Orlando’s Channel 9 news recently reported about two Jacksonville men who had been arrested on charges of sexual battery and lewd and lascivious conduct. Apparently, one man, a 45-year old, is being accused of raping several underage girls – including one at knifepoint. The other man, age 56, stands accused of molesting a boy for several years. Obviously, these are very serious charges, and these men have not admitted or been proven guilty of these accusations.
What captured my interest in this story is the fact all of these alleged despicable acts occurred in a church — the Greater Refuge Temple, in Jacksonville. In fact, one of the accused men is reported to be the son of the church’s pastor, Bishop Gentle Groover. According to the church’s website, the church appears to be a fairly large organization. Bishop Groover’s information page indicates that he pastors several other churches around Florida. It is unknown whether the Bishop’s son held any leadership position in the church.
If I were the parent of any of the children victimized by these alleged acts of child sexual abuse, I would be wondering how in the world these multiple acts of child molestation could go on inside the church. I would be wondering who was responsible for monitoring the church’s facilities and supervising those people using the church’s facilities. If I were a parent of any of these children, I would wonder why this organization didn’t do more to safeguard my child’s innocence.
As a Florida child sexual abuse attorney, I can tell you that organizations that do not properly background screen their workers or volunteers, or who do not properly supervise or monitor their people or facilities can be held liable for the damage to children caused by child sexual abuse.
For questions concerning the rights of children following a sexual assault, call me at 407-644-4444