A perpetrator in the pews
UNIONTOWN, Pa. — After a longtime youth minister’s recent conviction…
Jimmy Hinton doesn’t mince words, not in life and not in his book “The Devil Inside: How My Minister Father Molested Kids in Our Home and Church for Decades and How I Finally Stopped Him.”
Part memoir, part training manual, “The Devil Inside” tells the story of Jimmy Hinton and his father, John, who provided his family, and especially Jimmy, with an idyllic life growing up in a small Pennsylvania town. Jimmy tells stories of his dad teaching him to shift gears in their new Toyota at the age of 3 or 4, of bringing him and his older brother three-wheelers when Jimmy was 10 and of taking the boys on vacation. He describes his father’s unwavering kind and godly demeanor and his calm nature that was never rattled by the hijinks of Jimmy and his brothers.
Jimmy’s admiration for his father inspired him to become a preacher himself.
“I logged hundreds of hours sitting at the feet of my dad as he preached. He was a good preacher,” Jimmy writes. “He had a way of using metaphors, and he was a good storyteller. Application was very important for him. Even as a kid, I remember wanting to apply what I’d learned on Sundays as soon as church dismissed.”
That idyllic childhood with the hero father came crashing down one Friday afternoon when the son learned his model preacher father had sexually abused little girls throughout the 40 years he spent as a pulpit minister.
What Hinton did next continues to astound survivors of church abuse the world over — he reported his own father to the police.
An advocate for church abuse survivors myself, I am accustomed to stories of church leaders covering up allegations of abuse, silencing victims, minimizing deeds and damage done. Jimmy Hinton did none of that. After turning in his father, Jimmy immersed himself in learning how his father had gotten away with 40 years of such profound deception.
From the unique perspective of the son of a perpetrator, Hinton teaches readers how to spot predators like John Hinton and how to stop them from hurting more children.
“The Devil Inside” is the culmination of what Jimmy learned about the mindset of predatory child sex abusers from his jailhouse interviews with his father. From the unique perspective of the son of a perpetrator, Hinton teaches readers how to spot predators like John Hinton and how to stop them from hurting more children.
As a friend and fellow advocate, I have watched Jimmy become an influential and well-loved spokesman for the cause. He has trained and consulted with more than 100 churches over the past decade. He has collaborated with neuroscientists Stephen Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde, faculty members and researchers at State University of New York Downstate Health Sciences University, seeking to understand the neuroscience of deception in predatory behavior.
Jimmy also is a safeguarding specialist with Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE), a nonprofit that equips churches to care for children and adult survivors of abuse.
In “The Devil Inside” Jimmy Hinton paints the stark portrait of life with a predatory pedophile at church. This book is a must-read for every church leader, ministry student and parent.
CHRISTINE FOX PARKER is president and executive director of PorchSwing Ministries Inc., where she ministers to survivors of church abuse and helps churches and church leaders learn to better care for survivors and create safer spaces for all.
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