An unnamed youth and his mother are suing a Berlin church and its officials, as well as the Columbia-based Baptist Convention of Maryland/Del- aware, alleging that the congregation's youth pastor repeatedly sexually abused the youth and that church officials failed to protect the boy.
The boy, referred to in the lawsuit as "John Doe," was 12 when the abuse by the First Baptist Church of Berlin youth pastor, Joshua M. McCready, began in 1997, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in Howard Circuit Court late last month.
McCready was convicted of child abuse in June 2000 for the abuse against John Doe, who is now 17, and was sentenced in a Worcester County court to an 18-month jail term, according to papers filed with the lawsuit.
The multimillion-dollar lawsuit names the church, its board of deacons, McCready, his parents - his father, The Rev. Francis McCready, is pastor of the church - and regional and national Baptist organizations.
According to the lawsuit, the abuse took place at the Berlin church, at the home of Joshua McCready's parents, and at a church-sponsored camp in North Carolina. The lawsuit, which alleges battery and negligence, says the abuse ended in January 2000 after a roommate of the youth pastor talked to the boy.
A woman who answered the phone at Francis McCready's home declined to comment this week, and a message left for the pastor at the church was not returned. The lawsuit alleges that he and his wife, Maxine, knew that their son slept in the same bed as the boy, and the lawsuit says the pastor tried to head off accusations against his son by assuring the youth's mother that they were "rumors."
Bob Simpson, a spokesman for the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, said this week, "We certainly oppose child abuse of any kind" and encourage individual churches to deal swiftly with abusers. Nevertheless, the official said, the convention is not part of a hierarchical structure and has no say in a church's business - including its hiring of pastors.
The convention, which acts as a "service" organization, has been dropped from lawsuits against churches because of the independent nature of the individual churches, Simpson said.