The pastor of an Elgin church has been charged with battery after it was alleged that he repeatedly used a piece of wood to discipline a 12-year-old girl.
Police said the girl’s mother took her to the pastor because she doubted the girl’s claim that she was being sexually abused by another man.
Elgin police said Thursday they believe the girl’s original allegations are true. On Wednesday they charged Daryl Bujak, 30, pastor of First Missionary Baptist Church, with misdemeanor battery. He was released after posting $500 bail. He has a June 16 court appearance in the Elgin branch of Kane County Circuit Court, said police Lt. Mike Turner.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “It’s a sad case for this girl.”
Matthew E. Resh, 33, of Ingleside, was charged this week by police in far north suburban Richmond with five counts of predatory criminal sexual assault. The girl was sexually abused between September 2003 and March 2005, according to a complaint filed in McHenry County Circuit Court.
Allegations that the child was disciplined by the pastor after trying to tell her mother about abuse shocked child-welfare advocates.
“The girl probably thinks that if she is being harmed there is no one she can go to and tell safely,” said Cook County Public Guardian Robert Harris, whose office deals with child-abuse victims.
“When a kid gets up the courage after being sexually abused to tell a parent, that means that it is a cry for help,” Harris said. “They won’t say help anymore if they are taught that when you say help you might get punished, you might get beaten for it.”
Ronald Davidson, a faculty member at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s department of psychiatry, said if the charges are true, the girl was “betrayed three times”—by the adult who abused her, her mother and then the pastor.
“My sense is it will be hard for this child to easily trust another adult for some time,” Davidson said.
Bujak’s church, at 385 Silver St. in Elgin, describes itself as a fundamentalist and independent Baptist congregation.
Elgin police said the girl’s parents took her to the church after she alleged she was being sexually abused.
Bujak told the parents that she was lying and privately disciplined the girl on Wednesday evenings between March and May of 2005. The girl, now 13, was struck with a 3-foot strip of wood molding, causing welts and bruises on her legs and buttocks, according to police and the girl’s mother.
“He took her in the ladies room, across from his office,” the mother said in an interview Thursday. “I was downstairs in the Fellowship Hall.” Afterward, the mother said, “Her face was red, and I could see that she’d been crying.”
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services opened an investigation into the sexual abuse allegations on Oct. 25, according to spokesman Jimmie Whitelow. The mother said that was the day after she went to Richmond police.
By January DCFS had concluded that there was credible evidence against Resh.
A caseworker is supervising the mother, daughter and the girl’s three younger brothers, according to Whitelow.
Now DCFS has begun investigating Bujak, Whitelow said.
Neither Bujak nor Resh could be reached for comment. A church staff member declined to comment.
Resh posted $20,000 bail Wednesday and has been released from the McHenry County Jail.
“There is DNA evidence,” said Nichole Owens, who heads the criminal division of the McHenry County state’s attorney’s office.
The mother said she is upset that she didn’t believe her daughter to begin with.
“I feel terrible,” the mother said. “I feel like a heel. I didn’t know.”
When the daughter raised the allegations in March 2005, the mother was uncertain what to do. She turned for guidance to Bujak, who by then had been the family’s pastor for about a year.
Bujak talked to the girl alone for two hours, according to the mother. “He said she recanted,” the mother said. “He said, ‘I know these types of girls. She has a rebellious streak.'”
The mother said she would arrive at the Elgin church more than an hour before 7 p.m. services on Wednesday evenings and discuss the girl’s behavior with Bujak.
He’d bring out the stick if he decided discipline was necessary, the mother said.
“It was a long stick,” she said. “He had it up on his bookshelf. I never watched.”
The mother said she was unaware of Bujak disciplining other youths that way. She estimated about 30 people regularly attend services.
It wasn’t until a heart-to-heart talk in October that she realized the girl was telling the truth about sexual abuse, she said.
The mother, who home-schools the girl, said her daughter is in private counseling and no longer attends the Elgin church. “We’re just working on trying to rebuild our relationship,” the mother said. “Because our relationship was built on lies and deception.”
Freelance reporter Mark Shuman contributed to this report.