ST. LOUIS - A minister is taking his own denomination to task, claiming in a lawsuit that the Presbyterian Church was partly responsible for sexual abuse he suffered as a teenager.
The Rev. Kris Schondelmeyer, a youth minister in Toledo, Ohio, is seeking unspecified damages in a lawsuit against Louisville, Ky.-based Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); First Presbyterian Church of Fulton, Mo.; Missouri Union Presbytery in Jefferson City; and his alleged abuser, Jack Wayne Rogers.
Schondelmeyer, 31, a native of Sedalia, Mo., said he was sexually abused at a youth conference in Maryland in 2000. At the time, Rogers was a lay pastor in Montgomery County, Mo.
The suit alleges Presbyterian officials allowed Rogers to work as a chaperone despite Rogers' 1992 conviction for child pornography.
An attorney for the denomination declined comment, citing the pending litigation. A hearing on the case is scheduled for Aug. 18 in Fulton. Rogers, 69, does not have a lawyer in the lawsuit.
Rogers has a long criminal history. In 2004, he pleaded guilty in Missouri for practicing medicine without a license and assault for cutting off a man's penis as part of a makeshift gender reassignment surgery at a hotel in Columbia, Mo. That same year, he was convicted of federal child pornography and obscenity charges. He is serving a 30-year sentence at a federal prison in Miami.
In a statement issued through the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, he said he still believes in the Presbyterian Church. "There is much compassion and mercy in my heart, and I would rather stand with church leaders than against them to work together to create safe and sacred space for children and youth," he said.