Seattle woman files sex-abuse claim against COGIC

Published: Jun. 11, 2007 at 8:11 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 15, 2007 at 11:46 AM CDT
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A church with congregations nationwide was sued Monday by a Seattle woman who claims she was sexually abused as a child by one of its pastors.

The Church of God in Christ is headquartered in Memphis. The lawsuit names the Smith Temple Church of God in Christ of Seattle. It also names Pastor Charles Smith and his wife Gloria. It's not clear why the pastor's wife is named.

Court documents filed in King County Superior Court allege that the Church of God in Christ,  failed to protect the woman from Pastor Charles E. Smith.

The church failed to properly investigate Smith's background, knew or should have known he was a pedophile, and failed to adequately supervise him, the lawsuit contends.

The 53-year-old Seattle woman only identified as Jane Doe in the lawsuit says the molestation happened when she was 12-years-old.

The lawsuit claims Charles Smith instigated the sexual abuse. The woman said Smith gave her favorable treatment to pull her closer to him.

Court documents allege that Smith sexually molested the woman "on numerous occasions in his car and in his office in the chapel."

The woman who filed the lawsuit wanted her identity hidden.

"One Sunday I went up stairs to the restroom. I don't recall how I got up in his office at that time he molested me. After it happened I don't remember how long I stayed there," explained the accuser.

The lawsuit says the the pastor was friendly and asked her to do things like babysit at the church's academy in Seattle.

One day, she said the pastor asked her if she wanted him to be her boyfriend. The woman says the abuse lasted a year.

Jane Doe says the abuse caused problems in her life that continue.

This isn't the first time the church has been embroiled in an harassment lawsuit.

Last year, five women from Mississippi settled a lawsuit charging harassment and sexual assault.

Calls to Smith Temple and the Church of God in Christ's general counsel in Mitchellville, Md., were not immediately returned Monday.


to email Janice Broach.