February 24, 2005

Woman testifies Methodist minister didn't protect her from harassment

Decatur Daily

By Eric Fleischauer
DAILY Staff Writer
eric@decaturdaily.com 340-2435

Jurors showed no emotion as Rita Cobbs shed tears Wednesday during her testimony in a sexual harassment case against Central United Methodist Church.

As she detailed obscene phone calls that she said she received from the Rev. Sheats Summerford, and as she discussed his April 15, 2000, suicide, Cobbs' face turned red, tears fell and she struggled to speak.

The eight jurors, faces wooden, alternated between staring at her on the stand and staring at the Rev. Hal Noble, Central's senior pastor during the alleged harassment.

In a federal lawsuit, Cobbs accused Noble of failing to protect her from harassment while she worked at Central. Wednesday, the second day of trial, she said she told Noble of the harassment in February 1999 and asked that he make sure other staff members were with her when Summerford, 78, entered the

Posted by kshaw at February 24, 2005 01:47 AM