$60 million sex abuse suit filed on behalf of three boys BALTIMORE COUNTY

September 21, 1993|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff Writer

A $60 million lawsuit was filed yesterday on behalf of three teen-age brothers who said they were sexually abused by the musical director of a Dundalk church.

The suit claims that the pastor of the North Point Baptist Church allowed James N. Reed to work as "music minister" despite knowing that Reed had been convicted of child sexual abuse 20 years ago in New York and had left an Essex church amid allegations that he had molested a boy there.

Furthermore, the suit contends that the pastor, the Rev. Dwight Evans, attempted to cover up allegations that Reed sexually abused a boy in 1988, after coming to work at North Point Baptist Church.

When told of the suit yesterday, Mr. Evans said: "At this point I'm not going to have any comment."

Reed, 53, was convicted after being charged last year with child abuse and sex offenses in the molestations of the three brothers, according to the suit. He is serving an 18-month sentence with work-release privileges at the Baltimore County Detention Center, jail officials said.

The suit accuses Reed of taking advantage of his position as musical director -- and of the teen-age boys' interest in church and in music.

The abuse of the brothers is said to have begun early in 1991. The suit states that Reed fondled the oldest boy in a church office and later "raped and sodomized" him in Reed's Dundalk apartment. The two other boys were fondled by Reed, the suit alleges.

Besides Reed and Mr. Evans, defendants named in the suit are: the Baltimore Baptist Association Inc.; the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware Inc.; and the Nashville-based Southern Baptist Convention. Officials and lawyers from those organizations said yesterday that they expected to be dismissed from the suit because the groups have no control over any local church's religious or employment policies.

The suit uses pseudonyms for the boys and their parents. A judge will rule on whether the family can proceed with the suit without disclosing their identities. Michael A. Freedman, attorney for the plaintiffs, described them as "a real red-blooded, church-going family."

The entire family is seeking $30 million in compensatory damages and another $30 million in punitive damages. The suit says that revelations of the abuse have left all family members in need of psychotherapy. "The defendants have caused the plaintiffs to be a dysfunctional family," the suit states. The family has moved away in an attempt to rebuild their lives, Mr. Freedman said.

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