Church and former pastor named in sexual abuse suit

Steve Gonzalez Jun. 12, 2008, 1:10am

Anthony Muzzarelli (ISP Photo)

The mother of a 13-year-old boy claims her son suffers from permanent emotional injuries after having been sexually abused by his youth pastor, according to a lawsuit filed June 4 in Madison County Circuit Court.

Jane Doe claims Anthony Muzzarelli was a youth pastor at Mt. Zion General Baptist Church in Granite City and worked directly with her son. The child had been invited him to Muzzarelli's home as part of the ministry, the lawsuit claims.

Doe claims her son was sleeping at Muzzarelli's home on Feb. 25, 2006, and was awakened when Muzzarelli allegedly started to fondle him.

She claims the alleged incident occurred during the course of Muzzarelli's employment with Mt. Zion.

Muzzarelli and the church are named as defendants.

Doe claims Mt. Zion knew or should have known facts which would have caused suspicions of abuse, including various inappropriate encounters on church grounds and at Muzzarelli's home. Doe claims some encounters were witnessed by various administrators of the church.

According to Doe, Mt. Zion willfully and wantonly failed to supervise Muzzarelli's activities and contacts with her son when it knew that contact posed a risk of harm.

In addition, she alleges Muzzarelli intentionally assaulted her son without justification in violation of criminal statutes.

Muzzarelli pleaded guilty to aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a minor between the ages of 13 and 16 and is listed as a sexual predator on the Illinois State Police (ISP) website.

ISP lists his address as 4062 Sara, Apt. 96, in Granite City.

According to Doe, her son has suffered serious, painful and permanent injuries of a physical and emotional nature which caused him to suffer permanent pain, mental anguish, disability and medical expenses.

Represented by John Hustava of Collinsville, Doe is seeking damages in excess of $150,000, plus costs.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge David Hylla.

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