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Child Sex Abuse Lawsuit filed against SGM


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Several plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against Sovereign Grace Ministries yesterday, alleging a coverup of years of sexual abuse of children by pastors and other leaders in the SGM: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/ ... TE=DEFAULT



The lawsuit was filed in Maryland state court against Sovereign Grace Ministries, a 30-year-old family of churches with more than 80 congregations. Most of its churches are in the U.S., but it also has planted congregations in other countries. The alleged abuse happened in Maryland and northern Virginia in the 1980s and 1990s.


The plaintiffs allege a conspiracy spanning more than two decades to conceal sexual abuse committed by church members. They accuse church representatives of permitting suspected pedophiles to interact with children, supplying them with free legal advice to avoid prosecution and forcing victims to meet with and "forgive" the person that had molested them.


"The facts show that the Church cared more about protecting its financial and institutional standing than about protecting children, its most vulnerable members," the lawsuit claims.


The church said in a statement late Wednesday that it had not been served with the lawsuit and couldn't comment on the allegations. But it said it considered child abuse "reprehensible and criminal."


"Sovereign Grace Ministries takes seriously the Biblical commands to pursue the protection and well being of all people, especially the most vulnerable in its midst, little children," the statement said.


The suit names as defendants about a half-dozen pastors and church officials who plaintiffs say were alerted to the accusations but either failed to take action or actively covered them up. One official said he hadn't seen the suit, and other defendants either did not immediately respond to phone messages or did not appear to have publicly listed phone numbers.


Haven't found a link to the actual lawsuit yet so I don't know who is named as a defendant.


Given what's been reported informally at SGM Survivors and SGM Refuge over the past few years, I'd say this lawsuit is long, long overdue. I hope that justice is done.

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Good! I hope they're brought to justice. I know a guy who is extremely catholic and was wearing some shirt that said something like "The world's real heros... priests" and I was like "WHERE HAVE OYU BEEN THE PAST 10 YEARS WHY WOULD YOU WEAR THAT?"

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Good for them. Now if emotional abuse was provable, all those of us who used to lay awake nights feeling guilty and fearing hell could sue our churches.

We were really and truly taught to believe that 'real Christians' ie, those that believed like us, were better than everybody else. This sort of god-complex would certainly foster the atmosphere at SGM, that allowed them to think this was OK.

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I can't get over the idea of bringing a toddler in for "reconciliation" with her abuser. What should have happened here was that the church called the cops, then told the child the bad bad man had been taken away by the police. Obviously, that didn't happen here.

It should be noted that the (former) leader of SGM, C.J. Mahaney, has just moved to Louisville and is best buds with Al Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist "Theological" Seminary. This lawsuit has potential to reach out much further than a few dozen churches. (Southern Baptists as a group have been absolute CRAP about dealing with their own pedophiles.)

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If you believe that all pedophiles are gay, and you're certain that married men in your congregation can't be gay since they are married to women, then you're safe from all pedophilia.

Or, you know, tell yourselves that all pedophiles are atheists, therefore no one in your congragation could be abusing children.

Or tell yourself that only single men molest children, therefore you only have to worry about supervising the teenage boys in your church, all the married men are satified by their wives.

Nothing makes you feel safe quite like self-righteousness.

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Brent Detwiler has the text of the filing here: brentdetwiler.com/brentdetwilercom/2012/10/18/actual-lawsuit-brought-against-sovereign-grace-ministries-se.html

Named defendants are SGM, CJ Mahaney, Gary Ricucci, David Hinders, Louis Gallo, Frank Ecelbarger, John Loftness, Grant Layman & Larry Tomczak.

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  • 2 months later...

Plaintiffs have filed an amended suit against SGM (http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/law ... story.html):

The lawsuit filed Friday adds more accusers and more accused to a complaint filed last fall against Sovereign Grace Ministries, a movement founded in the 1970s in Gaithersburg. Among those named now is co-founder Larry Tomczak, who was a key figure in the movement’s early years but split from it bitterly in the 1990s.

Eight alleged victims are named. Tomczak is the only alleged abuser named. He is accused of forcing a victim over a period of 25 years to strip “against her will†and assaulting her .

Tomczak became well-known with Sovereign Grace leader C.J. Mahaney years ago for launching what is now a thriving trend of neo-Calvinism. Neo-Calvinism teaches that people are steeped in sin and need strict spiritual oversight.

Tomczak is a pastor in Tennessee. Mahaney moved Sovereign Grace’s headquarters last year from Gaithersburg to Kentucky amid controversy within the churches over his leadership.

An additional news report (http://www.wjla.com/articles/2013/01/so ... 84100.html) provides some details of the new allegations:

Another alleged victim, identified as Paula Poe, said she attended school in Gaithersburg, Md., at Covenant Life Church, a Sovereign Grace affiliate until recently. She claims she was abused by a pastor and a children's ministry worker on the church's property, according to the suit. A plaintiff identified as Grace Goe says she was sexually abused and beaten by her father as a child in Maryland. When she and a sibling reported the abuse to church leaders at Covenant Life Church, the men told the girl's father, which led to more abuse, according to the suit. The suit names as defendants Sovereign Grace Ministries co-founder C.J. Mahaney, Sovereign Grace board chairman John Loftness, Tomczak, Covenant Life Church, Sovereign Grace Church of Fairfax, Va., and others. The lawsuit includes claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence and conspiracy, among other damages.

ETA: additional information at this link, including text of amended complaint: http://blog.christianitytoday.com/ctliv ... arges.html

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