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Modesto’s CrossPoint Church named in sexual abuse lawsuit

Jennifer Graves Roach talks about what happened at Modesto’s First Baptist Church

Jennifer Graves Roach discusses how she was sexually abused as a teenager by Brad Tebbutt, a former youth pastor at First Baptist Church, starting in the 1980s in Modesto, California. (Garth Stapley/Modesto, Peter Haley/Tacoma News Tribune
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Jennifer Graves Roach discusses how she was sexually abused as a teenager by Brad Tebbutt, a former youth pastor at First Baptist Church, starting in the 1980s in Modesto, California. (Garth Stapley/Modesto, Peter Haley/Tacoma News Tribune

Modesto’s CrossPoint Community Church is formally sued by a woman who was sexually abused by a youth pastor when she was a teen 30 years ago.

Jennifer Roach, now 47, alleged sexual battery, negligence, failure to supervise the youth pastor, and infliction of emotional distress when she initially sued nine weeks ago. But CrossPoint, formerly First Baptist, was not specifically named because of a legal technicality requiring that a judge sign off on the analysis of a mental health expert.

The analysis remains sealed from public view, but Judge Harold Kahn of San Francisco Superior Court signed the “finding of reasonable and meritorious cause for filing of action” on July 26, granting Roach “leave to designate (defendants) by their true names.”

Roach’s Sacramento attorney, Joseph George, refiled Wednesday using CrossPoint’s current and former names, and including as a defendant former youth pastor Brad Tebbutt. Roach seeks unspecified damages.

CrossPoint lead pastor Matt Whiteford, who arrived in Modesto long after the alleged abuse, could not be reached for comment Thursday, and individual messages sent to each of the church’s 12 deacons drew no immediate response.

Jennifer Roach, the former Modesto resident who said she was sexually abused by a former youth pastor at First Baptist Church, is filing a lawsuit seeking unspecified damages.

Tebbutt’s last-known employer, International House of Prayer of Kansas City, placed him on leave after The Modesto Bee reported Roach’s story in February, and later commissioned an investigation by a third party with expertise in clergy abuse.

The Bee also has reported that then-youth pastor Les Hughey had sexual encounters with girls in his charge at First Baptist in the 1970s, and that two male volunteers separately molested several boys they met and worked with at First Baptist in the mid-1980s. Alleged First Baptist cover-ups allowed two of the three men to reoffend additional victims at other churches, The Bee found.

Hughey resigned as senior pastor at an Arizona megachurch in the wake of The Bee’s report in April, and remains under investigation by authorities and two evangelical churches in that state.

Garth Stapley: 209-578-2390

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