Sexual Predation by Christian Author and “Apostle” Frank Viola

The pattern is common, but the carnage is great.

After months of investigation, Nathan’s Voice – a victim support ministry by a network of fellowships in Virginia – has confirmed through multiple witnesses a history of lies, abuse, sexual predation and cover up involving noted Christian author and self-proclaimed “apostolic worker” Frank Viola.

Eventually, the edifice of lies and cover up in such cases comes crashing down, as the voices of the victims – even when initially silenced – are finally heard.

In this case, his former church finally had enough and dared to expose Frank Viola’s history of sexual exploitation and leadership abuse, only to be muzzled. That church eventually fell apart because of the lies, deceptions and cult practices foisted upon them.

Finally, however, Nathan’s Voice is allowing their story and first-person accounts to be heard once again – as a warning to all.

Unlike the past, we are resolute in standing against any further threats and other efforts to silence them yet again.

A Familiar Pattern

Nathan’s Voice has worked with and helped hundreds of abuse victims over the years, and been involved in some significant cases against church leaders who have abused people under their care.

It is amazing  how we see this pattern repeated over and over…

A popular church leader projects a false persona of empathy, expertise and success – while covering up a pattern of infidelity, sexual predation and exploitation, persistent detachment from any accountable local fellowship, and past ministry failures.

When facing the risk of exposure, they then appeal to unity and loyalty, personalize everything as hateful attacks against them by spiteful people, and turn on their well-rehearsed charm (and if that doesn’t work, fall back on lies, threats and intimidation) to silence those who dare ask troubling questions.

All the while, they work behind the scenes and through others to purge all dissenting voices and any contrary information – both in their churches and on public forums like the Internet.

One Church’s Brave Response

Folks from a church in Brandon, Florida, which Frank Viola had been part of and helped “plant”, decided they needed to warn others about him under the mandate of 1 Tim. 5:19-21 after years of abuse and learning about his sexual predation in their church.

In a web site they created but then removed from the Internet following the hassle of various legal threats arising from Frank Viola’s ongoing attempts to hide and coverup his history of abuse, they posted many documents and statements regarding their own experience with him.

To summarize their published warnings, Frank Viola had been their apostolic “worker”, but he was abusive, deceptive, and engaged in sexual predation and exploitation of a teenage girl in the church.

During his time with the Brandon church, he wielded overall control as their “apostle”, “worker” and “church planter” – refusing to allow any local elders or other form of local church accountability to emerge.

One of his victims was a girl who had been a high school student of his (he taught in the local public high school at the time) and was part of the church while Frank directly led it.

Using his position in the church and as a school teacher, he sexually preyed on and exploited her as an older man and church leader over an extended period of time. She was, during that period in Brandon, under his direct care and his claims of “apostolic” authority.

His secret exploitation of her continued for a long time, with police eventually discovering Frank Viola in a motel room with her. At the time, she was a teenager nearly half his age and Frank Viola was married with three children. Because she had recently turned 18, however, no criminal charges were filed against Mr. Viola.

Soon after the police discovered him in a motel room with his high school student, he was out of a job at the Brandon High School.

Following exposure of his infidelity with a teenager in the church, a couple of weeks later Frank Viola once again started seeking affairs with more young women half his age – including an Internet solicitation where he explicitly said he was looking to link up with women who were only twenty years old. At the time, he was still married and near forty years old himself.

Mr. Viola’s infidelity contributed to the breakup of his marriage and his first wife soon divorced him. He responded with the brazen demand, in court filings, that he was entitled have her pay him alimony (despite the fact that she also was trying to support their three children) because knowledge in the Brandon area of his infidelity and abuse had left him not only unemployed, but unemployable.

Frank Viola, while this was going on, justified his subsequent divorce through surrogates like Gene Edwards (his fellow “apostle” and cult-like mentor) by accusing Frank’s first wife of being at fault. Why? Because she demanded that Frank step down from ministry because of his problems.

According to them, Frank Viola therefore was justified in the break up of his marriage because supporting his “ministry” – despite his now obvious issues – was more important than his marriage vows.

