Yesterday, a Williamson County family filed a lawsuit against the Fellowship Bible Church in Brentwood, Tennessee. The lawsuit alleges that the church failed to provide a safe environment for the family’s son and potentially other children in its care.
According to the case, a male teenage worker from the church violently sexually assaulted the family’s son while the son was in the church’s care. The son’s attacker has already pleaded guilty to charges and is being processed by the juvenile criminal justice system. The family has alleged that, after discovering that the horrifying incident had occurred, the church failed to adequately or appropriately respond to the situation.
On August 24, 2014, the family brought their son to the Children’s Ministry for care while they worshiped at the Fellowship Bible Church. The church assumed exclusive care for the son during the church service. The family were actively involved in church life. They received counseling, were married, and baptized their children at the church in addition to participating in other ecclesiastical activities.
While the son’s parents worshiped, the male teenager, who was selected by the church to watch over the toddlers brought to the Children’s Ministry, assaulted the son. He brought the son to a secluded bathroom in an unused classroom in the Children’s Ministry facilities and perpetrated the assault.
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In the court documents filed yesterday, the family has alleged that the church’s failure allowed the assault to occur. The church’s facilities provided no means of escape for the victim, there was no surveillance cameras, nor was there adequate screening, supervision, and training for church volunteers selected to watch over the children.
“We want justice for this family and we hope to raise awareness about child safety – not just at this church but at all churches and childcare facilities.” said Kathryn Barnett, managing partner of the Nashville office of Morgan & Morgan. “What happened to this family should never happen to anyone else. Churches and others who care for children can’t ignore the very real but very preventable risk of child molestation and sexual abuse by turning a blind eye and assuming it can’t happen to them.”