More Young Life Victims Alleged Sexual Misconduct as Claims Rise Through Legal System | New
Other victims and potential witnesses alleging sexual misconduct by the Young Life Christian ministry, headquartered in Colorado Springs, contact the Denver Rathod / Mohamedbhai LLC law firm for help, according to senior counsel Iris Halpern.
Meanwhile, four applications recently submitted to the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission are under investigation.
“A steady stream of survivors or witnesses is calling us, and the communications and the context show that there is a national problem happening here, and the organization really needs to take harassment and discrimination seriously,” said Halpern Wednesday.
“He has policies and practices that don’t encourage survivors to come forward, and they don’t seem to get to the heart of the matter – there is a cultural problem at every level.”
In a statement to The Gazette, Young Life said, âThe safety and well-being of all participants is a top priority for our organization, and abuse is not tolerated. ”
The accusers disagree.
Alleged victims across the country say the 80-year-old organization, one of Colorado Springs’ largest Christian ministries with $ 361 million in 2020 revenue, according to financial documents, has covered for decades of sexual assault and harassment complaints involving members, staff and volunteers.
The ministry provides youth groups and camps to nearly half a million college, high school and college students around the world through 2,300 field offices.
Victims who say they were victims of sexual assault, touching or unwanted sexual attention while working or participating in Young Life activities began to speak out in a survey released in October by Business Insider , a New York-based financial and business information website.
At least one of the suspected cases has occurred in Colorado.
A lawsuit filed in Denver federal court in June 2020 claimed that Laureana Arellano suffered racial and sexual harassment at a Young Life summer camp in Colorado in 2019. The case resulted in a settlement agreement in September, with terms withheld, Halpern said.
Arellano, who was living in Colorado at the time, described in the legal complaint how a co-worker assaulted her by “sticking her hand in her apron and groping her genitals.”
An official told him it was “God’s plan,” court documents say.
Arellano says she was fired from her volunteer position in the camp kitchen after reporting that she saw campers groping a camper’s breasts.
Young Life is a mandatory reporter in all jurisdictions, the organization said in its statement to The Gazette, which means it is required by law to report any reasonable suspicion of child abuse or neglect to authorities.
âSexual conduct, anti-harassment and mandatory reporting policies, along with rigorous training, are designed to enable Young Life staff and volunteers to recognize inappropriate or criminal behavior and take immediate action and appropriate, âYoung Life said.
âThis is my storyâ begins descriptive posts from former lifelong youngsters on @metooyounglife recently formed on Instagram.
An anonymous woman said she felt like she and other Young Life staff and volunteers were leading a double life in college. They held Bible studies during the week and “celebrated on the weekends.”
One night, she got drunk and went with a male chef to his home, where she thought she would sleep. Instead, he stripped her naked and “everything but sex happened” – without her consent.
When reporting the incident, she said regional managers told her she was not supposed to drink so much and “made me feel like I had a responsibility.”
Since 2000, at least eight Young Life staff and volunteers have been criminally charged over allegations of sexual abuse, according to Business Insider.
Among them, a Michigan volunteer leader pleaded guilty to first-degree sexual misconduct after five men accused him of years of sexual abuse as teenagers. And an adult employee in California was sentenced to jail for allegedly having sex and impregnating a 15-year-old in his group Young Life.
Young Life had investigated five of the eight allegations raised by the media, the organization said in its response to The Gazette.
“Three of these investigations resulted in the termination of a staff member or volunteer accused of misconduct affecting another staff member or adult volunteer,” said Young Life.
The organization had no record of the other three as having been reported, but “opened new investigations into them immediately after they were reported in the media,” the email said.
“We take every allegation of sexual misconduct and harassment seriously, and no one guilty of raping or mistreating another person is allowed to continue their relationship with Young Life,” the organization said.
Arellano is one of four EEOC filers, who individually cite “a pattern or practice of racial and sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation.”
The women claim that the organization’s local and national offices ignored or mistreated their complaints.
Halpern said she was unsure when the EEOC might release its findings.
Elements of what happened in the Young Life cases can be found in every abuse situation that has been discovered involving churches or para-ecclesiastical organizations, said Rev. Kelly Williams, pastor of Vanguard Church, a subsidiary of Southern Baptist with two sites in Colorado Springs. Williams is a national voice to hold churches and ministries accountable,
Someone says he was victimized and that âthe organization ignores, belittles or silences in some way or another for the good of the organization and the mission of the organizationâ, a- he declared.
Williams said he understands the motivation to protect the reputation of the organization in question, as well as the effectiveness of the gospel and the Christian faith.
“But unfortunately these means that we used produced duplicity in us in that we silenced people in private, and then things came out many years later publicly, and the very thing we were trying to protect.” – integrity – we destroyed it. “
Other Christian ministries with local ties have faced similar allegations, including Youth With a Mission, which has multiple offices in Colorado Springs.
The Christian Missionary Group office in Perth, Australia, has been accused of failing to report a sexual assault to police and telling the alleged victims to apologize to the alleged assailants for “leading them”, according to the media.
Additionally, the Christian and Missionary Alliance, which after 32 years of siege in Colorado Springs moved to Columbus, Ohio earlier this year, has been accused of failing to investigate one of the world’s biggest abuse scandals. sexual intercourse in recent years, involving his ordained minister, the Reverend Ravi Zacharias.
The case revolved around departments’ use of nondisclosure agreements to settle cases and silence victims.
âMany organizations have used nondisclosure agreements and attorney-client privilege to try to protect the organization at the expense of the victim and the holiness of God,â said Williams, pastor of Vanguard Church.
âMy challenge for organizations, whether it’s Young Life, Vanguard, New Life or the Southern Baptist convention my church is a part of, is that we need to stop using legal means to silence people who have been victimized by our leaders. “