February 25, 2005

Accuser in church harassment case changes testimony

Decatur Daily

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

The woman suing Central United Methodist Church for sexual harassment explained Thursday that she misspoke when she claimed a minister gave her pornographic pictures.

The mistake, she said, was the result of a flashback she had during her testimony Wednesday.

Rita Cobbs, formerly a secretary at Central, sued the Decatur church for failing to protect her from sexual harassment by a 78-year-old, part-time visitation minister, the Rev. Sheats Summerford.

Thursday was Day 3 of the trial. U.S. District Judge R. David Proctor said he expects testimony to end and jury deliberations to begin this afternoon. The plaintiff rested its case Thursday.

The only witnesses Thursday were Cobbs and the Rev. Hal Noble, former pastor of Central.

During cross-examination of Cobbs, Central's lawyer, John Wilmer, highlighted inconsistencies between statements made by Cobbs in the years since the harassment and her testimony Wednesday.

Posted by kshaw at February 25, 2005 07:17 AM