WESH 2 has reported that two girls have accused a Sunday school teacher of sexually assaulting them at a small church in Marion Oaks, Ocala, FL.
A Marion County Sunday school teacher, 27-year-old David Saint Louis, was arrested for allegedly sexually abusing children at the church. Saint Louis was first charged in June 2020 after a girl reported that she had been molested multiple times during Sunday school in 2013. Since then, an additional victim claimed he abused her several times between 2015 and 2017. This abuse was said to have taken place at the church and Saint Louis's residence.
Police investigators reported that the church was aware of the allegations and that he even admitted to the claims. The church members claim they banned him from returning. Police are worried there may be other victims.
Attorney contributor Michael Haggard is an experienced lawyer for sexual abuse at church. He represents victims of sexual abuse by pastors and other clergy members in civil lawsuits. Michael has offered some information for victims, including when a church can be held liable for sexual abuse by a clergy member.
"Too often in cases of sexual abuse, the abuser is someone close to the victim. This may also be a well-respected person in a position of power and trust, such as a teacher or pastor. Church officials have a legal responsibility to maintain their congregation is safe from dangers such as sexual predators. They can conduct background checks and have security cameras within the church to reduce the risk of abuse. If a church fails to offer sufficient safety measures, they can be held liable for abuse in a lawsuit."
"When a youth pastor or Sunday school teacher is accused of sexually abusing the children in their care, it is critical to inquire if the church officials did all that they could to prevent the abuse. In some sexual abuse cases, the abuse may not have happened if the church had not failed to meet this legal obligation of property safety. In cases of church neglect, the church could be found negligent and held liable in a civil sex abuse lawsuit. Victims and their families are encouraged to discuss their case with an experienced lawyer for sexual abuse at church. Many times, they could be awarded compensation."