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Apologia Church Members Abused Their Adopted Child | What Does the Church Know?

Welcome back for another Red Flag Report, church checkers. This one is serious, so let’s not waste any time. If you don’t know who Jeff Durbin or Apologia Church are, check out our Church Check on them and a Response Post I wrote last year to get caught up. In this report, we’re going to cover how two apparently devout members/attendees of Apologia Church physically abused a little girl they adopted in 2015 before the Department of Child Safety and the Maricopa County Superior Court took her away for her own safety in 2018. These Apologia Church members still appear to be in good standing with the church based on their social media posts, as well as friends with all of Apologia Church’s leadership. They also reportedly claimed all throughout the abuse investigation process that they were receiving support and counseling through the church. But before I get into the connection between these abusers and Apologia Church, I want to tell you Chelsey’s story, and about her journey from horrendous abuse to sacrificial love. Content Warning: This post contains descriptions of neglect, sexual, physical, spiritual, and psychological abuse of a child. Reader discretion is advised. Chelsey’s Story Chelsey was taken from her drug-addicted and negligent biological parents when she was only eighteen months old. Then, after going from home to home for a couple of years, she was placed in the home of Mike and Tiffany Hendrickson when she was about three and a half years old. After a short fostering period, the Hendricksons adopted Chelsey, making her a part of their family by the time she was about four years old. Roughly three years later after they put Chelsey in public school, the school discovered large bruises on her back and other injuries on her body. They also noticed ‌she was much too small for her age and that she would steal other students’ food. She would even ask for extra food and milk at lunch as well. The school called the police, and the Chandler Police Department and Arizona DCS opened an investigation into child abuse and neglect by Tiffany and Mike Hendrickson. Once it was determined that Chelsey was being physically abused, she was removed from their home. In mid-2018, as the investigation into abuse concluded, Chelsey was placed in a few other homes ‌briefly before finally getting to Jennifer and Brian, who would become her permanent adopted parents. Since welcoming then 7-year-old Chelsey into their home, Jennifer and Brian have observed the results and consequences of the Hendricksons’ treatment of Chelsey, and it has not been easy for them. They have worked hard for the past four years to bring their daughter hope, healing, and justice. The abuse that Chelsey was reported to have endured from the Hendricksons is shocking, and heartbreaking. The following summary of this abuse has been quoted directly from the documented police interrogations of Tiffany and Mike Hendrickson by the Chandler Police Department, the interactions between DCS and the Hendricksons, a forensic psychological evaluation of Chelsey by Buwalda Psychological Services, physical examinations of Chelsey by the Phoenix Children's Hospital, and court documents from the Maricopa County Superior Court.

Note: For legal purposes and to protect the identity of Chelsey and others, the original documents quoted below will not be published here in full, but can be provided for proving authenticity if necessary. The Abuse After an in-depth investigation into Tiffany and Mike Hendrickson’s treatment of Chelsey, it was determined by a Maricopa County Superior Court judge, a forensic psychological evaluation, DCS, the police, and the Children’s Hospital that she was being physically abused by them. The court judge ruled that Chelsey would be removed from the Hendricksons' home as the result of this abuse, and eventually all visitation and contact was severed when it was reported the Hendricksons showed no signs of remorse, responsibility for their actions, or effort toward changing their behavior or reconciliation with Chelsey. So let’s walk through each aspect of the reported abuse to show you what I’m talking about when I say "abuse". I warn you again, however, this is not for the faint of heart. Physical Abuse In part, this is what the Child Protection Team at the Phoenix Children’s Hospital determined after examining DCS reports of previous abuse by the Hendricksons, Chandler Police photos of Chelsey, and records from Healing Hearts Pediatrics: “...There are 40 photographs included… In photographs with the blue shorts outfit her face appears to have a bruise on the right upper lip area. There is a large area of diffuse bruising that is purple, blue, and erythematous