“A well-known Columbia church is at the center of a sex abuse lawsuit. The 7,000-member First Baptist Church reaching a settlement and apologizing to the victim in that case. The apology comes nearly four months after the victim’s parents filed suit against the church. They claim the child, who was 11 at the time, suffered injury and severe emotional distress.
The victim, who is referred to as Joel Doe in the lawsuit, is now 17 years old. The Suit says Andrew McCraw, who was a youth group leader at the church, inappropriately touched the victim and sent him sexually-charged text messages. According to the victim’s attorney, the family will be paid $300,000 and the church will accept responsibility for the incident. They’ve promised reforms to church policies.
In a statement, the church said in part: “First Baptist has accepted responsibility for this, even though we had strong policies in place and performed a background check on the volunteer, which revealed no issues…The church condemns the volunteer’s conduct in the strongest terms possible.”
The church also praises the child for alerting his parents about the volunteer’s actions. In the future, First Baptist plans to hire a third party to review their child safety practices. The church has been faced with three other sex abuse issues in the past two decades.
That’s why a victim’s advocate WACH FOX spoke with Friday questions whether the policy changes will put an end to these types of incidents. Law enforcement closed this particular case and filed no criminal charges.”