October 23, 2015

Dr. Scott Payne
Lead Pastor
The Church at Schilling Farms
1035 Winchester Blvd
Collierville, TN 38017
Dear Scott:
I want to begin this letter with best wishes for you and your family. As you know, I
have remained close with Alli over the years, and so I want to be clear that the
contents of this letter are not intended to be an affront to you or your family. I do
sincerely hope that you, Billie, Amanda, Jason, Alli and your extended family are
well. I need to get something off my chest, and I hope you’ll hear me out. I want to
tell you a story. You already know the Cliff’s Notes version of it, but now I want to fill
in the details and share with you my observations as a grown man nearly two decades
later. I want you to read every word, as uncomfortable as it may be, and, in the end, I
want you to help me right a wrong. When I joined Immanuel Baptist Church the youth
group was growing rapidly, with buzz about the contemporary youth outreach
programs spreading like wildfire through Germantown, Collierville, and other
Memphis suburbs. As you know, Nolan Bobbitt was the youth pastor at the time.
During my sophomore year of high school, a college student named Chris Carwile
began attending IBC. Nolan eventually hired him as an associate youth pastor — or
intern, depending on whom you ask. He headed up drama programs for worship
services, among other things. After my sophomore year, I participated in an exclusive
program Nolan devised called “Students Entering an Awesome Life of Service” —
S.E.A.L.S., a reference to the highly trained Navy SEALs. Chris was my mentor in
S.E.A.L.S.; meaning we would get together to go through “homework assignments,”
analyze chapters and books of the Bible, pray, and so forth. One night, we had a
sleepover at Chris’s parents house on Dee Road (where he lived at the time). We
discussed Romans Chapter 1, I believe, in the rather dingy living room at the back of
his house. His dad drank Milwaukee’s Best beer, and there was lots of it in the fridge.
After we finished with Romans we watched TV for a bit. When it was bedtime Chris
explained that I would have to sleep in the bed with him because his mother worried
that “oils” from my skin would damage the carpet if I slept on the floor. For some

reason he mentioned that she would be up early in the morning to vacuum.
(Apparently Mama Carwile really loved her carpet.) Anyway, I thought nothing of it.
Why would I? One of the first things I noticed about the bedroom was that Chris had
heavy blankets over his windows. He said it was to keep the light out because he liked
to sleep in. I’m not a morning person, either, so I completely understood. We went to
bed and I eventually dozed off. I woke up sometime after 2 a.m., which is not unusual
for me. I think I’m a pretty a heavy sleeper, but I often wake up in the middle of the
night. Upon waking I quickly realized that Chris had his hand wrapped tightly around
my erect penis over my boxers. I thought there had been some mistake. He was
clearly asleep and had accidentally grabbed onto something he shouldn’t have. I’ve
woken up hugging a pillow before. Maybe this was just a coincidence along those
lines. It was the most rational explanation my adolescent mind could conjure up in my
groggy, confused state. So I tried to pry his hand off. He had short, fat, somewhat
rough fingers. I remember that detail for some reason. His hand didn’t budge, so I
rolled over thinking that by doing so, it would cause him to release. He did. But in
doing so, I pulled his body closer to mine. I can still feel his hot breath on the back of
my neck as I laid there trying to pretend everything was OK, that what had just
happened was all a big misunderstanding, and that it was safe to go back to sleep. I
eventually passed out again after tossing and turning a bit (for safe measure). It turns
out that was a mistake. I woke back up around 4 a.m. to find Chris’s hands on me
again. I froze, pretending to be asleep while I formulated a strategy for getting out of
this jam. I had an idea: I would just roll over onto my stomach! You see, I was still
convinced that he was asleep and that this was just a bizarre sleep behavior — like
sleepwalking or sleep talking, just with hands. It didn’t work. His hands moved,
finding their way into my underwear, between my buttocks. I pretended to groggily
wake up. Good, that stopped him. After a few minutes of emphatic tossing and turning
I got up and went to the bathroom. I wanted to get away so I could gather mythoughts
(and pee). Certain I couldn’t escape, I took a gamble that by “waking up” I had fended
off further groping, and that there still was a chance it was unintentional. I thought I
had done enough. I was wrong. After returning to the dungeon-like room, I fell back
to sleep. Upon waking, I saw that there were flecks of light around the edges of the
blankets covering the windows. The sun was rising. It was probably 6 a.m. His hands
were on me again, but this time it was much worse. He had placed my left hand on his
hard penis. In my slumber, Chris managed to pull my boxers down enough to
completely access my private parts. He had clearly been masturbating my penis for
some time, as I ejaculated within moments of coming to — making a mess all over the
covers, my T-shirt, my body. I lay there, frozen in place and time: my eyes sealed shut,
my body limp, my mind racing. He got up and went to the restroom. I don’t know if

