The sexual abuse attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, are actively investigating claims involving abuse perpetuated by the Royal Rangers Organization, Sponsored by the Assemblies of God Church.
Our law firm has experience prosecuting claims involving abuse in youth organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America, the Catholic Church, Mormon Church, YMCA, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
Let the personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, explain your rights and legal options and use the best strategy to pursue and resolve a sexual abuse claim.
Contact our Chicago sexual abuse lawyers at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for immediate legal advice and schedule a free claim review. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our law firm remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
Youth Sexual Assault
Children and underage teenagers cannot consent to performing or engaging in any sexual activity involving adults. Recently, youth organizations, including the Royal Rangers and religious organizations, have faced civil sexual abuse lawsuits alleging inappropriate sexual conduct within the group.
According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), a child in America becomes a victim of sexual abuse every nine minutes. In many cases, the sexual abuse survivors are too frightened to talk about what happened for fear of retribution or that others will not believe their claims.
Sexual assault is reprehensible, inflicting significant emotional, physical, and mental harm, leaving long-lasting psychological damage. These victims often hesitate to take action against child predators for numerous reasons.
Their silence makes it crucial for any parent, family member, friend, or others in authority to recognize common warning signs associated with victims of sexual abuse.
Many children experiencing physical pain and emotional distress react in obvious and less apparent ways, including:
- Suddenly developing an age-inappropriate sexual demeanor
- Withdrawing from any physical interaction
- Hesitating to interact or trust specific individuals
- Acting out with retro childlike behavior, including thumb-sucking and bedwetting
Many youth organizations and religious groups construct legal walls to protect their leaders who were sexually abusing the young against criminal charges and civil action. Failing to hold the abuser accountable after the abuse usually allows the predator access to additional potential victims.
The Royal Rangers Program
The Royal Rangers website states that program leaders play “a vital role in helping boys develop a Christ-like manhood.” The Royal Rangers program is a boy ministry to “evangelize, equip and empower the next generation of Christlike men and lifelong servant leaders” from kindergarten to 12th grade.
The website states that it is crucial that all leaders “display consistent Christ-like character and practices in their daily lives and work in cooperation with other ministries of the Church to fulfill our collective mission of bringing the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.”
The individual must be a Christian that displays daily Christian living attributes, following its ideals and habits to become a leader in the Royal Rangers program. Every leader must remain loyal to the Church and cooperate with its ministries and programs, including what it takes to minister to underage children.
The website states that all churches are responsible for screening, proving, and supervising all leadership volunteers working with underage children.
Allegations of Sexual Abuse in the Royal Rangers
A $5 million civil sexual abuse lawsuit was filed against the Albany First Assembly Church based on allegations involving sexual molestation. The document states that the unnamed victim was sexually abused from 1984 to 1987.
The 1988 unrelated criminal charges were not associated with the Church, and the men were not named as defendants in the recent civil lawsuit.
Instead, the plaintiff’s attorneys argued that the First Assembly Church leadership was guilty based on Agency law, providing sexual abuse survivors an opportunity to file civil suits against an organization controlling the alleged sexual offenders.
According to Agency Law, religious leaders could be held civilly liable, whether they knew what the sexual offenders were doing or not. However, the law only allows the victim to obtain financial compensation as the legal remedy to justice.
The lead pastor at the church provided a written response posted on the organization’s website stating that protecting children “is paramount to God.” The pastor also said, “it is important to note that we are incredibly proud of all those who lead and work with our children and youth. And extremely confident in the level of care and safety these ministries provide.”
In 2018, another child sexual abuse civil suit was filed in Oregon, naming the Assemblies of God national office concerning the Oregon-based Royal Ranger program. Reports suggest that two Assembly of God Royal Rangers volunteers sexually abused the six plaintiffs in numerous ways during the 1980s, taking advantage of the victims using their authority.
The recent suit was similar to the Church’s civil action in 2016 that was resolved through a negotiated financial settlement. Six adult men filed a civil lawsuit involving allegations of sexually abusive behavior involving two men, Todd Clark and Ralph Gantt. Both Clark and Gantt allegedly sexually assaulted six children during the 1980s when they participated in the Royal Rangers youth group.
The document stated allegations that the youth leaders sexually abused and raped the underage boys during sleepovers. The plaintiffs’ attorneys argue that the church’s leadership dismissed allegations of sexual assault and instead “acted with malice or reckless and outrageous indifference to a highly unreasonable risk of harm and with a conscious indifference to the health, safety, and welfare” of children.
The documents identified defendants, including the Oregon-based First Assembly of God of Albany, General Counsel of the Assemblies of God, and the Assemblies of God Oregon District. In 2017, an Oregon trial judge ruled against a legal motion to dismiss submitted by the Assemblies of God leadership, allowing the case to move forward.
Charges Involving Assemblies of God
In the fall of 2020, the Pennsylvania Attorney General filed criminal charges against Perry County district court Judge Michael Schechterly after receiving information involving the judge’s “concerning behavior” with an underage child five years before.
According to a probable cause affidavit, Schechterly admitted to undesired sexual behavior with a twelve-year-old child with special needs. The judge stated he touched the boy’s genitals in 2015 in his home while watching television.
