Harvest Pastor Who Failed to Report Suspected Child Abuse Resigns

By Julie Roys
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UPDATE: According to a court document I obtained on September 4, Craig Steiner told Kane County investigators that the father of the alleged victim of Paxton Singer came to him in “February or March” of 2018. The document notes that “a text message tendered to the Defendant by the State indicates that Pastor Craig learned about J.S. (alleged victim) on January 31, 2018.  The court document is posted at the end of this article. (relevant portion is on page 2)

A Harvest Bible Chapel (HBC) pastor who failed to report an incident of suspected child abuse involving former Harvest Student Pastor Paxton Singer resigned today.  The pastor—HBC Aurora Campus Pastor Craig Steiner—did not mention the incident involving Singer in his resignation letter, but simply said he felt “called to a new season of ministry elsewhere.”

For nine months—from October 2018, when Singer was first charged with sexual exploitation of a child, until a July 1, 2019, church update—Steiner maintained that he had reported the suspected child abuse immediately after becoming aware of it in late January 2018. This, despite the fact that DCFS maintained that the report leading to Singer’s arrest did not come from a Harvest official, but was made in June 2018 by former Harvest counselor, Rob Williams.

Also, according to Harvest phone records, Steiner made only two calls to the DCFS hotline. One was in January 2018. And according to a text message from Steiner to other Harvest staff at that time, DCFS told him during the call that operators were “backlogged with call backs” and would call Steiner back. Yet the only other call Steiner had with DCFS was about six months later—on June 29, 2018, soon after Williams had reported the incident. 

From October to July, Steiner alleged that DCFS had made a mistake and that he believed “he had completed all the necessary steps in his role as a mandatory reporter” when he placed an initial phone call to DCFS. However, in July, Harvest said it had received a letter from DCFS confirming that Steiner failed to provide sufficient information for a report when he called the DCFS hotline on January 31, 2018. 

Below is Steiner’s resignation letter, which Harvest posted on Sunday. The trial for Singer begins this Wednesday. It is uncertain whether Steiner will be called as a witness. 

Resignation Letter – Craig Steiner

Below is the motion to bar the January 7, 2018, statement:

Motion to Bar Jan 7 Statement ONLY

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53 thoughts on “Harvest Pastor Who Failed to Report Suspected Child Abuse Resigns”

  1. Julie,
    After reading the available news and latest updates from the new Harvest elders, I find your headline to be an oversimplification of the situation and unfair to this pastor – something I see regularly in “the press” in order to have an attention-grabbing headline.
    Our pastor (not a Harvest church) called DCFS to report a confirmed incident of sexual abuse and DCFS did not take action until the victim told her school teacher what happened.

    1. Steve, I have been following this story closely from day one and I have no idea what you’re talking about. The father of the alleged victim told Craig Steiner about some inappropriate texts on January 31. Steiner then informed other Harvest staff and said he’d report the incident to DCFS. He called the hotline, left a call back number, but never followed through with filing a report. A former Harvest counselor called DCFS in June because he suspected Steiner had not reported the incident, and he was right. There were no school teachers involved.

      I am very curious now, though, as to what rumors are being circulated and by whom. Can you tell me more about what you’ve heard and who told you?

      1. Wrong. Your report makes me livid! Where’s the outrage over DCFS not following up when a mandated reporter left a message for them?! Seems like something they should follow up on! Reminds me of the situation w/the little boy in Crystal Lake who was being abused, a few people called DCFS on the parents & DCFS didn’t do their due diligence! The boy was killed by his own parents. Seems to me the outage should be towards DCFS, not the mandated reporter…in this case Craig! Please don’t share “news” unless you have all the facts.

  2. Unbiased and forthwright is my response to Steve’s portrayal of Julie. From the head down there is either corruption or unchristian ethical behavior. The spread is far reached and needs to be fully exposed, otherwise true restoration cannot happen.

  3. CS Lewis wrote an article about men like these title “Men Without Chests.”

    Julie, thanks for your coverage of incidents like these.

      1. Hi Alaina. What part of Julie’s article on Craig Steiner’s resignation are you challenging and/or do you think people should not believe?

