Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- A civil suit filed on October 10 in Richland County alleges that a now 17-year-old victim was sexually abused over several years by a First Baptist Church of Columbia volunteer.
The suit states that the minor and the parents are suing the church, along with Pastor Wendell Estep, youth assistant mentor and assistant small group leader Andrew McCraw, and church student minister Phillip Turner.
The suit claims that McCraw had inappropriate contact and communications with the then 11-year-old, including sexually explicit text messages and social media communications, dinners alone, and sleepovers where no other children or adults were present.
The suit also claims that Estep and Turner knew about the abuse, but did not report it to law enforcement.
Estep read a prepared statement to the church's congregation on Sunday, which said:
"Last fall, First Baptist Church became aware of allegations of inappropriate conduct by an unpaid volunteer in the student ministries department.
As church policy dictates, the appropriate committee investigated. The committee concluded the volunteer violated church policies.
Disciplinary action was taken. The volunteer no longer attends First Baptist Church and was prohibited from further contact with our students.
The student making the allegations filed a lawsuit Tuesday. Additionally, First Baptist Church respects the privacy of the parties involved in the cases arising from the John Hubner incident in 2002. Even so, First Baptist Church does not oppose unsealing those cases.
Our attorneys have advised us to make no further comment at this time."
The statement is also posted on the church's website, attributed to church spokesman R. Bryan Barnes.
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