Ex-pastor who abused boy, churches sued

Orlando Sentinel/July 5, 2007

Tavares -- The mother of a Lake County boy who was sexually abused by his pastor has sued the clergyman, two area churches and two Baptist groups, maintaining they should have protected her son.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory damages for the boy's continuing psychotherapy from the Rev. Douglas W. Myers, his defunct Triangle Community Church in Eustis, Bay Street Baptist Church in Eustis, the Lake County Baptist Association and the Jacksonville-based Florida Baptist Convention.

Lawyers for the boy, identified in court documents as "E," contend that the church groups should have known that Myers, 58, was "unsuitable" to be a pastor. The lawsuit says the mother and son may ask for punitive damages as well.

Myers, who pleaded guilty to a single count of lewd and lascivious molestation, was sentenced Jan. 3 to seven years in prison. He admitted having sexual contact with the boy repeatedly during a six-month period. The boy, now high-school age, was 13 at the time of the abuse.

Myers, who founded the Triangle church in 2005, met the child at Bay Street Baptist Church and earned his mother's trust by driving him to school, taking him to Walt Disney World and giving him money.

The lawsuit states that Myers had been anointed a "church planter" by the Baptist organizations -- meaning he was recruited by them to establish a new church to spread the faith. It also states that Florida Baptist Church provided Myers with health insurance while the Lake County Baptist Association gave him office space.

Representatives for the county and the state church groups would not comment on the allegations.

Stephen Hudak, Christine Dellert and Martin E. Comas of the Sentinel staff contributed to this report. Wire services also were used.

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