Abuse victim sues 2 churches

Methodist churches at Ashkum, Manteno two of three defendants named in lawsuit

The Daily Journal,Illionois/August 7, 2007
By Tamara Sharman

A child is suing the Methodist churches in Ashkum and Manteno for negligence in hiring and supervising the minister who sexually molested him for years.

The three-count lawsuit was filed Monday in Kankakee County Circuit Court. The minor boy and his mother are suing the Ashkum United Methodist Church, the Manteno United Methodist Church and the overseeing Illinois Great Rivers Conference of the United Methodist Church.

The lawsuit contends they were negligent in hiring and supervising Timothy Rademacher. The lawsuit alleges they knew or should have known that Rademacher was sexually attracted to children and that he had opportunity to practice those desires and to be alone with minor boys while working as a youth minister at the Ashkum and Manteno churches.

Rademacher, a 28-year-old rural Kankakeean, is serving a 30-year prison sentence after pleading guilty in Iroquois County to sexually assaulting two boys ages 12 and 16 while he was a youth minister at the Ashkum church.

One of those victims is the same boy who filed the lawsuit, according to Kankakee attorney Joseph Yurgine. The lawsuit states that Rademacher started a sexual relationship with the boy after Jan. 1, 2003, while working at the Ashkum church, and continued sexual relations with the boy after being assigned to the Manteno church as of July 1, 2004.

"Words really fail to describe the loneliness and pain caused by childhood sexual abuse; and when that mentor figure is from a church, the injury to the family unit is compounded," Yurgine said.

"The sexual exploitation of a child by one who stands before the child in an almost godlike role is a crime of immense proportion and an assault on the human spirit," Yurgine added.

"At this point we have not seen the lawsuit, so I don't want to speculate without having the chance to view it," said Paul Black, a spokesman with the Illinois Great Rivers Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Phone messages left at the Ashkum and Manteno Methodist churches had not been returned by this morning.

The lawsuit seeks more than $50,000 from each of the three defendants on each of the three counts. But there is no ceiling on the dollar amount that can be awarded. "The jury would ultimately have the final say about what the amount of damages would be," Yurgine said.

Rademacher's legal woes are far from over. He faces five felony counts in Kankakee County for allegedly downloading and disseminating child pornography using the Manteno church's computer. A trial date could be set at his next court appearance on Aug. 16. Two weeks ago Rademacher was moved on a temporary basis to the Jerome Combs Detention Center in Kankakee County, Corrections Chief Mike Downey said. Before then, Rademacher was behind bars at Menard prison.

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