Warning: This report contains graphic accusations of sexual abuse.
In August 1979, Wendy Guay told her best friend that her father, Paul Guay—then a pastor at John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church—was regularly molesting her.
Her friend, Lisa (Tucker) Ward, told El Informe Roys (TRR) that when she’d sleep over at Wendy’s house, Wendy would insist that they both go to bed fully clothed. Sometimes, Paul Guay would come in Wendy’s room in the middle of the night and would “hover over us,” Ward said.
But one night, the girls woke up and Guay was rubbing their backs. “Wendy woke up, freaked out, and grabbed me,” Ward said.
Soon afterward, Wendy divulged her secret to Ward. They then told Ward’s dad, John Tucker, a former missionary and then-member of Grace Community Church (GCC), about the abuse.
Give a gift of any amount to The Roys Report this month, and you will receive “In the House of Friends: Understanding and Healing from Spiritual Abuse in Christian Churches” by Kenneth Garrett. To donate, haga clic aquí.
This began a process that led Paul Guay to confess his abuse directly to John MacArthur weeks later, according to Tucker, an alleged eyewitness to the confession. Yet, Guay continued to pastor at GCC for three more years. And later, after being removed from GCC for sexual misconduct with a secretary, Guay went on to pastor other churches for 30 years.
In 2003, Wendy, who now has a different last name, discovered her father had more victims and reached out to MacArthur for help. But to her shock, MacArthur denied knowing anything about her father’s abuse, and in emails obtained by TRR, reproved Wendy for her “obsession” with the decades-old matter.
Wendy, who had struggled since the abuse with an eating disorder and addiction to pain medication, spiraled further into self-destructive behaviors. Meanwhile, her father continued pastoring at Grace Brethren Church in Mabton, Washington. And MacArthur gained a reputation as “the world’s premier expository preacher.”
Guay’s confession to MacArthur
Tucker said when his daughter and Wendy first told him of Guay’s abuse, he immediately urged Wendy to call her mother, which she did.
Wendy, who recently spoke with TRR, said she was 16 years old at the time and living with her father and stepmother, Jane Guay, in California. However, her mother, Marlou Fronapel, lived in Oregon.
Fronapel told TRR that when she got Wendy’s call, she quickly arranged for Wendy to fly home. Fronapel then called GCC, asking to speak with MacArthur, but MacArthur wouldn’t take her call.
Fronapel said she then reached out to Tucker and her brother-in-law, Gary Davis, pastor of West Covina Church of Christ in West Covina, California.
According to Fronapel, Davis spoke to someone he knew in leadership at GCC about Paul Guay’s abuse of Wendy, but the church took no action. TRR contacted Davis about what transpired, but Davis declined to speak on the record.
However, John Tucker told TRR in an interview that after receiving Fronapel’s call, he went to Paul Guay’s house and confronted Guay about the abuse. In a 2003 written statement, Tucker wrote that Guay admitted to “sexual acts” with Wendy, telling Tucker “I know I touched her.”
Tucker said Guay then called Pastor MacArthur and asked if the three men could meet in MacArthur’s office and MacArthur agreed.
Tucker wrote that at the meeting with MacArthur, “Paul agreed to my charges and confessed to MacArthur of repeated sexual acts involving Wendy at nighttime during normal sleeping hours.”
Tucker said MacArthur did not mention reporting Paul Guay to police. Instead, MacArthur said he would assume “the Biblical responsibility for counseling, discipline, etc,” Tucker wrote. Given MacArthur’s position as pastor of GCC, Tucker said he trusted MacArthur to handle the situation appropriately—a decision he said he now deeply regrets.
Wendy said her father called her the same afternoon that he met with MacArthur and told her that he had confessed the abuse.
On August 29, 1979, MacArthur handwrote a letter to Wendy, which Wendy shared with TRR. (TRR sent a copy of the letter to MacArthur and the pastor on call at GCC for comment, but no one responded.)
“I am so sorry about all the problems you have been through, but I believe the Lord is working in very special ways,” MacArthur wrote. “Your dad is really sad about it all and we have met and talked at length about the situation.”
