Long Story by Washingtonian Magazine about C.J. Mahaney, Covenant Life Church, & Sovereign Grace Ministries

January 28, 2016

by Brent Detwiler

This article was originally published HERE and is used by permission.

For the last 10 months, Washingtonian Magazine has been working on a longform story (i.e., longer than an article, shorter than a novel) about C.J. Mahaney, Covenant Life Church and Sovereign Grace Ministries.  It hits the newsstands tomorrow.  In the next week or two, it will be posted on their website.  The magazine is read by hundreds of thousands of people and will address the conspiracy to cover up the sexual abuse of children and other pertinent issues.  

The featured article in the February issue is called “The Fall of a Mega Church.”  It is written by Tiffany Stanley.  Here’s her brief description found in the table of contents.

Over four decades, a Gaithersburg church became a global evangelical empire—the center of a cloistered world many locals knew nothing about.  Then things went terribly wrong.”  

Here’s a description of the magazine and its website.  

About Us 

Washingtonian, the magazine Washington lives by, is the region’s top source of information for dining, shopping, entertainment, and personalities.  It has been Washington’s most trusted guide to living, working, and playing in the area for more than four decades thanks to features like “100 Very Best Restaurants,” “Top Doctors,” and “Great Places to Live.”  The magazine is read each month by more than 400,000 people, who spend an average of 96 minutes with each issue and save each issue for an average of five months.  The Washingtonian is a five-time National Magazine Award winner for its reporting and writing. 

Washingtonian.com, the online extension of the magazine, helps hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors explore and live in the nation’s capital.  From planning a night out on the town to locating the best pediatrician or lining up a new hairstylist, Washingtonian.com is the region’s premier destination for lifestyle information.  Through online chats with editors, online columns, events calendars, and blogs, the site helps readers keep up with everything happening around them.  Whether you’re contemplating moving and want to know the area’s best places to live or contemplating switching jobs and want to know the region’s best places to work, Washingtonian.com is the national capital region’s one stop for trustworthy, dependable, and thoughtful advice. 

For over three years, I have worked with victims, child abuse experts, lawyers and law enforcement.  I hoped to have completed a book length treatise on the conspiracy by now; but that was not possible given health challenges that arose over the past year.  People need to hear the whole story because they have been ill-informed and misinformed – that includes the members of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD formerly led by C.J. Mahaney and Joshua Harris.

Though I’ve not yet read the story in the Washingtonian, I am hopeful it will shed light on the conspiracy to commit and cover up child sexual abuse by leaders in Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) and Covenant Life Church (CLC).

For example, C.J. Mahaney’s lawyer told CLC’s lawyer, Lar Liebeler, that Mahaney knew absolutely nothing about the sexual abuse of boys by Nathaniel Morales even though at least seven of his CLC pastors (i.e., Grant Layman and Chris Glass in 1991; Robin Boisvert in 1992; Gary Ricucci in 1993; Joshua Harris, Kenneth Maresco, and Corby Megorden in 2007) were apprised of Morales’ sexual abuse as a matter of fact.  These facts were established under oath in two separate trials and Morales was subsequently sentenced to 40 years in prison in August 2014.

Mahaney oversaw these men as their senior pastor from 1980-2004 and as President/Chairman of SGM from 2005-2011.  I believe he is lying when claiming complete ignorance about Morales’ crimes.  Such extraordinary information would most certainly have been reported to him by his pastors.  It is inconceivable he had no knowledge.  No pastor employed by him would have dared withhold it from him.  I know – I worked for Mahaney for 25 years.  He micromanaged crises in the church and the larger ministry.  Withholding that kind of information from him could get you fired – and in this case, understandably.  Of course, you tell the senior pastor about children in the church who are being sexually abused!

The Lars Liebeler “independent” investigation of CLC in 2013-2014 was not independent.  How could it be?  Liebeler was hired by the pastors to investigate the pastors while retained as their lawyer.  Because of this arrangement, Liebeler could not put the CLC pastors or church members in legal jeopardy.  He could not report criminal findings.  Such is forbidden under the law governing attorney-client privilege and confidentiality.  Any incriminating evidence had to be withheld from his oral report to CLC in October 2014.

I contacted Mr. Liebeler to discuss this and other matters but he refused to engage me.  So too the CLC pastors on several occasions.  They would not meet with me.

From: Brent Detwiler [mailto:abrentdetwiler@gmail.com] Sent: Saturday, November 29, 2014 1:31 PM
To: Joshua Harris; Robin Boisvert; Dave Brewer; Don DeVries; Isaac Hydoski; Jamie Leach; Joe Lee; Adam Malcolm; Kenneth Maresco; Corby Megorden; Mark Mitchell; Kevin Rogers; Eric Sheffer; Greg Somerville; Keith Welton; Ben Wikner; Bob Schickler
Subject: Concerns for Liebeler Report

I am concerned for the Lars Liebeler report to CLC for various reasons.  The same is true for comments made by Mark [Mitchell].  I’d like to request an audience so I can share those concerns in a redemptive manner and also ask you some questions.  I am willing to drive up or talk via a conference call.  I hope you respond in the affirmative.


From: Brent Detwiler [mailto:abrentdetwiler@gmail.com] Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2014 11:30 AM
To: Joshua Harris; Robin Boisvert; Dave Brewer; Don DeVries; Isaac Hydoski; Jamie Leach; Joe Lee; Adam Malcolm; Kenneth Maresco; Corby Megorden; Mark Mitchell; Kevin Rogers; Eric Sheffer; Greg Somerville; Keith Welton; Ben Wikner; Bob Schickler
Subject: Re: Concerns for the Liebeler Report

I assume you are uninterested in hearing my concerns since I’ve heard nothing from you.  That’s your decision but please know I genuinely wanted to help you and give you the opportunity to respond to my observations. 

From: Brent Detwiler [mailto:abrentdetwiler@gmail.com] Sent: Thursday, December 18, 2014 9:43 AM
To: Joshua Harris
Subject: Please Meet

Dear Joshua,

Would you please call me or meet with me?  I’d like to talk about how you, the pastors, and the church can prosper once again.  I don’t desire your demise in any way.  I want to help.


I even wrote Joshua Harris the night before he announced his resignation as senior pastor.  I pleaded with him to be honest with the church.  All for naught.

Click HERE to read the full article!