The Sankey Samaritan Orphanage was founded by CCC Pastor Tom Randall, a missionary and former professional basketball player in the Philippines who was detained in Manila earlier this year when investigations of misconduct began.
Randall's imprisonment sparked a massive social media campaign petitioning for his release. (That bizarre story is available in full here).
At any rate, here's how Pastor Joe Coffey summed up the latest news for the Twitterverse:
News frm filipines.all charges dropped against toto and jake.raid deemed completely unjustified by judge #timeandtruth— Joe Coffey (@JoeCoffeyTalk) August 29, 2014
Perfecto "Toto" Luchavez and his son Mark "Jake" Luchavez are the two men in question. Jake is Tom Randall's godson. We couldn't find corroboration from English-language news outlets in Manila, but Coffey tweeted to Scene that the news came directly from Randall's lawyers.
Indeed, Randall began his sermon out at CCC this weekend with what he called the "good news," communicated via his attorneys in the Philippines at 2:30 a.m. a few nights ago. The congregation happily applauded.
Joe Mauk, a missionary in the Philippines who initially blew the whistle when sexually abused minors smuggled letters to his daughter, has been attending the trials. Here's an excerpt from his latest Facebook note:
Still incredible to see what is trying to be manipulated behind the scenes. As you may remember Aug. 8 there was a hearing where none of the witnesses received notices. The presence "by chance" of one of our fellow rescuers caused the judge to re-schedule the hearing for three weeks later, Aug. 29. We arrived for that hearing last Friday with 4 victims ready to give testimony and 11 others attending in support of them, including the former principal of the Cugley (Sankey) School and her husband (Alice and John Shepherd), also the teacher (Shirley, who received the first written reports smuggled out by two girls and passed them on to my daughter), my daughter and her husband, Trevor and Kathy Hill and others.Sounds a bit different than "all charges dropped" and "raid deemed completely unjustified," as Coffey communicated to his congregation and his digital disciples. Randall made it sound like he had several conversations with folks on the ground in the Philippines after his initial call from the attorneys, so it seems odd that he'd be so misinformed.
At first the attorneys of the two defendants did not show up. The judge ordered them to be located and they appeared two hours later. We discovered that this is still not the trial. It was a continuation hearing on the defense motion to quash. They were making the argument that the arrest of the two was not proper in procedure. They objected to any testimony being entered as to the abuses reported to be going on but only wanted to prove that the two were not actually committing a crime at the time of the arrest. The only witness called was the NBI agent from the Manila office who organized the raid.
Although the argument about invalid arrest should not apply to institutional abuse/human trafficking cases, they pressed issues like "where were they standing and what were they wearing at the time of the arrest?" At the end of the testimony the judge ordered both sides (the government appointed prosecutor and the privately-hired defense attorneys) to present their final written arguments in a matter of days. After which submission, he would make a ruling on the motion to quash. The prosecutor asked for more time to prepare, the defense agreed to an extension and the judge dictated a memorandum to both attorneys instructing them to present their final written arguments within 60 days
Mauk, in a message to Scene, communicated his frustration with the legal tactics at play.
"The last few months there have been no arguments as to the truth of the charges," Mauk wrote, "only technical arguments on whether the actual arrest procedure was valid. This is the old technique of seeking to get valid charges tossed out over a legal technicality....Even had it been successful, they are not being truthful. A failure to proceed to trial on a technicality is not the same as all charges being dropped! The truth of the charges was never examined!"
Mauk has been characterized by Coffey and his supporters as a "rival missionary" with a "personal vendetta," but continues to fight for justice for the victims in Manila. Requests for comment were not immediately returned by Pastor/Media Relations Guy Tim Schofield at Christ Community Chapel (but this story will be updated when and if he does).