BEFORE READING THIS POST, I URGE PARENTS TO ALWAYS REPORT TO THE POLICE ANY SUSPISIONS THEY MAY HAVE REGARDING POSSIBLE SEXUAL MISCONDUCT OF AN ADULT THAT IS IN CONTACT WITH THEIR CHILD. YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT MAY TURN UP IN AN INVESTIGATION. ALSO, ONE OF THE MOST DISTURBING ASPECTS OF THIS STORY IS THAT THE CHURCH PAINTED THE CHILD AS UNRULY AND MUST HAVE BEEN LYING. THE CHURCH SHOULD HAVE BEEN LISTENING AND PROTECTING THE CHILD INSTEAD OF THEMSELVES IN THIS CASE…
Credit: CBSatlanta.com, By: Mandi Milligan
CANTON, GA (CBS ATLANTA) –
The parents of a young boy have filed a lawsuit against a Baptist church in Canton on claims the church failed to protect him from a church volunteer who sexually assaulted him.
The lawsuit against First Baptist Church of Canton was filed Aug. 1 in the Superior Court of Cherokee County.
The boy’s parents, who are not being identified to protect the child, claim senior pastor George Anderson and church employee Shawn Finch knew of Matthew Brent Sheffield’s history of sexual misconduct with minors.
Sheffield was employed by First Baptist to supervise children in various church services and was also employed by the Cherokee County Board of Education as a substitute teacher.
The parents claim that Anderson and Finch were alerted to Sheffield’s misconduct after meeting with parents of his alleged victims. They reported their male children were receiving sexually explicit text messages from Sheffield.
According to the lawsuit, Anderson and Finch warned Sheffield to stop, but never reported it to the Cherokee County Board of Education.
After complaints from parents to the board of education, Sheffield was terminated as a substitute teacher. Sheffield was also let go from the church for “insubordination” once it was determined he continued to send the text messages.
The parents said the church let Sheffield return to work as a volunteer, running a sound system for the Bible school program.
“It was at that time that defendant Sheffield initiated actions that led to his sexually abusing the plaintiffs’ minor child by sending him text messages and making inappropriate remarks to the minor child,” the parents said in the complaint.
They said the abuse escalated from text messages to physical abuse.
On June 14, 2010, while participating in Bible school at the church, the parents claim Sheffield committed sexual battery upon the child.
The parents said their child refused to return to Bible school, but did not tell them why. Unaware of what happened, his parents said they signed him up for a church beach trip a week later, which Sheffield was on and was allowed to be alone with the children.
The parents said in the lawsuit that Sheffield again assaulted the boy, but the boy reported it to his mother and sister and the father called police.
The parents said Finch refused to tell the police about Sheffield’s history, “but instead attempted to cover for Sheffield by portraying to officers that plaintiffs’ child was an unruly youth, thus not worthy of belief.”
The lawsuit also said, “First Baptist rented defendant a car so he could get away before plaintiffs were able to get to Florida to pick up their child.”
The parents claim that Sheffield sexually abused multiple victims while working for the school district and through his employment and volunteer work with First Baptist.
CBSAtlanta.com will have more information on this story as it becomes available.