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Women speak out about alleged abuse against camp director, former youth pastor

Posted at 7:30 PM, Jun 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-24 19:30:10-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Wayne Aarum, a former youth pastor and Camp Director at Circle C Ranch in Delevan, has maintained he wants to face his accusers, after 21 women came forward accusing Aarum of inappropriate sexual contact during his time at The Chapel in Amherst.

“At least let me face my accusers and at least give me context so I can talk about it,” he said in an interview with 7 Eyewitness News in March.

Joy McCollough says she was outraged to see her former pastor call her and more than 21 other women accusing him of inappropriate behavior “anonymous.”

“While I’m in the middle of behind the scenes e-mailing with him and I saw him on your story saying they don’t know who these people are everyone’s anonymous—no one wants to bring the story to him, and I was literally pushing and fighting in e-mails to bring the story to him, and they were making it extremely difficult to have a meeting,” she said.

“Let me be clear, not one of these women who are accusing me ever complained to me about the alleged wrongdoing,” Aarum said in a video posted to Circle C Ranch’s website.

But McCollough, who says she finally received that online meeting with Aarum in April reminded him she brought these issues to his attention when she was in high school.

“I had come to him three times in High School to talk about it.”

McCollough says her first inappropriate encounter with her then The Chapel Pastor was when she was 15, watching a movie at church. She says Aarum was sitting beside her and her friend holding the girl’s hands.

She says she felt uncomfortable and confused.

“I didn’t understand at the time what that was,” she said.

McCollough says during another encounter, Aarum pulled her in close for a hug and kissed her on the forehead.

“That was an unusual experience for me to have in general, and I had a lingering feeling with him if it was going to go further,” she said.

“He conditioned you to think it was okay and that he was a fatherly figure,” said Amy Liszkiewicz, who was in her teen years when she attended Circle C Ranch.

It was the winter of 2007 when Liskiewicz says she was cornered by Aarum while working the lastertron station at Snow Camp.

“He put his forehead to mine and he took his other hand and started to feel around my stomach,” she said.

She says she pushed him off her, and maintained a distance from him thereafter.

“There’s so much more that goes into this rather than ‘oh did he touch you in this way,” said Elle Campbell who attended The Chapel and Circle C Ranch.

Campbell says she remembers a time when she was 20, running into Aarum at the Chapel. She says he gave her a hug, and kept his hands on her buttocks.

“In those moments, I freeze,” she said.

Aarum has repeatedly denied all allegations against him. "I have zero recollection of that. I can honestly say no," when asked if he ever touched anyone inappropriately.

In a new lawsuit, Aarum is taking the Chapel at Crosspoint to court. He’s suing the church and it’s pastor for $2.5 million in damages including emotional injury. The lawsuit claims Aarum is suing for intentional false and defamatory statements made about him and his camp.

The Chapel declined to comment.