4 religious organizations added to lawsuit involving sex abuse at Chesterfield church

Immanuel Baptist Church

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. – Four religious organizations have been added to a multi-million-dollar civil lawsuit in connection with a sexual abuse case involving Immanuel Baptist Church in Chesterfield County.

The Southern Baptist Convention, the Baptist General Association of Virginia, and the Petersburg Baptist Association have been added to a civil suit already pending against the Chesterfield church and three individuals.

The lawsuit involves former Immanuel Baptist youth group leader Jeffrey Dale Clark and his father Alvin “Ted” Clark, who held several leadership positions at the church spanning more than four decades.

Fred K. Adkins, a former junior pastor at Immanuel Baptist, is also named in the civil suit.

The lawsuit was filed by attorneys with the law firm Breit Cantor. They are representing eight boys who were abused by Jeffery Clark between 2008 and 2015.

Clark is serving a 25-year prison sentence after being pleading guilty to three counts of aggravated sexual battery and two counts of indecent acts with child by a custodian in 2016.

The lawsuit alleges that Ted Clark threatened one of the plaintiffs to recant his allegation against his son, which enabled Jeffrey Clark to continue working at the church.

The lawsuit now accuses the Georgia-based Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) of failing to take action against “known perpetrators and failed to warn or protect its members from them.”

The religious organization is the largest Baptist group in the world, comprised of 47,000 Baptist churches and other institutions.

“There is no question that Immanuel Baptist and the other organizations knew or should have known about Jeffrey Clark’s behavior, which included multiple acts of molestation, explicit sexual abuse, and instances of providing the boys alcohol, marijuana and Ambien at the camp, at the church, on trips and in his own house,” said attorney Kevin Biniazan.

As a result of the organization’s actions, the lawsuit says the plaintiffs suffered and continue to suffer pain and suffering, pain of mind and body, shock, and emotional distress.

The additions to the lawsuit come after a Houston Chronicle report detailing 35 Southern Baptist pastors, youth ministers and volunteers who were convicted of sex crimes but were still allowed to work at churches.

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