Eight women demonstrated outside the Inspiring Body of Christ Church Monday evening to show support for survivors of sexual assault.
The demonstration came just over a week after The Dallas Morning News published a story detailing allegations that pastor Rickie Rush sexually abused two sisters beginning when they were in high school in the 1990s and later beat three other teenage church members with a wooden paddle in the name of discipline.
Chanting, “Hold him accountable” and holding signs that said “Step down now” and “Speak your truth,” the protestors called on religious leaders to support victims of abuse by pastors.
Rush, who was preaching inside the church as demonstrators gathered, did not personally respond to a request for comment Monday night.
Later Monday evening, his lawyer, Michael Heiskell, sent an email saying “Pastor Rush has been in the forefront of providing outstanding services to his flock and to the community at large and he will not be drawn into the contrived drama of a few disgruntled folks.”
Heiskell also accused demonstrators of trying to prohibit peaceable assembly at the church and said if protestors continued to gather, the church would seek criminal trespass charges against the participants.
As demonstrators marched back and forth on the sidewalk for more than an hour, Rush streamed a live service online from inside.
A group of women who run survivor advocacy groups in North Texas organized the demonstration after reading The News‘ article, and seeing a Facebook live video by another Dallas-area woman alleging physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her pastor when she was a teenager.
“We want to be there to stand with these survivors,” said Carolyn Hudson, director of Silent Screams, Inc., a resource center for those who have experienced sexual abuse. “We need to let them know that we believe them because we have had our own experiences.”
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: The Dallas Morning News, Sue Ambrose