Former Counselor Accuses Harvest of Failing to Report Abuse & Threatening Him

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A former counseling pastor at Harvest Bible Chapel said former and current church staff failed to report at least one incident of suspected sexual exploitation of a minor by former Harvest Youth Pastor Paxton Singer. The former Harvest counselor, Rob Williams, also alleged that a former Harvest executive warned him not to report suspected abuse, while a church attorney stood by and said nothing.

Singer, who was charged on October 17, 2018, with sexual exploitation of a child, is awaiting a bench trial set for July 10 in Kane County, Illinois. 

According to Williams, Aurora Campus Pastor Craig Steiner became aware of a new case of suspected abuse by Singer on January 31, 2018. (Earlier in January, Harvest pastors had discovered and reported an alleged inappropriate texting relationship between Singer and a different student.)

Though Steiner says he reported the suspected abuse the same day, Williams said when he talked to DCFS on June 13, 2018, officials told him they have no record of a report by Steiner. Also, an official DCFS letter about the case cites June 13, 2018, as the report date, not January 31.

Steiner, however, maintains that he called the DCFS hotline on January 31, 2018, and says Harvest phone records show an eight-minute call to the hotline on that day.

Williams also alleged that on February 1, 2018, former Harvest COO Scott Milholland came into Williams’ office “angry and aggressive,” along with Harvest Attorney Chris Nudo. Williams said Millholland told Williams not to talk about the new incident involving Singer, which Steiner had discovered the previous day, with anyone else, or police, or “things will not go well for you.”

“Williams said Millholland told Williams not to talk about the new incident involving Singer . . . with anyone else, or police, or ‘things will not go well for you.’”

Williams said later the same day, he confronted Nudo privately for not objecting to Milholland’s directive. In Illinois, clergy are mandated to report whenever they have reasonable cause to believe a child may be sexually abused.

Williams said that the day before, Nudo had told him that he was “90-percent sure” that Harvest needed to report the new allegations concerning Singer to police. Williams said Nudo responded that Milholland is his boss, and if he says anything to Milholland, he won’t have a job.

I spoke with Milholland, who now is chief operations officer at Grapevine Faith Christian School in Grapevine, Texas. Milholland denied ever telling Williams not to report an incident involving Singer. Furthermore, Milholland said he never met with Williams in Williams’ office.

Milholland said Rob was “staff level,” and as COO, Milholland didn’t deal directly with staff-level employees. Milholland said Nudo talked with Rob separately, and that the talks did not involve Milholland.

I called Chris Nudo for his side of the story, but he did not respond. However, on October 24, 2018, a week after Singer was charged, Nudo sent Williams a letter threatening him with “legal recourse” if Williams did not abide by a non-disclosure, non-disparagement agreement Williams had signed before resigning his position with Harvest in March 2018.

Williams wife, Caroline, says she witnessed Milholland confront her husband in Rob’s office by peering through a small window in the office door. Caroline said she had come to Rob’s office that day shortly after attending a women’s Bible study at the church.

Caroline said when she looked through the office door window, she saw Milholland’s back to the door and her husband, who was facing her. Rob also said he remembers seeing his wife “wide-eyed” as she observed the interaction. Caroline described Milholland’s body language as aggressive and said he was leaning in towards Rob.

“He was told not to report it (the suspected abuse involving Singer) . . . ‘Rob doesn’t make stuff up. He’s extremely truthful in everything.”

“When I walked by and saw Scott’s back and that they were in Rob’s office, I was terrified,” Caroline said. “My heart rate went through the roof. . . . I had no idea what they were talking about, but if Scott was in Rob’s office, it wasn’t good.”

Caroline said she waited in a cubicle kitty-corner to the door for the meeting to end. She said after about five minutes, she saw Milholland exit Rob’s office with Nudo.  Caroline described the encounter as “definitely the most lifechanging experience we had at Harvest,” and one that convinced the couple that they had to leave the church. 

Terri Streich, a former counselor at Harvest who used to work with Rob Williams, said Williams told her about the incident with Milholland and Nudo shortly after it happened. “(Williams) was so upset,” Streich said. “He was told not to report it (the suspected abuse involving Singer).”  Streich added, “Rob doesn’t make stuff up. He’s extremely truthful in everything.”

