Pastor Michael Orten of the Truth Apostolic Church in Madisonville, Kentucky, is being called "pro-rape" after he not only hired a man convicted of raping a 13-year-old girl but then proceeded to defend the man's crimes, likening the forcible rape of a young girl at knifepoint to stealing candy.
Orten also inferred that the child who his employee raped while holding a razor blade to her throat somehow bore equal responsibility in her own violent assault, saying that it "takes two to tango." The truth about church employee Thomas Hopper, who was convicted of the rape and sodomy of the young girl in the 1990s, came to light after local station and NBC News affiliate WFIE began to receive numerous, anonymous tips stating that a convicted sex offender was employed by Pastor Orten at the Truth Apostolic Church. The news station investigated the church based on those anonymous tips and found that Thomas Hopper was a convicted sex offender, with a long list of additional crimes, and that he is employed as part of the outreach ministry staff at the Truth Apostolic Church. Hopper, along with a group of volunteers, work to recruit new members for the church as part of their outreach program.
Hopper is on the Kentucky Sex Offender Registry for the convicted rape and sodomy of the 13-year-old girl, but his conviction and placement on that registry means the only restriction he faces is that he requires permission before entering school grounds.
Hopper served 10 years for the rape and sodomy charges and was actually interviewed in 2003 by WFIE after his release when he had been arrested again -- this time, for stalking. Hopper admitted that his criminal past was "shocking," but also stated that he "still had a future" and that he believed he was "doing what he was supposed to be doing."
The victim of Hopper's stalking arrest was a local student.
He went on to furthering his criminal history with two more convictions, including assault and trespassing.
Pastor Orten hired Hopper, knowing his history. The pastor believes, as his religion states, that Hopper has been forgiven of his sins. Orten also believes that Hopper has changed his nature and that he would never repeat those crimes again. Furthermore, Orten said that the Truth Apostolic Church has policies in place to protect both Hopper and to protect the youth. Orten also states that church members were aware of Hopper's past, as well, but some members are coming forward and stating that they had no idea that one of the church's employees was a convicted sex offender who preyed upon a child.
"I was very upset," one church member, who declined to show her face, said in an interview. "Because I had children, and I was not made aware [of Hopper's past]…All they would tell me is 'God has changed him.'" But the matter that has many people angered with Pastor Orten, who has repeatedly defended his hiring of Thomas Hopper as a matter of showing Christ's power to forgive and redeem, is how he defended his employee during an interview.
"Yep, that's what he done, most certainly," Orten said, in regards to Hopper's rape and sodomy of a child. Orten then went on to excuse Hopper's violent crime because, he says, Hopper was "angry" and both Hopper and the child were on drugs.
"But he was mad and angry, both of them were on drugs. Yeah, that's still in his past."
Both stealing the candy and raping a child are sins in God's eyes, the pastor tries to explain.
Furthermore, the pastor states, that if the girl "chooses to sleep with him," she's "just as guilty as he is," seemingly unable to understand the difference between a child being raped by a grown man holding a razor blade to her throat and actual choice.
"It takes two to tango," Orten says inexplicably.
The entire interview can be heard in the video above.
The church's doors are locked and the website has been taken offline. A post on the official church Facebook page asks church members to remove themselves from Facebook entirely "until this issue is solved."
"Do not comment or feed into the mess that the devil is creating. Leave it alone, let it be! Let's not tag others in it either," the post reads.
[Image via Shutterstock]