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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release
Giving Voice to Victims

 

For immediate release:
Monday, May 12, 2008

For More Information:
Attorney Joseph George 916 442 7100, Jennifer Meier-Beita 615 948 8445

New lawsuits call church group a cult

Four sue for childhood sexual abuse they suffered

Two pedophiles molested girls from 1970s into 1990s

Church officials were warned about one predator at least 30 years earlier, victims say

Four young women have filed child sex abuse lawsuits against a Tennessee cult saying they were repeatedly molested as kids and that church officials suspected or knew of the crimes but did nothing to stop them.

Even after officials at Christian Gospel Temple confirmed that the girls were being abused, they still refused to contact law enforcement or warn congregants, according to the lawsuits.

The alleged predators include a former pastor and a musician, both affiliated with the self-professed non-denominational church.

The crimes took place between 1979 and 1995, mostly in Chino California where the Temple was located until 1991. That year, Temple leadership and roughly 400 of its members moved to White House Tennessee (near Nashville). The Temple’s head told congregants that Californians were “full of sin” and had moved there “to find stardom” and that the state “could fall into the ocean someday,” according to the lawsuit.

The Temple was started by Rev. Cornelius Mears, “a strong and charismatic leader who controlled everything,” according to the suits. Around 1984, he tapped Rev. Paul Mears as the assistant pastor of the Temple. In the mid-1980s, Rev. Paul Mears became the head pastor over Gospel Tabernacle in Phoenix Arizona even after Rev. Cornelius Mears was informed of Rev. Paul Mears’ history of sexual abuse against minors. Rev. Paul Mears later rejoined the cult in Tennessee.

The new civil suits, believed to be the first against the cult, were filed within the last few weeks in San Bernardino County Court in Rancho Cucamonga, California.

The victims are Jennifer Meier-Beita, Lynette Fay, Crystal Mears, and Cheryl Mears, all in their 20s and 30s. Fay lives in Placer County California. The others live in Robertson County, Tennessee.

Meier-Beita was molested in 1984 by Carlos Cruz, a member of the church band. The others were all abused by Rev. Paul Mears. Fay was molested from 1987-95, Crystal Mears was molested from 1978-82, and Cheryl Mears was molested from 1981-84.

The suits argue that Temple officials failed to report the accused to law enforcement and congregants, and “knew or had reason to know that their actions would silence (victims), preventing (them) from discovering (their) injuries” and exacerbating their “emotional distress and trauma.”

They claim that the defendants were “guilty of willfulness, malice and oppression” toward the victims “justifying an award of punitive damages.” The suits seek unspecified damages of more than $25,000.

Paul Mears is believed to be living at 313 Cherry Lane in White House, TN (615) 672-8371. Cruz is believed to be living at 9528 Surrey Ave. in Montclair, CA (909) 447-4294. The Christian Gospel Temple is at 8655 Highway 25 E Cross Plains, TN 37049 (615) 654-1231

For more information:
Attorney Joseph George 916 442 7100, Jennifer Meier-Beita 615 948 8445


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
www.snapnetwork.org
 


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