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Twice Blind: Music Minister James A. Moore
James A. Moore
(ETBU photo)

It’s not often that a person gets a second chance to try to make right on a past mistake. Jim Moore got that second chance, and he made the same mistake all over again.

As a kid, I revered him. With that great voice, he could fill the church, and when he sang duets with his wife Patsy, it was like listening to angels. He was also my piano teacher, and week after week, I sought to please him with my progress.

When minister Tommy Gilmore began telling me I harbored Satan, I began falling apart, and Moore was the minister I talked to. I broke down crying at a piano lesson in the sanctuary, and wound up telling Moore about it. I was extremely upset, traumatized and very confused. I was terrified I was going to hell.

Moore made a terrible mistake. Instead of trying to help me, he told me it would be better if I didn’t talk about it to anyone else. Instead of trying to protect others, he allowed Gilmore to move on to a different church and continue in children’s ministry.

Worst of all, years later, I learned that Moore had actually known of Gilmore’s abuse even before I broke down crying. According to Moore’s own affidavit, Gilmore himself had talked about it with him. Yet Moore did nothing to stop it, and so the abuse escalated, and I was even more traumatized. (Perpetrators often become more emboldened when they get away with it and aren't stopped.)

As an adult, I would have forgiven Moore for that mistake in a heartbeat. When I first began dealing with this, I asked an acquaintance to contact Moore on my behalf. I thought Moore would be glad to hear from me and to know that I was O.K. I thought he would welcome the chance to try to ameliorate that terrible mistake and would want to help me. Instead, he was immediately hostile.

Moore acknowledged that I had told him about it years ago, but he had no interest in helping me. When Moore's response was reported back to me, I still said: “Please, call him again. Give him another chance. He’s a good man. He’s raised a daughter of his own. After he’s had a chance to think about it, I'm sure he’ll want to do what’s right. He’ll want to help.”

But even after Moore was given a couple weeks to think about it, he still said there was no reason for me to bring up the matter. He also stated that my “relationship” with minister Gilmore was “consensual.” That was not merely wrong, but downright ignorant, and dangerously so coming from the mouth of a man who spent his life as a music minister and a high-school choir director.

When is it EVER possible for an underage teen church girl to have “consensual” sex with a married adult minister? Answer: NEVER, and it’s long past time when Moore should have known that.

Furthermore, Moore simply put on blinders to the brutality of what was done to me. He didn't want me to talk about it. When I was a kid, he never even so much as suggested that I might want to talk with a woman in the church.

Moore chose secrecy and blindness years ago, and given a second chance, he still chose secrecy and blindness again. There’s no excuse. He blew it, not once, but twice.

Moore is actually the father of two now-grown daughters. You have to wonder how such a man lives with himself, knowing what he allowed to happen.

Over a year after those conversations with Moore, and after I tried desperately to get church and denominational leaders to do something, I finally filed a lawsuit. Only then, under pressure from the lawsuit, did Moore finally deign to meet with me in person. Foolishly, I cried when I saw him. That 16-year old girl still lived within me - the person who so respected this man - and I thought even then that my old piano teacher would finally choose to help me.

James A. Moore

(ETBU photo)

What I saw instead was an ignorant, arrogant, small man – a man too proud to make even a feeble face-to-face apology – a man too full of himself to see the horror of what he allowed to happen – a man so puffed up with his own over-inflated ego that he seemed more like a cartoon.

Wait....even now I’m still giving him too much’s still that 16-year old girl talking ...that girl who once revered him. Here’s the real truth of what I think as an adult: Even the word “man” is too good a word for the likes of music minister James A. Moore. Real men seek to protect the young and vulnerable. Real men have the courage to do what’s right. Real men own up to their mistakes. Moore doesn’t meet those qualifications.

When I'm feeling more compassionate, I see that Moore was governed by fear. He couldn't see past his fear when he was a young adult minister, and he still couldn't see past his fear when he was an older minister. In that light, Moore simply seems pathetic.

Ultimately, at the end of the lawsuit, the church expressly acknowledged in writing that its music minister, James A. Moore, had “knowledge about Gilmore’s sexual contact with Brown as a minor.” (¶ 16) Yet, Moore did nothing to help. He chose to protect himself rather than to protect others.

Music minister James A. Moore is crouching in front and wearing sunglasses. Christa Brown is standing third from left at rear.