Gray Matters

Crime and (lack of) Punishment (Gray Matters, Part Five)

Picture 1Bob Gray, according to both media sources and former employees of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, was arrested while attempting to flee the country. He was scheduled to depart from Jacksonville on May 26th 2006. He was arrested on May 19, 2006. According to an email, he was supposed to speak on May 21st. A victim, who happened to live in the same vicinity as Gray, called the authorities and told them if they wanted to arrest Gray, now was the time since she apparently noticed suitcases being taken to the car.

When Bob Gray appeared in the courtroom, supporters of victims overwhelmed those who supported Gray.  The late Chip Wilson, former Dean of Men at TCA and advocate for the handicapped, was present.  One attendee remarked that when Gray gave Wilson ‘a look’, Wilson seemed mad enough to get out of his wheelchair. Gray victims and members of the Gray family did not seem to demonstrate hostility to each other.

There was a sort of ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ amongst victim supporters that the Gray children would not be brought into any public discussions.  I also tried to adhere to that standard, although one victim did bring up the point that she was angry because all this time ‘they knew’ yet never said a word.

The court became alarmed because a letter was received that some deemed a threat.  I think they weren’t used to reading the normal apocalyptic language of fundamentalists.

Was Trinity Christian Academy a safe place to send children?  Don Boys released an article alleging a sex predator was on campus.  No names were revealed in this article. It concerned a story about a music leader coming to Jacksonville and not registering his whereabouts.  Tony Denton was arrested but there were always allegations that another predator lurked around the corner.  It would eventually be reported that one of my English teachers at TCA was also wanted by the FBI.  It turned out to be the teacher who gave me an ‘A’ for a short story I wrote about religious corruption.

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) jumped into the mix after a biology teacher fed a live rabbit to a student’s pet python. Some might argue that’s just how nature works!  However, the python was not natural to North Florida. A python eating a rabbit at Trinity Christian Academy was about as natural as a lion eating a Christian in ancient Rome. Students seemed amused.  Since most abusers begin by torturing animals, the story of the rabbit fed to the python seemed quite appropriate for discussion. PETA sent Trinity a ‘kindness kit‘.

And the billboard said. . .

A billboard, allegedly praising Bob Gray for his service over the years, was suddenly covered up.  When I mentioned this on the FFF, some got very upset.  I found that amusing because it just made me more curious. Was it a billboard honoring Gray and thus connecting him to Trinity?

The trial was delayed for a year to allow defense to gather material.  This was considered to be a good thing.  It would give the prosecutors enough time to interview victims who had not yet come forward. There would be a trial, victims would be vindicated and closure would be had by all!

Jerry Falwell died on May 15, 2007.  Bob Gray suffered a fall in his house.  He died on November 12, 2007. Tammy Fay Messner and Rex Humbard died the same year.  Not a good time for televangelists! Fundamentalists were saddened by the death of Jerry Falwell.  So was I. Media and legal authorities did tell me a number of ministries, which would include the ministries of Thomas Road Baptist Church (Liberty University and Liberty Law) would suffer ‘black eyes’ because of the trial. In this case, death was their friend.

Audio transcripts would eventually be released by the police department.  Gray’s voice can be heard admitting to french kissing a minor.  This tape would have most likely been suppressed during the trial.   Some of the cases in the civil trial were tossed.  The remaining apparently went into a coma.

Coming up next:

Oh, Closure, Where Art Thou?

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