What is happening at Faith Baptist Church?

The buses wait at Faith Baptist Church for members of the outreach program to board. The church has come under increased scrutiny over the past month due to two arrests of former youth pastors, one accused and one convicted, of sexually assaulting young girls. Shane Gibson photo

The ties between Independent Fundamental Baptist and Faith Baptist Church

Two arrests for crimes spanning more than 30 years by youth pastors at Faith Baptist Church in Wildomar has people asking questions about the leadership in place and the culture fostered by the church.

There have been condemnations of the church – and sometimes all religions for that matter – in comments on social media. Former members of the church have come forward to tell their story of abuse that they said was never prosecuted or investigated by law enforcement. And there have been private email correspondences between current church members and the Valley News that take issue with our reporting.

First and foremost in this series of stories, we have attempted to tell the stories of the people who have had direct contact with the church or were victims of crimes committed by church members.

In doing so, we are distinctly aware of the multitude of positive actions and influence members of Faith Baptist Church have bestowed upon the communities surrounding and including Wildomar for more than 30 years.

It should be noted that repeated attempts to reach the church have gone unanswered.

Ultimately, the decision to do this series of stories was based on the fact that the two men arrested and charged with crimes committed against young girls were more than just a coincidence.

According to one victim, the legend of the relationship involving Laverne Paul Fox, 60, a former principal at Faith Baptist Academy, and a young teenage girl named Kathy Durbin was used by youth pastor Malo Victor Monteiro, 46, a decade later to manipulate at least three young girls to keep his sexual relationships with them quiet.

The reason Monteiro knew so much about Durbin’s allegations about her relationship with Fox was that he was married to Durbin’s sister.

“He told me about how there was another staff member at Faith Baptist that had an affair – these were his words, not mine as an adult man cannot have an affair with an underage girl – with a teenage girl,” victim Rachel Peach said. “When they were caught, he didn’t get in trouble, but instead, she lost all her friends. It planted a seed in me that if I ever say anything about him that is what will happen to me. If the right steps were taken at that time, what Paul Fox did to Kathy, Victor would’ve never been able to use that situation to his advantage to sexually assault underage girls.”

Fox was arrested late last month, and Monteiro was convicted earlier this year after pleading guilty to seven sex-related felonies. In fact, Fox was arrested after investigations into Monteiro led back to him.

Another reason why we chose to do this story was that both men were allegedly sent away to other churches after rumors and reports of their crimes began to surface. They were said to have been sent away by the Rev. Bruce Goddard, the founder and pastor of Faith Baptist Church, who still leads the congregation today.

“Pastor Goddard moved the Fox family out of California within 24 to 48 hours,” Durbin said in a Facebook post. “He moved them back to Indiana to First Baptist Church and Hyles-Anderson College, which is where they were hired from. (Fox) was counseled by his friend Jack Schaap of First Baptist Church. A decade later, Schaap was caught victimizing a teenage girl at his church.”

Schaap was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

According to former church members, this practice is an ongoing problem within the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist network of churches.

“Cover-ups run all through the IFB, Hyles breed of churches,” former volunteer Emily Wedel said, who worked with children as young as 4-5 years old at the church. “So, so many predators among those churches. (It’s) not just isolated to Faith Baptist. They protect the predators and out the victims and their families. If you don’t forgive and forget, you are considered bitter and hateful. The culture at Faith Baptist leads directly back to the ‘mother church’ First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana. They were all connected, and the common factor is Hyles Anderson and Jack Hyles. We only associated with that circle of churches.”

Jack Hyles was the pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, from 1959 until his death in 2001, and right up until his death, it has been reported that 15,000 people attended his sermons each Sunday.

Hyles was also the founder and chancellor of Hyles-Anderson College, an unaccredited college that focuses on training pastors, missionaries and Christian teachers to work in Independent Baptist schools. Many graduates from Faith Baptist Academy have gone on to study at the college.

Hyles’ son, David Hyles, is also Schaap’s brother-in-law and has been accused by at least four women on allegations of sexual misconduct. He was also accused in the death of an infant child.

However, he has never faced charges, and according to an investigative report last year by the Fort Worth Star Telegram, whenever David Hyles found trouble, he was moved to another church.

The 2018 report by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram said there have been “at least 412 allegations of sexual misconduct in 187 independent fundamental Baptist churches and their affiliated institutions, spanning 40 states and Canada.”

Just two weeks ago, another prominent IFB church member that featured prominently in the newspaper’s report was arrested.

