Assault victims suing church, ex-youth pastor

Jackson Sun, Tennessee/October 14, 2005

Two sexual assault victims of a former Jackson youth pastor now serving time in prison are suing him for sexual battery and First United Methodist Church for negligence.

The lawsuit stems from the actions of Curtis Hudson, who in 2002 was sentenced to 11 years in prison after pleading guilty to multiple counts of "attempt to commit child rape" and "sexual battery by an authority figure," involving male youth under his care.

The civil suit, filed in Madison County Circuit Court on Sept. 26, asks for an unspecified amount in damages for the plaintiffs, who the lawsuit contends are suffering "psychological distress" and other emotional trauma stemming from incidents of "harmful sexual conduct" while at the church or attending church functions. The Memphis Annual Conference of United Methodist Church also is listed as a defendant.

To protect the identities of the victims, the plaintiffs are listed as John Doe I (now an adult) and John Doe II (still a minor) and Doe II's parents. The incidents involving Hudson occurred when Doe I was "approximately 14" and Doe II was "approximately 12," according to the suit.

A court date has yet to be set, said Dean Dedmon , attorney for the plaintiffs. "We are at the point where we felt we just had to proceed with this case," he said. "This is the action we had to take on behalf of our client."

The church's attorney defended the downtown Jackson church.

"Our continued concerns go out to the children and the families involved," said Richard Glassman, attorney for the church only. "We don't believe anything was done incorrectly by the church."

The incidents to which Hudson pleaded guilty occurred on or between May 2000 and January 2001, according to court documents.

Court documents state that Hudson's "sexual abuse and rape (of the defendants)" occurred in various places, including the church classrooms, the youth area, various lodging houses at events sponsored by the church and at Hudson's home.

Plaintiffs are suing the church for negligence, contending that First United Methodist should have known Hudson was a threat: " From the time he was placed at the Defendant First Church, Defendant Hudson exhibited behavior that was erratic and troublesome," the suit states.

The suit further contends that First United failed to have a "policy, procedure, guidelines ... in place to protect children against sexual abuse," even though having "training, education, procedures, policies and rules were mandated by the General Conference of the United Methodist Church."

Hudson is serving out his sentence in the Brushy Mountain State Prison in Petros.

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