Anglican Watch

Insane: Tennessee courts try to cover up details of Covenant shooting, leading to additional questions about corruption at Covenant Nashville

Covenant Presbyterian

It’s official—the Tennessee judicial system, already corrupt, has lost its collective mind. Specifically, a Tennessee court has refused to honor news media and police requests for the release of the Covenant school shooter’s so-called manifesto. As a result, Anglican Watch calls on federal law enforcement to investigate the Church of the Covenant over its past cover-up of crimes by child sex abuser John Perry, a former member of the church with ties to the Covenant shooter.

Per NewsChannel 5, Nashville:

Chancellor I’Ashea L. Myles wrote in her 60-page order that the Tennessee courts have determined that public access to every record at any time doesn’t uphold the justice system.

“Therefore, the right to unencumbered access to public 56 records was tempered by certain exceptions, which serve to keep certain information from disclosure as the risk of harm from disclosure is outweighed by the public’s right to know,” Myles wrote. “Further, where the United States Congress has spoken, as the supreme law of the land, even the laws enacted in Tennessee must yield to their supremacy.”

In addition to the writings, none of The Covenant School security details will be released to “to ensure the safety of both Tennessee schools and schools broadly.”

To be clear, the Court’s ruling is absolute BS. Let’s parse the issues:

  1. On the issue of standing to bring these claims, while we support the Covenant families, as a legal matter, they do not have standing to object to a Tennessee Public Records Act disclosure. Consider: If a family member gets arrested for sending threatening communications to government officials, and I assert that disclosing the details would cause me trauma, can I validly object to disclosing these writings by asserting copyright claims? Of course not. Similarly, while we deeply empathize with the trauma that families are experiencing, the issues are not causally connected. Nothing requires the families to read anything disclosed.
  2. There is a red herring in the judge’s ruling. Specifically, contrary to the assertion in her opinion, no one has asked for unfettered access. Nor is the Tennessee Public Records Act an all-or-nothing proposition. Records can be redacted to remove information that implicates privacy or other issues.
  3. The copyright issue is bogus. Per the Court, the copyright claim asserted by survivors trumps the provisions of the Tennessee Public Records Act. Setting to one side for a moment the erroneous notion that survivors have standing to intervene in the litigation, the Court failed to adequately parse the copyright issue. To be clear, the US Supreme Court has held that the entry of copyrighted material into police records does not automatically remove copyright protections. However, in this case, a copyright to the so-called manifesto has not been registered, and we question whether an after-the-fact assertion of copyright is adequate to prevent disclosure by law enforcement. Additionally, there is a distinction to be made, per Section 107 of the Federal copyright code, between the right to publish the manifesto for income-producing purposes and releasing it to the public; the former almost certainly can be prevented; the latter enjoys First Amendment rights.
  4. The Court’s decision tramples First Amendment rights. There is a well-established First Amendment right to access information in the government’s possession. This right serves to keep the government, including police departments, accountable. Accountability is of heightened importance in this case because: a) There are documented issues with a pedophile at Covenant who appears to be linked to the shooter. b) There are myriad abuses of power at Covenant, including the church’s abusive use of the police and the courts to oppress whistleblower Austin Davis. c) The Nashville police department is engaging in misconduct even as we speak, including falsely telling out-of-state Open Records Act requestors that state law prohibits disclosure to out-of-state residents. d) The police department’s misconduct, highlighted above, evinces dishonorable intentions. Additionally, the reaction of third parties has never, under American jurisprudence, been adequate to restrict the First Amendment rights of others. For example, we find the anti-Jewish publication “The Elders of Zion,” to be beyond loathsome. But that does not give us standing to bring a legal action to prevent its publication or to prevent others from reading it.
  5. The Court’s reliance on school safety to preclude disclosure is ludicrous on multiple levels. a) Because this case involves a unique fact pattern, law enforcement officers and those who provide active shooter training to first responders need to analyze the information in the manifesto. This is evinced by the fact that the National Police Association is one of the litigants seeking disclosure. b) We are unpersuaded that the Covenant parents are better situated than law enforcement to assess whether disclosure of the manifesto creates risk. c) The argument that disclosing the manifesto jeopardizes security arrangements at Covenant is laughable. Again, not only has law enforcement rejected this argument, but if Covenant has not changed its security measures and protocols, that would be shocking and unacceptable. d) There is reason to believe that the shooter mentioned other victims of abuse in her writings, including Grant and Gracie Solomon. While we understand that the shooter’s anger extended to myriad individuals, a failure to disclose may jeopardize the rights of other parents to protect their children.
  6. Advocates for the Covenant families cannot set boundaries for others on what they read and share consistent with the First Amendment and a pluralistic society. And they need to remember — these issues cut both directions. In this context, we note that Covenant has tried this tactic already, abusing the courts and the legal system to discourage disclosure of John Perry’s pedophilia and the church’s role in covering up his actions until the statute of limitations had passed.

