According to WANE Channel 15, a former youth pastor has been accused of sexually abusing a minor while at the Faith Baptist Church located at 6600 Trier Rd, Fort Wayne, IN 46815.
Police have issued a warrant for the arrest of 48-year-old Anthony Rismo Gualtieri, a former youth pastor facing sexual abuse charges. Gualtieri and the girl allegedly began a sexual relationship in February 2015, and it continued until February 2019. The girl reported to police that they had over 100 alleged sexual encounters. The victim also stated that Gualtieri told her not to tell anyone, or he would inflict harm to himself. However, the victim did tell her sister in 2018 that she was in a sexual relationship with an older man.
Police interviewed the current pastor of the church, Pastor Joseph Marden, who worked beside Gualtieri from 2012 to 2018. Marden admitted being told about the sexual abuse, and when he confronted Gualtieri, he said that their relationship was an emotional connection. A witness to the confrontation recorded the conversation, which included Gualtieri telling Marden not to tell and threatening to harm himself again.
Gualtieri is facing multiple felony charges, including three counts of sexual misconduct with a minor, one count of sexual misconduct with a minor committed by a person at least 21 years old, and one count of child seduction.
Attorney contributor Jeff Gibson is an experienced sexual abuse attorney in Indiana. Gibson represents victims of sexual abuse along with their families in civil lawsuits. In the below commentary, he has provided insight into victims' rights when sexually abused by a youth pastor.
"Churches have a legal duty to uphold the safety of the congregation. Pastors, youth pastors, and other clergy members have been reported for exploiting their positions of trust through sexual assaults. Too often, we see these cases all across the country. Unfortunately, this sexual abuse occurs at all ages, including children and adolescents. Churches, along with other religious organizations, are obligated to do everything possible to stop the harm of sexual exploitation of their members. Adequate security measures may include security cameras throughout the church property and by running background checks on each clergy member."
"Churches may be considered liable in a civil lawsuit if a youth pastor harms a member and the organization is found negligent. One example of negligence within a church could include if the youth pastor had previous sexual misconduct complaints filed against them, yet the organization failed to perform a thorough investigation allowing them to continue working. If the religious organization does not implement ample safety measures or fails to investigate or report allegations, it may be considered negligent. Victims of sexual abuse along with their families should know they may have grounds for a lawsuit and receive compensation for damages."