CHARITABLE ORGANIZATION ACCUSED OF HIRING “KNOWN SEXUAL PREDATOR” IN PALMETTO LOWCOUNTRY …
Attorneys in Charleston, S.C. have filed two separate lawsuits on behalf of unnamed plaintiffs alleging that the local Salvation Army knowingly hired a sexual predator who proceeded to abuse them.
According to the suit, filed in Charleston County court by the firm of attorney Mullins McLeod, the two Jane Does were “repeatedly sexually assaulted over the course of approximately five years starting at the age of four years old while attending Sunday school and childcare at The Salvation Army’s (highway) 61 location in Charleston, South Carolina.”
According to McLeod’s firm, the charitable organization hired confessed child sex abuser Armando Gonzalez despite him allegedly having “a documented criminal history of sexually assaulting and abusing minor children.”
Such a hiring would be in violation of state law.
“No childcare facility may employ a person, engage the services of, or knowingly allow a person in the childcare facility during normal hours of operation, who is required to register under the sex offender registry act,” states the S.C. Code of Laws (§ 63-13-1010).
“My firm has spent over a year researching this billion-dollar organization in preparation to file this lawsuit,” McLeod said in a statement announcing the action. “We believe we will prove the organization and its officers’ conduct is very different than what they portray to the public.”
In fact, McLeod claims the Salvation Army has “a long, checkered past of sexual abuse within its ranks.”
According to a statement released by the Salvation Army of Charleston, the organization took immediate action when it was first informed of the allegations – and continues to “refine” its safety practices.
“Upon hearing the report, the Salvation Army corps officer immediately contacted law enforcement and encouraged the family to seek medical attention at the local hospital,” the organization said in a statement. “In addition, The Salvation Army immediately banned the accused church member and family from Salvation Army properties and programs pending the outcome of the police investigation. The Salvation Army fully cooperated with law enforcement as they investigated the matter.”
“From the moment The Salvation Army heard the allegation, our first priority has been the care and well-being of those affected and their families,” the statement added. “The Salvation Army guidelines do not tolerate sexual misconduct of any kind. We are committed to the safety of those we serve and will continue to refine our practices to ensure the safety of all who come through our doors.”
The organization further stated that Gonzalez was “a member of The Salvation Army church but was never employed by The Salvation Army nor did he serve as a Sunday School teacher.”
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