MacArthur added that Wendy’s father was “a wonderful Christian” and wrote: “He has been a faithful part of our staff and will continue to be in the future.”
MacArthur then encouraged Wendy to forgive her father. “I’m glad for your love toward Christ that gives you a forgiving heart toward others,” MacArthur wrote. “I know the Lord will be glorified as we work together w/ your dad to see him be all that God wants him to be.”
TRR reached out repeatedly to John MacArthur and GCC for comment about MacArthur’s handling of Paul Guay’s abuse, but no one responded.
Guay stayed at GCC until 1982, when he was reportedly caught hugging and kissing a secretary and fired.
According to his sons, Dan Guay and James Guay who both spoke with TRR, Paul Guay then went on to pastor First Baptist Church of Reseda, California (now The Bridge Bible Fellowship)—a church just eight miles from GCC.
After that, Paul Guay worked as a pastor at Placerita Bible Church—a church less than a block away from GCC’s partner school, La Universidad de Maestría, said Dan and James Guay.
TRR reached out to The Bridge for confirmation that Guay had worked there in the 1980s, but no one at the church was familiar with Paul Guay.
However, Terry McClain, an office manager at Placerita Bible who’s researched the history of the church, confirmed that Guay served in leadership at Placerita, but wasn’t sure of the years or Guay’s position.
Abuse, confusion, and betrayal
According to Wendy, her father began abusing her in 1977, when she moved from her mother’s house in Oregon to live in California with her father and stepmother, hoping for a “Brady Bunch life.”
Wendy said her father would come into her bedroom at night several times a week. Sometimes, she would wake up with her shirt over her head and her dad would be staring at her. Other times, she remembers her father rubbing her back under her shirt and working his way to her nipples. At least once, she says, her father exposed himself to her.
“I remember crying many nights pleading with Jesus to not let him in,” Wendy wrote in a 1977 diary entry she shared with TRR. In another entry from 1978, she wrote, “He just groped and made me feel dirty.”
When confronted, her father would claim he was sleepwalking, Wendy said. Wendy’s stepmother believed her father, Wendy said, and began placing a chair in front of the couple’s bedroom door to prevent the nighttime visits.
Wendy’s brothers, Dan Guay and James Guay, confirmed Wendy’s account, saying they remember hearing about the chair to prevent the visits. James Guay added that their father never “sleepwalked” into either his or Dan’s rooms. (TRR did not try to interview Jane Guay because family members said she suffers from dementia.)
“I knew that what he was doing didn’t feel right,” Wendy recalled. “But I also knew that he was a ‘godly’ man. . . . He taught ‘Home Builders’ with his family at Grace (Community Church). And so . . . I just couldn’t reconcile the two.”
Wendy said she finally told her friend about the abuse when the pressure inside became too great. But the process was excruciating.
Wendy’s journal entries, which were excerpted and compiled in 2003 by a family member, reveal Wendy’s trauma. (Wendy said she destroyed the original diary several years ago out of a desire to move on. But Wendy and her siblings confirmed the authenticity of the document with excerpts shared with TRR.)
In a journal entry on August 15, 1979, Wendy wrote, “I’m staying in Oregon for good. I’m really hurt cause I wrote my dad an eight page letter with all of my feelings in it and he got upset and called it ‘garbage’!”
She also wrote in an August 25, 1979, diary entry, “It’s hard to believe Mr. Tucker and Uncle Gary are going to talk to my dad about stuff. Yuck. Yuck. Yuck.”
But after her father called and told her about confessing the abuse to MacArthur, Wendy expressed optimism.
In a journal entry on August 30, 1979, she wrote, “Everything has worked out with my dad! He and John MacArthur are gonna work something out!”
Wendy told TRR she believed MacArthur was going to get her father professional counseling to deal with his perversion.
Lisa Ward, who said she spent most of August 1979 with Wendy at her mom’s house in Oregon, said she was also under the impression that GCC was going to get counseling for Wendy.
But according to Ward and Wendy, GCC failed to get counseling for both Wendy and her dad. And in the years after 1979, Wendy’s mental health plummeted.
