The Roys Report has disclosed that a lead pastor has been charged with covering up multiple incidents of sexual assault at the Immanuel Reformed Presbyterian Church located at 2212 Yeager Rd, West Lafayette, IN 47906.
After an investigation published by IndyStar, allegations of rampant sexual abuse have been brought to light. The church's senior pastor, Jared Olivetti, is facing charges that he sought to cover up accusations that his teenage relative had sexually abused over 15 children. Some children were members of the church's congregation. Internal records showed that Olivetti was aware of the abuse as early as October 2019.
Initial allegations came from the parents of two children at the church in October 2019. Another family reported incidents of abuse to both the church and the Indiana Department of Child Services in April of 2020. The teen relative confessed to the church elders that he had abused two additional victims. Along with many children outside of the church, there was an estimated 15 victims. The abuse is said to involve eight of the children from the church and to have began in the Spring of 2019, taking place on the church property and off. The abuse includes both over and under clothes touching as well as oral and genital contact with penetration.
Parents of the abused turned to counsel from another nearby pastor. As he heard about the allegations, he contacted Olivetti and insisted that he report the teen's actions to the church's officials and law enforcement. However, Olivetti responded that he was going to hide the allegations from higher authorities and keep the report separate from the normal session minutes. The allegations were reported but to other elders with the local congregation, who also sought to minimize them by blaming young "hormones." The other pastor stated they were just "covering their ears" to what was happening.
The Presbyterian Church's congregation was not made aware until September 2020. In the letter, the abuser's name was mentioned. Many church members were worried about the safety plan to prevent additional abuse, but Olivetti responded that they were in place. Further inquiry from the concerned parents was shut down with a response to refrain from gossiping. In light of the accusations, a deacon resigned. He sent out an email informing the church of the magnitude of the abuse and how the elders had neglected to keep the congregation safe.
Olivetti remained the lead pastor, preaching sermons until January 6, 2022. The Synod Judicial Commission began an investigation into the mishandling of the sexual abuse within his congregation. Olivetti, along with other elders, has been charged with using their positions of power to interfere, covering up, and failing to act with urgency.
Attorney contributor Jeff Gibson is an experienced church sex abuse lawyer licensed in Indiana. For years, Phil has represented victims sexually abused by pastors and other clergy members in civil lawsuits. During a recent discussion, he highlighted some legal options available for victims, including their right to sue for church sex abuse.
"Many times, sex abuse occurs in religious organizations due to neglected safety procedures. Churches and other religious institutions have a hefty legal obligation to implement a safety plan to reduce the risk of crimes like sexual abuse. They should conduct background checks on the clergy members, install security cameras, and maintain a proper reporting system. Too often, we see reports of predators seeking out positions of power and trust to exploit victims. If a sexual predator is able to gain a role within the church due to neglected security, the church could be held responsible."
"Additionally, if a member of the church or clergy has a prior history of misconduct, but the elders neglected to report to the appropriate authority, the church could be deemed negligent. Indiana state laws require abuse to be reported to law enforcement and to the Indiana Department of Child Services. Failure to report abuse is a form of neglect. Cases of neglect by the elders of a church could allow victims and their families to file a lawsuit."
"Victims of church sex abuse should contact an experienced church sex abuse lawyer to explore their legal rights further. The lawyer will be able to discuss any statute of limitations and guide them through the legal process to get the justice and compensation they deserve."