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Circle C board defends accused camp director

Posted at 7:30 PM, Apr 08, 2021

DELEVAN, N.Y. (WKBW) — Weeks after a Delevan minister and local camp director Wayne Aarum was accused of sexual misconduct by 21 former campers and staffers, the Circle C camp director has not stepped down.

The board of Circle C’s parent corporation, The Living Waters Ministries and people who are close to Aarum say he is innocent of the sexual harassment claims against him.

If you're on the Circle C website, the camp has seven new documents that outline why they say Aarum is innocent.

At least 21 women have come forward to lawyers hired by The Chapel at Crosspoint where Aarum once served as a pastor to accuse him of inappropriate conduct decades ago when they were teens. Those allegations outlined in a report from The Chapel and Ministry Safe’s Kimberlee Norris say the abuse happened during the 90s, during a time Aarum was involved with The Chapel and when the Chapel says it had partnered with Circle C Ranch.

Living Waters Ministries says it takes allegations serious, and that’s why the ranch says it “conducted a thorough investigation of these circumstances assisted by professional experts.”

According to its own investigation, which included interviews with adult supervisors who oversaw youth programs in the 90’s- no one saw anything inappropriate take place.

The Circle C board claims The Chapel at Crosspoint wants to “take over the ranch” and says it is spreading falsehoods about Aarum so members of The Chapel can “take over the Circle C board.”

In documents on Circle C’s website, the board writes the “campaign against Aarum was designed for the purpose of acquiring the camp’s property and business.”

In an exclusive interview with 7 Eyewitness News last month, Aarum and board member Daryl Dekalb made that same suggestion while strongly denying the allegations against him.

“The one thing they do not have is a children’s ministry like that,” said Dekalb.

A spokesperson for The Chapel says it has “absolutely no interest in acquiring Circle C Ranch.”

But the Circle C board says that’s simply not true, and claims The Chapel has put forth a “campaign to destroy Wayne Aarum’s reputation.”

“Everything that’s been presented to us is anonymous,” said Dekalb about the accusations. “How easy is it to make anonymous declarations?”

The Circle C board goes on to accuse The Chapel of “sponsoring anonymous claims” from the alleged victims, even thought The Chapel says all information was unsolicited and the victims are not anonymous to The Chapel.

Circle C also takes aim at Ministry Safe’s Kimberlee Norris and her work claiming the accusers were “led down a garden path.”

“A social worker can get anyone to say anything,” Dekalb said.

But Norris, who founded Ministry Safe says she has over three decades experience litigating child sexual abuse issues, and tells 7 Eyewitness News:

“Few of the women who came forward during the investigation knew other; the behavior complained of spanned DECADES. I found each of the women to be credible; patterns of predatory behavior emerged and grew more egregious as time passed. My evaluation of credibility is based upon 30 years of past experience interacting with fact witnesses and abuse survivors.”

She goes on to say, “The notion that the allegations were ‘planted’ or suggested by counselors or ‘social workers’ is patently absurd.”