The Lawsuit Alleges Central Baptist Church Youth Pastor Kenneth Travis Jewell Groomed and Sexually Abused a Youth Member of the Church
LITTLE ROCK, Ark., Jan. 12, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Constant Legal Group and Gillispie Law Firm filed a lawsuit against the Central Baptist Church in Magnolia and former youth pastor Kenneth Travis Jewell, on behalf of Plaintiff Kailen Daniel, who claims she was sexually abused by Jewell as a minor. The lawsuit was filed in the Circuit Court of Columbia County, Arkansas.
The complaint alleges that when Pastor Kenneth “Travis” Jewell was employed by Central Baptist Church, he groomed and sexually abused Ms. Daniel while she was still a minor. Central Baptist Church is also named as a defendant due to their negligence in hiring, supervising, investigating, and retaining Pastor Jewell as an employee of the Church.
The Plaintiff alleges she was groomed and sexually abused by Jewell beginning when she was 15 or 16 years old and continuing for several years afterwards. The grooming began, she claims, with comments that he “loved her like a daughter,” his regular attendance at her school functions, and inviting her into his home where she babysat his children. It escalated into fondling her, kissing her, and penetrating her against her wishes.
According to the lawsuit, the Plaintiff reported Pastor Jewell’s inappropriate actions to Central Baptist Church leadership, who responded by pressuring Ms. Daniel to keep silent and to not tell anyone else within the church, and specifically to not tell her mother. The Plaintiff claims she was told that if she reported Pastor Jewell she would ruin his marriage and cause harm to the church. Even after reporting the abuse to church agents, including specifically Rebecca McPherson, Central Baptist Church kept Pastor Jewell on staff and even continued to allow him one-on-one contact with minors, including Ms. Daniel.
“By failing to take any meaningful action whatsoever in response to direct reports of the specific danger he posed, Central Baptist Church allowed Pastor Jewell to continue molesting Ms. Daniel. The Church bears responsible for our client’s child sexual abuse,” says attorney Joshua Gillispie, of the Gillispie Law Firm.
The complaint alleges that the Central Baptist Church was negligent in their hiring practices by their failure to conduct a thorough background check of Pastor Jewell. Furthermore, it alleges Central Baptist Church was negligent in their supervision of him, their training of staff on identifying and reporting child sex abuse, their failure to investigate Jewell, and their negligence in retaining him as an employee after the Plaintiff reported his misconduct to Church staff.
In a statement from Constant Legal Group, Partners Ryan Cavanaugh and Constantine Venizelos said: “As legal counsel representing the victim in a sex abuse lawsuit against Central Baptist Church, we would like to commend the bravery and resilience of those who have come forward to share their experiences. Our client has taken a courageous step in seeking justice for the harm she has endured, and her willingness to speak out is a powerful testament to her commitment to holding accountable those responsible for the alleged abuses.”
“It is our firm belief that every individual has the right to worship in an environment free from harm, and when such trust is violated, legal action becomes not only a means of seeking restitution but also a vital mechanism for ensuring the safety of others within the community. Our legal team is dedicated to pursuing the truth, advocating for the rights of the survivors, and holding Central Baptist Church accountable for any wrongdoing that may have occurred.”
“As the legal proceedings unfold, we will work diligently to ensure that the victims’ voices are heard, their rights are protected, and accountability is established. We encourage anyone with information related to the case to come forward, as your cooperation may be crucial in bringing about a just resolution.”
The complaint asks for a jury trial and punitive damages to help deter other churches from similarly turning a blind eye to child sex abuse.
Constant Legal Group is a nationally recognized plaintiff’s law firm based in Cleveland, Ohio. The firm specializes in mass torts and civil sex abuse cases, and its attorneys have been appointed to leadership roles on multidistrict litigations. Partners Ryan Cavanaugh and Constantine (Dean) Venizelos have recovered multiple multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements on behalf of injured plaintiffs, and have been recognized by national organizations for their legal excellence, including Thomson Reuters’ Super Lawyers.
Gillispie Law Firm is a plaintiffs’ firm based out of North Little Rock, Arkansas that practices almost exclusively in the area of Arkansas child sexual abuse, representing child victims against the men who abused them and the organizations that enabled those perpetrators to commit their crimes. Attorney Joshua Gillispie has successfully handled child sex abuse cases in Arkansas against churches of nearly every denomination, against schools and daycares, against residential treatment facilities and group homes, against youth organizations like Boy Scouts of America, and against many other places where children are commonly preyed upon. For Gillispie, each case is a battle in the war on child sexual abuse in Arkansas. While child sexual abuse can never be eradicated completely, its rate of occurrence can and must be decreased. Gillispie Law Firm’s mission to do nothing short of that, making Arkansas a safer place for children in the future, one case at a time. www.gillispielawfirm.com
SOURCE Constant Legal Group