On August 18, 2002, prominent radio pastor and author, John MacArthur, took time during an evening service to address a grave matter at his 8,000-member Grace Community Church (GCC) in Sun Valley, California.
A woman at GCC was living in sin, MacArthur alleged. And though shaming her publicly was “sad,” MacArthur said it was necessary to maintain fidelity to God and His Word.
So, as men were distributing the elements for communion, MacArthur stated: “I want to mention a sad situation, a person who is unwilling to repent. And the church bears responsibility before God to be the instrument of discipline. . . . This is what the Lord wants. He wants discipline . . . to be put out of the church, to be publicly shamed, to be put away from fellowship. In this case it applies to Eileen Gray.”
According to MacArthur, Gray’s sin was that she had decided “to leave her husband, to grant no grace at all, to take the children, to go away, to forsake him.” This, MacArthur emphasized, meant rejecting “all the instruction and counsel of the elders, all instruction from the Word of God.”
MacArthur then encouraged the church to pray for Eileen and to “treat her as an unbeliever—for all we know, she may be.”
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He also urged the church to pray for her husband, David Gray, who taught music and Bible to children at Grace Community Church (GCC) from 1994 to 2001. “Pray for David, for the sympathy and compassion and the lovingkindness of God to be his portion.”
MacArthur then invited the church to sing, “Amazing Grace.”
Today, David Gray is serving 21 years to life in a California prison for his 2005 convictions for aggravated child molestation, corporal injury to a child, and child abuse.
But at the time of Eileen’s shaming, Eileen had not yet reported her husband’s physical and mental abuse to police. (She was not yet aware of his sexual abuse.)
Instead, she had reported the abuse to elders and pastors at GCC.
Eileen also had not left her husband. In August 2002, Eileen was still living with her children in the Grays’ home about 1.5 miles from the church.
Eileen had, however, filed legal separation and restraining orders against David due to his repeated abuse of her and her children, as well as his alleged stalking and threats to kill them and himself. At the time of the shaming, Eileen had obtained a court order requiring that David’s visits with the children be monitored and restricting him from coming within 100 yards of Eileen.
As Eileen explained in an exclusive interview with The Roys Report, she went to GCC elders, hoping they would protect her and her children and get David professional help.
Instead, she says the church subjected her to spiritually abusive counseling and used church discipline to try and coerce her to take David back into the family’s home.
John MacArthur shames Eileen Gray on August 18, 2002:
Eileen said Carey Hardy, a former GCC associate pastor and personal assistant to John MacArthur, told her she needed to model for her children how to “suffer for Jesus” by enduring David’s abuse.
The Roys Report repeatedly reached out to MacArthur and Hardy, who’s now senior pastor of Twin City Bible Church, for comment but they did not respond.
When Eileen refused to take David back, GCC sent her multiple letters over several months in 2001-2002, which she recently provided to The Roys Report. The letters threaten Eileen with church discipline if she fails to comply with the elders’ request to drop the protective order against David and take him back.
When the letters failed to change Eileen’s stance, John MacArthur publicly shamed Eileen twice—once in May 2002 and again in August 2002.
Eileen told The Roys Report that MacArthur never spoke with her before, during, or after the shamings.
In the months between her shamings, GCC members and staff repeatedly harassed and visited Eileen at home, urging her to obey the elders, according to Eileen and dozens of pages of court documents obtained by The Roys Report.
For all this time, Eileen has remained silent about her ordeal out of concern for her minor children. She added that she feared backlash from Christians in her community, who revere MacArthur and GCC.
But now, Eileen’s children are adults. And for the sake of vulnerable women and children at GCC—and at the many churches and institutions influenced by MacArthur—she’s speaking now.
Despite being mandated by California law to report child abuse, GCC never reported David Gray’s abuse to authorities, according to Nancy Nelson, a retired Los Angeles Police Department Detective (LAPD) who investigated David Gray’s case. Nelson told The Roys Report that Eileen Gray reported David Gray’s abuse to LAPD in 2003, leading to David’s trial and conviction in 2005.
In 2004, two staff pastors at GCC were written up by LAPD for their alleged mishandling of David Gray’s abuse.
Carey Hardy was charged with two misdemeanors—failing to report child abuse and intimidating a witness—Eileen Gray. The other pastor, Bill Shannon, who currently leads GCC’s biblical counseling ministry, was not charged but ordered to appear at a city attorney hearing.
Court records show Hardy’s case was “dismissed or not prosecuted” in February 2005.
The reason Hardy’s case was dismissed is not clear.
