Tulsa Megachurch Sued Over Sex Abuse Claims
Victory Christian Center, a megachurch in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is at the center of sex abuse claims, suggesting that five employees waited two weeks to report the rape of a 13-year-old girl to police.
The young victim was reportedly assaulted by another church employee on campus, and authorities have uncovered that the girl is one of at least three victims that may have been abused by former employees of the 17,000-member church, reports The Christian Post.
Along with the three alleged victims, investigators are fearing that there could be more victims as Tulsa police continue to look into the allegations.
Police also believe that the church was aware of the abuse accusations against its employees, but that it failed to report the incident to police in a timely fashion. Victory Christian Center said in a statement that:
“We deeply regret that our employees did not report these incidents to authorities within the proper amount of time. This failure within our organization weighs heavily on us, because our purpose is to help people and minister to their needs. Our internal response was unacceptable, and we are taking the proper steps to correct it.”
The Examiner notes that the mother of the 13-year-old girl filed a lawsuit against the Tulsa, Oklahoma megachurch on Friday, accusing the church of gross negligence, intimidation, and intentional or reckless infliction of emotional distress.
The mother’s lawsuit seeks over $75,000 in damages, and also alleges that the church officials attempted to conceal the rape of her daughter in an attempt to do “damage control.”
The girl spoke with investigators about the rape, say that it occurred in a stairwell inside the church, near the band room. The lawsuit also states that the young girl was forced into performing oral sex and having sexual intercourse with the male staff member.
The former staff member, Chris Denman, was arrested on September 5 for the reported rape of the young teenage girl. In addition to his arrest, Church ministry employee Israel Shalom Castillo was also arrested and has been charged with making a lewd proposal to a child, and also to using a computer to commit a sex crime.
Charges have been filed against five more employees of the Victory Christian Center for their failure to report abuse or neglect of a minor. The employees accused in the alleged coverup are a high school outreach program director, an associate youth pastor, the director of the Human Resources department, and John and Charica Daugherty, who work at the church as sr. high youth pastor and assistant sr. high youth pastor.