8:59 AM

Pete Newman Mug Shot (above)

A former assistant camp director at church based Kanakuk Kamps in Branson has been charged with several sex offenses involving children.

Taney County prosecutor Jeff Merrell says that the investigation of 33 year-old Pete Newman began six months ago when someone made a hot line call about Newman and his alleged sexual involvement with underage kids.

The Turner Report broke the story yesterday that Newman is facing one count of statutory sodomy, two counts of sexual misconduct involving a child under 15 by indecent exposure, and one count of felony enticement of a child.

Pete Newman in Kanukuk Kamp brochure

According to the prosecutor, the investigation involves 1 or more campers of the Christian based youth camp. In a warrant application written by the Taney County Sheriff’s Office, victims are assigned numbers 1 - 16. However, Merrell says that investigators are still conducting interviews with Kampers, and that there could be additional victims.

According to the probable cause statement, Newman, who had a house nearby the camp, used his hot tub to prey on teen aged boys.

"Between 2005 and 2008, Pete Newman became a close friend of his by attending family dinners, sleepovers, bible studies, taking vacations together and writing letters. Pete would hold one-on-one sessions with (the boy) in Pete's hot tub (at Pete's residence) and would request they be naked. Pete would discuss life's struggles with (him) and talk about masturbation. Pete would explain that if (the boy) would masturbate with him in his hot tub then there would be no lust and therefore (the boy) would not be sinning."

Another one of Newman's victims told Detective Ronnie Roberts that Newman began masturbation sessions with him when he was 13 and that eventually led to oral sex when he was 15. The probable cause statement alleges that Newman also played nude basketball with campers.

When cops started contacting parents of Kampers a disturbing trend emerged. Newman, would befriend boys between the ages of 11 and 15, and gain the trust of their parents and begin "the grooming process" of the kids.

Merrell says the alleged incidents took place between 2004 - 2008.

On June 8, 2009, Newman allegedly wrote a letter to the owner of Kanakuk
Kamp, Joe White, confessing his actions. He was fired.

Newman, who now lives in Memphis, is expected to turn himself into authorities sometime today or tomorrow.

UPDATE: 09-15-09:

Newman turned himself in to authorities this afternoon and waived formal arraignment. He was released from custody after posting $50,000 bond.

Email sent out by Kamp Kanakuk:

For the last 34 years, Debbie Jo and I have poured our hearts and prayers into this beloved place. Therefore it is with a heavy heart that I am writing to you today regarding a difficult situation.

Because you are an important part of the Kanakuk family, we wanted to make you aware that earlier today, the Taney County Missouri prosecutor filed a four-count criminal complaint against our former employee, Pete Newman. As you may know, Pete Newman was employed at K-Kountry. The prosecutor’s criminal charges allege that Pete engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior with adolescent boys, including some who had been Kanakuk Kampers.

When we became aware of this situation we took immediate action, terminating Pete Newman’s employment. Since that time, we have been working closely with the affected families and appropriate authorities. We reported what we knew to investigators and stayed in contact throughout the process, providing whatever assistance we could. We have also offered our assistance to the impacted families.

Our fervent prayers are with those who have been impacted. We look forward to the completion of the legal process to ensure that justice is served.

As you know, Pete Newman's alleged behavior is counter to everything we believe in, everything we stand for and everything we work to instill in the young people who come to us seeking to grow personally and in their relationship with Christ. In fact, for years, we have had very clear policies and extensive training in place for all staff regarding appropriate behavior. Our staff members go through background checks, personal interviews and extensive training on our policies.

We understand the difficulty that this situation causes you and your children. We pledge to work with you to help you address questions your children may have. Kanakuk is a family, and families often face challenging times. We also pledge that Kanakuk will continue to do all we can to champion efforts to prevent inappropriate behavior from occurring at any camp.

If you have questions or concerns about this situation, please e-mail me at joe@kanakuk.com.

Thank you for being part of the Kanakuk family.

In Christ,

Joe White
UPDATE 09-25-09:
UPDATE: Taney County Prosecutor Seeking Help In Kanakuk Kamp Scandal:

Taney County prosecutor Jeff Merrell is asking that kids who may have knowledge of alleged abuses by a former Branson camp director accused of molesting young male campers contact his office.
Merrell says that anyone with information of potential illicit activity by Peter D. Newman should contact his office. Newman, 33, was charged last week with second-degree statutory sodomy, enticement of a child and two counts of sexual misconduct involving a child. Merrell said, " some calls have come into the office," though he declined to say how many.

“We've fielded a few,” he said. “With each contact it's basically a new investigation.”In the probable cause statement, Newman, who was a popular counselor is accused of gaining the trust of teenage male campers through his role at the church based Branson Kanakuk Kamps.

Court documents allege that he groomed the boys in private Bible studies in his hot tub, convincing several victims to masturbate in the tub and with him.
Documents also refer to Newman swimming nude and playing basketball nude with campers, and indicate that deputies have spoken with at least 16 victims.

Newman, who now lives in Memphis, turned himself in to authorities on September 15th and waived formal arraignment. He was released from custody after posting $50,000 bond. As part of his bond he can have no contact with children under the age of 17.
Anyone with additional information about any alleged sexual abuse committed by Newman is urged to call the Taney County Prosecutor’s office at (417)546-7260 or visit the the prosecutors website at http://taneycountyprosecutor.com/



Andrews Blog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kathee Baird said...

Taney County prosecutor Jeff Merrell provided the information.

Anonymous said...

where did they put him in prison

Anonymous said...

Kamp Kanukuk did a awesome job with the statement they released. So many time stuff like this goes on with in organizations and gets hidden and keeps happening. Im glad to see th ey took action as quick as possible. To bad he was able to bond him self out and is now roaming free again.

Anonymous said...

they did a great job except it's a lie, they knew. One of the victims is a friend's son and he told me the camp was aware of the suspicions for some time and kept it quiet.