A northwest suburban pastor is being sued by a church member who claims that for months she was sexually harassed, defamed and then excommunicated from the congregation by him.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday against pastor Manfred Malagon, his wife, the United Pentecostal Church International and the International Christian Fellowship in Cook County Circuit Court. The International Christian Fellowship church holds services at 240 Standish St. in Elgin and is operated by the United Pentecostal Church International.
In March, Malagon began sending the woman lewd text messages, which included photos of monkey and dog genitalia and a naked woman, the lawsuit stated. He offered to send nude photos of himself and requested nude photos and videos of the woman.
A few months later, the suit alleges, the woman was sexually assaulted when Malagon kissed, hugged and fondled the woman under a set of stairs in the church. When the woman would come for services on Thursdays and Sundays, the pastor would repeat this unwanted sexual behavior many times. On another occasion, he forced her into a room in the church, sexually touched her and pressed his hips against her body, according to the lawsuit.
In May, Malagon excommunicated the woman and her family from the church, but the lewd text messages continued.
Several times in May and June, Malagon told the woman she should delete all the inappropriate messages, according to the lawsuit. Later he made a video telephone call to the woman telling her to leave her husband and that he “dreamed” of being with her.
While giving a sermon to church members, Malagon claimed that the woman was a “prostitute” and “witch,” the lawsuit said. Malagon also stated to other pastors and church members that the woman was trying to seduce him and that they had a sexual relationship. The pastor’s wife, Sarai Malagon, told another church member that her husband and the woman had engaged in sexual relations. That statement, which Sarai knew was false, was then published and broadcasted.
In September, Malagon told other church members the woman was “seducing all the men in the church” and that she had sexual relations with her husband’s sister, the lawsuit stated. He had other members of the congregation confront the woman, telling her not to talk about what Malagon had done to her. If she did make any public claims, Malagon threatened to deport the woman’s sister.
From March to September, the woman repeatedly texted and confronted Malagon asking him to stop the repeated assaults and harassment, the lawsuit said. She confided in a pastor and bishop at the church who refused to intervene, the lawsuit said.
The church is aware of the lawsuit and the claims made against Malagon, according to Bishop Ric Gonzalez.
“The matter is currently being investigated,” he said. “We do not believe it is proper to discuss the allegations at this time. Please know that we will continue to pray for all of the parties involved.”
Additionally, the lawsuit states that the International Christian fellowship and the United Pentecostal Church International was negligent because they were aware of other incidents when Malagon sexually, physically and verbally abused church members but still employed him.
The 9-count suit seeks more than $450,000 in damages.