A prominent Southern Baptist megachurch is facing allegations that a pastor in the organization sexually abused a child at one of its summer camps. Village Church, based in Flower Mound, Texas, has been accused of being “willfully negligent” in the care of the children attending the camp and, as a result, has turned a member family’s life upside down.
The child, referred to as ‘Jane Doe’ in the suit, has faced severe repercussions since her family came forward. The family has been ostracized and the child faces near-constant bullying. The ordeal, her family says, has caused her to struggle with depression and other emotional fallout.
The camp was supposed to ensure that no one of the opposite sex was to enter the children’s bunks and cabins. The child’s bunk, however, was also the site of staff meetings. And it was one of those staff meetings that allowed Matthew Tonne – a children’s minister – to allegedly enter the victim’s bunk that night and sexually assault her.
The lawsuit was not the first effort by the family to seek some sort of resolution to the issue. In fact, the family notified the church of the incident in February of 2018. Since that time, the family’s lawyer says, the church has “not yet to date demonstrated a good faith desire to resolve this. We have provided ample opportunity and ample time for that. We have hit a brick wall, and at that point in time we had to make the difficult but necessary decision to press forward to filing the lawsuit.”
That lawsuit seeks more than $1 million in damages and comes as a grand jury indicted Matthew Tonne for the assault. Village Church has publicly stated that they dismissed Tonne in 2018 for problems associated with alcohol abuse and that officials “had not been informed that he was the accused” in the criminal sexual assault case. The family refutes the notion and says that they had told Village Church staff that Tonne was a suspect in the investigation within that timeline.