in appearance on her left hip extending laterally around to her lower back, across to her right lower back where the bruising appears with two distinct linear areas and a more brown appearance. In the second pink outfit, her left upper back is seen with two small ~0.5cm scars. There are faint scattered erythematous abrasions to her upper back. Her right buttock and lower back are seen with four distinct linear bruises that appear green and brown, these appear to extend across her lower back and upper buttock. On her left lower back there are five distinct linear contusions. On her left lateral hip and buttock there is multiple green, purple and erythematous bruises that are more diffuse in appearance…” “... The history offered by mother (Tiffany Hendrickson) at the pediatrician’s office is that the bruising was caused by Chelsey masturbating and falling to the floor while doing so. Per DCS mother has also stated that the bruising is from wires at KTR, which is a family sports center. Chelsey reports the bruising is from being hit with a belt…” “...The injury to Chelsey is very concerning for inflicted injury and child physical abuse. The findings in the photographs support Chelsey’s history of being struck with a belt. Chelsey’s bruising is patterned in appearance with the linear marks visible in the bruising and it is multiplanar. This type of bruising and in this location is concerning for inflicted injury and being struck with a flexible object. It is quite unlikely that a child falling to the floor while masturbating would cause patterend injury to this degree. There are no pictures of the wires at this park to understand exactly what it looks like; however patterned and multiplanar bruising rarely occurs in accidents. The multiple histories provided by mother raise concerns… This injury warrants complete investigation and protection of Chelsey.” As it was reported, Mrs. Hendrickson told physicians that Chelsey got her bruises by falling off her bed and they even unnecessarily added the accusation (of a 7-year-old child) that masturbating caused her to fall off the bed. At any rate, the physicians at the hospital didn’t seem to believe that claim, and neither did the court. Jennifer, Chelsey’s adopted mother whom she lives with now, has also stated that she has never observed Chelsey sleepwalking, falling out of bed, or masturbating, either. And when the Chandler Police questioned Mr. Hendrickson, he told a different story. The following quotes are from a transcription of a video interview between Mike Hendrickson and a police detective regarding Chelsey’s bruises and injuries:

“... The detective told Mr. Hendrickson Chelsey told them about the “garage,” and Mr. Hendrickson asked which garage, from 3 years ago or another time. The detective said 3 years ago, and Mr. Hendrickson stated he did not know what happened, and he “rarely” spanks Chelsey. Mr. Hendrickson was asked reasons for spanking Chelsey, and he said to “get her back into reality.” He was asked when was the last time he spanked Chelsey, and Mr. Hendrickson stated 2 weeks ago, he believed. He stated one of the conditions requiring a spanking include if Chelsey is told a certain number of times to do something. Mr. Hendrickson was asked what he uses to spank Chelsey, and he said he will use his hand, or a spoon, or a belt. He said when he spanked Chelsey 2 weeks ago he used a belt, and he believed he spanked her with the belt three times. He was asked the process of spanking Chelsey in the garage, and Mr. Hendrickson stated he talks to Chelsey about what she did, and she usually tells him she does not want to be spanked. He stated Chelsey will lay down on the concrete, and he demonstrated how he spanks her. He said Chelsey cries when spanked, and when it is done they “hug it out” and walk out. He stated he does spank his other children as well, however it is more rare than Chelsey, and he said he did not think he had ever spanked his daughter. He said he has spanked his son, and has spanked him in his son’s room and/or in his room…” “...Mr. Hendrickson was asked why Chelsey stated he caused bruises on her, and he said he did not think she even knew she had bruises. He said Chelsey will do anything to throw somebody under the bus, she changes her story, she is very smart and manipulative, and she knows what is going on. He further stated Chelsey bruises easily, and when he spanks her there is going to be a mark, however he does not give it all he has. At the end of the interview, the DCS Investigator came in the room with the detective, and it was explained to him about the Present Danger Plan being put in place, and Family Preservation Services…” Below is a picture drawn by Chelsey which shows Mike Hendrickson (on the right) hitting her (face down on the floor) with a belt and making her back bleed.

