An Arlington church and one of its former pastors failed to prevent the sexual abuse of a 4-year-old by a 13-year-old boy who was a church member, according to a lawsuit.
Officials at The Welcome Table Christian Church in Arlington and former pastor Estel Harven Tewes were negligent in failing to report the sexual abuse and failing to train employees on recognizing and preventing sexual abuse, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday in Fort Worth by a man who is related to the 4-year-old boy.
The 13-year-old was taken into custody in 2017 and later admitted to kissing the 4-year-old on the mouth and performing sex acts on the child, according to the lawsuit and the child’s attorney.
The teen also confessed to the sexual abuse of other children in the church, and his cell phone — which was seized by Arlington police — contained thousands of child pornography images, the lawsuit says
“No one takes a child to church believing something as horrible as this could happen,” said Brian Butcher of Hurst, the plaintiff’s attorney, in a telephone interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “It’s clear they exposed children to a predator.”
Tewes could not be reached Friday for comment.
Welcome Table Christian Church senior minister Jeremy Skaggs said he had not seen the lawsuit so he couldn’t comment on it. But Skaggs said Tewes was no longer employed at the church.
Arlington police received the report of an offense on Nov. 13, 2017.
Three delinquent-conduct charges were filed against the suspect, Arlington police said on Friday. Police did not have information about the outcome of the criminal case in court.
The 4-year-old made an outcry to his mother in 2017 after the family had attended the Arlington church just a few times, Butcher said.
“The boy told his mother, who took him to a hospital and she later contacted Arlington police,” Butcher said.
Butcher said he had no information on what happened to the 13-year-old in the judicial system. Further information on the teen was not available on Friday because he is a juvenile.
Tewes had known about the 13-year-old’s deviant sexual propensities, but yet, the teen was allowed to have access to minors and sexually assaulted children numerous times, according to the lawsuit.
The plaintiff contends church officials and Tewes failed to exercise care in the supervision of the children in the congregation.
Tewes has been a minister of children’s programs at The Welcome Table Christian Church, according to his Facebook page.
Butcher said the lawsuit was filed Thursday because the child is having continued problems after being a victim of sex abuse.
“It’s difficult for him,” Butcher said. “He has psychological damage.”
Butcher said they would leave it up to a jury to decide on damages that should be awarded to the child.