Lawsuit: 2 Lake City ministers molested girls in 1980s

Published On: Mar 12 2013 03:41:42 PM EDT   Updated On: Mar 12 2013 08:56:47 PM EDT

A lawsuit has been filed against a church in Lake City after two women said that when they were young girls, two ministers forced them to have sex.

The women say it happened at the First Apostolic Church in the 1980s.

They now live out of state and are only being referred to as Jane Doe I and II. Their attorney says it's taken them this long to come to terms with what happened.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday names two pastors -- Luther Leguire and Rev. Richard Peak. Peak, church members say, is dead.

"We are alleging that sexual abuse by these two pastors took place in the 80s, early 80s," attorney Dyril Flanagan said. "These girls were sexually molested and, as a result, suffered trauma. It's taken a while. These things take a long time before they come to fruition. Basically, they are at the stage now and speaking some justice."

The suit says the assault occurred when the two girls, who are sisters, were 9 and 11 years old.

"These girls lost their father, became highly indoctrinated in the church," Flanagan said. "The church becomes their only family, per se. We are alleging based on that church relationship that is where it began."

The suit says the assault continued for several years. It also says other children were assault but does not give names, times or circumstances.

The lawsuit says the girls, the plaintiffs, were instructed to show obedience to ministers and were taught to believe and did believe it would be sinful and wrong to make any kind of accusation against a minister.

"They were told, 'If you reveal this to any parties, anybody in the church, basically damnation," Flanagan said. "Almost Christlike -- if you say something against us, you say something against Christ. It was that type of indoctrination that kept this from being surfaced."

Leguire, in a phone interview Tuesday, said he was unaware of the suit. A church member released the following statement:

"We are shocked and saddened by the baseless allegation. We take the allegation seriously and will conduct a thorough investigation. We will obtain legal representation and will find the truth in this matter. May God bless and comfort those who made these allegations against our family."