Something to note before moving on is how Mr. Hendrickson doesn't stay consistent with his claims about Chelsey, and neither does Mrs. Hendrickson as time goes on. First he says he didn’t think she even knew she had bruises, which sounds like gaslighting to me, then claims she’s manipulative and throws people under the bus, but then admits that Chelsey bruises easily and that there will be a mark when he spanks her. And with that, he admits to hitting her with a belt while before, the claim from Mrs. Hendrickson was that Chelsey received the bruises from falling out of bed. So which is it? Is she making things up or did Mike Hendrickson bruise her with his “spankings”? It’s the Hendricksons’ story that changes, it seems, not Chelsey's. Another incident of physical abuse that was reported in part of the forensic psychological evaluation done on Chelsey was when Chelsey claimed Tiffany Hendrickson pushed her into a pile of rocks for dropping a piece of clothing on the ground: “...When asked if she understood the reasons for not living with her parents she said, “because they abused and abandoned me.” She said she was spanked on the back with a belt, and “hurt me a ton.” She said her mom, “threw me on the rocks, a black eye.” She stated, “clean clothing at night, ugly not nice…” “...Chelsey also reported Mrs. Hendrickson had her wash her own clothes in the yard and hang them to dry on a soccer goal, and pushed her into rocks when she dropped a piece of clothing. This resulted in a bruised face…” Another severe incident of abuse that Chelsey recalled in a therapy session after being removed from the Hendricksons' home is particularly disturbing. Chelsey has recalled and described this incident several times. During a therapy session with her mother, Jennifer, Chelsey described being forced to sleep or stay outside for a long period of time one evening. She was so thirsty that she drank rainwater from a barrel by the back patio when Tiffany Hendrickson came outside, said she didn't tell her she could drink that water, and then proceeded to push Chelsey's head under the water by the back of her neck. Chelsey described being terrified and thinking she was going to die. She eventually kicked at the barrel and was able to break free from Tiffany's grasp. Below is the picture Chelsey drew as part of her therapy in order to depict what happened in this incident.

Starvation & Neglect “...School is a privilege…Food is a privilege…” In addition to physically abusing Chelsey using physical violence, Mike and Tiffany Hendrickson were also reported to have shown several red flags of starving Chelsey and abusing her in other ways. “...Chesley was observed standing in the middle of the living room. She was naked and only wearing a diaper; Chelsey was standing like a statue. It is unknown why Chelsey was wearing a diaper or why she was standing in the middle of the room. The [redacted] was asked why Chelsey was not in school and she stated “school is a privilege and I am not going to force privileges upon her.” The [redacted] was also asked why she was not wearing any clothes and she said “because she didn’t want to get dressed and I can’t make her do anything she doesn’t want to do.” There was “breakfast food” sitting on the table. The [redacted] was asked if it was Chelsey’s food and she said it was. The [redacted] said that Chelsey “will go days without eating”. The [redacted] stated that the pediatrician said “she is fine to go without eating for 48 hours”; if it is longer than that she needs to be seen so that fluids can be administered intravenously. The [redacted] stated “food is a privilege so why should I force her to eat.” The [redacted] said in the past she “forced Chelsey to eat but only gave her three seconds to take a bite and chew.” If Chelsey did not eat every three seconds, the [redacted] “would spank her between bites.” Recently, the [redacted] heard Chelsey “praying for forgiveness because she asked for extra milk and food at school.” The [redacted] contacted the school and they stated that Chelsey complained about being hungry so they were providing her with extra food at lunch. The [redacted] takes Chelsey out of school every day at lunchtime so that the school cannot give her extra food or milk. Chelsey is described as “very tiny; she looks like a four-year-old”... While we aren’t discussing the connection between the Hendricksons and Apologia Church quite yet, take note of how Chelsey was heard praying for forgiveness for asking for more food and milk. The level of psychopathic religious abuse it takes to tell a child they are