Guest / Limited Access /

In what may be the largest per capita clergy abuse settlement ever, nine victims will receive $36.8 million from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America's Northern Texas/Northern Louisiana Synod and two former officials. The civil case follows the conviction of Gerald P. Thomas, former pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Marshall, Texas, for sex crimes against children. An additional $32 million out-of-court settlement was reached before the trial ended. Total awards amounted to nearly $69 million awarded to 14 victims.

Individual awards ranged from $50,000 to $9.8 million depending on medical needs and the amount of abuse suffered. The settlements involve Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Ohio, a Michigan candidacy committee that ordained Thomas, Good Shepherd Church, the Northern Texas/Northern Louisiana Synod, and Bishop Mark Herbener of the Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Synod and his assistant Earl Eliason. According to the ELCA, the 5 million-member denomination will pay $8 million of the total settlement.

Thomas was first accused of misconduct in a West Texas church, where he served as an intern. The Marshall News Messenger writes, "Among the information the synod did not disclose was that Thomas had given tequila shots to two teenage boys and that the boys had found a homosexual pornographic video in the parsonage when Thomas served as a ministry intern."

The Associated Press writes,

Other terms of settlements reached by plaintiffs' attorney Edward Hohn include apologies to victims and parishioners nationwide; development of a strategy for preventing and handling sexual misconduct, including a review of all current ministers; and creation of a denomination-wide national reporting system for sexual abuse.
"Just ...
Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedTop UK Christian Singer Investigated for Alleged Sex Abuse at 1985 Billy Graham Crusade
Top UK Christian Singer Investigated for Alleged Sex Abuse at 1985 Billy Graham Crusade
Sir Cliff Richard, who denies allegations as 'completely false,' is latest British celebrity affected by Jimmy Savile fallout.
TrendingMark Driscoll Steps Down While Mars Hill Investigates Charges
Mark Driscoll Steps Down While Mars Hill Investigates Charges
(UPDATED) Driscoll offers 8-step solution to followers: 'Current climate is not healthy for me or for this church.'
Editor's PickDesire and Deliverance
Desire and Deliverance
Three new documentaries examine Christian faith, homosexuality, and the question of change.
Comments
Christianity Today
Lutheran Church Abuse Victims Receive $69 Million Settlement
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

April 2004

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.