WAVE 3 NBC - LOUISVILLE, KY September 8, 2009
Registered sex offender to become ordained minister
By Maira Ansari
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A Louisville man who already leads the praise and worship at a church wants to take a higher role. He is a registered sex offender and will be ordained as a minister. It is something that is not sitting well with some.
At City of Refuge Worship Center, everyone is welcome. "Everyone sins, but He has forgiven us," said Kimberlin Bowling.
But what about sex offenders? "You may go to church somewhere and there may be one sitting right next to you and you don't even know it," said Bowling.
People at City of Refuge know about Mark Hourigan, who was charged in 1998 with sodomizing, sexually abusing and intimidating an 11-year-old boy. Convicted of two counts of sex abuse, Hourigan did his time in prison.
"I completed the sex offender treatment program while I was in prison and also while I was on parole, so I've completed it twice," said Hourigan. "And I've learned a lot of tools through that program. And I've learned that I have to change the way that I think in order to change my actions and behaviors."
Sunday, Hourigan will become an ordained minister. Bowling will be ordained along with him. While Hourigan's probation is over, his sex offender registration will never end. Hourigan has signed a contract with the church not to have any contact with children.
"I've learned a lot of things as far as what situations not to place myself in," said Hourigan.
The idea doesn't sit well with Kim Richardson. "There are just four simple words - why take the risk? I would definitely not want my child around this man."
Richardson is the author of "Unbreakable Child" and the Kentucky leader for SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Richardson herself was a victim of clergy abuse for nearly a decade.
"There were many abuses by clergy. Force feedings, beatings, molestations and so forth," said Richardson.
Knowing how damaging abuse can be, Richardson admits people can change, but she is worried that Hourigan will reoffend. "I wouldn't want to tempt someone."
"I overlook what has happened in the past, because I see Jesus through him," said Bowling.
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WHAS 11 ABC - Kentucky September 11, 2009
Sex offender to be ordained this weekend, has held previous church leadership role
On Sunday, a registered sex offender is expected to be ordained as a pastor of a Louisville church.
Mark Hourigan says he has changed. But some from his hometown say they aren't so sure. It's a story that's been making national headlines.
WHAS11’s Adam Walser broke the story and he talked with Mark Hourigan's friends and family members. In talking with them, WHAS11 discovered that Sunday's scheduled ordination of the convicted sex offender won't be the first time Mark Hourigan has served in a leadership position in a church.
Hourigan volunteered as a youth leader at a Marion County church and was about to become ordained as a minister when his ex-wife says Hourigan confessed his past, an act that landed him in prison.
In the Kentucky hills of a tiny community called Gravel Switch, Mark Hourigan first began his trail to the ministry, serving as a youth leader at Beechfork Baptist Church.
Hourigan talked about it on CNN: “I felt the call of God all of my life when I was younger. I was going through a divorce before and I wasn't allowed to be ordained through that church because of the denomination I was affiliated with,” Hourigan told CNN.
Hourigan's ex-wife says the divorce came after Hourigan confessed molesting an 11-year-old boy to her, then went to authorities.
Hourigan was arrested in late 1998, convicted of sexual abuse and ordered not to serve in leadership role in any church.
But Hourigan, who is on the lifetime sex offender registry, hopes to be ordained as a minister at City of Refuge Worship Center in Louisville.
His ex-wife, who doesn't want to be named, told WHAS11 in an e-mail: "If this church knew Mark the way that I do, if they had lived with him and could see how he made out like what he did was not an awful thing, they couldn't even consider ordaining him. Mark was and still sure is a sick person.”
Hourigan says he is no longer a threat to children and the church's pastor say he won't be left alone with them.
But some people in his old hometown don't think he should be trusted.
“I think when someone does such a heinous crime like that, I don't care if it's a population of 5,000 or 50,000 or even 150,000, people don't forget that thing, especially the family and friends that were involved in the situation,” said Marion County resident Sherman Bradshaw.
The victim's mother says she's too traumatized to talk about it.
Others familiar with Hourigan's past say they're just glad the church ordaining him is in Louisville and not in their backyard.
Hourigan told Adam Walser in an e-mail earlier this week that he doesn't deserve a second chance, but said God's forgiveness is for anyone and everyone to accept, regardless of what they have done.
This article was found at: http://www.whas11.com/topstories/stories/whas11-topstories-090911-sex-offender-ordain.16e52dda9.html
WATE.com - Tennessee September 25, 2009
Group protests sex offender's ordination in Kentucky
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A group of clergy abuse survivors are asking the Louisville Archdiocese to speak out against a local church that recently ordained a convicted child molester as a minister.
Several members of the Louisville chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests hand-delivered a letter to the Archdiocese office on Thursday. The letter urges Archbishop Joseph Kurtz to publicly condemn the City of Refuge Worship Center for ordaining Mark Hourigan as a minister.
Though the City of Refuge is not affiliated with the Catholic Church, SNAP member Rochelle Fournier says the church could start a movement by religious organizations to adopt policies precluding registered sex offenders from becoming part of the clergy.
