From the pulpit, Pastor Jared Olivetti issued a warning.
In his Nov. 8, 2020, sermon, he cautioned the congregation at Immanuel Reformed Presbyterian Church against religious authorities who might cause them harm by abusing their power.
“We are in danger, Lord, and we don’t always realize it; we don’t always wrestle with that,” Olivetti said. “So, we pray that you would protect us.
“Lord, we pray that you would protect this particular congregation from me, from anything I might say or do that would detract from the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Months before he delivered that sermon, it was revealed to leaders at the West Lafayette church that children from multiple families had been abused and harassed by another minor within the congregation, according to internal church documents obtained by IndyStar. Olivetti and his fellow elders kept the abuse from church members for more than four months, even as they learned of additional transgressions.
The perpetrator, a teenage boy, is a relative of the pastor. Rather than immediately recuse himself, IndyStar found Olivetti continued to shape the church’s response, taking advantage of his position as a leader to interfere with the investigation.
Furthermore, several people close to the situation told IndyStar they believe the other elders chose to publicly minimize the abuse and protect their pastor over the congregation’s children.
“They did not care about us,” the mother in one victim’s family told IndyStar.
The incidents occurred on and off church property between spring 2019 and March 2020, church records indicate. Parents told IndyStar the children reported over- and under-clothes touching, oral-genital contact and penetration.
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