Church groups seek dismissal of sex abuse lawsuit

Suit alleges failure to protect kids from sexual predator

COEUR d'ALENE - Attorneys for Pastor Robert "Bob" Davis of North Country Chapel in Post Falls and the California-based parent church Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa asked a judge Thursday to dismiss a lawsuit filed against them alleging a failure to protect children from a sexual predator.

The lawsuit, filed in August 2011 in 1st District Court, names four men as plaintiffs who said they were sexually abused as teenagers in 2000 to 2003 by a man who was known to have targeted boys in the past.

The lawsuit names the perpetrator as Anthony L. Iglesias, who is currently being held in a Boise prison because of convictions in Kootenai County for lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor. Iglesias was in his early 20s when he allegedly had sexual contact with the four boys. The alleged victims today are in their early 20s.

A separate and previous lawsuit names North Country Chapel and Calvary Rathdrum as defendants, saying Iglesias provided youth services for both institutions while targeting the boys. That case is pending.

Also named in the newer lawsuit, and asking the court for dismissal, is Calvary Chapel Outreach Fellowship, which like Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa is based in Santa Ana, Calif. Calvary Chapel Outreach Fellowship affiliates new pastors and churches to the Calvary Chapel family of churches.

District Court Judge Benjamin Simpson didn't rule on the requests for dismissal following arguments from the defendants' attorneys and Coeur d'Alene attorney Leander James, who represents the four alleged victims in the two church cases.

Pastor Bob Davis' attorney, Virginia McNulty Robinson, called allegations "absurd" that Davis withheld Iglesias' criminal sexual past from members of North Country Chapel while Iglesias was working in the church's youth ministry.

The lawsuit said Iglesias had been charged as a teenage juvenile in California with having sexual contact with a younger boy. It said he was removed from youth ministry for a Calvary Chapel church in Diamond Bar, Calif., at the time due to that charge.

It also said he had sexual contact with multiple underage teenage boys while working as an adult missionary in Thailand.

Attorney Randall Adams, representing Calvary Chapel Outreach Fellowship, said, "The plaintiffs are stretching to keep the deep pockets in this lawsuit."

Adams said there is no evidence of a connection between his client or Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and the four alleged victims or Iglesias. He said the two don't operate in Idaho, and had no information about Iglesias' past before the alleged abuse of the four boys.

Adams also said the alleged victims brought their claims too late.

James blamed the defendants' actions for the delay in filing the lawsuit.

James said the lawsuit is about protecting children and holding people accountable who don't.

He said Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and Outreach Fellowship and Pastor Davis had a policy and practice described as "restoration," in which they help people like Iglesias turn their lives around.

James said forgiving others is fine, but letting people like Iglesias who commit crimes work in youth ministry is negligent and puts children at risk. Not telling parents of Iglesias' work at the church is concealment, he said.

Adams said, "Mr. James has a distorted definition of restoration."

Robinson said there is no evidence that Davis preached restoration or supported the policy.

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