Two leaders of an Assemblies of God campus ministry network have been indicted in Texas on charges of indecency with a child and trafficking of persons.
One of the indicted, Chris Hundl, previously led a chapter of Chi Alpha World Fellowship on the campus of Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He was not an employee of Baylor, and the university had no supervision of him or the independent ministry.
Hundl, 38, and Daniel Savala, 67, were indicted by a McLennan County, Texas, grand jury Sept. 14.
Savala has been described as Hundl’s mentor but also has been the focus of multiple allegations of sexual misconduct under the guise of spiritual guidance. Both men reportedly taught younger boys that mutual masturbation is a sacred act.
According to Ministry Watch: “The indictment states that over the course of two years, from May 2021 through April 2023, Hundl and Savala engaged in the continuous trafficking of underage persons at least two times, and also engaged in indecency with the same victims. Savala’s charges were enhanced because of his previous conviction in Alaska of sexual abuse of a minor.”
Hundl was arrested in May and charged with encouraging two boys under the age of 15 to perform sexual acts. The alleged improprieties happened in a sauna at Hundl’s home in Waco and at the Houston home of Savala, who is a registered sex offender.
In July, William Robinson, a Chi Alpha pastor in Corpus Christi, Texas, was charged with a first-degree felony of the continuous sexual abuse of a child and pleaded not guilty.
Leaders of the Assemblies of God have been slow to acknowledge the allegations swirling around Chi Alpha, particularly in Texas.
One South Texas pastor has become the first within the denomination to publicly criticize leadership and call for change. On Aug. 13, J.R. Armstrong, pastor of Mauriceville All Gospel Church in Orange, Texas, addressed the matter from the pulpit, according to Ministry Watch.
The pastor played a recording of Assemblies of God General Superintendent Doug Clay speaking at the General Council meeting in Columbus, Ohio, in early August. The denominational leader acknowledged “hiccups tied to shortcomings” with Chi Alpha but said, “The failure of some individuals never trumps the strength, purpose and vitality of the particular ministry.”
Chi Alpha operates on 300 college campuses.
Armstrong told his congregation he is disturbed that Clay didn’t acknowledge victims of sexual abuse through Chi Alpha.
Silence from denominational leaders lacks transparency, he said.
“I’d like to see them acknowledge the victims and apologize to them for what happened to them,” the pastor told Ministry Watch. “The litigation is coming, so admitting (the victims) exist and supporting them won’t change the liability. It’s just doing what’s right.”
Ronald Bloomingkemper has created a website to collect and share information about alleged abuses through Chi Alpha.
He told Ministry Watch: “What J.R. Armstrong accomplished is nothing short of biblical proportions. He’s a modern-day David, fearlessly confronting the Goliath of an organization.”
Baylor officials suspended Chi Alpha operations on campus last May as the allegations against Hundl came to light.
“Baylor University is aware of serious allegations of impropriety among leaders of the independent organization Chi Alpha,” a university statement said. “Like all Chi Alpha college-based chapters, Baylor’s organization is led by the assigned Chi Alpha ministers and staff. These individuals are NOT Baylor employees.
“We are deeply disturbed and grieved by these serious allegations against Chi Alpha’s leaders, and we will continue to examine Baylor’s affiliated student organization to ensure our students have a healthy and safe co-curricular environment.”