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Church Compounded Sexual Abuse, Girl Says

CHICAGO (CN) - After a Methodist church elder sexually abused a girl, other church leaders called her a "home wrecker" who was "worse than a prostitute because at least prostitutes get paid," the girl claims in court.

Jane Doe and her mother sued East Side United Methodist Church; her alleged abuser Salvador Alvarez; church leaders and/or employees Zaki Zaki, Ayla Zaki, Richard Martinez and Sandi Martinez; The Zone Youth and Community Center, G2G Church, and the Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church, in Cook County Court.

Doe joined the East Side Methodist Church and its youth program in 2010. The youth program was run by Salvador Alvarez, a "designated religious leader/elder and authority figure," according to the complaint.

"Defendant Church and Zaki knew, had reason to know, or should have known that Alvarez was a dangerous sexual predator imposing a substantial risk on the most vulnerable members of the congregation," the complaint states.

But "Rather than take appropriate action to prevent or stop the sexual abuse of Jane Doe perpetrated by Alvarez, defendant Church, its agents, and Zaki through their actions and inactions allowed Alvarez to prey upon the most vulnerable of children by allowing and encouraging him to roam freely among and have unsupervised, unlimited access to children within the congregation, like a proverbial 'wolf among the sheep,'" according to the complaint.

Doe says the defendants actively concealed Alvarez's sexual abuse, and sought to defend him once his abuse was exposed.

She claims that defendants Ayla Zaki and Sandi Martinez, "engaged in affirmative acts to discredit Jane Doe among the congregation and inflict extreme emotional distress by falsely stating that Jane Doe, a minor child, had seduced Alvarez, stating that Jane Doe was to blame for the abuse, stating that Jane Doe was a 'home wrecker,' and stating that Jane Doe was worse than a 'prostitute' because 'at least prostitutes get paid.'"

To seduce her, Doe says, Alvarez "told Jane Doe very personal things about himself and his relationship with his wife. He portrayed his marriage as empty and unfulfilled. He further told Jane Doe that she was a great comfort to him and that he loved her. ...

"In mid-October 2011, Alvarez began sexually abusing Jane Doe, and he did so on multiple occasions. Many times the abuse occurred on property owned and operated by defendant Church, during events sponsored by defendant Church, and occurred substantially within the time and space during which Alvarez was authorized to act on behalf of defendant Church. ...

"He further lavished expensive gifts on Jane Doe, which Jane Doe refused. He further wrote various poems and notes to her.

When the Zakis and Martinezes discovered the sexual abuse, they did not inform the police, Doe says.

Instead, they "met with Jane Doe and accused her of destroying Alvarez's family. Zaki accused Jane Doe of having an 'affair' with Alvarez, and defendants told her that she must 'pray for forgiveness' for her immoral actions, and if she did not, they told her that she would not be forgiven and could not be accepted by God," according to the complaint.

Doe seeks damages for childhood sexual abuse, sexual assault and battery, negligence, negligent supervision, premises liability, fraud, and emotional distress.

She is represented by Alyssa Stamatakos with Eichhorn & Eichhorn, in Hammond, Ind.

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