New Developments In Mt. Zion Baptist Lawsuit - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

New Developments In Mt. Zion Baptist Lawsuit

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by Nick Beres

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – There are new developments in the civil lawsuit against Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Nashville.  There are now more allegations of sexual misconduct, and these come as defense attorneys take steps to have the lawsuit dismissed.

Valencia Batson filed a $5 million lawsuit last month accusing church leadership, including Bishop Joseph Walker, of sexual exploitation, battery and harassment.

"It's wrong. It's not the right thing to be happening, especially in a place like a church," said Batson last month.

In an exclusive interview this week Batson's attorney, Connie Allison, said more people have come forward with stories since the original filing, and she recently filed an addition to the lawsuit.

There are new allegations.  For instance, a former male member of the church said he "sought pastoral counseling and care from Bishop Walker, specifically marital counseling ... Walker then began a long-term affair with the wife that eventually led to the break-up of the marriage."

On the question of Walker's sway over women, the lawsuit accuses him of "... using Biblical and spiritual language that defendant, Pastor Walker was the closest a woman could get to God."

Batson said Walker abused that power.

"A spiritual leader and guide is a person you trust.  It's a truth that should not be misused," said Batson.

Allison said the new additions bolster her client's case.

"I think we will win," said Allison.

Mt. Zion issued a statement denying the accusations in the lawsuit.  The church calls the allegations ridiculous and the case nothing more than a money grab by former members.

NewsChannel 5 has learned lawyers for the church later this week will file a motion asking to have key elements of the lawsuit dismissed.

"I would expect that they would do that. But is it going to happen? I don't think so," said Allison.

A judge will decide the issue.

The lawsuit is a civil case seeking financial damages. No criminal charges have ever been filed.


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