Electronically Filed - City of St.

Louis - January 29, 2014 - 04:03 PM

1422-CC00227

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE CITY OF ST. LOUIS STATE OF MISSOURI BRENDA JONES, ) ) Plaintiff, ) ) vs. ) ) AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL ) CHURCH, INC., ) ) THE FIFTH EPISCOPAL DISTRICT OF ) THE AFRICAN METHODIST ) EPISCOPAL CHURCH, ) ) BISHOP T. LARRY KIRKLAND, ) PRESIDING PRELATE, ) ) WAYMAN AFRICAN METHODIST ) EPISCOPAL CHURCH, and ) ) FREDERICK MCCULLOUGH, ) ) SERVE: ) ) African Methodist Episcopal Church, Inc. ) Serve: Bishop Gregory G. M. Ingram ) 3801 Market St., Ste. 300 ) Philadelphia, PA 19104 ) ) The Fifth Episcopal District of the African ) Methodist Episcopal Church ) Serve: Bishop T. Larry Kirkland ) Presiding Prelate ) 4519 Admiralty Way, Suite 205 ) Marina Del Ray, CA 90292 ) ) Bishop T. Larry Kirkland ) Presiding Prelate ) 4519 Admiralty Way, Suite 205 ) Marina Del Ray, CA 90292 ) )

Cause No.

PETITION

JURY TRIAL DEMANDED

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Wayman African Methodist Episcopal Church Serve: Rev. Clinton Stancil 5010 Cabanne St. Louis, MO 63113

) ) ) ) ) ) Frederick McCullough ) 2115 Victor St. ) St. Louis, MO 63104 ) ) Defendants. ) ___________________________________ )

Plaintiff, for her Petition against Defendants, alleges as follows: NATURE OF PETITION 1. Plaintiff brings this lawsuit in order to hold the Defendants responsible for the

injuries they have caused due to the sexual abuse of Plaintiff, by Defendant McCullough, the conduct of the remaining Defendants that allowed the sexual abuse to occur, and the conduct of the remaining Defendants in retaliation for Plaintiff’s attempts to seek justice for McCullough’s sexual abuse. JURISDICTION AND VENUE 2. This Court has jurisdiction over the causes of action asserted herein and over the

parties to this action. Plaintiff asserts claims under Missouri common law. 3. Defendants African Methodist Episcopal Church, Inc.; The Fifth Episcopal

District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church; Bishop T. Larry Kirkland; and Wayman African Methodist Episcopal Church (collectively referred to herein as the “Church Defendants”), among other things, own and/or operated the Wayman African Methodist Episcopal Church in the City of St. Louis, Missouri (referred to herein as the “Wayman

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Church”), where Defendant McCullough was assigned and where he sexually abused and harassed Plaintiff. 4. The Church Defendants also employed and/or supervised McCullough and

assigned him to work at the Wayman Church in the City of St. Louis, Missouri. 5. In addition, the Church Defendants, in the City of St. Louis, Missouri, harassed

and intimidated Plaintiff and intentionally caused her severe emotional distress because she opposed and reported McCullough’s unlawful conduct toward her and threatened to take legal action against them. 6. Church Defendants conduct business and/or transact business in Missouri and

have obtained the benefits of the laws of the State of Missouri and the benefits of the Missouri location for the Wayman Church and other African Methodist Episcopal Churches. 7. Venue is proper in the City of St. Louis under R.S.Mo. § 508.010 (4) because all

or substantially all of the sexual abuse, and some of the retaliation and harassment, that is alleged herein occurred, and Plaintiff was first injured by said conduct, in the City of St. Louis. PARTIES 8. 9. Plaintiff Brenda Jones is a resident of the State of Missouri. At all times material, Plaintiff was an Itinerant Elder, teacher, and Associate

Minister at Wayman Church and other churches in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Inc. 10. At all times material, Defendant African Methodist Episcopal Church, Inc., is and

has been a not for profit corporation, organized under the laws of the State of Pennsylvania, with its principal place of business and registered office located at 3801 Market Street, Suite 300,

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Philadelphia, PA 19104. Defendant African Methodist Episcopal Church, Inc., operates churches nationally including Wayman Church and numerous other churches within the State of Missouri. 11. At all times material, Defendant The Fifth Episcopal District of the African

