Disgraced Minister Ordered to Pay $1 Million for Sexual Abuse
Sexual molestation by church leaders continues to be exposed as a widespread scourge, but their victims are finally getting justice in court.
In the most recent example, a former youth minister in Alabama who had been convicted of sexually abusing a 15 year-old girl has now been been ordered to pay $1 million to his victim.
William David Webb, was a youth minister and executive pastor at the Word of Life Christian Center, where his father, Scott Webb, served as senior pastor at the church. In 2009, he pled guilty for transporting a minor across state lines for purposes of sex. Webb is serving a five-year federal prison sentence.
His victim, Barbara Elizabeth Echols, who is now 24 and married, filed a civil lawsuit against Webb accusing him of sexually assaulting and sexually abusing her beginning when she was 15 years old.
Her legal claims included assault and battery of a sexual nature, trespass on her body, wantonness and seduction of an underage and unmarried woman. She also sued the church but settled her lawsuit for a confidential amount.
Webb, 39, who once lived a lavish lifestyle as a church leader, testified from his prison cell in Arkansas and gave up his right to appear live at the trial.
“He testified that at age 30 he was living in a home that was listed on the market for $1 million,” said John Brunson of Massey, Stotser and Nichols, who represented Echols. In 2006, the church occupied a $14 million campus on 174 acres in northeastern Birmingham, Ala.
The jury awarded $1 million in compensatory and punitive damages to Echols, who said she was pleased with the verdict. Garrick Stotser, another attorney for Echols, said the jury sent a message to sexual predators.
“We believe this verdict indicates that the courts will not tolerate abuse and misuse of a minor by people in a position of power,” he said.