While I do admit it has been some time since I have played the role of camp counselor (at church camp or otherwise) unless I am horribly mistaken, touching a child with your penis is not one of the recommended “horseplay” activities. Nor for that matter, is it a recommended disciplinary action, although Attorney Allen Trapp, who is representing a church camp counselor and pastor’s son, Zachary Anderle, has stated that he believes it is. I could look back to the trainer’s manuals just to be sure, but in all honesty, I think I am safe here.
The Chattanooga Times Freepress reported that Vineyard Community Church Camp Counselor, Zachary Anderle, was charged with simple battery, two counts of third-degree cruelty to children and sexual assault, following an incident in which he climbed, naked, on top of a 13-year-old boy. Anderle placed his penis on top of the boy’s crotch, while a group of other boys were watching. He also slapped the boy in the face. Vineyard Community Church is located in Chattanooga, TN. The incident between Anderle and the boy took place at the Church’s Camp site, which it was hosting in Temple, GA.
As if the actions of Anderle were not bad enough, the church committee which has been appointed to investigate the event has stated that it believes the incident was simply a matter of “horseplay gone wrong.” While the church has removed Anderle from participating in church camp activities and has also barred him from participating in any activities that involve children, the statement clearly shows a desire on behalf of committee members to make the incident somehow appear more “acceptable.” Even though I think it’s clear that reasonable human beings do not engage in “horseplay” which involves putting their naked genitalia on the crotch of a thirteen year old child, apparently members of this church believe such things are “all in good fun.”
It gets better. Anderle’s attorney, Alan Trapp, explained that the act was just an attempt to discipline a 13-year-old boy at camp. According to the Chattanooga Freepress report, Trapp said:
“This boy was using a lot of unsavory, sexually charged language. Zach told him to stop repeatedly. When he wouldn’t, Zach told him, ‘If you do not stop, I will come down there and sleep with you naked,” Trapp also told reporters “and he actually jumped on him and all the other boys laughed and thought it was funny.”
Bud Winderweedle, a member of the “investigative committee” established by Vineyard Community Church to look into the incident, also told media:
the camp director attempted to apologize to the 13-year-old’s mother and offer counseling, but she did not respond.
Yes, they offered counseling… After a naked church camp counselor jumped on top of this woman’s son, touching him with his genitals, after he threatened to sleep with her child naked, and after he physically assaulted that child by slapping him in the face, they felt it was appropriate to approach this mother and offer additional counseling.
She went to the police instead. Good for her. The level of denial in this story is so deep and dark, that it’s almost like a bottomless pit. The more you try to peer into the minds of these people, the darker and more frightening it becomes. The excuses, the attempts at justification, the lengths to which these church members have gone to, to try to make this behavior seem OK, is just astonishing. Yes, it’s hard to admit that someone you know and maybe even like or consider a friend, is a pervert in every sense of the word. But when the denial is so extreme that it makes you believe that something like this was just “fun and games” or that it was “an attempt at discipline” it’s time to take another look at your own motivation. A child was harmed. There is no excuse for that. The harder you try to think of one, the more ignorant you sound.