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Lawsuit Filed Against Assemblies of God and Chi Alpha

The entities are accused of negligence in allowing a sexual abuser access to children.

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The father of a minor child has filed a lawsuit against the Assemblies of God, its North Texas District, and its college ministry Chi Alpha for negligence resulting in the sexual abuse and grooming of his son.

Stephen Holt sued in a state district court in Harris County, Texas, claiming that the Assemblies of God was negligent in allowing registered sex offender Daniel Savala to have access to children and for failing to warn families about his background and the dangers he posed.

Savala, who was convicted of sexual abuse in Alaska in 2012, is currently in jail in McLennan County, Texas, under indictment for trafficking of persons and indecency with a child.

According to the court documents, the Assemblies of God entities were made aware of Savala’s history of sexual abuse, yet did not prevent his involvement with the Chi Alpha chapters and leaders.

Eli Stewart, who was part of the youth group in Alaska where Savala abused children, was part of the leadership team at Sam Houston State University where Savala became involved. Stewart moved to College Station to relaunch a Chi Alpha chapter at Texas A&M University and Mountain Valley Fellowship church in 2017, according to the court filing.

Mountain Valley Fellowship fell under the North Texas District of the Assemblies of God.

While leading the church, Stewart is accused of allowing Savala and several other Chi Alpha members access to children. The lawsuit includes details of deviant sexual and grooming behavior allegedly carried out by Savala and other members of the Chi Alpha, including Ryan Hoffart, William Johnson, Bo Randolph, and Alex Owens.

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In the spring of 2023, Stewart was removed as the pastor of Mountain Valley Fellowship after “some major allegations against our Pastor and grievances against our church” came to light. The lawsuit also names the church as a defendant for its role in allowing the accused abusers to have access to children and for failing to put proper procedures and policies in place to protect children.

The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages for the “past and future physical pain and suffering, past and future mental anguish, and past and future loss of the enjoyment of life” suffered by the plaintiff.

It also seeks punitive damages, claiming that the defendants acted with gross negligence and/or malice.

Chi Alpha has been under scrutiny for Savala’s involvement in its chapters and with its chapter leaders. Chris Hundl, a former Chi Alpha campus pastor at Baylor University, was indicted last year for indecency with a minor child.

In December, Chi Alpha national director Scott Martin resigned his position and North Texas District leader Eli Gautreaux had his Assemblies of God credentials removed.

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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.