presentence investigation report (PSI); and (4) anything that would reveal the identity of under-aged victims. It should be noted that Natalie Greenfield, who is no longer a minor, has publicly identified herself as Wight’s under-aged sexual abuse victim, and has blogged about various aspects of the case. Accordingly, we will not excise her name whenever it appears in the record.
- Explanatory notes appear in the timeline occasionally. For example:
“NOTE: Preliminary hearing was waived by defendant.”
|DOC||Idaho Department of Corrections|
|IDHW||Idaho Department of Health and Welfare|
|LCSO||Latah County Sheriff’s Office|
|NICI||North Idaho Correctional Institution, also known as Cottonwood, after the nearby town|
|PSI||Presentence Investigation Report|
|ROA||Court Clerk’s Record of Action (a listing of all the court filings in the case)|
|SOCB||Idaho Sexual Offender Classification Board|
Citations to documents filed with the court consist of the document title, the filing date, and the pertinent page number(s). Example: Order for Early Release from Probation dated May 14, 2009 at 1.
Citations to the court clerk’s Record of Action (known as the “Docket Sheet” in many jurisdictions) consist of the abbreviation “ROA” followed by the pertinent date. Example: ROA, 2006-04-20.
Citations to committee interviews are by the nan1e of the party interviewed followed by the date of the interview. Example: PA Bill Thompson Interview, 2016-03-08.
IDAHO CASE CR-2005-2500
- Criminal Complaint filed, sworn to buy Officer Casey R. Green, charging Wight with three counts of sexual abuse of a child in violation of Idaho Code 18-1506 and lewd conduct with a minor under 16 years of age in violation of Idaho Code 18-1508, occurring between February 2001 and June 2002. The counts allege that the victim, NG, was 14 or 15 at the time, and that Wight violated the law by touching her sexually, by oral to genital contact with him, and manual genital contact with her.
- No Contact Order issued until September 1, 2005; no contact from Wight to Natalie Greenfield. NOTE: Wight’s bond conditions indicated that he was to live with his parents in Potlatch, Idaho, and had permission to stay with his uncle, Jeff Johnson, in St. Mary’s for work purposes.
- Search Warrant issued on the affidavit of Casey R. Green for a journal marked, “To Jamin from Natalie”, along with a laptop computer, to be retrieved from Jamin Wight’s place of residence in Moscow. NOTE: The search warrant was returned on August 24, indicating that six photocopies of the journal were retrieved from Wight’s residence.
- Stipulation to continue preliminary hearing filed by the parties, indicating that they are exchanging discovery and negotiating a possible resolution to the case.
- Subpoena issued for Natalie Greenfield to appear at preliminary hearing.
- Order binding over defendant to district court.
NOTE: Preliminary hearing was waived by defendant.
- Criminal Information filed mirroring previous criminal complaint.
- Arraignment: Defendant arraigned on count one, sexual abuse of a child in violation of Idaho Code 18-1506, carrying a maximum permissible punishment of 15 years in prison; and on counts two and three charging lewd conduct with a child under 16 years of age in violation of Idaho Code 18-1508, carrying a maximum permissible punishment of life in prison.
- State’s Supplemental Response To Request For Discovery: The Witness List includes Natalie Greenfield, Gary Greenfield, Pat Greenfield, Zachary Greenfield, Mike Hatcher, Peter Leithart, Douglas Wilson, Benjamin Zedek-Smith. The Exhibit list includes a letter-statement of Pat Greenfield dated August 17, 2005; a letter from Douglas Wilson dated August 22, 2005; a letter-statement of Gary Greenfield dated August 17, 2005; a letter from Jamin Wight to Gary and Pat Greenfield; a statement of Ben Smith; a second letter to Garry and Pat Greenfield from Jamin Wight; an email from Natalie Greenfield dated January 5, 2006; a letter to Garry Greenfield from Douglas Wilson dated September 1, 2005; an email from Gary Greenfield to Douglas Wilson dated September 12, 2005; a letter to Garry Greenfield from Douglas Wilson dated September 15, 2005; email correspondence received from Garry Greenfield.
- Trial subpoena issued for Peter Leithart.
