Victims advocate at Ontario megachurch receives 38 allegations of sexual misconduct against ex-pastors
Counselling services are being made available by the church, said victim advocate
A victims advocate at The Meeting House, a megachurch in Oakville, Ont., has received 38 allegations of sexual misconduct against a group of four former pastors including a Hamilton man.
During a town hall conference at The Meeting House last week, the megachurch revealed that four former pastors have been accused of sexual assault.
Two of the accused have been convicted.
This comes after the church's former pastor, Bruxy Cavey of Hamilton, was arrested and charged with sexual misconduct last week.
In a statement released by The Meeting House, it was revealed that Cavey was working at the church as a teaching pastor at the time of the incidents. He was hired by the church from 1996 to 2021.
Police say Cavey, who will appear in court on June 27, was released shortly after his arrest with some conditions.
In the same statement, the megachurch revealed they have been engaging with victim advocate Melodie Bissell since March.
Bissell has received 38 inquiries from people at the church.
The complaints filed against The Meeting House, which has several sites across the province, are all isolated incidents. The Hartford Institute for Religious Research in the U.S. defines a megachurch as "any Protestant Christian congregation with a sustained average weekly attendance of 2000 persons or more in its worship services, counting all adults and children at all its worship locations."
'We are heartbroken,' communications pastor says
As a victim advocate, Bissell's job is to direct victims to fill out the form found on the website of The Meeting House.
She says that within minutes or hours, she schedules a time to call those who responded and document their stories.
She said the church has made counselling services available that many of the complainants have been using.
"Many of the victims are accessing counselling," she said.
Once the victim reviews the report that Bissell documents, they give permission for the report to be sent to a group of "overseers" who handle and respond to each one.
"I really appreciate the care and concern that the overseers are giving to the victims," Bissell said, "and how they're responding to each one of the reports."
The committee of overseers, with care and follow up from Bissell, then reports back to the victim where the victim can ask questions or share what their desired outcome is.
The church's communications pastor Jared Taylor hopes to clarify more information in the near future about how the church is moving forward with the allegations.
"We are heartbroken, and we take these inquiries very seriously," he said.