Women claim they were sexually abused at megachurch-affiliated rehab center
Three women say they were sexually abused as patients at an addiction rehabilitation facility linked to the Rock Church in San Diego.
The women filed a lawsuit last week against David Powers, who operated ABC Sober Living, while they stayed at his Soledad House rehab facility.
Former heroin addict Taylor Peyton said Powers entered her room at the facility, where he would lie on top of her, kiss her neck, and grab her buttocks.
“I was terrified if I told anyone I wouldn’t be able to complete my treatment,” said Peyton, who stayed at the rehab center for four months.
Another woman said Powers immediately began making inappropriate comments to her after she arrived in July 2012.
“Soon enough, he was slapping my butt and walking into the room when I was naked,” said Jaycee Peacock, whose addiction treatment was paid for by Rock Church. “David made disgusting sexual comments and found a way to touch me every single day that I was there.”
Former employee Andria Donovan said she saw Powers act inappropriately with female patients, but she said she was unable to do anything about the abuse because Powers handled all grievances at the facility.
The women said Powers grabbed Peyton’s buttocks during group prayer, and they said Powers and his wife, Tina, would have sex in their bedroom with the door open when women from the program stayed at their home.
Rock Church is named in the lawsuit as a defendant, but a spokeswoman said the church’s involvement was limited to referring patients for treatment.
“While these accusations are very concerning, none of the alleged misconduct took place on property owned or managed by the Rock Church or was committed by anyone under the authority and control of the Rock Church,” said Mei Ling Starkey, media relations and social media director for the megachurch. “They were allegedly committed at a recovery center owned and operated by ABC Sober Living. It should be noted that none of the accusers were referred to ABC Sober Living by the Rock Church.”
Rock Church was founded in 2000 by Pastor Miles McPherson, and the church claims on its website that more than 16,000 people attend services each Sunday in person or via online services.
The suit claims Powers had sexual contact with his victims, including vaginal penetration, and asked them to undress or walked in on them when they were naked.
“He (was) looking for favors,” said attorney Irwin Zalkin, who’s representing the women. “He (was) conditioning their continued stay on them giving it up.”
The suit claims Powers’ wife was aware of the abuse.
Powers denied all the allegations, saying that “this is the first time a rumor of this kind has ever come up” during his 17 years operating ABC Sober Living.
He blamed the accusations on mental health issues of an unspecified accuser, whom he said immediately relapsed after leaving the program early, and said he was targeted by one of his enemies.
Watch the women outline their accusations in this report posted online by KNSD-TV: