Apologia Church promised me a lawsuit last year. So...Where is it?
Over a year ago, an attorney representing both Apologia Church and Apologia Church members Michael and Tiffany Hendrickson sent me a Cease and Desist Letter threatening to sue me for defamation. If I didn't take down an article I published regarding reports and allegations of child abuse perpetrated by the Hendricksons against their adopted child, Chelsey, Jeff Durbin promised me swift legal action:
"...We have updated our Attorney regarding your threats, harassment, and history of libel and he stands ready...You have our word on the matter. Our Attorney is ready. We encourage you to have yours prepared as well...."
To recap, and as we've reported multiple times, in 2018, Chelsey (age 7 at the time) was removed from the Hendrickson home by the Maricopa County Superior Court because they were ruled by the court as “abusive,” and therefore unfit to be her guardians. In addition to the court ruling, there is a plethora of other documentation, reports, and personal testimony, not only from the victim herself, but from multiple professionals whose reports were used as evidence to establish child abuse by the court, which you can see for yourself here.
In their reports, which we've published in the link above, these professionals all expressed that they believed Chelsey was in danger and needed protection from Hendricksons, who continuously “blamed Chelsey for the abuse” and “refused DCS services,” claiming that they were receiving counseling from their church, Apologia Church.
When we emailed our post with these reports of abuse to Apologia Church and the Hendricksons for correction, comment, and to ask them about the allegations, they refused to answer our questions or offer any corrections, except to call the article slanderous and defamatory. When I asked Apologia Church and Jeff Durbin for specific examples of a slanderous or defamatory statement in the article, he refused to give any, calling me a member of a cult and claiming he doesn't have to answer "false allegations." You can read my email interactions with Durbin in context in the original post here.
As previously noted, once the first post was published in August of 2022, I received a Cease and Desist Letter from an attorney representing both the Hendricksons and Apologia Church, which you can read in this post. Since the report wasn't defamation and the assertions made by the attorney in the Cease and Desist Letter aren't true, I didn't take the article down.
Now, here we are, more than a year later, I haven't taken anything down, I've written and published additional articles on the allegations of abuse against the Hendricksons, and they still haven't sued me.
In fact, not only have they not sued me, but the Hendricksons appear to have closed their social media accounts and left Arizona.
Additionally, Apologia Church has also lied about suing me to people inquiring about the abuse allegations online. One person asked about the abuse allegations on Apologia's Abolish Abortion Northern Ireland page on Facebook. They responded by deleting the person's comment and claiming they couldn't discuss the abuse allegations because they were in the middle of "defamation proceedings" with me. But they weren't, and still aren't.
Not only have they not sued me and lied about suing me to people asking questions about the abuse allegations, but Apologia Church Pastor Luke Pierson has also censored at least one comment calling him out on Facebook regarding the church's cowardly and dishonest handling of the allegations of abuse against Chelsey. My husband (Joe Young) commented on a public post by Luke Pierson in March of this year. It was quickly deleted, but not before I took a screenshot.
Aside from wondering why Jeff Durbin didn't sue me (although I have a pretty good idea), I have another important question. Why didn't the Maricopa County Attorney's Office convict the Hendricksons of child abuse even though they ruled them as abusive and had Chelsey removed from their home? I've tried both calling and emailing the MCAO, but have yet to receive a response. Maybe Jeff can ignore me forever, but eventually, someone at the MCAO is going to have to provide some facts. If not to me, maybe they'll give them to you, church checkers.
Don't forget to ask yourself these questions, too. Why is all of this happening? Why is Apologia Church hiding and lying, rather than suing me and anyone else that repeats the reported allegations and court ruling of child abuse by the Hendricksons against Chelsey? After all, they promised they would.
Regardless of whether you believe the allegations and documentation against the Hendricksons or not, the fact remains that I haven't lied or spread misinformation in publishing them. But Apologia Church has, both by telling people they were in the middle of legal proceedings with me when they weren't (and still aren't), and by censoring comments that question and call them out for protecting and defending court-ruled child abusers.
In my opinion, Apologia Church appears to be desperately covering their tracks. Regardless of whether you believe the Hendricksons are guilty of the allegations against them or not, there's no denying that Apologia's leaders haven't handled them honestly, ethically, or biblically. And they don't want people knowing about it. So... let's talk about it. Let's keep asking questions, seeking the truth, investigating everything, and let's get to the bottom of this thing.
As painful and difficult as it can be to accept, the truth is the truth, church checkers. No one wants to believe awful things like this are possible, and when faced with the possibility, it's natural to want to deny and ignore them. I've tried. I always do, until the evidence becomes so monumental that it's undeniable. Despite their empty threats, lies, and censorship, the truth about Apologia Church still stands strong, and the red flag reports will continue to pile up.
Until next time, examine everything, use Christ-like discernment, tell the truth, protect the sheep, and stop feeding the wolves, church checkers. Wolves are intimidating, but oftentimes, their bark is worse than their bite. Sometimes, they end up being wolves without teeth.