The now-adult victim stated that the Perry County judge exposed and played with his genitals when he was twelve. The fifty-eight-year-old judge admitted he had an addiction to pornography and would masturbate several times a day.
Sometimes the masturbation would occur in the courthouse, where he would invite young boys to a sleepover. Schechterly stated that after joining a local religious group, he lost the desire for masturbation and pornography.
The Newport Assembly of God Congregation called Schechterly “Commander Mike,” where he served as a Royal Rangers leader. The sexual abuse survivor had met the judge in the Church’s Royal Rangers program.
Judge Schechterly’s Sleepovers
Reports indicate that the judge served as a Perry Christian Academy teacher for nearly a decade before becoming a judge. The court affidavit revealed that the Perry County judge invited four underage males involved in the Royal Rangers organization to a sleepover in his Newport court office.
His sleepover behavior with many boys continued at the district courthouse and at his home. However, the state attorney did not file criminal charges against Schechterly at that time after finding pornographic videos of women at work.
Over three years later, an adult male close to the twelve-year-old victim with special needs came forward with reports of the judge’s “concerning behavior.” The judge presiding over his criminal charges denied Schechterly bail, incarcerating him at the Cumberland County Prison, citing he was a “danger to public and self.”
FAQs Related to Royal Rangers Sexual Abuse Claims
Below are some frequently asked questions about sexual abuse lawsuits involving the Royal Rangers. We appreciate that you might have additional questions about your legal rights and options concerning pursuing a Royal Rangers sexual abuse case.
Consequently, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation with a lawyer experienced with prosecuting sexual abuse lawsuits against youth organizations and church leaders who failed to protect minors.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit against the Royal Rangers for sex abuse?
Every state has a statute of limitations restricting a sexual abuse survivor’s time to file a civil lawsuit against church leaders, youth group volunteers, legal guardians, and other adults to recover damages for the wrongful act.
In some states, the legislature has passed look-back window laws that extend the time the sexually abused victim could file a claim after the standard statute of limitations deadline has passed.
What type of compensation can I recover by pursuing a sex abuse lawsuit?
The police or district attorney could file charges to hold the predator or others criminally accountable for what occurred. Alternatively, the victim, family members, or others may file a civil lawsuit to seek justice through financial compensation.
The amount of financial recovery varies between cases but typically pays for:
- Medical expenses
- Therapy and rehabilitation costs
- Lost wages due to time away from work
- Emotional distress and anxiety
- Punitive damages in cases involving egregious behavior
In some cases, the victim may not be physically injured but suffers horrific mental and emotional damage. A plaintiff or their attorney could file a civil case for physical, emotional, spiritual, mental, and psychosocial damages.
Will I need to confront a perpetrator in a sexual abuse lawsuit against Royal Rangers?
Nearly all civil cases are resolved through a negotiated out-of-court settlement involving attorneys representing the plaintiff and defendants. Most cases are never heard before a judge and the jury, so the survivor never provides testimony in front of the sexual abuser.
Do I need to have specific documentation to bring a claim?
Victims of sexual abuse and their family members might not have specific physical evidence documenting sexual abuse. However, a lack of physical evidence should not dissuade sexually abused victims from moving forward to hold the predator, supervisors, religious leadership, and others from facing civil action.
Other evidence may be available, including any testimony of individuals you told about the sexual molestation who may have witnessed dramatic changes in your personality. There may be no medical records or corroborative evidence other than your testimony of what occurred.
The best solution for moving forward is to talk with a sexual assault injury attorney to discuss your case’s merits that might be used to hold the perpetrator financially accountable.
How much will it cost me to file a lawsuit against the Royal Rangers?
Most personal injury attorneys specializing in sexual abuse cases accept cases through contingency fee agreements. This arrangement postpones payment of any upfront fees until the case has been successfully resolved.
Typically, the plaintiff’s attorneys will take one-third of the negotiated settlement or jury trial award to represent and provide legal services to resolve the case.
What are many indisputable signs that someone has been sexually abused?
Unfortunately, many sexually abused children exhibit signs of frequent nightmares, disrupted sleep, distant depression, mood swings, loss of appetite, significant changes in eating habits, cuts, abrasions, burns, pain, unusual discharge from the genital area, and bleeding.
The fear and anxiety can last for decades and present as eloping (running away from home), drug and alcohol addiction, sleep disorders, eating disorders, bedwetting, anger, and aggression.
While many sexual abuse victims are typically honest about when and why the abuse occurred, they often hide in shame over what happened. Many youths and other victims accept responsibility for what occurred and fail to admit that all predators convince children that their unacceptable behavior is normal activity and not called sexual assault.
Talk to an Experienced Sexual Abuse Attorney Today About a Royal Ranger Claim
Are you, or a loved one, a sexually abused victim seeking justice? Have you remained silent about the abuse since you were a child but want to hold the sexual predator accountable for what they did?
Contact the personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC at (888) 424-5757, or fill out the contact form to schedule a no-cost claim review in a confidential setting to discuss obtaining financial compensation for your damages.
We understand how difficult it will be for you or a loved one to talk about what occurred and will provide a safe environment to listen to your story.
Our legal services are not paid until we have successfully resolved your case.