When Homeschool Leaders Looked Away: The Old Schoolhouse Cover-Up

By Hännah Ettinger (Wine & Marble) and R.L. Stollar (Homeschoolers Anonymous). Several updates and corrections made on 10/16/2014 are highlighted at the end of the story.

American Christianity is actively facing a sexual abuse crisis This crisis is more than just the evangelical community’s time to face their failings and follow in the steps of the Catholic church. It is a crisis of power and of children’s rights. It is a story about protecting abusers in order to preserve existing power structures in evangelical communities. Sexual abuse in Christian homeschool communities continues to be uncovered as leaders and organizations like Bill GothardDoug PhillipsC.J. MahaneyBob Jones University, and Patrick Henry College have faced heat for either their own sexual abuse of those under their spiritual authority (Gothard, Phillips), or protecting sexual predators in their communities (Mahaney, BJU, PHC). Each of these names is closely linked to the Christian homeschool community. What began as a trickle of stories about abuse is quickly becoming a flood.

Photo from The Old Schoolhouse. Image links to source.
Photo from The Old Schoolhouse. Image links to source.

The authors (Ryan and Hännah) were recently approached by Eric Novak, who, like us, grew up in Christian homeschooling circles. Eric was employed from 2008-2011 by Paul and Gena Suarez, founders of The Old Schoolhouse magazine, which boasts a readership of around 200,000. Paul and Gena speak at homeschool conventions and are seen within the homeschool community as advocates for the homeschool lifestyle. The Suarezes, like many Christian homeschool parents, have endorsed the Pearls’ parenting books. The Suarezes’ main business, The Old Schoolhouse magazine, is endorsed by the Great Homeschool Conventions and James Dobson.

Over the last few years, a number of stories have come to light about children violently abused by their parents and caregivers in the name of “biblical” parenting practices. Some, like Hana Williams, have even died. This abuse is often linked to the parenting teachings of Christian authors Michael and Debi Pearl. The Pearls’ teachings are especially loved in the conservative Christian homeschooling community. Homeschooling’s Invisible Children documents many of the cases where abuse has been directly connected to use of the Pearls’ book To Train Up A Child, which teaches parents to use corporal punishment to break the spirits of their children to make them submissive to God’s will.

During Novak’s time as an employee of  TOS (and later, as he became a close friend to the Suarezes’ oldest son, who we’ll call “Jake”), he discovered that the Suarez and Igarashi families (the mothers of both families are sisters) are embroiled in an intense feud over physical and sexual abuse that has allegedly occurred in the family.

Hope Chapel

It all began at Reb Bradley’s church. Situated in Citrus Heights, California, Hope Chapel Christian Fellowship was pastored for 17 years (until 2004) by Reb Bradley. Bradley, a zealous advocate of courtship and “child training,” was a common fixture at California Christian homeschool conventions. Like other homeschool lumineers such as Henry Reyenga, Voddie Baucham, Doug Philips, and Scott Brown, Bradley was a promoter of “family integration,” believing age segregation in churches goes against the Bible. Through his company, Family Ministries, Bradley made a name for himself by calling for sexual “purity” and family-led courtship as an alternative to dating for love-struck teenagers. His teachings on corporal punishment closely resembled those of Michael and Debi Pearl. Ethiopian adoptee Hana Williams’ parents, Carri and Larry, who “disciplined” Hana to death, attended Hope Chapel for several years before they moved to Washington, the state in which Hana was tragically killed by her parents’ use of “child training.”

Around 2004, Hope Chapel struggled with internal controversy: Bradley’s daughter and the son of Paul and Mary Schofield (also important figures in the California Christian homeschool scene) began courting. But the process unraveled into a bitter, chaotic mess. A number of other church attendees, disillusioned with Reb Bradley’s ideals, broke away and formed their own church. These attendees included Steve Hauser and his wife Julie, Paul and Mary Schofield, Roy Ballard, Geoff and Jenefer Igarashi, Richard and Deb Wuehler, and Paul and Gena Suarez. The rabid anti-gay activist Scott Lively and Hope Chapel attendee, previously known for violently assaulting a woman and currently being sued for crimes against humanity, decided to take Bradley’s side in the controversy.

Today the Suarezes stand accused of protecting know child predators. You can read the background story here. Their accusers include not only their own family—two of Gena Suarez’s sisters, Jenefer Igarashi and “Megan” (her name has been changed to protect her privacy)—but also some of the same people who once joined them during the Hope Chapel church split, including the Hausers. Furthermore, one of the known child predators they are accused of protecting is Roy Ballard, also once a member of their new splinter church, and now in prison for criminal sexual assault. All of the events that follow, in fact, originally began in this church that splintered off from Reb Bradley’s Hope Chapel.

“Cinderella”: the Physical Abuse of Megan

What Eric Novak learned about the Suarez family involved alleged physical abuse of their children as well as alleged sexual abuse within the family. According to the various accounts, the Suarezes 22-year-old son, Luke, sexually abused two of his younger siblings and his young cousin, the son of Jenefer Igarashi. Luke currently has continued access to his siblings, as he lives at home with his parents. He is regularly in contact with children in the homeschool community, thanks to his family’s business. According to Novak, the Suarezes often get put up in the homes of other homeschool families when they travel. Novak relates:

“They continued going to conventions and such, and I know that for a fact that at conventions, they’ll like stay with homeschool families, and he’ll like, sleep in the younger kids’ rooms. And that’s what I’m most concerned about.”

The physical abuse allegations involve the abuse of all of the Suarez children, as well Gena’s youngest sister, “Megan.” When Gena’s mom died, Paul and Gena took in Megan, Gena’s third sister. Megan was 13 years old and Gena was around 26. Megan claims that once she joined their family, Gena turned into a fairy-tale worthy evil surrogate mother, turning Megan into house help and depending on her for her primary childcare support. It got to the point where even the neighbors jokingly called Megan “Cinderella,” according to a written statement by Megan (given to Hännah by Eric Novak):

Even friends and neighbors of Gena and Paul would refer to me as “Cinderella.” It was evident to all who knew us what my role in the family was: babysitter, house cleaner and servant… and physically or mentally abused (instead of properly disciplined), when I would act childish or foolish.

I was left in charge and instructed to care for and discipline the younger children in the home – even told to strike them in the face when ‘disobedient’ or ‘disrespectful’ (they’d give me ‘slapping privileges’), which still haunts me today. They also immediately took and used every penny of nearly $10,000 that my mother had left for me when she passed away (…When I moved in with the Suarez’ [sic], they got access to that account and spent every bit of the money).

