Court’s Ruling on Sovereign Grace Ministries Alleged Sex Abuse Cover-Up Lawsuit

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I just found this report.  I am heartbroken.  What a huge disappointment to the plaintiffs.

I took some notes from the video:

Greta Kreuz reported that Judge Sharon Burrell “pretty much dismissed the entire lawsuit.  They did not sue in time.”

“The judge agreed, though, with the attorneys representing the churches and Sovereign Grace Ministries, that the victims had to sue within 3 years of turning age 18 and that deadline expired years ago,” reported Greta Kreuz.

“It was just based on technicalities –   it wasn’t based on the merit of whether or not it actually happened,”  said Plaintiff Renee Palmer Gamby.

My hearts ache for those victims who have been waiting for this day hoping to get justice. This is why we MUST get something done about removing statute of limitations in our country. When a crime is committed, it doesn’t make sense to put the responsibility on a victim whose life is emotionally,  spiritually, and physically shattered by abuse.  I am sickened by this ruling.

There is still the possibility of moving forward with two plaintiffs who just turned 18 (and met the Statute of Limitations deadline), but who live in Virginia.  Those details need to be worked out since the lawsuit is in Maryland.  I do not think this case is over . . . . by a long shot.

I don’t get it, but I have to cling to verses like this, though, because surely God is a God of justice.  We are not guaranteed justice on this earth for wrongdoings.  But we do know that God does not look kindly on these kinds of sins:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed,you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.  1 Corinthians 6: 9-11

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5/18/13 Note:  I changed the wording on the paragraph regarding the 2 plaintiffs who were not dismissed for better clarity.

27 comments on “Court’s Ruling on Sovereign Grace Ministries Alleged Sex Abuse Cover-Up Lawsuit

  1. Yes, disheartening. Things will not change until there is a groundswell of discontent about people having to report sexual abuse by the time they are 21 years old. People are still figuring out life, coping with their violated situation, and need the help of others to help them to find the courage to stick their neck out and take things to the court. The statute of limitations is quite different from state to state. This court ruling accentuates this technicality!

  2. Well, at least there are ongoing criminal investigations going on. This is far from over. I don’t think Susan Burke would have taken this case if she didn’t think she could win. She must have a back-up plan.

  3. It is disappointing, but it certainly isn’t over yet. There is no statute of limitations for felony child abuse in Maryland. The civil suit brought these allegations to the forefront and now there are criminal investigations. I think Susan Burke knows what she’s doing.

  4. This whole world is just falling apart,,,I ask myself when will the truth win? When will the victims have their day? We here about all the negatives, it’s time to have some positive light shinning on these people. God have mercy,, It’s time to hear the truth so these people can have their life’s back.. It’s time. I have always thought the truth will win, but now I question my faith in our systems. Just sad.

  5. Pingback: A False Gospel of Reconciliation | The Nuance

  6. Marge,
    I tend to think you are right. I’ve heard of other lawsuits where the lawyer expected to lose the first case, so that they could immediately file from another angle. Susan Burke should have known that the statute of limitations had expired for a civil suit in the case of some of the plaintiffs. If she thought there was no chance, she would have not taken the case. I’m very curious to see where this will go from here.

  7. This is precisely why churches need accountability that doesn’t rely on the court system.

  8. Discouraging, though there is hope the defendants will not entirely avoid accountability on the basis of a technicality. Information on the Maryland statute of limitations can be found here. The information at this link confirms that Marge is correct in stating, above, that there is no statute of limitations in Maryland for criminal prosecution of felonies. As would be the case in my state, a requirement of restitution may come with any conviction. Also, there appears to be limited hope that an appellate court will hold that the statute of limitations did not start until all facts establishing the existence of a civil claim were discovered by the plaintiffs. This is very possibly the reason the plaintiffs’ Second Amended Complaint emphasizes the very recent discovery of the alleged coverup.

    Further, the plaintiffs have had an opportunity to publish their histories in the public domain. They have done so with sufficient corroboration, and in great enough detail, that their allegations are credible, even compelling. Their descriptions of what happened are now available, I presume permanently, for all to see on the Internet.

    Finally, we likely will now have opportunity to gauge the character of SGM’s leaders and their friends. Will SGM’s leaders and their friends now claim to have been exonerated–possibly even with an in-your-face triumphalism–when the reality is that they have only (so far) prevailed on a legal technicality? Will Mahaney/Mohler/Piper etc. now turn their attention and efforts to ministering to victims, or will they merely continue to pursue their own doctrinal and institutional interests as though nothing had happened, as though our Lord’s heart is not for “the least of these?”

    Although I find this truth sobering on a personal level, justice will be done. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.) Gal. 6:7, KJV.

  9. So far as I am aware, there is no statute of limitations for child sexual abuse crimes in Australia. And perhaps not even for sexual crimes involving adult victims.

    It’s disgraceful that the US has a statute of limitations on cases like this. Sexual abuse can be so hard to deal with the survivors often don’t mentally and emotionally process it to the place where they can disclose what they suffered and seek justice, until years after the crime was committed.

  10. I am loving your Twitter interactions, Julie Anne. Get ‘em!

    I cannot believe that Christianity Today, Denny Burk, Kevin DeYoung, and Frank Turk broke their silence. Look how triumphant they are the C. J. Mahany got off (today) due to a statute of limitations.

    That’s like a football team that throws a crazy massive victory celebration when the opposing team simply showed up too late to the game.

    Wow. That’s pretty desperate. They are frightened and grasping at straws.

  11. You’re right – it is like a premature victory celebration. And it’s pretty heartless considering the survivors get to see their responses, too. Of course the survivors have taken note of their very loud non-response during this whole ordeal, too.

