More allegations of misconduct against Mountainbrook pastor

December 9, 2019

Pastor Thom O’Leary


New allegations against the embattled lead pastor of Mountainbrook Church have arisen, though officials are refraining from disclosing what the latest accusations entail.

Thom O’Leary, who has served as the lead pastor of Mountainbrook Church in San Luis Obispo for more than 22 years, was placed on paid leave last month amid allegations of groping and alcohol abuse. Mountainbrook Church indicated it would disclose more information about the ongoing investigation on Sunday, but congregants who attended a church meeting received no new details, sparking fresh criticism.

The church board placed O’Leary on paid leave on Nov. 4, a few days after learning of allegations against him. Board members also placed O’Leary’s wife, Sherry O’Leary, on leave. Sherry O’Leary, too, is a pastor at the church.

Mountainbrook Church has hired an outside firm to investigate the allegations against Tom O’Leary. The church released a statement saying it does not want to rush the investigation.

“While we understand that everyone wants to know what’s happening, it is far more important that we do this properly than to rush through it,” Mountainbrook Church said in a statement.

However, church officials also told media new allegations have arisen against O’Leary that are both serious and credible. The allegations reportedly have come from male and female church staffers.

Local author Tina Swithin, a member of the church, previously stated on Facebook that O’Leary is accused of groping interns and/or staff members, as well as other acts, including showing up at church and around town intoxicated.

Swithin, as well as other members of the congregation, criticized Mountainbrook following Sunday’s church meeting for not revealing more information and for disclosing less to congregants than to media.

“They are sending emails to the media about new allegations and I, as a ten-year member of the church sat through a meeting that delivered zero information,” Swithin wrote in a Facebook post Sunday night. “I should have stayed home and watched the news.”

There reportedly has been no criminal investigation launched pertaining to the allegations against the Mountainbrook pastor.

O’Leary has close ties to local law enforcement. He serves as the chaplain for the San Luis Obispo Police Department and serves on the SLO Police Chief’s Roundtable.

Additionally, O’Leary has served as the pastor for the Cal Poly football team, and he also led a prayer beside President Donald Trump. The president described O’Leary as a “great pastor.”

While O’Leary and his wife remain on leave, Rick and Becky Olmstead, senior leaders of Mountainbrook’s parent organization VineyardUSA, are serving as interim pastors at the San Luis Obispo church.


Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

Judge not, lest ye be judged.

Old Salt

1 Timothy 3:2

A minister then must be a man of irreproachable character, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, well-behaved…

An elder/deacon/pastor is to be a man whom the church and community can look up to as an example of Christ likeness and godly leadership.


Apparently this “church” also has female “pastors”, as O’Leary’s wife is the “church’s” “executive pastor.”

Old Salt

One more postT

The Word of GOD proclaims, “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent” (1 Timothy 2:11–12). In the church, God assigns different roles to men and women. This is a result of the way mankind was created and the way in which sin entered the world (1 Timothy 2:13–14). God, through the apostle Paul, restricts women from serving in roles of teaching and/or having spiritual authority over men. This precludes women from serving as pastors over men, which definitely includes preaching to them, teaching them publicly, and exercising spiritual authority over them.

Please read the rest of the story:


I’ve been reading up on the teachings of VinyardUSA, the holding company for Vinyard churches and their affiliates.

I have good reason to believe that the majority of these folks voted for Trump and will likely vote for him again.

Question: Why is it good and right for a PU$$Y grabbin’ guy to be leader of the whole country, but not good and right for a pastor to do the same? Perhaps “good and right” aren’t the best choice of words:

Why is it OK to hold one’s nose and vote for Trump, but not for your own pastor?


“…I have good reason to believe that the majority of these folks voted for Trump and will likely vote for him again…”

Thanks be to God! Just imagine as a Christian, voting for someone who judges other humans (made in the image of God) to be both “deplorable” and “irredeemable.”

That’s about as low as it gets.


Wow! 32 negative votes? I certainly didn’t expect that.

What is it I said that is:

1. incorrect

2. offensive


After reading about VinyardUSA’s beliefs from their website, such as this:

In all forms of ministry, compassion

is a hallmark of the one who was

moved with compassion Himself in

the face of human need. This being

the age of grace and “the year of the

Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:19), compassion

should constitute the leading edge of

our service to God, each other, and a

broken world. As such, we seek to avoid

unauthorized judgments of others, real-

izing that we are all fellow suferers and

strugglers with the rest of humanity.


it seems to me that there are several standards….or at least a single standard with several ways of “applying” that standard.

