A New Jersey pastor has been credibly accused of using oral sex during exorcisms to extract “evil spirits” from men.
So that’s what they’re calling it these days.
Unfortunately, instead of being punished through the justice system (where he has not been charged with any crimes), he only received the threat of punishment through an internal church court… and even that didn’t get anywhere.
Weaver, 69, was scheduled to face his three accusers during an internal church trial… He was accused by the church of “multiple acts of idolatry and sexual misconduct.”
The church charges have no bearing on the secular government’s civil and criminal courts. No public charges have been filed against Weaver. The men said they did report the sexual encounters to authorities, but the Union County Prosecutor’s Office said they could not confirm nor deny information regarding this matter.
What would an internal church trial have done? In theory, Weaver could have lost his ordination and been booted from the Presbyterian Church… which could be punishment if you value those things. At least the show trial would’ve aired the contents of the allegations.
But Weaver chose to quit because they could fire him. He renounced the Elizabeth Presbytery, where the trial would have occurred, and moved to a gated retirement community.
The Presbytery determined, through an investigating committee, “that there are probable grounds or cause to believe that an offense was committed by the accused,” according to the official church charges. If Weaver was found at the religious trial to have violated church rules, the most punishment he would have faced would have been expulsion from the Presbyterian ministry.
There was never going to be any semblance of justice here, even in the best case scenario. That’s unfortunate given how he manipulated his victims and took advantage of them. Just look at how he assaulted one man, William Weist:
… in the spring of 2000, Weaver told Weist that in order for the ritual to be more effective, they had to go upstairs where he could lay down with more stones and candles…
Over the next few visits, Weaver informed Weist that he had suffered “hits” from the spirit world and they needed to be brought out through his semen by oral sex.
Weaver told Staunton he had to lay still, with the stones on and around him, and let the reverend “get it out.”
“Feeling mortified was an understatement, but I didn’t want to say he was wrong, after he helped me to this point,” Weist said in his statement. “I was so confused and upset I remember praying to God please let me get this over with!”
One of the problems with bringing forth a criminal charge in a secular court, according to one attorney who specialized in sexual abuse, would be the issue of consent. These men agreed to let Weaver perform oral sex on them. Were they lied to in the process? No doubt. Weaver manipulated them. He groomed them. He broke ethical rules. He used his authority to do it. But lying isn’t necessarily a crime when it comes to sex, at least in a courtroom.
“If you look at the sexual abuse statutes, they talk about unlawful, unwanted, non-consensual contact, and certainly the argument would be that this pastor manipulated his position of authority,” said [attorney Robert] Fuggi, who does not represent any of the men who claim to have been victimized by Weaver. “In the guise of practicing care and counseling to these individuals, he manipulated them for his own sexual purposes.”
Fuggi said he believes the victims were “unwilling and unwitting” and “did not consensually engage in the sexual assaults, they consensually engaged in what they thought was a pastoral counseling session.”
Still, Fuggi added, they agreed to receive counseling, not take part in a sexual encounter. That could still factor into a case. All the more reason to let a real judge take a crack at it.
These allegations were only made public because Weaver denounced the Presbyterian Church, and their own sexual misconduct policy says disciplinary charges can be published in that situation. Now that it’s out in the open, let’s hope the victims can get actual justice.