Megan alleges that the Suarezes didn’t just use her for free labor and steal the money her parents left her. She says they physically abused her and their other children and claimed that the abuse was God’s will. It seems like they employed the Pearls’ parenting methods quite studiously. This is also from Megan’s written statement:

I witnessed and was a victim of physical and mental abuse while in the home. I watched Gena as she would strip her youngest son down (around 4 yrs old), put him in the bathtub and run cold water over his face so that he couldn’t breathe. They would have their second oldest son strip down naked and repeatedly douse him with cold water. Gena would brag that she “finally found a punishment that would get them to obey”. She would also have her children stand in the corner so long they were forced to wet their pants. I also remember seeing her boys be made to ‘make up from a fight’ by inappropriately kissing various parts of each other’s body to the point of everyone in the room feeling awkward and uncomfortable… except for Gena, who would laugh. I remember the way she once used me to ‘teach [Jake] a lesson’ by convincing him to run away and then telling him it was a ‘test’ and then proceeding to give him 100 spankings when he packed a bag. Again, remembering back on these things makes me sick almost to the point of throwing up. She would pinch us and pull our hair on a regular basis. I remember having her grab my hair and walk me down the hallway. Punishments for ‘bad behavior’ were cruel and unusual things like sleep depravation (having to get up in the middle of the night and clean the house or run up and down a hill on the property in the dark), or being told to get in my bed and pull the sheets over my head and stay there the entire day. Regularly I would beg to be allowed to correspond with my father, who lived in Alaska. I was always given a firm “no” and would have to sit for about 3 hours and listen to all the reasons why I could not have a relationship with my biological dad… because he was ‘in sin’. Instead I was forced against my will to call Paul ‘dad’ and refer to him as my father- or I’d be punished. I was also instructed to refer to Gena as my ‘mom’ and again, would be ‘dealt with’ if I refused. I was 13 when I moved in with them, and 17 when I fled.

Paul also could be, and often was, very cruel. I remember being seated in front of him on the couch (him in a chair very close to me), and he would be lecturing me. Each time I would speak, he would kick me hard in the shins with his steel-toed boots. There were also numerous times when he would slap me in the face or push me up against a wall as he yelled and repeatedly poked my chest over and over with his finger.

Close to the time I finally fled, it had gotten to the point that I didn’t want to live anymore. I would fantasize about dying. I couldn’t please them no matter how hard I tried. I was literally a slave in the home and punished as such when I couldn’t meet their impossible standards. What hurt the most after I fled was knowing the abuse that would continue in the lives of the children.

After Megan escaped, she found support in her other older sister, Jenefer Igarashi, and has thrived. She is now married and mentors in her community and is herself a homeschool mom. She remains a devout Christian.

Suarez Teenager Molests 6-Year-Old Igarashi Kid

In the spring of 2007, the Igarashis and the Suarezes had a falling out over a church-related disagreement, and then 6 weeks later, according to a plethora of corroborating accounts, it was discovered that Luke, the then-teenage son of Paul and Gena Suarez, “repeatedly molested” the 6-year-old son of Geoff and Jenefer Igarashi. The Igarashis discovered this when the 6-year-old began frantically grabbing his own neck one evening and acting erratically. He began tearfully describing the “sexual attacks” his older cousin had inflicted on him.

Jenefer immediately contacted the Suarezes. According to a now-private statement by Jenefer on her blog, the nephew “admitted everything”. He and his parents assured the Igarashis they would “self report” to the CPS and would see a “Christian counselor”. Two separate emails obtained by us verify that: (1) on July 5, 2007, in response to an email sent by Jenefer Igarashi describing the sexual assault of her son, Paul Suarez admitted “Luke’s sins” were “horrible”; and (2) on May 30, 2008, Paul Suarez again admitted his son was guilty of committing “shameful sin” against the Igarashi boy. “What our son did was so shameful,” Paul wrote, “that it brought my wife and I to tears”.

Excerpt from Paul Suarez's May 30, 2008's email.
Excerpt from Paul Suarez’s May 30, 2008 email.

Eric Novak was close with the family during the time the Igarashis discovered their son’s alleged sexual abuse at the hands of Luke. According to Novak, the most help the family got was a few counseling sessions:

“The sheriff got involved—here’s the thing. Only one instance of sexual abuse was ever reported. So his siblings were never reported. Only the Igarashi’s son was one that was reported. So, in that instance, the sheriff got involved and they were like, well he’s a minor—cause he was 14—so now we need to take him to counseling and he’ll go through three sessions of counseling and at the end of it, if he’s fine, then we’ll be done. And so he went through three sessions of counseling and they were like, that’s it”.

The Igarashis suggested they resolve their differences with Christian mediation via Peacemakers, a Christian mediation group headed up by homeschool leadership confidant Ken Sande. But the Suarezes refused. They wrote an email to the Igarashis on September 7, 2008, and said “utilizing Peacemakers” was “an absurd idea” and suggest that they (the Igarashis) “may not even be saved”. They said Jenefer and Geoff had to first “repent” of their own sins–a reference to the initial falling out over church politics—before the Suarezes would consider talking to them about the 6-year-old’s molestation allegations.

Excerpt from a September 7, 2008 email sent by the Suarezes to the Igarashis.
Excerpt from a September 7, 2008 email sent by the Suarezes to the Igarashis.

The Suarezes also promised the Igarashis that they would step down as publishers of their magazine and relinquish their leadership roles. The following is from a July 4, 2007 email sent by Paul Suarez to Jenefer Igarashi:

Excerpt from a July 4, 2007 email sent by Paul Suarez to Jenefer Igarash.
Excerpt from a July 4, 2007 email sent by Paul Suarez to Jenefer Igarash.

The pertinent text is:

We have no intent of compounding this offense by remaining on as the leaders [sic] of TOS. Obviously we are not qualified to continue on as publishers of a Christian magazine. We are already in talks with handing the magazine over to someone more suitable than ourselves. Please keep this business decision confidential as there are more people’s livelihoods at stake than our own. This is not to say that you should not report this incident to whomever you feel necessary. However, spreading this misfortune by talking or blogging to others not involved or directly related to this incident would serve no purpose. Please know that we certainly don’t intend on playing the hypocrite by sweeping this mess under the rug. Again, we have no interest in protecting our own reputations, only the livelihoods of those who depend on TOS.

This never happened. California business records demonstrate that The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC has remained active since 2005 and its principals remain Paul and Gena Suarez. Furthermore, the Suarezes continue to this day to represent themselves as reputable leaders (both publishing and otherwise) in homeschooling communities.

More Cover-Ups and One Last Attempt

Since 2008, the Igarashis felt their hands were tied in exposing the abuse to the public. But earlier this year, after watching the Disney movie “Frozen,” Jenefer was overwhelmed with a desire to try at reconciliation again. The Igarashis also learned in March of this year that their son was not the only sexual predator allegedly protected by the Suarezes.

The Igarashis learned about Mike Marcum, whose father (according to Novak) is Paul Suarez’s “right hand man in all things TOS-related.” Mike was arrested, and pleaded guilty in 2010 for possession of child pornography. According to Jenefer’s now-private statement, Mike was welcomed into community gatherings by the Suarezes despite them knowing he was being investigated for the child pornography charges. “When one of the families in their group found out,” Jenefer wrote, “the husband alerted other families that they knew had been exposed to the perpetrator. Their goal was simply to protect all children involved and make sure each parent had the opportunity to talk to their children and ascertain safety”. Instead of encouraging this family’s actions to protect children, Paul and Gena Suarez berated them. Jenfer wrote that the family was “called to a meeting with my sister and her husband and were ‘beaten with scripture, pulled completely out of context’ for about three hours. They were told they were gossips and were sowing discord and acting unbiblical”.

