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Child abuse victim sues Highland Park Baptist for lack of supervision of now convicted child molestercomment (0)

July 31, 2014

A victim of a former children’s minister sentenced to 30 years in prison has sued both his perpetrator and the church that hired him.

The victim, identified by initials J.G., filed a lawsuit July 22 in United States District Court alleging injury by Jeffery Dale Eddie, longtime associate pastor for children and church administration of Highland Park Baptist Church, Muscle Shoals.

The civil suit claims Eddie, who pleaded guilty to numerous sex crimes in March, molested the man now living in Louisiana over the course of 12 years beginning when he was 11.

The lawsuit accuses Highland Park Baptist of failure to properly supervise Eddie, an employee from 1998 to 2014.

The lawsuit claims church leaders waited 10 days before reporting the incident to police, after an internal investigation, violating a state law that requires clergy to report suspected abuse immediately. The suit also claims the church provided Eddie “with little to no oversight, monitoring or supervision,” allowing him to cover the only window in his office with a bulletin board, close the blinds on the door to his office and lock his office door while individual children were present and giving him sole control over the installation and monitoring of security cameras.

It claims the congregation failed to train staff on the identification and reporting of child abuse and never monitored Eddie’s computer and phone activity during his years of employment.

‘Job-created authority’ 

The lawsuit says Eddie would never have had an opportunity to molest J.G. and other victims without job-created authority given to him by the church. All the actions “leading up to the sexual abuse fell within his scope of employment with Highland Park Baptist Church,” it says. “As such, the sexual abuse was an outgrowth and was engendered by his employment with Highland Park Baptist Church.”

The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages from both Eddie and the church. It comes just a week after Highland Park’s financial assistant and trusted church member Debbie Mansell was arrested for allegedly embezzling nearly $130,000 in church funds.


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