Williams Discovers Harvest’s Failure to Report

Williams said initially, he believed that Steiner had reported the suspected abuse to DCFS in January 2018. However, given his earlier conversations with leadership, he said he had some doubts, so he called DCFS in June for an update on the investigation.

Williams said DCFS officials told him in June that they had only one report involving Singer. That report involved a different student, and was made on January 9, 2018, by former Lead Pastor of Student Ministry Landon MacDonald.

Williams said he then filed a report with DCFS involving the student Steiner had told him about on January 31, which Williams said led to Singer being charged on October 17. This was corroborated by a letter Williams received from DCFS on October 12, 2018, stating that his report was “indicated,” meaning that “credible evidence of child abuse or neglect was found during this investigation.”

Williams’ account also is consistent with the Chicago Tribune’s article on Singer’s arrest, which stated that the charges filed against Singer originated from a DCFS hotline report in June, not the one in January.  

I also received a copy of a letter from DCFS dated June 12, 2018—the day before Williams filed his report. The letter concerned MacDonald’s January 9, 2018, report concerning Singer and said the case was dismissed because “the department has voluntarily unfounded the report.”

Harvest’s Timeline Prompts More Questions

Williams began releasing some of this information on social media last week. Then on Thursday, Harvest published an answer to questions about communication of Singer’s termination from staff, as well as a timeline of events.

In these publications, Harvest admits that it failed to properly notify parents on all of its campuses when it terminated Singer on January 7, 2018. The church added that it has changed its policy to require notification of congregants on all campuses whenever an “employee or volunteer is terminated due to a violation of the Child Protection Policy.”

In October, Harvest published a statement, alleging that parents on “multiple campuses” were informed of Singer’s termination when it happened. Yet the letter Harvest posted to its website that Landon MacDonald had sent to parents on January 7, 2018, was addressed to “Harvest Rolling Meadows Parents.” (Rolling Meadows is one of Harvest’s seven Chicago-area campuses.)

“Harvest admits that it failed to properly notify parents on all of its campuses . . . The church added that it has changed its policy to require notification of congregants on all campuses whenever an ’employee or volunteer is terminated due to a violation of the Child Protection Policy.’”

Harvest also asserted in its recent timeline that its pastors immediately notified DCFS when they became aware of alleged inappropriate texting relationships between Singer and three different students on three separate dates.  The church said MacDonald called the DCFS hotline on January 7 to report the first of these incidents. On January 9, DCFS returned MacDonald’s call and MacDonald filed a formal report.

Harvest said MacDonald also reported another alleged inappropriate texting relationship between Singer and a second student on January 16, 2018. I called MacDonald to ask him why DCFS reportedly has no record of this report. MacDonald answered and said, “No comment.”

According to the timeline, Steiner became aware of yet another student on January 31, 2018. That’s when the father of a third student reportedly met with Steiner and reported concerns about some alleged inappropriate texts between Singer and his son. Harvest says Steiner reported this third incident to DCFS the same day, and then called DCFS on June 29, 2018, to follow up.

The timeline claims that the DCFS letter citing a report date of June 13, 2018—the day Williams filed his report—is a mistake. In October, Steiner sent a letter to DCFS requesting that the agency change the report date to January 31, 2018. Harvest Lead Ministry Pastor Greg Bradshaw said DCFS has not responded to Steiner’s request.

Harvest’s recent timeline conflicts with an earlier statement the church made on October 23, 2018. The October statement said that Harvest concluded all its reports concerning Singer the third week of January. It states, “Further contact between our staff and DCFS beyond that time period were follow-up related and did not involve any new incidents.” January 31, 2018, is in the fifth week of January. I asked Bradshaw about the discrepancy, and he responded, “No explanation. I wasn’t involved in that statement.”

Also, during a conference call between Bradshaw, Steiner, and me, Bradshaw said that Harvest’s phone records show that only one call was placed with DCFS on January 31, 2018. He said that call was made at 12:35 p.m.

