Church tries to 'out' underage victims of Bible school abuser

Church tries to 'out' underage victims of Bible school abuser July 2, 2016

Angered by a sexual abuse lawsuit brought against it by  the victims of a former Bible school volunteer, a Kansas church has asked a court to identify two girls who were abused by Kessler Lichtenegger, above.
Lichtenegger pleaded guilty last year to attempted rape and attempted electronic solicitation involving the girls who attended the Westside Family Church.
The girls, who were both younger than 14 years old, and their families, filed a lawsuit on June 9 that alleges church officials knew about Lichtenegger’s extensive past sexual conduct and crimes involving children.
According to this report, the lawsuit, and its timing, upset church officials, who took the unprecedented step of asking a judge to publicly identify the underage victims.
The church filed a petition last month asking the court to require the two teenage sisters and their parents to identify themselves publicly before their lawsuit may proceed.
Church officials accused the family of launching “a Pearl Harbor-styled barrage of negative publicity” timed to coincide with the start of this year’s vacation Bible school.
The petition alleges that the girls and their parents had leaked their complaint to the media before serving notice of the lawsuit to the congregation.

While the Defendant admits the sensitivity of the allegations, Plaintiffs tactically decided to ‘draw first blood’ on the issue publicly. In time, that may ultimately be seen in hindsight to be a bad decision. However, they should not be able to hide behind pseudonyms after systematically and intentionally initiating a campaign specifically designed to damage Defendant’s reputation.

The petition is highly unusual, said veteran survivors advocate David Clohessy, Director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

This has happened in a relatively small number of cases involving adults, but I’ve never seen a defendant try to ‘out’ kids who are still kids in a child sex case.

Clohessy, who has worked for 28 years as a victims advocate, and his organisation showed up at the church June 8 with protest signs to answer questions from the media, which the group often does.
He told Baptist Global News that the church’s legal attack against the child survivors would deter other child victims from coming forward and allow more predators to harm children.
Clohessy, himself an abuse survivor who testified before the US Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2002, called the attempt to name the girls a “stunningly callous” tactic more befitting “cold-hearted CEOs” than “caring shepherds” watching over a spiritual flock.

This mean-spirited move will deter others who see, suspect or suffer child sex crimes into staying silent, enabling more predators to hurt more kids. It will also rub more salt into the already deep and still fresh wounds of this suffering family. It is a shameful move by officials who profess to be ‘Christians’.

Lichtenegger is serving a 17-year sentence for the Westside vacation Bible school sex crimes, but the lawsuit says he also pleaded guilty in 2012 to a sexual assault the year before of a 15-year-old girl with developmental problems and to another previous sexual felony.

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  • CoastalMaineBird

    initiating a campaign specifically designed to damage Defendant’s reputation.
    The “volunteer” pleaded guilty to a 2011 assault, a sexual felony before that, and is now doing 17 years for recent sex crimes.
    What is left of your church’s “reputation” ?

  • CoastalMaineBird

    The church in question is in Lenexa, Kansas.
    More info here.
    the church was concerned about Lichtenegger and put “protocols” in place saying he needed to be with his father when at the church.

  • Broga

    @CoastalMaineBird: Typical religion – the Vatican does it well – where they behave as if they were decent, honest and holy (whatever that means) and ignore the vile act.

  • Lurker111

    As I said elsewhere, someone should post the names and addresses of the church’s leaders, perhaps with google maps views of their 5- and 6-bedroom houses, and maybe photos of their $50,000 cars, too.
    Pardon my cynicism.

  • David Anderson

    “a Pearl Harbor-styled barrage of negative publicity”
    Is there anything that these scumbags won’t say to portray themselves as victims?

  • It takes one leader and a small staff to make the choice to lead a church in that action. It takes a congregation to keep that leader and staff on the payroll.
    That is why this atheist criticizes the average ‘good Christian’ as much as the more obviously moral monsters that lead them. The day – the very hour – that a congregation walks out or fires their leader, the problem ends. New problems may arise, but that problem ends. And yet it doesn’t happen. Look at the Vatican for instance.

  • Broga

    @Trevor Blake: The grip of religion is based on the human terror of death. This is so terrifying to so many people that they buy into the sliver of hope, as they see it, of the fantasies peddled by religion.

  • cnocspeireag

    Most developed countries would simply ban such outing of minors, and usually even adult victims in sex abuse cases. It wouldn’t be worth their while trying the tactic in GB courts. What makes them think a US judge might let them get away with it?

  • PerUnitVolume

    > “What makes them think a US judge might let them get away with it?”
    – It’s Kansas. Most southern judges are filthy scum who gloatingly oppose the rule of law as they sit on the bench. They have nothing but scorn for concepts like fairness or justice and love every case where they can give their own religion special advantages.
    Otherwise they would never have filed such an invidiously disgusting court case in the first place.

  • remigius

    I wonder if that jacket Lichtenegger is wearing does up at the back. If so we should consider ordering one for our friend Bob.

  • Vanity Unfair

    “a Pearl Harbor-styled barrage of negative publicity”
    The Pearl Harbor barrage of ack-ack and balloons didn’t work very well, either.

  • remigius

    Vanity Unfair, they didn’t deploy barrage balloons at Pearl Harbour – hence the severity of the attack.
    They did use them at Poole Harbour though, but the Japanese never got that far.

  • Vanity Unfair

    I seem to have a vivid false memory in that case. However, you are correct: no barrage balloons until 1942 or ’43.
    Thank you for the correction.
    Pearl Bailey was also unprotected.

  • remigius