Home Christian News Gateway Church Settled Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Involving Minor Prior to Morris’ Resignation;...

Gateway Church Settled Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Involving Minor Prior to Morris’ Resignation; Joyce Meyer Withdraws From Speaking Engagement

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Photo credit: Jared Stump

It has recently been discovered that Gateway Church settled a sexual abuse lawsuit that involved a minor, who was less than 12 years old, exactly two months (April 18) prior to the resignation announcement (June 18) of the church’s founder, Robert Morris.

Elders accepted Robert Morris’ resignation from Gateway Church on June 18, four days after allegations came to light that he had abused a 12-year-old in the 1980s.

While the newly reported lawsuit didn’t involve Morris, the suit accused multiple Gateway Church pastors and a youth leader of concealing the sexual assault of a minor that took place in March 2018.

RELATED: Robert Morris Resigns as Gateway Church’s Senior Pastor Following Sexual Abuse Allegations

According to court documents, the plaintiffs (the minor and her mother, both of whom are Gateway Church members) accused Gateway Church, five of its pastors, and a youth worker of gross negligence for failing to report an incident to local law enforcement and to the minor’s mother. This alleged negligence allowed the “perpetrator to remain active in the church,” possibly causing harm to others.

The lawsuit stated that the “Defendants, as ordained pastors and appointed ministry leaders, had a duty to use reasonable care towards Plaintiff Doe and other members of the congregation in reporting instances of criminal activity to the appropriate law enforcement entities.”

The “Defendants breached this duty” by failing to “contribute to a safe environment for children and members of the church, failing to report the abuse to authorities to protect Plaintiff Doe from further abuse, and failing to fully disclose…knowledge of sexual assault to Plaintiffs.”

RELATED: ‘We Mourn…But We Do It Together,’ Says Gateway Church Pastor Following Standing Ovation for Robert Morris’ Son

The lawsuit claims that, due to the failure of Gateway Church’s leaders to report the sexual abuse, the plaintiff endured damages, which included “physical pain sustained in the past,” “severe psychological pain and mental anguish,” “emotional distress sustained in the past, present, and future,” and future medical expenses.

The minor and her mother were seeking between $200,000 and $5,000,000 in damages, but on April 18 the lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount.

As part of the settlement, according to court documents, the Gateway Church pastors and the youth worker denied any liability to the sexual abuse survivor and her mother and explained that they entered the settlement “solely to buy peace.”

The Incident Didn’t Take Place at a Gateway Church Event

Lawrence Swicegood, Executive Director of Gateway Media, informed ChurchLeaders that the sexual abuse incident from the 2020 lawsuit “did not happen at a Gateway campus nor at any Gateway event.”