However, Dr. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Seminary and current WORLD Magazine opinion editor, confirmed to The Roys Report that he wrote a paper for Hardy’s defense in 2004 at GCC’s request. The paper argued that Hardy should be exempt from reporting Gray’s abuse based on religious freedom—an argument Mohler said he would not make today.
“Daddy hurt me”
Eileen says David Gray emotionally and physically abused her and her children for years. But she didn’t realize the severity of his child abuse until May 10, 2001. That’s when Eileen woke up early in the morning to muffled cries and yelling, according to a transcript of Eileen’s testimony at David’s trial obtained by The Roys Report.
Eileen testified that she went to the living room of the family’s home, where she found David holding a belt and one of her children crying with disheveled hair. When confronted, David told Eileen that God had made him the authority and that his child “needs more pain,” Eileen testified.
Following the incident, this child walked with a limp, became very withdrawn, and began pulling hair out, according to Eileen’s testimony. Eileen added that when she asked her child what happened, her child simply said, “Daddy hurt me.”
But about a month later, this child told Eileen that David had repeatedly hit the child in the head with a toy and kicked the child, Eileen testified. Eileen added that the child said David had also put a sleeping bag over the child’s head. The battered child, and the Gray’s other children who witnessed the incident, claimed that their daddy was trying to kill them, Eileen testified.
The day after learning these details, Eileen found a lawyer and filed a legal separation and restraining order against David.
Eileen testified that she then met with GCC Pastor Bill Shannon and another GCC leader and told them about her husband’s abuse.
Eileen told The Roys Report that in this first meeting, Shannon did not offer to help. Instead, he accused Eileen of sinning by going to the law against a brother, Eileen said. Shannon added that the protective order violated 1 Corinthians 7:10, which instructs women not to separate from their husbands, Eileen testified.
However, two days after that meeting, Shannon met privately with David, and then the church arranged for Eileen to stay with a church family until the protective order went into effect. Eileen testified in court that as a condition of receiving this help from GCC, the church required her and David to attend marriage counseling with Carey Hardy.
Hardy has an M.Div. from The Master’s Seminary but no professional counseling credentials.
During the first counseling session, which included Shannon and Hardy, David admitted he kicked one of the couple’s children and tried to suffocate the child, Eileen testified. She added that David said it all happened “so fast,” and he didn’t know it was wrong in the moment.
In subsequent counseling sessions, David presented Hardy with a handwritten, four-page list of “sins” against Eileen and his children, Eileen said. On one of these pages obtained by The Roys Report, David admits he used a “belt & rod way too harshly—brutally” on a child. He also says he “tied up” and “locked up” the child and was not always “adequately dressed” in the child’s presence.
According to Eileen, Hardy refused to take or read David’s list.
The Roys Report reached out to Shannon and Hardy, specifically asking about these events, but they did not respond.
However, in an official court declaration in 2002 concerning Eileen’s legal separation from David Gray, Hardy stated: “I am of the opinion that Eileen simply doesn’t like David . . . and is using what she alleges to have happened with the children as leverage to put David out of their lives.”
Hardy accused Eileen in the declaration of having “a tendency to exaggerate” and exercising “faulty logic and irrational thinking.”
In contrast, Hardy said David Gray was “fairly laid back” and that after several monitored visits between David and his children, “our church concluded that monitors were not necessary.”
Nevertheless, in the summer of 2001, GCC decided not to renew David’s teaching contract with the church.
Eileen stated in an official court reply to Hardy’s declaration that Hardy and Shannon met with her to announce their decision to end David’s employment.
At that meeting, Shannon suggested sending David to Los Angeles Unified School District, Eileen testified. She added that when she objected because David was a child abuser, Shannon replied that since a “child abuse index” hadn’t been filed, David could still get a job teaching. Eileen testified that Shannon also stated that L.A. Unified never calls the church for a reference.
David Gray was hired by L.A. Unified School District in September 2001 and taught music to elementary school-aged children there until his arrest in 2004, according to a LAPD press release.
“Suffer like Jesus”
In her testimony at David Gray’s trial, Eileen stated that she repeatedly asked GCC to provide professional counseling for her and David. She testified she was told by GCC leaders that professional counseling is “worldly” and wrong.
Hardy counseled Eileen to forgive David “even if he wasn’t repentant,” Eileen testified. “He would teach me over and over ‘the threefold promise of forgiveness’ . . .” she stated, “where you act as though it never happened, and you never bring it up again, and you never tell anyone about it.”
