Suit: Seventh-day Adventist Church pastor sexually assaulted boy

SHARE Suit: Seventh-day Adventist Church pastor sexually assaulted boy

The Seventh-day Adventist Church failed to protect at least one Illinois boy from a pastor who sexually assaulted minors, according to a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday.

The negligence suit alleges the church transferred a pastor to the Chicago area from Uruguay in 2000, despite knowledge of previous complaints that the pastor had engaged in improper sexual conduct with minors.

The pastor had opportunities to be alone with minors at several churches, including the Chicago Heights Nuevo Amanecer Hispanic Seventh-day Adventist Church, as well as churches in Summit, Cicero, Berwyn and Waukegan, the suit alleges.

The boy was sexually abused at the Chicago Heights church and various other church locations from March to July in 2001, according to the suit. He was a minor at the time and is not identified in the suit.

The sexual abuse included “inappropriate touching, fondling of the genitals, oral sex and other indecent acts,” the suit alleges.

The church, according to the suit, owed a duty to protect children and “knew or should have known of [the pastor’s] harmful sexual proclivities with children, yet they took no action to protect the plaintiff herein and other children.”

“Even though we are unable to comment specifically on the allegations, the Seventh-day Adventist denomination takes very seriously the safety of the children who attend our facilities and functions, and considers their well being and that of all children an issue of utmost importance,” spokesman Garrett Caldwell said in an email Thursday.

The suit names the North America Division Corporation of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, the Lake Region Conference Association of Seventh-day Adventists and the Illinois Association of Seventh-day Adventists as defendants.

The 15-count suit, which is seeking at least $75,000 in damages, claims negligence and, among other things, intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The Seventh-Day Adventist Church has 17 million members in 204 countries, according to its website.

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