A 32-year-old woman who claims the birth of her child triggered suppressed memories of allegedly being sexually abused by her youth minister as a teenager is suing the minister, the Oak Lawn church and its two owners.
Mary Ellen Wright and her attorney, Robert J. Bingle of law firm Corboy & Demetrio, filed the suit in Cook County Circuit Court on Wednesday, claiming Wright’s memories of the alleged abuse had been repressed until about October 2016, when she sought weekly counseling for postpartum depression after delivering a child, and she started to remember.
Wright alleges that she was a member of Hope Chapel Oak Lawn Foursquare Church, in the 9400 block of South 68th Court in Oak Lawn, in Summer 2000 when the church’s youth minister, Charles Price, sexually assaulted her, according to the lawsuit. Wright claims Price made an “unwanted sexual advance” on her, including inappropriate touching, fondling and oral sex.
According to the lawsuit, the alleged abuse happened within the church complex, and Price would take Wright on unsupervised drives to sex stores and forest preserves for oral sex.
Church members, including co-owners John Caudillo and Eliana Caudillo, were aware or reasonably should have been aware of the alleged abuse, the lawsuit claims.
Later that year, the two owners and Price allegedly held a meeting with Wright, during which they told her she had been acting out and directed her to leave the church, according to the lawsuit.
Representatives for Hope Chapel Oak Lawn did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The alleged abuse caused Wright to develop confusion, various coping mechanisms and symptoms of shame, guilt, self-blame, and repressed and suppressed memories, the lawsuit claims. Wright said she also suffers from depression, disassociation and emotional duress.
The four-count suit accuses Price of assault and battery, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Hope Chapel Oak Lawn, John Caudillo and Eliana Caudillo are accused of negligent retention and supervision.
Wright seeks an unspecified amount in damages.