According to a report on the Christian Post on Jan. 7, Victory Christian Center, a megachurch in Tulsa, Oklahoma, asked that a civil lawsuit against them be dismissed regarding the alleged cover up of the rape of a 13-year-old girl that took place in July 2012.
The church is also arguing that the girl's mother is not entitled to the $75,000 she is claiming in damages.
The rapist was identified as Chris Denman, a 20-year old former employee of the church. He was arrested for allegedly raping the girl in a stairwell on the main campus of the 17,000-member church.
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 all charges.
The mother of the raped 13-year-old girl filed a lawsuit against the church in October, accusing Victory Christian Center of failing to report the crime on time. The church waited two weeks to report the crime. Instead church members were asked to pray about it.
Court papers state:
"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 against Victory Christian Center cites five members being involved in the coverup, including youth pastors Charica Dene Daugherty and John Samuel Daugherty, the son and daughter-in-law of the church's senior pastor Sharon Daugherty. The husband and wife youth pastors are both facing changes for taking up to two weeks to report the stairwell rape.
Victory Christian Center admitted that the situation could have been handled better, but the church is standing by its employees. The accused staff members, who are pleading not guilty to a misdemeanor count of failing to report child abuse, were assigned different roles after the incident.
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.
The church continues to fight the $75,000 lawsuit.