        1. Look. It sounds like he called, left a message as a mandated reporter is suppose to. DCFS never called back to follow up w/Craig! Maybe Craig should’ve followed up again, but why isn’t an investigative reporter following up w/Craig when he first reported the incident to them?! Isn’t that DCFS’s fail/job?! I mean, that’s exactly what happened w/the boy in Crystal Lake who was murdered by his own parents. People were in outrage over DCFS for not doing their JOB in doing a FULL investigation & following up, right?! Same here! To me, Craig did everything he was mandated to do, but I don’t believe for a second it’s his job to do what DCFS should be doing on their end!! Craig would never be dishonest in reporting anything like this or not reporting anything that comes to his attention! He did! I believe the blame falls on DCFS & seems to me this isn’t their first time in failing to do THEIR job. Why aren’t we doing any further investigations on them, when that’s their full time job. Craig is a mandated reporter, but it’s not his job to spend his entire time babysitting DCFS to make sure they follow up. Just think about that.

          1. Thanks for responding, Alaina. I’ve looked into the facts of this case very deeply and have followed it since October.

            You are wrong about DCFS in this instance. The evidence shows that Craig Steiner did NOT file a report, nor did he think that he did when he called on January 31, 2018. He called and got a hotline operator who told him that an intake worker was not available but would call him back. He gave his information. He did not speak to an intake worker when he made the call, which means that he didn’t fulfill his mandated reporter responsibilities under IL law.

            In May, Craig Steiner told Julie Roys that he didn’t remember if DCFS called him back. Neither he nor Harvest has ever claimed that DCFS did not call back–or otherwise placed any blame on DCFS.

            The timeline I’ve created might be helpful to you and others.

            https://padlet.com/Ex_Harvest/Student3

          2. I knew Craig 7 years ago back when I was still under the impression that Harvest was a legit church. Craig was a decent guy but I think if you talked to him, you would find that he KNOWS he should have called back. He called but there was no investigation? No charges? He heard nothing back? Hmmmm…as a leader, it was his responsibility to call back and get this guy off the streets…

            Look, I don’t know if there was a coverup here, but it sure seems like it. The only “call” that prompted an investigation, charges and the eventual arrest of the child predator was the call by someone outside of the church.

            Perhaps you don’t find that interesting, but I sure do. I’m sure big charges will be forthcoming against Harvest on this by the way, and it surely won’t be because of Julie reporting the day to day facts as she is given them through people close to the situations she reports on.

  4. This is from the DCFS site https://www2.illinois.gov/dcfs/safekids/reporting/Documents/Care_Enough_to_Call.pdf

    “How should mandated reporters make
    reports?
    Call the child abuse hotline as soon as possible. You
    must also send written confirmation to the appropriate
    DCFS field office within 48 hours. The department will
    provide a form to use when sending this confirmation.”

    Steiner did not make a written report. An issue of this importance should have been communicated to the senior staff – who then should have made sure that the DCFS reporting procedure was followed. In addition Harvest could have notified the police – which they clearly did not do.

    Harvest is more interested in protecting their brand than protecting their children.

    1. You are correct, David. But Steiner didn’t even make an oral report over the phone, because he did not speak with an intake worker. He spoke to a hotline operator, who asked for his name and number so that an intake worked could call him back.

  5. I don’t know the resigning Pastor and the history of his tenure at Harvest Bible Chapel. But I have personally met Julie near Baltimore, MD in early June 2018. I recognized her, introduced myself and we spoke briefly about issues (no specifics) regarding her time at M.B.I. And I have listened to many “Up for Debate” programs over the last few years. Julie is a true Christ Follower and seeks the truth wherever and however it can be found, to the Glory of God ; my opinion of my Sister in Christ….It seems to me, why would a Pastor leave his Congregation unless there is some underlying remorse (in this case nondisclosure), that will ultimately come to the surface and cause further pain to both himself and the Congregation – because he chose to remain (basically) silent from this abuse incident.
    IF that is case, had full disclosure taken place immediately, I believe a completely different letter to the Congregation would have been written. And MUCH sooner.

    1. Nope! You don’t know Craig. Absolutely zero underlying issues to resolve w/in his church. He is very well loved by his whole congregation! Craig is also a strong believer & a man of integrity. He has been through a lot over the years & needs a fresh start & time to heal from the hurt caused by him. That’s it. Nothing more. Please don’t speak of a man you know nothing about.