actually sinning and in need of forgiveness simply for being hungry is insane. Imagine punishing your child for needing to go to the bathroom, or being tired, or cold… or hungry. As briefly mentioned before, the Hendricksons were also reported to have made Chelsey sleep in many places besides a proper bed. The initial DCS Preliminary Hearing and the Forensic Psychological Evaluation note that the Hendrickons may have even tied her to a bench as a “time-out bed.” “...they have a “time-out bed” for when they misbehave. The “time-out bed” is actually a bench that they have to sleep on and the foster parents tie them to it with yarn. It is unknown how they tie them or where on their bodies…” “...Chelsey has reported being treated different from the Hendrickson’s biological children. She reported being made to sit at a different table from the rest of the family during meals, being made to sleep in a bathtub with a little mat and blanket, and no pillow, being made to sleep on the floor with only a blanket, and being made to wear a diaper to school and use a pacifier at school. Chelsey reported her parents loved her siblings more because she was not their real child and they treated her “really bad,” having to eat out of a bottle, withholding food and water, she stated she deserved to be hurt due to that was her consequence, and that was what parents were supposed to do. She reported being treated like a dog, and being tied to a bench overnight, and being made to eat out of a dog bowl…” As mentioned above, the forensic psychological evaluation states that Chelsey was made to sleep in the bathtub, and with that, we begin to see red flags of potential sexual abuse as well. Sexual Abuse The Hendricksons claimed Chelsey was sexually inappropriate both with herself and their other children, but Chelsey reported something quite different in her forensic psychological evaluation. This led the evaluation to result in suspected sexual abuse, even though Chelsey denied any sexual altercations at some times, while claiming her siblings, the Hendricksons’ other children, touched her inappropriately, at other times. And there are plenty of other factors to consider when discerning whether sexual abuse had taken place as well. The following statements are from the forensic psychological evaluation. “...There are concerns about boundaries in the home; due to Chelsey has reported she and her parents walked around naked in the home. Mr. and Mrs. Hendrickson reported they had to have Chelsey sleep in their bathroom due to she would masturbate so intensely she would fall out of bed…” The following statement is from a video interview between Chelsey and an adult involved in the investigation. “...The interviewer asked about the bathtub, and Chelsey stated she would have to ask her “dad” and she said “did he tell you?” and she subsequently said all she does is take a shower….” The following is also part of the forensic psychological evaluation. “...It appears as though Chelsey may have been exposed to sexual behaviors of some level. The foster mother reported Chelsey disclosed her sister and brother had “touched” her, however she did not have details. She further reported Chelsey disclosed her parents would walk around the house naked, and she liked seeing it, and she drew a picture of a man’s genitalia, which was “pretty accurate.” She also stated Chelsey asked her foster sibling to see her sibling’s “booty.” In the current evaluation, Chelsey denied anyone had ever touched her inappropriately, however exposure to sexual behaviors and/or content is of concern, and appears to be affecting Chelsey.” Then there is this concern: “...It was reported Mr. Hendrickson would hit Chelsey with a belt as a form of discipline, leaving marks and bruises. It was also reported he laid on top of Chelsey after hitting her…” Psychological Abuse After the reports of physical violence, neglect, and possible sexual abuse, it’s hard to imagine things could get any worse for Chelsey. But they do. Beneath the physical surface, where bruises, scratches, and starvation occur, there lingers an iceberg of psychological damage large enough to sink the Titanic. Rather than taking responsibility for their violent actions against Chelsey, the Hendricksons were reported to have blamed Chelsey for the investigation of abuse and for her separation from them by calling her a liar, claiming she was manipulative, and would “throw anyone under the bus”. I believe they may have instilled this idea and others into Chelsey’s mind by having her write lines repeating the same phrases over and over again.

