As a young preacher in the early 70’s I went once to Jack Hyles’ Pastors’ School held at First Baptist, Hammond, IN. That one time was enough for me and since then any bad news coming out about Hyles, his son or the church has not been a surprise to me. The following is an edited article concerning Joy Ryder who lived life first hand at First Baptist Church and then Hyles Anderson College. Joy ‘Ryder recently filed a lawsuit against the estate of Jack Hyles, his son David Hyles, Hyles-Anderson College and First Baptist Church of Hammond alleging that David Hyles raped, sexually assaulted and sexually abused her and that church leadership covered it up in the late 1970s.
“You aren’t special, he does that with everyone,” Ryder said Jack Hyles, the then-lead pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, told her.
Ryder, then 14, recalled that was Jack Hyles’ response when she approached him to tell him that a senior-ranking member of the church — his son — was abusing her.
“He is probably the most cruel, and cunning person I’ve ever known in my life, and I don’t say that easily,” Ryder, now 57, said of David Hyles. “He knew exactly what he was doing.”
Ryder’s apartment walls are minimally decorated. A calendar marking family celebrations and a few family photos hang on the wall. There are no religious symbols displayed predominantly in the living room.
Given his position and the “charismatic personality that he had,” people were drawn to David Hyles, Ryder said, and felt that “if he looked favorably on you, you were ‘in’ with the youth pastor.”
“That was something that was flattering to everyone,” Ryder said.
In 1976, when she was 14, Ryder said David Hyles started “grooming” her. A touch here, a quick hug there. David Hyles also convinced her parents that Ryder was “rebellious” and that he would counsel her, she said.
Then grooming then turned into something else, she said.
David Hyles allegedly raped Ryder the first time in his office in the youth center, about a block and a half away from the church, according to the lawsuit. Ryder said she was 15 years old at the time.
Ryder joined Strength and Beauty, the church’s and school’s “traveling music group.” The group traveled for a whole summer, during which time David Hyles had “full access” to her, Ryder said.
“That’s when it really escalated, was on that trip,” Ryder said.
The lawsuit alleges Ryder “suffered sexual abuse by D. Hyles over 50 discrete instances,” some of which occurred at a Holiday Inn in Illinois.
According to the lawsuit, David Hyles would allegedly threaten to “expose” Ryder to the church as a “slut” if she didn’t comply. He would also, according to the lawsuit, allegedly threaten her parents’ jobs at Hyles-Anderson College.
“In the church, you’re taught to never question authority, to always be quiet,” Ryder said. “When that’s life to you, and your world revolves around the church and the school, there’s very little way out, as far as speaking up and speaking out for yourself.”
After two years, Ryder said she finally told her parents about what she was enduring.
Ryder brought her father with her to a meeting with David Hyles at a Holiday Inn in Lansing, according to the lawsuit. Ryder told David Hyles that she would “no longer perform any sexual acts with him ever again” and that her father was outside, according to the lawsuit.
Ryder said her father told Jack Hyles about what he witnessed, and shortly after that David Hyles relocated to Texas.
“After I told my parents, they wanted to know what happened. I told them, but I was so embarrassed by everything that I remember we talked about it once and that was it. We never talked about it again,” Ryder said.
Ryder went on to attend Hyles-Anderson College, before transferring to Tennessee Temple University, a private Christian university in Chattanooga, Tennessee, that has since closed, she said.
She didn’t graduate, and would eventually get married and have three children, she said. Ryder became a missionary and lived 20 years in Papua New Guinea, where she raised her children.
After the allegations were reported to Jack Hyles, Ryder said she saw David Hyles twice: once at the church and once at Tennessee Temple University. He came to the university to speak, and Ryder said she had to attend because it was mandatory. She said she doesn’t remember what he spoke about.
Ryder said she didn’t talk to him on those two occasions.
The experience has made her “understand that these people exist everywhere,” Ryder said. It has also taught her that it’s important to protect children and give them the “voice they deserve.”
In 2013, Ryder started a non-profit organization Out of the Shadows, which provides resources for victims of sexual abuse. Ryder said she has talked with many survivors of sexual abuse, some of whom have experienced it at a religious institution.
“A lot of them, especially abused in the church, … just don’t know what to do with God anymore,” Ryder said. “If he’s used against you, they need to have their story heard but then that’s something they have to work out.”
Ryder said she is not asking for money in the lawsuit, but if there is a judgment in her favor it will go toward her non-profit.
By filing the lawsuit, Ryder said she is showing survivors of sexual assault that she’s done “absolutely everything that I can do to seek justice,” and hopefully inspire them to speak up.
“If I can give somebody hope, that’s what I want to do,” Ryder said.’ https://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/post-tribune/ct-ptb-hyles-lawsuit-st-0329-20200327-qhcr4b7utbbatna2io7e2j7j5q-story.html