Madison - St. Clair Record

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Word of Life Tabernacle denies liability in Granite City girl’s suit alleging sexual and physical abuse

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Apr 12, 2016

Word of Life Tabernacle and two of its school employees deny liability and argue that their actions were reasonable in a suit alleging a young girl was sexually and physically abused with a tampon.

Mary Doe, individually and as mother and next friend of Jane Doe, filed the lawsuit on Jan. 28 against Word of Life Tabernacle, Henry Crippen, individually and as president of Word of Life Tabernacle, Lisa Cochran, individually and as principal of Word of Life Tabernacle, and Olivia Valentine Crippen Foster.

According to the complaint, Jane Doe was attending the defendant’s after-school center on April 7, 2010, at the age of 3 when Foster allegedly forced a tampon applicator into the child’s rectum and a tampon into the child’s vaginal area.

The plaintiff alleges the child was unable to consent, resist or decline to the adult’s alleged directions to engage in the conduct.

Doe seeks at least $50,000 from each defendant for each of the 17 counts, plus damages for injuries, past and future pain and suffering, disability, emotional distress, health care expenses and other losses.

Cochran, Crippen and Word of Life Tabernacle filed separate answers to the complaint on March 18 through attorneys Steven Hughes and Joseph Hoffman of Hughes Harris Law LLC in St. Louis. They deny the allegations against them and assert five affirmative defenses.

They argue that their actions were reasonable at all times under the circumstances.

They also argue that any alleged harm against the plaintiffs were caused by third parties under which they had no control.

Further, the defendants allege the claims are barred by the statute of limitations and the doctrine of laches.

The plaintiffs are represented by Michael R. Wesley of the Law Office of Michael R. Wesley LLC in Wood River.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 16-L-123

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