HOUSTON (CN) – A Jane Doe plaintiff claims the United Methodist Church did not protect her from a philandering pastor who adopted and began molesting her when she was 14, and made her get an abortion after impregnating her while she was in high school.
Doe sued Pastor Kendall Graham and trustees of the United Methodist Church’s Texas delegation in Harris County Court, for more than $25 million.
Doe claims the church knew about Graham’s “inappropriate contact and relationships with female members” of his congregations, but rather than get rid of him they moved him to different churches around Texas.
Doe claims Graham’s “sexual abuse continued over many years” after he adopted her.
She claims Graham urged her to have two abortions, made a tape of them having sex when she was a minor, and told his congregation that she was his granddaughter, and their baby girl was his great-grandchild.
Graham married Doe in 2009 but divorced her in 2011, according to the complaint.
According to the 20-page complaint: “Sometime in 2000, Pastor Kendall Graham while a pastor at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church of Port Arthur, of the Southeast District first met plaintiff Jane Doe at the age of 10 years along with her seven other siblings. Plaintiff’s maternal grandmother was a member of the church at the time.
“Pastor Graham began counseling plaintiff who had just lost her mother and became a confidant of the plaintiff. Pastor Graham won her trust through these meetings and/or counseling sessions.
“Pastor Graham during this time told plaintiff that he and his wife wanted to adopt her. Shortly thereafter, Pastor Graham was appointed pastor of St. Paul United Methodist Church in Huntsville, Texas of the West United District.”
Doe claims the church knew about Graham’s womanizing as early as 2002, when he had an affair with a member of his Port Arthur congregation, who damaged the parsonage. But the church appointed Graham pastor of its St. Paul United Methodist Church in Huntsville.
Doe claims Graham had an affair with a married woman in his Huntsville congregation, but the church did not investigate.
“Sometime between 2003 and 2005 plaintiff began visiting Pastor Graham and his wife in Huntsville …with the thought that she would someday be adopted by the Graham family,” the complaint states.
“On many occasions, Pastor Graham would pick up plaintiff from school in Port Arthur, Texas and take her to his home in Huntsville, Texas in anticipation of being adopted by the Graham family.
“Sometime in 2003 plaintiff, at the age of 14 went to Huntsville, Texas to live there until she was adopted. Pastor Graham began to sexually abuse Jane Doe, plaintiff, on multiple occasions and at multiple locations. … This sexual abuse continued over many years,” the complaint states.
Doe says she recalls a church-sponsored trip to Jamaica in 2006, when an incident of Graham having “inappropriate contact” with her was reported to United Methodist Church officials in Texas.
“This event was reported by members of St. Paul United Methodist Church in Port Arthur, Texas to then district supervisor Gail Ford, who now works in the bishop’s office,” the complaint states.
Doe says Ford did not report the incident to child protective services or to law enforcement.
Ford is not named as a defendant.
“Sometime in 2006 while in high school Pastor Graham took Jane Doe, plaintiff, to a clinic to have a child that he impregnated her with aborted,” the complaint states.
“Sometime in 2007 Pastor Graham again counseled plaintiff to abort another child which he told her to say she miscarried.”
Graham divorced his wife in 2007, Doe says, and was later appointed pastor of a church in Harris County, where congregants complained about his relationship with Doe, who would accompany him on church-sponsored events.
Doe says when she was still a minor Graham had sex with her in the pastor’s study of the Harris County church, videotaped them having sex and fathered a baby girl with her, while representing her to the congregation “as his granddaughter and her baby was his great granddaughter.”
Dos seeks damages for childhood sexual abuse, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and conspiracy.
In addition to Graham, Doe sued the Board of Trustees [of] Southeast District United Methodist Church, Texas Annual Conference; the Board of Trustees [of] West District United Methodist Church, Texas Annual Conference; the Board of Trustees [of] Central District United Methodist Church, Texas Annual Conference; and The Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
According to the church website, the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church is one of 11 regional conferences in the South Central Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church.
Doe is represented by Harrison Fisher Sr.