Dear Dr. Elia,
Last week in our local, north west, newspaper, a very disturbing story
about a former Stake President, beloved husband, father and respected
member of our ward, was arrested for child molestation and child
pornography. All who knew this revered patriarch are devastated. We are
shocked that he could live a double life. How does ones live a lie? How
do good men and women descend so far?
You have helped many sex addicts, do you still practice your successful
therapy with lust addicts? If not, what are the requirements one should
look for to find a qualified therapist? What are warning signs that
could alert family and friends to arrange an intervention for a loved
one before they go too far?
This brother’s story is a very sad reflection on our times and a warning
that “even the very elect shall be deceived…” Please help!
Thank you for sending me the article from your local newspaper
describing the allegations against this man. I have a more clear picture
now…For my readers, let me recap the story…A 65 year old man had
worked as a substitute teacher at 3 different elementary schools, one
middle school and one high school. The allegation is that he was
watching pornography at a home, a young girl saw him doing it, he called
her over to watch with him and then molested her. He’s in jail at this
time on a $50,000 bail. No more information is given, other than his
statement that he admitted to watching pornography and inviting her over
but didn’t remember touching her inappropriately. At the time the
article was written, there have not been any additional allegations from
any of the schools.
Given the fact that this was a father, husband, most likely a
grandfather given his age and had previously held such a high leadership
position in the church makes it even more tragic. We certainly do not
know all the facts nor are we here to judge this man. The courts will
decide his fate. Our thoughts and prayers need to go out to this young
girl and her family and his family as well. Let us not forget all the
people who have known and looked up at this person all these years as
well. The feelings of confusion and betrayal must be overwhelming.
So to answer your question…How does one live a double life? How do
good men and women descend so far? It’s quite easy actually…having
worked with addicts for the last 20 years (especially in the field of
sexual addiction) I’ve been taught many things. First of all, “You are
Only as Sick as Your Secrets!” The cycle of secrecy leads to feeling
isolated…which leads to the act(s) of self-indulgence or basically the
addiction…also called acting-out. Inevitably these acts lead to
self-hate, self-loathing, shame etc. As a result of these feelings the
addict attempts to conceal his actions which then leads him to being
isolated once again and thus the compulsive cycle continues until he
gets caught. Sometimes this can continue for decades!
The cure of course is that when we bring the secrets out in to the open
or better yet into the light then the healing can begin. The repentance
process is exactly the same. Secrets come out and the Light of Christ
heals. Yes there are church officials and mental health experts who help
along the way but generally that is the only way for recovery. When we
disclose our sins and mistakes, we connect and feel that the isolation
we have suffered all these years is gone. Once connected the burden
seems lighter and progress begins to show. As progress is made feelings
of self worth begin to appear and as a result, disclosing future
mistakes gets easier. A new more hopeful and optimistic cycle is born.
I have taken part in many interventions with families over the years. It
usually takes place with a Bishop or Stake President present and
ultimately it is an intervention of love and not judgment. It is usually
intense at first, but ultimately ends up being very loving and healing.
If you love someone and you see them heading off the deep end you don’t
wait until it’s too late. Prayerfully considering such a preventive step
will bless you, the family and most of all the individual, in the end.
Elia Gourgouris Ph.D.