Calvary Chapel's Mothership Connection

Are Potato State perverts threatening the church's OC base?

But the lawyers are facing an unassuming buzz saw in Idaho attorney Leander James, who recently helped negotiate a $166 million settlement between the Northwest Jesuits and sex-abuse victims.

"I don't think my clients have an absurd case," James told the Weekly. Instead, he argued, what's absurd is that a church would allegedly affiliate itself with a known predator. "Our allegation is that [Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa] is in essence a parent organization that has a duty and responsibility to Calvary Chapel churches and their congregants and their children," he said.

The extent of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa's legal responsibility may come down to the laws in each state, says Kelly Clark, a Portland, Oregon-based attorney and advocate for child-abuse victims. The issue is whether the law provides accountability for the organization for whom the alleged perpetrator was working, he says, and whether the organization had the ability to control his actions.

Jonathan Bartlett

Calvary Chapel's clusterfuck is even more complicated because of its loosely threaded network of congregations that fly the mothership's logo, yet say they are not agents of Smith's church, concludes Clark. "The church gets all the benefits of the good priests," he reasons. "Why don't they have to pick up the wreckage when it goes bad?"

This article appeared in print as "Mothership Connection: Is Calvary Chapel's hands-off approach to local churches under threat by a pervert pastor in the Potato State?"

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