AKRON, Ohio (CN) – A depressed woman says a minister sexually abused her and took $4,000 from her when she sought his counseling, which his church had offered in an ad touting his Bible correspondence course.
The woman sued the Rev. John Berlin and the Barberton Church of Christ in Summit County Court.
She says she was caring for her terminally ill mother, “suffering serious depression and mental illness” and “was heavily medicated” when she responded to the church’s ad.
She claims Berlin proceeded to “take advantage of (her) emotionally, physically and sexually.” Berlin, she says, persuaded her to attend private counseling sessions with him, which soon “turned into sexual encounters.”
She says Berlin borrowed $4,000 from her, refused to return the money, and “never intended to repay” it.
And she says that when she “attempted to distance herself” from Berlin, he stalked, threatened and harassed her, calling her “at all hours of the night.”
She says Barberton Church refused to help when she reported Berlin’s actions, and that she was “forced to leave the area.”
She demands punitive damages from Berlin and the church, alleging clergy malpractice, breach of contract, breach fiduciary duties, fraud, negligence, assault, battery, and emotional distress. She is represented by Edward Gilbert.