The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) is no stranger to just about every fight going on in the church right now. Among the top three issues includes a massive push for feminism in the church weaponizing the MeToo Movement to insert errant theology. In the Southern Baptist Convention, Jennifer Lyell received a settlement for her consensual relationship with a fellow SBC staffer using MeToo with figures like Rachael Denhollender backing her. In the PCA, Daniel Herron was a target of this ire. Last week, the PCA’s Standing Judicial Commission (SJC) released their preliminary verdict exonerating Daniel Herron of the charges brought against him by three accusers. The SJC is their highest court and the next step would be filing briefs prior to the final verdict.
Facts of the Case
In 2016, Kara Million and her husband Chris Baker began attending Hope Presbyterian Church with Chris Baker interning for Daniel Herron with the intent of becoming a teaching elder someday.
Cutting to the chase, Kara Million and Daniel Herron had a coffee at a café in which they discussed this Facebook post which appeared to be a public dig at Herron.
The discussion did not go well. But the height of the allegations is this.
Million sat on the couch next to Baker, trying to prevent Herron from sitting next to her. But Herron slid in front of her to pick up books that were sitting on a coffee table. Million alleges he leaned over, reached down slowly and pressed his body flush against her breasts — right in front of Baker. Baker and Million allege Herron stayed pressed against her for 10 to 15 seconds.
A variation of “stopping short” is what Daniel Herron is accused of by Kara Million and her husband.
Another accuser, Abigail Harris came forward to accuse Herron of checking her out.
One day in summer 2018 after a piano lesson, Harris remembers standing out on Herron’s driveway, one step below him. Herron stood shirtless after a boxing workout, Harris says. As they talked, she recalled his eyes scanning up and down her body, checking her out in a way that made her feel uncomfortable.
Another day in 2018, Harris alleges Herron leaned into her row during a church service and pressed his body against hers.
Eye contact is a rather dubious allegation and the questionable lean may have been a variation of stopping short, but the reporting on this incident doesn’t provide clarity as to whether it was awkward as opposed to sexual in nature.
At the end of 2018, Chris Baker ceased working at Hope Presbyterian Church with a dispute about pay. In July 2019, Kara Million and Abigail Harris sent a letter to the Central Indiana Presbytery (CIP) accusing Herron of sexual harassment and bullying.
The initial investigation kept the names of the accusers anonymous from Herron. In January 2020, they did not find a presumption of guilt against Herron.
TE Steven Marusich raised four objections to the investigation including its findings, and the CIP sustained his procedural objections.
In 2021, Daniel Herron would file a civil defamation suit against his accusers. This would become a prescient issue leading to new charges against Herron for violating 1 Corinthians 6. Herron refused to comply with demands by the CIP to withdraw his lawsuit claiming that it would be prejudicial against him and his reputation to comply with the CIP’s demands. Herron was found guilty of contumacy in July 2021.
In August 2022, Herron’s accusers were deposed for the civil suit, the dispositions were admitted as evidence for the Presbytery.
The trial commenced in Indianapolis on November 15 2022. SJC Panel was RE Pickering (trial moderator), TE Greco, RE Donahoe, RE Dowling (alternate), and TE Lee (alternate). The trial lasted 42 hours with a total of 42 witnesses (18 prosecution, 24 defense including the accused) and hundreds of exhibits. It adjourned on November 19. The Panel agreed to permit some of the witnesses listed by the prosecution to testify by live video conference in a manner by which the witnesses would not be able to see the Accused and for such witnesses to be cross examined only by defense counsel. Kara Million was listed by the prosecution as such a witness, but she did not appear at trial. As a result, the transcript of her deposition in the civil defamation lawsuit was admitted into the trial record by stipulation of the prosecution and the defense.
- Failing to use discretion, chastity, and modesty with regard to sexuality, both during the course of his official duties as Pastor and elsewhere.
- Belittling, demeaning, neglecting, provoking, quarrelling with, intimidating, domineering, lying about, and refusing to be reconciled with both employees and congregation members under his charge during the course of his official duties as Pastor.
- Lying, slandering, giving false evidence, scoffing, flattering, and otherwise distorting the truth in conversations, ecclesiastical and civil proceedings, oral and written testimony, and elsewhere.