“MacDonald instructs Steiner to call the general DCFS number. Steiner responds, ‘Called to report; DCFS has my number, will call me back. They are backlogged with call backs from Monday.’”

Yet a text thread that Williams produced between himself, Steiner, MacDonald, and former Harvest Assistant Senior Pastor Rick Donald suggests that Steiner was aware that his initial call to DCFS did not result in an actual report. The text thread begins on January 31, 2018, at 12:59 p.m.— 24 minutes after Steiner allegedly filed his report with DCFS.

In the text thread, MacDonald says that someone needs to call DCFS and report the incident involving a new student. Steiner responds, “I can call. Is there a file or contact at DCFS?” MacDonald instructs Steiner to call the general DCFS number. Steiner responds, “Called to report; DCFS has my number, will call me back. They are backlogged with call backs from Monday.”

When I asked Steiner about the text thread, Steiner asserted that the time stamp on the text thread must be wrong. Steiner said only the last text, saying he had called to report to DCFS, was made after the 12:35 p.m. All the prior texts must have been made before 12:35 p.m.

I asked Steiner if he had a record of the text thread on his cell phone. Steiner said his phone regularly deletes texts, so he didn’t have any record of the conversation.

However, Steiner asserted that when he called DCFS on January 31, he told the DCFS operator Singer’s name and the student’s name. Steiner said he didn’t recall if he gave contact information for the student or his parent. Steiner said DCFS took his phone number and said they would call back. Steiner said he doesn’t remember if he got a return call. Steiner added that he didn’t know there was an additional step he needed to take to file a report.

“Williams said he’s made at least five reports to the Illinois DCFS hotline and it’s always required a two-step process. He said when he first calls, he always gets put on hold for several minutes. Then an operator answers the call, asks for his name and number, and says someone will return his call.”

Williams said he’s made at least five reports to the Illinois DCFS hotline and it’s always required a two-step process. He said when he first calls, he always gets put on hold for several minutes. Then an operator answers the call, asks for his name and number, and says someone will return his call. Williams said he’s always gotten a call back, usually two days later. He said DCFS will call back twice, but if the reporter misses those calls, it’s up to him to contact DCFS again.

Williams said he gave all this information to Tommy Creutz, lead pastor of student and children’s ministry and a member of Harvest’s Church Leadership Team, before Harvest published its timeline. I called Creutz for comment, but he did not respond.

Williams said he also reported Milholland, Nudo, and Steiner to the Kane County Children’s Advocacy Center for allegedly failing to report child abuse or suppressing others from doing so. Williams said Investigator Beth Mullarkey referred him to the Aurora Police Department. Williams said when he called the Aurora Police Department, they referred him back to the Children’s Advocacy Center. Williams said he’s called each department several times but keeps getting referred elsewhere.

I talked to Mullarkey and she said she could not comment. I also called the Aurora Police Department, but the person I spoke with said he didn’t have any information about a report from Williams. He said he would look into the matter further and call me back, but I have not yet heard from him.

Williams also reported Nudo to the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) of the Supreme Court of Illinois. Williams received a return letter from the ARDC on March 21, 2019, saying that the organization will request a response from Nudo and then determine whether further investigation is warranted.

Background Information: In October 2018, I was working with former Chicago Tribune Reporter Matt Walberg to report the Paxton Singer story. On October 17, 2018—the day Singer was charged—Harvest filed a lawsuit against me and four other defendants, which has since been dropped. This lawsuit included an Emergency Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order, which was denied by the court. As a result of the lawsuit, the Tribune dropped me from the story.

*Featured picture is of Rob Williams.

Update: After this story published, Harvest Attorney Chris Nudo called me to offer his perspective. He said he had wanted to speak with me earlier. But Harvest Lead Ministry Pastor Greg Bradshaw told him not to speak with me, but instead to send his comments to Bradshaw and Bradshaw would pass the information to me.

Bradshaw didn’t share information with me concerning Nudo. Our conference call with Craig Steiner focused on whether Steiner had reported properly to DCFS.

