Written by Holly V. Hays |
Tuesday, December 7, 2021
Church leaders were aware of the abuse for nearly five months before informing the congregation. Immanuel elders were made aware of the allegations — broadly, not necessarily in detail — in April 2020, after one family confronted Olivetti about abuse and reported to the Indiana Department of Child Services, according to church records…Despite recommendations from the committee appointed to advise the elders, the congregation was not notified of the abuse until September 6, 2020.
A West Lafayette, Indiana, pastor could potentially be removed from office following an investigation into his handling of allegations of sexual abuse within his congregation.
Jared Olivetti, who is the head pastor at Immanuel Reformed Presbyterian Church, and other elders who served in 2020 are under investigation by the denomination and are facing religious charges at the national level, according to multiple interviews and documents obtained by IndyStar, after the elder board intentionally kept quiet allegations of abuse involving eight children from six families.
The perpetrator, a teenage boy, is a relative of Olivetti. The pastor failed to recuse himself despite the clear conflict of interest and shaped Immanuel’s internal investigation. (IndyStar is not indicating the relationship between the two to avoid identifying the boy. The Star does not name minors unless they are charged as adults.)
Here are five things you need to know about our investigation into the handling of abuse at the West Lafayette church.
The head pastor was aware of abusive behavior as early as October 2019
Olivetti was made aware of inappropriate behavior toward two children from the congregation in October 2019, according to internal church records obtained by IndyStar, when the boy was seen reaching down the back of a child’s pants and again when he allegedly propositioned another child and touched their chest without their consent.
Apparently unknown to Olivetti at that time was the fact that the boy had already begun seriously abusing children from at least two other children, according to church records.
Church leaders intentionally delayed notifying Presbytery of the allegations
In a July 2020 meeting with Joshua Greiner, a pastor at neighboring Faith Church West, Olivetti said elder meeting notes regarding the allegations were going to be kept in a separate record from notes that would otherwise be shared with Presbytery.