In addition to Mike Marcum was Roy Ballard, one of the individuals who originally joined the church that splintered off from Reb Bradley’s Hope Chapel. Ballard was convicted of criminal sexual abuse against children. According to Julie and Steve Hauster, also members of the splinter church, the Suarezes refused to believe a young child claiming she had been inappropriately touched by Ballard and instead belittled and shamed her and her family.

Reinvigorated with the desire to bring these stories of abusers to light, the Igarashis began counseling with their new pastor in February 2014. Desiring to abide by the principles of Matthew 18, the Igarashis enlisted a large number of fellow homeschool parents and drafted a group letter (involving several well-known leaders in the Christian Homeschool Movement) in the drafting process. The Igarashis sent a draft of the letter to the Suarezes on April 4. A copy of the letter was also sent to Heidi St. John, one of the most popular speakers for the Great Homeschool Conventions and a longtime family friend of both the Suarezes and Igarashis. The so-called “Super Mom of Homeschooling” who hosts “mom PJ parties”, St. John was informed by Jenefer that a third child molestation cover up (the case of Mike Marcum) had been discovered.

The Igarashis Appeal to HSLDA’s Michael Smith

Jenefer also decided to contact another friends: HSLDA President Michael Smith. Jenefer called Smith on his personal mobile phone 3 times as well as emailed him with her plea for help.

Email sent by Jenefer Igarashi to HSLDA President Michael Smith.
Email sent by Jenefer Igarashi to HSLDA President Michael Smith.

An excerpt from her April 8, 2014 email to HSLDA’s Smith reads as follows:

It’s been a while since we’ve talked.

My husband asked me to email you. I don’t know if you remember that Gena Suarez.(The Old Schoolhouse Magazine) is my sister. We had a (very) difficult split 7 years ago.

Last month we put together another effort to call them to repentance. 20 people have given testimony against them (including [name redacted], [name redacted], [name redacted], and others)

The document we’ve sent them has been ignored.

…we were told that *morally* we had some decisions to make since we know there have been recent cover ups (dealing with convicted sex offenders — Suarez’s pushing to allow access within family settings and bullying people who spoke out). I have testimony and direct proof of this. The men are listed on sex crime registers. Both men were convicted of crimes against children. This is in addition to their son (a highschooler at the time) who repeatedly victimized our little son.We are trying to make a decision whether or not to let convention leaders know about this issue.

The [name redacted]/Teach Them Diligently are our friends and know about this issue and so does [name redacted] (also our friend), who helps run CHEA of California. But as of yet, we’ve not informed anybody else.

My husband asked me earlier today if I would contact you and ask your advice. HSLDA has been the watchdog/protectors of the homeschool movement since the early 80s. You all have not only protected legitimate homeschoolers but have made sure the Homeschool Community (at large) was not used as a haven for abusers.

We really are not sure what should be done in this case. On one hand we are nervous about knowing about their patterns/ keeping children safe, but on the other hand we are talking about my sister who I love. After the Doug Phillips tragedy I feel like the homeschool movement could be damaged with another high profile scandal. This is a horrible position any way you look at it.I know you are a very busy man, but any light you could shed on this would be very appreciated.

Mike Smith never responded to any of Jenefer’s pleas. The Old Schoolhouse remains an HSLDA-suggested resource promoted to HSLDA members at a special discounted rate.

Enter Heidi St. John, Brennan Dean, and the Great Homeschool Conventions

The joint letter the Igarashis sent to the Suarezes (and copied to Heidi St. John) on April 4 was not received well. According to Novak, the Suarezes “ignored both the letter that had been crafted by the individuals (list of 20) and also Jenefer’s pleas to her sister to work with her”.

Heidi St. John, however, was dismayed by the fact that Jenefer involved her in the situation. St. John sent a number of emails to Jenefer in response. In one of those emails, St. John wrote, “This is a huge distraction for us in the middle of the busiest season of the year. We have neither the time nor desire to be part of it”. St. John also told Jenefer that she had talked to HSLDA’s Michael Smith and Smith told her that, “HSLDA will not be getting involved in it.”

According to Novak, the Suarezes then attempted to strong-arm Jenefer. Novak says, “They got the letter from Jen on April 4th — and never emailed back. Instead, their move was to rope in Heidi St. John and have GHC call Jenefer’s workplace and request that she be kept out of the GHC event, the weekend of April 24th”. Allegedly pressured by St. John, the GHC leadership agreed to block Jenefer from the convention. This happened on April 23 when Jenefer Igarashi was at the airport, about to board a flight to the Great Homeschool Convention in Ohio. Jenefer is an employee for a well-known company that exhibits at homeschool conventions around the United States. While waiting to board, Jenefer received a call from her employer. That employer had received a phone call from Kim McMillan, Exhibitor Coordinator for the Great Homeschool Conventions. According to Novak, McMillan told Jenefer’s employer she was calling on behalf of GHC president Brennan Dean requesting that Jenefer not be sent to the convention because of her “threatening emails” to the Suarezes.

It is important to note that the emails in possession of the authors indicate that Heidi St. John was entirely aware of the allegations that the Suarezes had ignored child abuse and—according to Jenefer and other collaborating accounts—decided to look away, despite writing the blog post “Don’t Look Away” a mere month before. In that post, St. John declared that,

What’s more troubling to me is the lack of concern that the homeschool community seems to have for the victims of Gothard’s and Phillips teachings. There seems to be more concern for protecting these men and their “ministries” because it may have a negative impact on homeschooling than for the lives of the people who have been hurt and abused.

What in the world are we thinking?

Her own words appear to be self-indicting.

David Gibbs III Offers to “Help”

Two days later, on April 25, Jenefer received a call from someone she did not know: David Gibbs III. Gibbs seemed to appear out of nowhere. He had been in the news earlier this year as the defender of another abuse victim—Lourdes Torres-Mantufuel, the target of Doug Phillips’s alleged sexual molestation.

Gibbs appeared to be a godsend, a knight in shining armor. Gibbs allegedly told Jenefer that he “didn’t even really know” the Suarezes and was simply told by Heidi St. John and Brennan Dean that there was an “issue” with which he could help by arranging an “unbiased mediation” with the Suarezes. After trying to years to arrange that very thing, this seemed like a break in the dam to Jenefer. So on April 25, 2014, Jenefer sent Gibbs a slew of private documents for him to examine before the mediation effort. Most notable was the aforementioned private testimony by Megan, detailing her horrific abuse at the hands of Gena and Paul from the years of 1995-2001—abuse so intense that she became suicidal.

Jenefer sent the testimony with the understanding that it would be confidential and believing that she could trust Gibbs. But that trust began eroding when one of Jenefer’s children realized Gibbs was a part-owner as well as a corporate sponsor and organizational partner of the Great Homeschool Conventions—the company that just banned Jenefer from their convention and featured Heidi St. John. GHC has only three corporate sponsors: one is The Old Schoolhouse and another is David Gibbs’ National Center for Life and Liberty. Jenefer also found out Gibbs was a columnist for The Old Schoolhouse.

David Gibbs III is a columnist for the Old Schoolhouse Magazine.
David Gibbs III is a columnist for the Old Schoolhouse Magazine.

