A Hilltop Baptist Church pastor allegedly fired two subordinates for reporting concerns that his niece, a teacher at a church-run high school, had an inappropriate relationship with a 15-year-old student.
The claim is part of a lawsuit filed against the church last May by former Hilltop Baptist School math teacher Laurie A. Sutton and her husband, Dustin Sutton, who had volunteered as a coach.
The couple is seeking compensation for loss of earnings, loss of earning capacity, emotional distress and pain and suffering related to their January termination from the now-shuttered religious school.
The lawsuit is headed for a February trial, court records show.
An El Paso County grand jury on Wednesday returned indictments against the accused teacher, Terah Allyn Rawlings, 32, and three senior administrators who were charged with ignoring a legal obligation to report the abuse.
They were Rawlings’ uncle, senior pastor and former school superintendent Franklin “Wayne” Knight, 63; her father, associate pastor and former school athletic director Raymond “Allen” Knight, 57; and former principal Jan Ocvirk, 51.
All four were arrested Wednesday and are free on bail, officials said.
According to the lawsuit, Laurie and Dustin Sutton were fired in January a month after approaching Wayne Knight with their concerns — part of what prosecutors describe as Knight’s “consistent pattern to manipulate and control the situation.”
“Pastor Wayne Knight advised that he had previous knowledge about the matter and promised to investigate further,” the lawsuit alleges — before going on to accuse Knight of orchestrating what amounted to a cover-up.
The indictment says Wayne Knight ignored three reports about Rawlings’ relationship with the sophomore, which allegedly lasted throughout the 2007-2008 school year until the victim broke it off the following summer.
Knight was charged with accessory to the sex abuse, a felony, and three misdemeanor counts of failure to report child abuse.
The first warning surfaced during the 2008-2009 school year, when teacher Tiffaney Anderson relayed concerns to Ocvirk, who briefed the pastor, the documents allege. Two parishioners revived the allegations a year later, in 2010, and the Suttons stepped forward the same year.
Each time, prosecutors allege, Wayne Knight either ignored their concerns or discouraged them from coming forward.
Church workers and teachers are both "mandatory reporters" under the law, meaning they must contact law enforcement with reports of sex abuse.
Among the reports the pastor allegedly received:
— Students saw the pair “making out” in a van during a school trip to Greeley, and, later that night, kissing at a hotel.
— Anderson said that Rawlings had sent her a text message in which she acknowledged making a “big mistake” and said that students “were going to start looking at her differently.”
— A student and friend of the victim corroborated claims of a sexual relationship when approached by Wayne Knight in 2010.
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office wasn’t informed of the allegations until the Suttons contacted authorities in December 2010, the documents show.
By then, the victim had turned 18, and denied having sex with Rawlings, according to the charging documents.
The lawsuit also alleges that Ocvirk implied that Sutton was tied to wrongdoing in an e-mail to parents announcing her departure.
The church closed the school last year because of declining enrollment. Members of the congregation say they were informed of the charges against the four on Wednesday night, the same day the grand jury returned its indictments.
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said it requested the case go to a grand jury after a lengthy investigation involving interviews with church members and a search of the now-shuttered school.
Grand juries are convened in secret, and their subpoena powers make them a valuable tool for investigating crimes where people are reluctant to cooperate, 4th Judicial District Attorney Dan May has said.
Read more: http://www.gazette.com/articles/church-128752-school-teacher.html#ixzz1eYRcxG1H
In: Regional News
Tags: Hilltop Baptist Church, perverts, sex abuse, Terah Allyn Rawlings, hot for the teacher
Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States (load item map)
Marked as: approved
Views: 5742 | Comments: 5 | Votes: 0 | Favorites: 0 | Shared: 8 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 2
|Liveleak on Facebook|