Council of Churches Launches Investigation into Mervin Budram Allegations
The Council of Churches has broken its silence on the Mervin Budram saga, saying that they have launched its own investigation. In recent days, the former church leader has come under a wave of sexual allegations from several young women. Budram stands accused of sexually assaulting the women, who were children under his watch at church activities. The saga began unfolding last week when Rebecca Stirm-Lennan, the daughter of Pastor Scott Stirm, alleged that Budram sexually assaulted her when she was 11 years old. Following her post on social media, five other women broke their silence and recollected their encounters with Budram where he abused them. Since then, Stirm-Lennan and another young woman, Kelsie Parham, have filed reports with the Police. Budram’s church, Jubilee Ministries, headed by Pastor Scott Stirm, has since removed him from the ministry. However, according to a release from the church, it had begun its investigation into the reports in May but did not act until recently. The incident has now brought into question whether the church tried to sweep the allegation under the rug, but according to Senator for the Council of Churches, Bishop Moses Benguche, that was not the case. Today, Benguche weighed in on the issue and explained what the church is doing.
Bishop Alvin Benguche, Senator: “We are going by what has been said that they, from the initial aspect and the initial investigation, started and did due diligence in ensuring that they dealt with the matter. I want to say also from the outset, however, it is important to note that concerning sexual abuse and assault, the church has always maintained that there must be zero tolerance insofar as the victims are concerned and that the victims must be heard and that victims must be prioritized for counseling and whatever other support is needed. However, as encompassing as it is we understand that we serve a Lord who is concerned about everyone and all persons. We must also be concerned then about the alleged perpetrator. We must, however, as a church also pray for healing and hope that the individual the alleged individual will receive the help and the assistance that he needs in order to deal with the situation. We believe from where we sit so far that the church in its investigation has handled the matter insofar as they have been able to. They have dealt with the situation. They have dealt with the individual. I do know also that they are also trying to give as much assistance to the victims, as much assistance as is possible.”
Since the allegations made their way to the public domain, many people have called for Budram to be investigated by the police and punished for his alleged crimes. And, as of yesterday, two criminal complaints were filed against Budram. We asked Bishop Benguche if the church is also calling for Budram to be jailed. Here’s how he responded.
Bishop Alvin Benguche, Senator: “For us as a church, we look after the protection of women and children, especially vulnerable children and women. We also take the position that the perpetrator, whatever needs to be done, whether it needs to go beyond counseling, that that is for the court and for the law to take its course. And so, I will not delve into that situation, but I do agree that at some point in time, should this go further, that it is the court that will decide what is the way forward.”
Reporter: Okay, and I know you said that you do believe that Jubilee Ministry did everything that it could have, but according to their release they knew since May, but there was no action from the church to say, “okay, let’s get these young women to the police.” Because, like I said, this man is alleged of committing serious crimes against children.
Bishop Alvin Benguche, Senator: “What I have known is that there are means and ways in which organizations and bodies deals with certain situations. I’m certain that for some of us, we would have liked that perhaps Jubilee moved with post-haste. But as I said from what I have ascertained, it was something that they took seriously, very seriously, because they too are aware that sexual abuse and assault is one that we must not tolerate. And in their stead, they dealt with it, as I said, on a basis whereby they felt that they had to ensure that due diligence was done in dealing with the matter. I must also, as I said, as a part of what I know is taking place is that the victims and the status of the victims is that you know as much help is being sought in order to deal with the situation of the counseling that is needed and any other assistance and so I do know that that aspect is also taking place.”
Budram is yet to comment or speak on the matter.