  6. Julie’s reporting is not inaccurate. It’s just that she is putting blame/responsibility on the wrong person/entity.

    The person did what he was supposed to do, and a government agency didn’t do what they were supposed to do–which is not news.

    It’s typical. And anyone who has to deal worth any government agency, particularly DCFS, knows that.

    There is so much gravely wrong with Harvest, that this blog post seems ridiculous. It’s “piling on” and dilutes the power of Julie’s fair criticsm and exposure of Harvest.

    1. Hello. Unfortunately, you are mistaken that Harvest Bible Chapel’s ongoing “covering up of the cover up” regarding their failures in reporting the suspected abuse of teenage boys at Harvest Bible Chapel is “ridiculous” and “dilutes the power” of Julie’s work.

      On the contrary, there is more public evidence of Harvest’s misdeeds in this situation than there is virtually any other issue. If you click on my name, you’ll see the timeline that I’ve created specific to the student that Craig Steiner failed to report to DCFS. There are links within that timeline to Julie’s other reporting on this case, as well as to timelines focused on the two other students that Paxton Singer is suspected of abusing.

      Paxton Singer’s bench trial is this week. The proceedings are open to the public. I don’t know if Craig Steiner is being called to testify, but I think we can expect even more details about the church’s handling of this case to come out.

  7. The first mistake made was by the father of the victim. Instead of reporting it to DCFS first, he told Mr. Stiener, which out of either ignorance or intentionally not completing the reporting process, failed to notify DCFS. In essence there were multiple errors.

    What raises a question for me is why didn’t Mr. Steiner do his own follow-up when he hadn’t heared back from DCFS after awhile. There was a possible predator operating in that church. Where was the sense of urgency on his part?

    1. Hi Brian. According to both Harvest’s version of events AND the charges filed by the Kane County State’s Attorney, the parents discovered the texts in December 2017. Harvest says the father told Craig Steiner about the texts on 1/31/2018, and that the father was prompted by learning of Paxton Singer’s termination. I agree with you that this raises serious questions about why the father waited to tell Harvest about the texts. We know from a June 6, 2018 Aurora PD police report that the parents also had not called the police.

      Mr. Steiner told Julie Roys that he does not remember if he received a callback from DCFS, which can’t possibly be true. His text messages on that day show that he knew that he had not filed a report when he called and left his information with an operator, who told him that an intake worker would return his call.

      The call that Mr. Steiner made in late June 2018 was NOT (as he & Harvest initially claimed), a “follow up” to his 1/31/18 call. As you said, if he had reported and was concerned about not hearing from DCFS, he would have called back much soon. Instead, it appears he ignored DCFS’ callback (protocol is for them to attempt callback twice), for unknown reasons.

    2. Nope, fathers biggest mistake was reporting to DCFS since it’s pretty normal for them not to fully investigate. That’s where the problem lies. Not w/Craig!

      1. The father did not report to DCFS, nor did Craig Steiner.

        DCFS fully investigated two of the three suspected abuse cases that we know HBC staff actually made: The first student (Student 1) whom Landon MacDonald on January 9, 2018, and the student at the center of the charges (Student 3), whom Craig Steiner failed to report but was later reported by former HBC pastor Rob Williams.

        Your claims to DCFS dropping the ball here are unfounded. If HBC could blame it on DCFS, believe me, they would. But they have not, and all of the evidence points to Craig Steiner’s failure to report…and then continuing to advance a false narrative about why he failed to report.

      2. Alaina, Shouldn’t Pastor Craig protect the flock (victims) from the ferocious wolves (Matt. 7;15)? Do you know if Pastor Craig will be a character witness for Paxton?

    1. Alaina, I’ve replied to your response above, but I included a web address, which I know doesn’t post automatically. So until Julie approves it, I’ve put the address for a factual, evidence-based timeline involving Craig Steiner’s failure to report in the “website” box in my details. Hope it shows up.

        1. Hmm, I don’t find texts/thread/screen shots compelling, because they can be manipulated. It’s very easy to do so. I’m not saying the examples you have were manipulated, I’m just saying that they can be, so I don’t find that compelling.