Eileen also testified that Hardy urged her to allow David back into the family’s home and to model for the children how to “suffer for Jesus” by enduring David’s abuse. Eileen stated that she was willing to endure the abuse herself but was not willing to allow her children to be abused, so she refused.
With permission from all parties involved, Eileen recorded her counseling sessions with Hardy. Eileen shared the recordings with the pastor who officiated her wedding to David, Alvin B. Barber, Jr.—former pastor of Sunrise Bible Fellowship in Northern California. (Barber passed away in 2008.)
In a written declaration to a California Superior Court, Barber corroborated Eileen’s account.
“I have listened to one of the counseling sessions on tape between Carey Hardy, David, and Eileen and found that Eileen was being told to just accept her husband as he was and submit to him, even in spite of his admitted abuse of her and their children,” Barber wrote. “Thankfully Eileen has chosen the legal protection of herself and her children over the obvious intimidation and questionable counsel of Carey Hardy and Grace Community Church.”
In November 2001, Eileen wrote GCC and requested that the church remove her from its membership.
GCC denied Eileen’s request.
Letters, harassment, and stalking
On November 27, 2001, Carey Hardy sent Eileen a letter on behalf of GCC’s elders.
The elders “don’t automatically remove someone from membership when we believe that we have a responsibility to help that individual resolve issues in his/her life,” the letter stated. “In this situation, we definitely do believe that we should maintain our role in helping you and David reconcile. For that reason we are leaving your membership status intact.”
The letter adds “there are no longer sufficient reasons for the two of you to stay apart” and urges Eileen to “forgive David, allow him to move back home, and once again follow his leadership as Scripture teaches.”
It also states, “It is now time to trust God to use your marriage to David to make you more like Christ. This is a more significant level of trust than simply trusting God to change your husband. . . . It’s a crossroads related to your own relationship with the Lord, a crossroads in your relationship to your husband, and a crossroads related to your role as a mother.”
A letter from GCC on March 13, 2002 threatens Eileen with church discipline if she doesn’t change course.
“Since you are refusing to forgive David and allow him to return home where he can put biblical change into action, we are left with nothing to conclude but that you want something else besides what Scripture teaches,” the letter states.
“. . . Though you are ignoring the shepherding role in your life that God requires from our church, we must still choose to follow the mandate of Matthew 18, verse 17, if you persist in preventing the restoration of your family.”
Matthew 18:17 says that if someone refuses to repent of his sin, the sin should be told to the church and the person treated like “a pagan or tax collector.”
The letter from GCC also states that it “has become obvious . . . that David is not a ‘mental case’” and “doesn’t need a ‘psychological evaluation.’ He is a sinner who can, by God’s grace, change and grow.”
During the time she was receiving these letters from GCC, Eileen said David repeatedly threatened to kill her and her children and to take his own life.
David also stalked Eileen at home on numerous occasions between July 2001 and May 2002 in violation of his restraining order, according to court declarations by Eileen’s neighbors, Carlos Tobar and Wilbur Rodriguez.
Eileen said she also received pressure by GCC members to obey GCC’s elders.
On April 25, 2002, Eileen said she received a surprise, late-night visit from a couple at GCC—George Bonsangue, who was a student at The Master’s Seminary, and his wife, Priscilla.
In an account for David Gray’s trial, Eileen wrote that Bonsangue and his wife entered her home at 10:15 p.m. and told her she was “in sin” because she had separated from her husband and had left the church without the elders’ permission. When Eileen told the couple about David’s abuse, Bonsangue and his wife reportedly offered to take Eileen’s children so Eileen could “obey the biblical mandates for marriage,” Eileen wrote.
She added that when she refused their offer, George Bonsangue became “angrier” and the couple left her home around midnight.
The Roys Report spoke with Priscilla and George Bonsangue, who’s currently pastoring Grace Baptist Church in Wilmington, California.
The couple confirmed they went to Eileen’s house late one night in April 2002.
“We just wanted to help (David and Eileen) reconcile,” Priscilla said. She added that she had babysat the Gray’s children and never saw anything that made her suspicious of David. “I wondered if . . . she imagined (the abuse) or was just making things up, or just mad at him.”
The Bonsangues said they don’t remember offering to take Eileen’s kids or mentioning anything about Eileen fulfilling “the biblical mandates for marriage.” Priscilla said it was just “an understood thing” that Priscilla was willing to babysit, if needed.
Five days after the Bonsangues’ 2002 visit, GCC sent another letter to Eileen.
“You have yet to provide any biblical justification for your anger towards your husband,” the letter stated, “and you still reject the counsel of the elders and others who are concerned for your well-being.”
