First Christian Church in The Dalles is being sued for millions by the female victim of a former youth minister who pleaded guilty to sex abuse in May 2013.
“I am no longer afraid and don’t want to hide, said Lindsay Carlin, 22, of The Dalles, the plaintiff in the case. “The trust I placed in my pastor and my church had a significant impact on my life, and I want to make sure the church is held accountable. Hopefully my actions will prevent this kind of thing from happening to other young people.”
Administrative staff at First Christian were called by a reporter Thursday but declined to talk about the pending legal matter. Daniel Chamberlin, 38, admitted to second-degree sexual abuse and third-degree sodomy, both Class C felonies, in March and waived his right to a trial.
He was ordered to spend 30 days in the regional jail, followed by 36 months of probation and registration as a sex offender. He cannot frequent places where children congregate but is allowed to be around his own three children without restriction.
The Portland law firm O’Donnell Clark & Crew LLP filed the suit Thursday in Wasco County Circuit Court on behalf of Carlin. She was 15 when Daniel Chamberlin began abusing her in 2006 during counseling sessions that her attorneys contend were supposed to “provide youth such as Carlin with spiritual and ethical guidance.”
Ashley Nastoff, one of Carlin’s attorneys, said the usual practice for filing such cases is to keep the name of the victim confidential, but her client chose not to hide behind anonymity.
“We are very proud of her for coming forward like this,” she said. “As a result of the trauma caused by childhood sexual abuse, it often takes survivors of abuse many years to realize the full impact of the abuse on their lives. Lindsay is taking a huge step in her healing by having the courage to file the case in her own name and by telling her story.”
Also on Carlin’s legal team are attorneys Kelly Clark and Gilion Dumas. They are seeking $5 million in non-economic damages for physical and emotional injuries caused by the abuse, as well as $100,000 in economic damages.
Chamberlin was 30 when he began abusing Carlin between July 1, 2006, and Feb. 27, 2007.
He initially denied any wrongdoing after being confronted about inappropriate behavior by the teenager’s family and said he was only interested in counseling her. The family filed a complaint with law enforcement officials about his actions and church officials said in 2012 that the allegations caused a split in the church because many of the parishioners sided with Chamberlin.
Senior Pastor Dan Trautman said last year that elders of the church felt it was inappropriate for him as a man, as a male pastor, to be alone with the girl for counseling sessions despite his denials and took immediate disciplinary steps.
“What I do know to be truth is that the elders did everything they absolutely could do and they didn’t waste one second moving on it,” said Trautman. “The church was as sick about this as anybody in the community could have been.”
He said Chamberlin first lost his job and then was stripped of his ordination after he refused to seek counseling at the church’s expense.
In court this spring, after listening to blistering comments made by Carlin about the abuse, Chamberlin said: “I apologize for the fact there was a trust in me that was violated.”
Carlin told Judge Janet Stauffer: “The reason I am here today is to expose this man who was supposed to be a mentor and abused his power. This monster is a shell in which evil dwells. I have survived the hell he put me in for seven years; I let the darkness come into my life because he told me it was okay.”