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Monday, May 27, 2024 | Back issues
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Sex Abuse in a Small Town Church

TUCSON (CN) - A Seventh-day Adventist Church deacon in a small town sexually abused a boy, his parents claim in court.

Brian and Jennifer Doe sued The Arizona Conference Corporation of Seventh-day Adventists and Charles Byron Smith Jr., in Pima County Court.

Smith, a former head deacon at the Sunsites Community Church in Pearce, Ariz., pleaded guilty in December to two counts of attempted sexual conduct with a minor younger than 15, a class 3 felony and a dangerous crime against children in the first degree, the complaint states. Pearce is a tiny community about 100 miles southeast of Tucson.

The parents say Smith sexually abused their son on church property in the summer of 2011.

"On or between the first day of August 2011 and the 24th day of August 2011, the defendant Charles Byron Smith Jr. committed sexual conduct with the minor plaintiff by engaging in sexual acts including but not limited to oral sexual conduct between himself and the minor plaintiff," according to the complaint.

"All of the acts of sexual misconduct between defendant Smith and the minor plaintiff occurred at Sunsites Community Church while defendant Charles Byron Smith Jr. was providing services as a head deacon in the course and scope of his work for defendant church."

The parents say church leaders failed to protect their son from the abuse.

"The defendant church's negligence in failing to exercise reasonable care towards minor children in their care, including M. Doe, includes but is not limited to the following: failure to adequately train defendant Charles Byron Smith, failure to adequately supervise defendant Charles Byron Smith Jr., failure to implement policies and procedures for the protection of the children in child care at the church, and their failure to follow appropriate standards and guidelines to protect children in child care at the church," according to the complaint.

The parents seek compensatory and punitive damages for sexual assault and battery, negligent infliction of emotional distress and negligence.

They are represented by Elliot Glicksman in Tucson and Sara Powell in Phoenix.

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