Jenefer’s trust in Gibbs vanished entirely when Gibbs, the Suarezes, and the Igarashis met on May 5, 2014 for a final mediation attempt. At the beginning of the meeting, Paul Suarez pulled out a document: the confidential testimony of Jenefer’s sibling. Somehow the confidential testimony of an abuse victim — given only to Gibbs — had fallen into the hands of the victim’s alleged abusers: the Suarezes.

The Mediation

The mediation attempt was a grueling process, lasting around 10 hours. According to a written report of the meeting, Paul Suarez attempted to use the mediation to lecture people, and was consequently asked to leave the room along with Jenefer’s husband. When Jenefer confronted Gibbs about whether he would advise Lourdes Torres-Manteufel to sign such a mediation agreement, Gibbs allegedly grew irate and declared, “You’re no Lourdes Torres!” According to this report, Gibbs eventually pushed Jenefer and Geoff to sign a mediation agreement he drafted. The agreement declared that the Suarezes agreed to stop “shunning” the Igarashis but on the condition that Jenefer was to cease talking about all the potentially damning information they had. It was also insinuated that they could be sued if they chose to speak up. We have a copy of the mediation agreement but are not at liberty to publicize more than the following image from it.

Excerpt from the Suarez/Igarashi mediation agreement.
Excerpt from the Suarez/Igarashi mediation agreement.

The Suarezes’ pastor in Tennessee was involved in the meeting, and has not yet reported the Suarezes for child abuse, despite having read Megan’s statement and voicing concern for the remaining children at home. The following is from an email by Jenefer to Novak (and given to Hännah by him) debriefing the meeting in May:

And then her PASTOR (they brought a pastor who drove up with them from TN) said, “I’m concerned about the child abuse” and then he said, “How about we write up an agreement that states the Suarez’s were wrong for dividing with the Igarashis and then I will personally begin monitoring the Suarez’s with our board of elders, examine their household and interview their children and then periodically report to you directly, Jenefer.” Then he said, “the Suarez’s are in the process of joining my church and if we let them be members we are definitely going to want to keep an eye on this. We don’t want them in our church if they are going to behave like that.”

The pastor, Charlie Scalf of Roan Hill Baptist Church, didn’t return our call inquiring about the Suarezes’ membership standing at their church. Days after signing the agreement, something inside Jenefer snapped. She finally had the chance to be un-shunned after 7 years. But it was not worth the cost to her: the cost of pretending she agreed with a philosophy that protects child abusers and punishes those who speak out.

So on May 24, 2014, she violated the terms set by Gibbs’s mediation agreement and wrote a public blog post revealing both the alleged sexual assault against her son and the Suarezes’ alleged roles in covering up both that assault and other child predators in their communities. This blog post caused an outrage among the other parties involved in the mediation agreement. Jenefer eventually made the post private and password-protected. But several weeks later, she again decided to go public—despite pressure by Gibbs to not do so. On June 19th, she wrote a second blog post about the abuse. Novak suggests that her reasons for doing so were because she believed that Paul and Gena had breached their side of the agreement as well. In the July 19th post, Jenefer writes:

I’ve been accused of trying to ‘vindictively take down The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. I reject that accusation. Paul and Gena made the choice to habitually divide with believers over secondary issues. They have also made the choice to condemn (multiple) families who spoke out against child predators.

They made the choice to continue pursuing the spotlight as national leaders after knowing their highschooler [sic] repeatedly molested more than one child. In my opinion, they should have stepped down and dealt with their family issues. Instead, they built an audience and created a following. I feel no obligation to protect their leadership position in the homeschooling community. It was their choice to push this issue public.

They refused to deal with us privately (we tried repeatedly) and then seven years later, when they finally met with us (with a supposed ‘unbiased mediator’) they refused to acknowledge any error over their unbiblical belief of shunning Christians over secondary issues. Nor did they see a problem with condemning families who refused to accept what amounts to a ‘zero accountability’ stance for child sex predators. It is because of their choices that this is now playing out in front of an audience that they, themselves, created.

Here’s a helpful motto: Don’t do things that you don’t want people to find out about. It’s not the job of the ‘abused’ to protect their abusers ‘popularity’.

Now 14 years old, the Igarashi’s son wants people to know what happened to him (taken from a June 19th blog post written by Jenefer):

…he told me he wanted to speak plainly. He told me that he was angry — really angry — that his older cousin had forced him to live with such disgusting memories. He also told me that he hated the idea of being known as the kid who had ________ happen to him. He said he was fearful of having a tainted reputation and was nervous about being kept out of certain circles of friends who might look at him weird if they knew. I sat quietly and just listened to him as he spoke. And then what he said surprised me. He said, “I think that being concerned about how I’m viewed is selfish, though. I don’t want my reputation to be more important to me than knowing we might be able to help prevent others from having to live through what I have to deal with”.

This child is right to be worried that others will have to deal with this same stuff. If these allegations are true, the statistical probability that the Igarashi son and the two Suarez siblings are not Lukes only victims is high—the “average” pedophile will  have many, many victims have before getting caught (numbers vary, but most sources estimate between 100-200). So much time has been wasted because these families have delayed legal action by years of attempting Christian “reconciliation”. Jenefer and her husband initially left their jobs at TOS shortly after their son’s abuse, but felt they had to keep quiet due to years of alleged threats and intimidation from Gena. Gena is alleged to have further attempted to squash Jenefer professionally by going behind her back to request that Christian media outlets like Crosswalk.com remove pieces Jenefer wrote for them while she was a TOS employee. The Suarezes have even threatened Eric Novak with a libel lawsuit over his Facebook posts warning about their abuse.

Everyone who spoke to both of us is terrified of Paul and Gena.

The Suarezes have controlled the narrative thus far, and Gena’s sisters (both of whom evidence passion to see Luke, Paul, and Gena brought to justice) both initially spoke with us in extensive detail about the situation. However, they later took our conversations off the record out of fear of retaliation. While Eric Novak expressed similar hesitations, he decided that exposing the alleged abuse was worth the risk. These fears evidence the power alleged abusers have to control the narrative by keeping their victims silent and afraid of punishment. Eric says he hopes the Suarezes see justice for their alleged physical abuse of their kids and for Luke’s alleged sexual abuse of his siblings and cousin.

To date, the Suarezes and The Old Schoolhouse have not responded to these allegations with a public statement. Rather, as reported on Homeschoolers Anonymous on July 2, 2014, TOS has been stating privately—via emails—that all of these allegations are false. “TOS and the Suarez family are aware of the allegations circulating online”, TOS declared. “They are false”. In light of the fact that the authors have emails on file from the Suarezes themselves admitting several of the allegations are true, these current statements by TOS appear intentionally and maliciously false.

Even more disturbing is the revelation—again, verifiable—that some of the biggest names in Christian homeschooling (HSLDA’s Mike Smith, GHC’s Brennan Dean, GHC’s Heidi St. John, and NCLL’s Dave Gibbs III) have known about both the child abuse allegations and the alleged cover-up of the abuse for substantial periods of time and have chosen to ignore it, remain silent, or bully others into silence.

This might be the most widespread, institutional cover-up of child and sexual abuse allegations among homeschool leaders and communities to date.

