MARSHALL, Texas -- Plaintiffs suing the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and related agencies for allegedly failing to do more to stop a sexually abusive pastor said yesterday they had reached settlements with nearly all defendants.
The announcement came two days after a jury was selected in a civil case involving former Lutheran minister Gerald Patrick Thomas Jr. that was brought by 14 alleged victims and their families.
A joint statement by plaintiffs and defendants said the settlement involved the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Ohio seminary that Thomas attended, a candidacy committee in Michigan, and the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Marshall, where Thomas was pastor from 1997 to 2001.
Reminiscent of complaints against the Roman Catholic hierarchy in recent years, the Thomas case is one of the most serious abuse lawsuits to hit a US Protestant denomination. The Chicago-based denomination has 5 million members.
The settlement is subject to court approval at a hearing Monday. None of the parties would reveal details of the settlement or how much victims might be paid.
The trial is expected to proceed against the denomination's Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Synod, which was not a part of the settlement.