A False Apology by George Geftakys
Assembly leaders involved in this account: George Geftakys, Betty Geftakys, Tim Geftakys, Ginger Geftakys, Mark Miller, Dan Notti, Danny Edwards, Mike Zach, Cheryl Zach, Jeff Lehmkuhl, Roberto Sanchez, Greg Holder
I have been informed by a number of people that my grandfather, George Geftakys is coming to SLO this weekend and reading a letter of apology for the covering up of my father, David Geftakys’ behavior. I have heard that the Leading Brothers have apologized as well and claim that David deceived them. David Geftakys has been once again put under discipline and is not allowed to partake or preach. I believe all of this is a sham and that no real repentance by the leadership has taken place.
I think the most compelling evidence that this is a sham has to do with George’s so called letter of apology. I think it is very telling that George is coming to SLO to read a letter of apology and yet the victims of the abuse, myself and, most of all, my mother, have not heard a word of apology from him. In the past two years, since I first began to openly reveal the truth of the abuse that had occurred, I have received two letters. One was from David Geftakys once I had stopped talking with him. The letter simply said, "If I did anything to offend you, then I am sorry." No acceptance of responsibility. No repentance of the decades of abuse, just an "if, then" statement. It was my fault for being offended, and he was telling me he was sorry for what I did! I had been offended!
The second letter was from my grandmother, Betty Geftakys. That letter was a form letter except for the first paragraph. In that paragraph, she stated that time and distance allows for such misunderstandings which could be cleared up with a little communication. Again, there was no acceptance of any responsibility, no repentance. There was not even a token description of what I may have misunderstood that I could take as a token of good faith. There was no indication whatsoever that she really was repentant of the role she had taken in our life for so long. Needless to say, the distance remains too great for the little communication that could clear up the misunderstanding. Betty is right about one thing, I still do misunderstand how she could have done what she did for all those years and not feel sorry about it, let alone ever admit it. I really don’t understand all of this, except that she qualifies as a truly evil person for what she has done.
I also find it interesting that Betty is not reading a letter of apology. Here is a woman who for 25 years counseled a couple where the wife was suffering physical violence at the hands of her husband. When it became apparent, after the first decade, that her counseling methods were not working, she did not turn to anyone for help. She did not suggest that maybe her son, the wife beater, should not be a recognized shepherd "tending" to God’s sheep. Betty also hid her knowledge of the abusive history of David Geftakys when Judy received a black eye in 1996 and the cause became known to the SLO leadership. As the leadership in SLO was deciding how to handle this new-to-them knowledge, Betty kept quiet and did not reveal to anyone that this was not the first time David had beaten Judy. Betty did not even express understanding, let alone offer help, when Judy was forced to flee for her life. In contrast, she denied the responsibility of the position she had taken, the position of a counselor.
In the real world teachers, pastors and counselors are required to inform the authorities within 48 hours if physical violence has taken place. It makes me wonder, what was Betty’s motivation for maintaining her silence? Since Betty puts so much stock in adult children’s behavior as an indicator of the parent’s walk with God, both at the present time and during that child’s formative years, Betty may have feared revelation of her son’s outrageous behavior would undermine the trust in her and her husband George’s qualifications as Godly leaders.
I have to agree, if people had known about this they may have had some doubts in their minds.
With regard to the Leading Brothers role both in SLO and in every other Assembly in the country, I ask you to refer to my story posted on this website. For them to claim they have been "deceived" by David is either an outright lie or stupidity. Most likely it is both. They are under so much bondage and control that they could not recognize physical abuse if it happened to them. Either way, men who lead in the church should not be corrupt, or so stupid they cannot discern blatant sin of this nature, especially when people are telling them about it.
I was always taught to believe that when someone was made a Leading Brother, that person was a recognized shepherd. It was taught that God Himself put these men into their positions of authority. It is the responsibility of the shepherds to protect the sheep, especially from wolves in sheep’s clothing. A Leading Brother was to have a care and concern for the sheep. A Leading Brother had a certain place of authority and regard that came with a responsibility to protect and take care of God’s sheep.