          1. I’m sorry, did you read through all of the evidence, or no? Craig Steiner did not file a report with an intake worker on 1/31/18.

            Did you see that July 1, 2019, Harvest Bible Chapel admitted that Steiner did not report? Whether he reported isn’t debatable. He did not. The question is why HBC and Steiner are advancing the falsehood that he “thought” he reported, when all of the evidence clearly shows that he had no such notion. Like all mandated reporters in Illinois, Craig Steiner has received training on how to report suspected child abuse. He has signed DCFS’ Clergy Form indicating that he fully understands his responsibility under the law, and the process for reporting.

            Moreover, according the the HBC Elder Update published on January 17, 2018, the Elders said, “The Elders [have] reaffirmed the need for all mandatory reporting to be done exactly as required and mandatory security training for all volunteers to continue.” This was two weeks prior to Craig Steiner’s call. Craig Steiner is without excuse from every possible angle.

            Resorting to the claim that the texts have been faked by former Biblical Soul Care associate pastor Rob Williams is a last-resort argument. Rob is the person who actually reported to DCFS the student that Steiner failed to report. Harvest has not alleged that the texts were faked, and neither has Craig Steiner. Rather, Steiner told Julie that he no longer had the texts on his phone. I know from speaking with Rob Williams that he reminded Steiner about the texts and read him the texts over the phone in the past year. Steiner did not deny he sent the texts. You are very much barking up the wrong tree there.

            I think you’ll find it helpful all of Julie Roys’ reporting, in addition to the evidence that I compiled in the timeline. The Daily Herald has been reporting this story as well; their articles are readily-available.
            I’m sure we agree that it’ a more fair & reasonable discussion when participants in the discussion come to the table having reading & processed the same set of facts. If you’re just taking all of this in for the first time, I understand that it can be very overwhelming. Especially if Craig Steiner is your campus pastor.

            I’m so sorry that all of this has happened and continues to be covered up. Hopefully, the trial will bring some resolve to this unfortunate situation.

          2. thank you Jessica – I did recall that Harvest Admitted that Craig Steiner did not properly report the child molestation to DCFS. Not once did Craig Steiner take responsibility for his inaction.Nor did Harvest contact the police. And Alaina doesn’t find texts compelling. Suppose they are fake news huh? Just read what Harvest wrote. There are also news articles by the Daily Herald. Full of facts. Scott Mulholland tried to cover it up. I wouldn’t send my kid to Harvest.

          3. Alaina,

            You have been given the truth. Do with it what you want. You think Julie and Jessica have distorted even a word of what was said?

            That speaks to the typical mode of operation of many Harvest members who aren’t able to see the truth…

            And the truth is, Julie is not anyone’s enemy and she had never knowingly reported anything falsely.

            Assuming that’s true even for the moment, I ask you to challenge even one statement she has reported on Harvest since we’ll forever.

            Can we agree that everything she wrote about James MacDonald has proven true? If so, you should consider that maybe she actually has sources. Most of the timeline that Jessica has put together are available through the Freedom of Information Act. The other parts are texts or taped recordings of James MacDonald that led to his resignation. You can get all of the information yourself before you accuse someone of falsely reporting and/or changing publicly available documents.

            The fact is, you want them to be wrong but the sad fact is, putting ones head under the sand doesn’t make the hurricane go away.

            I would commend that you honestly and openly pursue the entire truth about what is and what was going on at Harvest. It was an unmitigated disaster.

  8. I agree with you Brian. The lack of urgency in this case is a public statement about what is important.

    When something is important to someone, just watch how resourceful they can me. I imagine if there was a leaky pipe causing damage to a building, you can be damn sure there would be multiple call backs (“ Hi …we haven’t heard back from you and this leak is a really urgent matter”).

    What I’m reading from this discussion is the debate is around whether or not someone has taken to met the bare minimum legal requirements to disclose a possible predator. This is a different standard to full disclosure and taking every possible measure to ensure potential victims are safe and cared for.

    If I’m reading this wrong, please jump in and correct me. I really do want to understand.

    1. Craig Steiner did not fulfill the “bare minimum legal requirements.” His responsibility under the law is NOT to “disclose a possible predator,” but rather to report suspected child abuse to DCFS. He did not file a report, but rather left his callback name/number with the hotline worker. He did not speak with an intake worker.

