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PASTOR CHARGED: Former Pella church leader accused of sexually abusing four women | News

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PASTOR CHARGED: Former Pella church leader accused of sexually abusing four women

The Marion County attorney has charged a well-known and widely popular former pastor with sex crimes. Forty-one-year-old Rev. Patrick Edouard is accused of using his position as the pastor of Covenant Reformed Church in Pella to coerce, and in some cases physically force four married women in his congregation into having sex with him.

He was arrested and transported to the Marion Co. Courthouse in Knoxville on Wednesday to face three counts of Sexual Abuse in the Third Degree, a class "C" felony and three counts of Sexual Exploitation by a Counselor, Therapist, or School Employee (including clergy), a class "D" felony.

The criminal complaint states that that Edouard invited the women to individual counseling sessions. He is accused of methodically "grooming" the women over periods of several months.  Grooming is a term used by psychologists and counselors to describe the methods of mental preparation that a sexual abuser may employ. The criminal complaint states, "Patrick Edouard performed a sex act, which included contact between the genitalia of one person and the genitalia of another, knowing the act was against her will. The act was coupled with and followed by stern warnings that if she raised an alarm it would be her word against his, she would not be believed and he would make sure everyone knew she was crazy." It continues to describe, "...a pattern or practice by Mr. Edouard to engage in sexual conduct which he perpetrated against... emotionally dependent female congregants for the pupose of arounsing or satisfying the sexual desires of Mr. Edouard... over a prolonged period of time from 2003 to 2010."

Everything to lose

The alleged victims have a few things in common. They are all married to prominent men in the community. The husbands include local business owners. A person who is close to the case spoke on a condition of anonymity. The source told Channel 13 that each alleged victim had a particular weakness, a "stress in their life" that they said Rev. Edouard targeted and exploited. The source told Channel 13 that Edouard invited the victims to come to him for counseling. The sessions took place in Edouard's study, which was located in the basement of the pastor's home located in the nearby golf resort community of Bos Landen. Some people now wonder why the pastor wasn't given a proper study at the church building. However, the source insists that the victims do not blame the church elders who oversee operations for what the alleged victims said occurred.

Living in fear

The source told Channel 13 that the women were happy in their marriages and fulfilled in their lives. "Sure, they were stressed at times," the source said, adding that the women eventually displayed, "drastic negative changes in their moods and certain behaviors." The source said that Edouard threatened them, in order to keep them quiet. "He said, 'You will lose everything," according to the source. The source said that Edouard meant they would lose their husbands, children, homes, status within community, friends, and good names. The source said that Edouard warned them, "Nobody will believe you."

They called his bluff.

The alleged victims decided, as a group, to go to the church elders. Edouard resigned at the moment he was confronted by a group of church elders and two of the victims' husbands. The church deposed him from office. He is no longer allowed to serve as a pastor for any of the United Reformed Churches in North America. Edouard and his wife sold their house in February. Neighbors said that they moved with their four children to Michigan.

Who is he?

Rev. Patrick Edouard is said to be a Haitian immigrant who came to the U.S., fell in love with and married his wife. At age 29, he graduated from Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana. He began preaching at the Covenant Reformed Church in Toronto, Canada. In 2003, he was hired as the pastor of Covenant Reformed Church in Pella, Iowa. People in the small conservative Dutch community, famous for the window company with the same name, pride themselves on their commitment to religion. Pella has 27 churches that serve a population of roughly 10,500. Covenant Reformed is known in this conservative town as the conservative church. Several years ago, its members broke away from another Reformed church in town that was viewed by many as headed in a direction that they deemed "too liberal." Rev. Edouard made a name for himself in the community as a charismatic preacher who gave dynamic sermons. His Sunday morning messages were broadcast on a local radio station and streamed live on the web. People in Pella said that he was known to spend time visiting the elderly and shut-ins. Channel 13 can find no record of Patrick Edouard's existence prior to him entering the seminary. The criminal complaint and affidavit lists Mr. Edouard's current address in Byron Center, Michigan.

More victims

The number of alleged victims stands at four. However, the anonymous source said that there are likely more alleged victims who have not come forward. For now, the families await one or more criminal trials and live under the scrutiny of people who wonder why the women didn't just reject the reverend's advances. Chris Ostlund of Polk County Crisis and Advocacy Services in the nearby state capitol of Des Moines said that if the women's claims are true, then they must be considered victims of crime. It is a felony in Iowa for a counselor, including any member of the clergy, to have any kind of sexual contact with a client or parishioner. Speaking in general terms not specific to the case, Ostlund said, "I think the word "evil" is really appropriate to describe the manipulation somebody in such high authority, such spiritual authority can have over someone else to manipulate a situation." He said, "Anytime we have that church component (coupled with alleged abuse), that religious spiritual component where someone of authority has victimized them, that's a whole other thing they've got to get over, in addition to the manipulation, the victimization, the shame, the humiliation, and everything else."

The alleged victims requested that a letter written on their behalf be distributed to the Pella Covenant Reformed Church congregation by the church elders. According to the source, the letter was never distributed, but has been circulating within the community via email. Click on the following text, in order to READ IT HERE. Patrick Edouard is scheduled to appear for a hearing at the Marion Co. Courthouse on April 1, 2011 at 9:00 am.


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