Sunday, November 14, 2010

Church and pastor sued
Church, former pastor sued over sex abuse of young girl
By Matt Hanley Nov 12, 2010 10:55PM
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Lee A. Palmer, 63, of Aurora, was sentenced to 19 years for sexually assaulting someone he knew. Now, he and the church at which he was pastor are the targets of a lawsuit.
AURORA — The family of a girl who was sexually abused by an Aurora minister has filed suit against him and his church.

In a lawsuit filed this month in Kane County court, the girl’s mother accuses Bountiful Blessings Church of failing to protect the girl from the advances of former pastor Lee Palmer. (The victim is not identified in the suit.)

Palmer is serving a 19-year prison sentence after pleading guilty in April to predatory criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse for engaging in sexual acts with the girl. Prosecutors said Palmer told investigators that he was “overcome by the demon of lust,” that the victim was “asking for it,” and that the victim was “in heat,” when the assaults occurred.

According to the suit, the girl was between 9- and 11-years-old when Palmer sexually assaulted he in a church van, at the church at 15 S. East Ave. in Aurora and at a Bountiful Blessings food pantry at 901 E. Galena Blvd. in Aurora.

The suit alleges that Palmer was responsible for “guiding young people on their spiritual paths” and was “bound by duty to act in a manner consistent” with that role. Instead Palmer used his position as a church leader to “gain the trust of church members, including (the child), in order to posture his sexual advances in a non-dangerous way.”

The suit accuses the church of breach of duty for providing the opportunity for the molestations to occur and for failing to screen Palmer for dangerous sexual tendencies.

Palmer’s actions would have and should have been foreseeable because Palmer engaged in extramarital affairs with several women and fathered at least three children with two of those women, the suit claims.

“Palmer posed a significant risk to the youth involved and should not have been entrusted with the safety of minor children,” the suit says.

The suits also claims that the church had been warned by members of the church that Palmer posed a risk, but the did nothing.

The church did not return calls for comment Friday. Palmer’s wife is still listed as the pastor of Bountiful Blessings.

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