Note: The authors reached out to HSLDA, GHC, TOS, Heidi St. John, and David Gibbs III for comments. None of them replied by the time of publication.


Updates, 10/16/2014:

HSLDA, GHC, TOS, Heidi St. John, and David Gibbs III have yet to respond to any of our requests for comments. However, both HSLDA and Heidi St. John issued statements yesterday, October 15. Read HSLDA’s statement here; read Heidi St. John’s statement here. Jenefer Igarashi responded today here.

Corrections, 10/16/2014:

* The original story incorrectly implied that Jenefer Igarashi directly contacted Anne Miller, President of the Home Educators Association of Virginia. The contact was made via a third party.

* The original story stated that, during the mediation attempt, “Paul Suarez stormed out of the room at one point and never returned.” Paul did not storm out; rather, he was asked to leave the room along with Jenefer’s husband after creating difficulties during the mediation.

* The original story said David Gibbs III said “You’re no Lourdes Torres!” to Jenefer Igarashi in response to him allegedly giving the testimony of her younger sibling to the Suarezes. This has been corrected to reflect that Gibbs allegedly said that in response to Igarashi asking if Gibbs would make Lourdes sign a mediation agreement with Doug Phillips.

* The original story said that the GHC leadership allegedly agreed to block Jenefer Igarashi from the convention due to pressure from Heidi St. John and Paul and Gena Suarez. Igarashi’s public statement today says,

When I accused Gena of punishing me by having me blocked from this convention, Mr. Gibbs stopped me and said, “Gena didn’t ask to have you blocked. Heidi St John did.” There were a total of five witnesses to that statement. When I asked why in the world Heidi would have anything to say about it, my sister began quoting, verbatim, from a private email I had sent Heidi.

The story has been changed to reflect this.

73 thoughts on “When Homeschool Leaders Looked Away: The Old Schoolhouse Cover-Up

  1. Latebloomer October 8, 2014 / 2:34 pm

    This is horrifying. But I believe it, as someone who attended Hope Chapel in my teens with nearly everyone who was mentioned in this article :(. I hope that child abusers are brought to justice and that the victims get the love and support they need and deserve.


  2. Jaid October 8, 2014 / 2:43 pm

    . . . I am going to go do some construction work very, very carefully because I need to build something good after reading this. What in the name of heaven is wrong with these people?


  3. Lookingforanswers October 8, 2014 / 7:41 pm

    Consistently I see the same groups of people represented in these post. Forgive me for not knowing the correct names or terms, still trying to sort it out. Pearl’s book, vision forum, Gothard, Quiverful, fudementalism, patriarchal, courting. It seems like abuse is related to a specific group of people, and in some way all of those terms are connected, in the homeschool movement. Have there been stories posted from alumni who are not connected to any of those terms or terms related to those ? (For example, it seems that spanking excessively is Gothard , Pearl book related).


    • darcygirl October 8, 2014 / 8:20 pm

      I don’t know a single alumni from my generation that are not connected to any of these groups/leaders/concepts. And I’ve met and know hundreds personally. When we talk about “the homeschool movement” I don’t think that most people understand how invasive all these leaders and concepts and beliefs were for us and the homeschooling communities we were part of.


      • Emily October 15, 2014 / 9:10 am

        I’m a grown-unschooler, and am completely unconnected to these groups. All homeschoolers are NOT christian. All homeschoolers are NOT fundamentalist.


      • Sarah October 15, 2014 / 2:48 pm

        I’ll stand up and be counted as one who was wholly unconnected to these organizations and people, but was happily homeschooled by Christian parents. My husband’s parents however were influenced by Gothard’s “ministry” (many years ago). I believe it has gotten more insidious over the years (power tends to corrupt over time), and thankfully he nor his siblings ever got close enough to Gothard himself to be affected by the sexual assault scandals that are currently rocking the movement. For that I am grateful, but we pray for the people who have undergone the abuse.

        I am concerned however, that people will completely discount good principles like the discipline of children as a “pendulum swing” result of this movement. My understanding is that the desire on the part of most of the parents is to teach children good character, which was certainly my MIL’s desire (which she totally succeeded in by the way) but that this desire was in certain rather public cases taken to such an extreme that people ended up abusing their children. We have to remember that not everyone who was involved in this movement was in a starry-eyed daze and unable to think for themselves. There are literally thousands of good parents who raised healthy productive members of society and yet were involved in these types of movements, and I don’t want to automatically group the abusive parents in with the good parents just because they happen to have a lot of kids (quiverful), be christians (fundamentalism), be part of ATI (Gothard) or homeschool, etc…

        Just some things for consideration.


      • darcygirl October 15, 2014 / 7:30 pm

        I didn’t say they don’t exist. I said *I* didn’t know any. That’s the nature of the Movement, that we kept company with like people. And it was a huge movement. Those homeschoolers on the outside were not really in our radar. Even my husband who was unschooled (read: educationally neglected) by non-religious parents, got involved in youth groups and other things that were led by those in the movement.

        And as for the strange comment about not disciplining children, I have no idea what that is supposed to mean. My children are being raised with respect and discipline, which means we don’t hit children in our family. They are all very strong-willed, empathetic, wonderful kids who are learning respect because I show it to them first. If you meant that now people will quit hitting kids, well I would certainly hope so.


      • Sarah October 15, 2014 / 7:39 pm

        Wow! Relax… I wasn’t attacking you at all. The comment was more general than that. I’m stating that I personally happen to be one of the people who wasn’t harmed by this movement (just adding to the conversation, not trying to prove you wrong) And disciplining children doesn’t just mean spanking either – you totally read that into my comment. You need to be a bit more considerate of what other people might want to add to a conversation without jumping to the conclusion that they are somehow criticizing you. To that end, I hope you have a good evening, and I wish you well, however you decide to raise your children.


      • darcygirl October 19, 2014 / 6:51 pm

        Perfectly relaxed over here. 🙂 You were replying specifically to my comment in this thread, so I assumed you were addressing me, which is a logical assumption.


    • nickducote October 8, 2014 / 9:05 pm

      Thank you for your interest. I’m glad you have started to notice how things are connected. It really is a small world. I’d point you to these three articles, which explain the Christian Homeschool Movement and some of the big ideologies associated with it.


      For even more reading, see the many articles under our “homeschool movement” tag: http://homeschoolersanonymous.wordpress.com/tag/homeschool-movement/


  4. Lookingforanswers October 8, 2014 / 9:33 pm

    Thank you for resources. Very helpful. There is a secular homeschool community? Why use the common thread of homeschooling? It seems these other pervasive issues are more the culprit than homeschooling. Cause and effect scenario, it seems a stronger link could be any one of the ideas I listed above. Homeschooling did not cause the abuse. Otherwise there would be secular home schoolers and home schoolers unfamiliar with or not followers of the terms above also represented on this blog. Is it just easier to use the one common thread, homeschoolers, among this group of people?


