Church sued over abuse in 1992

The Seattle Times/November 20, 2004
By Janet I. Tu

A 20-year-old King County man is suing Christian Faith Center, alleging that the church staff failed years ago to protect him from a Sunday-school teacher who sexually abused him, even though they knew the teacher had molested before.

Christian Faith Center is one of the largest evangelical churches in the Northwest, with locations in SeaTac and Everett, and a proposed 4,500-seat site in Federal Way.

The suit was filed Wednesday in King County Superior Court by a man identified as "A.H." and by A.H.'s parents.

They say that A.H. first met the teacher, Loren Fine, around 1992, when A.H. was about 9 and attending the church and its school. A.H. said he was molested later that same year while spending the night at Fine's home.

When A.H.'s parents reported the abuse to a pastor at the church, the suit alleges, the pastor told them other boys at the church had also reported being molested by Fine. That pastor is no longer at the church, said Timothy Kosnoff, A.H.'s lawyer.

A.H.'s father reported the abuse to the King County Police, and Fine was arrested. Court records show Fine pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree child molestation and two counts of third-degree assault of a child.

The lawsuit contends that even before A.H.'s family reported his abuse to church authorities around 1992, a young relative of Fine's had told the church that Fine molested him.

The suit says Fine himself told a pastor he'd molested the relative. Fine, 33, reached by telephone this week, denied that. "I did not tell anyone at the church about this," he said, declining further comment. Kosnoff said he believes that pastor also is no longer with the church.

By 1993, the suit says, the King County Police had identified five other molestation victims between the ages of 8 and 11.

Debera Willis, a spokeswoman for the church, says Fine volunteered in the children's ministry as a Sunday-school teacher and camp counselor but was never a paid church employee. She also says Fine was not in training to be a youth pastor, as the suit alleges.

Willis said she believes that Fine did tell a pastor or church counselor that he had molested a young relative, but she didn't know if that disclosure came before or after A.H.'s parents notified the church.

"As soon as we became aware, we told Loren Fine that he needed to turn himself in to police, and that's what he did," Willis said.

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