According to San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Home of Christians Eastern Los Angeles in Hacienda Heights head pastor, Jonathon Tsai, is charged with molesting two women when they were children.
The investigation into Tsai began in January when a now 40-year-old woman claimed that he sexually abused her for six years when she was 12 when he was her youth pastor. Tsai became close with her family and would visit the families home, which is allegedly when he would assault her. Later, investigators found there was a second alleged victim.
On July 23rd, Tsai was charged with four counts of lewd acts on a child under the age of 14-years-old, one count of oral copulation of a person under 16-years-old, and one count of sexual penetration of a person under 16-years-old. Tsai has pleaded not guilty to all charges listed against him on July 23rd.
Attorney contributor Bobby Thompson, an experienced sexual abuse lawyer in California, represents victims of sexual abuse and their families in civil lawsuits. In an interview, Bobby shared his insights about the rights of victims sexually abused by a clergy member.
Thompson stated that a church has a legal obligation to uphold the safety of its members. He said, “sometimes sexual predators are found in churches as they exploit their victims by placing themselves in positions of trust and power to commit abuse. This exploitation is demonstrated across all religious organizations, as numerous religious leaders have been charged with the sexual abuse of congregation members. Unfortunately, this occurs across all ages, including youth congregation members. Churches are obligated to do their best to prevent predators from hurting their members.”
Thompson highlighted one way in which the church can be held liable for not upholding its members’ safety. In some sexual abuse cases, abuse only happens because the religious organization was negligent. An example of negligence is if active clergy members had sexual misconduct complaints were filed against them and were ignored. In this case, the religious organization is being negligent. In negligence cases, the victim of sexual abuse and their families may have grounds for a lawsuit.