Former children's pastor Matthew Tonne has been accused of sexually abusing a child who attended The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas. The 35-year-old is charged with indecency with a child.
Tonne is accused of sexually abusing a child at the Mount Lebanon summer Kids Camp in 2012, when the alleged victim was 11 years old. The girl's parents reported the alleged abuse to The Village Church in February 2018. Tonne was removed from the church in June 2018, and the church said in an online statement that his removal was "for other reasons."
Tonne was charged in January of 2019. According to a recent article by the New York Times, there was no explanation from the congregation, no notification of other families, and no admission of responsibility or apology from the church.
The Village Church is a network of Southern Baptist churches, with 5 Dallas-area locations and approximately 10,000 followers. Southern Baptist churches have recently been in the midst of a national sex abuse scandal. According to an investigation by The Houston Chronicle and The San Antonio Express-News, over 400 Southern Baptist leaders have pleaded guilty or were convicted of sex crimes involving over 700 victims since 1998.
Our attorneys help these survivors find answers, support, and financial compensation in lawsuits against their abusers and third parties who failed to stop or prevent the abuse, such as religious organizations.
Religious organizations have a legal duty to make sure their followers are safe from sexual predators. Sadly, a wide range of religious groups have experienced widespread sexual abuse of followers by clergy members. The Catholic Church has been facing these allegations for decades. More recently, Southern Baptist churches have begun facing similar allegations of widespread abuse and church mishandling of this crisis.
In cases where sexual abuse could have been prevented if not for the negligence of a religious organization, victims and their families may have grounds for a lawsuit. For example, if a victim's family reported abuse to the church but the accused was allowed to continue preaching and law enforcement was not notified, the family would likely have a strong case for a lawsuit.
If you or someone you love is a survivor of sexual abuse in a Southern Baptist church or another religious organization, you may be able to find justice by taking legal action against the abuser and the church. You can learn more about your family's legal options by speaking with an experienced sex abuse victims attorney.