Lawsuit Names Pastor’s Son as Abuser, Claims Pastor and Church Knew of Abuse
The parents of an underage boy in Indiana are suing a pastor, his church, and the church synod in civil court for neglecting to protect their son from sexual abuse. The parents claim the pastor’s son was the perpetrator of the alleged abuse, and the church and Synod knew about his recurring tendencies to molest children.
The complaint, filed in a Tippecanoe County court in early December, lists Pastor Jared Olivetti, his wife, Lisa, Immanuel Reformed Presbyterian Church, and the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America for not doing more to protect their son.
The lawsuit identifies the abuser as Olivetti’s son—who is also a minor—and refers to him in the complaint as “E.O.” Before the lawsuit, the abuser’s identity was kept secret, even from Immanuel’s congregation, where Olivetti was pastor.
The suit says the victim was often invited to Olivetti’s home next door, and lists Olivetti’s house as the setting where much of the sexual abuse occurred.
The victim says he thinks the abuse began in 2015 when he was five years old. The abuse continued through mid-2020 after he turned 10. The parents discovered the abuse in September 2020 after noticing a behavioral change in their son, “who was becoming more withdrawn, unhappy, and quiet,” the complaint said.
In the suit, the parents said they notified Lisa Olivetti about the sexual assaults. She admitted this was not the first time E.O. had assaulted another child.
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In December 2021, IndyStar reported that Jared Olivetti and Immanuel’s elder board knew about the alleged abuse for four months before telling the congregation. Olivetti reportedly tried to downplay the incidents and manipulate the church’s response.
In Indiana, youths are considered delinquent of charges that would be felonies or convictions for adults. In July 2021, E.O. was found delinquent on what would be seven felony counts of child molestation and confined to a residential facility.
There may have been as many as 15 victims.
The lawsuit claims Jared Olivetti was informed multiple times about his son’s behavior before reporting it to Immanuel. The church then conducted an investigation that Olivetti moderated.
Following the investigation, Olivetti and Immanuel implemented a safety precaution that E.O. would not be around other children without a monitor. They did not tell the congregation until September 2020, when they shared a letter stating sexual abuse had occurred. The letter did not identify the abuser.
The suit still includes the Synod in its complaint.
Even after learning that E.O. had the propensity to abuse minors, The suit claims the Olivettis, Immanuel, and the Synod failed to create or implement policies and procedures to protect children exposed to E.O. even after learning he had the propensity to abuse minors. Because of that failure, the parents let their son play unsupervised with E.O.
The lawsuit seeks a jury trial.
Main photo: Jared Olivetti Preaching at Immanuel Reformed Presbyterian Church in West Lafayette, Indiana / YouTube