Update: On September 6th, Lighthouse Trails posted an article (see below) from Patch Network out of S. California, written by reporter Ashley Ludwig, stating that Ruben (Ruven) Meulenberg, a former Saddleback Church youth worker had been sentenced to 12 years in prison after being found guilty this past summer for child molestation of two boys at Saddleback Church. We have since learned that the Patch article was incorrect in saying that Meulenberg had been sentenced. We have spoken now with the Orange County DA’s office and were told that sentencing for Meulenberg will take place on October 5th. An August 23rd press release by the OCDA (which The Patch article based their story on) said that the maximum sentence for Meulenberg is 12 years and six months, but, again, he will not be sentenced until October 5th. Below is our September 6th posting, which includes our commentary and lead-in paragraphs to The Patch’s article. We have crossed out the sections that are based on the sentencing. We are keeping this post active because the issue of child molestation in the churches is an issue that needs to be addressed regardless of how long Ruben Meulenberg is sentenced for.
LTRP Note: Lighthouse Trails reported on this story in 2017 in an article titled “Saddleback Church Statement Appears to Downplay Role of Alleged Molester Ruben Meulenberg.” Our article challenged Saddleback for calling Ruben (aka: Ruven) Meulenberg a “volunteer” at Saddleback, when in fact, Meulenberg had a significant role at Saddleback as both a youth worker and media/communications worker. Meulenberg was arrested for sexual molestation, and this summer was found guilty. In August, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison for his crimes against young boys at Saddleback.
Many sexual predators prey on churches because Christians are easy targets due to their generally trusting nature and also because of the easy access to children. Unfortunately, too many churches do not take this risk seriously, allowing their children to become victimized. Often, church leadership believes that background checks and interviews (as in the case with Meulenberg) are enough to protect kids. But other safety measures need to be put into place. Please make sure the children at your church are safe! If your pastor is willing to read a copy of the book we publish by Sergeant Patrick Crough (Seducers Among Our Children), we will send him a free copy of the book. It’s an important book to keep on the shelf for reference. At Lighthouse Trails, we care about children and have tried to alert Christians to the truth about child sexual abuse, an issue that Christians often resist in talking about and dealing with because of its sensitive nature. While Ruben Meulenberg will spend the next decade in prison, the boys he molested may suffer effects from the abuse much longer than that. Sexual abuse against children is one of the most destructive things that can be done to children. Please don’t let it happen to the kids at your church.
“Former Saddleback Youth Pastor Sentenced In Child Molestation”
By Ashley Ludwig
LAKE FOREST, CA — A Lake Forest junior high school youth mentor from a Saddleback Church sentenced after having been found guilty of molesting two juveniles. He will spend 12 years in prison, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
Ruven Meulenberg, 33 of Lake Forest, had volunteered with Saddleback Church for more than six years, OCSD said.
Known professionally as Ruben Meulenberg, he is a well-known figure in the region’s Christian community. Muelenberg is a co-creator of a biblical video game with his twin brother and has amassed a following, according to social media.
Investigators were originally contacted regarding a call that alleged the Saddleback Church youth mentor had an inappropriate relationship with a 14-year-old boy.
“During the course of the investigation, a second victim, another 14-year-old boy, was identified,” OCSD Lt. Lane Lagaret said at the time of the investigation. “Both victims indicated they had engaged in inappropriate conduct with the suspect for the past year while he volunteered at the church.” Click here to continue reading.
Excerpts From Seducers Among Our Children: