When a Broward pastor was found guilty this month on federal sex abuse charges, it repeated the message common among child abuse advocates and the attorneys and lawyers who fight to protect children from child sexual abuse: predators are all around us.
Church youth pastor Jeffery London was found guilty of a federal sex abuse charge of using his cell phone to lure a young boy into sexual activities. A church youth pastor, London was viewed by many before his charge to be a foster parent to area kids and a disciplinarian at a charter school. While he now faces 10 years to life in federal prison, the victim and community face a long recovery after the episode.
Sometimes, recovery can take a lifetime. The victim was assaulted from his youth until he was 16 years old. London had been a youth pastor at the Fort Lauderdale Bible Church of God and was dean of students at Eagle Academy charter school in Lauderdale Lakes. FBI agents who investigated the case and federal prosecutors noted how London preyed on the youth by using his status and authority to commit his crimes. In fact, they said he sexually abused several underage boys.
“Under the guise of providing a safe haven for these boys, this defendant, Jeffery London, preyed on these innocent victims,” the jury was told during closing arguments.
The horror of the case, beyond the lives yet to be lived by the victims, is the abuse of the authority and trust that had been placed in London. Every day, good people reach out for guidance from authority figures – spiritual leaders, heads of school, people who seemingly are generous in spirit and intention. Sometimes, that authority is a ruse and the trust is misplaced. Through no fault of the victims, predators will wear a veil of authority to prey on the young and vulnerable.
Our wishes go out to the victims in this case, and our hope is that their road to recovery is successful.