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Saturday, August 20, 2005                                                                                       View Comments

Church: We got it wrong

The leader of a church that hired a convicted paedophile yesterday conceded it was a mistake.

Sex offender Christopher Winslow Darrell was “a gifted musician” who was hired to be a musical director because the pastor wanted to give him second chance, we were told.

The leader, who like the pastor and the church, cannot be identified for legal reasons, told the Bermuda Sun yesterday that when he and the pastor discovered that Mr. Darrell had fondled a boy with whom he had been playing the piano “we were as upset as the public was.”

The leader said the pastor had been hoping that the Lord would step in and help Mr. Darrell to change his ways, but everyone now understands that it is difficult for people like Mr. Darrell to control themselves around children.

“We will be taking every step to prevent this from happening again,” he said. Mr. Darrell, 41, of Spring Hill, Warwick was jailed for four years last week in Supreme Court for the offence — his fifth conviction for a similar offence in 15 years. He was also deported from the U.S. for a sexual offence.

The leader said he was not involved in the hiring of Mr. Darrell — ministers do the hiring. The pastor who hired him was aware of his past, but he decline to comment yesterday.

The leader said he would be requiring anyone hired to work with children in the church to have a police check.

He said he would be encouraging ministers not to accept the word of former prisoners just on their say so — anyone can put their hand up in church and say the Lord has changed their lives.

The leader said he was an example of how the Lord changes lives — and he contended the Holy Spirit could even transform the lives of paedophiles — but the church should have insisted that Mr. Darrell undergo counselling while working as a musical director.

The church had learned from its mistake and did not want to be” branded” as a place that gives shelter to sex offenders. “People have said we should have known better,” he said. “In hindsight, I can agree with them.”

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