Monday, April 11, 2011

Kanakuk/Pete Newman civil suit to be heard in Christian County

Taney County Circuit Court Judge Mark Orr approved a change of venue Friday for a sex abuse victim's lawsuit against Kanakuk Kamp and its former director Pete Newman.

The case will be heard in Christian County.

The lawsuit, filed Jan. 31, charges officials at the Christian sports camp Kanakuk with fraud for allowing Pete Newman to masquerade as a role model at the same time he was molesting scores of underage boys. The petition was filed on behalf of a Little Rock man who was only 12 years old when Newman allegedly began grooming him.

Among the allegations in the petition:

-Kanakuk officials had received sexual misconduct reports about Pete Newman as early as 1999. (He remained in Kanakuk's employ until 2009.)

-Kanakuk's cost-saving policies encouraged employees recruiting campers in the off-season to stay with families, providing opportunities for Newman to zero in on potential victims.

-Kanakuk promoted Newman as a "camp director, devoted husband, loving, beloved friend and mentor to youth" long after being made aware of sexual misconduct allegations. Camp officials also allowed Newman to "continue to promote himself all over America as an expert on teenage sexual purity."

-Newman had one-on-one Bible studies with boys in his hot tub.

-Newman used his unrestricted access to Kanakuk facilities to lure underage boys to the facilities during the off-season for sexual purposes.

-Newman bombarded the plaintiff, referred to as "John Doe, J. G." in the petition with phone calls and letters and engaged in phone sex with him.

-Newman had sexual relations with boys in Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. (Not mentioned was Colorado where Newman, who is currently serving two life sentences plus 30 years in a Missouri penitentiary, still faces charges.)

-At a "Purity Conference" in Memphis, Newman engaged a group of boys in sex talk, telling them what it was like to "have sex with a woman now that he was married."

-Newman invited the plaintiff to a conference in Oklahoma where he tried to get the boy to engage in sodomy, was turned down, and finally convinced him to engage in a mutual masturbation session.

According to the petition, the plaintiff was first seduced by Newman on Feb. 7, 2003, and then again the following day at K-Kountry in Taney County, at an area known as "The Pit," a foam pit next to the gymnastics equipment.

In the summer of 2003, the petition says, Newman lured the children with a yellow jeep into "spending time with him on Kanakuk property."

During the Purity Conference in Tennessee in 2004, Newman again engaged in a mutual masturbation session with the boy and then took advantage of him at the conference in Oklahoma in 2005, according to the lawsuit.

Kanakuk officials and Newman are charged with fraud, negligent supervision of a minor, breach of fiduciary duty, negligent infliction of emotional damage, breach of duty in loco parentis (serving in place of the parents) and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

The petition indicates the plaintiff suffers from "severe depression and ongoing anxiety and that he is "psychologically confused and spiritually damaged by a person promoted to him by Kanakuk as a fole model."

The plaintiff is asking for a jury trial.

A second lawsuit was filed in federal court in Dallas, Texas, by another of Newman's victims. In addition to Kanakuk Ministries and Newman, that lawsuit also names Kanakuk CEO Joe White as a defendant.

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