George has claimed a unique vision from God and yet he will claim he was "too blind" to see the abuse in his own family. When he was finally confronted in 1998, with Judy’s threat to call the police, his response was to tell her that anyone who called in the police would be out of the Worker’s meeting (her family’s sole source of financial support) and to tell her she had a sharp tongue! Why did he not investigate a well-known past of abuse? Why did he not take steps to insure the safety and well being of those in danger, seeing as they were not only sheep under his care but also his daughter-in-law, the mother of his grandchildren, and his grandchildren themselves?
George was quick to pass the responsibility to others including his wife. God’s self proclaimed servant, George, was aware that his wife had known of this abuse for years, and had been unable, or unwilling to stop it. George knew his wife’s solution to the problem had been to keep the abuse quiet, and to lie about it and anyone who might speak up about it.
It is undeniable that George’s only goal at that point was maintaining the "respectable" image of his Work. No real concern was shown for those in danger or a past riddled with ineptness and lies. Anyone can see that George is totally disqualified as servant of God in light of his response to physical abuse. One must question George’s true motivation and whether he is truly in his heart serving God or if his focus has shifted to maintaining his worldwide ministry. If George’s true motivation was serving God, he would have exposed what by then had become an ongoing pattern of sin and corruption (lies). He should have purged the ministry of those involved with the lies, and corruption in order to have a good testimony. Instead he kept it quiet and distanced himself from the trouble. Please understand, it is not as if he kept silent for a week, until overcome by guilt. No, he lied about this for years!
Then, when Judy finally had to flee, he did not reach out to her. He did not offer her help in what was a horrendous and painful time. George’s daughter-in-law, whose sole source of support for decades had been his ministry, was forced to leave for her own safety, and yet George offered her no financial help! Of course, he continued to support David.
Did George assume that since Judy was no longer willing to stay in an abusive home that she would have financial support from somewhere else? He refused to talk to any of those so hurt and damaged by the abuse, despite the fact that they were his own family. The Bible says something about this kind of man. If a man does not care for his own family, how can he care for the church?
Dan Notti was first made aware of the abuse in 1980. That is 22 years ago. He was made aware of the continuation of the abuse during the years that followed. He did not take the responsibility dictated by his possession, as a shepherd to make sure that a sheep, my mother, was safe and well cared for. In contrast he hid his knowledge of the past abuse when my mother received a black eye in the fall of 1996 and the Leading Brothers in SLO were muddling over how to handle that event. He was asked to counsel my parents in the last 5 years of their marriage but his counseling was totally impotent to stop the abuse. After he stopped meeting with my parents, he again did not take responsibility as a shepherd to make sure my mother was safe. When he asked questions regarding how things were going, he became angry with my mother, who told him that she was still being abused. Instead of doing something about it, he began to slander her. Dan Notti has shown that at best he is an unfit and unfaithful shepherd, unworthy of the position afforded him in the assemblies. It is far more likely that Dan Notti is a liar and complicit contributor to abuse.
Mark Miller has known about the abuse since 1999 at the latest and probably earlier as I suspect he would have heard about my mother’s black eye in 1996, not to mention the restraining order I filed against my father. Again, here is a man given the place of a shepherd who shirked his responsibility in order to avoid having to make a stand. Is that a fit shepherd?
Tim and Ginger Geftakys have also known of the abuse since 1993. Again we have the scenario of a shepherd refusing to ask questions in order to protect the sheep. One would assume that since the sheep in danger was his own sister-in-law, and his nieces and nephew, Tim and Ginger would have been more diligent. However, it was quite the opposite. Instead of making efforts to protect, they made efforts to distance themselves from a potentially embarrassing situation. They must have heard about the black eye in 1996 and again my claims in my restraining order about the beating in the spring of 1997 and yet still no steps were taken to insure change. No, they just let their brother continue on as a leader and worker, even sharing the ministry with him for the North Coast Conference for several years!