  12. Bummer. I hope the criminal charges can be filed and those stick. I never truly understood the purpose of statue of limitations. Especially with something as heinous as sex abuse, you would think there would be none.

  13. JoeJoe, Marci Hamilton is a sex abuse attorney that I am connected with on Twitter and she is working hard to get all states on the same page on Statute of Limitations. I should do a post on that issue. Imagine if your kid was the one who was abused and had repressed the memories. It’s not right. Time does not erase the validity that a crime occurred. I think the SOL issue and mandatory reporting laws should be uniform in all states.

  14. Janey –

    I doubt they are frightened. I think they are foolish and evil. Evil because there are “actual victims” (where perpetrators have been convicted or are in custody) that will witness their callousness. God sees it as well. I do not understand their attitude in wanting to side with men who have covered up and interfered with convictions of child abusers. The outcome of today has not proved anyone’s innocence or guilt.

  15. This news is disheartening. It begs the question, How is the statue of limitations in any way a good thing in terms of justice?

    I have known friends who have experienced abuse that was so traumatizing, they only recently-well past the age of 18- even realized it happened. The biggest injustice in this seems to me that these women were brave enough to come forward and even share their names, and are now being put into an arbitrary box that puts a time limit on courage. Disgraceful.

    And yet, God sees their bravery. They may not have justice yet through the law, but their stories are being heard, which I’m sure is part of the healing process. And they have the satisfaction of knowing that their courage will prevent others from experiencing what they did.

    I sure hope the attorney has more tricks up her sleeve.

  16. At the end of the news clip, she says “No statue of limitations for felonies.” Can these charges not be filed as a felony? It seems if you are a pastor you can get away with anything… no accountability. I am so disappointed right now.

  17. Cee Jay and his yes-men are rejoicing (Humbly, of course).

    Cee Jay is a *CELEBRITY*, the victims are Nobodies, and that is that.

  18. I am, by no means, an expert on these matters but, I have heard of depos and testimonies done, even, via telephone these days, so maybe the location of the victim is not paramount. Two things that keep bouncing around for me: Why would an attorney not know about the statutes? Unless, they tried to manipulate them or, they are really shooting for an unexpected outcome further down. Then, why are the “felonies” not being charged? What is law enforcement doing in the matter? Anyone know? I am new to the knowledge of this matter and don’t know a lot of background. Common reasoning would say that if these things were going on then, they still are going on now. There must be somebody who has ‘new’ testimony. All in all, I have to say, Do not give up!

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  20. Adriana: Be sure to read the new post I just published. Included is a statement from attorney Susan Burke. She is not done. She knew the risk. They are planning on appealing.

  21. I read a devotional today that gave me food for thought in light of courts ruling. The blogger wrote,”I asked my mother what was the most significant thing she had learned in her 96 years. After a few moments of what turned out to be contemplative silence she answered, “to wait”.

    “Greta Kreuz reported that Judge Sharon Burrell pretty much dismissed the entire lawsuit. They did not sue in time. The judge agreed, though, with the attorneys representing the churches and Sovereign Grace Ministries, that the victims had to sue within 3 years of turning age 18 and that deadline expired years ago,” reported Greta Kreuz. It was just based on technicalities – it wasn’t based on the merit of whether or not it actually happened, said Plaintiff Renee Palmer Gamby” I cringed & shuddered in horroe when I read the tweets of DeYoung & etc.
    But, it ain’t over till the fat lady sings. Or as Longfellow penned:

    THE MILLS OF GOD GRIND SLOWLY – “At some point a sinner will be punished; many decisions or events that are important in one’s life take time in coming. Some 1,600 years ago the Greek philosopher Sextus Empiricus wrote: ‘The mills of the gods grind slowly, but they grind small.’ One of Longfellow’s translations was a 17th century poem, ‘Retribution,’ by Friedrich Von Logau: Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small; Though with patience he stands waiting, with exactness grinds he all.

    I believe that the Lord will avenge the victims. I was overwhelmed with sorrow when I read the judges ruling. However, as the mother who was asked what the most significant thing she has learned in her 96 years, was to wait, I heard the tender voice of our Lord, wait & be of good courage, a man reaps what he sows… Amen.
    Psalm 27:14
    New International Version (©2011)
    Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

    Proverbs 20:22 Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” … Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait
    for the LORD, and he will avenge you.

    Psalm 130:5 I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his … I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. … I wait
    for the LORD, my soul does wait, And in His word do I hope. …

    Psalm 130:6 I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the … I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning,
    more than watchmen wait for the morning. …

    Psalm 33:20 We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our … … We wait on the LORD; he is our help and our shield. … We wait
    for the LORD; he is our deliverer and shield. …

    Psalm 37:34 Hope in the LORD and keep his way. He will exalt you … … Wait for the LORD and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit
    the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off.

    Psalm 37:9 For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who … … For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit
    the land. … But those who wait on the LORD will inherit the land. …
    Isaiah 40:31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their … … but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with
    wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not …

    Psalm 123:2 As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master … … as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of
    a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God …

    Psalm 31:24 Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD … … Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD! …
    Be strong and confident, all you who wait on the LORD! …

    We will wait & see… God knows the truth. Praying!

  22. “Wait”. A four letter word. Oh, how excruciating that sometimes is. But yes, you’re right, Gail. Will go over all those Scriptures now.

  23. opps- J.A. I doubled posted. ) : Please delete.

    Adriana- u r funny- yes, I agree “Wait” can feel like a four letter word-
    Till that precious hindsight that gives us eyes to see… And it can take years to see imho. ) :

  24. Pingback: My First Post Regarding Sexual Abuse by Clergy |

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