Jury Finds San Jose Church on the Hill Negligent for Sex Abuse of Young Children

Church on the Hill Sex Abuse Jury Verdict

A Santa Clara County jury found the San Jose-based Church on the Hill negligent in connection to the sex abuse of three young children.

The lawsuit (Santa Clara County Case No. 112CV221574) alleged that Church on the Hill provided a glowing recommendation for convicted predator Keith Woodhouse and did not report Woodhouse to police after the church was made aware that Woodhouse engaged in inappropriate sexual activity with a seven-year-old child in 2007.

Following opening arguments in the case, Child Development, Inc. (“CDI”) paid an undisclosed amount to the victims. CDI hired Woodhouse to work at Trace Elemetary Child Development Center without, as alleged by the plaintiffs, conducting a thorough past employment check. Arguably, Trade CDC violated state law by allowing an unqualified Woodhouse to be left alone with young children.

Childhood molestation attorney Robert Allard, of the law firm of Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, represented the families of the young children. Allard stated, “We hope that this verdict will make our community safer for young children by serving as wake-up call for trusted institutions who care for our kids to report suspected sexual predators and to thoroughly screen potential employees who will have access to children. Our clients are most pleased with the results as, in their minds, CDI stepped up to the plate to ensure that these children will be provided for in the future both by way of therapy and education. We are grateful for that.”

Mr. Allard also stated, “Pastor Eliot Sands and Church on the Hill steadfastly denied that they did anything wrong and therefore we were forced to try this case in order to send the following message to the community: nothing is more important than protecting children from sex abuse. If you fail to make children safe from sexual predators by placing your own interests first, you will be held accountable in a court of law, either criminally or, as here, through civil litigation.”

Allard also represents four more victims of sexual abuse by Woodhouse while students at CDI, as well as a child who was molested in 2007 while attending the Church’s summer camp called “Camp on the Hill.” Church on the Hill will now face another civil trial on behalf of these victims unless it takes responsibility for its actions.

“As a society, we all pay the price when a child is sexually abused,” said Allard. “This jury has sent a message to institutions of trust that they will be held financially liable for the long-term treatment and care of childhood molestation victims if they do not follow the law when it comes to protecting children from sex abuse.”