MEDFORD, Ore. — A woman who says she was sexually abused as a child has filed a lawsuit against the Trail Christian Fellowship Church in Eagle Point, claiming that the church leadership failed to protect her and other potential victims.
According to the lawsuit, the abuse began in 2008 when the victim was 14 and attended the church's youth group. The man accused of abusing her, 23-year-old Jacob Durrett, was a Navy seaman who was also "involved in the church's youth group" at the time.
"The lawsuit alleges that Trail Christian Fellowship knew Durrett (a congregant) was sexually abusing girls he met at the church’s youth group," wrote the attorneys representing the alleged victim. "Nevertheless, the suit alleges that the church allowed Durrett to continue participating in its youth group, and failed to take action to intervene and protect minor congregants, including the Plaintiff."
The suit claims that the church received reports from another underage girl claiming that Durrett had abused her. At that point, the plaintiff claims that she informed the church leadership of abuse that she suffered as well, but nobody intervened.
"The suit alleges that Durrett’s abuse was known to pastors employed by the church, and was well known within the church’s congregation," the attorneys continued in their statement.
In 2015, Durrett was arrested and charged with four felony sex abuse charges in Jackson County. However, the case was dismissed in early 2016 when Durrett completed suicide before it could go to trial.
“We believe the evidence in this case will show that Trail Christian Fellowship knew or should have known that Mr. Durrett was sexually abusing minors from the church, including Plaintiff. Durrett was allowed to attend the church’s youth group where he groomed Plaintiff and another girl," said attorney Peter Janci.
“People need to understand that sexual abuse by those in positions of trust can happen in any youth-focused organization. It doesn’t matter if you live in an otherwise safe, quiet, small-town area. Sexual predators use these types of positions of trust to sexually abuse children in their care,” said Faith Morse, another attorney for the victim.
Pastor Rick Booye, who founded Trail Christian Fellowship Church 40 years ago, told NewsWatch 12 that he was previously unaware of the lawsuit filed on Thursday. Booye had no further comment on the case at this time.
The Trail Christian Fellowship Church has roughly 1,500 members, according to Booye.
The lawsuit asks for a $4 million judgment in favor of the plaintiff and demands a jury trial. The full lawsuit may be read below.