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Abuse Victim who Signed Nondisclosure Agreement Sues Kanakuk Kamps for Fraud

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Editor’s Note:  This story has been updated to include a statement from Kanakuk.

“I think the goal of Logan is to not only remove Joe White, but to shut down the camp if they are unable to fix this systemic issue that has been poisoning their leadership well,” said Robert Thrasher, attorney for Logan Yandell, in an interview with MinistryWatch.

Yandell is a Kanakuk camp sexual abuse victim who filed a lawsuit against the camp today.

The lawsuit asserts a fraud claim against Kanakuk Ministries, Kanakuk Heritage, and Joe White, president of Kanakuk. It also includes the Westchester Fire Insurance Company, the insurance carrier for the Kanakuk defendants.

Yandell began attending the Kanakuk camps in 2003 when he was eight years old and continued until 2009 when he was 15. During that time, Yandell was sexually abused by camp employee Peter Newman.

Newman was convicted of child sexual abuse in 2009 and is currently serving two life sentences plus 30 years in prison.

Yandell, who in 2010 agreed to a settlement for an undisclosed amount and signed a nondisclosure agreement, now claims that those were based on false and fraudulent representations by the Kanakuk defendants.

The defendants “acts and/or omissions directly caused, or directly contributed to cause, plaintiff to be induced to settle his claims against the Kanakuk defendants,” the petition reads.

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It further alleges that Kanakuk represented to Yandell and his parents that “Newman committed isolated incidents of sexual misconduct” and that Kanakuk “had no prior knowledge of any sexual misconduct committed by Newman.”

Yandell became aware of facts about Kanakuk’s longtime knowledge of the abuse when an investigative report by VICE Media was released last December.

The report revealed that Kanakuk knew from as early as 1999 of activities, such as Newman swimming nude with young boys, that should have raised concerns with Kanakuk leadership.

Especially revealing were the claims by William Cunningham, who was a direct supervisor of Newman, and had recommended Newman’s termination by the camp after learning of his sexual misconduct with campers in 2003.

Instead of terminating Newman’s employment, Kanakuk promoted Newman to a director position.

More reports were made in 2006 including late night calls and texts by Newman to a young boy and nightly hot tub “encounters” with campers.

Because of the new revelations, Thrasher believes Yandell has a valid claim for fraud and for all of his claims based on the sexual abuse he suffered.

He wants to give a voice to all the victims, Thrasher said, adding that the goal of the suit is not only to “expose Kanakuk for what they’ve done for over a decade,” but also to “make sure no one else is abused.”

MinistryWatch reached out to Kanakuk Ministries for comment.  We received the following statement:

Kanakuk received this lawsuit only this morning, apparently after others had received copies of it.  Our policy is not to comment on pending litigation. We will respond further if or when appropriate.  In the meantime, we continue to pray for all who have been affected by Pete Newman’s behavior.

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Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a freelance writer who holds a Juris Doctorate from Baylor University. She has home schooled her three children and is happily married to her husband of 25 years.