In 1998 Ginger heard about the abuse first hand from Judy and promised her help. There has been no evidence of help since then. In October 2000, Ginger told me on the phone that she had been concerned about my mother for some time and wanted to "open a line of communication." That comment begs the question, what was the conversation 2 years prior? Was that not a "line of communication?" And if it was, what had her response been? The visible answer, nothing! Again, here is a shepherd, an elder, and a Worker and his wife, who had completely abandoned his responsibilities in order to stay away from an uncomfortable and ugly situation. Once again, is this person worthy of your trust as a servant of God and a shepherd? Actually, there is a strong case for calling this person a criminal, not a Christian worker.
The same can be said for Mike and Cheryl Zach when they witnessed the situation first hand in 1999. I find it impossible to believe they had not known at least the stories of abuse from the past years. They could have easily gone to Betty upon being asked to come out and work with David and Judy, and asked about her knowledge of the past. Even if Betty had not been entirely honest they would have known that this was at the least a decade old problem. If they had asked Dan Notti, the man who had been asked to meet with David and Judy a few years before, what his knowledge was of the past history, they could have potentially found out it was a 2 decade old problem.
While they were here in SLO, they witnessed, with their own eyes the situation. Then they went on their way back to the Midwest with empty promises of help. The only help offered was a meeting with Dan and Mark Miller, two men who had proved unable to effectively help in the past. Even that help did not come for nearly a year after Mike and Cheryl had left. Once again, what kind of shepherds are these people? What have they done to deserve the position they hold in your life?
The Leading Brothers in SLO, Jeff Lehmkuhl and Roberto Sanchez and Greg Holder, who is now in Spokane, have known about the abuse since 1996, when my mother received a black eye. Shortly after they had spoken with my father warning him of further consequences if he was to become violent again, there was the incident evidenced by David’s face being scratched. In case you have not read my paper, those scratches were the result of Judy trying to get David off of her as he held her on her back on the floor choking her. Then again in the spring of 1997 when David beat me, they were made aware of his continuing abuse. To claim that they just trusted David is ludicrous.
How many of us have been under discipline or suspicion of some sin and, when we have just been trusted or believed? The leaders have always insisted that the common saint show proof of repentance. Why was David allowed to continue with no investigation as to the continuing injuries suffered by his family? The leadership can claim they were "looking into it." Well, why was he allowed to continue to lead and preach, why were no steps taken to insure the safety of David’s wife and children (also sheep) while the "investigation" took place? And what was the result of that investigation? The only visible result was a silencing of witnesses and a slandering of those who came forward. How many of you knew David had a restraining order against him? How many of you knew of my sins at the same time as the restraining order? How many were told I was a liar and not to be trusted, that the restraining order was based on false testimony? And yet at that time, the leadership in SLO and in Fullerton was already aware of a history of abuse by David. It is interesting that my sins were so quickly brought up and yet a history of abuse that supported my claims in the restraining order was hidden and denied.
Even at that time, to claim deception by David is a fallacy or an outright lie. By October of 2000 more stories of abuse were coming out as Judy left her husband. I sat down at that time with Kirk Cesaretti and told him all I knew. I also told a lot of my story to Ginger Geftakys, Elizabeth Geftakys and in part to Sandy and Rachel Ford.
The leadership claims to have investigated but that "investigation" was very one-sided. Instead of speaking with the victims of the abuse and asking their forgiveness for past negligence and the damage that their negligence had caused, they ignored the testimony of victims, dismissing them as unreliable witnesses, and labeled their stories as "lies and darkness." This was done regardless of the fact that the leadership already had knowledge of a history of abuse and that some of the story was easily verifiable. They disciplined David until the outcry had died down and then it was back to business as usual. There were no signs of true repentance by the leadership for the role they had already taken. There was no reaching out in compassion to those hurt by the abuse. No stepping down by the leadership because they had proved themselves unfit shepherds and unworthy of the position, responsibility and trust they had taken upon themselves. In contrast, they slandered those continuing to talk about the abuse and continued to hold positions of authority and respect in the Assembly. By today, the SLO leading brothers, including Danny Edwards, have had 2 years to make this situation right. Yet the continuing mode of operating has been to slander those who tell the truth, to ignore witnesses who come forward, and to continue in a place of leadership rejecting all questions as to the credibility of the Leading Brothers and their ability to be true shepherds.
