Cameron Eberbach was arrested two and a half months ago for a sex offense with a teen girl he met in the church’s youth group where he volunteered and chaperoned. But it’s only attracting attention now. Someone dropped the ball.
And while this case was ‘under the radar,’ let’s hope no one else got hurt.
In early December, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office apprehended 28-year-old Cameron Maxwell Eberbach of Atlantic Beach/Neptune Beach on charges of abusing a minor he met as a volunteer youth minister at St Paul’s Catholic Church in Jacksonville Beach according to police records. He also worked recently at Jacksonville’s Mayo Clinic according to news accounts.
He admitted to the sexual contact when interviewed by law enforcement and is now out on bond.
According to one news source, a mom took action when she learned that her teenager “was involved in a sexual situation with the suspect.” We applaud this brave, smart parent who contacted law enforcement promptly. And we applaud the sheriff’s department for moving quickly.
We also urge anyone with information or suspicions about Eberbach, St. Paul’s parish, or the Diocese of St. Augustine to come forward immediately to law enforcement. That’s how to make sure the full truth comes out here.
Catholic officials reportedly “learned of his arrest on Dec. 5” and banned him “from serving as a volunteer in any capacity at the parish or youth programs of the Diocese of St. Augustine.” As best we can tell, however, church officials refused to make this public, leaving potential witnesses, whistleblowers and unsuspecting families in the dark.
We urge reporters to be more accurate and avoid phrases like “was involved in a sexual situation.” Words like that imply that the youngster was a willing accomplice (instead of being or feeling manipulated, which is usually the case, even if the teen may not fully understand or realize this right now).
And here’s a different but still disturbing phrase from another news account: “A spokeswoman for the Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine confirmed Eberbach was a volunteer at St. Paul’s. . .”
Wouldn’t it be a wonderful surprise if that sentence had read “A spokeswoman for the Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine DISCLOSED Eberbach was a volunteer at St. Paul’s. . .”
But of course, the diocese did NOT disclose. The victim, the police and the news media brought these alleged crimes to light, not church officials. Despite the Catholic hierarchy’s repeated claims that “we’re transparent these days,” in so many instances, they still aren’t.
While none of us can, of course, make church higher-ups act more responsibly, we can and should spread the word about this case and call police and prosecutors immediately if we learn anything at all that might be helpful to them in seeking the full truth.
Horowitz Law represents children and adults who were victims of sexual abuse by clergyman of all faiths. If you or someone you know was a victim of sexual abuse or sexual assault at a church or other religious organization, please contact our law firm at 888-283-9922 or send an e-mail to [email protected]