Nudo said he also sent an email to Harvest’s Central Leadership Team (CLT) and a couple of elders suggesting that they bring Williams into the office and hear what he has to say. But Nudo said CLT and elders didn’t want to do that.

Nudo confirmed to me that a meeting between himself, Milholland, and Williams took place in Rob Williams’ office on February 1, 2018. Nudo said Milholland’s claim that he didn’t deal with “staff level” employees is “complete BS. That’s all Scott did was deal with people, and everybody and at every level.”

However, Nudo said he doesn’t recall Milholland mentioning anything about Singer during the meeting. “It was dealing with something else that was inconsequential,” Nudo said. When I asked Nudo what Milholland and Williams discussed, he said, “I can’t tell you because I don’t know. I was standing right there. I was clearing email on my phone and I was not part of the meeting.” Nudo added that he didn’t hear anything in the conversation that stood out as memorable.

I told Williams what Nudo said about the meeting and he replied that Nudo did not have his phone out. Williams said several times during the meeting, he looked Nudo in the face and asked, “Aren’t you going to say anything?” Williams said Nudo stayed silent and just nodded.

Nudo also disputes that he ever said he’s “90-percent sure” that Harvest needed to report allegations concerning Singer to police. “That statement is insane,” Nudo said. “If I was 50-percent sure, I would call police.”

Nudo said he told Williams that since Harvest had filed a report with the DCFS, that should be sufficient. Nudo noted that the incidents concerned only text messages with students, not physical contact.

Lastly, Nudo addressed the letter he sent to Williams in October, threatening him with “legal recourse” if Williams did not abide by his non-disclosure, non-disparagement agreement with Harvest. Nudo said he sent the letter because Milholland told him that Williams had released confidential counseling information regarding Singer on his Facebook page. Nudo said he didn’t see any posts by Williams, but was acting on information Milholland gave him.

Williams said he didn’t post anything confidential on his Facebook page prior to receiving the letter. He said he merely posted a podcast and some articles critical of Harvest that other people had written.

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62 thoughts on “Former Counselor Accuses Harvest of Failing to Report Abuse & Threatening Him”

  1. Does this mean that the HIRELING Craig Steiner will now be going to work for Scott Milholland at
    Grapevine Faith Christian School in Grapevine, Texas ?
    And what about Nudo? Will there be a movie deal for “Where’s Nudo?”
    Stay tuned to this channel folks for more of “As the stomach turns” !

  2. Pair this with the fact that it took 9 more months (after the there incidents) before Harvest told their congregants about the crime. Parents were unable to ask if their kids were a 4th victim.

  3. I hate it when my phone puts the wrong time stamp on my texts!! It happens all the time (sarcasm) and that dcfs who filed a criminal complaint against a pedophile, yes they always get the wrong dates on their reports!!
    Harves has no shame those are two of the dumbest outright lies!! My phone out the wrong time stamp bahhhaaaa.
    So many things to say, but the most telling for me is Williams wife saying she was TERRIFIED, so sad that that is a common thread of people within Harvest!! Terrified their kids will get booted, terrified they will be shunned, terrified they will get fired, terrified they will hack your computer, terrified they will shun you, terrified you will have the boot club after you! Harvest is a sick place!!

  4. Isn’t it interesting Millholland resigned weeks after the lawsuit was filed. Then he leaves and goes to Texas. Wow! Are we actually talking about a Christian organization? You wouldn’t know it by the behavior exhibited here. How many more stories are suppressed? May God destroy this evil. How horrible for Rob and these children and families.

  5. RESIGN HARVEST ELDERS STAFF AND PASTORS who knew and did nothing to protect our children. Instead you chose to fearfully follow the cult rules of brand protection. Thank you Mr. Williams for your bravery and may God bless you for not being afraid to do the right thing. Thank you, Julie. This info has been long in coming and I trust you have triple checked every word, date, comma, nuance, etc. in this post.

  6. And since God IS love and love casts out all fear, where would He be in all the interaction that Ann wrote in her comment ?