- State’s Motion In Limine and 404 (b) Notice: (1) The state seeks to prohibit Wight from offering evidence or arguing that the victim or her parents consented to any of the charged activity, on grounds that consent is not a defense to the charges. (2) The state seeks to exclude any evidence or argument that the defendant has plans to become a minister or has plans to move on with his personal life by getting married, etc., on grounds that these items of information are irrelevant. (3) Should defendant introduce evidence questioning the timing of victim’s disclosures to authorities, the state seeks to respond by introducing testimony that the victim believed that the defendant was falsely telling third parties that nothing inappropriate had occurred between them. (4) The state seeks an order allowing the testimony of Douglas Wilson and Peter Leithart regarding statements made by the defendant in their presence during a meeting on August 15, 2005, which meeting was also attended by the victim’s parents, Gary and Pat Greenfield. The state argues that this was not a confidential communication, but part of an ongoing dialogue and discussion between the defendant and the victim’s parents, which also included an earlier meeting in December 2005. (NOTE: The fact that the state wants to introduce these statements typically indicates that they contain incriminating admissions by the defendant.) (5) The state gives notice under Rule of Evidence 404(b) of its intent to offer evidence of actions and statements of the defendant evidencing inappropriate or sexually related feelings about or attraction to the victim, as well as physical contact with the victim, which actions and statements do not rise to the level of a criminal offense. (NOTE: Rule 404(b) provides that while “[e]vidence of other crimes, wrongs, or acts is not admissible to prove the character of a person in order to show action in conformity therewith,” “[i]t may . . . be admissible for other purposes, such as proof of motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident. . .”)
- State’s Request for Jury Instructions: Significant parts include: (1) Regarding count one, “sexual contact” means any physical contact between the child and the actor, between children which is caused by the actor, or the actor causing the child to have self contact” (Instruction 4). However, the sexual contact must have been done by the actor with specific intent to gratify the sexual desires of the defendant, the minor child, or a third-party (Instruction 3). (2) Regarding counts two and three, which charge lewd and lascivious conduct, “it is not necessary that the bare skin be touched . . . the touching may be through the clothing” (Instruction 10). (3) Regarding all three counts, “it is not a defense . . . that NG or anyone on her behalf may have expressly or impliedly consented to the alleged conduct” (Instruction 13). It is also “not a defense to the crime . . . that the defendant did not know the age of NG or that the defendant reasonably and in good faith believed that NG was 16” (instruction 14). It is further “no defense that the person did not know that the act was unlawful or that the person believed it to be lawful” (Instruction 15).
- Court Minutes — Guilty Plea: PA Thompson informed the court that a Rule 11 plea agreement had been reached between the parties whereby the defendant will plead guilty to count one charging sexual abuse of a child, and that the state would dismiss counts two and three. Defendant entered a guilty plea to count one, and the court ordered a presentence investigation report and set sentencing for May 12, 2006. Without objection from PA Thompson, the court granted defendant1s motion to remove the restriction that defendant spend evenings at his parents’ farm in Potlatch.
- Rule 11 Plea Agreement: Regarding sentencing: “The state and the defendant agree that the appropriate disposition of this matter is . . . the defendant will receive a withheld judgment and be placed on probation . . . for a period of five years . . . plus . . . the defendant shall serve 30 days in the Latah County Jail with work release authorized . . . [and] shall . . . complete sex offender treatment” (1-2).
- Motion to Seal Records: PA Thompson moved on behalf of the victim and her family to seal the probable cause affidavit filed in support of the complaint, as well as the search warrant affidavit, because “those documents contain highly intimate and potentially embarrassing facts or statements” (Motion at 1).
- Order to Seal Records: The court granted the state’s motion to seal.
- Guilty Plea and Sentencing:
- NOTE: PA Thompson stated in his interview that the judge, after reviewing the Presentence Report, refused to accept the original plea agreement, believing that the facts did not warrant the charges. Consequently, PA Thompson and the defense attorney entered into a new plea agreement based on a plea of guilty to a new charge which the judge was willing to accept (PA Bill Thompson Interview, 2016-03-08).
- Amended Criminal Information filed: Charging injury to a child in violation of Idaho Code 18-1501(1), a felony carrying a maximum permissible penalty of five years in prison, alleging that Wight “under circumstances or conditions likely to produce great bodily harm did willfully cause or permit NG, a female child under 18, to be placed in such a situation that her person or health was endangered by engaging in sexual activities” (Court Minutes 1-2).
