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Aug-31-2007 05:52printcomments

Sex Abuse Allegations Filed Against Salem Church

Lawyers for the plaintiff say a fifteen-year old male who molested a seven-year old girl had an established history as a sex offender in another state.

East Salem Seventh Day Adventist Church
Image: East Salem Seventh Day Adventist Church

(SALEM, Ore.) - Attorneys representing a 23-year old Oregon woman say she was subjected to multiple counts of sexual molestation and abuse as a 7-year old girl while attending the East Salem Seventh Day Adventist Church.

Kelly Clark of the Portland law firm O'Donnell & Clark LLP, says the offender at the time was a 15-year old boy who attended the same congregation.

Clark says the case is important, because it illustrates the need for churches to monitor and maintain people who are in a close proximity to children. Their law firm has been involved in a number of successful similar actions involving the Catholic Church that date back to 1999.

The 15-year old boy accused of committing sexual acts against the young girl over the course of approximately one year, had a history of sexual misconduct involving children in Washington state, and was under a juvenile court mandate to have no contact with children. Clark says the church should have known that.

He says the young man knew the girl through their enrollment in a youth group called Pathfinders. He was also her instructor in a sign language program at the church.

"I’m confident that we’ll be able to prove that church officials knew that this kid was not well and not safe to be around other kids."

According to Clark, the young man had a good deal of access to the girl, despite his criminal record.

"The fact that this young man was still a minor doesn’t mean in my mind, that he still couldn’t be a representative of the church. If he was, the abuse rose out of that status and the church is responsible."

Clark says that as a young woman, the plaintiff is permanently damaged by the experience at the Salem church.

The specific allegations are harsh. According to the legal complaint, the 15-year old, "sexually abused and molested Plaintiff—then 7 years old—for approximately one year between 1991 and 1992. The abuse included over one dozen instances of fondling, oral sex, and intercourse. All of the abuse occurred at ESSDAC facilities."

The attorneys for the woman say the defendants failed to investigate the background of the teen, referred to as S.H., "prior to accepting him as their agent in instructing the sign language class attended by Plaintiff, and continued to retain him in this agency even after questionable matters from S.H.’s past came to light."

They say the teen's background could have been fully discovered by a reasonable investigation, indicating that he had some history of inappropriate sexual misconduct with children.

Defendants in the case include The North Pacific Union Conference Association of Seventh Day Adventists, Western Oregon Conference Association of Seventh Day Adventists, and Oregon the East Salem Seventh Day Adventist Church.

Attorney Richard Whittemore in Portland is representing the East Salem Seventh Day Adventist Church in the case. He made this statement to Salem-News.com Thursday.

“The church takes very seriously any allegation of sexual abuse. The filing of this lawsuit on August 29th was our first notice of the case; therefore we will review the case more thoroughly before making any further comments.”




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Arshad March 17, 2012 8:58 am (Pacific time)

Claire and Fr. Allen,e2809cFor myself, the pecfare is the part of Mass when my attention wanders the most.e2809de2809cThe only reason I would design a survey would be to see how I could better implement the new translatione2809dThe only way we can effectively serve people is to listen to them; that has to be our first goal. That is what the Vibrant Parish Life study tells us is not being done.We need people to talk about their honest experiences at Mass such as in Clairee28099s comment. We are not going to get honest opinions by focusing on our concerns such as the New MissalI done28099t particularly think much of Fr. Allene28099s method of asking people their opinions in a large group, even in a focus group which is the way some researchers do it. You can easily get a silent majority if the first couple of people express what may in really be a minority opinion. The problem with survey monkey is that people always ask what does the questioner really want to know? it is very difficult to write neutral questions. Personal open ended interviews are best. The most important thing is to have an interviewer who is more interested in the person being interviewed and their opinions than in the survey questions or the parish program or the New Missal or a scientific theory or whatever. Then the people being interviewed just forget about agendas and the interviewer and talk about themselves. That is why I suggested recruiting parish council members for this. They should see their primary task as listening, not as supporting the pastoral staff, or making recommendations to pastoral staff. They should focus upon people served by the parish, just listening and understanding them as compassionately as possible. All organizational staffs have a hard time taking their blinders off since these are necessary to get things done. Parish members want to have a good parish experience; however many will not be honest in a group or with pastoral staff.


John March 16, 2011 9:18 am (Pacific time)

I was a sda for 35 years,abused by a member that brought me into the church for 3 years !!!Grew up in it and had to deal with many sexually currupt preachers,and members.The confrence wont do a thing about it but move these preachers onto another church to hide out and ply their perversion.The congration knows what is going on but wont speak up,I so happy to be away from that demonic org.