      DCFS would have made two callbacks. Rather than admit that either either mistakenly or willing “missed” the callbacks, Steiner told Julie Roys that he could not remember if he received a callback.

      1. Jessica- How many calls have you made to DCFS about possible cases of abuse? What were the results? I would suggest you google “UNDERSTANDING DCFS INVESTIGATIONS”. Please notice that they assume every caller speaks directly to a trained case worker and human being when they call to report possible abuse. The sad fact is that it is extremely common for no one to answer except for a poorly messaged “answering machine/service”. I believe Pastor Steiner had the misfortune of this experience which leaves every caller wondering to themselves, “Did I actually report anything to anybody?” Of course, you are supposed to trust the efficiency of DCFS which has never been efficient since its creation. Read the reports on all the abused children who are now dead thanks only to DCFS’ employees very bad decisions and a very confused, cumbersome, and inefficient bureaucracy.

        1. Good question, Rhoda. I was a mandated reporter for 5 years. We received thorough training on what to do when we suspected child abuse, but I did not encounter suspected child abuse in my role.

          In July, I called the DCFS hotline to see what happens on a call. I wrote down my experience and shared it on Twitter after I made the call. Here’s what happened:

          *Hotline number rings. Recorded message answers*

          “You have reached the Department of Children and Family Services. You call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes. Your call is important to us. (Message repeats in Spanish.) Our staff is currently busy assisting other callers. Your call will be handled in the order it was received. Please stay on the line.”

          2 minutes wait time w/music.

          DCFS Hotline Worker answers: “Department of Children and Family Services hotline, this is [Pat]. Can I take your name and number and have someone return your call?”

          She said that line all in one breath.

          Per Craig Steiner’s text message on 1/31/18 (click on my name to see the timeline with his texts in it), he had the same experience. He said to his colleagues, “called to report; DCFS has my number, will call me back. they are backlogged with calls from Monday.”

          Note, he called TO report, left his information, and would have been called back by an intake worker. Steiner does not claim that DCFS didn’t call back, and neither does the church. Rather, he told Julie Roys that he “didn’t remember” if DCFS called back,” which can’t possibly be true.

          Your statements about DCFS are well-intentioned and passionate, but they contradict the facts of this case. I invite you to do the homework on THIS situation and come back to the discussion when you are better-apprised. Right now, you don’t seem acquainted with it at all.

  9. “called to a new season of ministry elsewhere” – that right there is Christianese for B.S. The trial is going to start this week, what a coincidence? Organizations take on the character and nature of their head leader and especially the founder. Why is there still people trying to defend anyone there? When the head tries to find hitmen to take out his enemies, where is there really a need to say anything else? Is this Christian behavior? Are we really that confused about what good and evil looks like? Do we really believe that just because some psychopath sticks a sign up that says “Church” that that makes it an actual Church in the site of our Lord and Savior? The rest of what is happening is just the bad fruit of a false, bad tree.

  10. Alaina
    I DO know Craig. I have sat in his church for years. My husband and I also sat down one-on-one with him and he admitted his shortcomings with the Paxton issue with an attorney present because our student was affected by this whole debacle. He told us six months ago that he thought about resigning everyday. So how many specific face-to-face meetings have you had with Craig to discuss specifically the Paxton Singer issue? I know you’re probably hurt by his resignation but it is long overdue and something he considered well before this week’s trial.

  11. stupidmediawatchdog

    Craig has kids of his own that could’ve been impacted by this same predator that impacted families in his congregation. Anyone who thinks he took this lightly is ignorant. All of the people who wont be happy until Harvest closes its doors for good need to look in the mirror and think about where their hearts really are in this whole situation. God knows Craigs heart and Craig knows that. In the end that is all that matters. He has a burden as a result of all this that he will probably be wrestling with on his own the rest of his life. Maybe that is where all of you plank eyes should be spending your time too. I am sure you have plenty of your own you could be dealing with every moment of the rest of your lives. But I am sure Its easier to spend your time pointing out others misdeeds so you don’t have to spend time focusing on your own.