Methodist Episcopal Church (referred to herein as the “Fifth District”) is and has been the governing division of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Inc., and Defendant Bishop T. Larry Kirkland is and has been the Presiding Prelate of the Fifth District, with supervisory authority over all African Methodist Episcopal Churches and its Ministers in an area from Missouri to California, including Defendants Wayman Church and McCullough. Bishop Kirkland is sued individually and in his capacity as Presiding Prelate. 12. Until 2010, Defendant Wayman African Methodist Episcopal Church was a not

for profit corporation, organized under the laws of the State of Missouri, with its principal place of business located at 5010 Cabanne., St. Louis, Missouri 63113. 13. Since 2010, Defendant Wayman Church has had its corporate charter

administratively dissolved by the Missouri Secretary of State and, on information and belief, has continued to exist as an unincorporated association. 14. At all times material, Defendant Reverend Frederick McCullough was a minister

of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, assigned to Defendant Wayman Church in the City of St. Louis, Missouri. 15. At all times material, Defendant McCullough was under the direct supervision,

employ and control of the Church Defendants. All acts of sexual abuse alleged herein took place during functions in which Defendant McCullough had control and supervision of Plaintiff in his role as a minister, supervisor and authority figure.

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16.

The Church Defendants provided training to Defendant McCullough on how to

perform the specific positions of minister and religious instructor, supervisor and counselor. The Church Defendants hired, supervised and paid Defendant McCullough. At all times, Defendant McCullough acted upon the authority of and at the request and /or permission of the Church Defendants. 17. Defendant McCullough performed much of his work on the premises owned

and/or controlled by Church Defendants. 18. Church Defendants furnished tools and materials to aid and abet Defendant

McCullough’s conduct as alleged hereinafter. 19. Defendant McCullough’s heinous conduct as alleged herein was undertaken while

in the course and scope of his employment with Church Defendants. BACKGROUND FACTS APPLICABLE TO ALL COUNTS 20. Plaintiff was a member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church since 1996.

In approximately 2011, she became a preacher and a member of Wayman Church in St. Louis, Missouri. 21. Defendant Reverend Frederick McCullough was assigned by the Church

Defendants to be the Pastor at Defendant Wayman Church in 2011. 22. Starting in early 2012, Defendant McCullough made sexually inappropriate

comments to Plaintiff. He told her that he liked older women. His comments escalated in sexual connotation and eventually he told her that he was “going to get [him] some of that p—y” (edited to reduce offensiveness in this public filing).

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23.

In August 2012, while Plaintiff was at the Wayman Church planning a family

funeral, Defendant McCullough shoved his cellular telephone in Plaintiff’s face so that she was forced to see a photograph of Defendant McCullough’s penis on the phone. 24. Approximately one month later, after a meeting in the Wayman Church,

Defendant McCullough asked Plaintiff to come to his office. Once inside, he grabbed her, tried to kiss her, forced her to bend over his desk, pulled up her skirt and said “I’m going to f–k you right up in this church” (edited to reduce offensiveness in this public filing). He tried to pull her undergarments down but had difficulty. Plaintiff was then able to escape the situation. 25. In a similar attack in December of 2012, Defendant McCullough found Plaintiff

napping on a couch in the Wayman Church. Plaintiff woke to find his hand under her skirt pulling at her undergarments. She yelled at him and ran away. 26. Church Defendants were aware that Defendant McCullough had sexually

harassed other women he supervised and/or pastored to in African Methodist Episcopal Churches before assaulting Plaintiff. Defendants failed to inform Plaintiff and others of McCullough’s propensity to sexually harass and assault women. As a result, McCullough had unlimited access harass and to assault women at Wayman Church. 27. In 2004 the Church Defendants were aware that Defendant McCullough had

engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior with a minor female. 28. In 2010, the Church Defendants were aware that Defendant McCullough made

inappropriate sexual comments to a female pastor.

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29.

