Investigation Uncovers Hundreds of Sexual Abuse Allegations in Baptist Churches; Former Local Bible Teacher Cited
An investigation has revealed hundreds of allegations of sexual abuse in fundamental Baptist churches. Some from right here in Northern Michigan.
A report by the Star-Telegram newspaper details more than 400 allegations against church officials nationwide.
Including a former Christian school teacher in Otsego County.
Aaron Willand was a former teacher at Grace Baptist Christian School in Gaylord, he was sentenced to prison for raping one of his former students.
“We spent every day of the week pretty much with him. He was a Sunday school teacher at the church as well, he was around kids 24/7,” Naomi Perez, said.
Naomi Perez grew up in Otsego County.
She and her sisters were students at Grace Baptist Christian School. That’s where they met Aaron Willand, their teacher for several years.
“They ended up not renewing his contract and he left and went to Washington my senior year,” Perez, explained.
Willand left the school in the mid-2000s.
Shortly after he was convicted of raping Naomi’s sister, his former student in Washington.
“My mom sent her from Michigan to help the Willand family to get settled into Washington and get settled in with this new baby and she was there for two weeks,” Perez, said.
The 14 year-old came back and told her mom what happened.
He was sentenced to five years in prison and has since been released.
But Naomi and her sister says the abuse started when she was 12 and living in Gaylord. He was still her teacher at that time.
“He pleaded guilty, he said he had a problem he did not contest it in any way shape or form, and he admitted it,” Perez, added.
Perez says they have recently contacted state police to see how they can seek justice for crimes here in Northern Michigan.
“We thought for years no one was listening and now everyone is listening and it’s amazing and I know I’ve watched my sister get a little bit of extra strength,” she said.
More Northern Michigan natives have come forward claiming they were abused at the hands of Baptist church officials.
We’ll hear their stories Wednesday on 9&10 News.