The attorney suing two massive Houston-area churches for employing a youth pastor that sexually exploited young churchgoers claims the minister first found one of his targets during outreach at a local public school.
Last week attorney Cris Feldman filed a lawsuit against Second Baptist Church and Community of Faith Church on behalf of the parents of a teenage girl who fell victim to 35-year-old Chad Foster, a former youth minister with both churches who pleaded guilty to raping one teenager and soliciting another for sex via Facebook and Skype three years ago.
Feldman claims Foster met the girl while doing outreach for Second Baptist at a middle school in Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, on the city's northwest side. The lawsuit, which does not name the district as a defendant, claims Second Baptist had a "simple yet effective marketing scheme" in which youth pastors would recruit young members by showing up during public school lunch hours and giving students free McDonald's and Pizza Hut lunches.
The lawsuit claims Foster first met the young girl -- identified in court documents as "Jane Doe II" -- at school during her lunch hour. Foster eventually got her involved with Second Baptist. Sometime after that, "Foster eventually began asking her to talk' dirty' to him and play out fantasies," according to the lawsuit. "This was occurring when Jane Doe II was a mere 12 years old."
By January 2011, Foster and the girl began communicating on Facebook. Foster told the girl he was lonely, and began texting and talking with the girl in Skype video chats. During the Skype sessions, according to the lawsuit, "Foster would expose himself and engage in acts of self-gratification while he was in his bedroom." Foster regularly pressured the girl for sex, and told her to keep their relationship a secret and that "he would hurt himself if she told anyone," the lawsuit claims.
The lawsuit accuses both churches of being negligent in hiring Foster and for failing to properly supervise his time with children. While the lawsuit claims that both churches "were in possession of information sufficient to give a reasonable employer notice that hiring or retaining Chad Foster would create an unreasonable risk of harm to the public," Feldman did not elaborate in a phone call with the Press. "That's not something that I can publicly discuss at this time."
Feldman claims Second Baptist enabled Foster and "provided him the candy in his pocket" to entice young girls. "Second Baptist provided the free lunches and sent him into public -- public -- schools and put him in contact with children in junior high," Feldman said. At some point, Foster left Second Baptist and joined Community of Faith. According to the lawsuit, the girl followed Foster to his new congregation.
Gary Moore, senior associate pastor at Second Baptist Church, provided this statement in response to the lawsuit:
"Our hearts ache for the young lady and her family if she was subjected to the things described in the lawsuit. HOWEVER, Second Baptist Church did not know of any of those allegations. If these happened and if Second had been made aware of them, we would have immediately terminated anyone involved and ensured that such conduct did not continue for one minute. Mr. Foster's departure from Second was not due to any sexual conduct or due to any inappropriate interactions with young people."
Community of Faith said in a statement:
"Any suggestion that the church was aware that this former employee posed a danger to any of our student members, or this former employee was not trained concerning the appropriate conduct with student members is false. When Community of Faith learned of these allegations three years ago, Community of Faith immediately took appropriate action including notifying local law enforcement."
Three years ago, Foster was also charged with repeatedly raping a 16-year-old girl he met in the summer of 2011 while working at Community of Faith. The girl eventually told one of her teachers at Cy-Woods high school and a pastor at Community of Faith about the relationship with Foster, both of whom then reported the assault to the Harris County Sheriff's office.
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Foster pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced to five years in prison in 2013.
Nicole Ray, assistant superintendent for communications and community relations at Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, told the Press Monday that some district campuses allow "established groups" -- like church youth groups -- to visit students during lunch time if they have explicit permission from parents. "If they come in representing a faith-based group, they'd have to have proper documentation from the parents saying they had permission to come in and meet with them," she said, adding that anyone who visits is subjected to a thorough background check.
"We don't just have people coming in and saying, 'I wanna meet with a group of kids,' and have parents not know about it," she said.
It's unclear, then, how the Cypress-Fairbanks student would have met Foster if he was only allowed to meet with students who were already a part of his flock. The lawsuit claims Foster recruited the girl for his youth group while she was at school. "When Jane Doe II met Foster it was her first church experience," according to the complaint. "She met him at school over the lunch hour."