Southern Baptist megachurch denies liability in sex abuse lawsuit

Baptist News Global

August 28, 2019

By Bob Allen

Matt Chandler’s Village Church denied any wrongdoing in its response to a $1 million lawsuit stemming from the alleged sexual assault of an 11-year-old girl at a church camp in 2012.

An attorney representing the Southern Baptist Convention megachurch in Flower Mound, Texas, said Aug. 23 his client “generally denies each and every allegation” in the lawsuit filed July 26 in Dallas County and “demands strict proof by a preponderance of the credible evidence.”

The lawsuit, filed using a pseudonym, seeks to hold the multi-site congregation with an average weekly attendance of 10,000 and annual budget of $20 million liable for alleged acts by Matt Tonne, a former children’s minister at Village Church who was arrested in January and charged with felony indecency with a child.

The suit claims that Chandler, the lead pastor at Village Church, downplayed the situation by not telling the congregation the allegations involved a former staffer. It also alleges that Chandler misled church members to believe that Tonne had resigned for alcohol-related reasons, rather than because the 11-year employee was being investigated by the police.

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