Is Covering Up Abuse Authentic Manhood?

Fellowship Memphis Staff 2010

A few years ago, I was doing some work for John Bryson on City Leadership projects (John Bryson’s group responsible for Choose 901), and was told I had been secretly videotaped by Rick Trotter, another one of Bryson’s employees at Fellowship Memphis where Bryson is employed as the founding pastor. Rick Trotter, the church worship leader and brother-in-law of another of the lead pastors there at the time, had mounted a camera in the restroom and had reportedly videotaped 100+ women, men and children.

When I was told, I immediately asked a million questions. Who else was videotaped? Where were the videos? Where were the devices? Who had watched them? What would happen next? etc. The answers I got were mind blowing.

I was told that it was gossip to talk about who else was on the video and that I was not allowed to share ANY information or talk with ANYONE else about the subject. I was told that the videos were placed in a safety deposit box. I was also told that Bryan Loritts and Ricky Jenkins (pastor of Fellowship Memphis) had seen the videos and no one could tell me who else had watched them. They couldn’t, or wouldn’t, tell me who actually put the evidence in the safety deposit box. They said privately that Rick Trotter was fired for video voyeurism directly enacted upon the church body and that they were providing for him to go to rehab for sex addiction. (I was later told they continued to pay him salary for the next 6 months and arranged for housing for him nefariously through Downline Ministries of Memphis.) I was told that if I chose to press charges that my videos would be shown in court. (An overwhelming and humiliating thought that in hindsight I’m not sure is even true) I was told that children were also recorded and given names of some of the children victimized. I asked if the videos were uploaded to the Internet and was told they had no idea. They assured me they had contacted the police and an attorney and that they had been instructed to throw the evidence in the Mississippi River. Soon after, I was asked to sit down with Rick Trotter because he wanted to talk to me about what happened and apologize. When I went to ask about pressing charges, I was told that the evidence had been destroyed. When I kept pushing to find out by whom and when, I was only told that Bill Garner had confirmed that all evidence had been destroyed.

A couple of years later, John Bryson and his wife, Beth, (the women’s director at Downline Ministries) posted on Facebook that they were proud of Rick Trotter, a deviant who they had protected from prosecution. Not proud of any of the women that were exploited by him and what they had overcome. Not proud of the children that were exploited and their strength to press on in faith as best they could. Proud of the perpetrator that sexually exploited the women and children under his leadership and proud that this pervert had a high-profile job with the Memphis Grizzlies.

Allegedly, Rick Trotter was later found to have been doing the same thing at his next place of employment (he became the music minister at Downtown Church, a church plant of 2nd Presbyterian Church of Memphis and worked at Chick-fil-A) and has since been arrested.

Former Fellowship Pastor & Rick Trotter’s brother-in-law who hired Rick, Bryan Loritts, recently stated (in what can only be termed a knowing lie) on Twitter that the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (Tennessee’s version of Child Protective Services) had been contacted about Trotter’s illicit videotaping. Of course, he also states (in what can also only be termed a knowing lie) that no children were on Rick Trotter’s perverted clandestine videos; this statement by Pastor Loritts is in direct contradiction to the truth, at direct odds with what I was specifically told by church leaders, and certainly begs the question of why he would claim that the department that oversees child welfare in Tennessee would have been contacted by him in the first place, were no children involved. The police and CPS have since stated that they were never contacted.

When allegations of Rick Trotter’s criminal activity at his new place of employment had surfaced back in August of 2016, I was told by another victim that John Bryson and Hamp Holcomb had instructed she and I not to talk to reporters investigating the allegations. They said not to answer the phone when reporters called. They would handle making a statement. This former Fellowship Memphis employee said Holcomb and Bryson wanted to “protect” the victims from the media.

I feel terrible guilt about not going to the police myself, taking their word that it was being handled and that they had actually gone to the authorities when Rick was originally caught by the corrupt and criminally negligent leadership and staff and Fellowship Memphis. I should have been screaming it from the roof tops 5 years ago. I am convinced I could have prevented hundreds or thousands of others from being exploited.

With all of the information out there on this situation (here, here, here, here and here), I’m a little disappointed in Independent Presbyterian Church of Memphis for asking John Bryson to speak at their women’s luncheon next week.

If you are going, please record it. I would love to know what wisdom he has to share with women. I am choosing to be hopeful he will use this time wisely.