The News Review
October 31, 2008
A lawsuit has been filed against the Milo Adventist Academy over allegations that a woman who served as an assistant coach, instructor and choir leader at the Days Creek-area boarding school sexually abused a 15-year-old female student.
The suit, filed Thursday in Multnomah County Circuit Court, alleges that the woman groomed and sexually abused the girl in 2007 and 2008.
Neither the alleged victim nor the accused woman are named in the lawsuit, which seeks up to $100,000 in damages for past and future counseling and medical expenses and $3 million for psychological suffering and damage.
The suit essentially blames the academy for allowing the alleged abuse to occur, as well as for failing to properly investigate the woman’s background, then for retaining her even once information came to light that she had a history of inappropriate sexual misconduct with children in the past.
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“We believe we can prove that there was information they could have learned that should have prevented them from bringing her on at all,” said Portland attorney Kelly Clark, who filed the suit along with Coos Bay attorney Bill McDaniel.
The Oregon Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists and the Western Oregon Conference and Southern Oregon Conference Associations of Seventh-day Adventists are also named as defendants in the lawsuit.
Herald Follett, general counsel for the Seventh-day Adventists Church in Oregon, said this morning he had not heard of the lawsuit and had no comment at this time. The academy’s principal, Randy Bovee, also declined to comment.
Clark, who regularly handles child sexual abuse cases including those against the Catholic Church and other organizations, said he believed the accused woman was some sort of part-time volunteer at the school.
The woman, who Clark said was in her early twenties, assisted with coaching, instructing and choir. The alleged victim was a member of choir and participated on several sports teams.
Clark said the teen’s parents ended up finding out about the alleged abuse, which was reported to the school. He said the parents did not press criminal charges.
He said he didn’t know if the woman was still working or volunteering with the school. The teen has since moved out of state with her family.
Clark called the case a “very sad story” and said the teen continues to suffer emotionally and spiritually.
“She’s struggling,” he said.