The pastor of a church on the north side of Elmhurst shocked his congregation Sunday by reading a letter of confession from his former associate pastor—a letter that described a sexual relationship with an underage girl.
West Suburban Community Church Senior Pastor Jim Lennon announced to his congregation Sunday, Feb. 24, that 41-year-old Darin Evans admitted to "an inappropriate physical relationship with an adolescent minor girl that continued for a few years."
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Lennon contacted Elmhurst police, who opened an investigation and went to Ohio to interview Evans. The investigation remains open, and Evans has not been charged with a crime, Deputy Police Chief Dominic Panico said Tuesday. He declined further comment.
"We're praying for the (girl) and her family," Lennon said in a phone interview. "We have experienced the close reality of evil and we're just relying on our faith in Jesus Christ to get us through this awful situation. We're just devastated."
After 11 years as associate pastor at WSCC, 825 N. Van Auken, Evans resigned at the end of last year and moved with his wife and three teenage children from his home in Villa Park to Ohio, Lennon said. The girl and her family brought the allegations to Lennon just two weeks ago.
"As soon as the allegations were made, I called him, with another one of our board members here at our church, and confronted him about it," Lennon said. "He did admit to it."
He said he asked Evans repeatedly if there were any other victims, and Evans said no.
"That's all I have to go on," Lennon said, adding Evans had very little to say when confronted.
"Nobody saw this coming," Lennon said. "By every indication, he was trustworthy, reliable, he related well with the kids. The kids loved him," he said. "And now they're in a state of shock. We brought in counselors to work with them, talk with the kids, see if there is any possibility that anybody else could be affected."
This is the message of apology Lennon read to his congregation on Sunday:
"During my time at West Suburban, I betrayed the trust you placed in me by getting involved in a physical relationship with ________. I'm sorry for betraying you and for the pain this causes. Darin Evans"
As associate pastor of West Suburban Church, one of Evans' responsibilities was to oversee the youth ministry, Lennon said. He primarily was involved with middle school and high school-aged children. Other volunteers helped him in that mission.
On occasion, he would travel with children in the congregation. Every year, the church sponsored a winter retreat in Wisconsin.
"Each year he would do that with the kids," Lennon said.
Outside of the church, Evans was a Young Life leader. Young Life is a Christian organization that works with high school kids, but it is not affiliated with a particular church or school. Lennon said he wasn't sure, but he thought the Elmhurst Young Life group had about 60 members. Many of them are York High School students.
Attempts to contact Young Life leaders have been unsuccessful.
A statement from District 205 public information officer Melea Smith reiterated that Young Life is not affiliated with York High School.
"Young Life is a completely separate organization, and has not met at York High School for several years," she said, adding that York counselors are available to talk to students if needed.
She said the district administration considers this a police matter, "and we don't feel it is appropriate for us to comment at this point."
Lennon is cooperating fully with Elmhurst police, and the church is doing everything it can to help the victim and her family, he said.
"We just hope there aren't any other victims," he said.
Lennon sent a letter to friends of West Suburban Church who may have had contact with Evans or who may know of others who might have information to share with police, he said.
"We just want to make people aware, and if there is any other person out there who needs to step forward, we certainly support them," he said. "We are just filled with sorrow that this happened—that this person trusted him. This hit us very much at our core."
Given the public reading of Evans' letter and Evans' role as a public figure, Patch has identified him by name in this story. Evans has not been charged with a crime but has been interviewed by police and remains a subject of investigation.
Anyone with information about interactions with Darin Evans should contact Detective Paul Carney at (630) 530-3206.