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Pastor Abused, School Fired Her, Teacher Says

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) - A Christian school fired a fifth-grade teacher after she complained that its pastor forced her to have sex with him in the back seat of his car, the woman claims in court.

The woman, T, sued Christ Chapel Assemblies of God its former pastor Jonathan Gray, in Federal Court.

She claims Gray used his position to force her into having a nonconsensual sexual relationship with him and the church fired her for reporting him.

T claims that soon after Gray began counseling her for problems with her husband, he made unwanted advances to her and touched and kissed her.

He also visited her classroom frequently.

"Mr. Gray would insist on spending (T's) entire lunch time with her in her classroom, even telling her friends to leave the room and keeping students from being able to visit (her) during lunch," according to the complaint. "Mr. Gray made (her) more and more dependent on him and his counseling and started isolating her from her other friends."

Gray's behavior escalated, T says, and she couldn't make him stop.

"On October 25, 2010, Mr. Gray persuaded (her) to meet him to continue pastoral counseling in a location near Christ Chapel. When she got there, Mr. Gray had sex with her in the back of his car. Mr. Gray was aware of how vulnerable and confused (she) was," the complaint states.

T say that she and her husband reported the abuse to Christ Chapel officials, who suspended her without pay and stopped her and her husband from participating in church activities.

But Gray and his wife were able to continue participation with the church, T says.

T says she feared she was pregnant after the encounter, and told Gray that he could be the father, at which he became "visibly irritated" and told her that he was unable to have children because he had a vasectomy.

T, who was pregnant, says Christ Chapel eventually forced Gray to resign, but allowed him to remain involved in church programs. She claims that the church released her name in its announcement, causing many Christ Chapel members to stop speaking to her.

The church ultimately fired her and reneged on its promise to pay her while she was suspended and pay for her counseling, T says.

"Christ Chapel has a history of allowing male church employees who have sexually abused female employees to remain working at Christ Chapel," the complaint states.

"Christ Chapel also has a history of disparate treatment of the victims and the perpetrators of sexual abuse at the church, giving additional authority to employees who sexually abused women and terminating and attempting to silence women who have been sexually abused, such as (the plaintiff)."

T seeks damages and punitive damages for physical and emotional injuries, loss of earnings, wrongful termination, hostile work environment, retaliation and battery.

She is represented by Peter Cohen, with Charlson Bredehoft Cohen Brown & Sakata, of Reston, Va.

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