What is it with these hardcore “Christian” families and allegations of sexual abuse? The New York Daily News got hold of some information that may support what Rachel Dolezal told the Spokesman Review last week: That her parents outed her to discredit her testimony in an upcoming legal matter.
Rachel Dolezal dismisses the controversy as little more than an ugly byproduct of contentious litigation between other family members over allegations of past abuse that has divided the family. She’s particularly suspicious of the timing, noting that the allegations broke on her son’s birthday and come as the Colorado lawsuit filed by her sister against their brother nears a key juncture.
It turns out Dolezal’s older (white) brother. 39-year-old Joshua Dolezal, stands accused of sexually assaulting a little girl who may be Dolezal’s adopted younger sister, and goes to trial in August. Dolezal has accused her parents of abusing her and the other children for years, and has apparently taken sides with her brother’s accuser.
Although Dolezal had already been estranged from her biological family for years, Investigators for the case interviewed a party in Spokane, Wash. whose name was redacted and who may have been Dolezal. This may have put more strain on the family divide.
The charges were filed in Clear Creek County, Colo. in 2013, because that’s where the accuser lived when the sexual abuse allegedly occurred. That also happens to be where the Dolezal family lived before moving to South Africa for Larry Dolezal’s Stint with International Creation Ministries in 2002-2006. That’s right: In case you didn’t get the memo, Dolezal’s parents are Young Earth creationists.
The Denver Post explains the alleged molestation occurred in 2000 or 2001 when the child was six or seven years old.
Joshua Dolezal allegedly committed the assaults in 2000 or 2001 on a child who was 6 or 7 years old in Colorado where the Dolezals lived at the time, according to an arrest affidavit. The alleged victim said another person was also abused.
Joshua Dolezal is listed as an associate professor of English at Central College in Pella, Iowa, where he has taught since 2005. In Larry and Ruthanne Dolezal’s interview with KHQ on Saturday, the reporter asked about the case:
“Our reporter in Spokane spoke with Rachel earlier and he told me she mentioned someone in the family potentially being assaulted?”
Naturally, Dolezal’s parents refused to comment.
Are Dolezal’s Parents Trying To Protect Her Older Brother?
Since Joshua Dolezal is innocent until proven guilty, his parents are also innocent of trying to protect him. But it’s hard not to wonder, given how common sexual abuse is in fundamentalist Christian families, and how these families — most notably the Duggars — respond when it occurs. Jim Bob Duggar’s accidental revelation in his interview with Fox’s Megyn Kelly was rather chilling: While trying to deal with his oldest son molesting his sisters while they slept, Duggar discovered that sexual abuse is common in extreme Christian families.
“It was a very difficult situation. But as we talked to other parents and different ones since then, a lot of families have said that they have had similar things that happened in their families.”
As Quiverfull survivor Vyckie Garrison writes in Alternet, core evangelical Christian teachings are basically a recipe for sexual abuse. From a young age, girls are taught that they must be modest because their bodies are shameful and tempting to boys and men. Their fathers and older brothers wield the ultimate authority over them, and children of both sexes are expected to be cheerful and submissive towards their parents and other authority figures. Even the slightest forms of disobedience or resistance are punished severely. Victims cannot seek help because the adults around them won’t believe them or stop the abuse, and they often have no access to adults outside of their family’s circle.
Since fundamentalist Christians reject nearly all evidence-based approaches to psychology, parenting and education, and since they also reject the notion of any legal authority beyond God, Church and Family, it’s also natural for them to try to deal with sexual abuse within the family on their own, instead of seeking help. Garrison writes:
This explains why, according to the police report, Jim Bob Duggar’s first response when he learned of Josh’s sexual crimes was not to call the police or social services. Instead, the Duggars decided to handle the situation “in-house,” and later consulted with the elders in his church.
Furthermore, since God supposedly forgives all since, victims have no choice or recourse but to comply when their abusers ask for “forgiveness.”
The sad fact is, the Duggar family called Josh’s sexual abuse of minor girls a “teenage mistake” and they naively believe that because the boy repented, humbled himself before God, and asked forgiveness, God’s “grace, mercy, and redemption” have changed Josh into a new man who can be trusted not to molest minor children.
And that’s the problem: Whether or not there’s any truth to any of the accusations against Dolezal’s biological family, the parents would have denied everything and protected the older brother. And although Rachel Dolezal has a shaky relationship with the truth, it’s hard to believe her brother’s accuser would go through the ordeal of seeking justice if she hadn’t actually been sexually assaulted.