- (Photo: Victory Christian Center / File)
Victory Christian Center, a megachurch in Tulsa, Okla., is asking that the Tulsa County courthouse dismiss a civil lawsuit against them regarding the alleged cover up of the rape of a 13-year-old girl.
The 17,000-member Tulsa church is also arguing that the girl's mother, who wasn't named, is not entitled to the $75,000 she is claiming in damages. A hearing at Tulsa County is scheduled for Monday, The Associated Press reported.
In July 2012, Chris Denman, a 20-year old former employee of the church was arrested for allegedly raping a 13-year old girl in a stairwell on the ministry's main campus. Denman was also charged with molesting a 15-year-old girl, and for a separate crime where he used a computer to make a lewd proposal to a child and committing a sex crime involving a 12-year-old girl. He was sentenced to 55 years in prison after pleading guilty to the charges.
The mother of the assaulted 13-year-old girl filed a lawsuit against the church in October, accusing Victory Christian Center of failing to report the crime on time.
"Rather than contacting the appropriate authorities, defendant (Victory Christian Center) chose to conduct its own 'investigation' with the ultimate purpose of doing damage control as opposed to protecting the victim", the lawsuit reads.
The case against Victory Christian Center involved five current members of the megachurch, including youth pastors Charica Dene Daugherty and John Samuel Daugherty, the son and daughter-in-law of the church's senior pastor Sharon Daugherty, who are both facing changes for taking up to two weeks to report the stairwell rape.
The church made a detailed account of what allegedly happened on the Tulsa World website, trying to show that the five staff members took all steps they were trained to take in reporting such crimes.
"Victory Christian Center has a written policy that requires any allegation of abuse to be reported by employees to the Department of Human Services, and internally within one hour to their department head and the director of human resources. It appears that this policy was not followed by the employees initially involved, and the allegations were not reported as directed within the required time. Victory's policy is more stringent than the reporting laws of the State of Oklahoma," Jarrod Kopp, Senior Account Executive of Schnake Turnbo Frank, a Public Relations Consultant hired to represent the church, previously shared in an email with The Christian Post
Victory Christian Center has stood by its employees, but it has admitted that the situation could have been handled better. The accused staff members, who are pleading not guilty to a misdemeanor count of failing to report child abuse, were assigned different roles and a supervisor at the church after the incident.
"The five employees involved violated our internal policies and have been disciplined, but we do not believe they violated the law," Kopp confirmed to CP. "Victory Christian Center has fully cooperated with the police and their investigation, and we will continue to do so in the future."
Senior Pastor Daugherty has also apologized for the incident and called upon the congregation to report any incidents of abuse that they notice or become aware of.