- Amended Rule 11 Plea Agreement filed: Providing that the defendant shall plead guilty to the charge of injury to a child as alleged in the Amended Criminal Information., and that the appropriate disposition is for a judgment of conviction to be entered against the defendant with the court retaining jurisdiction, and that both parties are free to make whatever sentencing recommendations they believe appropriate., with the sentence being left up to the court (Court Minutes 1-2).
- Sentencing Hearing: The court accepted the defendant’s guilty plea under the Amended Rule 11 Plea Agreement and sentenced the defendant to four years in prison, consisting of a minimum period of confinement of 18 months, followed by an indeterminate period not to exceed 2 ½ years, with the court retaining jurisdiction for a period of six months and recommending that the defendant be placed at Cottonwood for evaluation. The court also ordered the defendant to pay up to $3000 for counseling for the victim over the next four years (Court Minutes 2; see also Judgment of Conviction dated May 17, 2006). Prior to imposing sentence, the judge described a prior case involving a homeschooled boy with very little social interaction who was “eighteen going on thirteen emotionally,” and who got involved with a girl who was “thirteen going on twenty:
That’s not child sexual abuse; that’s teenage sex. The other side of the spectrum is a forty year old man who penetrates a seven year old girl. That’s evil, that’s really evil. This [case] is a lot closer to the first than to the second. It’s a situation that is unfortunate. I think looking at it that it’s ultimately perhaps predictable. I hope the parents on either side won’t blame themselves. The fact that mistakes were made doesn’t mean we’re bad people; it means we are human. Mistakes were made here. I don’t want to detract from the seriousness of it. But this wasn’t a predator looking for a young girl . . . This isn’t someone who was seeking out or grooming something. These were two young people — and it’s hard for me to remember at my age, but hormones rage at these ages. And sometimes they end up in very sad circumstances. The conduct was really inappropriate . . . but it was natural. It wasn’t at the other end of the spectrum where it starts to be unnatural. I think there was genuine fondness between Natalie and Jamin. I think there’s a real sense of betrayal on behalf of Natalie, and that’s understandable . . . It’s extremely inappropriate conduct, but in my judgment, to some extent — if I were involved with either family, and I looked at the mix, I would not be surprised that it happened under the circumstances. Doesn’t excuse it; it does explain it, I think.” (Transcribed from audio recording of sentencing hearing.)
- Memorandum Decision and Order: The court denied the motion of Wayne Fox to review the entire contents of the court file, including the sealed files, and specifically the victim’s journal regarding her relationship with Wight, the Presentence Report, the affidavits of Officer Casey Green, and letters of recommendation by, among others, “Pete Reithart” (Leithart) and Toby Sumpter. With the exception of the letters of recommendation, the court denied the motion on the grounds that the requested files “contain information that is very personal and intimate and sexual in nature, the disclosure of which would seriously embarrass and expose to ridicule and humiliate the victim” (3). The court also noted that the law enforcement reports rely on assurances of confidentiality to get much of the information that they contain (3). The court refused to release the letters of recommendation because they were “integral parts of the Presentence Reports” (7). Had they been written directly to the judge, they might have been eligible for release (7).
- Court Minutes — Review of Retained Jurisdiction: The deputy prosecutor stated that he had no objection to the recommendations in the report, and the judge stated that he intended to follow the recommendation of the report. The court placed defendant on probation for a period of four years, requiring defendant to comply with all regulations of the Department of Corrections, to not ingest any alcohol, to attend mental health counseling designated by his probation officer, and to submit to blood, breath or urine analysis, as well as polygraph examinations, if requested to do so. The court renewed the No Contact Order (1-2; see also Order Suspending Execution of Sentence and Order of Probation dated October 18, 2006).
- Order modifying probation condition number 6: The court permitted defendant to consume “limited small quantities of wine for the sole purpose of partaking in communion at his church, and may also consume a single glass . . . of wine at the celebration of his wedding . . . in February 2007” (1).
- Defendant’s Motion for Termination of Probation, Discharge of Defendant, and Reduction of Charge to a Misdemeanor: The motion alleges that defendant has met the requirements of Idaho Code 19-2604 (2), which allows a court to suspend the sentence and reduce a felony conviction to a misdemeanor for a defendant who has been placed on a suspended sentence and who has successfully completed an authorized mental health program. The motion alleges that defendant has completed his six-month rider at Cottonwood, that since being placed on probation, he has been supervised by five different probation officers, has completed all courses and counseling requirements of those officers, and has not had any probation violations. The motion further alleges that defendant is now married to [redacted] has a six-month-old daughter, and is operating a successful business as a contractor. The motion also alleges that there is a large family reunion scheduled for July 2009 in Switzerland which defendant would like to attend with his family.