Throughout all this, Frank Viola refused to acknowledge his history of sexual predation and exploitation of younger women, and continued blaming his ex-wife for the breakup of their marriage. However, the Brandon church found – and published at the time as a matter of church discipline and public warning – that his attempted blame shifting was without merit.

In the midst of all this, the church in Brandon, Florida, struggled on for a while after Frank Viola fled rather than be held accountable, but eventually disintegrated because of the trauma it suffered because of Frank Viola’s abuse, controlling behavior and sexual predation.

Within a few months of things blowing up in Brandon, Frank Viola – now out of a job as a high school teacher and out of a church as an “apostolic worker” – incorporated his “Present Testimony Ministry”. Under his newly incorporated ministry, he then began writing and publishing various books and a blog, “Beyond Evangelical”, to promote himself and his suppose expertise on how to start and be a church, and on his “deeper life”  claims.

To this day, Frank Viola continues to tout his claims and services as an experienced “church planter” and “deeper life” mentor, although nearly all the churches he’s “helped” have failed.

Lies and Cover Up 

Unfortunately, the documents and witness statements originally published by the Brandon church were removed from the Internet following legal action and threats by Gene Edwards, who was openly defending Frank Viola and acting on his behalf at the time. Frank was part of Gene Edwards’ network of hand-picked “apostles” (they since have had a falling out).

Nathan’s Voice, however, was able to retrieve and fully review those documents originally published by his former church, which he fled rather than face accountability over abusing his position of trust there to engage in sexual predation, exploitation and marital infidelity.

Nathan’s Voice has is now going public with the these facts, based on the Brandon church’s previously published first-hand accounts and warnings, because it is important for others to protect themselves and their churches against any continued predation, grooming or inflated claims of success and experience by Frank Viola as a self-proclaimed “church planter” or other leader.

Other Voices

In a separate document published at the time, leaders of the Brandon church prepared another first-hand account which summarizes the events surrounding Frank Viola. In it, they confirm their own investigation (as mandated by 1 Timothy 5:19-21) into what happened in Brandon and provide details, as a warning to others, about Frank Viola’s sexual predation and exploitation of a teenager who had been in the church and was half his age.

Another former leader in the the Brandon church also published a separate first person account of what happened, which still survives on the Internet after Frank Viola’s cover up campaign failed to get it removed.

How I Had to Deal with Spiritual Abuse and Got Kicked Out of a Cult is a more recent first-hand account of continued abuse and cult practices – including predatory grooming type behavior against women – by the “apostles” (also called “workers”) at Frank Viola’s affiliated church in Gainesville, Florida, where he was living at the time. It is followed with confirming comments.

Others have independently investigated and confirmed Frank Viola’s history of sexual predation and exploitation in churches with which he’s been affiliated. They, too, have  reached similar conclusions which confirm Nathan’s Voice’s account of the facts. One of the more recent is the Spiritual Sounding Board, a highly respected investigative forum regarding church sexual abuse.

Why this Warning?

Nathan’s Voice has learned a vital lesson from working with hundreds of victims and cases:

Where a leader has violated his position of trust by willfully abusing those under his care, then absent open confession and repentance – which is at least as public as the influence and leadership he continues to seek – there is no assurance of adequate safeguards to protect against additional deception and victims.

There has been no public confession or open repentance by Frank Viola and his so-called fellow “apostolic workers” who are part of his mutual promotion networks and have known of his problems but also remained silent. Instead, there has been a history of predation, deception, intimidation and cover up. Absent public exposure and warning, therefore, others remain at risk from more of the same.

A related article providing detailed information on what happened in Brandon, Viola’s resulting divorce, his continued pattern of abuse and his attempts to cover it up:

Jon Zens and Frank Viola – A Public Response

A subsequent detailed account of Frank Viola related efforts to threaten, stalk and silence those who have investigated and then mentioned his history sexual predation and abuse:

Bart Breen and Frank Viola – Lies, Sex Abuse and Cover Up

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