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According to allegations raised in a church sexual assault lawsuit, a Texas “megachurch” was negligent in failing to protect a woman from abuse by a pastor when she was a little girl.
The complaint was filed last month by a woman identified by the pseudonym “Jane Doe,” against The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas, according to a report in the New York Times.
The lawsuit indicates that the Texas megachurch should be held responsible for the conduct of a priest, who sexually assaulted the plaintiff in 2012, when she was 11 years old.
The plaintiff’s family informed the church last year, and Pastor Matthew Tonne was arrested on January 9 in connection to the incident, which allegedly occurred at a youth camp.
According to allegations presented in the lawsuit, the church is liable for Tonne’s actions and says the church has done little to rectify the problem, which left “Jane Doe” emotionally scarred. She also accused the church of acting too slowly to address the sexual abuse problems, indicating the incident was first reported in February 2018.
The lawsuit follows a report published in February by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express, which indicated that more than 220 Southern Baptist Church leaders have been convicted of sex crimes since 2008.
According to the findings, nearly 400 Southern Baptist Church leaders and volunteers have been charged with sexual misconduct since 1998, involving more than 700 victims. More than 100 are currently behind bars nationwide, and about 100 are registered sex offenders. However, many reached plea agreement deals and served no time.
According to the data and how the church has approached the sexual abuse problems, the issues do not appear likely to change any time soon, critics say.
The investigation comes amid similar concerns regarding sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.
In August 2018, a grand jury report highlighted cases involving at least 90 Catholic priests accused of sex abuse in the Pittsburgh area, involving allegations and cover-ups that spanned decades.
That report indicated that the Catholic Church of Pennsylvania covered up abuse involving priests who abused more than 1,000 victims, mostly children, over the course of 70 years. After 90 of those priests were identified, it sparked investigations by the Justice Department and states’ attorneys general nationwide.
The spotlight on the issue has renewed some efforts to level sex abuse litigation against the Church. Last month, an attorney representing a number of victims announced that the Catholic Church had agreed to settle at least five sexual abuse lawsuits brought against a former priest in New Jersey.