A Grace City Church Facebook post featuring Michael E. Wilson, who is accused of sexually assaulting young men in his Bible study.

Fifteen months after being charged with nine counts of sexually motivated crimes in Chelan County Superior Court, Michael E. Wilson is set to stand trial on Feb. 20, 2024, according to court records.

Wilson is accused of plying young men in his Bible study with alcohol and then sexually assaulting them at his home in Wenatchee. You can read the details of that case here.

The case has been postponed repeatedly so both the state and Wilson’s lawyers could engage in “discovery” according to court records, but with the speedy trial deadline looming in March, it’s unlikely the trial date will be postponed much longer.

Wilson is a retired Wenatchee School District employee with well-documented ties to Grace City Church. The witness list for the trial also contains well-known Grace City Church surnames like Aguigui and Burnett. GCC’s youth pastor Brian Blair is also on the list, and Wilson is ordered to not have contact with him or the other witnesses.

Nicholas J. Turner

Former Eastmont School District custodian and a member of Grace City Church’s “Strongerman Nation” Nicholas J. Turner is accused of rape and incest, and at a readiness hearing on Jan. 10, his attorney Brandon Redal “noted that police had not finished a report and discovery was outstanding,” according to hearing minutes.

Superior Court Judge Kristin Ferrera also took issue with the lack of movement on the state’s side of the case.

“Court was concerned about discovery not complete past omnibus being done,” the notes read. “Mr. Redal indicated he may ask for state to be limited to what it could use based on those issues strike trial.”

The next hearing is set for Feb. 28 and they will set a trial date.

After Turner was arrested, a fellow GCC member Shane Mitchell (according to GCC’s membership database) wrote a character reference for Turner.

“In the time I have known Nick, he has consistently exhibited qualities of kindness, responsibility and moral uprightness,” he wrote. “These traits, in my opinion, do not align with the charges brought against him. I understand the legal process must run its course, but I felt compelled to share my perspective on Nick’s character.”

Mitchell told the court he was giving Turner a place to stay, and after 60 more days at his home he was “reaching out to friends who are willing to assist him with accommodation beyond this initial period.”

In the letter to the court, Mitchell said he had known Turner since 2019.

The two charges of rape of a child in the first degree and two counts of incest in the first degree are from crimes that Turner allegedly committed in 2011.

You can read Mitchell’s letter here.

Connecting Some Dots, Finding Patterns

When you take the story of Nicolas Clerc along with these two, an unsettling pattern starts to emerge. And I don’t think it should be ignored. According to The Wenatchee World, GCC’s congregation consists of 704 households. All the households are comprised of heterosexual couples (ostensibly), which means there are roughly 700 adult males who attend GCC. The fact that three of the adult males who have attended GCC have been convicted of sex crimes or are awaiting trial for sex crimes is notable.

It begs the question: “Why are these men attracted to Grace City Church?”

One more data point that should not be ignored is one local woman’s account of being sexually abused as a child. She said her father would lock her in a closet and sexually abuse her and her sister. At the time her family attended the Wenatchee Free Methodist Church, now called Sage Hills, where Greg McPherson was the pastor. Greg is the father of Josh McPherson, founder and executive pastor of Grace City Church.

According to Samantha, her mother told the elder McPherson what was happening and that she was considering leaving her husband. He advised her against that, and instead encouraged her to “pray for him.”

So Samantha’s mother did, they stayed together and McPherson even “remarried” them. But her father continued to abuse his daughters and her mother eventually left him.

This type of apparently permissive attitude toward male sexual predators is something shared by Douglas Wilson, an extremist Christian Nationalist pastor with a global reach based in Moscow, Idaho. Wilson is something of a mentor to McPherson and his publishing house Logos Press is set to provide GCC’s new private school with many of its textbooks this fall, according to the Garden City Academy website.

In 2011, Wilson interceded on behalf of a convicted serial pedophile named Stephen Sitler. Sitler was sentenced to life in prison. Wilson wrote to the judge and asked for leniency for Sitler, expressing his hope that the young man could be rehabilitated. After 20 months behind bars, Sitler was released from prison. He was matched with a young woman at Wilson’s church and Wilson married the couple in 2011.

The couple had a baby boy, which Sitler is not allowed to have contact with after a court found reason to believe he was sexually stimulated by the presence of the baby, according to The American Conservative.

Like the McPhersons, there are many more reasons why Wilson is controversial. The examples of homophobiamisogyny, and the obsession with firearms can take up so much oxygen. But this pattern of independent Calvinist Christian sects like GCC in Wenatchee and Wilson’s Christ Church in Moscow being places where sexual predators seemingly find safe harbor is one of the most compelling themes in this story.

Original Article – Sex Crimes Trial for Megachurch Leader Set February 2024 | Columbia Basin | yoursourceone.com