A Canadian megachurch has announced the findings of additional investigations into allegations of sexual abuse by two former pastors, including the well-known Bruxy Cavey. The church, The Meeting House in Oakville, Ontario, said one investigation confirmed allegations of sexual abuse by Cavey against a minor. The Meeting House has also apologized to the first victim to come forward, and has now defined what happened to her as sexual abuse.
In a statement and video released on Saturday, August 13, leaders of The Meeting House church’s board said it had substantiated these allegations through an independent investigation. At the end of November 2021, a victim came forward with the first allegations of an inappropriate sexual relationship between her and Cavey. In March 2022, the church released the findings of its initial investigation and said that Cavey carried out a sexual relationship with a congregant for a number of years and that it constituted an abuse of his power as a member of the clergy.
At a town hall meeting releasing the findings, the church also announced that it had hired an investigator to allow other victims to come forward. New allegations against Cavey, as well as another former pastor, Tim Day, have been substantiated, the church said.
“In this second investigation, two sets of claims of sexual abuse by a church leader (as defined above) have been substantiated,” board co-chair Bruce Miller says in a video statement from the church released on August 13. “In the third, his actions have been found to be substantiated as sexual misconduct. In one case, the victim was underaged when the abuse took place.
“In all cases, the victims have suffered great harm. We grieve deeply at the hurt caused to each of these individuals at our church.”
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The church board says they are grateful for the victims who have come forward. “We also acknowledge the courage of those who stepped forward. We are grateful for their bravery, and willingness to be vulnerable. As church leadership, we humbly and profoundly apologize to them for the pain they experienced at the hands of The Meeting House pastors whom they—and we—trusted.”
Defining sexual abuse
The Meeting House says since the first allegation it has now adopted a definition of sexual abuse by a church leader laid out by the Mennonite Central Committee. The MCC’s definition is “Sexual abuse by a church leader or caregiver refers to any sexualized behavior that occurs within the church context and where one party has more power than the other. The perpetrator can be anyone in a leadership position, either paid or volunteer. It could be a pastor, Christian counselor, youth leader, deacon or Sunday School teacher.”
MCC additionally defines sexual abuse and sexualized behavior as follows: “Sexual abuse or sexualized behavior includes any physical contact, bodily movement, or verbalization that uses sexual expression to control or intimidate the less powerful person in the relationship. The acts involved may be overt, involving actual physical contact of a sexualized nature or covert, as in pornography, sexual innuendo, or inappropriate disclosures of a personal nature regarding sexual matters. The person victimized may be an adult or a child, female or male, and the same or of the opposite sex as the offender.”
Church apologizes to first victim
The Meeting House’s board says that it is now considering what occurred in the case of the first victim was sexual abuse.
“We have learned so much over the last nine months, and with this knowledge and the adoption of MCC’s definition of sexual abuse, we have revisited the findings of the first investigation,” says board member Nour Aziz. “We have now concluded as a board that the actions substantiated in the first investigation constitute sexual abuse by a church leader.”
Before the church released the findings of the first investigation, former pastor Danielle Strickland resigned in protest of the language used in the report and in “solidarity” with the first victim. Strickland said she felt the church should have defined Cavey’s actions as sexual abuse rather than abuse of power.
“We truly apologize to the first victim for the length of time this has taken,” Aziz says.
Requests for prayer
Miller says that the church will be holding a town hall on August 14 to discuss the findings in full. He says that prayer continues to be an important piece of the process.
“We ask you to continue to pray,” Miller says. “Pray for healing for the victims and for their families, who have also been impacted by this abuse. Pray for the Cavey family and the Day family. Pray for our church family that God will use this season for his glory, honor, and praise.”
This article has been updated and reprinted with permission from CHVN Radio.
Journalist Mike Thom is program director at CHVN in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.