United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Amarillo Division
KIMBERLY D. POLLARD and J.S. A Minor Child, PLAINTIFFS,
CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST, INC., an Active Domestic Tennessee Nonprofit Corporation, and CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST, BOARD OF BISHOPS, and BISHOP JAMES L'KEITH JONES, DEFENDANTS.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
LOU ROBINSON, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Defendant Church of God in Christ, Inc.' s
motion, filed August 18, 2017, for summary judgment,
Plaintiff Kimberly Pollard's response thereto, and the
Defendant's reply. Because the statute of limitation ran
upon Plaintiffs claims long before this lawsuit was filed,
summary judgment for the Defendant is granted.
an action brought by the alleged victim of a sexual assault
against the national church by which the assailant, Bishop
James L'Keith Jones, was ordained. A final default
judgment against Defendant Jones was entered in the amount of
$750, 000.00 in damages, plus reasonable and necessary costs
in this action. That judgment is now final.
Kimberly Pollard alleges direct liability against the
national church - based upon its alleged negligent
supervision of Bishop Jones - as well as vicarious liability
for Jones' sexual assaults. Specifically, she asserts
that the national church "knew or should have known of
the illicit conduct that  Jones was engaging in with
Plaintiff Pollard because a basic investigation would have
revealed these facts" and, because Jones allegedly
worked for and was ordained by the national church, it is
liable for his misconduct.
alleged in Plaintiff Pollard's complaint and explained in
her summary judgment affidavit, Plaintiff states that she had
her first sexual encounter with then-pastor Jones in 1995 in
New Mexico, when she was 16 years of age. The age of consent
is 16 in New Mexico. In about 2002, when Plaintiff was 23
years old, she states that she stopped seeing Jones and
"[their] communication came to a halt, with phone calls,
emails and texts on each other's birthdays" or just
"small talk" conversations "here and
there." In November of 2014 - twelve years later - Jones
and Plaintiff Pollard, then age 35, began a second,
consensual, sexual affair in Texas. Plaintiff ended that
affair in 2016 when she states she realized that Jones would
not divorce his wife and marry her, and was allegedly
"grooming" her daughter for a future sexual affair
- as she then realized he had groomed her when she was a
minor. Jones married his current wife before 2002, during the
course of Plaintiffs first affair with him.
first reported the sexual misconduct by Jones to the national
office of the church during the summer of 2016. Pollard
characterizes Jones's underlying conduct as sexual
assault, sexual abuse, and sexual molestation of a minor,
where multiple assaults continued well into Plaintiffs
Court may terminate litigation by rendering a summary
judgement where no genuine issue of material fact exists and
the moving party is entitled to judgement as a matter of
law." Honore v. Douglas, 833 F.2d 565, 567 (5th
Cir. 1987)(citations omitted). See also Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552, 91
L.Ed.2d 265 (1986)(initial burden is on movant to show
entitlement to summary judgment with competent evidence);
Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 56(c)./ "Summary judgement disposition is
inappropriate if the evidence before the court, viewed as a
whole, could lead to different factual findings and
conclusions." Honore v. Douglas, 833 F.2d at
567. This Court must resolve "all factual uncertainties
and mak[e] all reasonable inferences in favor of the
nonmoving party." See Id. Accord Bienkow ski v.
American Airlines, 851 F.2d 1503, 1504 (5th Cir.
1988). Such a finding may be supported by the
absence of evidence necessary to establish an essential
element of the non-moving party's case. See Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 82, 121
L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Topalian v. Ehrman, 954 F.2d
1125, 1131 (5th Cir.), cert, denied, 954 U.S. 1125,
113 S.Ct. 82, 121 L.Ed.2d46 (1992).
Plaintiff Pollard properly alleges a non-consensual sexual
assault cause of action, the Texas statute of limitations for
personal injury in such sexual assault cases is five years
beginning from when the cause of action accrued. See
Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Section 16.0045(a). However,
the statute of limitations is tolled until a minor plaintiff
turns eighteen. Id. Therefore Plaintiff s
limitations period began to run on January 29, 1997, when she
turned eighteen. Pollard's sexual assault-based claims
accrued when each sexual assault occurred. By Plaintiffs
admission, they completely ended in 2002 when she terminated
the first affair with Jones, when she was age 23.
complains of conduct occurring in two multi-year time
periods, which were separated by twelve years: from 1995 into
2002, and beginning again in 2014 until finally ending in
2016. Pursuant to Texas' five-year limitations period for
sexual assault-based claims, all of her sexual assault-based
claims related to Jones' misconduct occurring between
1995 and 2002 therefore expired at the latest sometime during
2007. She filed this lawsuit in 2017 - approximately nine
years too late. The summary judgment evidence in this record
reflects that the parties' conduct during the second time
period, from 2014 and ending in 2016, was consensual and
occurred when the Plaintiff was in her mid-thirties, and
still willing and hoping to marry then-Bishop Jones.
claims that she did not discover the causal connection
between Jones' sexual abuse and her depression and other
emotional injuries she suffered until 2016, when she first
realized she had been "groomed" as a minor by Jones
for their affair and that the affair had caused her ongoing
mental depression. However, in Texas a sexual assault is an
impermissible and intentional invasion of the victim's
person, and is an injury then actionable independently from
resulting mental suffering or other physical injury. See
Doe v. St. Stephen's Episcopal Sck, 382 Fed.Appx.
386, 389 (5th Cir. 2010) (quoting Harnedv. E-Z Fin.
Co., 151 Tex. 641, 254 S.W.2d 81, 85 (Tex. 1953)).
undisputed that Pollard has not pled that Jones's conduct
was a tort continuing into 2014 and through 2016, given the
12 year complete absence of a sexual relationship between
2002 and into 2014. She has not argued ...