A Lewis County, Kentucky church has been sued by a male teen for child sexual assault. According to attorney Bruce MacDonald of the McBrayer McGinnis Leslie & Kirkland, law firm, their client, known for the record as “John Doe,” is suing Vanceburg Christian Church where a former pastor, Duncan D. Akers, Jr., 65, pleaded guilty and was convicted of criminal charges for sexually abusing the plaintiff, “John Doe.”
Akers pleaded guilty to five counts of first degree sexual abuse as part of a plea agreement. Several other charges were dropped as a part of the plea deal.
“John Doe is having a lot of problems,” MacDonald told the Daily Times. “He is not able to function well in society, and hence, is unemployed and he needs counseling and he needs medical help, and we hope to be able to obtain those things for him, and allow him to finish his education, perhaps go to vocational school and hopefully become a production citizen and right now he’s not. He’s having a lot of problems. Therefore, we want to get him some financial assistance so he can get a vehicle and get stabilized in life.”
The lawsuit explains that the plaintiff met Akers when the Plaintiff was a young “latch-key” child who lived near the church and was invited by Pastor Aker to come to the Church. The Plaintiff then began going to the church regularly after school and on the weekends, according to the complaint. The complaint goes on to say Aker used those opportunities to “groom” the plaintiff and make him susceptible to the sexual abuse. According to the lawsuit, “between late 2007 and early 2010 . . when the plaintiff was 9-12 years old and Akers was 56-59 years old, Akers brutally and repeatedly sexually molested and raped the plaintiff at the Church as well as at locations off the site where Akers would take plaintiff.” The lawsuit says that Akers threatened the plaintiff not to tell anyone and used his position in the church to intimidate the plaintiff.
“He (Akers) sought John Doe out in the neighborhood and convinced his parents that this would be a good safe wholesome place to send their young child after school,” MacDonald said. “So Duncan Akers sought this young man out and encouraged his family to send him to this church and this was not a one-time thing. This went on for three years.”
The case will determine how much involvement the church itself had in the alleged crime.
“At the center of this case is the question: what did Vanceburg Christian Church know about Akers’ activities and when did they know it? It is important for the entire community that the whole truth come about this situation,” Peter Janci said.
The lawsuit alleges that Vanceburg Christian Church’s negligence allowed the abuse of the victim. Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that religious organizations knew by 2007 that it was common for religious leaders to “ abuse their authority and molest children.” Based on that knowledge, the lawsuit alleges that the Church had a duty to protect young parishioners from clergy sexual abuse. However, the victim alleges that the Church “was negligent regarding its obligations” because the Church “was aware, or should have been aware, of Aker’s harmful conduct and/or molestations of Plaintiff” and failed to act to stop the abuse.
“The summons was issued today and once the defendant is served through their agent through service of process, they will have 20 days to file a response,” MacDonald said. “A civil case goes into what is called discovery where we obtain documents. We hope to obtain the policy and procedures of the church.”
The victim’s legal team consists of Konrad Kircher of Kircher Law Office, Steve Crew and Peter Janci of Crew Janci LLP and Bruce MacDonald of McBrayer McGinnis Leslie & Kirkland.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.