Parents of Abused Boy Awarded $550k

The Monitor

July 3, 2008

EDINBURG - An Hidalgo County jury awarded $550,000 Thursday to the parents of a teenage boy abused by a Pharr church minister.

The parents sued Trinity Worship Center, 4801 North Cage Blvd., for pain and suffering they said they experienced when their son, then 14, had a sexual relationship with Robert Dale Franklin in 2004. Franklin, then a well-liked music minister at the church, had a checkered work history that attorneys said contained multiple signs he was abusing young men.

Franklin, 42, pleaded guilty in 2005 to abusing the teen and remains incarcerated on an 18-year state prison term. Although state District Judge Mario E. Ramirez initially sentenced Franklin to six months in jail and a 10-year probation term for the crime, the judge revoked it in 2006 after Franklin was charged with drug possession months after getting out of jail.

The church was found to have acted negligently in hiring Franklin without fully investigating allegations against him and in not warning parents who allowed their children to spend time with him unsupervised.

"The level of indifference to the flags and the warnings going on ... They turned him loose and they invited parents to come and bring their children to him," said Hector Canales, an attorney for the parents.


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