Former members of Grace Cathedral say televangelist Ernest Angley has turned a blind eye to sexual abuse they reported to him.
Shane McCabe is among those who told the Beacon Journal they were molested in the Cuyahoga Falls church.
"I was sexually abused there," said McCabe, who has since moved to Florida with his wife for a new start.
McCabe said the abuse began at age 13 at the hands of a close Angley associate who was frequently in and out of town. It happened several times over the course of a year, he said.
When he finally worked up the courage to talk to Angley about it a few years later, McCabe said, "he basically blew me off."
"He asked if I had told anybody. I said no. He said, 'Let's keep it a secret. This is the way we need to handle it because God's mercy is great.' "
McCabe told Angley he feared the man was prowling for more victims because he had shown up at McCabe's birthday party. But Angley still wouldn't pursue it, McCabe said.
When asked during an interview in his office to comment on McCabe's allegations, Angley responded with one sentence: "I don't think there was anything to that."
At about the same time, McCabe's future wife, Kim, says she also was being abused by a different church member. When she finally told her mother she had been the victim of illicit touching and graphic propositions, she said, her mom immediately called Angley, who told her not to tell anyone else - including her husband.
The mother, a devout follower, told no one.
Shane and Kim dated for years before they even told each other. "We didn't tell anybody," she said.
After they finally spoke up, a close, older girlfriend of Kim's confided that she, too, had been abused.
"We knew that the three of us had had the same thing happen by three different men at the same exact time," Kim said. "And the same thing was done: It was kept quiet."
When Angley was asked why he counseled people to stay silent about such matters, he said: "They shouldn't talk about it, but they can do something about it. But they ought not to spread it abroad, you know, because that hurts others."
But shouldn't others be warned?
"Well, yeah, if they're dangerous," Angley responded. "If it's somebody that, you know, makes a habit of that. We get 'em out. We get them out. We just let them know they have to go."
When asked why he didn't report such issues to authorities, he said, "That isn't my place."
The McCabes wed at Grace Cathedral in 2004 (incurring the church's wrath, they said, because they declined to use the Cathedral Buffet for their reception). By 2010, they had had enough.
During separate interviews, both related what they considered an incredibly odd conversation during their last visit to Angley's office.
They say he expressed absolutely no interest in her complaints but wanted Shane to recount his in minute detail - marking the fourth time, Shane said, that Angley had him tell the entire story.
The second time Angley asked for details, Shane figured Angley was checking to make sure the stories matched, to determine whether he was telling the truth. But after the third and fourth retellings, Shane was certain that wasn't the motive, he said.
At their joint meeting, Kim said, Angley "went into very graphic detail with my husband about, 'What happened to you? Why didn't you [orgasm]? I'm sure it felt good. That would have been natural.'
"It was ridiculous and not something any professional person would ever ask."
Another former member of the church, now 29 and living in Iowa, says she was abused throughout her youth by a different church member and was appalled by Angley's lack of concern when she told him about it.
(Her name and town are being withheld because she says the person who repeatedly sexually penetrated her is still active in the church and is violent, and she fears he will use his connections to have someone harm her.)
When Angley hosted a meeting with the woman and the man she accused, the preacher "gave [the man] a slap on the hand," she said over the phone, sobbing. "He basically 'saved' him again, and had him say another prayer - and started saying it was partly my fault because of my actions. ...
"For a long time, I believed it."
Years later, she began to have horrible flashbacks, remembering "his hot breath, and him being big, and coming into the room. It was one flashback after another and I couldn't get it to stop."
Today she has an entirely new set of friends, none of whom know anything about her days at Grace Cathedral.
"I thought about going back just to make a scene, to yell at him. I was so pissed off at Ernest Angley, and I still am.
"What he did - he took my whole childhood from me. He took all that away from me. You only have one childhood."
One former member says Angley paved the way for her to marry a man he knew was a convicted sex offender.
C Jay Coker says Angley told her the man, a friend of hers, had been falsely imprisoned because of unspecified, trumped-up charges initiated by an angry ex-wife.
Coker and the man had been exchanging letters and, upon his release, they started dating, with Angley's blessing - although Angley told her to keep the relationship a secret, she said.
"Once we secretly dated for almost a year, Ernest told me to marry him," she said.
Only after their wedding did she discover that he had been convicted of molesting a 5-year-old girl multiple times. She was so upset that she literally vomited.
After sitting through court-ordered counseling and group-therapy sessions in which she "was forced to hear the disgusting thoughts he had about young girls," she started to plan her exit.
Coker, once a member of the choir, looks back in horror on Angley's inordinate influence on her most important decisions. "I'm ashamed of how I let one man ruin my life."
Next: A departed pastor is blasted from the pulpit during an unusual Sunday service.
Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He also is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bob.dyer.31.