CANTON, Ga. -- A lawsuit claims a prominent Cherokee County church turned its back to evidence that could have prevented the sexual abuse of a child. Now the child's parents are suing the church pastor.
The lawsuit claims that church officials knew that one of its volunteers had a troubling history of sexual misconduct with male high school students.
Despite that, the suit says First Baptist Church of Canton employed Matthew Brent Sheffield as a volunteer at the church. He allegedly sexually abused a 14 year old boy twice -- once during a Bible school program, and a second time during a church-sponsored beach trip. Sheffield faces criminal charges in the case. The lawsuit names the church pastor, George Anderson, as a defendant.
In a statement, the church says it will vigorously defend its pastor and another employee named in the suit -- adding "The church takes very seriously its responsibility to ensure the safety of all of its members and attendees, especially children and youth."
The suit says the church fired Sheffield after learning of some initial allegations of sexual misconduct. But the suit says Sheffield returned to the church as a volunteer-- which is when he allegedly molested the boy.