Wednesday, March 02, 2016

RICO Lawsuit Filed Against Pastor and Elder of Defunct Megachurch

A civil RICO lawsuit was filed last week against Mark Driscoll, pastor of the now-closed Seattle, Washington, Mars Hill Church.  At its height, the Mars Hill had expanded to 5 states and drew 13,000 attendees on an average Sunday. Also named in the suit filed by 4 former church members was the church's chief elder, John Sutton Turner.  The complaint (full text) in Jacobsen v. Driscoll, (WD WA, filed 2/29/2016), alleges that defendants solicited contributions from thousands of members for specific charitable purposes and then diverted the funds to other purposes, including fraudulent promotion of Driscoll's book, Real Marriage, and for church expansion. Daily Beast reports on the lawsuit and its background:
Mars Hill closed its doors in 2014, following a number of scandals involving allegations of Driscoll’s bullying and spiritual abuse of members and church leaders, misogyny, and homophobia espoused on a church message board, plagiarism, and misuse of church funds—which this lawsuit seeks to redress. Since its closure, the details of the organization’s dissolution have been opaque, with little public accounting, and a group of remaining leaders who have refused to comment on who gets what from the failed enterprise