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Texas Personal Injury News

Friday, October 26, 2018

Mother Accuses Church of Negligence in Minister’s Molestation of her Son

The mother of a young boy who was molested by a former youth pastor is now suing the church for fraud and negligence, alleging that it aided and abetted the abuse.

Julia Davis’ son was abused by Dalton Lanphier, former youth pastor of Trinity Life Baptist Church. In 2016 he was convicted of multiple felony counts related to child sexual assault and was sentenced to 30 years in state prison.

The Abuse Begins

According to Davis’ complaint, Lamphier first began abusing her son when he was in middle school. He allowed him to drive his car and used the opportunity to gain his trust, and abuse him. As the lawsuit states, “through his position as youth minister, Lanphier came to know and gained access to minors and their families. Lanphier then used his position to sexually molest, abuse and assault minors.”

The Church Owed a Duty of Care

Also according to the lawsuit – filed in Dallas County district court in August, and seeking more than $1 million in damages – stems from the fact that the church “owed a duty to protect children from Lanphier, a sexual predator working as a youth minister.” The church has asked to move the suit to federal court.

Lanphier began working for Trinity Life Baptist Church as a youth minister around January 2014. According to the lawsuit, over the next several months, Lanphier used his leadership position at TLBC to routinely visit Brown Middle School in Forney, Texas, during lunchtime, where he would entice students into his vehicle with the lure of allowing them to drive around the campus parking lot” before sexually assaulting them.

An Incident of Abuse

On one occasion in April 2014, Davis’ son, a student at Brown Middle School, agreed to Lanphier’s request to help him load music equipment onto a truck and take it over to the church. After dropping off the equipment, the two went to dinner. Upon leaving dinner, Lanphier allowed the victim to drive his vehicle around in circles in the empty parking lot of North Forney High School, and “sexually molested” him. He made “repeated attempts to fondle” the victim. In vein, the victim told Lanphier to stop three times. The lawsuit explains that the incident severely traumatized the victim and may very well have an effect on him for the rest of his life. Lanphier eventually admitted guilt in molesting not only Davis’ son but also at least four other young boys.

The Church Fails to Meet Its Duty of Care

According to the lawsuit, the “Defendant knew or should have known of the foreseeable risk of harm that Lanphier posted to children,” yet failed to report the abuse to either law enforcement of child welfare agencies, failed to properly train and supervise Lanphier, failed to adopt and enforce sufficient policies, and failed to adequately investigate reports of child abuse.  

Though Lanphier has said that the criminal case positively changed his life, it remains unseen as to whether or not he understands the gravity of his actions.

 


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