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The Village Church Resolves Child Abuse Civil Suit

Dallas-area evangelical Baptist megachurch The Village Church said it has resolved a civil case alleging that a former youth minister sexually abused a former parishioner when she was a child, while reiterating its position of innocence.

In the lawsuit filed in 2019, a victim identified as Jane Doe said Matt Tonne abused her when she was underage. The suit also alleged gross negligence on the part of the church for not protecting her and claimed that The Village should be held responsible for the conduct of its staff members. 

“After a thorough and lengthy legal investigation, we maintain and firmly believe that we committed no wrong,” the church said in a statement on its website announcing the settlement. “We pray that the individual and their family continues to heal and receive care following this resolution.” 

The suit sought $1 million in damages, but the amount of the settlement was not disclosed.  

Tonne was indicted in January 2021 for indecency with a child involving sexual contact, accused of sexually assaulting Doe at a 2012 church camp she attended when she was 11. Tonne denied the allegations. 

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In August of 2020, the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office dismissed all criminal charges against Tonne when Doe failed to positively identify him as the person who committed the offense. 

“With the dismissal of both the criminal and civil case, litigation has now come to an end,” the church said in the statement. 

Tonne was removed from the Village staff in June of 2018 for what the church called “other reasons,” which it said were communicated to staff as well as church members and people who were volunteers in his ministry department at the time.

The church said it has and will continue to “exceed the standard of care” as it relates to child safety, continue to take accusations of or suspicion of abuse seriously, and provide ongoing training to its staff, elders, deacons and lay leaders.

The Village Church, based in the Dallas suburb Flower Mound, is led by Matt Chandler, who is also president of the Acts 29 Network, a church-planting organization.

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Anne Stych

Anne Stych is a writer in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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