The Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church in Philadelphia recently settled out of court due to a church employee who engaged in sexual intercourse with a 14-year old girl inside the church elevator in March 2011.
The $450,000 settlement was from a civil lawsuit against the church because it failed to screen the 23-year old man properly. Since no background investigation was performed, he was given all the keys to the church and allowed 24-hour access to the church. Further, the sexton (a person who looks after a church and churchyard) regularly brought his adult girlfriend there and engaged in sexual acts with her on various dates.
The case was brought to light after the man “broke up” with the minor and she reported the sexual encounter with her father.
The plaintiff alleged that this proved the church failed to properly supervise the sexton, allowing him to use the premises for his own whims, knowing there would be no repercussions. The plaintiff engaged nationally-renowned security expert, Norman Bates, to establish proof of the improper hiring, improper security and failure to supervise by the church.
The case resolved after a lengthy court-ordered settlement conference with volunteer Judge Pro Tem, Anthony Zarella, in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas. The case is Jane Doe vs. Emmanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church.