Thursday, May 02, 2019

Lawsuit by sexually abused minor against Ozark Christian College appealed to Missouri Supreme Court

Can a sexual abuse victim sue an institution because it gave a favorable job recommendation to the man who committed the abuse, despite previous allegations of sexual misconduct?

Jasper County Circuit Court Judge Dean Dankelson did not think so and his ruling was upheld by the Missouri Southern District Court of Appeals in April.

Today, the plaintiffs, referred to as "John Doe" and "Mother Doe' appealed to the ruling to the Missouri Supreme Court.

In his original decision, Dankelson said even if the allegations were accurate, Ozark Christian College could not be held responsible for the minister's action.

From Dankelson's original opinion, which was issued May 25, 2018.

The undisputed facts are that Steven Butler was a student at Ozark Christian College (“OCC”) from 1982 through 1989. Ozark Christian College is an independent college and a separate entity from Independence Christian Community Church (“Church”).

The Church did send money to OCC on a monthly basis. OCC would provide names of recommended pastors and would on occasion provide temporary pastors on the weekends. The Church is an autonomous self-governing church that chooses its own leadership without oversight by OCC. That is the entirety of the relationship between OCC and the Church.

Butler was the pastor of a church in Barnsdall, Oklahoma. In September, 2000, he resigned from that position as a result of an allegation of sexual misconduct against a minor.

OCC was copied on the resignation letter which acknowledged but denied the allegation No criminal charges were filed as a result of the allegation.

In 2004, the Church was in the process of hiring a new pastor. It contacted OCC and received recommendations for a new pastor which included Steven Butler. The Church contacted OCC and received a positive recommendation.

OCC did not mention the allegations in Oklahoma. 

The court is unaware of any other background check the Church performed on Butler but finds it irrelevant for purposes of this motion. The Church at least in part relied on OCC’s recommendation and hired Butler.

Minor plaintiff was a child who attended the Church. Between 2006 through 2010, Butler performed acts of sodomy upon him, acts for which he was subsequently charged and convicted.

During this time frame, Butler did not attend nor work for OCC. Plaintiff brought this suit against OCC claiming that it should not have made a positive recommendation to the church, that it had a duty not to, and that the damage suffered by plaintiff is a foreseeable consequence of that failure.

The first question is what duty was owed by OCC to the Church? Is there a duty to not make a negligent recommendation to a prospective employer, whether it come from another employer or an educational institution?

Plaintiff admits that it cannot find a Missouri case that holds such a duty exists. There are other states that have reached that conclusion, California, New Mexico and Texas, but the Missouri legislature has not defined such a cause of action and the Missouri Courts have not recognized one. This court declines to create such a cause of action now.

Even if a duty is assumed, the plaintiff cannot show that the defendant’s action is the cause of the injury. The acts of Butler were intentional. There is no allegation otherwise. His intentional acts are an intervening and superseding cause of plaintiff’s injuries and negate any cause of action against defendant.

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Anonymous said...

I find it very interesting that Ozark Christian College is willing to hide and vouch for ministers who are sexually abusing children, music teachers who are abusing teachers and dorm parents who are sexually abusing children but will not allow homosexual students attend their school. I appreciated the articles and the coverage that was provided about the stance these students were taking against a college who's own Bible talks about how to love one another and the golden rule but is quick to turn against someone who doesn't fit into their mold.

Another little rumor I've heard from former students is that their is a professor who has a peep hole in his basement bathroom that he uses to watch students who stay there for holidays or summer internships. Again, that's just rumors so I won't mention his name.

I'd say keep up with the reporting on Ozark Christian College b/c this is the third sexual abuse case we've seen from that school in the past five years.

Anonymous said...

Whether they were legally bound to inform the churches of the alleged sexual abuse or not is irrelevant. As a religious entity, they were morally obligated.
No religious group should support or uphold a person and place him or her in a position of leadership.

Anonymous said...

I heard a rumor that one professor kept cheese in his underwear to attract mice. It is just a rumor but I felt compelled to spread the gossip anonymously on the internet. Just trying to do my part.

Anonymous said...

jesus take the wheel!

"The NTSB said Wednesday the driver of a bus owned by the Ozark Bible Institute at Neosho, Mo., knew the bus had marginal brakes when he took students to Eureka Springs, Ark., in September 1985. The bus crashed into a ravine, killing five people. Board officials said the driver, who died in the crash, earlier in the day had told a leader of the church group that the brakes weren’t working properly and that he was altering his travel route to avoid more hilly terrain. “The bus driver’s decision to continue a trip through mountainous terrain with a known brake system deficiency” was the probable cause of the accident, the board said in its final investigation report. “Contributing to the accident was the bus driver s failure to properly use the vehicle’s transmission ana marginal brakes to maintain an appropriate speed on the steep grade ... Also contributing to the accident was the inadequate maintenance of the brake system on the bus.”

Anonymous said...

Just curious what the bus accident has to do with the actual story? You do realize Ozark Christian College is completely different from Ozark Bible Institute???

Anonymous said...

Doesn't matter if they are different. Just attack.

Anonymous said...

'Let the little children come unto me''s right there in that bogus book, folks. Religion has never been anything but a scam to fleece the gullible and exploit the innocent.

Anonymous said...

At this point only a fool would place the care and safety of their child into the hands of any church organization.

Anonymous said...

Priests, preachers and pastors are literally the boogeyman.

Anonymous said...

Oh no, Christians! How scary!

Anonymous said...

It's just a little rape, right 3:50?

Anonymous said...

Boogeymen... all priests, preachers and pastors.

Just a little over reaction, 10:08?

Anonymous said...

Not all. It's more like a coin flip. Heads is rape, tails is a rip off. The world would be a much more sane place if everyone had just slept in on the last 2,000 years of Sundays.

Anonymous said...

Would it? In what way?

Anonymous said...

First, can we both agree that the Church has been a venue for rampant child sexual abuse, has denied the claims of victims, persecuted said victims, and protected the perpetrators from the consequences of their crimes?

Anonymous said...

The Church. The Catholic Church? Ok, we can agree on that.

Being Catholic and being Christian isn't the same thing. Can we agree on that?

Anonymous said...

The Church, as in the Bible, Jesus, The Father, the Holy Spirit, etc. There are over a billion Catholics who would disagree that they are not "Christians".

I understand that Catholics and Protestants don't see eye to eye, but even within Protestantism there are innumerable denominations, all of whom claim to possess THE correct doctrine. Sorry, but saying "it's those other guys" doesn't really work.

Anonymous said...

The topic was an organization covering up abuse. The scandal that everyone refers to is the Catholic Church. No other denomination was in on moving abusive priests around to protect them. It was the Catholuc church. No one said Catholics aren't Christians. The distinction made was between organizations. One can be a Christian without being Catholic. The same can be said about your link regarding Southern Baptists.
Furthmore, those that tried to cover up abuse were not the Catholics/Christians who are members of the church but rather the political arm of that organization.So, by lumping all Christians under one umbrella of "abusers" is worse than ridiculous. It would be on par with saying men are rapists because some men rape.