The family of a teen girl who was sexually propositioned by a youth pastor she met at school have asked that the school suspend its clergy visit program, in which Christian pastors bring fast food to public school cafeterias during lunch with an eye to recruiting students and their parents into their churches.
"This is no different than a pedophile with candy in his pocket," said the family's attorney, Cris Feldman, to the Houston Chronicle. "It's just someone who worked for [Houston Megachurch] Second Baptist and was told to go into school lunch rooms and recruit."
According to the Chronicle, on Tuesday, the family asked that Second Baptist and Community Faith Church at least temporarily halt the pastoral outreach program after youth pastor Chad Foster, 35, of Second Baptist propositioned their daughter, then 14, online and attempted to pressure her into having sexual relations with him.
The family has filed lawsuits against Second Baptist and Community of Faith Church, both of which employed Foster during the period of time he was still allowed to have contact with young girls.
Furthermore, Feldman demanded that Second Baptist disclose the details of how is screens, hires, trains and supervises its youth ministers and whether the church imposes any boundaries on or monitors the way clergy interact with children through the Internet and social media.
"This is a public health, public safety and a public morality issue," Feldman said. "When you're dealing with relationships with children, you need to be concerned with who's doing that."
The unnamed girl met Foster during her lunch hour in 2010. He enticed her into participating in activities at Second Baptist and began to communicate with her online, first through chats, and then through the video calling platform Skype.
The pastor told the young girl that he was lonely. In January of 2011, the lawsuit alleges, "Foster would expose himself and engage in acts of self-gratification while he was in his bedroom." He "groomed and pressured her for sex," said the suit, asking her to expose herself to the camera and "talk dirty."
In December of 2011, Foster was charged with online solicitation of a minor. This charge came mere weeks after he was charged with sexual assault of a minor girl in a separate case. He met that 16-year-old girl while working as a youth pastor at Community of Faith Church, where he served before taking a position at Second Baptist.
Foster was sentenced to five years in prison in 2013 for his crimes.
Second Baptist issued a statement saying that this is the first the church has heard of any allegations against Foster, saying, "Our hearts ache for the young lady and her family if she was subjected to the things described in the lawsuit."
Feldman bristled at the church's implication that the girl may have made up the whole thing, explaining, "That's why we are making these demands."
Greater transparency in the screening, hiring and training process, the attorney said, will ensure that these types of situations are less likely to occur in the future.