  7. From personal experience, I can state that I have been the target of Scott’s comment “things will not go well for you.” It still rings in my ear. Gratefully, I had a witness in the form of a campus pastor. Also, I was a “staff level” person and Scott dealt directly with me, so that statement is false. Sadly, many good men have played the “bad guy” over the years for James – men who are now on the other side of the story. Perhaps Scott has repented and changed. I hope so. If not, God will correct.

    I believe in Craig Steiner and know him as a godly man. But I am sure, because of the statements recorded here, that Rob is telling the whole truth.

    1. Jessica Hockett

      No one is debating whether Craig Steiner is a godly man. This is about whether he (& the church) fulfilled his mandated reporter obligations under the law.

      1. So a godly man wouldn’t have to fulfill mandated reporter obligations? Or, God doesn’t want child abuse reported?Tell me how THAT works.

        1. Jessica Hockett

          Not what I’m saying. I was responding to the previous person who said that Steiner is a godly man. Steiner’s godliness per se isn’t at issue–a evaluating his relative godliness is messy business anyway.

          To answer your question, YES, failure to report child abuse (as Steiner did) is an ungodly act. Steiner should confess, repent, and resign–not make excuses about timestamps on texts.

  8. If there are any Harvest insiders who know of additional incidents of sexual abuse by the church that have not been reported to the authorities, please contact the authorities immediately. Do not ask for permission from the church; just do it. Although you signed a non-disclosure, non-disparagement document, your responsibility to report crimes trumps that. Your boss may not agree, but fear God and do what is right.

    1. just to be clear, I never asked permission. It was, given the nature of what we knew, it is DCFS or police that we call? Also, the tale of Craig Steiner let’s me know it was “reported,” therefore, his firsthand account, will be better than my 2nd or 3rd hand account. And finally, yes reporting criminal activity trumps a NDA. which is why you know what you do about this case. Thanks for thoughts Joe.

  9. Harvest parents – your children are not safe at Harvest! Please protect them from the evil at Harvest. What kind of of leader hides sexual assaults against kids? Scott Milholland should not be allowed near children!!!

    1. And even if the new leadership is saying they care about your children and will report, etc etc etc, if they do not have policies, procedures, training for caretakers and leaders, and background checks on incoming leaders, etc. already in place and fully functioning – I highly recommend you either leave, or keep your kids with you in the service and don’t send them to youth group.

  10. Julie, again great investigating reporting. The disciples (HBC staff) of JMac have learned very well from their master to implement the code of silence. Bullying, twisting, spinning and hiding the truth prevails. Rather than protect the kids, they allowed this child predator to continue on to harm not one but three kids. My pray and wish is to have these parents sue HBC and individuals who dragged their feet in this ordeal for negligent behavior. Kudos to Williams in reporting Nudo to the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC). He should have his license revoked and serve time. It seems the only way to stop this culture of deceit is through the pocketbook. Money speaks louder than the cries and pain of the children and godly men and women who stand up to the status quo. Cease your tithes as CURRENT leaders, Lead, Campus and Youth Pastors bury their head in the sand and oblivious to what is happening among the flock. They sit in their ivory tower and turn a blind eye or when needed speak with a fork tongue and lie. PTL that offering is down $2,756,000 as of 5/10/19.

  11. Nudo’s responses just amaze me. He must have been asked to be at the meeting with Scott & Rob and he wasn’t paying attention!!!! He didn’t hear anything???? Sounds like a few government officials. What lawyer goes to a meeting and “clears his emails” ignoring the meeting??? Amazing.

  12. Really Nudo.. didn’t hear anything. Funny in a meeting about protection of children…but not paying attention..your LinkedIn profile says you “Maintained child protection plans and procedures including DCFS reporting”
    What say you.?

    1. As do untold numbers of others who were culpable and accountable for handling this so poorly.

      I still cannot believe how cavalier, unprofessional, and pathetic Landon MacDonald’s email was to the parents of children in Rolling Meadows on January 7, 2018.

      The doors at Harvest can’t close soon enough. Flee, Christ-followers, flee.

  13. Non-disclosure agreements are not intended to prevent those who harm children from being found out. As far as the non-response from the police, this is exactly what happened in Boston with the Catholics. Cover up.

