Last Friday, a Federal judge rejected Christ Chapel’s claim that under the First Amendment its pastors could, in essence, sexually abuse others with legal impunity – and no court had authority to stop them.
As a result, the court ruled that a Federal lawsuit may proceed against Christ Chapel, which alleges a pervasive pattern of sex abuse at the church.
That suit was filed on behalf of one victim and her husband, and alleges employment discrimination through sexual abuse, exploitation, harassment and a hostile work environment directed against women in general and victims of abuse in particular.
Although many victims of abuse, at the hands of several men on staff at Christ Chapel, are alleged in the lawsuit, Virginia has a two year statute of limitations. Thus, not all of the victims could actually join in the lawsuit (some of the abuse happened as long a six years ago) as actual plaintiffs asserting claims against all of the alleged abusers.
Nonetheless, the one named plaintiff and her husband were able to set forth in the complaint the history of abuse against multiple women by multiple men on staff at Christ Chapel – based on an alleged overall pattern of sexual exploitation and overall hostile environment at the church – on behalf of all the victims.
After failing to get the sex abuse allegations dismissed, Christ Chapel Assembly of God – a large church in Woodbridge, Virginia – agreed to come to satisfactory terms with the plaintiffs and settled the lawsuit.
The factual case against Christ Chapel primarily was investigated and assembled by Nathan’s Voice, a ministry created several years by our local fellowships to help church abuse victims.
I want to personally thank and acknowledge the help of countless people, as well as the courage of the many victims, in helping with the investigation and eventual successful outcome of this case. I believe that because of this case, it is highly unlikely that sexual abuse will ever be tolerated again at Christ Chapel.
There were times I was moved to tears as I got to know many of the victims and their families, and witnessed their compassion and resolve. It gave me the strength needed to devote over a year to this case before finally handing it over to a litigation law firm for final prosecution.
If any further issues or questions surface regarding Christ Chapel, the complaint (Todd v. Christ Chapel, with all the factual background) and related documents are a matter of pubic record and can be obtained from the Federal District Court in Alexandria, Virginia. You also can open the full complaint here.
See Christ Chapel: Pastoral Sex Abuse for more information.
~ Jim Wright