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Brazos County, Texas – A civil lawsuit filed in a Harris County district court has named Mountain Valley Fellowship Church and Texas A&M’s Chi Alpha Christian fraternity among several faith-based organizations accused of negligence. The lawsuit claims these groups failed to protect a 13-year-old boy from child molestation. The boy’s father holds Mountain Valley Fellowship Church responsible for negligence, alleging that the church introduced sex offender Daniel Savala to children, leading to grooming and molestation by him and at least four Chi Alpha fraternity members. Although the fraternity members are not defendants in the lawsuit, the suit names the General Council of the Assemblies of God, North Texas District Council of the Assemblies of God, Mountain Valley Fellowship, and Chi Alpha Campus Ministries as defendants.

Background of Accused Sex Offender, Daniel Savala

Daniel Savala, a convicted sex offender, was involved with ministry programs in the Brazos Valley after serving time for sexual abuse. Recent charges against him include continual sexual abuse of a young child. Police detailed instances of sexual abuse involving Savala and two young boys at his home in Houston, including incidents in a sauna.

Allegations Against Chi Alpha Fraternity

The lawsuit alleges that a member of Texas A&M’s Chi Alpha fraternity took the 13-year-old boy to Savala’s home in Houston, where he was groomed and molested. Further incidents involved Chi Alpha members taking the boy skinny dipping during a leadership trip to Colorado and molesting him at a fraternity gathering.

Alleged Negligence of Mountain Valley Fellowship Church

The filing suggests that church leaders at Mountain Valley Fellowship were aware of Savala’s behavior due to founder Eli Stewart. Stewart, who was sexually abused by Savala as a boy in Alaska, reportedly brought Savala to the congregation despite knowing about his history. A letter shared by the church to members stated that they had learned of “some major allegations against our Pastor and grievances against our church,” just as Stewart was stepping down as lead pastor of Mountain Valley Fellowship in 2023.

Responses from MVF Church and Texas A&M Following Child Sex Abuse Allegations

When contacted for comment, the Mountain Valley Fellowship Board of Directors declined to comment on the lawsuit or allegations at this time. Texas A&M is investigating similar allegations against the Chi Alpha fraternity, with results pending public disclosure.

This lawsuit shines a light on the serious allegations of negligence and child molestation within faith-based organizations, prompting legal action against key entities involved. The case underscores the importance of safeguarding children and holding accountable those responsible for their protection.

Unveiling Legal Avenues for Victims of Clergy Abuse

Attorney Laurence Banville sat down with Texas-based clergy abuse attorney Marc Lenahan, to unravel the legal pathways available to individuals who have been subjected to sexual abuse by church members. This interview takes a deeper look into the practical steps victims can take in pursuing civil cases against liable parties, highlighting the significance of seeking accountability and redress in cases of church-related sexual abuse.

Laurence Banville, Esq. (LB): Thank you for joining us, Marc. In cases where individuals have been sexually abused by a church member, what recourse do they typically have in terms of pursuing a civil case against those responsible?

Marc Lenahan, Esq. (ML): Victims of church-related sexual abuse often have the option to file civil lawsuits against liable parties. These cases can hold the church, its leaders, and any other involved individuals accountable for their negligence or misconduct. By pursuing a civil case, victims seek justice and compensation for the harm they have endured.

LB: How can these civil cases help victims of church sexual abuse?

ML: Civil cases provide victims with a platform to seek accountability and redress for the trauma they have experienced. Through legal action, victims can not only hold responsible parties accountable but also raise awareness about the issue of sexual abuse within religious institutions. Additionally, civil cases can result in financial compensation for victims to help them recover and move forward.

LB: Marc, can you explain how statutes of limitations may impact victims of church-related sexual abuse thinking of pursuing a lawsuit?

ML: Statutes of limitations play a crucial role in cases of church-related sexual abuse. These laws set a time limit within which victims can file a lawsuit after the abuse has occurred. In many states, including Texas, these limitations vary depending on the type of claim and the age of the victim at the time of the abuse. It’s essential for victims to be aware of these limitations as they can significantly impact their ability to seek justice through civil litigation. However, some states have enacted laws that extend or eliminate statutes of limitations for cases involving child sexual abuse, providing victims with more time to come forward and pursue legal action against their abusers and those who enabled the abuse.

LB: What advice would you give to individuals who are considering filing a civil case related to church sexual abuse?

ML: It’s crucial for individuals considering legal action to consult with an experienced attorney who specializes in clergy abuse cases. An attorney can provide guidance on the legal process, assess the strength of the case, and advocate for the rights of the victim. Seeking legal representation is essential in navigating the complexities of these cases and ensuring that victims’ voices are heard.

Were You Abused By a Church Member? Contact Us for a Free Consultation

If you or your loved ones have been impacted by church-related sexual abuse and are considering legal action, do not hesitate to reach out to us for a free consultation. Our team of experienced attorneys are here to provide support, guidance, and advocacy to help you navigate the complexities of civil cases and seek the justice and compensation you deserve. Contact us today to take the first step towards reclaiming your rights and holding accountable those responsible for the harm inflicted upon you.

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