November 18, 2019

Emails between Daniel Lavery and Johnny Ortberg (Nov 18)

Originally posted on Twitter with the note:

Here is the letter that Danny sent to John Ortberg III demanding he stop working with children. As soon as we sent it, we called a friend who called the high school and did report Johnny’s disclosures. Johnny did not deny them.

I want to make this clear because we initially offered Johnny the option of resigning without disclosure. As soon as we hit “send,” we realized that that was inadequate, and we needed to report him ourselves. It was a messy decision in a crisis that, on balance, we handled well.

Daniel Lavery, Nov 18

Johnny, I want to begin by reiterating what I said to you on Friday: That you are a person worthy of love and care, that you did not ask for your desires and that that they should not exclude you from a supportive community and a full and meaningful life. People afflicted with sexual compulsions towards children are placed, by virtue of that affliction, in an especially difficult position. I urge you, then, to seek immediate therapeutic guidance, because you cannot and should not have to carry this burden without professional help. I have done a little research and have found the following specialists, both based in Berkeley:

Bill Burmester [REDACTED]

Ben Ringler [REDACTED]

There are also two in Southern California:

Winston Wilde, DHS, LMFT [REDACTED]

Nancy Irwin [REDACTED]

Their contact information is available through the website of ASAP International, the Association for Sexual Abuse Prevention. All of them work with non-offending pedophiles; you can also call 541-891-6168 for a list of additional therapists who specialize in this area. Any of them will help you in your quest, which I believe to be utterly sincere, to put your life to good use, to not cause harm, and to not take unnecessary risks.

Johnny, you must immediately stop working with children. You must resign from your volunteer coaching position [REDACTED] and you must step down from any work with church youth groups, and any other volunteer work involving children. I suspect that you know, in your heart, that you must do this. I also suspect you know that the plan that you and the rest of the family has concocted is not a sane, healthy or sustainable one. Now it has begun to come out, the work of healing and recovery can begin. Please tell me within forty-eight hours if you can confirm that you have stepped down from these positions. If you do not, I will be morally obligated to do so myself. You say you have not harmed anyone, and you do not have to inform them of the reason for your stepping down. But if you do not resign, I will contact them myself - stressing, of course, that I have no evidence that you have hurt any children, but that I do not believe you to be a safe person to be around children.

I am sure this will feel hard to bear. It is so hard - so very hard. Truly, you have my sympathy and my compassion. The ethical obligation that has been placed upon you, by the fact of your nature, is very burdensome. But it is an obligation. I beg of you to do the right thing, and to make sure that you are able to lean on whatever psychiatric and counseling services you need to get through this. I am desperately sorry that Mom, Dad, and Laura have failed you so profoundly, by insisting on secrecy and signing off on your manic and nonsensical plan. Healing begins with speech. You are entitled to speak, and to speak freely; I hope you seek out a trained therapist and begin doing so right away.

I care about your well-being. I hope with my whole heart that you choose to do the right thing today.


Johnny Ortberg, Nov 18

Hi Danny,

I need to speak with you in person. Please call me when you can.

Johnny Ortberg, Nov 18

I should clarify that doesn’t mean I’m not willing to do what you’re asking of me, I just need to speak with you in person.

Johnny Ortberg, Nov 18

Hi Danny -

I have done what you’ve asked and informed parents and players that I will no longer be coaching the Gunn team. I’m not involved with any of the other groups/volunteer work you mentioned. I will be scheduling counseling and thank you for the references.

On Friday I went to talk because I want to be closer to you. I don’t know what happened between now and then, but from things I’ve heard I’m worried you’re wanting to do the opposite. You’re not responding to me and I’ve heard you’re not responding to anyone else in the family. Please, please, please. I will do ANYTHING you want or think I should do, please just don’t shut me out. I love you so much and can’t handle the thought of losing you. I don’t know what else to do.