Pastor's relationship with woman was consensual, church says

By Christina Stueve Hodges | Apr 2, 2013

Canaan Galilee Missionary Baptist

Canaan Galilee Missionary Baptist Church in Madison is asking for Madison County Circuit Judge David Hylla to dismiss the church from a parishioner's sexual harassment lawsuit against its pastor.

"...[T]hat any contact referenced within Plaintiff's complaint was consensual between persons of lawful age and capacity to so consent," the lawsuit states.

"...[D]efendant further states that plaintiff has failed to state a cause of action, because no legally recognized fiduciary or otherwise 'special' relationship existed between Plaintiff and this Defendant or co-defendant Rev. Donald Sanford."

Jane Doe filed a lawsuit Jan. 31 against Sanford and the church, saying Sanford made sexual advances toward her after she sought counseling for "various types of secular issues."

Doe claims she became a parishioner in January 2012 and the alleged advances began in April 2012. She alleges the pastor’s position of authority compelled her to consent to several encounters.

Rev. Sanford is accused of sexual assault and battery, infliction of emotional distress and negligence. The church is accused of negligence in hiring Rev. Sanford.

Doe asks for more than $50,000 in damages for medical expenses, loss of income and court costs.

She is represented by attorneys Eugene K. Hollander, Paul W. Ryan and Gina M. Smith of Chicago.

Steven J. Hughes and Natalie J. Higgins of Pitzer Snodgrass in St. Louis represent the church.

Madison County Circuit Court Case No. 13-L-160

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