ST. CHARLES, Ill. (CN) – A pastor sexually assaulted a 9-year-old girl on church grounds and kept molesting her for 2 years, though Bountiful Blessings Ministries was repeatedly warned that the man was a threat to children, the girl’s mother says. Lee Palmer is serving 19 years in prison for sexual abuse, according to the Naperville Sun, which reported that Palmer told prosecutors “that the victim was ‘asking for it.'”
The girl’s mother claims the church kept Palmer on staff though he cut a sexual swath through the parish. She claims Palmer molested her little girl from 2006 through 2008, and that “prior to 2006, the defendant, Lee A. Palmer, had extramarital sexual relations with several other women and had three (3) children with at least two (2) of these women during the time in which he was married to his wife, Mae Palmer, but [Bountiful Blessings Ministries] hired and retained him as the clergyman and/or pastor of the church in spite of this knowledge.”
Bountiful Blessings is a nondenominational Christian church owned by Palmer’s wife, Mae, according to the complaint.
Palmer is serving a 19-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to sex abuse and assault charges in April, the Naperville Sun reported.
“Prosecutors said Palmer told investigators that he was ‘overcome by the demon of lust,’ that the victim was ‘asking for it,’ and that the victim was ‘in heat,’ when the assaults occurred,” according to the Sun.
The child’s mother says that Palmer abused the girl from June 2006 through September 2008 at the church, at a food pantry and in a church van. The girl, now 13, was 9 to 11 years old when she was assaulted, the mother says.
Palmer’s duties at the church included “guiding young people on their spiritual paths, supervising individuals in their quest for religious and spiritual understanding,” and “supervising children in their activities with the church,” the family says.
He used “his position as a moral and spiritual leader in order to gain the trust of his church members, including [the girl], in order to posture his sexual advances in a non-dangerous way,” and manipulated “the emotions and spiritual trust of his followers,” the family claims.
The mother says the church had been warned by its members and by other parents that Palmer “posed a threat to youth of the church.”
The family demands damages from Palmer and Bountiful Blessings for sexual abuse of a minor, negligence and negligent hiring and retention.
Plaintiff’s lead counsel is Mario Palermo with Woodrull & Johnson in Aurora.