Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Part 1. The Wolf

One of the most egregious acts that one can do is to use a position of perceived power and authority to take advantage of a child. It is wholly devious not only because it abuses the trust of the victim in the worst possible way, but it almost always entails planning, premeditation, and forethought to execute. It’s a predator mentality, like a wolf stalking its prey.

What you are about to read is a true story of a wolf in sheep's clothing named Stanley Glenn Vickery, a convicted sex offender as of 2014.

I was 15 years old in the spring of 1986 when I had the displeasure of meeting this clown. At the time, Vickery was a 33 year old licensed and ordained evangelist in a fundamentalist Christian organization known as the United Pentecostal Church International (commonly known as the UPC) out of Hazelwood, Missouri. Based out of Tioga, Louisiana (incidentally, the same town that the state district headquarters of the UPC is located), Vickery had been invited by my father to preach a week-long revival at the Northside Pentecostal Church in Brookhaven, Mississippi. My father was also a UPC minister who moved his family from Louisiana to take over the pastorate of the church in 1985.

It wasn’t unusual to entertain visiting ministers from out of town, including foreign missionaries who traveled to exotic countries and places that I had never been to. These men were always married and had their wives in tow as well as their children.  We usually helped the visiting minister guide their RV into the yard by the parsonage, leveled it off, and blocked it. Dad would then invite the family into our home to visit while they were there for the duration. In the case of Vickery, he came alone without his wife.

I had known Vickery before by name only — he was actually the former pastor of a UPC church in Bunkie, Louisiana up until around 1980 or 1981 (more on that in a later post). The pastor who took over that church from him was a close friend of my father’s, and we actually attended that very same church in Bunkie between 1983 and 1984. Vickery was gone by then, but his name was certainly familiar to me.

Getting back to Brookhaven, Mississippi in the spring of 1986... I was attending a parochial school there which was located directly behind the church and only 50 or so feet from the parsonage; hence my activities for the entire day were spent within a fairly constrained area. Being the PK (preacher’s kid), I was expected to help my father with things around the church and parsonage, especially when we had a guest minister in for a revival.

Revivals are successive nightly church services that last for a week or more — it’s a way to rejuvenate and re-enthuse the laity of the church. The guest minister prepares and delivers a sermon each night, and the regular parishioners are expected to attend and bring visitors. For this particular revival, my daily routine during the week was pretty much the same… attend parochial school next door from 8am-3pm, then return to the parsonage to do homework, perform a list of chores, sneak in some recreational time in on my home computer, and finally prepare the church building and grounds for the upcoming service that night. 

The revival kicked off in typical Pentecostal fanfare. My old man was a pro at working up the crowd and getting everyone excited. Music added to the mood of the service, culminating to the evangelist Vickery stepping up to the pulpit and delivering the good word of the Lord. This went on night after night.

During the day, it was the same routine: school, chores, and doing things to help the visiting minister. Very shortly after he arrived, Vickery asked my dad if he could take me to town with him to run errands. I agreed since it got me out of the house. It was during that ride that I got the first hint that something was wrong with this dude.

While riding, the conversation quickly turned to my girlfriend (yes, I had one who attended the church). What was she like? Did I like her? Had I touched her? There were even more poignant questions, but I'll refrain... you can see where this is going. Yet as strange and drole as I thought the questions were, I didn’t think too much of the conversation. Being a 15 year old kid whose dad was a bit of a hard-ass, it wasn’t unusual for preacher friends of his to take me under their wing and give me some encouragement, though none had ever brought up sex as a topic.

Looking back on it, this was the beginning of Vickery’s grooming tactic. It’s brilliant: start off playing the “bro” card with the pastor’s kid, act like you’re his friend and talk to him about cool stuff — girls and sex. Yeah!

I really didn’t think much of the questions he asked, but over the ensuing days, things started to get weird. I would catch him looking at me and smiling at odd, out of place times. Then the physical horseplay started — he would come from behind and catch me in a bear hug, tickle me, or make a wrestling move in order to get his hands on me. He would do this multiple times in a day. Now, for a 15 year old boy, it was nothing to wrestle or horseplay at school with others my own age, but a grown man doing this? A preacher? It creeped me out. Still, I tried to rationalize this behavior as just quirky personality.

Nonetheless, I felt uncomfortable, so I consciously evaded him, making sure that he was not in the same room as me, especially without anyone else present. Since he was there for an entire week, this was a daily effort, and he kept it up day after day. He was relentless, and I was exhausted from his constant attention. I made every attempt to evade him, so much so that I was literally sick to my stomach — I lost my appetite and just stopped eating.

During this entire time, we were going to church every night listening to this man preach from behind a pulpit — this reinforced his status as “the man of God.” It was alien to me and totally incongruent that someone who was standing in a place of reverence on the rostrum and behind the pulpit would be acting like he was. I had a hard time reconciling this in my 15 year old mind. Still, I had enough sense to try to maintain distance from him.

It wasn’t over, however. His final move came one afternoon after school. I was sitting at my computer desk in my bedroom finishing up some homework when he walked in and sat beside me, acting as though he was interested in what I was doing. I made small talk with him just enough to cop an excuse to leave the room. As I rose from my chair, he reached behind me with his right arm, moved it between my legs, then placed his hand firmly and strongly on my crotch… and just left it there, while sporting a most lascivious grin on his face.

I was in complete shock. I wrestled my way out of his grasp and left the bedroom.

That was the last time I was in a room with him alone. From then on, I made every effort to ensure that he was as far away from me as possible. Shortly after that incident, the revival ended and he finally left. I was relieved… my appetite started to come back and I felt like I didn’t have to tip-toe around the house or church grounds to avoid this creep.

The obvious questions are: Why didn't I tell someone at the time? Why did I wait this long to talk about it?

The answers to these questions and more will be revealed in subsequent posts.

1 comment:

  1. Boisy, all I can say is I am shocked. Knowing you since you were about 20, I cannot imagine a confident strong man like you went through this. I always wondered how such things happened. I was brought up by my parents to never have so much reverence for a living breathing human being that you put him equivalent to god. We almost had a healthy irreverence in our up bringing. Look forward to hearing more from you. Also, I applaud your courage to talk about it. I hope this helps other people. You need to be the evangelist for this cause and speak in surrounding churches about voicing against such behavior and reporting it.


Part 3. The Conclusion

... behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.  -- Numbers 32:33 (KJV) Therefore whatsoever ye hav...