Exclusive: Mother of child victimized by former youth pastor shares family’s heartbreak and anger.


Ryan Ivy

By SARA VANDEN BERGE


The mother of a 13-year-old girl allegedly victimized by a man she trusted spoke exclusively to Beneath the Surface News just days after he was arrested.


I spoke with the victim’s mother (that will be referred to as Anna for the purpose of this story) by telephone three days after Ryan Ivy was arrested and charged with online solicitation of a minor under the age of 14.


In a lengthy interview, Anna outlined what appears to be a well thought out plan by an alleged child predator who targeted her young daughter.


Today, Anna said the family is still struggling through the ordeal and working to heal their daughter who has been isolated from friends and forced to leave a school she loved.


“She is doing OK, it just depends on the day,” Anna said. “Homeschooling has been an adjustment and she has a lot of trust issues.”

THE GROOMING


Anna and her daughter first met Ivy when he worked for Bluff Dale ISD as an instructional aide.


“He was the guy who was there to greet students every morning and open the door for them,” Anna said. “He was really nice. Everyone loved Mr. Ivy.”


Anna’s daughter was new to Bluff Dale ISD and eager to make friends and get involved.


She was a cheerleader, volleyball player and joined an after-school youth group that met every Wednesday afternoon in the school’s gymnasium.


“She wanted to make friends and get involved, so we let her do it,” Anna said.


The youth group was led by Ivy, who also served as the youth pastor at Bluff Dale Baptist Church.


It was during that time frame when Anna believes Ivy began “grooming” her daughter for what was to come.


There were subtle signs, too, that something was amiss and Anna’s husband was among the first to notice.


“My husband went to pick her up after a game and saw that she was sitting alone with Mr. Ivy,” Anna said. “He thought it was strange and made it a point to tell me about it when he got home, but I defended him. I told my husband that Mr. Ivy was good with the kids and really nice; that there was nothing to worry about.”

JULY 2020, EVERYTHING CHANGES


In July 2020, students were still on summer break, but back-to-school activities were starting to pick up in Bluff Dale.


Anna’s daughter was preparing to start the eighth grade, but still wasn’t allowed to have a cell phone, only an iPad.


“We thought she was too young to be on social media so it was restricted,” Anna said. “She was only allowed to get on Pinterest.”


But kids will often find a way around their parents’ rules and Anna’s daughter was no different.


“She learned from a friend that she could access Instagram through Pinterest,” Anna said.


And that’s when Ivy and her daughter began communicating.


At first, the messages were seemingly innocent; chats about school colors and practices, but within days, the communication turned overtly sexual with Ivy instructing Anna’s daughter to delete each conversation.


“It scared her. She knew she needed to tell someone, but was afraid to tell an adult,” Anna said.


Instead, her daughter confided in a 15-year-old male friend and showed him the messages. He agreed that they were inappropriate, and in late July, he began communicating with Ivy while pretending to be Anna’s daughter.


“At some point, Mr. Ivy realized that he wasn’t talking to my daughter and panicked,” Anna said. “He deleted his Instagram account and said that if they told anyone, he would commit suicide.”


When the communication ceased, the kids decided to keep the incident a secret.


Ivy, however, wouldn’t do the same.


Worried that his actions would be exposed, Ivy went to his boss, Pastor Scott Pace at Bluff Dale Baptist Church, in late July and made a confession.


According to the official complaint from the Erath County District Attorney’s Office, “Ivy admitted that he had engaged in an ‘inappropriate’ sexual conversation, via electronic media, with a female minor. Ivy’s employment as a youth minister continued after his conversation with Pastor Pace.”


Ivy then went to talk with Bluff Dale ISD Superintendent John Taylor, but that conversation appears to have been different from the one he had with his pastor.


According to the complaint, rather than admitting to taking part in the explicit exchanges, Ivy told Taylor that a student had sent him an inappropriate message, “sexual in nature,” and that he would resign from the school immediately.

THE UNRAVELING


Despite the revelations, Ivy’s secret remained largely intact.


The new school year started without the “friendly” Mr. Ivy greeting students at the front door, but he was still allowed to attend sporting events and extracurricular activities on school grounds.


Anna said she had no idea why Ivy was no longer employed at the school and never thought much about it.


She said school officials never contacted the family following Ivy’s admission.


Meanwhile, Anna saw Ivy at various school events, but noticed something strange.


“He would ignore me,” she said. “I sat right in front of him at three games, but he wouldn’t speak to me or look at me.”


She noticed something else; a change in her daughter.


“She was so excited to be a cheerleader, she loved it,” Anna said. “But at one of the games, she was hardly moving; she was completely frozen. I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know what.”


Anna said she now knows why her daughter was acting so strange that night: She was terrified.


Ivy had been sitting right in front of her the whole time she cheered.

AN UGLY TRUTH EXPOSED


When Anna learned that her daughter had been using Instagram, she punished her.


And during a heart-to-heart conversation in her daughter’s bedroom about the dangers of social media, Anna finally learned the truth about why Ivy was no longer employed by the school and why her daughter had become sullen.


“She told me everything. I just started crying and I hugged her,” Anna said. “I was sick to my stomach.”


Anna immediately told her daughter’s father and stepfather and the family agreed to contact the Hood County Sheriff’s Office.


That night a deputy came to the house to take a report.


“He was awesome,” Anna said. “He told her she was a hero and did the right thing by telling.”


The deputy did something else; he put the family in contact with the Paluxy River Child Advocacy Center.

THE ARREST


Ivy was arrested on Jan. 12 by the Erath County Sheriff’s Office, which took over the case, and charged with online solicitation of a minor under the age of 14.


He was released from the Erath County Jail after posting a $35,000 bond.


(Side note: When the revelations were made public, Ivy was badly beaten by another parent of a child he had apparently corresponded with. The beating was so severe that Ivy had to be hospitalized.)


“There are other girls he victimized,” Anna said. “I know for a fact there are.”


She said Ivy’s arrest was a relief.


“I was relieved when he was arrested and grateful that they charged him,” Anna said.

POSSIBILITY OF MORE VICTIMS


BTS News sent an email with a list of questions to Superintendent Taylor, and hours later, he called.


He said when Ivy first came to his office to resign, he was given very little information about what had transpired.


Because the incident took place off-campus and during the summer, Taylor said the district’s hands were largely tied and school officials had no way of stopping Ivy from attending school-related activities.


“The attorney told me to inform CPS and that’s what I did,” Taylor said. “My job was to report it and theirs was to investigate.”


When law enforcement agencies began investigating, Ivy and his family left Bluff Dale.


“Our students at Bluff Dale ISD are our priority,” Taylor said. “We want them safe, we want them protected and we want them learning.”


Taylor said there is also a possibility there are additional victims and that school officials will continue cooperating with the investigation.


“As much as I would love to tell you everything I know, I have to be guarded,” Taylor said. “I can’t talk about that.”