Woman molested by pastor as a teen sues central Pa. church in federal court


August 13, 2021

By Matt Miller

A woman who says she was molested by her pastor when she was a teen has filed a federal lawsuit against the central Pennsylvania church where he served.

Lodging of the U.S. Middle District Court complaint comes more than seven years after state police arrested the Rev. Jeffrey Winstead, formerly of the Cedar Crest Independent Baptist Church of Mount Union.

Huntingdon County Court records show Winstead, now 65, was sentenced to 8 to 16 years in prison after pleading guilty in February 2014 to charges of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a person under 16 and unlawful contact with a minor.

He is listed on the state’s Megan’s Law website as a sex offender who must register with police for life. Police said Winstead admitted to molesting the girl.

A phone call placed with the church Thursday morning seeking comment on the suit was not immediately returned.

In the suit filed by the Andreozzi and Foote law firm of Harrisburg, the woman claims she was 15 when Winstead started molesting her and 16 when the abuse ended in March 2012.

She contends that church officials had reason to suspect Winstead was acting inappropriately with her and other girls, but “no meaningful action” was taken to protect her from abuse. The woman claims the sexual abuse occurred in the church, its school and parsonage, at a camp “and along roadsides in the area.”

Jeffrey Winstead
Jeffrey Winstead

She argues that church officials were negligent for not establishing child abuse prevention measures, for not effectively screen those who interacted with children, and for not properly supervising Winstead or firing him despite “red flags” of warning that something was amiss.

The woman, who now lives out of state, seeks more than $75,000 in damages.