We can also see Chelsey’s internal struggle, confusion, and the sadness she must have felt when trying to tell what she believed was the truth while at the same time trying to obey her “parents.” “...Video of Chelsey was observed and she was crying and saying she is sad about the lying and choices she is making. She said she knows it is not right and she needs to change. The adult told her it is hard to change…” “...Video of Chelsey was observed, and she stated she lies all the time, and she is asked who does she lie to, and she says to “you” and sometimes the police about the bruise. She is asked if she has ever lied to [redacted] and she said she has, and she is asked if she has ever lied to [redacted] and she softly said “yes,” and the adult says “I can’t hear you,” and she said “yes.” Chelsey appeared frightened and nervous in the video…” At one point, DCS reported that the Hendricksons put a recording device in Chelsey’s backpack and recorded one of her private meetings with the DCS contact. “...A child contact was conducted on 5/08/2018 at the public library. During the contact the DCS specialist and the GAL observed a phone in Chelsey’s backpack recording the contact. Another attempt to meet Chelsey was on 5/15/2018. It was reported Chelsey and Mrs. Hendrickson would be at the library from 10am to 12pm. The DCS specialist waited from 10am to 12pm and checked all floors and rooms and Chelsey and Mrs. Hendrickson were not located. Later in the day, Mrs. Hendrickson reported they were in room 264. When DCS attempted to set up another visit for later in the week Mrs. Hendrickson reported they were busy and would be going out of town. Reportedly, the family sent an email to DCS informing they would not allow DCS in their home and would not engage in in-home services…” The conversations between foster children and DCS specialists during these contact meetings are supposed to be confidential and recording them is a breach of the child’s safety and privacy, among other things. Where have we seen this behavior before, church checkers? If you don’t remember, Jeff Durbin has a similar habit of secretly recording people, which we’ve covered before. I wonder if this tactic of authoritarian control is just something the Hendricksons happen to have in common with their pastor, or if it was a learned behavior. The forensic psychological evaluation also reports the following psychological abuse Chelsey endured from the Hendricksons, and the results of that abuse in Chelsey’s own behavior and inability to self-regulate. According to the evaluation, whenever she knew she was going to have a visit with the Hendricksons, Chelsey would become inconsolable and have emotional meltdowns: “...According to reports from the foster mother, on 2/15/2019 the foster parents decided to attempt to not mention to Chelsey her pending visit with her parents to see if she would do better. Subsequently, she reported Chelsey began to have difficulties around bedtime, the night before the visit. She reported Chelsey began to scream, throw herself on the floor, and subsequently began to cry and whimper and state she was scared “they” would hurt her tomorrow. It was indicated Chelsey begged to not be made to go, and she stated she was glad she was taken away from her parents…” “...The case manager for Chelsey contacted evaluator and reported the case plan has been changed to severance and adoption. She further indicated Mr. and Mrs. Hendrickson continue to deny any abuse and/or maltreatment of Chelsey since February of 2018. She reported they deny the abuse despite the evidence and the ruling by the judge on 01/07/2019 indicating physical abuse. She stated the Hendricksons continue to blame Chelsey, and state she lied, and her behavior (and any DCS/legal issue) is the reason she was removed, and not due to their actions/behaviors. The case manager also indicated the Hendricksons are not participating in services, including counseling and psychological evaluations…”

“...It is of significant concern Chelsey is continually being traumatized by visits with her parents. According to the foster mother emotion dysregulation and acting out behaviors of Chelsey increase before and after visits with Mr. and Mrs. Hendrickson. Further, it is also of significant concern Mr. and Mrs. Hendrickson are not participating in services, continue to blame Chelsey for involvement with DCS, and deny any responsibility and/or abuse of Chelsey. It appears they do not have any intentions of participating in services, which is indicated by not attending counseling, psychological evaluations, and scheduling psychological evaluations after initial severance trial. Subsequently, for the emotional and physical well-being of Chelsey, it is recommended visits with Mr. and Mrs. Hendrickson and Chelsey be suspended. It is of significant importance Chelsey’s well-being be addressed and stabilized, in order to prevent risk of self-harm, harm to others, and/or harm to her emotional well-being. Further, it is recommended therapeutic visitation and the Bonding and Best Interest referrals not be submitted at this time. These types of referrals are recommended when parents are participating in services, and the child's physical safety is not of concern. In this case, Mr. and Mrs. Hendrickson are not participating in services, they continue to blame Chelsey for DCS involvement, and continue to not take any responsibility for their actions against Chelsey. In order to safeguard Chelsey’s physical and mental health, any and all visits should be suspended at this time. If Mr. and Mrs. Hendrickson participate in services, including and not limited to counseling, psychological evaluations, recommendations from psychological evaluations, and demonstrate progress, visitation could be considered at that time…”. Chelsey’s internalization of the abuse and falsely blaming herself can be even further demonstrated by some of the handwritten letters from the Hendrickson family. It appears the entire family gaslit Chelsey and re-enforced the mantra that she was lying and had a heart of “evil”.