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Lee ThompsonMarch 30, 2018

Portland, Oregon

A new child sexual abuse lawsuit was filed today in Portland, Oregon against the Seventh-day Adventist Church.  The suit alleges that the regional governing body – the Oregon Conference of Seventh-day Adventists – responded to information about abuse by moving a suspected child abuser from his position as a teacher at the private Portland Adventist Elementary School to the position of Pastor of one the largest Adventist congregations in Portland.

The lawsuit – filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court – alleges that Adventist teacher Lee Thompson sexually abused the Plaintiff (referred to as “Laura Doe”) on multiple occasions when she was 12 and 13 years old in approximately 1972 and 1973.  According to the Complaint, Thompson subjected the girl to French kissing, groped her genitals, and penetrated her with his fingers.

The lawsuit also asserts claims for negligence against the Oregon Conference, alleging:

“On information and belief, in or around 1973, prior to the last occasion of abuse suffered by Plaintiff, Defendant learned through its agents that Thompson had been sexually abusing Plaintiff.  Thompson was then removed from [Portland Adventist Elementary School], but Defendant subsequently allowed Thompson to serve as a Pastor at Mt. Tabor SDA Church.  After leaving [Portland Adventist Elementary School], and while serving as a Pastor at Mt. Tabor SDA Church, Pastor Thompson continued to sexually abuse Plaintiff.”

The suit seeks $2 million for pain and suffering, $2 million for economic damages.  The lawsuit also states that the Plaintiff intends to request punitive damages from the Defendant as well.

“Our client has alleged – and we intend to prove – that the Seventh-day Adventist Church learned information indicating that teacher Lee Thompson was sexually abusing this child.  We intend to prove that, upon learning of his dangerousness, the Seventh-day Adventist Church chose not to terminate him or report him to the police.  Instead, we intend to prove that the Church moved Thompson from his position as a teacher to the position of a pastor, where he continued his abuse of this young girl,” said Peter Janci, attorney for the Plaintiff.

The suit alleges that the victim “has suffered and continues to suffer severe and debilitating physical, mental, and emotional injury, including pain and suffering, physical and emotional trauma, and permanent psychological damage distinct from the abuse itself.”

“This is not the first time the Seventh-day Adventist Church has been accused of turning a blind eye towards child sexual abuse.  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,” said Stephen Crew, attorney for the Plaintiff.

The attorneys for the victims have pursued numerous previous cases against the Seventh-day Adventist Church for claims related to child sexual abuse, which have been reported in the media:

Other recent media coverage shows that child sexual abuse remains a current problem in the Seventh-day Adventist Church and its affiliated organizations:

Attorneys at Crew Janci LLP have represented more than 100 victims of sexual abuse in cases against the Catholic Church, Mormon Church, Seventh-day Adventist Church, Boy Scouts of America, public and private schools, and other youth-serving organizations around the country.

Anyone with information about Lee Thompson or abuse in Seventh-day Adventist Church is asked to contact the victim’s attorneys at Crew Janci LLP at: 1-888-407-0224.

Read today’s lawsuit complaint here: Complaint

Andria Seo

Andria Seo is an Associate Attorney at Crew Janci LLP. Andria is a graduate of the New York University School of Law. During law school, she worked with the National Center for Youth Law, the Legal Aid Society, and the NYCLU. Prior to joining the team at Crew Janci LLP, Andria advocated for vulnerable children and their families as a staff attorney at Partnership for Children’s Rights, a nonprofit based in New York City. Andria also previously worked assisting in the representation of victims of a terrorist attack in civil suits. Andria moved to Portland in 2016 and joined Crew Janci LLP in 2017. She is admitted to practice in Oregon and New York