A woman sued the Seventh-day Adventist Church on Friday for allegedly removing a man accused of sexually abusing children from his role as a teacher only to position him as the pastor of one of the largest Adventist congregations in Portland.
The suit alleges that Lee Thompson abused a young girl in the early 1970s while he was teaching at Portland Adventist Elementary School, a private parochial school run by the church. After the allegations surfaced, the suit says the Oregon Conference of Seventh-day Adventists removed Thompson from his teaching role, but offered him a position as a pastor in Mt. Tabor, where he continued to abuse the plaintiff.
The plaintiff is named only as Laura Doe. The lawsuit seeks $4 million in economic and emotional damages from the church and asks the court to mete out punitive damages as well.
"This is not the first time the Seventh-day Adventist Church has been accused of turning a blind eye towards child sexual abuse," says Stephen Crew, who is representing Doe in the suit. "We believe it is important to uncover the truth about what happened and to hold the Church accountable—to help ensure that this does not happen to children today."
The Oregon Conference of Seventh-day Adventists did not immediately return requests for comment.