Aug 25, 2018

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

Woman sues former pastor, now at IHOP in KC, says he sexually abused her as teen

Kansas City Star
August 24, 2018

A Washington woman is suing a former California youth pastor who is now on leave from the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, alleging he sexually abused her when she was a teen 30 years ago.

Jennifer Graves Roach says Brad Tebbutt, who in recent years has been running a ministry at IHOP for people in their 50s, sexually abused her for 2 ½ years in the 1980s, starting when she was 15.

Roach, now an ordained Anglican minister and therapist whose clients include sexual abuse victims, also alleges in the lawsuit that church officials at First Baptist Church of Modesto covered up the abuse.

“Sexual abuse of minors by employees and volunteers at Defendant Church has been a reality but has remained covered by deep secrecy,” the lawsuit says.

Tebbutt could not be reached for comment about the lawsuit. IHOPKC placed him on administrative leave in February while it investigated the allegations, and an IHOPKC spokesman told The Star on Friday that he remained on leave.

Roach, 47, filed the lawsuit in May but could not reveal the defendants’ names until a judge signed off on an evaluation of her by a mental health expert. The names were added to the lawsuit this month.

First Baptist Church of Modesto became CrossPoint Community Church in 2010. Current church leaders have said it would be inappropriate to comment on a case they know nothing about.

Filed in San Francisco Superior Court against Tebbutt, First Baptist and CrossPoint, the lawsuit alleges sexual battery, negligence, negligent supervision and intentional infliction of emotional distress. It seeks unspecified damages.

The lawsuit says the abuse began around 1986 when, distraught over her father’s death in a car crash, Roach welcomed the attention from Tebbutt, then 27. The abuse occurred in Tebbutt’s office, in his car and out of town when he traveled with her, according to the lawsuit.

When Roach reported the abuse in late 1988, the lawsuit alleges, church officials at first didn’t believe her and asked if she was making the claims “for attention,” then later advised her to “forgive and forget” and never speak about it again “because such verbalizations would cause damage to the reputation of the church and would sully the reputation of Jesus himself.”

Tebbutt eventually confessed to the sexual abuse, the lawsuit says.

“The childhood sexual abuse was never reported to authorities,” the suit says, “and Defendant Pastor went on to a 30-year career in youth ministry elsewhere before taking a job directing a seniors mentoring program at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City.”

The allegations surfaced in February, when Roach — emboldened by the #MeToo movement — told her story to The Modesto Bee. At the time, Tebbutt was leading the Simeon Company Internship at IHOPKC. The program is described as “a training experience and mentoring community for those 50 and older” who “desire to give their lives more fully to prayer, worship, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, outreach, and works of justice.”

In April, IHOPKC said it was working with a Virginia non-profit to investigate the allegations against Tebbutt. The nonprofit, called GRACE — which stands for Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment — was founded by Boz Tchividjian, a former child abuse chief prosecutor and grandson of Billy Graham, the nation’s most well-known Christian evangelist who died in February at age 99.

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