    That attorney’s statement – more like threat – is reflective of some dirty rotten tactics, to hide some dirty rotten behavior. A judge would void the NDA with good cause.

  14. WHAT..??!!
    “Nudo’s responses just amaze me…”
    “I still cannot believe how cavalier, unprofessional, and pathetic…”

    “Bullying, twisting, spinning and hiding the truth prevails”
    For YEARS, has this not been the example of King Rat for all his Clan Minions to emulate.??
    And emulate they have.!!

    What amazes me is that it’s been allowed to go on for so long …
    destroying lives, families, and pocketbooks.!!
    When is enough ENOUGH.??

    OK.. thousands of bloody and fleeced sheep aside,
    how many scared children will it take to END this madness.??!!
    Hmmmmmm.??

    Or will zombie butts just keep plunking down each week lapping up the latest drivel
    while the resident leg-humpers approve and defend the status quo…

  15. Liars lie. It’s what they do. I think we all know who the liars are in this. If you aren’t sure then think about this… He knows Singer wasn’t discussed in the office, but he doesn’t know what was discussed because he wasn’t listening… how does that work?🤦‍♀️🤷‍♀️

  16. While I did resign from Harvest in Oct of 2017, I did have a prior working relationship with Rob Williams, I will testify to his honesty and care of the flock.
    As my background is in law enforcement I had several conversations about this topic with Rob last year. Rob was consistent in his relating of the facts and actions or inactions of those involved. Julie’s story is 100 percent accurate to what Rob has been saying. More importantly are Robs motives to protect victims of abuse and demand accountability of those charged with leading and protecting the sheep under their care.
    Rob I commend you for the courage to follow the high calling of protecting innocent children!
    Thank you.

  17. Jessica Hockett

    Julie, have you been able to confirm that Scott Milholland’s daughter dated Paxton Singer? I’m told they were dating around the time that this was all being exposed.

    Or have you confirmed whether Mr Singer was also roommates with Bryan Bradshaw (Greg Bradshaw’s son).

    Those connections seem relevant to Harvest’s response to all of this.

    1. Seems like a quick discussion around the Harvest grapevine would get these answers. I don’t go there, but someone who does could probably figure this out and report back.

  18. Almost all of the pastors and Elders at Harvest Bible chapels 7 Chicagoland campuses have proven to be Linguini spined Gutless slimy Cowards unfit to serve in ANY Leadership role in The Body of Christ…. if by chance any of these slippery Weasels has a fraction of conscience left, ITS TIME RIGHT NOW To lay bare the Truth, Repent and accept whatever consequences may come your way….I also believe many of the Women in leadership roles are just as guilty as the men….If lying, stealing and abusing the Flock aren’t enough to open their eyes… lets hope Pedophilia is, but unfortunately I seriously doubt it ….I do not believe Harvest Bible chapel can or should be revived …any Good that came from Harvest Bible chapel is INSPITE of the leadership there not because of it…..I apologize to Weasels everywhere for comparing you to the Leaders at Harvest Bible chapel……and Yes I’m angry.

  19. Where was Garrett Higbee, the one who brought “Biblical Counseling” to Harvest? Weren’t there protocols put in place for everyone to follow?

    1. GH was gone before this situation. Protocols, yes there were. Trainings, of course. Pastors aware of their duty, apparently, but decisions corporately and individually are made that produce a report OR fail to produce a report.

  20. IL Statutes are very clear. Criminal Proceeding view a “Child” or “Juvenile” as any one under 18. In a School or Church setting there are/or can be additional “Aggravated” Charges against the Offender.
    If ANY employee is made aware of: Inappropriate activity between a “Child” and another employee or volunteer, he/she must first contact local law enforcement and report the incident. “Law Enforcement” THEN generates the report with Report Number. After that, Notifications are made, One possibly to DCFS. In a case where there is inappropriate activity, a Police Report can always be generated by a Officer. It will be that Officers decision as to the Classification of the Report. THE CHURCH or SCHOOL should not be the party contacting DCFS. The Police contact and Report are 1st. I
    If your Church, School or Business wants trouble, then look no further than HBC.

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