- The state opposed defendant’s motion on January 7, 2009: The state and the probation officer are amenable to defendant’s travel request, but oppose the other items of requested relief. The state notes that the “victim has recommenced counseling resulting from the defendant’s actions”, and that “it is contemplated that the victim will complete her counseling prior to the costs exhausting the defendant’s $3000 deposit” (2). The state also notes that defendant is still in sex offender therapy, as a continuation of his ongoing treatment program, and has at least 6 to 12 months left before completion (2).
- The state filed a victim statement on March 4, 2009, which included an email from Natalie Greenfield dated February 28, 2009, in which she stated in pertinent part: “When I told my parents and the police about the crimes Jamin committed against me, my motive was not revenge. Truthfully, I wanted others to know about what he had done and as a result, to be able to protect themselves and their children from him. When a lesser sentence was given, I felt fiercely wronged . . . I am affected daily by the sexual abuse I suffered as a young woman; from my marriage and other interpersonal relationships, to the workplace. I feel that Jamin’s request to end his probation early is synonymous with asking you to let this no longer affect him. I’m sure he’s probably weary of the restrictions and boundaries that come with being on probation, just as I am weary of struggling daily with my emotional, mental and physical well-being after the abuse. It simply doesn’t seem right that he would be granted early release from probation.”
- Hearing regarding defendant’s motion to terminate probation (see Court Minutes; Transcript of Hearing). Jamin Wight testified, and his direct and cross-examination focused on his conditions of probation and what programs and restrictions he had complied with, etc. The state called no witnesses, and presented the case on the documents already filed with the court. Contained within the defense counsel’s argument are the following statements: “[W]e had a mediation in this particular matter. . . and the family wasn’t willing to go for the result that you told us you wanted to see or else we’re going to go to trial . . . and after (being] confronted with that, they decided not to go to trial with the matter and accepted the resolution. Mr. Thompson went to them… before we made the plea and had the sentencing” (Transcript 26). “Jamin . . . gave $3000 to the court trust fund for treatment … and there’s been some of it used. There’s been quite a sporadic history there . . . but none of it was used for some time and there were some spurts where it was used. . . It comes down to a situation where her feelings were always of paramount importance and they were part of what he had to go through . . . in terms of his treatment and understanding and . . . appreciating as part of the rehabilitation he had to go through” (Transcript 26-27). PA Thompson did not dispute that defendant had complied with his probation, and further noted that the state had no objection to him traveling to the family reunion, but otherwise believed that defendant had already received much leniency, and that the court should not grant the rest of defendant’s motion (Transcript 30-32). The judge stated in pertinent part: “I am . . . very sympathetic with the victim . . . and I think that Mr. Wight is sympathetic with the victim and . . . the people I’m not sympathetic with are the parents that allowed this to happen in the first place. And I’m not going to rehash this . . . [b]ut I do think . . . what happened was foreseeable . . . It doesn’t excuse it; not for a minute. But . . . this isn’t, and it never was in my judgment, an L and L [i.e. lewd and lascivious] case. It was a young-people-having-sex case. It was totally inappropriate, the number of years between Mr. Wight and the victim . . . was obvious. . . . And there isn’t any question that it’s harmed him emotionally . . . And it has emotionally had an impact on the victim. . . . What can be done, I think, is or has been done in both of those regards. . . The probation department . . . sees no more reason to supervise Mr. Wight . . . Mr. Wight has been a model probationer . . . And given that the probation officer sees nothing more to be done and Mr. Lindsley [(the sex abuse counselor)] sees nothing more to be done . . . I don’t see any more reason to continue probation. So I’m going to terminate probation . . . effective 13 June and at that time reduce the offense to a misdemeanor, which by my calculation is about six or eight months early” (Transcript 32-34).
- The court subsequently entered an order terminating defendant’s probation effective June 30, 2009 (see Order for Early Release from Probation dated May 14, 2009).
- The court reduced defendant’s conviction to a misdemeanor in an order dated May 14, 2009 (see Order Amending Judgment of Conviction).