Moreover, upon information and belief, the Church Defendants were aware that

Defendant McCullough had inappropriate sexual behavior with women in Georgia and Nebraska before coming into contact with Plaintiff. 30. 31. The sexual abuse described herein occurred in the City of St. Louis, Missouri. The actions of Defendant McCullough were outrageous and utterly repugnant to a

civilized society. 32. Church Defendants knew or should have known that their allowing Defendant

McCullough an authoritative and trust position over women as part of his official duties after reports of impropriety involved an unreasonable risk of causing emotional distress to Plaintiff and other similarly situated individuals. 33. The Church Defendants’ actions in allowing Defendant McCullough to continue

holding himself out as a minister and counselor to his parishioners and women with whom he came into contact, were outrageous and utterly repugnant to a civilized society. Defendants acted with depraved hearts knowing harm would occur, including the damages to Plaintiff described herein and other similarly situated women. Defendants knew or should have known this outrageous behavior would cause emotional distress to the victims, including Plaintiff. 34. Furthermore, upon information and belief, after learning of Defendant

McCullough’s wrongful conduct, Church Defendants, by and through their agents, ratified the wrongful conduct described herein by failing to report it to law enforcement authorities, prospective parishioners, current parishioners, their families, victims, or the public. Further, Church Defendants’ conduct communicated to Plaintiff and other victims that Defendant McCullough’s conduct was less than reprehensible.

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35.

Although other officials and members at Wayman Church were aware of

McCullough’s attacks upon Plaintiff, Church Defendants would not investigate the situation until Plaintiff filed a formal written complaint. Then, she endured an internal quasi-judicial process that lasted for over three months while McCullough was allowed to remain in his position. During that time, McCullough, from the pulpit, was able to disparage Plaintiff and tell church members that Plaintiff had made a claim against him without informing them of the details or what evidence Plaintiff had against McCullough. McCullough referred to Plaintiff as “Potiphar’s wife” (a Biblical reference, meaning and understood by listeners to mean that Plaintiff falsely accused McCullough of attempted rape only after he rejected her sexual advances). Plaintiff endured name calling, harassment, embarrassment and sneering. She felt compelled to leave Wayman Church to attend a different Church. Moreover, McCullough was not chastised for bringing large gatherings of uninformed supporters to the quasi-judicial process, so that Plaintiff had to walk through large groups of angry people who surrounded her, her attorneys, and the judicial committee members before she could testify. 36. Following the entire internal process, the Church Defendants’ committee found

that McCullough was guilty of the claims that Plaintiff made against him. As a punishment, they asked him to serve a six month suspension. Church Defendants did not even follow their own rules which stated that he was to be removed from preaching. This woefully insufficient punishment was emotionally harmful to Plaintiff. 37. This internal process by the Church Defendants was degrading and humiliating

and it was conducted to harass and deter victims of sexual assault from reporting their injuries. Moreover, the Church Defendants did not even follow their own internal process.

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38.

After the conclusion of the Church Defendants’ internal process, Church

Defendants have continued to harass Plaintiff, defamed her, and retaliated against her for her opposition to and reporting of McCullough’s unlawful behavior, for her pursuit of the internal process, for her requests for compensation for her injuries, and for her statements of intent to pursue her claims in court if an out-of-court settlement could not be reached. 39. The defamation, retaliation, and harassment included statements by Defendant

Bishop Kirkland at AME meetings in Missouri in or about October 2013, that other AME preachers and members could and did hear, including the following: - Plaintiff is the devil, - Plaintiff is going to hell - she should drop her case, - God is not pleased with her, - McCullough has something on her, - what happened between Plaintiff and McCullough was not all his fault and he was not the only one responsible, - McCullough is not the only one who is guilty (referring to Plaintiff also being guilty), - Plaintiff messed up and/or tore up Wayman Church, - Plaintiff says she’s been abused for nothing but money, - Plaintiff will lose her case because Bishop Kirkland has a big time Jewish lawyer from Beverly Hills, California, who never lost a case. 40. As a direct result of Defendants’ wrongful conduct, Plaintiff has suffered and

continues to suffer great pain of mind and body, shock, emotional distress, physical

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manifestations of emotional distress, embarrassment, loss of self-esteem, disgrace, humiliation, and loss of enjoyment of life; was prevented and will continue to be prevented from performing her daily activities and obtaining the full enjoyment of life; and she has incurred and will continue to incur expenses for medical and psychological treatment, therapy, and counseling. COUNT I BATTERY ALL DEFENDANTS 41. 42. Plaintiff incorporates all paragraphs of this Petition as if fully set forth herein. Beginning in approximately 2012 Defendant McCullough engaged in

unpermitted, harmful and offensive sexual conduct upon the person of Plaintiff. Said acts were committed while Defendant McCullough was acting within the course and scope of employment with the Church Defendants, were committed while Defendant McCullough was a managing agent of the Church Defendants, and while Defendant McCullough was on the premises of Defendant Wayman Church and/or were ratified by the Church Defendants. 43. Defendants’ actions were willful, wanton or reckless for which punitive damages

are appropriate. COUNT II INTENTIONAL INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS – SEXUAL ABUSE -CHURCH DEFENDANTS 44. 45. Plaintiff incorporates all paragraphs of this petition as if fully set forth herein. Church Defendants intentionally failed to supervise, remove or otherwise sanction

Defendant McCullough after they had actual notice of his dangerous propensity to abuse women, and continued to place him in positions of authority, resulting in McCullough’s sexual abuse of Plaintiff.

