A Lowndes County woman brought a lawsuit against Vibrant Church of Columbus, members of its leadership, an umbrella company under which the church operates and 25 other as yet unidentified defendants on five counts, including discrimination / sexual harassment , intentional aggression distress and neglect. He seeks actual, compensatory, pain / suffering and punitive damages as determined by a jury trial.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday in Aberdeen Federal District Court by Columbus attorney Corky Smith on behalf of Laura Ashley Eagan.
The lawsuit covers events which it claims began in February 2020 until the end of the year. He alleges Senior Pastor Jason Delgado made unwanted sexual advances through “various electronic means”, which came after Jason Delgado’s father, Deputy Pastor Ronald Delgado, told his son about the details of the counseling sessions that the father had with Eagan regarding his marriage difficulties.
The lawsuit further claims that Eagan, who was an intern at the church, received a poor assessment from his supervisor, identified as Laurel Jones. The lawsuit said Jones did not provide any documentation to support the poor assessment, but told Eagan she was “too sexy” to be an intern.
The suit says that after this job evaluation, Eagan was referred to Jason Delgado for mentorship. The lawsuit claims Jason Delgado used his knowledge of Eagan’s counseling sessions with his father – which Eagan believed to be confidential – and his status as a person who intervened on his behalf, to put Eagan in a vulnerable position.
The costume says that shortly after starting to mentor Eagan, Jason Delgado started texting him, which she claimed to be benign at first, but over time became sexual overtures.
“Sir. Jason Delgado used his position of trust and his situational awareness of Ms. Eagan to accomplish his sexual perversions. The costume indicates.” At best, this is a deliberate manipulation of those who need to achieve unnatural sexual fantasies. At worst, he’s a calculated sexual predator, with his free choice of vulnerable victims. “
The lawsuit said Eagan “had nowhere to turn” when Jason Delgado’s communications turned sexual in nature.
“She couldn’t go to Mr. Ron Delgado because he had already betrayed her trust. She couldn’t make it to the human resources department because Ms. Delgado (HR director Miriam Delgado) was Jason Delgado’s mother, ”the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit said other church officials, including Pastor Mike Stephens and Stacy Peterson (listed on the church’s website as principal of the children’s elementary school) as well as 25 other people who would be identified during the trial, were aware of the situation but did nothing to intervene or participate in what the prosecution claims to be a “set-up”.
The lawsuit also said that an umbrella organization of the church, identified in the lawsuit as XYZ Corporation, also named during the lawsuit, had not intervened, including defendant Dino Rizzo, who the lawsuit said did not intervene. investigated Eagan’s allegations.
Rizzo is listed as the Executive Director and Founder of the Association of Related Churches (ARC) on that organization’s website.
The lawsuit said church officials were aware of Jason Delgado’s prior harassing behavior as early as 2016, but took no action to correct the problem or prevent future incidents.
Delgado resigned his church post in April, three days after The Dispatch reported that two former employees, speaking on condition of anonymity, accused Jason Delgado of sexual harassment.
Mike Stephens is not listed as holding a position in the church, according to his website.
Ron Delgado is identified as Associate Pastor on the website while Miriam Delgado is listed as Director of Human Resources and Laurel Jones is listed as Director of Outreach.
Editor’s Note: The Dispatch’s policy is not to identify victims of sex crimes. The plaintiff in this lawsuit is identified because it is a civil matter.
Slim Smith is a columnist and editor for The Dispatch. His e-mail address is [email protected]