One of the most curious and notorious Hollywood sexual abuse cases now has a connection to clergy sexual abuse.
Actor Armie Hammer fell from grace as a Hollywood A-lister two years ago amid lurid tales of rape, BDSM fantasies and a thirst for make-believe cannibalism. Now, in an interview with Air Mail, he links his personal demons to an allegedly abusive youth pastor at his church when he was 13.
Although it is not clear what church Hammer and his family attended when he was 13, the family had moved to Los Angeles a year earlier and Hammer eventually attended Los Angeles Baptist High School in the San Fernando Valley. That school since has merged with another entity but at the time Hammer attended was administered by the American Baptist Churches in Los Angeles.
Whether Hammer attended a Baptist church or some other church as a teenager has not been explained. The story of his family of origin is complicated — so complicated that a TV miniseries was made about it.
That abuse “set a dangerous precedent in my life” and led him to become interested in BDSM, he said.
Nevertheless, Hammer recently said he was sexually abused for nearly a year when he was 13 by a youth pastor at his family’s church. That abuse “set a dangerous precedent in my life” and led him to become interested in BDSM, he said.
“What that did for me was it introduced sexuality into my life in a way that it was completely out of my control,” he told Air Mail. “I was powerless in the situation. I had no agency in the situation. My interests then went to: I want to have control in the situation, sexually.”
That led to an interest in rough sex, bondage and BDSM.
He told Air Mail he only realized the connection between his childhood trauma and his adult behavior while engaged in therapy after his Hollywood downfall.
Air Mail reported: “At the time the abuse was happening, Hammer told his parents that the pastor made him vaguely uncomfortable, without getting into details. ‘This is a man of God’ is how Hammer characterizes their reaction. ‘How dare you say these kinds of things? He wants to give you attention, and that’s nice.’”
Hammer’s mother, Dru Ann Mobley, reportedly told one of her son’s ex-girlfriends she believed her son had “demonic behaviors” and “the devil was trying to take him.”
At the time of the abuse, Hammer told Air Mail, he told only two people about the abuse: an older friend who since has died, and his godmother, Candace Garvey, who corroborated his account.
Hammer appears contrite and clearheaded about his past and the allegations against him. In the interview, he said: “I’m here to own my mistakes, take accountability for the fact that I was an asshole, that I was selfish, that I used people to make me feel better, and when I was done, moved on. I’m now a healthier, happier, more balanced person. … I’m truly grateful for my life and my recovery and everything. I would not go back and undo everything that’s happened to me.”
Whatever happened to him as a 13-year-old at church happened to a young teen living in the midst of an unusual family with extreme wealth and newfound extreme religious devotion.
“The actor comes from a family of millionaire oil tycoons, Soviet maneuverers and art dealers.”
The Spanish newspaper El Pais explains: “The actor comes from a family of millionaire oil tycoons, Soviet maneuverers and art dealers.”
The family lore includes his great-great-grandfather’s prison time for involuntary manslaughter after performing an abortion on a Russian diplomat’s wife in 1919, purported alliances with Lenin and Stalin by his great-grandfather, oil money, money laundering, art dealing and espionage and ties to Richard Nixon, with an allegation that the family’s illegal campaign contributions somehow financed the Watergate coverup.
Hammer’s grandfather was accused of murdering a man but not convicted because he was found to have acted in self-defense.
Amid this sordid family lineage, Hammer’s father, Michael Hammer, became devoted to a strict form of Christianity “while also selling forged Rothko and Pollock paintings,” according to El Pais.
The abuse Hammer says he suffered from a youth pastor at church fits the documented pattern of how predators use church settings to gain trust of victims and their families — especially when parents place extreme trust in church leaders.
Michael Hammer became a Christian after meeting his wife, Dru, whose father was an evangelist. They were married at First Methodist Church in Tulsa, Okla. Michael later supported a range of conservative evangelical and Pentecostal ministries, including serving on the board of reference for Oral Roberts University.
His handling of the family fortune created rifts in the family, especially when he stopped funding art museums and cancer research to instead fund evangelical Christian ministries.