A jury has awarded $1.4 million to a Minnesota woman who accused her Methodist pastor of sexually abusing her.
The woman accused 67-year-old Donald Dean Budd of pursuing an inappropriate relationship at a time when she was emotionally vulnerable.
The Hennepin County jury concluded this week that Budd must pay $1 million in punitive damages. Of another $410,000 in compensatory damages, Budd must pay $246,000 and the rest is to be paid by the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
A call to Budd’s home Saturday rang unanswered, and a message left with his attorney wasn’t immediately returned. The woman’s attorney, Robert Hajek, said the jury’s verdict was “very responsible and reasonable.”
Budd was a pastor at McKinley United Methodist Church in Winona. Prior to that, he served in Methodist churches in Harmony, Minn., and Eau Claire, Wis. He is no longer a pastor.
The woman filed a civil lawsuit in 2009, alleging that she sought counseling from Budd while he was a pastor at McKinley between 2003 and 2005. A sexual relationship developed, leading to Budd’s eventual conviction on a pair of felony sexual-abuse charges.
The woman said she reported the relationship to the conference in 2006. She accused officials of dropping the investigation and calling the woman uncooperative and not credible, court documents said.
Her civil lawsuit claimed that the conference should have done a better job of investigating Budd’s sexual misconduct, according to a Winona Daily News report.
Victoria Rebeck, a spokeswoman for the conference, disputed the charge. She said the conference and its bishop acted immediately when notified about the allegations by placing Budd on restriction and removing his credentials.
//Wow… 1.4 million dollars. That’s a lot of communion cups and hymnals.
I hear ‘cover up’ stories all the time. When bad things happen, boards, conferences, and denominations tend many times to want to cover them up.
This time it bit them in the butt.
When accusations happen these days, a full investigation must be done immediately and completely. And there can be no cover up. Information is too instantaneous and widespread these days. The truth will get out. (If not the truth, then at least rumors… which again will doom you if you’ve not done the full investigation).
There should be no cover-up in the body of Christ. And if there was in this case, it was found out.
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