In 1988, Ward said she visited Wendy, and was distraught to learn her friend was struggling profoundly with self-destructive behaviors. Ward added that Wendy, who was then married with kids, was still in relationship with her father and even allowed him to visit overnight in her home.
Ward said she then wrote MacArthur a letter, asking him why GCC did nothing about Paul Guay’s abuse and never arranged counseling for Paul and Wendy.
Ward said she never received a response from MacArthur.
For decades, Wendy said she naïvely believed she was her father’s only victim. But in 2003, her Aunt Donna, Paul Guay’s sister, made a stunning disclosure to Wendy—that both Donna and Wendy’s cousin, Pam, had been sexually assaulted by Guay.
Pam, whose last name TRR is withholding for privacy’s sake, confirmed to TRR that Paul Guay forced her to give him oral sex in 1964, when she was just 7 years old. Pam said Guay also tried to get her to participate in sex acts several other times, but she refused.
Pam added that during a short time that she lived with Paul and Jane Guay, Paul would come in her room at night and rub her back and become aroused. Pam said she would make “enough noise” and then Paul would leave.
Donna, whose last name TRR is also withholding, told TRR that in 1963, Paul Guay climbed on top of her when she was asleep and tried to have intercourse with her. Donna said she angrily shoved him off and he relented.
Fronapel also told TRR stories about Guay from her four-year marriage to him, revealing a pattern of predatory behavior.
She said in 1960, when Guay was attending Pacific Christian College in Fullerton, California, the administration reprimanded Guay for “flirtatiously” pursuing a freshman coed. She added that Guay got in trouble for pursuing high school girls at two churches the couple attended. She said one of the churches asked Guay to leave.
In 1964, Guay got his second wife, Jane Guay—then a teenager in a youth group he led—pregnant, Fronapel said. Guay then divorced Fronapel “illegally” in Las Vegas and married Jane, Fronapel said. (Guay and Fronapel legally divorced in California in 1966.)
Wendy said the revelations in 2003 that her father had abused Pam and Donna ushered in what she called “the Dark Ages”—a time that was even “more traumatic” than Wendy’s original abuse.
Wendy said she was terrified her father might abuse again, especially given his access to children as a pastor. So, Wendy told her siblings about the additional accounts of abuse. Wendy’s brother Dan also learned about Wendy’s abuse for the first time. (Her other siblings had known about the abuse for many years.)
The family then decided they would confront Paul Guay in front of his elders at Grace Brethren Church.
Wendy also emailed John MacArthur through his secretary, Pat Rotisky, telling him about the additional victims and asking for help.
en un email on February 17, 2003, Wendy wrote MacArthur about her father’s ongoing pattern of minimizing and lying about his abuse. She also told MacArthur of the family’s plan to confront her father in front of his elders. And she invited MacArthur to attend the confrontation “if the Lord puts that on your heart,” or to “send a letter for us to take with us, either to Paul or to the elders.”
The next day, Rotisky emailed Wendy back, stating, “Unfortunately, John is unable to shed any further light on the issue . . .”
Wendy responded to Rotisky with questions for MacArthur, but said she assumed MacArthur likely would not speak to her “because of unforeseen liability.” In the email, Wendy asked why Paul Guay wasn’t fired or “forced to get help” when he confessed the abuse to MacArthur in 1979. Wendy also asked whether Grace Brethren had asked MacArthur for a recommendation when the church had hired her father.
Rotisky responded on February 19, 2003, that MacArthur is not concerned about “unforeseen liability,” but “has nothing more to add.”
“Paul never confessed anything to John or to our elders at that time about any kind of molestation,” Rostisky wrote. She said Paul Guay instead was fired for his “affections for one of the secretaries.”
TRR tried to contact Rotisky for comment but was told she no longer works for GCC, and we were unable to reach her.
Wendy said she was shocked by MacArthur’s denial and sent an email to MacArthur the next day.