Restitution disbursements to NG
- The file contains a record of disbursement in the amount of $30 on December 8, 2006.
- The file contains a record of disbursement in the mount of $190 on November 12, 2013, with accompanying record of two 1 hour individual therapy sessions on September 24 and October 3, 2013.
IDAHO CASES CR-2013-665 & CR-2013-1315
- Criminal Complaint filed in case 665 charging one count of attempted strangulation in violation of Idaho Code 18-923, a felony, alleging that on or about February 20, 2013, Jamin Wight choked or attempted to strangle [redacted] by placing his hand on around her neck and applying pressure.
- Criminal Information filed by PA William Thompson mirroring the earlier criminal complaint.
2014-01-13 thru 16
- Four-day jury trial: Hung jury; mistrial declared (see Court Minutes for each day of trial).
- Criminal Complaint filed in case 1371alleging perjury, specifically that on or about April 29, 2009, the defendant testified falsely under oath in a hearing, by saying that he had at all times complied with the terms of his probation, which testimony he then known to be false. The supporting affidavit reveals that the specific falsehood concerned defendant’s probation requirement that he not partake of alcohol except for communion at church. The affidavit contained a quote from Peter Royce: “I remember that during his probation . . . I had alcoholic drinks with Jamin on a number of occasions . . . I know there were a number of times when we served Jamin alcohol at our house when we knew he shouldn’t have it. I now wish we hadn’t done that” (Affidavit at 3-4). The affidavit also contained a quote from the statement of Matthew Breese: “I heard through various friends that Jamin was on probation, but it was approximately six to eight months before he told me himself that he was on probation. During this time we invited the Wight’s over for dinner. In every case that I can remember I provided Jamin with alcohol . . . All of these alcohols [sic] I drank with him during his time on probation” (Affidavit at 4). Melissa Breese was quoted as stating: “There were many times during these get together [sic] that we saw Jamin drink alcohol at meals, and with his/ our friends” (Affidavit at 5).
- Criminal Information filed charging perjury and mirroring the criminal complaint.
- Preliminary Hearing: Matthew Breese testified that he met defendant in 2007, and that he heard at that time through other people, although not directly from Wight, that Wight was on probation. The Wights had a standing invitation to come over on Sunday afternoons, and a good majority of the time they consumed alcohol together (18-19). Between meeting Wight in 2007, and up to April 29, 2009, “I’d say 90% of the time that he came over to our house, which was . . . sometimes on a weekly basis, sometimes multiple times a week; . . . just about every time . . . we had a drink. There was rarely a time when we didn’t” (Transcript 22-23).
- Change of Plea in cases 665 and 1371: Pursuant to a Rule 11 plea agreement, Wight entered a plea of guilty to perjury, a felony, in case number 1371 and to a reduced charge of domestic battery, a misdemeanor, in case number 665 (Court Minutes; Rule 11 Plea Agreement). In the plea agreement, the parties agreed that the appropriate disposition of case 655 should be 30 days in the local jail, with the sentence running concurrently with any jail sentence in case number 1371. The parties also agreed that the appropriate disposition in case number 1371 should be a suspended sentence, with defendant being placed on probation for 2–4 years, while requiring defendant serve 30 days in jail, as well as 40 hours of community service, while also requiring defendant to obtain a domestic violence evaluation, and to neither possess nor consume alcohol (Plea Agreement 1-3).
- Sentencing: In case 665, domestic battery, the court sentenced defendant to 30 days in jail. In case 1371, perjury, the court sentence defendant to the custody of the department of corrections for not less than two nor more than four years, suspended the sentence, and placed defendant on probation for a period of four years (Court Minutes 1-2). The court also sentence defendant to 60 days in jail, with 30 days suspended, and the remainder running concurrently with the jail time from case number 665 (Court Minutes 3; Judgment of Conviction and Order Suspending Sentence dated November 6, 2014). The court also ordered defendant to pay restitution to [redacted] in the amount of $495 (Order of Restitution dated November 7, 2014).
1 See http://ministrysafe.com.
2 Available at: http://www.tobyjsumpter.com/a-statement-of-thanksgiving/
3 Leithart’s apology is online at https://www.facebook.com/Leithart/posts/10152973045111467.
4 See https://www.hopeingod.org/sermon/fooled-false-leadership.