$875K Settlement Reached in New York Foster Care Sexual Abuse Case Against Warren County and United Methodist Church

Jun 17, 2024 | Sexual Abuse

Our client suffered sears of gruesome sexual abuse in Warren County’s foster care system. United Methodist Church’s gross negligence to supervise pastor despite prior complaints of sexually abusing children enabled years of unchecked abuse

PCVA Partner, Vinnie Nappo, alongside Faraci Lange, LLP and Marsh Law Firm reached a combined settlement of $875,000 in a case against Warren County and United Methodist Church (UMC) on behalf of our client, John Smith, who was subjected to years of horrific sexual abuse as a child in the County’s foster care system by his foster parent and UMC pastor, Richard Reynolds.

Warren County paid $750,000 and UMC paid $125,000, to settle the case. From ages 11 to 13, our client, John was sexually abused countless times by Reynolds inside the foster home during the 1978 to 1980 period.  Through the case investigation, multiple foster children came forward and reported that they were sexually abused by Reynolds during subsequent years.  According to documents obtained in discovery, the UMC later received complaints about Reynold’s sexual abuse of children but allowed Reynolds to continue in his leadership role at the church after sending him to sexual deviancy treatment, going so far as to request the victim’s family to keep the matter silent out of fear of bad publicity. UMC never reported Reynolds to law enforcement, even after more victims came forward.

Nappo, lead attorney in this case, stressed the County’s glaring negligence in allowing the abuse to go unchecked for years: “Warren County failed to supervise and protect our client for years on end, leaving our client vulnerable to unthinkable acts of sexual abuse by the very adult charged with his protection. No child should ever have to endure such trauma and abuse. This settlement delivers a message to institutions: there are consequences for failing to protect children and take responsibility. Although the amount awarded only reflects a fraction of the abuse John endured, it creates an impactful precedent in institutional accountability for crimes committed against the children these systems are supposed to protect.”

With regards to the UMC, Nappo added, “it is unclear when the church first received reports of Reynolds’ sexual abuse of children, but it appears the first victim came forward after John’s abuse ended. The church sent Reynolds for sexual deviancy treatment, and then allowed Reynolds back into its congregation to continue serving in leadership positions where he would have access to children. The church never reported Reynolds to law enforcement, and in fact, pleaded with the victim’s family to keep the abuse silent out of fear of bad publicity.”

Decades after the abuse ended, we have finally found the UMC liable for negligence through their failures to supervise and protect our client, John, while in foster care and under the UMC’s purview, exposing him and other children to vicious sexual abuse at Reynolds’ hands.

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