Church Admits Hiring Sex Offender; Denies Other Allegations In Lawsuit
The largest church in Casper admits it hired a janitor, knowing he was convicted of third-degree sexual assault, who later assaulted a teenage girl.
But Highland Park Community Church, 5725 Highland Drive, said the court should dismiss the lawsuit filed by a woman who was sexually assaulted by James Jaure at the church four years ago because it "did not breach any duty owed to the Plaintiff" and other reasons, according to its response filed this week by its attorneys Ryan Schwartz and Amy Iberlin of the Casper firm Williams, Porter, Day, & Neville.
The church also asked for a jury trial.
The woman, who was 15 at the time of the assault, has been “irreparably injured and suffered damages” through loss of enjoyment of life, loss of income and earning capacity, emotional and psychological distress, social problems, and medical and counseling expenses, according to her complaint filed June 30 by her attorneys Michael Shickich of Casper and Emily Rankin of the Spence Law Firm in Jackson.
She also seeks punitive damages to deter corporations such as the church from tolerating such behavior in the future.
The church also wants the court to dismiss the demand for punitive damages because of the lack of sufficient due process standards about punitive damages awards in Wyoming.
Besides admitting it knew knew of Jaure's 2004 conviction for third-degree sexual assault of a minor, the church admits Jaure began attending its Celebrate Recovery ministry in 2008, knew he had a history of substance abuse, and knew he was on probation for the 2004 sexual assault when it hired him Sept. 21, 2011.
But the church denies many of the woman's other claims.
It denies it gave Jaure unsupervised access to youth activities, denies it did not warn church attendees that he was a sexual predator, denies that he allowed him to give advice to minors, and denies he hugged girls, according to its response.
The church also denies Jaure visited a girl at a slumber party, denies it allowed church members to believe he was a youth leader, denies it allowed him to use an alias, and denies church staff expressed concerns to church managers about his employment and his behavior with youth, according to its response.
In October 2013, Jaure was sentenced to two terms of 16-to-19 years for the two second-degree charges, and 13-to-15 years for the third degree charge. The sentences are concurrent.