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In February, a missionary agency made a startling report about one of its members. "... Mr. [Jordan] Root admitted that he has been sexually attracted to prepubescent female children for many years and that during his service with SIM [Serving in Mission] he has been viewing nude photographs of children via the Internet in order to gratify this desire," says a leaked, confidential report by Serving in Mission International, the missionary agency that Root and his then-wife had volunteered through. The report alleged that Root, who was not charged with a crime, admitted to pedophilia in an interview with Serving in Mission investigators, and the agency recommended that they terminate Root's membership. What followed next was a bitter, drawn-out battle between Root's ex-wife and the Dallas megachurch that the couple had attended as covenant members.
Root initially confessed to watching child porn to his former wife Karen Hinkley, according to interviews that Hinkley previously gave to the Observer, The Daily Beast and WatchKeep, the blog run by local activist Amy Smith. After Serving in Mission severed ties with Root, Dallas' The Village Church wrote an email to all covenant members saying that they had notified police and were placing restrictions on Root, including keeping him away from any children's facilities in the church. But privately, the church asked Hinkley to stay married to her husband and forgive him. When she insisted on an annulment, Pastor Matt Younger wrote an email to her chastising her for violating a membership covenant she had signed: "...this decision violates your covenant with us — and places you under discipline," Younger wrote to her. The Village Church declined to discuss the case and instead sent us a generic statement in June about the membership covenant. Among other stipulations, it dictates: "I will seek to preserve the gift of marriage and agree to walk through the steps of marriage reconciliation at The Village Church before pursuing divorce from my spouse." (The Village Church's Pastor Matt Chandler later offered Hinkley a public apology).
The allegations against Root are disturbing, and not just because of his work as a missionary. For three years, has also worked as a therapist at a mental hospital in Dallas, the Timberlawn Mental Health System. "As a therapist, he worked with kids and families on the children & adolescent unit," his ex-wife writes in a message. He decided to stop doing the work in May 2014, she says, several months before she says he first admitted to her that he viewed child pornography. (The activist group Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests first revealed the information about Root's employment at Timberlawn in May, but that nugget of news was left out in news media coverage of the church controversy).
What officials at Timberlawn, who have not yet returned our messages, could have known about Root, if anything, isn't clear, since he left the hospital before allegedly confessing his pedophilia to his wife and the church. Regardless, the hospital's days appear to be numbered. In June, regulators warned Timberlawn that it was at risk of losing its public funds after a patient hanged herself from a closet doorknob with a bed sheet. Finally, on Friday, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services terminated its relationship with Timberlawn "because of deficiencies that represented immediate jeopardy to patient health safety." While CMS has warned Parkland and other hospitals that their funding was in jeopardy in the past, health advocates say that the agency rarely takes the drastic step of actually revoking the funding. Without the Medicare funds, Timberlawn officials say they cannot afford to stay open. “We simply do not have the financial capability to sustain ourselves with revenue,” Timberlawn CEO Shelah Adams told The Dallas Morning News last week.