Star Local Media has reported that a youth pastor has been arrested on sexual assault charges while employed at Inspiration Church, formerly known as Mimosa Lane Baptist Church, located at 1233 N Belt Line Rd, Mesquite, TX 75149.
On April 5, 2022, 32-year-old Conner “Jesse” Penny was arrested on allegations that he had sexual contact with a girl under 17. The abuse was said to have occurred multiple times between 2015 and 2018. Additional victims have accused Penny of sexual assault dating from 2013 to 2021 since his arrest.
Penny was an employee for the Mesquite Independent School District as well as the City of Mesquite before becoming a youth pastor at the Inspiration Church. He held positions as a counselor through the Recreational After School Program, RASP, and teacher's aide. He is currently facing charges that include one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child, aggravated sexual assault of a child, and indecency with a child.
Attorney contributor Marc Lenahan is an experienced lawyer for sexual abuse at churches in Texas. Marc helps victims of church sex abuse fight for justice by filing civil lawsuits. During a recent discussion, he explained the legal rights available for victims sexually abused by a youth pastor.
"Too often lately, we have seen reports of pastors, youth pastors, and other clergy members arrested for sexually assaulting members of the congregation. Churches have a legal obligation to ensure the congregation's safety, which includes doing all they can to prevent predators from gaining positions within the church. When a youth pastor abuses their position of trust and power, it is often due to the neglect of a third party, such as the church. A church should implement measures to reduce dangers to the congregations. Security cameras installed throughout the church grounds and background checks on each clergy member are examples of such security measures. If they fail to uphold their legal commitment to provide security, they can be held liable."
"For example, if a youth pastor had previous sexual misconduct charges made against them, but the organization neglected to do a thorough investigation, enabling them to continue working, it would be an example of negligence within a church. In fact, if the religious group does not take adequate safety precautions or fails to investigate or disclose allegations, victims could be entitled to compensation. Victims of church sexual abuse should speak to an experienced church sex abuse attorney to learn more about their right to file a lawsuit."