Sexual Assault in Churches
The firm has assumed a leading role in the unfolding case against a Columbus pastor who repeatedly molested a girl beginning when she was just 15 years old. This case arises out of the pastor’s statutory rape and repeated sexual assault.
In 2001, our client sought counsel from her pastor, Lewis Clemons, after she was sexually assaulted by a music director. Instead of helping Ms. Jackson, Clemons committed repeated acts of sexual battery against her until about 2009. During this time, he told our client that she must submit to his will because he was a leader of the church. Other women have come forward with similar allegations against Clemons.
The Muscogee County action seeks, among other things, an injunction that prevents Clemons from serving as a church official in the future.
Sexual Battery and Official Misconduct
In Georgia and several other states, if tortfeasors (wrongful actors) take advantage of their positions to commit sexual battery against another person, the wrongdoers can be held liable. Common relationships include pastor/congregant, doctor/patient, and teacher/student.
The tortfeasor’s employer may also be liable for damages. Negligent supervision, which essentially means that the employer knew or should have known about the tortfeasor’s misconduct yet did not stop it, is a common theory. Negligent hiring or negligent training can also subject an employer or organization to liability.
How Long Do I Have to Sue?
Typically, tort victims have two years from the date of injury to file damage claims. This limitations period is designed to protect both alleged victims and tortfeasors.
However, if the victim was a minor when the sexual assault occurred, the Georgia State Legislature greatly expanded the statute of limitations by incorporating the discovery rule into the law. In certain circumstances, child victims have two years to sue from the date they should have discovered their injuries “as established by competent medical or psychological evidence.” O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33.1(b)(2)(A)(ii). Therefore, if the victim suppressed the memory of the sexual battery, as is often the case, the victim may still obtain compensation even many years later.
Official misconduct sexual battery cases often involve complex legal issues. For a free consultation with an experienced Georgia attorney, contact Butler Tobin. We respect your privacy. After-hours consultations are available.