Ex-Clergyman Settles with Accusers

Associated Press, carried in Billings Gazette
December 17, 2006

Livingston - A lawsuit alleging sexual misconduct by a former Livingston clergyman has been settled for undisclosed terms. Criminal charges against him are still pending.

Terrence Passmore is accused of sexually molesting three girls nearly 10 years ago while he was a Church of God pastor in Livingston. Passmore denies any wrongdoing. He is scheduled for trial Feb. 5 on charges of rape and sexual assault.

The civil suit was filed on behalf of the girls, now adults. Their lawyer, Mark Hartwig, said an agreement among the parties prohibits discussing terms of the settlement, which became final last month.

The suit sought $3.7 million from Passmore and the Church of God's regional and national affiliates.

Passmore lives in Virginia and no longer works in the ministry, said Chuck Watson, his lawyer.

The women said sexual misconduct occurred on church property and during trips to swimming pools at Big Timber and Chico Hot Springs when they were 12 and 14.

Recent motions in the criminal case ask that a statement Passmore gave a detective be stricken because Passmore was not first given his Miranda rights, and that a psychologist who is "the world's leading authority on the issues at stake in this case" be allowed to testify as an expert witness.

The Montana attorney general's office is handling the prosecution.

Watson has contended that Park County Attorney Brett Linneweber had a conflict because he once had a private legal dispute with one of the women, a dispute involving rental property.

Carlo Canty of the attorney general's staff said Linneweber did not have a conflict. The case was transferred "in the interest of the alleged victims," Canty said.


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