Why is the church’s tie to Hyles-Anderson College significant? Because according to multiple former members, Faith Baptist Academy only hires teachers that graduate from the college.

“(Goddard) didn’t hire anyone outside of Hyles,” Wedel said. “As high school graduates, it was highly pressured to go to Hyles – (it was) not really even an option. If you did not go, you were considered ‘out of God’s will’ and basically a rebel.”

The fact that the California Department of Education has no contact with the school and no authority for oversight and given the sheer number of incidents involving IFB church pastors, school officials and other associated church members – combined with what is alleged to be a culture that covers up crimes at Faith Baptist Church by Goddard – it seems like a recipe for disaster, to former church members.

“Do I find the pastor responsible for most of the things that have happened?” Jackie Heck, the mother of April Avila, another of Monteiro’s victims, said. “Yes. I believe that in the early stages of the church that a faulty foundation was set that allowed, encouraged, enabled, etc. an environment for abuses of power to take place. ‘Authority is always right,’ ‘Don’t question your leaders,’ ‘Don’t gossip, no negativity, no questions, no constructive criticism’ and ‘No changes; remove not the old landmarks.’”

Another of Monteiro’s victims agreed.

“Every year at summer camp one of the rules was ‘The adults are always right even if they’re wrong,’” Rachel Peach said. “These kinds of rules didn’t just apply at camp but also at school, at church, every activity, everything. These men were made to look like gods to us. They were literally called ‘men of God.’ They could do no wrong.

“So, when you are raised in an environment that teaches you to never question the pastor, the youth pastor, the ‘man of God,’ when it is literally a rule that if the adult is wrong they are actually right, when this is what you are being taught at a young age, you don’t question anything when your youth pastor begins raping you at 15 years old,” Peach said.

In Durbin’s Facebook post, she expressed a similar sentiment.

“I’m now far removed from Faith Baptist Church in Wildomar,” she wrote. “I know I’m doing what God wants me to do with my story. I want my story to be out there in my own words. There will be no justice for me, but if telling my story will convince other leaders that covering up crimes for whatever reason is not right and only further hurts the victims, then it’s worth telling. It’s time for this to stop.

“I believe 100% that if Pastor Goddard had done the right thing and notified law enforcement, there would have been an investigation that would have led to criminal charges being filed. For me, justice would have been served. As for Faith Baptist Church and its ministries, yes, they would have been scrutinized. However, I believe that when a ministry or organization is publicly scrutinized, it forces them to put policies and procedures in place to prevent the reoccurrence of things like this. But because of the cover-up of my situation, here we are 28 years later with new victims at the same church. Covering up crimes only leads to more victims,” Durbin said.

Angel Zarobinski, who was a victim of sexual abuse committed by the Rev. Kerry Martin of Temecula Valley Baptist Church until his conviction in 1999, has a message of hope for the victims.

“There is healing and hope,” she said. “These men are evil and deserve what is coming to them. Speaking up is what stops evil from spreading, so don’t give up. You will have exhausting days and nights, but it will be worth it. You are not to blame for any of the abuse; it is not your fault.

“Forgiveness does not mean the offender does not answer for their crimes. Forgiveness is letting go of the bitterness and resentment and letting God deal with it all. God loves you. He will heal your broken heart and give you the strength to endure through this time.

“You have been set free,” Zarobinski said.

What’s next?

According to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department’s Media Information Bureau, investigations are currently ongoing, and the department does not typically share information regarding an ongoing investigation with the press.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of abuse at Faith Baptist Church, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department urges you to call the Lake Elsinore substation at (951) 245-3300.

During the course of our investigation, we reached out to several elected leaders in the area for comment about this story, and we were seeking information about possible proposed legislation that could change the way private schools are monitored.

However, elected representatives from the regional, state and federal level did not respond to requests for comment or discussion.

A trailer for an upcoming documentary called “A Dark Faith,” which is scheduled to be released sometime in 2020, can be found on Youbtube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-kq458qUdY.

According to the person who uploaded the trailer, someone named Associate C, “The Independent Fundamental Baptist movement is plagued with pedophilia. Only by speaking out can we fix this issue. I aim to uncover the reasons behind the sinister highly common occurrence in this system and will be bringing you multiple untold, covered up stories from Faith Baptist Church of Wildomar.”

The story doesn’t end here.

The four victims of Monteiro are still in the process of a lawsuit involving the former youth pastor and the church. There may be a lawsuit involving Goddard; however that has yet to be confirmed.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com.