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46.

Church Defendants knew or should have known that Defendant McCullough was

unsuitable for the position which he held. 47. Church Defendants failed to adequately review and monitor the services which

were provided by Defendant McCullough, intentionally turning a blind eye to his misconduct. 48. Church Defendants intentionally failed to confront, remove or sanction Defendant

McCullough about known irregularities in his employment, including prior reports of impropriety. 49. Church Defendants failed to act upon information gained during the course of

their supervision of Defendant McCullough. 50. Church Defendants took steps to investigate Plaintiff’s allegations and led

Plaintiff to believe that they believed her, but later failed to act sufficiently, thereby intentionally causing further severe emotional distress to Plaintiff. 51. At all times relevant, Church Defendants engaged in extreme and outrageous

conduct, solely intended to cause emotional harm or committed in reckless disregard of the probability of causing emotional distress and harm. 52. Church Defendants engaged in unconscionable and outrageous conduct beyond

all possible bounds of decency and utterly intolerable in a civilized society. Defendants’ conduct caused Plaintiff severe emotional distress of such a nature that no reasonable person in a civilized society could be expected to endure it. 53. Church Defendants’ actions and /or inactions were willful, wanton and reckless

for which punitive damages and /or damages for aggravating circumstances are appropriate.

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54.

Plaintiff suffered medically significant and diagnosable distress as a result of

Church Defendants’ actions as set forth above. COUNT III INTENTIONAL INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS – INTERNAL PROCESS AND SUBSEQUENT HARASSMENT AND DEFAMATION -CHURCH DEFENDANTS 55. 56. Plaintiff incorporates all paragraphs of this Petition as if fully set forth herein. Church Defendants intentionally caused Plaintiff emotional distress with their

internal quasi-judicial process, retaliation, harassment and defamation as described above. The process was implemented in such a way as to deter Plaintiff and other sexual abuse victims within Church Defendants from coming forward to report their abuse. Church Defendants harassed, humiliated and defamed Plaintiff during and after her participation in the process. Church Defendants implemented their policies knowing that they allowed for this type of manipulation; they had seen Defendant McCullough manipulate them before, and they failed to amend, change or otherwise retrain their employees to proceed differently. 57. Church Defendants knew or should have known how harmful their process and

subsequent conduct would be. 58. Church Defendants failed to adequately review and monitor their process,

intentionally turning a blind eye to its effects. 59. Church Defendants intentionally failed to change known problems with their

sexual abuse reporting process. 60. Church Defendants failed to act upon information gained through the prior years

of implementation of their policies. Moreover, they failed to follow their own policies.

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61.

At all times relevant, Church Defendants engaged in extreme and outrageous

conduct in connection with their internal sexual misconduct policy and subsequent conduct, solely intended to cause emotional harm or committed in reckless disregard of the probability of causing emotional distress and harm to Plaintiff. 62. Church Defendants engaged in unconscionable and outrageous conduct beyond

all possible bounds of decency and utterly intolerable in a civilized society. Defendants’ conduct caused Plaintiff severe emotional distress of such a nature that no reasonable person in a civilized society could be expected to endure it. 63. Church Defendants actions and /or inactions were willful, wanton and reckless for

which punitive damages are appropriate. 64. Plaintiff suffered medically significant and diagnosable emotional distress as a

result of Church Defendants’ actions as set forth above. COUNT IV INTENTIONAL INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS DEFENDANT MCCULLOUGH 65. 66. Plaintiff incorporates all paragraphs of this Petition as if fully set forth herein. Defendant McCullough engaged in unconscionable, outrageous conduct beyond

all possible bounds of decency and utterly intolerable in a civilized society, solely intended to cause Plaintiff emotional harm. 67. Defendant McCullough’s actions and /or inactions were willful, wanton and

reckless for which punitive damages are appropriate.

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68.

