Wyoming Church Admits Hiring a Sex Offender, Denies Responsibility

WyomingHighland Park Community Church, the largest church in Casper, Wyoming, admited it hired James Jaure knowing that he had been convicted of sexually assaulting a child seven years earlier and was still on probation. But when Jaure later molested three girls in the church basement, Highland Park denied any responsibility. The church even failed to call the police when it learned of his new crimes.

The story begins when Jaure was convicted of sex crimes involving a minor in Cheyenne in 2004. In 2008, he began attending the “Celebrate Recovery” ministry at Highland Park in 2008, a program for substance abusers. The church now admits that when they hired him as a custodial worker in September 2011, they knew about the 2004 conviction, that he was still on probation, and that he had a history of substance abuse.

After he was hired, Jaure abused at least three minor girls at the church. According to investigator reports, he told his victims that he was a volunteer youth group leader. He encouraged children in the church to write bible verses on the wall in a storage room in the church’s basement called “the cages.” In July 2012, one of his victims was alone in the cages writing scripture when Jaure came in, closed the door, turned off the lights, held her against her will, and sexually assaulted her, according to the court filings. Jaure threatened the girl that he would “leave the rest for later” and “this is just the start.”

The three victims have filed a civil lawsuit against the Highland Park church. According to the lawsuit, church staff knew about Jaure’s sexual assaults on the girls in the basement, but did not contact law enforcement. In their official court response, the church denied responsibility for any of its actions.

Jaure was criminally charged for sexually abusing the three girls and pleaded guilty. He was sentenced in October 2013 to serve concurrent sentences of up to 19 years in prison.

Highland Park’s handling of this situation is abhorrent.  The church admits they knowingly hired a convicted child molester with substance abuse issues, but deny any responsibility for his actions when he worked at the church. Churches and other organizations are quick to accept credit and praise when their employees do good in the community and help people. They need to accept responsibility when their employees do harm in the community and hurt people.




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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