  12. Alaina- If you are talking about a little boy (initials SL) in CL, I am very familiar with that story because I was a supervisor of one of the programs he attended. Although DCFS was made fully aware of the family history, they still released the parents from supervision and home visits, resulting in the death of a beautiful and innocent child. According to reports on WGN TV, between July of 2017 and June of 2018, there were 98 deaths of children in DCFS care; 34 were under the age of 3. If DCFS cannot protect children who are imminently in danger, why would we expect them to even be concerned enough to return phone calls made about other children? As recently as July 18, 2019, WGN ran yet another report, “Change underway for Illinois DCFS after controversial children’s deaths”.

    But Julie Roys is not looking for news blamable on the monolithic, inefficient and guilty DCFS. She is looking for even a whiff of irresponsibility to pin on anyone affiliated with HBC. If she decides someone from HBC is guilty of something, it must be true.

    1. Rhoda, the Crystal Lake case is irrelevant to this situation. No one–including Craig Steiner–is blaming DCFS for Steiner’s failure to report suspected child abuse. Neither HBC nor Steiner claims that DCFS failed to return Steiner’s call. At most, Steiner’s has said that he “doesn’t remember” if DCFS called him back.

      It’s clear that you haven’t been following this case closely, if at all.

  13. When my children were little and they did something wrong and got caught, one of their first defences was “what about Jonny he’s worse than me”. My answer to them was always ” were not talking about Jonny were talking about you”…..their Defence was Childish then and it still is now……yes I agree DCFS is Broken,and so is HBC.

  14. So why do you think Craig sent his resignation letter to Julie? I think it was his way of saying that everything she is (and has been) reporting has been careful and true.

    Julie, thank you for your thankless ministry.

    1. Thank you for your kind comments. However, Craig did not send his resignation letter to me. It was posted to Harvest’s website on Sunday and is available to the public. Sorry for not making that clear. I’m adding that to the post now.

  15. That’s a great point…why would he resign?

    I think he knows he’s going to be called to testify and he’s going to have to tell the truth…and the truth is, he didn’t call back when he should have.

    The question for Craig is, did you sense ANY pressure from Harvest—JMac, Rick Donald and Jeff Donaldson in particular—to try to have no reports filed. This would then be a conspiracy charge against the church that I would think might result in jail time.

    The fact is, how we’re three “calls” made by Harvest personnel and not one of them resulted in anything until Mr Williams reported it in June—5 months after it was known by Harvest Leadership.

    The church was corrupt from head to toe and must close. To those who feel a closeness to their small groups, move them to a church without the million dollar music and the hideous story telling sermons with the depth of a first grade math book…

    The fact is, they all justified a bunch of horrid nonsense because there was “fruit”. Fruit that was manufactured through the millions upon millions spent on music and programs and the charisma of its leaders.

    To those who doubt that’s true I ask this…Take away the music (as a for instance)…and sing hymns from an organ for a few months. Then tell me that the program isn’t manufacturing souls….

    Sorry, read JMac’s “Vertical Church”. The real title of that disaster should have been “The Manifesto of the Church of Satan and his demons”. He outlined his formula on how to hit the jackpot through church. Makes me angry even typing thinking about it.

  16. Craig is leaving because he got a position with HighPoint Church in Naperville. Incidentally HighPoint is the first church planted by James MacDonald/Harvest Bible Chapel. Surprised there has been minimal investigation to HighPoint as there is a long line former HighPoint employees who were obliterated by the culture. HighPoint is a daughter church of Harvest Bible Chapel and the DNA has been passed on.

  17. Maybe it’s just me, but if I left a callback number at a hotline for reporting suspected child abuse and I didn’t get a callback within a few days, I wouldn’t wait several months to think “gee, maybe I ought to give them another call….”

  18. I’m confused…you think he will escape the messiness of the trial by doing ministry elsewhere…what exactly are you saying…because you didn’t actually come out and say anything…just pointed and screamed “B.S.” So what are you saying is BS?

  19. Craig Steiner will be testifying at Paxton Singer’s trial. He appeared in the courtroom today, prompted by a subpoena from the defense. About halfway through the proceedings, it was determined that there would not be time for him to testify today, so he was permitted to leave.

    Trial resumes on Tuesday, September 10th at 1:00 p.m.

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