For example: if a stranger showed up at MountainBrook in tears because they are sorry for what they did, from reading the website and various testimonies associated with VinyardUSA and their affiliates, such a person would be literally hugged, prayed over, forgiven and befriended by the pastor and others in the church. This type of thing would be clear evidence that the “holy spirit” was working in the church, spreading the gospel message of compassion and avoiding unauthorized judgements of fellow suferers (spelling from the website).

So, how in the world is this “core belief” seen in the current situation? Surely Pastor Thom is a fellow sufferer? Surely he should also be treated with compassion and forgiveness?

Or, is there something I don’t understand? I’m sure there is….but can someone please tell me how Vinyard folks can vote for Trump yesterday, but toss out their pastor for doing some of the things Trump has done today?

Please, feel free to downvote, but can some nice person please explain this dichotomy?


Those who think there is value in a downvote … ASK YOURSELVES THIS:

In a field of three or more candidates where you can mark the ballot for only one, how do you elect one of them if only downvotes are allowed and you can only either mark “Boo!” or leave it blank?

“Ah,” you might say, “What about when I vote against, a proposition, isn’t that downvoting?” In truth on propositions you can upvote “Implement this proposition,” or you can upvote “Discard this proposition.”

Voting is BINARY.

One or zero, period..

Voting “against,” the “downvote,” is an imaginary action to manipulate mob rule, think Roman Colosseum, in a context where the only thing needed was for still hands to outnumber thumbs down. What would happen in that Colosseum if spectators raised neither thumbs up or thumbs down … what would THAT mean? Throw him to the lions, or let him go? It PROVES the fallacy of even needing a “downvote” if there is option to upvote or leave it blank.

An idea that resonates is built upon and grows. An idea that is rejected needs ONLY to lack response, and it will dwindle. The “downvote” of “That’s stooooopid!” achieves ZIP but the gratification of the ego of the person downvoting and manipulation of the morale of the participants. Of forums INSTEAD they can post a different, better idea and hope that IT gets more upvotes. Other than sheer manipulation via fallacy, there is no excuse whatsoever for a “downvote” function on forums and it should raise red flags everywhere.

Voting is BINARY. A “thumbs up, thumbs down” approach is based on a logical fallacy. Heads I win, tails you lose.

Those who mark the “upvote” are UPVOTING “Hooray! Good point!” If there are a lot of upvotes, the idea grows and is developed. Those who mark “downvote” on the forum are as constructive as somebody stamping their feet and yelling “Boo!! Waaaaahhhh! I don’t like that!!!” ZERO value.

Downvoting is for tools and fools.

Old Salt

I certainly DID NOT hold my nose when I voted for President Trump…

What makes you say that. You remind me of lying Schiff…Nadler etc.


You are in the minority if you actually wanted Trump, as were those who actually wanted Hillary. Large, CLEAR majorities of voters (54% and 52% respectively) rejected both Trump and Hillary at the ballot box. The math is there for all to see, and it always was. Media carefully stayed mum about THAT little detail ….

It was the Electoral College (God bless and preserve it) that did its job and this time put the Republican in office; sadly, the Republican was pop culture personality Donald Trump.

Americans voted SMART — they told both lousy candidates to pound sand. Just about every Republican/conservative I know (and I know MANY!!) who voted for Trump instead of voting for a plurality (third party) or sit it out, did it holding their nose, and just about every Democrat/liberal I know (and I know a LOT of ’em!!) who voted for Hillary did the same.


No, no, it’s not Lying Schiff, it’s Shifty Schiff. You must be thinking of Lying Ted. Trump is the master of the schoolboy name calling, although I always thought he should take a page from Shakespeare. I mean, wouldn’t it be great if he called Schiff a frothy, boil-brained harpy, or if he called Nadler a lumpish, fat-kidneyed canker blossom. Now that would be cool. Of course, my guess is that Trump is just as confused by Shakespeare as he is about the Constitution.


Of course. It’s all Trump’s doing.

Trump Derangement Syndrome.


