A 22-year-old woman has filed a lawsuit in Chicago seeking redress for alleged sexual abuse at the hands of her former adoptive father and and adoptive uncle. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is also named in the suit. The woman seeks $50,000 damages for childhood sexual abuse, sexual assault and battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Media reports filed by the Chicago Tribune and PR Newswire. Although the Tribune withheld the plaintiff's name, PR Newswire published it. Since this post, the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate has also posted a more informative story.
The lawsuit was filed on February 24th, 2009, in the Circuit Court of Cook County by attorney Edmund J. Scanlan on behalf of his client, Markeisha Kite. The lawsuit alleges that Christopher W. Kite, her adopted father, sexually abused Markeisha at the family's Park Ridge home and at church beginning in 1991 when she was four years old.
The abuse continued through 2001 when DCFS removed the girl from the home at the age of 14 due to her complaints of sexual abuse. The suit also alleges that her adoptive mother, identified as a nurse named Lynne, would give her medication -- the plaintiff's attorney said it was sleeping pills -- before the abuse. The suit also alleges that David Bromley, brother-in-law of Christopher W. Kite, sexually abused Markeisha in Kite's home from 1991 through 1996. In 2002 Markeisha obtained an order of protection against defendants Bromley and Kite. Neither Bromley nor Kite have ever been criminally charged in the case.
However, the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate now adds that Park Ridge Police Cmdr. David Keller said Park Ridge detectives did conduct a lengthy investigation into the allegations of sexual abuse made against Kite and Bromley, but the case was suspended when the Cook County State's Attorney's Office announced criminal charges would not be approved. At the time police began their investigation, the plaintiff, then a minor, was a patient at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, recovering from a suicide attempt.
The LDS Church is named as defendant in the suit because Kite sexually abused the minor Markeisha on at least ten occasions in the church facility at 2727 West Lake Street in Wilmette, Illinois, and as an ordained priest of the church, Kite was under direct supervision and control of the church.
Attorney Edmund Scanlan said, "The facts in this case are tragic. It is unforgivable that she had to live with this abuse for so many years". Scanlan also told the Tribune that another relative of Christopher Kite corroborated his client's story.
Neither Kite nor Bromley could be reached for comment on Tuesday February 24th. The LDS Church has not yet officially reacted. One oddity is that Christopher Kite is identified as a "Mormon priest". A priest is an office to which only those 16-19 years old are customarily ordained, concomitant with the Aaronic Priesthood. Adults normally are elders and hold the Melchizedek Priesthood unless they're converted to the Church as adults, or if they fall into inactivity before reaching adulthood. Requests to the Chicago Tribune for clarification of this point have not yet been answered.
Analysis: Strengthening Markeisha's case is the reported corroboration by a third party, and the fact that she didn't wait 30 years to make an issue of it, like some plaintiffs do (reference the Ferris Joseph case).
Weakening Markeisha's case is the fact that no criminal charges were filed against either Christopher Kite or David Bromley. If this had happened 20-30 years ago, I could understand it, since sexual abuse was frequently swept under the rug at that time. But DCFS intervened in 2001, when the current witch-hunt climate against sex offenders was first blooming, so either this is an inexcusable oversight by Illinois DCFS, or else it didn't happen as advertised.
In any event, the Church should fight this and seek to sever itself from the suit, since there's no evidence they exercised any command or control over Kite.