    • Jessi October 9, 2014 / 5:02 am

      It is difficult to impossible to untangle “Christian homeschooling ” from these people,teachings and ideals. It is all wrapped up together in a messy web of dictates,practices and promises of perfect children and families. Without homeschooling you wouldn’t have the dissemination of the Pearl’s books,extreme fecundity,etc. Without promises of perfect obedience from children if you just do xyz,you couldn’t have large family Christian homeschooling.
      Yes there are secular homeschoolers, they are newcomers to the homeschooling scene. Christian homeschooling is just starting to be shown for the potentially toxic environment it can be and that is because those of us harmed by it are adults now. I truly hope that ten years from now alumni of secular homeschooling do not have to navigate these same issue,but only time will tell.


      • Jules October 9, 2014 / 5:31 pm

        While there may be a considerable following among the homeschooling community to these leaders mentioned in this blog post, I do agree with the previous comment that this is not a homeschooling problem; this is a moral problem that can exist in any family situation. I know hundreds of families who homeschool, who are devout followers of Jesus Christ, and a few who respect some of the leaders you have mentioned, but very few of them (at least where I live) hold those well-known families up in such high regard that they would blindly follow every teaching that those leaders teach/preach. Instead, most of the Christian homeschooling families I know use prayer and the Word of God to discern truth from falsehood instead of blindly following a principle just because it’s “preached” or written about.

        I understand that in the last 20 years, there have been definite strong movements among Christians to follow this leader or that leader, but Scripturally, we are to follow Jesus Christ and Him alone. Thankfully, many Christian families do this – as well as many homeschooling families. But again, I do not believe that this is a “homeschooling” problem; it is a lying/deceit/sexual immorality” problem.


      • Mambocat October 10, 2014 / 8:17 am

        The secular homeschoolers I know personally are secular-college-educated parents who have yanked their children from public schools in states in which Creationism is taught alongside legitimate science, public schools in which music and the arts have been slashed from the curriculum, etc. They make sure that their children integrate with the rest of the world, do not isolate their children from others, and do not have, in effect, “secret societies.” If anything, they WANT their children exposed to the rest of the world. The purpose of Christian homeschooling seems to be to isolate children from non-Christians; the purpose of secular homeschooling is to make certain that children are taught science and not mythology in science class. Two secular home-schooled children I know have grown up to have meaningful careers in the sciences. I also know one family who homeschooled their autistic son in the early years of school until they could give him enough confidence to attend mainstream public school. Some secular homeschooolers I know are not affiliated with a faith, while others are members of the Episcopal church, Lutherans, and other mainstream religions. Their objective is to isolate religion from school — not to isolate their families from the rest of the world. Huge difference.


    • Emily October 9, 2014 / 4:06 pm

      Homeschooling is a fundamental part of this movement. I’ve never heard of someone involved in this movement who did not homeschool or promote homeschooling. This method of homeschooling is very toxic and a perfect place for abuse to flourish, due to the isolation and other factors.

      There are secular homeschoolers (hello!) but I think that’s a bit of a new thing.


    • Rebecca October 14, 2014 / 9:04 pm

      When children are kept primarily at home, an unsafe home is an especially potent place for abuse. Little to no accountability, folks get a bit wild with total control over kids & women too.the dynamics of every homeschool has this potential hidden-ness , add fundamentalism for a real powder keg. I am so sad to hear the ongoing suffering of victims and the undeserved prospering of the lying perpetrators.


  5. Jackie October 8, 2014 / 9:59 pm

    What is also sad about this story is help was also denied to Luke. He was a teen when his parents admitted he abused his cousin. It could be the abuse he suffered from his parent or he was sexually abused by someone or his brain is wired wrong as to why he abuses other, but there is help for controlling the urges. Three sessions won’t do it though. He probably has continued abusing other children. Those urges are powerful. His parents had a chance to help him (in addition to future victims) and didn’t. Shame on them. Shame on the Pearls for promoting a violent lifestyle too that contributed to this mess. And shame on those who cover it up.


  6. Kay October 9, 2014 / 9:20 am

    I’m honestly very confused as to why they wasted time and possibly statues of limitations by not going to the police immediately. I understand that family is important but the son who molested younger children needed intervention as well. I’m not religious, so I must be missing something, but why all this meeting in private like some small infraction took place?


    • Warbler October 9, 2014 / 4:43 pm

      The religious shame and pressure plays a HUGE pert in things like abuse. Getting a “bad testimony” is one of the biggest “sins” possible for a person or company who banks on their religious front. By going to the police immediately they would be scolded for not following the “biblical method” of “Matthew 18” FIRST, and accused of pretty much everything that they were accused of except with more likelyhood that other xtians would be against them than for them.

      Religions are prone to sweep under the rug and hold cards close because of reputation and the perception that their religious solutions will fix any problem. All problems are small compared to a ruined reputation.


  7. Moses (@MosesModel) October 9, 2014 / 6:04 pm

    David Gibbs III cannot be trusted. While this was going on, he was slandering me in court. He told the judge that the plaintiff had fired me, even though I had never even worked for the plaintiff. Forty-two days later, he told the judge that the plaintiff had “no prior knowledge” of me even though the plaintiff had thrown a baby shower for my firstborn.

    People like the Suarez family need people like him to clean up their messes. He even asked that my children (then 4,5,6) sign non-disparagements agreeing to never criticize the plaintiff. I like Jenefer’s motto: “Don’t do things that you don’t want people to find out about.”


    • Kelly October 13, 2014 / 3:50 pm

      Moses, could you please e-mail me? I have a question that I do not wish to post here…. Kelly at jkblackie@sbcglobal.net


  8. singndance October 11, 2014 / 7:29 am

    Homeschooling is not the issue. I was told about “To Train up a Child” by a friend who also told me about the teachings in the book which I still have not read. This friend also told me I should go to their website. The things she was telling me she did to her kids seemed very harsh, selfish and not loving at all. She acted like my kids could not turn out well if I did not follow the same philosophy she did. Her husband has a Docorate and I am only a high school grad so they acted like if I was more educated I would understand and that I was not raising my children biblically. I am often unsure about how to deal with issues with my children and have read numberous books, christian and non christian and I take from them what I feel will be helpful. I homeschooled my children for a number of years and I do not believe homeschooling itself is an issue. I know many loving caring families who homeschool. There is the potenial for cover up in a homeschooling situation which is why the homeschool community needs to report things they are aware of because there will often be no one eles who knows. Outside of homeschooling I knew Christian families growing up who had family memebers who were known to abuse children sexually and hide it. In the Christian church abuse is often expected to be hidden in the name of forgiveness. My husband also abused me for years and used the Bible to keep me with him and accepting is as did others in the church. I left him a couple of years ago and he has been living with various women over this time “in sin” and at the same time has an increasing leadership role in his church. I know the St. John family and I believe they have the best intentions when it comes to homeschooling. I have not seen any signs of abuse or calls to follow quesionable teachings. I do know however that it can be hard to take sides against long time friends. I hope they are protecting their children from known abusers and not involved in a cover up because if so it will come back to haunt them and we all know that even those things we are not held accountable for in this life, we will in the next. I really feel for the girl “Megan” in this story as well because I dealt with the same kind of Cinderella treatment after I lost my parents at age 10. That was a non-christian home that I lived in so it goes to show that the problem is not a Chrisian one or a Homeschooling one but a SIN problem. I think the best thing we can do as Christians is stop following this teaching or that movement and read your bible and let the Lord speak to you on how to live your life and raise your family.


