DENVER — Lawyers representing a Colorado man have announced a lawsuit against the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado that alleges a reverend sexually assaulted him from age 16 in the 1990s.
Jessica Arbour, an attorney with Horowitz Law in Fort Lauderdale, announced the lawsuit Friday morning, attributing the passage of Child Sexual Abuse Accountability Act which came into force on January 1, which allows a person who suffered sexual misconduct that occurred between January 1, 1960 and January 1, 2022 to take legal action before January 1, 2025.
“These are the kinds of issues that people can’t and don’t deal with in an arbitrary time frame that they have to take their case to court,” Arbor said. “Colorado lawmakers have created a new cause of action that gives survivors of childhood sexual abuse a limited time to seek redress.”
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Arbor’s client, who is only identified as John HA Doe, reported that he was sexually assaulted by the Reverend Jerry McKenzie at St. Michael & All Angels Church, Camp Ilium and at a cabin near of Nederland from 1995. The victim alleges that McKenzie assaulted him on several occasions. manners, including over clothing, petting, stimulation and sexual gratification, Arbor said at the press conference. The victim also said McKenzie would supply him and others with alcohol, drugs and drug paraphernalia to intoxicate them as part of the abuse, according to the complaint. The abuse continued until the victim was over 18, when he was able to break off contact with McKenzie, according to Arbor.
The victim said he knows other McKenzie victims, and he and his attorney believe filing the lawsuit will lead to more victims coming forward and bring justice to those involved in the alleged abuse. Arbor urged anyone who might be victimized by McKenzie to come forward.
“These lawsuits are being filed as a symbol of regaining his power, reclaiming and overcoming the shame he felt and the embarrassment he felt, and it is ultimately about accountability. for him and to get a measure of justice that he has been waiting for a very, very long time, especially now that he finds out how many opportunities there were for him to be protected,” Arbor said.
Arbor also said the victim reported the abuse to the Diocese and was told there were other reports of similar conduct.
The Episcopal Diocese of Colorado provided the following statement in response to the lawsuit:
“The Episcopal Diocese of Colorado has been notified that a lawsuit has been filed by a former member of the church, alleging misconduct by a former priest, Jerry McKenzie. These events appear to have occurred in the mid-1990s. Mr. McKenzie was forced to resign from his department many years ago in 2000 following allegations of sexual misconduct.The complainant’s allegations in this case were not brought to the attention of the diocese at that time, and the diocese only learned of these allegations relatively recently.
“The Episcopal Diocese of Colorado has taken steps to investigate every allegation of abuse against its clergy. In our tradition and expression of Christianity, we recognize that clergy hold a sacred position of trust. Reports of misconduct and Clergy abuse cases are adjudicated under the Episcopal Church’s Title IV process, and the Diocese is cooperating fully with all law enforcement investigations of clergy abuse.
“We remain of the view that by virtue of baptism all members of the Church are called to holiness of life and accountability to one another. The Church and each diocese supports its members in their lives by Christ and seek to resolve conflict by promoting healing, repentance, forgiveness, restitution, justice, life amendment, and reconciliation among all involved or affected.The Church’s Title IV Process episcopal service applies to those clergy who, by their vows at ordination, have accepted additional responsibilities and responsibility for doctrine, discipline, For many years the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado has required that all clergy and lay leaders in our diocese undergo church safety training using a church-wide curriculum that includes The Episcopal Church’s model policies to protect children, young people and vulnerable adults.
“Due to the personal nature of these allegations and the fact that a legal action is now being brought by a person who wishes to remain anonymous, we cannot comment further. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been affected by the harm caused by any member of the clergy who betrayed this trust in the religious community.”
Watch the full press conference announcing the lawsuit below:
Lawsuit Filed Against Episcopal Diocese of Colorado for Child Sexual Abuse