he got up to masturbate, turned on by his conquest, just to clean himself off, or to pee.
Who knows, and who cares? He never cleaned me off, I do know that much. Doing so
would have woken me up (officially). It would have been a confession to his crime.
A couple years later, I would learn that similar incidents occurred to other young boys
in our youth group, ranging in from ages 13–17. We found out about each other by
happenstance. None of us had told anyone else, including our parents and church
leaders like you. What happened next has haunted me almost as much as that dark
summer night in East Memphis. We talked to our parents separately to decide what to
do. We, the abused, all decided the same thing: we wanted Chris out of the church, but
we didn’t want to press charges and we certainly didn’t want anyone to find out who
didn’t need to know. I never asked the others outright why they made that choice, I
only know the one, very specific reason I did. I have known since I was roughly 11
years old that I was “different.” Specifically, that I was attracted to other boys and not
girls. I didn’t know there was a name for it at that age, but I ultimately learned the
terminology (homosexual, gay, etc.) thanks to a Focus on the Family video series
featuring the anti-gay hate group’s founder Dr. James Dobson. Bill Sorrell, the youth
pastor at my previous church, Audubon Park Baptist Church, had made us watch the
whole series one summer during Wednesday evening services when I was in middle
school. In other words, I learned that being gay was wrong because the Christian
church had taught me so. Fast-forward to that night at Chris’s house: I thought I had
brought the violation onto myself — that it was God’s punishment for being gay, that
He was screaming at me, “Is this really what you want?” I was embarrassed. After
learning that homosexuality was a sin at APBC, I prayed innumerable times that God
would fix me. I was fearful that if anyone found out what happened with Chris that I
would be bullied and harassed — that I would be outed to my family, my friends, and
my church. I hated myself. There were other reasons, too. I was not an outgoing kid. I
was terrified of confrontation. I worried that I would have to stand in front of Chris,
my parents, church leaders, and answer for my accusations. I didn’t want the attention.
I worried about retribution. I couldn’t prove anything. I didn’t have evidence. If I
brought my claim forward and failed to incriminate my attacker, my peers and/or the
public would ostracize me. No teen wants that. I had already struggled with the events
of that night for years, and I didn’t think there was anything we could do except to
keep Chris from attending church services and programs. That was relief in and of
itself, so that was sufficient for me. I regret that choice I made. I regret that I was a
coward and let my abuser have his way with me — both in his bedroom and in my
mind. Odds are he has abused other minors since then. Perhaps some were members
of IBC, or perhaps members of other congregations. According to Darkness to Light,
serial child molesters may average as many as 400 victims in their lifetime. Consider

also that research has found three-out-of-four adolescents who were sexually abused
were victimized by someone they knew. I know of at least five teens that were
molested by Chris during a single year at IBC. How many others have been violated
since then? That question terrifies me. I feel a keen sense of responsibility to any
potential victims out there. I have been called a faggot, among other names, since I
can remember. But it’s not those verbal wounds from bullies that stuck with me; it’s
the silence of my allies. I suffered from depression and anxiety for years after I was
molested. When I was 19 I wrote a “will” giving away my belongings to friends and
family. I hadn’t planned to take any action. Nonetheless, in the dozen or so
handwritten pages was coded language about how I had ineffectively prayed God
would change me, how the sexual abuse had traumatized me, and how I couldn’t go
on dealing with the ramifications of both. I moved on, but I quit going to church by
the time I was 22 or 23. I ran. Shortly after I came out of the closet as gay when I was
25, an opportunity arose to move to Nashville. I seized it. I ran again. I hoped to avoid
coming out to extended family, old friends, people from Immanuel (then Life Church,
now The Church). It was an exciting time, but it didn’t last. The depression and
anxiety I had been running from finally caught up to me. That illness led me to rock
bottom. The scars on my wrists today are a living testament to the longterm effects
trauma can have on a young person, particularly when criminals are protected rather
than prosecuted by institutions like the church whose purpose is to shelter the
innocent. You may be wondering why I’m bringing all of this up now. Well, this is
actually the most important part of this whole story. I was recently catching up with an
old friend who happens to have been one of Chris’s victims. We somehow got on the
subject of how we handled the situation, our regrets, and how the paths our lives have
taken are linked to those events. He told me that in a meeting with you, you confirmed
that Chris had confessed to his sins, if you will. You explained that Chris discounted
some of the victims, saying he molested some of us “more” than to others. But then
my friend said something alarming. He told me that you said it was different for me
because I wanted it to happen. That, essentially, because of the way I am, I brought it
on myself. I don’t want to believe you said that, but I also know this person to be one
of the most honest and upstanding humans I have ever known. You and Nolan, on the
other hand, swept the whole ordeal under the rug at the church. So, who am I to
believe? I am writing this letter because, though I hadn’t thought about that period of
my life in a very long time, hearing those words filled me with rage … and remorse.
Not only do I regret not holding Chris accountable for the criminal that he is, but I
regret not holding my church — you and Nolan in particular — accountable what
happened on your watch to the children under your care. I want to give you an
opportunity to answer to this very serious accusation. You and I have never once had a

conversation about what occurred at IBC those many years ago, so I can’t speak to
what is or is not in your heart. But I am asking you to share that with me now. Did you
ever say to anyone that I wanted to be molested by Chris Carwile? Did you ever say
anything that could have been misconstrued as such? What did you say about Chris
and his victims? Do you regret not fulfilling your legal and moral duty as a pastoral
leader and CEO of one of God’s churches? What say you? I’m listening. Earnestly. I
want to know so that I can make the best decision going forward. I am no longer a
coward. I refuse to keep running. Having all of this come roaring back into my psyche
has empowered me and given me a sense of purpose. I must help in some way to right
the wrong. I must finally stand up for myself as well as the countless, unnamed
victims of Chris’s abuse. (For all victims of sexual abuse, really.) Too often the church
has been a haven for molestation, rape, and other forms of exploitation. Historically,
the church has closed ranks in times like these. It has protected the institution first and
foremost before protecting the vulnerable. Though I expressed my regret above, it’s
time to move forward and take bold action to ensure that Chris is never allowed near
young boys ever again. I want to give you a chance to answer directly to me for the
words you supposedly uttered about me and for the way you chose to handle our
situation before I decide what additional actions to take. I’m listening.
Sincerely,
Michael Hansen
P.S. Chris’s mother did vacuum the entire house some time after the assault reached its
climax, for what it’s worth.