According to a report published by the Associate Press, three female plaintiffs claim in a recently filed lawsuit that an evangelical church group covered up allegations of sexual abuse against children. The suit further alleges that the church group failed to report accusations to the police and discouraged its members from cooperating with law enforcement.
The lawsuit was filed in Maryland against Sovereign Grace Ministries, a 30-year-old family of churches with more than 80 congregations. Most of its churches are in the United States, but it also has congregations in other countries. The alleged abuse happened in Maryland and northern Virginia in the 1980s and 1990s.
As per the Associated Press, the plaintiffs allege a conspiracy spanning more than two decades to conceal sexual abuse committed by church members. Church representatives are accused of permitting suspected pedophiles to interact with children and supplying them with free legal advice to avoid prosecution. Additionally, the plaintiffs allege that church representatives forced victims to meet with and “forgive” the person that had molested them.
The suit names as defendants about a half-dozen pastors and church officials who plaintiffs claim were alerted to the accusations but either took no action or actively covered them up. This lawsuit contains allegations similar to those made against the Roman Catholic Church. However, while the Catholic Church scandal centered on sex abuse by priests, the accusations in this case involve molestation by church members.