Sexual Assault Victim Sues Highland Park Community Church
A woman has sued the largest church in Casper for hiring a registered sex offender who assaulted her when she was in her teens, according to court records.
Highland Park Community Church, 5725 Highland Drive, knew or should have known that James Jaure was a convicted sex offender, according to her complaint filed by her attorneys Michael Shickich of Casper and Emily Rankin of the Spence Law Firm in Jackson.
The woman has been “irreparably injured and suffered damages” through loss of enjoyment of life, loss of income and earning capacity, emotional and psychological distress, social problems, and medical and counseling expenses, according to the complaint.
Besides unspecified compensation for these damages, the woman is asking for unspecified punitive damages, according to the complaint. “Punitive damages will ensure that corporations like Defendant do not give known sexual predators unsupervised access to young children.”
The church would not comment on the pending litigation, said its attorney Ryan Schwartz of Williams, Porter, Day, and Neville.
In the woman’s complaint, she said she met Jaure in 2011.
He encouraged children to write scripture on the wall in a storage room in the church’s basement called “the cages.” In July 2012, she was alone in the cages writing scripture when Jaure went into the room, closed the door, turned off the lights, held her against her will, and sexually assaulted her, according to the complaint. “Jaure threatened Plaintiff that he would ‘leave the rest for later’ and ‘this is just the start.'”
Highland Park Community Church’s managerial staff and employees were made aware of the assault but did not notify law enforcement.
Jaure also assaulted two other girls.
He was sentenced to a 13-15 year prison term in Natrona County District Court in October 2013.
The woman did not discuss the specific consequences of the assault.
But her father did at Jaure’s sentencing.
A 20-year Marine veteran, he said he was part of the inner circle of church leadership, according to the transcript of the sentencing hearing.
After the assault, his daughter’s personality changed, he said. She had nightmares, panic attacks and eating disorders. She also began cutting herself.
Highland Park Community Church had a responsibility and failed, he said. “This individual was hired by the church, by all the leadership of the church, knowing he was a registered sex offender. And the church never made one person aware of his background.”
The woman outlined the church’s negligence in her complaint, saying it should have known Jaure plead guilty to third-degree sexual assault in 2004, and was sentenced to a 4.5- to 6-year suspended prison term. But he repeatedly violated his probation.
He was transferred to the adult community corrections program in Casper and began attending the church’s Celebrate Recovery ministry in 2008. He was hired as a custodian, but told people he was a youth minister and had access to youth through church activities, according to the complaint.
Jaure would text girls, hug them, and visited one at a slumber party in the spring of 2012.
“As early as 2011, Defendant’s own staff expressed repeated concerns to Defendant’s managerial staff regarding Jaure’s employment, access to youth, and behavior with youth,” according to the complaint. “Numerous concerns from parents were expressed to Defendant’s managerial staff about Jaure’s behavior with children.”