Point Loma Nazarene University sued for placing molester - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Point Loma Nazarene University sued for placing child molester with family

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POINT LOMA (CNS) - Point Loma Nazarene University, which is affiliated with Church of the Nazarene, is being sued by a brother and sister who claim the school placed a ministry student in their home who molested them nearly 30 years ago.

The girl was 6 and the boy 2 1/2 when they were allegedly molested, the Orange County Register reported Monday on its website.

They claim school officials knew the student had been convicted of child molestation, but did not tell the family, who lived in Berkeley at the time

The lawsuit is set to go to trial in San Diego County Superior Court and seeks unspecified monetary compensation from Point Loma Nazarene and changes in its procedures, the newspaper reported.

"This is the most reckless placement of a student in a family's house that I can conceive of," Vince Finaldi, the Newport Beach attorney for the brother and sister, told the newspaper. The siblings are not identified in the lawsuit.

A spokeswoman for Point Loma Nazarene told the newspaper no one at the school would comment. Calls to the school's lawyers went unanswered.

According to the lawsuit, the student, Steven Conrad Thomas, repeatedly told Point Loma Nazarene officials he had been convicted of felony child molestation in 1978.

"He enrolled in Point Loma Nazarene University," Finaldi said. "He wanted to be a youth minister. His probation required him to tell (school officials).

"They sent him up to live with a pastor in Berkeley, and work at his church. The pastor had two small kids. But they never told the pastor or his wife. And he ends up sexually abusing both the boy and the girl."

The pastor's daughter told her mother and law enforcement authorities about the sexual abuse when it occurred in 1982, and Thomas admitted to the crime and was sent to prison, according to the lawsuit.

Thomas, who is now 50, is in state prison for unrelated sex offenses against children, according to the newspaper.

The siblings, who now live in another state, sued the university in October 2008.

"That's when they started realizing that the problems they were experiencing were related to the childhood sexual abuse," Finaldi said.

Lawyers for the school asked San Diego Superior Court Judge Luis R. Vargas to dismiss the case because the statute of limitations had lapsed, but in late December, Vargas declined.

The case was appealed to the 4th District Court of Appeal, but on Feb. 7, a three-judge panel of the court denied that petition, clearing the way for a trial in September unless it is settled, the newspaper reported.

"The father is still a minister in the Nazarene church," Finaldi said, although the father is no longer in California. "The mother is very active, too. They are both professors. It hasn't really affected their faith, but it has affected their confidence in the people who run the church."

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