Sex abuse lawsuit filed against Garland church

GARLAND -- A lawsuit was filed Tuesday against a Garland church after members of its youth group came forward and said they were sexually abused or assaulted by two church employees.

The lawsuit was filed against the Arapaho Road Baptist Church by a lawyer for one of the victims, Tahira Khan Merritt.

Carolyn Alvey, a spokeswoman with the church, said they became aware of the suit early Thursday, but said the church hadn't been served papers as of 4 p.m.

"From the moment we learned of these allegations, we have been transparent and open about the situation with our staff, congregation, students, investigators and the community," Alvey wrote in a statement. "This is the only way healing can truly happen. We ask the community to join us in prayer for all those involved."

Merritt said in a release Thursday that multiple girls claim sexual abuse at the hands of Jordan "Jordy" Earls and his brother, Josh, when the two worked at the church. Jordy was the music minister, while Josh was the youth minister.

"All the young women who have come forward to confront the Earl brothers and to speak out are truly brave. It takes great courage to have gone through the criminal process, which has taken about two years. My hope is that Arapaho Road Baptist Church will disclose the truth about what they knew of the risks these perpetrators posed and their misconduct and when they knew. This victim deserves the truth," Merritt wrote in her release.

The lawsuit states that the Earls sexually assaulted Merritt's client, who was in 8th grade at the time, inside the youth building of the church after Sunday school. The girl says the same thing happened on a weekly basis while she was in 10th and 11th grade.

In 2013, after the Earls moved to South Carolina, another girl came forward and told police that Josh Earls had sexually assaulted her during a pool party the year before.

The lawsuit also says that the brothers solicited girls at the church to send nude photos.

After an investigation, Josh was brought back to Dallas and charged with making pornographic videos and images of several underage girls. Jordy Earls was also brought back and charged with child pornography and sexual abuse.

Both brothers have pleaded guilty. Josh is now serving 12 years in federal prison. Jordy will be sentenced on Feb. 8.

The lawsuit claims negligence and gross negligence on the part of the church.


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