An Indiana woman who unexpectedly took the stage of a church and told the congregation that the pastor sexually assaulted her when she was 16 recently spoke with Fox News about her decision to speak up.
The woman, Bobi Gephart, told Fox News that she first told her brother about how the pastor at New Life Christian Church and World Outreach sexually assaulted her. Later that same day, she told her husband.
"What I just wanted in my life was freedom, for him to know me and to know what I went through and just, to be honest. And I partly believed that it was my fault.
"You want to tell the truth, and you begin to realize what you lived through, but at the same time, you're trying to protect the predator and his family and the church."
Gephart said the Lowes family were "family," but Lowe "groomed" her.
"Shoulder massages, lap sits, long hugs, things like that nature that would get longer and deeper," she said.
In Indiana, the legal age of consent is sixteen. Gephart said molestation happened prior to that.
In the viral video, while standing on stage before his congregation, Pastor John B. Lowe II admitted to committing what he called "adultery."
"I committed adultery. It was nearly 20 years ago. It continued far too long," he said, according to a video posted on Facebook by a congregant. "It involved one person, and there's been no other, nor any other situation of unbecoming conduct for the last 20 years. I will not use the Bible to defend, protect and deflect my past sin. I have no defense. I committed the adultery."
Lowe, who also announced his resignation from the church, then stepped down from the stage to applause. Gephart and her husband, Nate Gephart, then unexpectedly took the stage.
"If you love us, please let us talk," Nate can be heard saying in the video.
Taking the microphone, Bobi said, "For 27 years, I lived in a prison. It was not 20 years."
She continued, "I've lived in a prison of lies and shame. Lying to protect the Lowe family. For years, I thought I was a horrible person, having suicidal thoughts. Not realizing what had been truly done to me: That I was a victim.
"The lies and the manipulation have to stop," she asserted. "I was a prisoner, and you kept me in your prison. I'm a prisoner no longer."
Bobi continued to question Lowe in the video.
"I was just 16 when you took my virginity on your office floor. Do you remember that?" she asked. "You did things to my teenage body that have never and should have never been done. If you can't admit the truth, you have to answer to God. You are not the victim here."
Lowe is then seen standing before the congregation in the video, saying, "We did it. At 16. She was 16 years old."
"If I could go back and re-do it all, I would. I can't, and all I can do is ask you to forgive me," Lowe said. "It's been 20 years. I know, I guess it doesn't count for anything. We loved them, I deeply hurt them, I deeply hurt you. I ask you to forgive me, and that's all I can do."
Gephart told Fox News she hopes his "heart changes."
"Find someone you can talk to," she said. "Because that was the thing – I didn't. I was trying to protect my family. I was trying to protect other people," she said. "You can't just live your life trying to protect others. You also have to free yourself."
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Boonyachoat
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.