Childhood Sexual Abuse (and youth pastor) Drops $750K Lawsuit Against His Victim

Austin man accused former minister of molesting him

Then, ex-pastor sued him for defamation

However, the suit was dropped before the initial court hearing

SNAP tells victims “If you were assaulted, speak out, don’t be intimidated

Group also calls on church officials to help reform abuser friendly laws

WHAT

 Holding signs and childhood photos at a State Capitol news conference, clergy sex abuse victims and their supporters will disclose that an Austin man

--accused a best-selling author, ex-Evangelical/Baptist pastor and Christian literary agent of molesting him as a child,

--was sued by the alleged abuser for defamation, but 

--has found other victims of the same alleged perpetrator.

 They will also call on local church officials to join with victims in pushing for real legislative reform, like inclusion of victims in shield laws and repealing Texas' "abuser-friendly statutes of limitations" so survivors can have their day in court.

 WHEN 

Friday, March 29th at 8:30 a.m.

 WHERE

 In front of the City of Austin Police Department, 715 E. 8th St,. Austin, Texas

 WHO

 Two – three victims and advocates who belong to a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, including an Austin man who was sued by the former Evangelical pastor he accused of abuse, and an Austin woman who is the organization’s local volunteer leader and who traveled to Rome last month for the papal clergy abuse summit.

 WHY

Last month, an unusual defamation suit was quietly dismissed. In 2018 Robert D. Smith, best selling author of 20,000 Days and Counting, sued Austin resident Jim Cochrun for $750,000 in damages. Cochrun had told people that Smith had molested him when Cochrun was twelve years old and Smith was his youth pastor in Tulsa, and Smith claimed that the allegations damaged his career. Cochrun filed a complaint against Smith with the Tulsa Police Department that same year.

Until allegations of sexual abuse surfaced, Smith managed the careers of New York Times best-selling authors Jerry Jenkins, author of the Left Behind series, and Andy Andrews, author of The Traveler's Gift and The Noticer, and had  “worked in the Christian arts and publishing industry for decades.  

According to Cochrun's attorney, Smith attempted to make Cochrun's allegations “go away,” but when Cochrun was not amenable, Smith filed suit. However, in February Smith dropped the suit, just days before the initial hearing in federal court.  

Cochrun says that Smith's current whereabouts are unknown, and he and others fear Smith may again be involved in Christian youth ministry somewhere or working in some other capacity near children and unsuspecting families.  

SNAP wants clergymen in every denomination to join with victims in pushing for reforms to secular child safety laws in Texas, especially what they call “the abuser-friendly statutes of limitations" which prevent victims from exposing those who commit or conceal child sex crimes in court. 

The victims' group knows of roughly a dozen cases in which accused priests have sued their accusers, albeit never successfully.  

 Houston attorney George Edwards (832-717-2562, 832-231-3788, george@eslawpartners.com) represented Cochrun.

 CONTACT

Carol Midboe Austin volunteer SNAP leader, (512) 934-3473, SNAPAustin@gmail.com,  Jim Cochrun (512) 538-4552, jimcochrun@gmail.com, Zach Hiner 517 974 9009, zhiner@SNAPnetwork.org, David Clohessy, St. Louis volunteer SNAP leader, 314 443 5915 OR 314 566 9790, davidgclohessy@gmail.com


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