“John, are you saying that prior to me writing you for the past few weeks, you had NO prior knowledge of my father molesting me?” Wendy wrote. “My entire adult life I have believed, (and was told), that upon confrontation, BY YOU, my Dad broke down in tears and confessed that he had indeed molested me. He said that he was in your office. Now you are saying that what I have always thought to be true is not true? Can you even begin to imagine how that makes me feel?”
Wendy then conveyed what she had been told about John Tucker’s and Gary Davis’s involvement in the matter, though she admitted she needed to verify the details. She then urged MacArthur to talk to Tucker and Davis himself, so they could help him “reconstruct the series of events.”
Instead, Wendy told TRR that MacArthur called her father.
Three weeks later, on April 12, 2003, Wendy sent another email to Rotisky, threatening to contact the Los Angeles Times “to force John to pay attention . . . and to make sure that Grace has steps in place to prevent this from happening again.”
Wendy also complained about MacArthur’s choice to call her father.
“By choosing to call my Dad, the perpetrator . . . to help him (John) remember what it was that my Dad told him that day in his office, was not a wise decision. . . . My Dad lied to me for 25 years . . . what would lead John to believe that Paul would even KNOW the truth now?”
Soon afterward, MacArthur called Wendy, which MacArthur mentions in an April 18, 2003, email to Wendy. (TRR sent MacArthur a copy of the April 18, 2003, email, requesting comment, but MacArthur did not reply.)
On the call, Wendy said MacArthur sounded mad and frustrated, and asked her why she was “hanging on to this after all these years?”
When Wendy mentioned the additional victims and her fear that her father might abuse again, she said MacArthur lamented hiring Guay because he had been divorced. Wendy said MacArthur refused to address Paul Guay’s confessed abuse, but instead talked about how Guay was fired for hugging and kissing a secretary.
Then, in his April 18, 2003, email to Wendy, MacArthur insisted that GCC had a “zero tolerance standard” for moral offenses by staff and claimed Paul Guay never confessed any abuse to him.
“I had no knowledge of molesting as you claim,” MacArthur wrote. “When there was some accusation against him, he told me it was his bitter first wife and the only thing he ever did was rub his daughter’s back while she was going to bed—something any loving father might do . . . Since the accusations were only second-hand and hearsay to me, and Paul was a trusted person, there was nothing to do but accept his word.”
MacArthur added, “I recently spoke with (Paul Guay) by phone to ask if my recollection was accurate. He said it was.”
MacArthur concluded, “I’m not sure why all this has become an obsession for you after so many years, but neither myself nor anyone at Grace can do anything more than encourage you that we conducted ourselves with biblical integrity . . .”
Wendy said the response by MacArthur, whom she had placed on the “high, high, highest pedestal,” devastated her and sent her into an emotional tailspin.
It also profoundly impacted members of her family.
Wendy’s older sister, LaDawn Fronapel, told TRR that she grew up listening to MacArthur’s preaching, which had a “huge impact on my Christian development, on my spiritual walk.”
“For him to not do anything about this . . . it rocked (my faith),” Fronapel said. “If he had responded in love and compassion and with a goal to heal and understand, what a huge, huge difference that would have made in our healing and in our spiritual lives, as well.”
Wendy’s brother, James Guay, called MacArthur’s response “the ultimate betrayal of trust.”
“Not only did he blame the victim and pathologize the means of value of the victim’s mother for being a disgruntled ex-wife,” James said, “but he after the fact acted like he didn’t know what actually occurred. And then he used language that she was being obsessive because it wasn’t fully resolved. . . . It was grossly un-empathic and very targeted and dismissive.”
Wendy’s mother, Marlou Fronapel, said MacArthur’s response in 2003 was deeply disappointing, but the damage had been done decades earlier when MacArthur refused to talk to her or take the accusations seriously.
“I can honestly say that my life changed right then,” Fronapel said. “It deeply, deeply affected me that a church would do that—that they would not believe a young girl, that this had happened to her, and they would not believe me. And it affected my esteem. It affected who I could trust.”
In what several Guay family members describe as one of the most traumatic experiences of their lives, they confronted their father about his abuse on March 1, 2003. The “intervention” occurred in-person at the Mabton, Washington, home of an elder at Grace Brethren Church (GBC) and included several GBC elders, Paul Guay, and numerous Guay family members, including all of Paul’s children.
