May 01, 2005

Jury rules in favor of former church choir director for rape by pastor



By: Melissa Yeager, KY3 News

SPRINGFIELD – A Greene County jury says the state leaders of the United Methodist Church are liable for the rape of a church choir director by the pastor. The jury awarded Teresa and Sid Norris $2 million in actual, or compensatory, damages and decided to return on Tuesday to decide how much in punitive damages to award the couple from Springfield.

Teresa Norris said she was glad she pursued the case "so this would happen to nobody else." The church had offered the Norrises a settlement of $750,000 before the trial.

The jury got the case about 3 p.m. after closing arguments and after the lawyers spent the morning with the judge on procedural matters. Closing arguments were delayed a bit because a juror was allowed time to take care of some previously scheduled personal business.

The deliberations hit a snag about supper time. A juror got sick and had to be sent home. After the jurors ate supper, an alternate juror replaced the sick juror and deliberations had to begin again. The verdict was delivered about 9:30.

Teresa and Sid Norris sought damages for the attack on Teresa Norris in March 1998. They say the district superintendent and the church’s bishop in Missouri did not react soon enough or forcefully enough after receiving complaints about the words and actions of the Rev. David Finestead.

Posted by kshaw at May 1, 2005 08:33 AM