    • shaneyirene October 12, 2014 / 7:01 pm

      ” I hope [the St. Johns] are protecting their children from known abusers and not involved in a cover up because if so it will come back to haunt them…”

      I feel like you must not have thoroughly read the article. Heidi St. John is indeed involved in the cover-up of child abuse.

      Also, you are not being helpful by trying to defend homeschooling as “not the problem.” Nobody said homeschooling is the problem. This particular case of abuse, however, happens to involve homeschooling. You sound like you are more interested in defending homeschooling’s reputation than holding anybody accountable.


  9. rrterrell1 October 12, 2014 / 2:27 pm

    As a conservative, Christian, homeschoing mother I can guarantee that not all homeschoolers are abusers. i was the product of the public school and was molested multiple times-even at school-and no one helped me. the schooling isn’t the problem, it’s the people. and those types of people are everywhere. lumping all homeschoolers or Christians into this category is illogical. take a look at all thpes of education and families and do an ‘expose’ on the abuse in public school families for a fair and balanced report.


    • shaneyirene October 12, 2014 / 6:52 pm

      Please show me where this story lumps all homeschoolers or all Christians into one category. This story is about just that–one story–a story that does not involve public school. It involves homeschooling. How would you feel if you told your story about being abused in public school and someone came along and said, “Please do not lump all schools together.”? I imagine that would make you upset, as it would minimize your story. So please, do not minimize the stories of homeschoolers who have experienced abuse.

      There is nothing “fair” or “balanced” about child abuse. We should not attempt to be “fair” or “balanced” when talking about it. We need to expose it wherever it is. This blog happens to be about homeschooling experiences, so we will report about child abuse in homeschooling when we find those stories. If you want to read about child abuse in public schools, go read another blog. Public school issues are outside this blog’s scope.

      To be frank, I’m very offended that you are more concerned about the reputation of conservative Christians and/or homeschoolers than you seem to be concerned about child abuse that takes place in homeschool situations. That is the exact attitude that makes homeschooling a safe haven for abusers.


      • Teresa October 14, 2014 / 8:36 pm

        Shaney you go girl!


      • Lucy Moore November 19, 2015 / 10:02 pm

        Schools may not say “Please do not lump all schools together” but emotionally abusive autism therapies do. I could go on about the kinds of things said to autistic people, but suffice it to say that therapies for disabled and neurodivergent people and homeschooling alike can be immensely helpful to people in bad situations, yet can also give the people who offer either service immense power over their charges, which can be used to devastate people in various ways. Although there is actual outright physical abuse (and lots of it) in the therapies and schools for disabled and neurodivergent people, I suspect homeschooling parents use more overt physical abuse on average because they do not have to answer to someone else’s loving parents. Either way, both systems need a major overhaul and more oversight to prevent abuse (both emotional and physical).


    • darcygirl October 14, 2014 / 11:45 am

      Are you telling us that you read this entire, terrible story, and your first thought is “How unfair, we’re not all like that!” ??? Where’s the outrage over children sexually abused and leaders failing to protect them but instead protecting their own money and power?! Priorities….you need some. Maybe some empathy to go along with. I have a very difficult time believing that there are people out there who read something like this and respond by accusing the ones who fought to expose the sin as not being “fair”.


      • Ruth December 5, 2015 / 3:51 am

        I am as horrified as anyone about the details of the above story and very glad that it was exposed, however, I also understand why various respondents point out that all homeschoolers should not be lumped together. It is not as darcygirl or ShaneyIrene suggest, they are not demeaning the abused one bit, merely responding to the tone of other responders’ comments that suggest certain types of families may be tainted by the same culture. Please don’t be so quick to jump on people making genuine contributions.


    • R.L. Stollar October 15, 2014 / 9:15 am

      Thanks for pointing that out, Thomas. And to answer your question: At the time that we were given a copy of the agreement, we were not at liberty to publicize it. That was before the linked post by Jenefer was published.


  10. Harry Underwood October 14, 2014 / 7:22 pm

    Reblogged this on World of Values and commented:
    Terrible account of abuse in Christian homeschools, courtesy of Homeschoolers Anonymous.


  11. Rose ASL October 18, 2014 / 1:50 pm

    When is someone going to report this to the proper authorities?


  12. Mary October 18, 2014 / 3:55 pm

    would somebody please drop a dime on this bunch of idiots. They obviously cannot handle their own lives, and just will not protect anyone else. Bunch of Headless Chickens.


  13. Aadel Bussinger October 19, 2014 / 7:26 am

    Aren’t pastors mandatory reporters? I know that when I told my boyfriend about my previous sexual abuse his father had to report it because he was a pastor.


  14. Trisha October 21, 2014 / 8:58 am

    We should not keep passing judgement on on a situation that we REALLY know NOTHING about. This is (1) unfounded and (2) hearsay. We should just keep our noses out of it. Shame on you Homeschoolers Anonymous for continuing to spread such slander without proof.


    • R.L. Stollar October 21, 2014 / 11:57 am

      Thank you for your concern, Trisha. Rest assured, Hännah Ettinger and I spent several months investigating this piece and gave opportunity to all parties to present their side. This piece is based on personal testimonies of people with first-hand experiences of the situations as well as hard evidence.


  15. Trisha October 21, 2014 / 8:59 am

    Reblogging it or sharing it is worse then just commenting on here. It is spreading false information.


  16. MG October 23, 2014 / 12:52 am

    “Everyone who spoke to both of us is terrified of Paul and Gena.”

    I can absolutely attest to this. I have a string of emails from Paul from 2010 in which he thrashes out with the most extraordinary viciousness, threatening shunning and making accusations of the wrong doing that I was inquiring about from him. It regarded a questionable business practice that I was concerned about and nothing anywhere near as serious as child molestation. However, I was quite shaken by the whole episode and sought advice. But at the time I was publishing ebooks geared towards the homeschool market and it seemed futile to question further. Glad to be out of it.

    Mentioned this current scandal to my husband and asked if he remembered the emails and he vehemently did: the shock to our systems at being spoken to in such a harsh and reactionary way. This is not gossip. It’s recorded fact. Only we thought: ‘we are the only ones; why go further with it?’

    None of this surprises me in the least.


  17. Diane October 30, 2014 / 9:29 am

    I find this to be such a sad situation as I know many homeschooling families who do such a wonderful job of raising and educating their children. Seems that there is a certain attractiveness about the child raising philosophy, unschooling and Christian faith espoused by the Suarezes and Pearl that legitimizes unhealthy and abusive behaviors. We had a family in our community that homeschooled, adopted children from Liberia, and abused and killed one of them. Their bio children have also had issues with sexually abusive behaviors and I know that one of the daughters feels like she survived her situation – barely!


  18. Kmcg November 1, 2014 / 10:31 am

    Now I’m glad I never bought the Pearl’s books (too expensive at the time)! I remember seeing ads for it years ago, before you could preview a book on Amazon or somewhere else online. They sounded great from the reviews, but I never could read an excerpt of it and didn’t know anyone who used it.

    We homeschooled our girls (now 20 and 22 years old) without the Pearls and the only issues of TOS we read were the free ones sent to us over the years. Never joined HSLDA (too expensive), only went to one homeschool conference and it wasn’t related to the one mentioned here. Love Peacemakers! Their principles have helped so many people I know- too bad the Suarezes didn’t utilitze that resource.

