Registered sex offender to become ordained minister

NBC Wave 3 News, Kentucky/September 8, 2009

Louisville, Kentucky - A Louisville man who already leads the praise and worship at a church wants to take a higher role. He is a registered sex offender and will be ordained as a minister. It is something that is not sitting well with some.

At City of Refuge Worship Center, everyone is welcome. "Everyone sins, but He has forgiven us," said Kimberlin Bowling.

But what about sex offenders? "You may go to church somewhere and there may be one sitting right next to you and you don't even know it," said Bowling.

People at City of Refuge know about Mark Hourigan, who was charged in 1998 with sodomizing, sexually abusing and intimidating an 11-year-old boy. Convicted of two counts of sex abuse, Hourigan did his time in prison.

"I completed the sex offender treatment program while I was in prison and also while I was on parole, so I've completed it twice," said Hourigan. "And I've learned a lot of tools through that program. And I've learned that I have to change the way that I think in order to change my actions and behaviors."

Sunday, Hourigan will become an ordained minister. Bowling will be ordained along with him. While Hourigan's probation is over, his sex offender registration will never end. Hourigan has signed a contract with the church not to have any contact with children.

"I've learned a lot of things as far as what situations not to place myself in," said Hourigan.

The idea doesn't sit well with Kim Richardson. "There are just four simple words - why take the risk? I would definitely not want my child around this man."

Richardson is the author of "Unbreakable Child" and the Kentucky leader for SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Richardson herself was a victim of clergy abuse for nearly a decade.

"There were many abuses by clergy. Force feedings, beatings, molestations and so forth," said Richardson.

Knowing how damaging abuse can be, Richardson admits people can change, but she is worried that Hourigan will reoffend. "I wouldn't want to tempt someone."

"I overlook what has happened in the past, because I see Jesus through him," said Bowling.

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