ONLY ON ABC21: Woman who spoke up discusses church scandal
Bobi Gephart said she had to say something because of the ‘fire’ inside her
NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. (WPTA) - A woman who confronted her pastor during a service where he confessed to having sex with her when she was 16 years old is speaking with ABC21′s Tom Powell in her first sit-down, on-camera interview.
Bobi Gephart said she hurried to the New Life Christian Church and World Outreach in Warsaw two Sundays ago after learning what would happen during that morning’s service -- and deciding that she had to be there. Pastor John Lowe II was telling the congregation that he had “committed adultery... nearly 20 years ago.” Video of the service was being streamed from inside the church.
But Gephart -- now a married woman -- wanted to add some critical context to the admission. She was just 16, she told those assembled, when Lowe had sex with her on the floor of his church office. And it was 27 years ago, she noted -- adding that she has lived “in a prison” with that secret ever since.
Gephart discussed the matter in the same kitchen where her brother approached her and told her he had seen the teenager in bed with her pastor.
What motivated her to walk to the front of the church that day?
“If I feel like my voice can help other girls to come out -- not just even this situation, but others -- that were like me, to speak out? Then I want to help,” she said.
“You’re trapped, and I think that’s what I want other girls to know. It is a trap and you think in your mind, in your brain that is not fully developed, that this is ok, he loves me, he likes me. But what you don’t realize is what it’s actually doing to you and the damage that it’s doing, and then the secrecy on top of that for all these years. I just wanted normal in my life.”
Gephart felt a growing anger that Sunday as she sat in her chair, with Lowe at the microphone.
“I was getting fire on the inside, just thinking, ‘It was a lie,’” she told Powell, noting the selective details that Lowe was sharing -- and what he was omitting. “I couldn’t take that anymore. I was not happy.”
Lowe resigned from the church the day after his public admission and Gephart’s address.
No charges have been filed against Lowe, but local authorities acknowledged they are investigating, and ABC21 has reported that Indiana State Police are now involved, as well. While the “age of consent” is 16 in Indiana, state law allows for criminal charges in some matters involving sexual activity between a person of authority and an individual who is 16 years old.
Gephart told ABC21 she would like to see Lowe voluntarily go to the police. She believes it would be best if New Life Christian Church and World Outreach shut down.
ABC21 has invited the church and Lowe to sit down to discuss the situation. The church referenced an earlier statement expressing its sympathies for a “woman who has lovingly attended and served in the church for many years, as well as for her husband and family.”
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