An Atlanta jury on March 21 awarded $1 million in damages to a litigant who charged a New Life Clinic with putting him "through hell."

Scott Rogers sued the Atlanta clinic and one of its workers for slander, negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress after undergoing a two-month investigation for allegedly sexually abusing his son.

Rogers says he called New Life, the nation's largest Christian psychiatric company, after hearing a representative of the organization on a radio program talking about abuse. Rogers, 27, says he sought healing from abuse as a child (CT, Sept. 16, 1996, p. 76).

But Melodie Ricks, who took his call, says Rogers suggested he had sexually abused his three-year-old son. She reported him to Georgia Child Protective Services.

Rogers says he never abused his son, and he never gave Ricks such information. According to Rogers, Ricks threatened to report him for abuse after he expressed reluctance to submit to in-patient counseling.

"The jury believed there was no reasonable basis for the report, and that it was not made in good faith," says Rogers's lawyer, Michael Bertling.

New Life (formerly Minirth-Meier New Life) is sticking by Ricks. "The company acted not only in accordance with the laws of this country, but also in accordance with their Christian obligation to protect a child," says spokesperson Connie McCoy. "New Life believes it is better to err on the side of a child than protect a confessed or potential abuser."

McCoy says New Life is filing a motion for a new trial, but also discussing a settlement.

Bertling says, "They need to take a good, hard look at their intake procedures and their marketing procedure."

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