City of Refuge Pastor Randy Meadows has declined repeated requests for comment on Hourigan's Sept. 13 ordination.
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Google News - Associated Press September 30, 2009
Ky. church ordains sex offender as minister
By DYLAN T. LOVAN (AP)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A tiny Louisville church's newest minister is a gifted music leader and popular among its three dozen members.
Mark Hourigan is also a sex offender. Almost a decade ago, long before he joined the flock at the City of Refuge Worship Center, he was convicted of sexually abusing an 11-year-old boy in central Kentucky. Hourigan served a five-year sentence and the 41-year-old was placed on Kentucky's sex offender registry for the rest of his life.
A former leader at the church along with an abuse victims advocacy group say Hourigan is a risk to hurt another child and he should not have been placed in a position of authority.
"He's still a threat" to children, said Cal Pfeiffer, who was abused by a Catholic priest as a young student in Louisville in the late 1950s and early 60s.
Pfeiffer and experts on religion and sexual abuse believe it could be the first time a convicted sex offender has been knowingly ordained as a minister in a Christian church.
"It sets a precedent," said Pfeiffer, a member of a group that has protested Hourigan's ordination. "It elevates him to an ordained minister which almost automatically conveys a level of trust and responsibility."
The church's pastor, the Rev. Randy Meadows, ordained Hourigan during a service on Sept. 13. The self-described Pentecostal church, started by Meadows and a handful of other members six years ago, welcomes anyone "regardless of race, religion, culture (or) sexual orientation," according to its Web site. It also has a Sunday school for children.
Meadows declined several requests from The Associated Press for an interview, but said in a brief phone conversation that the church has not experienced any backlash based on the decision to ordain a convicted pedophile.
"We're just finished with the whole ordeal with everything, so we're moving on," Meadows said.
There was no phone listing for Hourigan and no one answered the door during a reporter's two visits to the apartment listed on Hourigan's sex offender registration.
Church members aren't talking about it, either. Several calls to members listed on the church's Web site were not returned; people outside the church declined to comment to reporters during two visits to the church as services were beginning or ending.
But a pastor and friend to Meadows who attended Hourigan's ordination said the church's board gave Meadows and Hourigan its full support.
"It was a really beautiful ceremony," said the Rev. Aletha Fields, a high school teacher and gay rights activist. "The sanctuary was full because there were people from out of town."
Fields, who sometimes serves as a guest pastor, said she asked Meadows about why he decided to make Hourigan a church leader.
"I asked him flat out about it because I wanted to get behind his thinking," she said. Meadows believes firmly in the "redemptive power of Jesus Christ," and told her Hourigan had served his prison term and completed probation.
"I believe they followed Biblical principle," Fields said.
One of the church's founders, Kevin Pickerrell, said he left last year over plans to ordain Hourigan. He said Meadows assured church members that Hourigan wouldn't minister to children, but Pickerrell continued to balk at the idea of ordaining Hourigan.
Pickerrell said Meadows believed that Hourigan had been reformed.
"He tried to convince me that Mark had changed," Pickerrell said of Meadows.
Hourigan said in an interview with CNN in September that wants to minister to others like him "who have been rejected." Hourigan said he has learned not to put himself in situations where he might be tempted and to seek counsel when he's having "emotional problems ... so it doesn't turn into something that it has in the past."
Pickerrell said Hourigan "has an illness that you can't cure."
Recidivism rates are high for sex offenders, with more than half reoffending, said Keith F. Durkin, a criminologist at Ohio Northern University who has studied pedophiles. He said that rate increases when the crimes involve prepubescent children, like Hourigan's victim.
"I cannot possibly see him being reformed," Durkin said. "(Sexual desire) is the most powerful drive we have as a human and (for a child sexual abuser) it's kids."
Pickerrell said Hourigan was a "wonderful" music leader at the church and was well-liked when Pickerrell attended services. But he and Pfeiffer said they worry that Hourigan can present himself as a minister to strangers who don't know his past.
Hourigan was arrested on one count each of first-degree sodomy and sexual abuse in Marion County, Ky., in 1998, according to court records. An indictment said the abuses occurred between 1993 and 1994. Hourigan pleaded guilty a year later to two counts of sexual abuse. The terms of Hourigan's parole, which he completed in June 2008, included an order that he not serve in any leadership capacity at a church with youths.
Pfeiffer's group, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), sent a letter to the church but Pfeiffer said members have not responded.
Pastor Meadows, as a Pentecostal, may hold a strong belief in the healing power of the Holy Spirit, which could explain why he believes Hourigan can be reformed, experts said.
They "believe absolutely anybody can be healed of absolutely anything, no exceptions," said Paul Alexander, a professor of Theology and Ethics at Azusa Pacific University in California.
Meadows told CNN that Hourigan's faith has helped him reform, but he pledged to monitor the former sex offender closely.
"I don't take anything lightly when it comes to someone's past," Meadows said.
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