Woman says she was abused by church leader, seeks $16 mil.

Woman says she was abused by church leader, seeks $16 mil. »Play Video
Our Savior's Lutheran Church of Lake Oswego.

LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. – A church now faces a mega-lawsuit in federal court as one of its former youth leaders is accused of grooming and sexually abusing a teenage girl.

The lawsuit asks for $16 million and names Our Savior's Lutheran Church of Lake Oswego.

The man accused of the abuse says he didn’t do it. Because it is a civil suit, KATU News is not naming the man.

The man was the head of the youth group in his church and was a banker in Lake Oswego and California, but according to the lawsuit, he methodically groomed the girl and then abused her for a long time.

The case goes back to the mid-1990s.

The woman, who is now 34 years old, says the molestation began when she was 15 years old.

According to the lawsuit, the "abuse continued for a period of years and occurred on a near-daily basis."

The woman also alleges that the man "gained her trust and confidence as a valuable and trustworthy spiritual guide and mentor."

Even though the alleged abuse happened a while ago, the woman's lawyer, Tara Lawrence said, "Thankfully, the Oregon Legislature passed legislation permitting victims of sex abuse to bring an action up to the age of 40 based on the fact that a number of victims really suppress the trauma."

The lawsuit says church leaders knew about "inappropriate and suspicious conduct by Defendant. ... Adult leaders ... discussed such concerns and observations with ministers and employees" but they "failed to take effective action to end the abuse."

By phone the former youth leader, who is now 65 years old and lives in California, said, "I'm blown away by (the lawsuit), and I don't know how to comment. I just know I haven't done anything."

Lawrence said she could not talk about whether there are other women who say they're victims.

The current pastor, who didn't work at the church in the mid-1990s, said Friday the church has not yet received the lawsuit.

If you have a story for the On Your Side Investigators, email them at investigators@katu.com.