In the church’s May 29 service, Lowe’s son, associate pastor Bryan Lowe, read a statement saying the church would be restructuring and holding meetings with members.
Indiana State Police, in a statement, asked anyone with “information as a victim or a witness” about the situation to contact investigators.
Bobi Gephart said she spoke with police but acknowledged prosecution of Lowe may be unlikely because of the passage of time and because Indiana law defines the age of sexual consent at 16. She said she’s aware of other past abuse within the church.
She did say Lowe began “grooming” — in which a sexual predator gains the trust of a victim through favors and other means — before she was 16. The sexual relationship continued into her early 20s. Lowe, now 65, was more than 20 years older than her.
Gephart said from the time she was young, her family’s life “revolved around the church and the Lowes.”
“We were like family with them,” she said, and when one set of parents was traveling, the other would often watch over the children.
She said a few people in the church had known what happened, but it remained secret to most of the congregation, and no one helped her get counseling. She said she felt obligated to protect the reputation of the pastor and the church and hadn’t even told her husband.
Things changed recently when her brother told her he was haunted by a memory from when they were teens. She said he recalled seeing “his pastor in bed with his younger sister, T-shirt and underwear on.”
When she told him what had happened, she said her brother immediately confronted Lowe by text, calling on him to resign.
She said Lowe began to talk to some in the church, confessing to adultery but not telling the whole story.
The church formed an advisory committee, which said in a later statement it hadn’t finished investigating, couldn’t verify the accuracy of Lowe’s version and had advised him not to make the May 22 confession.
Ages of consent vary between 16 and 18 in U.S. states.
Victim advocates say such sexual activity by clergy is beyond “adultery,” which implies consent among equals. They say it amounts to an abuse of power by a spiritual authority. Some denominations, such as the Catholic Church, define clergy sexual abuse as involving any victim under 18.