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Young Survivor Moves Civil Lawsuit, Adds Strawberry Lake Christian Retreat

10/26/2011 3:09:00 PM
Sarah Odegaard

Today a young survivor takes a courageous stand for herself and on behalf of other kids as she again confronts her abuser and holds him accountable in court. Jane Doe 134’s case, which was originally filed in Federal Court, was re-filed today in Minnesota StDerstine photo FINAL.pngate Court in Becker County in order to add a new defendant.

Jane Doe 134 was 11 years old in 2007 when Gerald Derstine groomed and began to sexually abuse her when she was a camper at a retreat center in Northern Minnesota. Derstine continued to abuse her every summer in his office on the retreat property until 2009. The camp, Strawberry Lake Christian Retreat Inc., in Ogema, Minnesota (near Detroit Lakes) was added as a defendant to Jane Doe 134’s lawsuit today.  The camp is affiliated with Gospel Crusade, Inc., an organization based in Bradenton, Florida that Derstine founded and continues to run.

Through this lawsuit, Jane Doe 134 bravely continues her journey of healing and hope. This filing sheds new light on Strawberry Lake Christian Retreat and its internationally-known leader, Gerald Derstine, and alleges that Strawberry Lake Christian Retreat knew or should have known that Derstine was sexually abusing children at the camp. Derstine in particular poses a serious risk to young people and we are gravely concerned that he remains in denial and is a danger to kids. We applaud the courage and tenacity of this young survivor and appreciate her willingness to take on this action for the benefit of other kids so that they will be protected in the future.