Wednesday, February 09, 2011

First lawsuit filed against Pete Newman, Kanakuk, in child sex abuse scandal

The first in what may eventually turn out to be many lawsuits has been filed against former Kanakuk Kamp counselor Peter Newman, in connection with his history of sexual abuse of underaged boys.

Online Taney County Circuit Court documents indicate Newman, who is serving two life sentences in a state penitentiary in Jefferson City, K-Kamp, Inc. (formerly known as Kanakuk Kamp, Inc.) and Kanakuk Ministries are listed as the defendants in the lawsuit.

The plaintiff is listed as John Doe (J. G.) and is represented by Michael E. Merrell, Kimberling City.

Court documents indicate those who will be served are Newman, Joe White as the registered agent for K-Kamp, and Donald Frank as the registered agent for Kanakuk Ministries.

A clerk in the Taney County Circuit Court office told The Turner Report that specific details of the lawsuit, which was filed Jan. 31, have not yet been filed with the court.

Newman's crimes were described in a Taney County Sheriff's Department affidavit:

"Between 2005 and 2008, Pete Newman became a close friend of his by attending family dinners, sleepovers, bible studies, taking vacations together and writing letters. Pete would hold one-on-one sessions with (the boy) in Pete's hot tub (at Pete's residence) and would request they be naked. Pete would discuss life's struggles with (him) and talk about masturbation. Pete would explain that if (the boy) would masturbate with him in his hot tub then there would be no lust and therefore (the boy) would not be sinning."

The boy told the investigator he and Newman masturbated together 10 times over a four-year period.

The sex went further than masturbation with another teenager, according to the report. After beginning with the masturbation sessions with the 13-year-old, the report said, "Pete started masturbating (the boy) and (the boy) would then masturbate Pete." That led to oral sex when the boy turned 15.

Newman allegedly used the hot tub trick on a 14-year-old, again resulting in mutual masturbation sessions.

When the Sheriff's Department began contacting former campers from other states, they heard more disturbing stories. Parents from Tennessee told the deputy their son, who was 14 at the time, reported engaging in the same type of activity with Newman.

The investigating officer described Newman's tactics, saying Newman became close to boys aged 11 to 15, hung out with them, gained their parents' trust, then beginning slowly with the hot tub and leading to sexual experiences. Roberts referred to it as "the grooming process" used by sexual offenders.

Charges have also been filed against Newman in Durango, Colo. From the Durango Herald:

He is suspected of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust in La Plata County.

Though information about the lawsuit is sketchy, it seems likely that Kanakuk's decision to keep Newman employed even after hearing disturbing reports will be a key factor in the action.

  • (Previous Turner Report posts about Kanakuk and Pete Newman can be found at this link.)

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