8:28 AM

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 says, " 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 is urged to call the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office at (417)546-7260 or visit the the prosecutors website at http://taneycountyprosecutor.com/


Anonymous said...

I have met Joe White... he is weird!!! I would not be surprised at all to find out that he is also involved with some strange activity.

Anonymous said...

Although this event occured at Joe Whites camp, you can not blame him for this event. He is a man of Christ and i have full confidence he was not involved or could take part in such actions.

Anonymous said...

Joe White is an odd duck and he's incredibly misguided in many ways, but I believe he's well-intentioned weirdo and I'd be surprised if he ever hurt a kid. Having a pervert working at these camps was inevitable, though. Those camps are a predator's wet dream for the following reasons: #1. The staff of Kanakuk are incredibly naive (or used to be, anyway), putting total trust in anyone who looks, behaves, and talks like one of their own. (On the flip side, they're incredibly closed to even really well-qualified folks who don't quite fit in with the sub-culture they've created. #2. Camp culture really lends itself to grooming behaviors for a variety of reasons. One is lack of boundaries between staff and kids. When I was a camper, the counselors were with us 24/7, and they were incredibly affectionate with us. To top it off, the showers were communal (boys and men shower in together in one location, girls and women in another). #3. It is not an exaggeration to say that even the most well-intentioned of the Kanakuk folks are obsessed with sex in one way or another, and they talk about sexual issues with surprising openness and regularity, and (to my knowledge) without parental consent. (My parents were amused to find out after the fact that the camp had attempted to influence me on sexual matters. I'm sure others were not so amused.) In fact, at the teen camps, sexual "purity" was such a strong underlying theme that even if you didn't have sex on the brain when you got to camp, you would have by the time you left! Plus, most of the counselors are incredibly cute and fit, with the men often parading around in nothing but shoes and shorts (because, you know, it would be inhumane to ask men NOT to go topless on a hot day). The sexual tension between the adults is palpable, too, because, of course, most of them aren't getting any.

I wouldn't be surprised to find out that dozens of predators had successfully used Kanakuk for kid hunting over the decades without anyone being the wiser, and course, like this Peter Newman, they're only ever sorry when they get caught. So, while I don't suspect Joe White of actually being a predator, I do hold him completely responsible for his campers being victimized by a predator. He provided the perfect venue for a predator and didn't even bother to train himself how to spot one, let alone his other staff members. Well done, Joe. You really have done God's work there, buddy.