Attorneys File ‘Gut-Wrenching’ Child Rape Case Against Church

Katheryn Hayes Tucker, Atlanta-based journalist, reported the following story on November 23, 2021. The original publication can be found at Law.com.

Attorneys filed a lawsuit on behalf of a child under the age of 13 alleging that she was continuously sexually assaulted and raped by a counselor in a classroom at a two-month- long Bible camp run by an Atlanta church.

 

The events alleged in the complaint took place in the summer of 2018, when the child was 9, according to the family’s attorneys. They sued the West End Family Life and Community Center and its owner, the West End Seventh-day Adventist Church, in Fulton County State Court. The complaint charges the church with negligence in hiring, supervision, training and exercising reasonable care to protect children on its property.

 

The church’s defense attorney is Anandhi Rajan, a partner with Swift, Currie, McGhee & Hiers in Atlanta.

 

Rajan said Tuesday she represents the church and community center, but not the man accused of rape. She said her clients were not aware of the complaint having been filed until the Daily Report inquired about it. She said she “has not had the opportunity yet to thoroughly review the allegations set forth in the complaint and cannot comment further at this time.”

 

The plaintiff is the guardian of the child, who is identified by her initials. But the complaint said her identity has been disclosed to the defendant and the court, as required by law. The complaint said the family “made efforts in seeking to resolve this matter presuit to avoid unnecessary litigation, heartache, expense, and mental trauma caused by bringing a lawsuit of this nature.”

 

Instead, the complaint alleged, the defendants have maintained a “stubbornly litigious” posture. “The Plaintiffs therefore have and will continue to suffer additional damages, including litigation costs and expenses, attorney’s fees, and additional pain and suffering, and damages Plaintiffs have suffered will accrue interest until the Defendants compensate Plaintiffs for their losses, with interest paid,” the complaint said.

 

The attorneys representing the child and her guardian are Anita Lamar, managing attorney of the Lamar Law Office in Tucker, and Beasley Allen’s Atlanta principal J. Parker Miller.

Lamar said the church is about five minutes away from where she grew up in Southwest Atlanta, and she knows the church and the family. She said the child disclosed the abuse to her guardian after the Bible camp ended.

 

“This brave, young child dared to speak out, and we will stand beside this family,” Lamar said. “We will help her find answers and work to hold accountable all the adults who failed this child. This situation is unimaginable, and we hope our efforts will encourage other victims to come forward.”

Lamar and Miller told the Daily Report Monday that they have already learned their client was not the only victim.

 

“Considering this camp took place in conjunction with a religious institution, it is the last place a parent would suspect a dangerous sexual predator to be,” Miller said. “Unfortunately, not only was that the case here, but that predator was allowed to remain at this camp and terrorize this child for weeks with no oversight or supervision. We seek complete accountability for the physical injuries and trauma that will likely haunt this child and her family for the rest of their lives.”

 

The complaint said the alleged perpetrator has been arrested on several counts of sexual assault and is being held without bond in the Fulton County jail.

 

Litigation will subject the child to testimony and cross-examination, her attorneys said.

 

“Every step of the way in this case is gut-wrenching,” Miller said. He said it’s a case that “really causes you to lose your faith in humanity” to know that such a thing can happen.

 

“I think Anita and I wish we could go back in time and do something to prevent this from happening,” Miller said. He added the “real question” is whether the defendants will “be willing to come forward and do the right thing or not.”