Three victims recount their harrowing experiences of being sexually abused by a North Philadelphia pastor when they were children.
Three victims, two women and one man faced their sexual abuser in court this week, recounting their harrowing experiences in the hands of one pastor who they saw as a "a father firgure or church leader." That person was 59 year old Pastor Mark Hatcher of Holy Ghost Headquarters, a Pentecostal church in North Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, all three of Hatcher's victims described a similar pattern of sexual abuse at the hands of their abuser when they testified in court. The three victims said that the Philadelphia pastor would wait until he was alone with them and would begin an innocious conversation then suddenly grope or rape them. The victims were children at the time the sexual abuse occurred.
Philadelphia Pastor Charged with Rape, Sexual Assault of Minors
One victim recounted an incident that occurred in Pastor Hatcher's home in 2000, when he exposed himself to her before touching her breasts. She said tried to "go along with it and play it cool" as she was "terrified" and "didn't know what to do."
Another victim, a male, broke down when he recounted up to five incidents beginning in 2007 when Pastor Hatcher would abuse him in the pastor's home. The male victim said he felt like it was "reliving it all again, helpless."
The third accuser, another female, said that Pastor Hatcher was in a relationship with her mother when in 2006, when she was just 13, he offered to drive her to school twice. Both times, the Philadelphia pastor came to her house alone and kissed and groped her before taking her to school.
The same victim said that in 2008, Pastor Hatcher took her to a house under renovation in Brewerytown where he proceeded to pin her down and rape her, covering her mouth to prevent her from screaming for help. The incident was reported to the Philadelphia Police Special Victims Unit, but the city District Attorney's Office did not press charges at the time.
Pastor Denies Allegations as More Americans Refuse to Attend Churches Labeled 'Pentecostal'
Pastor Hatcher has denied all sexual abuse allegations against him, his lawyer said, citing "no physical evidence," ABC 6 reported. Following the numerous sexual and financial scandals in Pentecostal churches across America, more and more churchgoers are distancing themselves from such institutions.
A recent Lifeway Research survey revealed that was conducted from September 3 to 14, 2021 revealed that 51% of Americans said that "a church with the word Pentecostal in its name was not for them."
According to the Christian Headlines, the Pentecostal church was the denomination with the most number of respondents saying they would not be interested in joining. The list was followed by Catholic with 48% of respondents, Methodist and Lutheran with 47% of respondents each, and Southern Baptist and Presbyterians with 46% of respondents each.
Lifeway Research executive director Scott McConnell explained that most people have "preexisting impressions of denominational groups" upon seeing them in the name or description of a church.