    Somehow we managed to get our daughters raised well- one is graduating college this semester and is engaged (and wants to homeschool when she has children). The other is in grad school and dating (they’ve been friends online for years, but I certainly don’t consider that “courting”). Seems like a lot of these people do’t understand the idea of “balance” in so many areas of life.


  19. Tonia November 4, 2014 / 3:27 am

    I have for several years used TOS and the supplies they can send.. But as a woman who is surviving her own childhood sexual assault I will never again use this resource! God Bless you Jennifer! Heal well my sister in christ!!


    • MG November 5, 2014 / 6:56 am

      And the same blessings on you, Tonia. I understand that pain and what a story like this triggers.

      The folks at TOS are master marketers and, on the surface, do what they do very well. But we don’t need their materials or vast expanse of influence in order to homeschool well. I just hope they are held to account and others make the “decision of the purse’ that unfortunately is the only way to get some people’s attention.


  20. Kathryn June 2, 2015 / 8:33 pm

    I’m a Christian. I’m a mom. I have 2 young girls. My eldest is 9 and wants me to homeschool her. All of this is ridiculous.
    I’ve been in the home tutoring business for years and recommended homeschool groups to many people wanting to get into homeschool. I’m now ashamed I ever recommended any of it.
    I love children and I love education, however I have never been so ashamed of it in my life. As a mother, this whole thing is just, well, icky (for lack of a better word), but as an educator, it’s shameful to see all of you bickering back and forth.
    It’s obvious to me that the Suarez family is highly disturbed and have used their high position to shield KNOWN & PROVEN sex offenders. I will never again be able to trust any so called ‘christian’ home school organization.
    I firmly believe it’s impossible to separate education and religion. They are one and the same. I have my religion, which I have never, and will never, say is superior to any other religion. I believe God made each one of us as individuals therefore each religion holds truth that will speak to you and it is our responsibility as educators and as parents to accept our students’ truth as they see it and guide them down a path of knowledge and truth for them to seek and decide for themselves exactly what their truth means to them.
    The issue of sexual abuse adds in such pain to any child and their family. If the parents and the homeschool leaders do NOTHING to help the victim, how is that victim supposed to live through their entire life? How does a cover up or simple “brush it under the rug” policy going to help any situation?
    I don’t care who you are. If a child is hurting, it is your RESPONSIbILITY to help that child. If the parents refuse to acknowledge the problem, ANYONE WITH KNOWLEDGE OR PROOF MUST MUST MUST be as annoying as possible until the CHILD VICTIM is finally heard and helped.
    So there is all this proof. And there are all these accusations. I don’t care who supports who or who endorses or doesn’t break off with who ever. WE ARE LOSING- WE ARE ALL LOSING! we are losing our humanity. We are losing our faith. We are losing perspective. We are losing the initial reason and love that drove the homeschool movement. We are LOSING OUR CHILDREN!
    And it is all OUR FAULT. We are the adults and we are failing the most basic need our children are silently crying for- they need our love, loyalty, support, help, and voice. Adults have options here. THE CHILDREN HAVE NO CHOICE!
    My choice from here on out is to choose my child. I choose to help my daughters. I choose to help all of my students. I choose to help all of the children I possibly can. And the best way to choose them? It’s to COMPLETELY AVOID THE PEOPLE WE KNOW ARE WRONG. I feel for the families involved on all sides. But they, too, are overshadowing the victims.
    Dear Lord, PLEASE help these people SEE the children in this.
    Heidi St John and HSLDA are changing the picture. The Suarez family is changing the picture. THE PICTURE IS SIMPLE: abused children, regardless of race, religion, sex, or anything, NEED THE ADULTS TO GROW UP and help the ones who cannot help themselves.
    As a parent or educator, the way forward is simple. Do what God has told us to do. Love the children. Speak up for those who can’t. Help people who need it. Ignore the pettiness of squabbles that take center stage and SEE the child huddled in the corner who doesn’t know what to do.
    This entire mess has grown (which is good to get more people aware of the situation) BUT IT HAS BECOME its own monster and it has overshadowed the victims.
    I’m terrified of CPS just like all parents. But THIS is the reason CPS exists.
    Take the proof to CPS. Take the proof to any domestic violence shelter. Take the proof to the doctor. Show the proof to as many “required reporters” as possible. Even if the statute of limitations is up (which I find equally shameful) keep bringing the proof to people’s attention.
    In the end, we will all face Him. He knows the truth of all. He knows the hearts and intentions of all. He will ensure the correct judgement, in the end.
    The 80 years we get on earth is a drop in the bucket. But those 80 years dictate our eternal home. To stay silent, ignorant, or docile does nothing but allow these people to get away with what is happening.
    I call for a full ban on ALL PEOPLE AND ORGANIZATIONS INVOLVED IN THIS EVIL CYCLE. Remove the money, and they will fall. Satan has allowed this to go on and on and on. He wants to see us bicker about whose at fault and who did or did not do whatever. He wants to see evil build so it can flourish.
    He wants us to forget about the victims.
    Yes, I went there. Satan wants us to get caught up in legalities and forget the reason we wanted to homeschool in the first place- to teach love and acceptance and protect our children. Please don’t let Satan win. God gave Satan control and influence on our everyday lives. Its our job to limit Satan’s involvement in our lives. And especially Satan’s influence in our children’s lives.
    The only way to do that is to listen to and believe and accept our children. To make sure they are heard.
    Remove yourself from anything dealing with these evil people who have done nothing to aid the children and focus instead on the true goal. If you don’t KNOW the true goal, maybe it’s time for you to put your child in public school where these things are reported and taken care of all the time (it’s not perfect, but public school teachers are not ignored by CPS).
    Sorry for the huge rant, but someone has to say something- speak out for the victims. Don’t give the perpetrators any more air time. Don’t give them any more thought or money. Reserve your energy and resources and support for the children and the victims.
    Whew… I’ve said my piece. I will no longer stay silent. EVERY CHILD DESERVES A GREAT COMPLETE EDUCATION AND EVERY EVERY EVERY CHILD DESERVES. TO BE SAFE AND TO SIMPLY BE A CHILD! We fail each time a child is forgotten. Please don’t forget. Stand up and speak or post. Stand up because the children need to see you standing up since they are hiding ashamed and beaten in a corner. If they see you stand, they will finally see hope. They will finally see faith and hope and love.
    If I could, I would take each child and tell them (from the movie ‘ the help’) you are kind. you are smart. You are strong. You are beautiful. You are loved- by God and by me. at the very least, I give you my love and my support and my trust. I believe you and you are not invisible


    • Nomo Landhos August 15, 2015 / 1:08 pm

      Well said, Katharine, very eloquent in describing how the victims here- the kids- Must come first !! How can one be involved with education for children, yet hate them So Much, as the Suarez parents, Gena and Paul do ?? One would wish ALL the Suarez children are FREED to speak up about what what goes on daily in that “home” of theirs, as well as the business stuff. And is Trisha part of the Reb Bradley/Suarez group in some way ? Or just a fan.


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