Church Youth Minister Accused of Teen Rape
CHICAGO (CN) - A youth minister affiliated with the United Church of Christ sent pictures of his erect penis to a 15-year-old and later raped her in a church basement, her parents claim in court.
In a May 21 lawsuit filed in Kane County, Ill., a couple claims that the alleged rape of their daughter, Jane Doe, by a 31-year-old youth minister at the First Congregational Church of Dundee, Ill., "destroyed the spiritual, physical, and mental core of the child and her parents."
"While the church rape itself was not caught on film, there are photographs of the youth minister's erect penis, taken inside the church, and sent to the child," the complaint says.
The parents claim the defendant church and its pastor, the Rev. Aaron James, never looked into the background of the alleged assailant, Director of Youth Ministries Chad Coe, or anyone else entrusted to work with the church's youngest members.
"Coe, in a calculated fashion commonly referred to as 'grooming,' used his position of trust and authority to create a bond with underage members of the youth group," including Jane Doe, a middle schooler who joined the youth group in 2011, her parents say.
Rev. James "knew or should have known that a 30-year-old man demonstrating a predilection for a 14-year-old girl was an indication that the man may be a pedophile," the complaint says.
Doe's parents go on to claim "Coe utilized his office in the church building and FCC Dundee computers, internet, electronics, and/or audio-visual equipment to send Jane Doe inappropriate and sexually explicit pictures and/or videos of Coe" under the username "BluesGod88."
During their interactions, the minister would "gradually encourage and convince Jane Doe to remove her clothing during 'games' of 'truth or dare,'" according to the complaint.
Coe "manipulated Jane Doe to believe her parents were pitted against her," the parents say.
The family claims that "Coe began to make inappropriate physical contact with Jane Doe, including kissing Jane Doe and touching Jane Doe in a sexual manner" in late 2012.
But "Rev. James did not investigate Coe's inappropriate behavior or report the behavior to [Department of Children and Family Services] DCFS or other authorities," the complaint states.
On June 14, 2013, Coe, then 31, "was alone with Jane Doe in the middle school classroom in the basement of the FCC Dundee church while other employees of the church were in the upstairs areas of the church."
That day, "Coe raped Jane Doe in the basement classroom," the complaint states.
"Jane Doe had just turned 15 years old at the time of the rape," it continues.
After the teen "disclosed Coe's inappropriate behavior to Jane A. Doe, including the rape," between June 28 and July 1, the mother contacted Rev. James, according to the complaint.
But the pastor allegedly "did not suspend, terminate, or otherwise limit Coe's access to children or minor youth at FCC Dundee following the receipt of the information about the rape."
The Does say that on Dec. 18, 2013, Coe was "arrested after being indicted on six counts of possession of child pornography between September 2011 and August 2013."
Doe is allegedly now 17 years old.
Defendants to the action in county court include the Illinois Conference of the United Church of Christ and the Fox Valley Association branch, and the Ohio-based United Church of Christ and its General Synod and board.
Doe's parents seek damages for battery, negligence, emotional distress, negligent hiring and other claims.
They are represented by Kevin Lyons and Laura Alms of Lyons Law Group LLC in Downers Grove, Ill., and Francis Lipuma in Chicago.
United Church of Christ associate general counsel Heather Kimmel noted in an email that the church "has complete autonomy in employment matters."
"Chad Coe is not an authorized clergy member in the United Church of Christ and is not subject to ecclesiastical oversight by the denomination," Kimmel added.
Doe's allegations saddened the church deeply, the attorney for the denomination, conference and association continued.
"The United Church of Christ, the Illinois Conference, and the Fox Valley Association take allegations of child sexual abuse very seriously," Kimmel said.
"Our prayers are with the plaintiffs, their families, and all of those affected by this situation," she added.