Former Oak Lawn pastor had sexual contact with girl on youth service project trip, lawsuit alleges

A former youth pastor at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in west suburban Oak Lawn allegedly established a rapport with an underage girl and then engaged in sexual contact with her on a service trip, according to a lawsuit.

The suit, filed Monday in Cook County Circuit Court by an anonymous mother on behalf of her daughter, claims the church, at 9701 Brandt Ave., was negligent and “permitted improper boundaries” that ultimately led to the assault. It names the church and the former youth pastor as defendants. That pastor has not been charged with a crime.

According to the lawsuit, the pastor “initiated grooming behavior” with the girl “in order to build a trusting and secret relationship” and engaged in sexual contact with her while on a youth service project July 11, 2018.

The lawsuit also claims the church failed to conduct a proper background check to ensure the pastor was qualified to work in his position. It alleges the pastor ignored church policies that prevented adults from being alone in the same room with children.

A spokesperson for Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church could not be reached for comment Monday evening.

The lawsuit demands a jury trial and seeks more than $50,000 in damages.