- Initiating a civil lawsuit against two sisters in Christ, threatening them with punitive financial damages if they testify in ecclesiastical court in accordance with their previously submitted testimony, which resulted in interference with the exercise of jurisdiction of the Central Indiana Presbytery.
- Refusing to comply with a lawful directive of presbytery given for the preservation of the peace, purity, and unity of the church within an ecclesiastical discipline process; that is, contumacy, according to Ordination Vow Four (BCO 8 21-5), which requires ministers to “promise subjection to your brethren in the Lord.”
- Holding and expounding views in conflict with the Westminster Standards, and failing, of his own initiative, to make known his change in views since the assumption of his ordination vows, according to Ordination Vow 2 (BCO 21-5), which requires ministers to sincerely receive and adopt the Westminster Standards and to voluntarily notify the presbytery of any changes in their views.
- Failing to maintain a life that is above reproach so as to be open to such numerous charges and specifications, and thus no longer meeting the requirements for an officer or minister in the Presbyterian Church in America
TE Daniel Herron was found not guilty on all seven charges. The preliminary verdict explains:
At trial, the Panel was presented a twelve-page indictment, containing seven charges, each elaborated with numerous specifications (11 of which were deleted, and five amended, by the Prosecutor at trial). A 42-hour trial was held over five days in Indianapolis, Indiana. The prosecution presented testimony from 18 witnesses (nine via live videoconference) and the defense presented testimony from 24, including the Accused (four via live videoconference). A total of 640 exhibits were presented by the parties, all producing a trial transcript totaling 1,966 pages.
It was the Panel’s judgment that no charge in the indictment was credibly sustained by the testimony of witnesses, evidentiary exhibits, or arguments set forth by the prosecution.
For charges 1,2,3, and 7, the SJC found:
The Panel noted that some of the evidence was ambiguous and subject to different interpretations. Witnesses for each side sometimes testified to identical or substantially similar events, but with different conclusions.
Where unambiguous digital or documentary evidence existed, however, it strongly supported the arguments of the Accused, providing objective proof against these specific allegations of sin. This fact affected the Panel’s assessment of the credibility to ascribe to testimony for which there was no tangible evidence or for which there were no third-party witnesses. After carefully examining all the evidence, The Panel unanimously agreed that the prosecution did not meet its burden of proof in this case.
Charge 4 was acquitted on the basis of an argument of the validity of the lawsuit, stating that the prosecution did not meet the burden of proof to show that the lawsuit was sinful. Charge 5 was dependent on charge 4. Charge 6 was theological in nature and was deleted by the prosecution at trial.
All censures, suspensions against Daniel Herron are thus removed by the SJC, and Herron is restored in good standing as a minister in the PCA.
Major Red Flags
This case against Daniel Herron emerged during the height of the MeToo movement with Rachael Denhollander as an established influence on the case. It’s worth noting the evidence that she’s a feminist include not taking her husband’s last name, affinity for Rachael Denhollander, her support for Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who raised false allegations against Brett Kananaugh in 2018.
O’Bannon was one of the initial investigators of her claim, and this tweet was problematic to her. “After being taught creationism as a child, Million will receive her Ph.D. in evolutionary biology” is how IDS reported on her while also reporting that she and her husband had not been to church in years. (This fact would make a lawsuit fair game from a biblical perspective.)
Steve Marusich, the lead TE campaigning against Herron, is an apparent feminist and simp for the trauma grifters. Marusich wanted an outside investigation for in church matters, an actual 1 Corinthians 6 violation.
Kara Million no-showed according to the document, whether due to an unreasonable request is unclear. But accommodations were made for the accusers.
Pronouns in bio.
Due process is rough.
At first is may seem that the PCA tried to cover up charges of sexual harassment, not abuse, by one of its Teaching Elders, but after the exhaustive amount of evidence and witness testimony, they found insufficient evidence that meets a burden of proof. Moreover, the verdict found that the evidence appeared to favor the accused on multiple occasions.
This is a blow against the MeToo Movement running rampant in the church. And while the Southern Baptist Convention is captivated by it, due process remains alive in the PCA.
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