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Illinois Pastor Resigns Amid Allegations He Knew About Abuse

The pastor of an Illinois church and co-founder of an addiction recovery program has resigned after allegations that church leaders should have been aware of sexual misconduct within the church and affiliated programs. 

A video on the North Love Baptist Church Facebook page, that has since been taken down, showed Doug Stodola, chairman of the church’s deacon board, announcing Pastor Paul Kingsbury’s decision to resign from the ministry, the Rockford Register Star reported.

“The deacons are fully aware and take serious the allegations being made against pastor Kingsbury and North Love Baptist Church. The deacons are united and looking into these matters. Please give us time and have patience as we seek the truth in Christ,” Stodola said, reading from a statement. “The pastoral staff members are committed to remaining faithful servants here at North Love Baptist Church.”

In a seven-count civil lawsuit filed in May, a woman alleged that she was assaulted by North Love deacon and youth pastor John Neese from 2004 to 2006, when she was a minor. The suit alleges that the church and Independence Village, an affiliated senior care facility, kept Neese on staff despite knowledge of the abuse. 

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The woman, now 32, said the assaults included “inappropriate touching, fondling, masturbation, groping and other sexual acts” by Neese, who she says got her a job at Independence Village then used his authority to intimidate her into not revealing the abuse.

The suit says that the church and retirement facility should have been aware of his “inappropriate actions with minors.” 

The woman is seeking unspecified damages. A court hearing is set for Sept. 1.

Others have made abuse allegations against Richard DeVall, a church missionary in Brazil and former teacher at a North Love-affiliated school, starting a petition to have him recalled from the mission field and calling on Kingsbury, as DeVall’s “mentor and sending pastor,” to hold him accountable.  

Rockford TV 23 reported an additional allegation that Kingsbury was aware of abuse accusations against his Reformers Unanimous co-founder Steve Currington, who died in 2010.  

The addiction recovery group has more than 1,000 branches nationwide and in other countries.

Ron Haese, who will serve as interim pastor of North Love, said Kingsbury “did nothing to disqualify himself as the pastor of North Love Baptist Church or any other church.”

“But those of you that were here on Wednesday remember pastor saying he made a dumb mistake,” Haese said.  “And because of that mistake, he felt that it was wise for him to resign. And the deacons and myself and pastor (Donnie) Barnes agreed with him.”

Another North Love Baptist Church employee, Charles Tucker of Machesney Park, was found guilty in March 2018 of multiple sex crimes against children and is serving a life sentence in the Menard Correctional Center. 

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Anne Stych

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