Woman says she was abused by church leaders, files lawsuit

PORTLAND, Ore. - An Oregon woman who has accused two former church leaders of sexual abuse is now suing the church for ignoring it for years.

The 29-year-old woman filed a civil lawsuit Wednesday, suing the Apostolic Faith Church for the abuse she claims happened more than 20 years ago. Neither of the men she named in the lawsuit were ever arrested or charged with a crime.

The woman, who agreed to tell her story if her name was not disclosed, said the Apostolic Faith Church ignored her repeated pleas for help. She said starting at the age of 4, the assistant minister and a day care worker at the church each sexually abused her.

"I really didn't know that was wrong. I was too young to decipher," she said Wednesday.

Her lawsuit against the Apostolic Faith Church and Apostolic Faith Day Care claims "... physical injury mental injury, sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of Plaintiff while she was a minor child."

She said she wasn't alone.

"I know at least a couple - at least a couple - that three, four, five - that were in the day care that were abused along with me. As far as the church here in the Northwest, personally, I know of dozens," she said. "Over the last couple of months I've found out many, many more, and it's about time that it stops."

She claimed the church also knew the day care worker had previously been accused of sexually abusing a family member and was considered by child services to be "a dangerous risk to children, including plaintiff ... was not supposed to be alone with children," according to the lawsuit.

She said she wants to hold the church accountable for looking the other way, ignoring her pleas for help, and help others do the same.

"I realized that one way to help a lot of the friends that I knew in this church that were also victims was to come forward and let them see my face and show them that I'm not scared to let people know what was done to me," she said.

The Apostolic Faith Church is a worldwide Pentecostal missionary church but it's headquartered in Portland.

KATU News asked the church for a response to the lawsuit and was directed to the youth minister who said the church had not been served with the lawsuit.

KATU News has chosen not to name either of the accused men because neither has been charged with a crime.

The same Apostolic Faith Church was involved in a separate lawsuit in 1994. The plaintiff in that case accused the same day care worker of sexual abuse while she was enrolled in the church day care.

The church settled that case and no criminal charges were filed.