This letter was sent out tonight to the members of Covenant Life Church. Mark Mitchell is the Executive Pastor. There is much to comment on but I wanted to post the letter immediately. I'll be working on a post over the next few days. Check back.
From: Mark Mitchell - Covenant Life Church
Date: April 22, 2014 6:59:48 PM EDT
To: Church Members
Subject: Lawsuit Update
We are writing to report on the status of the civil lawsuit against the church. As with many legal matters, the suit continues to play out very slowly. (At the end of this letter we have included a timeline to orient you to the history to date.)
We are about 18 months into the process so far. Although the Montgomery County Circuit Court dismissed the claims against all Defendants in May of 2013, the case was then appealed. The hearing of the Appeal is scheduled for early June in the Maryland Court of Special Appeals; the ruling could come weeks or months or even a year later.
Meanwhile, the independent investigation that Covenant Life has commissioned is ongoing. We are roughly at the halfway mark in its completion. Anyone who has information that may be relevant to the investigation is still invited to e-mail that information, or just their contact information and the general nature of what they would like to convey, to the e-mail address established for this investigation: CLCInvestigation@TL-LawFirm.com
After the Court of Special Appeals gives its ruling, it is possible that either side might seek review in the Maryland Court of Appeals, the state’s highest Court. Should the Court of Appeals agree to hear the case, there would be further appellate proceedings that could last many months or even years. Until the outcome of all appeals is known, and the lawsuit finally ends, we do not believe it’s wise to discuss the specifics of the suit or release the results of the independent investigation, since these actions could affect the legal process and prolong its ultimate conclusion.
In closing, it’s appropriate to mention the upcoming trial of Nathaniel Morales, a former Covenant Life member who has been charged in Maryland with molesting boys during the 1980s. Mr. Morales’ case received a good deal of publicity in early 2013, and may do so again during his jury trial, currently set for May 12-16. The case against Mr. Morales is a criminal matter and should not be confused with the civil lawsuit against Covenant Life.
We wanted the church family to be aware that Robin Boisvert and Grant Layman have received subpoenas to appear as witnesses in the Morales trial. This represents an opportunity to pray for wisdom if they testify and to lift up prayers for all who have been affected by sexual abuse.
With the civil lawsuit still on appeal, we continue to be constrained in how much we can communicate, but look forward to being able to present a fuller picture at the appropriate time. Thank you for your understanding and patience.
We encourage you to pray that God’s manifold wisdom, justice and goodness will be on display as these matters continue to unfold.
On behalf of the elders
October, 2012: Plaintiffs’ Initial Complaint filed
May 14, 2013: Plaintiffs’ Second Amended Complaint filed
May 17, 2013: Hearing on Motions to Dismiss
At this hearing, the Court dismissed with prejudice all of the claims of nine of the 11 plaintiffs based upon the legal statute of limitations that governs their claims. The Court also dismissed for lack of jurisdiction all of the claims against the remaining two defendants residing in Virginia.
June 14, 2013: Plaintiffs filed an Appeal with the Maryland Court of Special Appeals
June 23, 2013: Independent Investigation announced at Covenant Life Church Members Meeting
At our June 23 Members Meeting, Joshua Harris presented plans to commission an investigation into all the issues raised in the civil lawsuit, with special emphasis on learning everything possible to make our current child protection policies and procedures the best they can be. The investigation, still in progress, is being conducted by the nationally recognized, independent law firm of Thaler Liebeler, LLP. The firm is an impartial third party with no prior connection to Covenant Life Church or the matters under investigation.
August 8, 2013: Motion to Reconsider Denied
The Circuit Court for Montgomery County issued an order denying the Plaintiffs’ Motion to Reconsider, and also noted that since Plaintiffs had failed to file a Third Amended Complaint, the case is closed.
However, the Plaintiffs’ Appeal filed with the Maryland Court of Special Appeals on June 14, 2013 is still pending.
June 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10 or 11, 2014: Oral arguments for the Appeal Hearing will be scheduled for one of these days.
Unknown date: The Maryland Court of Special Appeals will render its opinion.