Finding Justice for Victims of Sexual Abuse in the Seventh-day Adventist Church

Like other religious organizations and institutions of trust, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has a long and disappointing history of child sex abuse. In the United States, hundreds or more SDA children have been abused in SDA churches, schools, camps, and programs for teens and children, like Adventurers.

So far, there has been no public disclosure of the number of children molested in the DA Church, unlike the recent Pennsylvania grand jury report involving the Catholic Church or the public release of the Boy Scouts “Ineligible Volunteer Files” on accused child molesters. From our own work representing SDA clients, we know that Adventist Risk Management, the official insurance company for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, has handled claims of over 500 child sex abuse victims in the US.

The problem of child molestation in the SDA Church is particularly intensified by the Church’s large network of Seventh-day Adventist schools throughout the US and around the world. These schools, especially the boarding schools, create isolated communities that make it easier for child molesters to prey on vulnerable children and be protected by the other adults.

Like other churches and organizations, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has reacted to abuse claims badly, often by downplaying, denial, or even cover up. For example, here in Oregon, SDA Church leaders selected a convicted child molester named Leslie “Les” Bovee to run an Adventist church youth group called the Pathfinder Club at the church in Veneta, Oregon, even though they knew he had just been released from prison for fondling a child. The Church leaders even allowed Bovee to continue volunteering after they learned he had sexually assaulted children in the group.

That is just one example. We have represented many people, now adult men and women, who were sexually abused as children in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, including:

  • A young woman who, when she was a teen-ager at a remote SDA boarding school in Oregon, was sexually and psychologically abused by a school volunteer;
  • A woman who was seduced and raped by her high school teacher at an SDA high school in California; and
  • Two brothers who, when they were in middle school at an SDA school in Washington state, were sexually exploited and abused by the school’s female bus driver.

We reached successful, financial settlements for these clients. But more important for them was that they found justice for the wrongs done to them when they were children. The Seventh-day Adventist Church had failed to protect them and was finally held accountable.

If you or someone you know was abused or sexually exploited in the Adventist Church and you would like to talk to someone about it, please contact us at 503-616-5007. Your call will be confidential.


Dumas and Vaughn Attorneys at Law has law offices in Portland, Oregon and serves clients in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and other states.

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