Texas father sues Assemblies of God, accuses Chi Alpha leaders of sexually abusing teenage son

Eli Stewart, former lead pastor of Mountain Valley Fellowship church in College Station, Texas.
Eli Stewart, former lead pastor of Mountain Valley Fellowship church in College Station, Texas. | Mountain Valley Fellowship

Some seven months after Daniel Savala, an itinerant minister and convicted sex offender  with ties to the Chi Alpha Campus Ministries sponsored by the Assemblies of God, was arrested for sexually abusing two boys, a Texas father has filed a lawsuit accusing the nation’s largest Pentecostal denomination of negligence that allowed his 13-year-old son to be abused by multiple men.

Also named as defendants in the lawsuit filed in the Harris County Court last Thursday by Stephen Holt on behalf of his teenage son, identified only as L.H., are Chi Alpha Campus Ministries, College Station; North Texas Assemblies of God, and Mountain Valley Fellowship.

Holt is also seeking “monetary relief over $1,000,000” for the “harm” experienced by his son due to “the malice, gross negligence, …. or both of each of the defendants” under Texas law.

Get Our Latest News for FREE

Subscribe to get daily/weekly email with the top stories (plus special offers!) from The Christian Post. Be the first to know.

Savala, according to CBS affiliate KWTX, was identified as the "spiritual mentor" of the former leader of Chi Alpha's ministry at Baylor University, Christopher Hundl, 38. Hundl was charged with allowing Savala to sexually abuse two of his family members last summer, The Waco Tribune-Herald reported.

According to the arrest warrant, Hundl allegedly brought the two boys to Savala's Houston home several times between the summer of 2021 and March 2022. Texas' sex offender registry records show that Savala was charged in 2012 for sexual abuse of a minor, a third-degree felony, which he committed in Alaska between 1995 and 1997, when he served as youth pastor at Clover Pass Community Church in Ketchikan, Alaska.

Christopher Hundl (L) and Daniel Savala (R).
Christopher Hundl (L) and Daniel Savala (R). | Police photos

Days before Hundl's arrest, the board and elders of Mountain Valley Fellowship Church in College Station, Texas, also announced that they had dismissed their lead pastor, Eli Stewart, for his relationship with Savala.

"In April 2023, the Board and Elders of Mountain Valley Fellowship learned of allegations that Lead Pastor Eli Stewart continued to refer young men to Daniel Savala for faulty spiritual guidance despite knowing that Savala was a convicted sex offender," the church leaders wrote.

"The Board and Elders commissioned an independent investigation into those allegations, and as the investigation began in early May, it quickly became clear that Eli Stewart had fallen into sinful practices unbecoming of the office of a pastor and that he had neglected his duty to protect his flock from a known predator, both of which disqualify him from ministry," they wrote.

Stewart, who graduated from Ketchikan high school in 1998, was a regular attendee of CPCC and member of Savala’s youth group.

The lawsuit alleges that Stewart was sexually abused by Savala as a youth in Ketchikan, and following Savala’s indictment in 2012, he petitioned Chi Alpha members to write letters on Savala’s behalf requesting leniency.

“On information and belief, AG and Chi Alpha were made aware of Savala’s history of sexually abusing minors shortly after his conviction. Despite this knowledge, after his release, Savala moved to Texas and became involved with Chi Alpha at Sam Houston State University (“SHSU”) in Huntsville, Texas, where Stewart was serving as part of the Chi Alpha pastoral team,” the lawsuit says.

In about 2017, Stewart relocated from SHSU to College Station where he relaunched a Chi Alpha chapter at Texas A&M University and planted Mountain Valley Fellowship where he served as the lead pastor until he was terminated last year.

“During his tenure as pastor of MVF, Stewart allowed members of the TAMU Chi Alpha chapter, including Ryan Hoffart (‘Hoffart’), William Johnson (‘Johnson’), Bo Randolph (‘Randolph’) and Alex Owens (‘Owens’), to serve as group leaders to youth and/or be around youth, including L.H., at MVF. He also allowed youth at MVF, including L.H., to be with and around Savala and thereby subjected to his deviant sexual propensities toward minor males,” the lawsuit states.

“In October 2021, Hoffart took L.H. to Savala’s home in Houston, Harris County, Texas where, among other things, Hoffart and Savala: a. made L.H. strip off his clothing and sit naked with the two of them in a small sauna; b. asked L.H. to touch Savala’s penis; c. attempted to grab L.H.’s penis; and d. made other inappropriate comments and engaged in other inappropriate conduct with L.H., who was merely thirteen years old at the time,” it adds.

In August 2022, the teenager’s father alleges TAMU Chi Alpha members took him with them on a leadership trip to Colorado, without his permission and made him engage in “skinny dipping” and “other acts of grooming L.H. as they preyed upon his innocence.”

At another Chi Alpha gathering in November 2022 attended by the teenager, TAMU Chi Alpha members “showed L.H. their penises and played with themselves; b. a Chi Alpha member stroked his own penis in front of L.H. until he became erect.”

It further noted that the teenager was “dry humped” by Hoffart, Johnson, Randolph, and Owens.

“Various Chi Alpha members showed L.H. their testicles or anuses; e. various Chi Alpha members pushed L.H.’s face into their crotches and made sexual noises and pulled L.H.’s pants down; and f. various Chi Alpha members played a game called ‘Fire Truck’ where they would rub their hands on L.H.’s thighs and into his crotch.”

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

Was this article helpful?

Help keep The Christian Post free for everyone.

By making a recurring donation or a one-time donation of any amount, you're helping to keep CP's articles free and accessible for everyone.

We’re sorry to hear that.

Hope you’ll give us another try and check out some other articles. Return to homepage.

Most Popular

More Articles