Caseyville man sues pastor and church claiming defamation

Andrea Dearden Apr. 8, 2011, 4:00am

A Caseyville man claims his pastor falsely accused him of sexually assaulting a minor.

James Sherrell III filed a lawsuit March 24 in Madison County Circuit Court against Calixto Ulloa, Cuauhtemoc Avila and Iglesia Bautista Agape Church. The Illinois Baptist State Association is also named as a defendant.

Sherrell contends Ulloa and Avila allegedly formed an agreement to make false statements about him in April 2008. Sherrell says Ulloa, the pastor of the Fairmont City church, told members of his congregation that Sherrell had sexually attacked a minor.

Sherrell alleges Avila, a sometime singer at the church, made a similar claim to the Madison County Sheriff's office. Based upon the statements made by Avila, an arrest warrant was issued and Sherrell says he was taken to jail. He says the charges were eventually dismissed.

Sherrell accuses Ulloa, Avila and the church of making defamatory statements about him and damaging his reputation. He is asking for $400,000 in damages plus court costs.

Attorney John L. Bitzer of Collinsville is representing Sherrell.

Madison County Circuit Court Case No. 11-L-281

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