As the news of an Elgin pastor’s arrest on a battery charge continues to reverberate, church members and the accused are mostly refusing to comment on the case — which the mother of the alleged victim said wasn’t surprising, given the tight-knit nature of the small congregation she belonged to for some 18 months.
Last week, authorities alleged that the Rev. Daryl P. Bujak repeatedly spanked a 12-year-old McHenry County girl with a piece of wood molding because he thought she was lying when she told her mother she had been sexually abused by another person.
Bujak, 30, is the pastor of First Missionary Baptist Church, an independent, unaffiliated church.
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Believing her daughter wasn’t telling the truth, the mother admits she consented to the beatings, which police say left the girl with bruises and welts on her legs and buttocks. But the mother and authorities now say they believe her daughter, and an Ingleside man has been charged with sexually assaulting the girl.
On Tuesday, the girl spoke to the Courier News with the permission of her mother. She said she feared Bujak’s alleged beatings. But the fact that her mother agreed to the sessions left her confused at the time about whether the pastor’s actions were wrong.
“I just thought that . . . it was OK, it was fine,” she said. “But I hated it.”
‘The truth is going to come out’
On May 8, two days before Bujak was charged in Elgin, Matthew Resh, 33, was arrested and charged in McHenry County with five counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child. The alleged incidents occurred between September 2003 and November 2005, according to authorities. Resh faces a minimum 30-year sentence if convicted on all five counts.
The case made headlines around the country, sparking indignation over the sexual abuse and spanking charges, and prompting many to wonder why the mother had consented to the alleged beatings.
As he did last Thursday, when he told the Courier News in his only reported remarks that “the truth is going to come out,” Bujak said he wouldn’t comment on the allegations, then suggested there was more to the story.
“We would have no comment at this time,” said Bujak, who lives with his wife and five children in the home attached to the modest church. “The case is going to be adjudicated in court. Only one side of the story has been reported.”
Congregation members declined to answer questions in polite tones before hanging up, abruptly in several instances.
Of those reached, only Bob Steele of Elgin would respond to the question of whether he was supporting Bujak in the wake of the allegations.
“We’re standing by the pastor,” he said. “That’s our only comment.”
‘That was always a little weird’
According to the mother, for around a month starting in March of last year, she brought her daughter to Bujak for disciplining each Wednesday before the 7 p.m. service. Afterward, she said, “He would call me back in, tell me how it went, what he did.”
“He would tell me, ‘You don’t need to tell everyone what’s going on,’ ” she said. “That was always a little weird to me. I kind of wanted people to know, because I wanted them to pray for us.”
The beatings stopped when Bujak said the girl was too rebellious and the sessions weren’t working, according to the mother.
Elgin police first learned about the allegations against Bujak on March 14 of this year from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
Both Bujak and Resh were freed after posting bond last week.