A church’s youth pastor was forced to resign after she complained about a new pastor who acted inappropriately.
Dawn Neldon is suing Rancho Bernardo Community Presbyterian Church in San Diego and its new pastor Bryan Stamper after she said she reported he sexually harassed her and was subsequently fired, The San Diego Reader reported.
She’s worked at the church for nearly 10 years and was even promoted to “minister of missions and serving.” But in March, the church hired the new Texas pastor to lead the congregation. His first month of service, Neldon went with Stamper and other church staff to a conference in Irvine, California. While on the bus, Stamper sat with Neldon and told her a story about an older lady who liked to grab “his butt every time he saw her.” He said that he was always happy to indulge in her desire.
She also said that their conversations has a “flirtatious” manner about them, the complaint claimed. Stamper would call her “honey, baby and sweetheart” and during the ride home compared his body to a “Lamborghini” that “couldn’t be kept in the garage.” There were other incidents in which Stamper asked her to dance with him in his first sermon before the entire congregation. He also commented on her clothing.
A separate incident involved Stamper running up to Neldon singing a song from Grease and making provocative dance gestures with her. She tried to raise her arms to avoid touching him. Finally, after just two months on the job she filed a formal complaint with the church. She further talked to Stamper about her complaint where he gave a “meager apology” but didn’t stop the behavior.
After the lawsuit was filed on August 7, Neldon was placed on administrative leave. Days later she was forced to resign.
“Like many of my female clients, Minister Neldon is working in a male-dominated industry that, in many way, is no different than other employers who simply refuse to accept that discrimination is illegal in America,” said Neldon’s attorney Dan Gilleon. “It’s a shame. You’d think a business that claims moral superiority would behave better. Minister Neldon will pay a price for speaking out, as is the case for many women who blow the whistle. But, true to her word, my client is thinking of the other women out there who might benefit once it finally sinks in for employers that civil rights will be enforced in the courtroom.”
Raw Story emailed the Rancho Bernardo Community Presbyterian Church in San Diego, as they weren’t yet open, and have not heard back with a statement as of publication.