KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A man arrested last month on a sexual assault charge and a Maryville church have been sued for millions by the parents of the alleged victim.
On Jan. 10, Joseph Abbott was arrested in North Carolina. He has been charged with sexual battery by an authority figure, according to the Blount County Sheriff’s Office.
According to the civil lawsuit filed months before Abbott’s arrest by the victim’s parents, he was employed by the First Apostolic Church of Maryville and worked at Apostolic Christian Academy, a school operated by the church, at the time of the alleged crimes in 2022.
In the lawsuit, the family’s attorneys claim that prior to entrusting Abbott, with the care, supervision, and control of minor children, First Apostolic “knew or should have known” that Abbott was an “unsafe and/or reckless supervisor and/or custodian of minor children or was otherwise incompetent and unsafe to perform the functions assigned to him.”
The suit goes on to claim that First Apostolic was extremely negligent in the supervision of staff and students at Apostolic Christian Academy which led to the endangerment of the children there, including the 14-year-old victim.
“Defendant, First Apostolic, is liable for Plaintiffs’ injuries both directly due to its own wrongful acts and omissions and vicariously because Defendant’s employees or agents were integral participants in the wrongful conduct, or, in the alternative because Defendant failed to intervene to prevent these actions or omissions,” read the lawsuit.
The family is seeking $1.5 million in compensatory damages, $3 million in punitive damages, the costs of the litigation and any other relief available according to the lawsuit.