December 15, 2010
Woman says Chatsworth pastor forced
sexual contact with her in 2009
Lawsuit says Church knew of previous sexual misconduct
Chatsworth Foursquare Church failed to take action
Attorney: “This didn’t have to happen”
(Los Angeles, CA) A lawsuit filed today by a Chatsworth woman says she was sexually assaulted by a Pastor of the Chatsworth Foursquare Church in 2008 and 2009 when she was a minor.
The lawsuit, filed in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles, claims Pastor Martin Leon had “unwanted, forceful sexual contact” with Plaintiff Jane Doe 200. The complaint states that the assaults occurred on the grounds of the Chatsworth Foursquare Church.
Attorneys for the Plaintiff say that Leon was fully aware of Jane Doe 200’s status as a minor and that the Church was negligent when they failed their duty to inform members of the congregation about the risks and warning signs of childhood sexual abuse.
In addition, the victim charges that officials of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel knew of defendant’s “propensity to commit sexual abuse of minors” and specifically in 2008—prior to her abuse—had received a report that another young girl had been sexually abused by Leon. The complaint further alleges that in the earlier case Foursquare Church officials failed to make a mandatory report to law enforcement as was required by California Penal Code and that they victim was discouraged by church officials from taking any further action.
Sarah Odegaard, an attorney with Jeff Anderson & Associates of St. Paul, Minnesota, said “it is an absolute tragedy that the Foursquare Church officials had been warned of Leon’s predilection toward minor females and then failed to do anything about. Clearly, this sexual assault could have and should have been prevented.”
Los Angeles-based attorney Anthony De Marco, who works with the Jeff Anderson firm on clergy abuse cases in California, noted that “the Foursquare church's conduct in this case, and their policies of secrecy, are contrary to the protection of children. When a child, parent, congregation member complains of a pastor abusing a child, an immediate report to law enforcement must be made. With all the attention paid to clergy sex abuse over the last couple decades, you would think this kind negligent behavior by church officials couldn’t happen—but unfortunately it still does—and this case is a classic example.”
Note: Copy of the new lawsuit is available at www.AndersonAdvocates.com
Contacts: Los Angeles Attorney Anthony M. DeMarco: 310.927.9277
Jeff Anderson & Associates Attorneys:
Jeff Anderson: 651.227.9990 (Office)
Sarah Odegaard: 651.227.9990 (Office) 612.616.4218 (Mobile)
Línea directa en español con Branda: 310-844-4425