I’d really like to know the combined annual financial compensation of Mr. and Ms. O’Leary. Thanks.


I would be willing to bet his annual income is at least $100k a year not including the church usually owns the home he lives in or they pay his mortgage also a expense account….all this info should be public records for all members of the church…

salary-spiffs-bonuses $200k annually

JB Bronson

He was in a position of trust. There better be a criminal case.

Old Salt


When 30 pieces of Silver becomes more important than their faith is GOD.

Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Simply put many Pastor’s are paid way to much money.


“O’Leary has close ties to local law enforcement. He serves as the chaplain for the San Luis Obispo Police Department…”

He’ll get a slap on the wrist.


Back a couple decades, perhaps not quite 20 years, I visited several local non-denominational churches, and events that these churches were hosting, one of which was at Mountain Brook. I don’t remember which as which, just the overall theme.

In each of these, the “message” went something like: “Jesus fogives you! No matter who you are, or what you’ve done, Jesus is reaching out to forgive, heal, restore, redeem, etc.” At one event in particular there were a couple guys dressed up like motorcycle gang members who testified about how Jesus saved them from a life of crime, booze, drugs and sex and how they were part of something called, “celebrate recovery.”

Question: do people who habitually attend these types of services actually believe that Jesus heals, forgives and so forth? If they do, is there some provision that states that none of this applies to pastors?

Perhaps it’s time for pastor Tom to put on a motorcycle jacket and testify to how Jesus healed him from a life of booze, and pre-sex……..then the congregants could again applaud him.


DocT, there is no provision however for them to “forget” transgressions, just forgive them.

I may forgive someone who embezzles; but it would be foolish to forget about it and leave them in charge of the check book. Would it not?

Sitting in the pew i am sure he’d be welcomed; as he should be.

Don’t hang their religion around the necks and tell them he has to remain their leader or they are less Christian for it.

That is a stretch. And it mis-represents their teachings.


OK…..fair enough. I don’t claim to fully understand their teachings. Thanks for setting me straight.

Since you do seem to understand Mountain Brook’s theology…..let me ask you this:

If Kanye West—who has been drunk in public and groped women before, probably more than Pastor Tom—-can be instantly propelled to mega-church stardom and embraced as the “real deal” and a picture of redemption and instant holiness, accepted and loved by evangelical christiains, including those from VinyardUSA,

Why can’t pastor Tom enjoy the same love and admiration? Kanye repented of all that….I watched the Youtube. What’s to say Pastor Tom can’t repent in the same way, albeit his sins were not as great as Kanye’s?

I confess to not understanding these teachings, but I am able to understand that they seem to be applied somewhat differently to individuals. Why?


I think there is a visceral viscousness to many folks who pile on this guy. He’s not a elected official and publicly has made the effort to stand up for good. I have friends who he helped after tragedy (death) struck them. He was very caring. No, I’m waiting to see what is found. He has done LOTS of good things for hundreds of folks. And if he did inappropriate things, that’s awful and they must be heard and the Church must pay for counseling, etc. They should have insurance for that. But bottom line, let see WHAT we are talking about first.


“I confess to not understanding these teachings, but I am able to understand that they seem to be applied somewhat differently to individuals. Why?”

There lies the rub DocT. The teachings are not to be “applied” to people like spackle.

The teachings are for you, and no one else.

The need to apply them elsewhere is where Christians often go off track. You too it seems.

Churches are like people; some value money, some value love. Some are grounded in morality, while others are only interested in a show and the revenue flow it creates.

They are not all the same. You seemed somewhat surprised by this simple fact of life.


When somebody says Jesus saves what they mean is they have accepted a Christian existence living as Christ Jesus did. One lacking the drugs, drunkenness, illegal activities, screwing their neighbors wife’s and or daughters. That life lacking morals or ethics. It mean a person trying to do their best at living a better life. However being you live in California and further yet, SLO county where a life of celebrating alcohol and its consumption,Hazing on campus to be a “part of something”, drugs,corrupt politics,nepotism,hypocrisy,nimbyism, perversion and greed are all the normal,I suspect most wouldn’t grasp any of this, and the fact you ask would indicate just that..


He’ll simply blame it on his “medical problem”, being an alcoholic, and then we can’t be mad at him anymore. Or something along those lines.