Were you or a loved one sexually abused by Jeffrey D. Strait, a former youth deacon at First Baptist Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois? Our experienced Illinois sex abuse lawyers are here to help. You have powerful legal options, including the right to file a private civil lawsuit. Speak with a lawyer today to learn more about the cases we handle and about a Fundamental Baptist sexual abuse lawsuit.
Jeffrey Strait was convicted in 2014 of sexually molesting several young boys at his home. The former youth deacon was found guilty on four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a victim between 13 and 17 years old. Sentenced to six years of prison on each charge, he was paroled and released from incarceration in 2017. He remains a registered sex offender in Illinois.
The criminal justice system has punished Jeffrey Strait for his horrific misconduct, but many survivors believe that full justice has yet to be done. Neither the Southern Baptist Convention nor the First Baptist Church have been held to account for any role in the abuse.
Thankfully, Illinois’ strong tradition of civil law allows individual sexual abuse survivors the power to file lawsuits of their own in cases of child sexual abuse. If you or a loved one were abused by Jeffrey Strait, you may be eligible to pursue justice on your own behalf.
In a series of new lawsuits, sexual abuse survivors seek to hold the Southern Baptist Convention accountable for individual cases of abuse. Many of these lawsuits also name specific Southern Baptist churches and sexual predators as defendants. In court documents, survivors argue that the SBC should be held liable for their damages because the Convention has for years failed to adequately address the scourge of sexual abuse.
As survivors note, the Southern Baptist Convention has had numerous chances to reduce the likelihood of child sexual abuse within Southern Baptist churches. More than a decade ago, church leaders rejected a powerful proposal to create a database of sexual predators for churches to use in their hiring decisions. Instead of tackling the problem of sexual abuse, the Southern Baptist Convention has failed to address it, choosing to ignore the problem entirely.
To date, the Southern Baptist Convention has not released a public policy on sexual abuse cases, leaving individual charges complete control over their responses to this problem. In many cases, Southern Baptist churches have chosen to hide or conceal sexual abuse allegations, rather than turning the cases over to the secular authorities. In their lawsuits, survivors say this fundamental lack of leadership has led to an epidemic of sexual abuse, creating a climate in which predators feel empowered to prey on their victims.
These problems came into stark relief when two Texas newspapers, the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News, published the results of a joint investigation into sexual abuse within the Southern Baptist Convention. In total, the newspapers identified 220 pastors, deacons and church volunteers who have been convicted of sexual abuse over the past twenty years. In addition, nearly three dozen pastors who are suspected of sexual crimes remain in ministry in Southern Baptist churches across the country.