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Assemblies of God Settles Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Involving Royal Rangers Volunteers

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A lawsuit filed in Oregon on behalf of several men who said they were sexually abused as boys while they were members of a scouting-like program sponsored by the Assemblies of God has been settled out of court.

The amount of the settlement was not disclosed.

The case combined two lawsuits filed in 2018 by plaintiffs who said they were sexually abused in the 1980s by two volunteers in the Royal Rangers program at First Assemblies of God Church of Albany, Oregon—Ralph Gantt and Todd Clark—the Springfield (Missouri) News-Leader reported.

Some of the original plaintiffs had already settled with three remaining on the case. 

The Royal Rangers program is a ministry for boys in grades K-12 with a mission to “evangelize, equip and empower the next generation of Christlike men and lifelong servant leaders.”

The national denominational office located in Springfield was named as a defendant in the case as well as First Assemblies of God Church of Albany and the Oregon District of the Assemblies of God. The complaint said the organizations should be held responsible for their adult volunteers, who they “selected, approved, trained, supervised and maintained the right of control and/or actual control over.” 

Gilion Dumas, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said in July that the General Council was trying hard to remove itself as a defendant in the case, as it had successfully in other sex abuse case involving youth leaders. 

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Dumas said the General Council made three appeals to Oregon Supreme Court which were denied, and that the attorney for the General Council filed more than 25 motions to try to get the case dismissed or transferred out of Portland.

The Assemblies of God reached an out-of-court financial settlement in a similar case in 2017.

The complaint said the organizations had been made aware by the mid-1980s of allegations that Clark and Gantt had sexually abused boys in Royal Rangers but continued to let them serve in the program and failed to warn families of the allegations.

Because of their positions, Gantt and Clark spent time alone with the plaintiffs at activities including sleepovers and campouts, per the News-Leader.

Both were eventually temporarily suspended from Royal Rangers leadership but were later reinstated, then eventually terminated after new allegations were brought forward. 

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Anne Stych

Anne Stych is a writer in Charlotte, North Carolina.