The emotional distress experienced by Plaintiff as a result of Defendant

McCullough’s conduct is medically diagnosable and is of sufficient severity so as to be medically significant. COUNT V NEGLIGENT SUPERVISION, RETENTION, AND FAILURE TO WARN CHURCH DEFENDANTS 69. 70. Plaintiff incorporates all paragraphs of this Petition as if fully set forth herein. Church Defendants, by and through their agents, servants and employees, knew or

reasonably should have known of Defendant McCullough’s dangerous and exploitive propensities and/or that he was an unfit agent, and despite such knowledge, Defendants negligently failed to supervise McCullough, who was in a position of trust and authority as a minister and spiritual counselor, where he was able to commit the wrongful acts against Plaintiff. 71. Church Defendants failed to provide reasonable supervision of Defendant

McCullough, failed to use reasonable care in investigating Defendant McCullough and failed to provide adequate warning to Plaintiff of Defendant McCullough’s dangerous propensities. 72. Church Defendants’ actions and /or inactions were willful, wanton and reckless,

for which punitive damages are appropriate. COUNT VI INTENTIONAL FAILURE TO SUPERVISE CLERGY CHURCH DEFENDANTS 73. 74. Plaintiff incorporates all paragraphs of this Petition as if fully set forth herein. At all times material, Church Defendants were the supervisors and employers of

Defendant McCullough.

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75.

Church Defendants were aware of previous sexual misconduct by clergy within

their boundaries, including by Defendant McCullough, and knew that future harm was certain or substantially certain to result without proper supervision. 76. 77. 77. Church Defendants disregarded the known risk of sexual abuse. Church Defendants’ inaction caused injury to Plaintiff. Defendants knew or should have known that inappropriate touching by their

employees and /or designated agents would cause or was substantially certain to cause harm. 78. Despite the risk posed by Defendant McCullough, Church Defendants continued

to place him in positions of trust and authority in which he would have daily contact with women. 79. Despite the risk posed by Defendant McCullough, Church Defendants ratified his

actions of being alone with women by approving and paying his salary and allowing him to be alone in his office and residence or other areas with women and, specifically Plaintiff. 80. Church Defendants’ actions and /or inactions were willful, wanton and reckless,

for which punitive damages are appropriate. COUNT VII BREACH OF FIDUCIARY DUTY ALL DEFENDANTS 81. 82. Plaintiff incorporates all paragraphs of this Petition as if fully set forth herein. At all times, Plaintiff was in a subservient position to Defendants and had a

special relationship with them by virtue of their roles as pastors, counselors and spiritual advisors. At the time of the relationship, Plaintiff entrusted herself to Defendants.

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83.

These relationships are confidential as a matter of law. Defendants breached the

duties associated with their confidential relationship. 84. By committing the acts and omissions described herein, Defendants breached

their fiduciary duty to Plaintiff. 85. Defendants’ actions and /or inactions were willful, wanton and reckless, for which

punitive damages are appropriate. COUNT VIII DEFAMATION – ALL DEFENDANTS 86. 87. Plaintiff incorporates all paragraphs of this Petition as if fully set forth herein. The statements about Plaintiff by Defendant McCullough (referring to her as

Potiphar’s wife) and by Defendant Kirkland (at AME meetings in Missouri in or about October 2013) were false, were made with the speakers’ knowledge of their falsity, caused damage to Plaintiff’s reputation and affected Plaintiff in her occupation. 88. The statements referred to in the preceding paragraph were spoken in the course

and scope of Defendant McCullough’s and Defendant Kirkland’s duties as employees of Defendant Churches. JURY TRIAL DEMANDED 89. Plaintiff demands a trial by jury on all issues in this case.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff asks that this Court award judgment against Defendants as follows: A. Award compensatory damages in favor of Plaintiff against Defendants for

damages sustained as a result of the wrongdoings of Defendants, together with interest thereon;

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B. and reasonable; C. D.

Award punitive damages against each Defendant in an amount that is fair

Award Plaintiff his costs and expenses incurred in this action; Grant such other and further relief as the Court deems appropriate. Respectfully submitted,

_s/Kenneth M. Chackes____________ Kenneth M. Chackes, MO Bar #27534 Nicole E. Gorovsky, MO Bar #51046 CHACKES CARLSON, LLP 906 Olive Street, Suite 200 St. Louis, Missouri 63101 Phone: (314) 872-8420 Fax: (314) 872-7017 Kchackes@cch-law.com Ngorovsky@cch-law.com

Attorneys for Plaintiff

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