Is a fundamentalist church responsible for the actions of the pastors they hire if they have not bothered to perform a background check on him? This is the question being raised by the alleged victim of Matthew Jarrell, the apparent serial rapist who committed suicide while being held in a West Virginia jail.
As Zac Taylor of the West Virginia Gazette-Mail reports
A woman is suing a Texas church, claiming that its leaders should have known that their head pastor had a history of sexual assault before allowing him to travel to West Virginia, where he allegedly raped her in his car before committing suicide in prison days later.
The woman, whom the lawsuit identifies only by her initials, is also suing the Open Door Baptist Church in Mesquite, Texas, for hiring Matthew Jarrell as its head pastor and apparently failing to perform an adequate background check that would have uncovered a history of criminal activity.
The lawsuit states that Jarrell inflicted serious emotional and physical damages on the woman as a result of the assault, which could have been prevented had church officials properly screened Jarrell before his employment.
The woman is suing the church for compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorney fees and court costs.
It will be interesting to see if the courts think this case has merit.