Defenders of Kanakuk Kamp have bristled at comments on this blog that Kanakuk officials had received previous complaints about former director Pete Newman but failed to do anything about them.
Newman, of course, pleaded guilty Feb. 18 to two counts of statutory sodomy in the first degree, three counts of statutory sodomy in the second degree, and three counts of enticement of a child. All of the crimes involved underage boys.
Former Kanakuk Kamp mom Amanda Tackett, a journalist, who normally writes about the lighter, more humorous things in life, is dead serious when she says Kamp officials were well aware of the serious issues surrounding Newman. She left this comment on one of my older posts earlier this evening:
I am a former Kanakuk mom. I've already spoken to law enforcement, and have been quoted in the media previously. I am a writer, journalist, but most importantly a Christian. This entire situation makes me sick.
To address some of the earlier comments, yes, the camp knew, or should have known there were issues with Newman going back several years. My daughter returned from K-Kountry her last year reporting that there was something wrong with Newman. I asked a lot of questions, and two days after we returned to Dallas, she told me, "Pete is gay." I told her how serious a claim that was, and she recounted numerous instances when Newman isolated boys in the woods. She was only 10, and yet she knew.
One of the boys she knew, as he was on the bus the first year she attended. He is from Dallas, and no matter what anyone wants to think, there are more victims out there.
I called the camp and spoke to two different staffers. My cell phone records back this up. I reported my daughter's observations as delicately but honestly as I could. I was told they would look into it, and get back to me. I was shocked the following day when I received a return call. They had "investigated" my daughter's complaints and wanted me to know that her counselors and Newmand felt "she didn't have a heart for Christ." They went on to detail how my daughter wasn't into sports enough to make it another year at Kanakuk. That's funny, my husband is a former college athlete, his father was a 1st round NBA draft pick, and she's been involved in Upward and a variety of sports her entire life. But, whatever.
I asked, "Okay, you've got an opinion about my child, but what about Pete?" I was then lectured, much like the admonishment on this blog about starting rumors. They also asked "if" we attended church, ever.
The camp knew. I know they knew. My complaint came well after 2001. If anything, it should have been a "second strike" for some further investigation, but instead they diminished my daughter.
I was furious when I got the email from Joe White. I called Kanakuk and told them about my call to the camp three (now four) summers ago. "That just doesn't sound like something we would say," is what I was told.
I would NEVER, ever send my child there again, and I would strongly encourage others, based on the FACTS of how they have handled this entire situation to re-think Kanakuk for their children. There are numerous other faith-based camps and activities in which our kids can participate.
Biblical law protects two classes in society: the very old, and the very young. Kanakuk needs to get very real and very honest about what has happened.
I'm writing this on March 2, 2010. Newman has pleaded guilty. I'm not interested in any more hand-wringing over all the "ifs." This is now an "is." Right now, this is about justice and punishment, for the sake of the victims, and to remove this blight from society.
Newman sought to deceive everyone around him, but he cannot hide from the Lord. It's senseless to speculate on "if" he's a Christian or not. The Lord will take care of his ever-after. Right now, we need to focus on punishment.
Each of his victims will serve a life sentence in their own right. I'm good with 171 years.
Taney County Circuit Court Judge Mark Orr ordered a pre-sentencing investigation and set Newman's sentencing for April 30 in Taney County Circuit Court.