Pam, who wasn’t able to attend, sent a letter to the elders documenting Paul Guay’s abuse of her.
John Tucker also sent the elders a statement concerning Paul Guay’s 1979 confession to John MacArthur. And Marlou Fronapel sent a letter recounting Paul Guay’s predatory behavior during their marriage. According to James Guay, when the elders heard the in-person and written accounts of abuse, their faces reflected “shock and horror and disgust. It was a real mirror of the gravity of what we were sharing with them.”
James said his father admitted the sexual abuse of Pam and Wendy, which several other family members confirmed. “But there were also a lot of things that he was saying to try and save face and to minimize the impact,” James said. “You know . . . blaming it on Satan and an altered state of consciousness.”
Donna told TRR that Paul denied her account of assault at the intervention. However, she said Paul later met with her and admitted the incident had occurred, but blamed it on Donna, falsely alleging that she was open to having sex with him.
At the end of the intervention, the elders said they would weigh the allegations and get back to the family about consequences, James Guay said.
On March 13, 2003, GBC Elder Board Chairman Ron Juris sent a letter to the family, announcing that Paul would stay in his position as pastor.
“The scriptures are pretty plain as they describe the character of an elder . . .” Juris wrote. “The challenge for us is to decide how these principles are to be applied.”
Juris then noted that the apostle Paul had been a “blasphemer and a persecutor.”
“The over arching (sic) message that is seen over and over in the scriptures is God’s amazing love for us even when we fall,” Juris wrote. He added, “Through this whole ordeal we have witnessed a man who is broken over the sin . . . We also have witnessed a man who is not what he used to be. . . .
“Therefore, it is the unanimous decision of the Elder Board of Mabton GBC that we will not accept his resignation but will retain Paul Guay as a Pastor . . .”
However, Juris added that “to ensure a full healing of Paul and his entire family,” the church would get counseling for Paul Guay until a counselor determines it is “no longer necessary.”
Juris also shared GBC’s “accountability/safety precautions,” which included leaders avoiding being alone with small children “not their own,” as well as youth or adult members of the opposite sex.
TRR reached out to GBC and Juris, who’s still an elder at the church, for comment, but no one responded.
Dan Guay told TRR he was shocked by the elders’ decision. “It was hurt, like, ‘Oh, here we go again. He’s getting away with it again,’” Dan said.
James Guay said his father went to eight to 10 sessions with a counselor and wrote apologies to his victims, which minimized the abuse, misinterpreted Bible verses, and created more pain.
After the ordeal, James said the family felt it had done all it could do to hold Paul Guay accountable. (In 2003, all the crimes reported by Guay family members were outside California’s statute of limitations and not prosecutable.)
“In some ways, we transferred our responsibility onto (GBC),” James said. “But it didn’t feel like great resolution by any means. I think we were all pummeled and exhausted and traumatized. I think at a certain point, we were like, ‘Okay, I don’t think we have any more together to invest in this.’”
However, in 2008, after visiting with Wendy again and seeing how much she was still suffering, Lisa Ward said she sent another letter to MacArthur.
She said Pat Rotisky reponded on MacArthur’s behalf, claiming the church didn’t know who Ward was and telling her not to contact MacArthur again about the matter.
For 14 years, neither Ward nor Wendy did.
And in 2009, Wendy said she made a major turn for the better. Wendy now works as a mental health and addictions counselor and is an active member of a church in Molalla, Oregon.
However, last month, Wendy read TRR’s articles documenting how MacArthur shamed and excommunicated Eileen Gray for refusing to take back her child-abusing husband and even supported Gray’s husband after his abuse and molestation convictions.
Wendy said that similar to how she naïvely assumed her father had not sexually molested anyone else, she also assumed MacArthur had not covered for other pedophiles like her father. Wendy said she now believes covering for abusers is a pattern with MacArthur that needs to be confronted.
“It’s not okay to believe the perpetrator,” Wendy said. “I just don’t want other people to be damaged by Grace Church or other churches not handling things in an appropriate manner.”