COGIC, Inc. has crossed the hurdle of the last of four clergy sexual abuse trials which came to light in the last few years. The verdict: its a mixed bag for the denomination’s leadership.
On February 2, the 236th District Court judge dismissed the case against the church in the Sherman Allen trial. In a rather stunning (and brief) ruling Judge Lowe granted the church’s motion for “evidentiary summary judgement and motion for no-evidence summary judgment”. Click graphic for larger version of the judgment.
The ruling left open the option to appeal. Attorneys for the plaintiff will appeal the case. The case had experienced multiple delays as motions were filed back and forth and ruled on. Darian Kelley, husband of the plaintiff said that he was “shocked” at the ruling. We hope to have a fuller interview with Mr. Kelley in the near future.
In the second trial overseen by Washington State’s King County Superior Court, four women had sued COGIC, Inc. for 10 million dollars. The church settled the case out of court for an estimated 1.6 million dollars. GCM Watch was told the case was settled literally right before it was about to go to trial. The money had to be paid within 60 days of the ruling.
Sources close to the case from Washington told us that the national church footed the bill for the entire judgment but “loaned” part to the jurisdiction headed by Bishop TL Westbrook. Washington State churches (about 25-30 in number) would be responsible for repaying some $650,000. But the “assessment” has caused some controversy among local pastors. According to our source, “Bishop Westbrook believes COGIC should pay the debt not the WA Jurisdiction. Most of the churches in WA are incorporated. Although he disagrees he still assessed the credential holders in his jurisdiction. People are very angry and some refuse to pay.”
The man at the center of the case Pastor Charles Smith is now deceased, but here he is in 2007 denying everything to a news reporter.
Sherman Allen abuse trial date looms