“. . . If you desire to meet with us to express your willingness to repent, we stand ready to help. If we don’t hear from you in this regard, however, we must proceed with the Lord’s instructions and convey your sin to the church at the next communion service on Sunday May 19, 2002.”
On that date, John MacArthur reportedly shamed Eileen in front of his congregation for the first time.
The next morning, Eileen said a mother of one of David’s students at GCC came to her house upset because MacArthur had reportedly stated that “death may follow” Eileen’s shaming.
At the time, Eileen was being treated for cancer.
Eileen said the woman was “shocked” by MacArthur’s statements and didn’t agree with them.
Over the next three months, the pressure and harassment from GCC members and staff intensified, according to Eileen and a declaration by Eileen’s neighbor.
On May 21, 2002—two days after the shaming—David came to Eileen’s house with two men in a blue Honda, Wilbur Rodriguez wrote in his declaration.
According to Eileen, Carlos Tobar, who also witnessed the incident, recorded the Honda’s license plate number, which was registered to a car driven by Hardy’s personal assistant at GCC. Eileen said she called the assistant soon afterwards, and he admitted to watching her house with David.
The Roys Report tried to locate the assistant for comment but was unsuccessful.
About a week after the shaming, Eileen said a close friend—affectionately called “Aunt Donna” by her children—came to her home. The friend had been given a key to Eileen’s house, but reportedly returned the key and told Eileen she wouldn’t be back.
“She told me to obey the elders,” Eileen told The Roys Report. “It was heartbreaking. All of it’s heartbreaking. She was the last person I thought would say, ‘I don’t even care.’ . . . She didn’t say that but that was her demeanor.”
Eileen said many other GCC members delivered a similar message, either by letter or in person.
In a handwritten letter dated June 5, 2002, obtained by The Roys Report, the wife of a current professor at The Master’s Seminary wrote: “I know it must be very difficult to do what the elders at Grace Community Church ask you to do, and I pray that you will joyfully submit to their leadership . . . It is what the Bible asks of you, Eileen.”
The woman also urged Eileen to reunite with her husband and submit to him, stating, “Even if David is sinning or is not a believer, this is still your spiritual duty.”
On August 8, 2002, Eileen received another letter from GCC.
“(I)n spite of the failures on David’s part as a husband and a father, it has become increasingly apparent that the greatest reason for the turmoil in the lives of your children, in the life of your husband, and in your own life is your refusal to forgive David, to support him in his attempts to change his thinking and behavior, and to reconcile with him.”
The letter states, “(T)he elders have concluded that you have no genuine desire to see your family restored.” It adds that GCC would announce publicly at an upcoming service that Eileen was being been removed from fellowship.
The evening of August 18, 2002, MacArthur preached a sermon with dire warnings about the severity of God’s discipline. The sermon is still posted online.
“(S)ometimes the punishment can be so severe that the person dies,” MacArthur stated in the sermon. “In the Corinthian church, there were some people who were weak and some were sick and some were dead because their sins were manifest at the Lord’s Table, remember that?”
Then, before administering communion and shaming Eileen, MacArthur urged his listeners to confess their sins so they “won’t suffer the discipline.”
Excerpt of MacArthur’s Aug. 18, 2002, sermon before Eileen’s shaming:
Eileen, who attended the service, said she felt comforted by Jesus throughout the entire ordeal.
“He bore the shaming with me,” she said. “I felt I wasn’t alone. And I felt very triumphant because (MacArthur) lies. The whole thing was lies.”
A few weeks later, a Los Angeles court granted Eileen a legal separation from David Gray. With her husband’s consent, she moved 500 miles away from GCC to her hometown and a church that welcomed her into fellowship.
The next year, Eileen learned that David had not only physically, emotionally, and verbally abused her children, but had sexually abused them, as well. She then reported her husband’s abuse to LAPD.
Even then, GCC did not defend and support Eileen, but instead rallied behind her husband.
The Roys Report describes the rest of Eileen’s story in a follow-up article. Click here to read.
Correction: The original version of this article stated that Shannon and Hardy were arrested for failing to report child abuse and intimidating a witness. The LAPD report obtained by TRR says the two were “cleared by arrest,” which means they were either arrested, ordered to appear at a city hearing, or ordered to appear at a court hearing. Shannon was ordered to appear at a city hearing, but not charged. Hardy was charged and ordered to appear in court.
GCC Letters to Eileen Gray:GCC Letters to Eileen Gray_Redacted
John MacArthur shames Eileen Gray on August 18, 2002 (with Spanish subtitles)