When New York State passed the Child Victim’s Act law, it provided victims of child sexual abuse a limited window in which the statute of limitations would be waived and they could pursue justice against institutions where they’d been abused decades earlier. Though most of the cases have had to do with New York institutions, a recent filing named a Memphis-based church that has two churches in the state.
The child sexual abuse lawsuit names the Memphis-based Church of God in Christ as a defendant for abuse that took place almost fifty years ago, in the 1970s. The Tennessee institution has two churches in New York state, and the victim, who is now 57 years old and living in South Carolina, filed the claim in the Albany County Supreme Court.
Two Churches Accused in Case Alleging Rape and Child Sexual Assault
According to the child sexual abuse lawsuit, there were multiple instances of rape and sexual assault committed against the plaintiff at both St. John’s Church of God in Christ in Albany, New York and at St. Mathew’s Temple Church of God in Christ in Utica, New York. The suit also names the former assistant pastor Dirome Williamson, who is from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, as well as other clergy members and volunteers. The alleged abuse began when the plaintiff was only twelve years old and continued on a weekly basis until he was 16, and accuses those leaders of knowing that the abuse occurred, saying, “Defendants engaged in a coordinated effort to conceal allegations of sexual assault and abuse of minors from the public that occurred at St. John’s and St. Matthew’s in churches and other locations by bishops, pastors, church elders, deacons, employees and volunteers.”
According to the lawsuit, the victim reported what was happening and his claims were dismissed: he was told that the clergy “would pray to remove the demons from within.”