    Covenant Nashville
    Covenant Nashville
  7. Concealing evil is inconsistent with the Christian faith. As Christians, we are called to bring light to the darkness versus covering up evil. By attempting to prevent disclosure, Covenant families prevent Christians from working to prevent future such evils.
  8. Secrecy reinforces the notion that Covenant has something to hide. We already know that Covenant prevented criminal prosecution of pedophile John Perry, a former member of the church, by sitting on evidence of his guilt until the statute of limitations had run. Perry not only ran a “safe house” for troubled children at Covenant but, tellingly, served as Mike Huckabee’s speechwriter. Moreover, this pattern of cover-up of pedophilia and abuse and retaliation against whistleblowers permeates the Tennessee judicial system. Schools involved include Covenant, Brentwood Academy, and Grace Christian Academy, which continues to welcome a known pedophile to campus. And, of course, Covenant remains unrepentant in its outrageous abuse of whistleblower Austin Davis. Because of that, we do not trust the church or its motives.

To be clear: Our position does not demonstrate animus or lack of compassion to the Covenant families.

Further, we do not believe that Covenant families are knowingly aiding and abetting a coverup.

Nor are we MAGA proponents who believe there’s a cabal of pedophiles running the US government. Indeed, we reject these claims categorically.

What we do believe is that Covenant Church, and government officials, are acting to prevent disclosure of information that would shed light on their ongoing cover-up of felony criminal conduct — child sex abuse — by politically connected John Perry. In doing so, the church is, we believe, trading on the suffering of the survivors to achieve its goals. In other words, we suspect the church is playing the survivors — a loathsome conclusion indeed, but one that is difficult to avoid under the circumstances.

In reaching this conclusion, we are informed by several factors, including:

  • Covenant’s past collusion with police and the courts to prevent prosecution of pedophile John Perry.
  • Covenant’s fabrications to shut down whistleblower Austin Davis. Indeed, Austin is about as far removed from an active shooter as it’s possible to be, and anyone who knows Austin knows this is nonsensical. (Yes, we know Austin personally.)
  • The refusal of local officials to investigate the death of Grant Solomon, who we conclude was murdered by his father, Aaron Solomon.

So, we recognize that our conclusions/concerns are ugly indeed.

But as Maya Angelou famously said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

Covenant has shown it is corrupt. Local politicians have shown they are corrupt. The local judiciary has shown itself to be corrupt. And local law enforcement has shown itself to be corrupt.

And in Covenant’s case, we have expressly called on the church to repent. It has ignored these calls, so it is doubly evil.

As to the shooter’s parents, we have doubts as to their integrity, and believe they may also be trying to cover-up their own misconduct. If nothing else, are we really supposed to believe they had no inkling of the problems afoot? That may prove to be the case, but without access to more data, we are left to form conclusions based on the information at hand.

We also note: We are all but certain that the shooter was in contact with John Perry, and may have been sexually abused by him.

And children typically only engage in behavior of this sort when they have been exposed to tremendous trauma — which is not to say that the driving force was not a mental health issue. But again, the attempt to impose a veil of secrecy, especially in light of the church’s ongoing corruption, makes us deeply suspicious.

Meanwhile, we are believing people the first time they show us who they are.

The way the covenant shootings are being handled evinces system corruption, at multiple levels. It is time for state officials to come clean and act with integrity, If they won’t, it’s time to vote Tennessee officials out of office and begin a federal criminal probe into their conduct.


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