It is true that David Geftakys’ behavior has been reprehensible. However, this is not just about David Geftakys. This is about a ministry and a collection of people who claim to be God’s servants and shepherds of God’s people, who have a longstanding pattern of lying and covering abuse in order to stay in a position of authority and honor. It is about these same people slandering any who may expose their corruption and leaving the least of God’s people to be devoured by the wolves of abuse and neglect in order to maintain an illusion. That illusion is one of a committed, sincere, and godly Christian ministry. The need to maintain that illusion was so important because it had become their identity. They were important because of the position they held in that ministry. Some even received their livelihood from that ministry.
These people--George Geftakys, Betty Geftakys, Tim Geftakys, Ginger Geftakys, Mark Miller, Dan Notti, Danny Edwards, Mike Zach, Cheryl Zach, Jeff Lehmkuhl, Roberto Sanchez, and Greg Holder--have all compromised and sinned by lying and slandering people in order to cover abuse that had the potential to shake the ministry by which they received their identity and livelihood. These people are the founders of that ministry and some of them are the most key people in it. That means the foundation of that ministry has been corrupted. There are others I am sure have heard or seen the evidence of the abuse over the years and have done nothing. I do not name any others because I do not have the exact situation in which they were involved. I have in my story only touched on the most blatant evidences of abuse and corruption.
My mother has much more to say but has been unable to finish her story; it is too painful. But she should be finished soon. The other shepherds around the country are culpable in that they allowed these people to lie to them without challenging them. The other shepherds ignored evidence so they would not have to challenge or cross the above named people. The other shepherds were willingly ignorant, better known as being in denial. However, that does not change the fact that the other shepherds failed the sheep just as much by not asking questions and protecting the sheep regardless of what other shepherds said. It reminds me of the story of the man wounded on the side of the road, and the Pharisee, passing by on the opposite side of the road so he would not have to help that man or defile himself with his blood.
If I am to believe that there is a genuine beginning of an attempt at repentance and healing I would need to see the following:
An honest admission by the George Geftakys, Betty Geftakys, Tim Geftakys, Ginger Geftakys, Mark Miller, Dan Notti, Danny Edwards, Mike Zach, Cheryl Zach, Jeff Lehmkuhl, Roberto Sanchez, and Greg Holder as to the roles they have played and the positions they have taken. I would need to see an ending to the constant pointing the finger at someone else and blaming of only David Geftakys. I would need to see others being willing to tell about the abuses they witnessed without fear of retribution by anyone. I would need to see a written apology by the above named people to victims of abuse. Not just saying I am sorry, but a written admission of what they did in detail and asking forgiveness. Since George Geftakys, Betty Geftakys, Tim Geftakys, Ginger Geftakys, Mark Miller, Dan Notti, Danny Edwards, Mike Zach, Cheryl Zach, Jeff Lehmkuhl, Roberto Sanchez, and Greg Holder have shown themselves unworthy shepherds by their decades of silence, lies, corruption and slander, I would need to see them step down from a place of leadership. So long as these people maintain leadership position I will not trust that anything has really changed except in word alone. How can any of us believe any different? Once again, I challenge you not to buy the lies. Don’t continue to allow abuse of power and corruption to continue. Do not allow the statements of men already complicit in abuse for decades to go unchallenged. Do not believe everything these men say just because of the place they have held in your lives for so long. They have held that place unjustly. Seek the truth, it is easily found.
Rachel Steepleton, with Judy’s help