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Bob Whitsel

Bob Whitesel, IWU Professor

I know Bob Whitesel all too well. He hurt my family and me, causing us great pain at the Jesus People Church in Minneapolis. Please read the Minneapolis Star and Tribune article posted below. Perhaps you may reconsider Bob Whitesel as a source of any spiritual truth.

Minneapolis Star and Tribune
Suit says pastor of defunct church coerced two women into having sex
By Kevin Diaz
Staff Writer
Mpls Star Tribune

Two women, former members of the now defunct Jesus People Church in Minneapolis, have alleged that they were coerced into sexual relationships with a pastor of the church, according to a lawsuit filed Friday.

The women, now married and in their 20's, allege that were "forced and coerced" into sex with the Rev. Robert Barry Whitesel, now pastor of Vineyard of the Lake Church in Wayzata.

The alleged sexual encounters were reported to have started in 1981 and continued until 1986, after the Jesus People Church broke up and Whitesel moved to his Wayzata church. James Kerr, Minneapolis attorney representing the two women, said they were 15 and 18 years old when the sexual encounters began.

Whitesel issued a statement last night denying the allegations, at least in part: "As I stand before God, the charges that it was nonconsensual or that it took place in in a counseling situation, or that anyone underage was involved, are blatantly untrue. I can only guess they are fabricated to insure them a greater settlement in a lawsuit."

Whitesel, who is married with children, also said he had been disciplined and received counseling stemming from the affair. "The board of our (Wayzata) church, in consultation with my psychologist, unanimously voted to restore me to the ministry, after a time of discipline," he said. He declined to say when he was disciplined, and for how long.

"We, my family and I, can tolerate tribulations, difficulties and hardships," he said. "It's the untruths that bring us great grief."

The women's allegations are attached to a suit filed by the insurer of the Jesus People Church, the Indiana-based American States Insurance Co., which seeks to escape financial liability in the case. The suit, filed in Hennepin County District Court, also names Vineyard of the Lake Church as a defendant.

The women and their husbands, all identified only by their initials, contend that they suffered emotional and marital difficulties as a result of the women's past sexual relationships with Whitesel.

The women are described in their formal complaint as having been "young, professed born-again Christians, who were extremely devoted to the church and to (Whitesel)."

Their suit contends that Whitesel, who served as youth pastor and choir director at the Jesus People Church , counseled the women and controlled their social lives to the point of dictating whom they could date.

They allege that he influenced them to have sex with him in both the Jesus People Church and Vineyard of the Lake, and that in every instance the sexual activity was accompanied by prayer, reinforcing his status as an authority figure.

Kerry said that the women's allegations were brought to the police and Hennepin County authorities in the last year but the statute of limitations had already expired for any criminal charges.

The Jesus People Church, a charismatic religious organization on Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis known for its ministry to young people, particularly teenagers down on their luck, folded in November 1985.

In its suit, American States insurance is contesting its liability under a $500,000 policy with the Jesus People Church. However, the women's cases have not yet been heard in court.
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