TULSA, Okla. - The mother of a 13-year-old girl police say was raped at Victory Christian Center by an employee has now sued the church, claiming their failure to report the attack for more than two weeks inflicted emotional distress on the girl.
In the filing, obtained by KRMG, the plaintiff's attorney writes that Chris Denman, the suspect in the rape case, "utilized the access, trust, and proximity of his role as an agent and employee of Defendant to engage in a course of psychological, physical, and sexual exploitation and abuse of Child Victim."
It goes on to say that Victory Christian Center's "response to this tragedy was to attempt to conceal the sexual assault from the public eye, Child Victim's Parent, and the appropriate authorities."
It adds that "Defendant chose to conduct its own 'investigation' with the ultimate purpose of doing damage control as opposed to protecting Child Victim."
Victory, the suit alleges, "used four of its adult leaders, including Youth Director Paul Willemstein and High School Outreach Program Director, Anna George, to question and intimidate Child Victim so as to conceal her rape from the public and Parent. During this questioning, Willemstein and George repeatedly told Child Victim the assault was her fault. These acts were done in furtherance of a scheme to protect the church's reputation, in total disregard of Child Victim's and Parent's rights."
Attorney Michael Atkinson of the firm Atkinson, Haskins, Nellis, Holeman, Brittingham, Gladd and Carwile, spoke with KRMG Friday afternoon about the reasons for filing the suit.
"We believe that Victory Christian was more interested in protecting its own reputation rather than doing what they should have done and report the sexual episode to the police, and more importantly to this young girl's parents," Atkinson said.
"We're talking about two things. We're talking about concealment, and we're talking about trying to make the child feel guilty. We're particularly offended by the church's efforts to convince the child that she had some role, or that she consented to this sexual assault."
The suit asks for damages of $75,000, plus possible punitive damages.
KRMG contacted the church for comment, but our call has not been returned.
Details to follow online and on the air, AM 740 and FM 102.3 NewsTalk KRMG.