Interested January 24, 2010 3:27 am (Pacific time)

Was Salem-News requested by the conference to take the name off of Jericho2008's post?

EDITOR: No, we do not recall any such request. If you would like to discuss this further, please email us at: newsroom@salem-news.com


Anon February 20, 2008 4:43 pm (Pacific time)

Jericho,

Here are some leads and best of luck.

snapnetwork.org

ceaseabuse.org

The law firm mentioned in this article: 1-503-306-0224

They have access to help in MA PST 9-5 The Adventist church is horrible in regards to abuse scandals. Call a lawyer immediately, the church will not help you, they will only inflame the hurt further.


Jericho2008 February 9, 2008 10:41 am (Pacific time)

This same scadall is going on in our church right now with a Pastor in Massachusetts. Please someone help us!


Molly December 19, 2007 2:43 pm (Pacific time)

I'm so proud of this woman for breaking the silence. Why do women wait to tell the truth? Because they are threatened and controled. I bet she's the bravest chick in the world. I do believe have a thing or ten to learn from her.


JB September 8, 2007 9:22 am (Pacific time)

Knowing how the SDA Church works, I can tell you that someone in the church hierarchy knew darn good and well what was going on with this kid, they just decided that they were going to "help" him, even at the expense of other children. I hope the church and the General Conference get nailed to the wall by the victims.


Support September 8, 2007 1:22 am (Pacific time)

I know the boy that is being accused of this. My family and friends were part of the horrible crimes he committed against numerous children in this church. I believe he did what she says he did. I know in my heart he did. This wasn't his first offense. When the crimes against this girl took place he wasn't supposed to be with any children unattended. It would have been nice had everyone in our church had had that information. It does take time to heal. I'm happy she has come out and sorry that it has taken her this long to have the courage to do so. I hope that if there are anymore people that have been hurt by this person they will also come forward. Please know that you do have people who believe and know what this boy/man is capable of and that we are there to support you. My prays and thoughts go out to you.


Hold Your Peace September 7, 2007 8:28 am (Pacific time)

First and foremost, I praise God that the truth is coming out about abusers in our churches. Sometimes it is difficult to come out and say that you have been abused physically, sexually or otherwise, and in my case, when I stated such, I was told that I was a liar even by the General Conference. No hard feelings, I learned that God is in control at all times. I learned to forgive and use my testimony to help others heal. From the age of 5 to 14 years of age, I had in total, seven different molesters of those seven 5 are SDA members which still work with children.


Crystal Riseley September 6, 2007 9:30 pm (Pacific time)

The 15 year old was a kid...but plenty old enough to know what he did was WRONG!!!! Girls and women sometimes wait to tell because the damage is too great and some healing must take place before they can persue justice. If you knew how hard it is to tell, you would not need to ask the question. Many DO TELL, only to be told it was their fault. So many times children tell, but no one rescues them. Keep strong brave one!!! I am behind you!!!!!


JeriAnne September 6, 2007 3:33 pm (Pacific time)

When church's think they should trust everyone and then don't take the necessary precautions this WILL happen. A 7 year old is NOT going to tell if she thinks no one cares or will believe her!!! It isn't hard to intimidate a child into silence especially when they are already burdened with the shame of it all!!! They see it as their fault to begin with! Don't go on blaming the victims! It is high time churches realized that pedophiles live amongst them and have access to THEIR pulpits!


JB September 5, 2007 10:52 pm (Pacific time)

It is completely unacceptable for ANY organization not to throughly screen ANYONE who will be having contact with children, even if they are minors themselves. You can't tell me that someone in the church didn't know about his kid's problems.


Anonymous September 2, 2007 7:05 pm (Pacific time)

not only that but the young girls and women have it over us guys!its called Rape!sometime it take 2! and look what thy wear.....and flirt around!by wearing low tops! so my Q!!!!! is this where is the line drawn! cant touch this........but do u see the female going to jail. no!


Anonymous September 2, 2007 6:51 pm (Pacific time)

thy were just kids! the girl 7yrs old and the boy 15! and now the lady is 23 make me wonder........down leave nothing out here!u would think if something happen u would have told some1 before this time.......


steve September 2, 2007 6:44 pm (Pacific time)

why do girls,women wait to tell their story! if it happen not saying it didnt! but OMG why wait!


Marc Ellman August 31, 2007 1:26 pm (Pacific time)

What next, does this cycle never end? I know wonderful people who attend this church, for what it is worth. Please do not judge them at large, that is my request.

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