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Judge sides with Temple Baptist, pastor, in summary judgment

Jane Doe’s legal team vows to appeal

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The special judge assigned to oversee the civil suit filed by a Jane Doe against a local church and pastor sided with the religious organization recently.

Last month, the special judge assigned to handle the nearly two-year-old civil suit filed against Temple Baptist Church, Pastor Mike Holloway, Donald Croddy, and his wife Elfriede by Jane Doe ruled on a requested summary judgment by the defendants in the case. In that ruling, Special Judge Rick Maughmer sided with the defendants on the grounds that Doe’s claims of being molested by Croddy while staying at his house at the behest of Holloway fell outside the bounds of the statute of limitations and that evidence being submitted by Doe was inadmissible. The suit against the Croddys remained. Doe’s attorney, however, vowed to appeal the order.

“It will (continue). We’re going to see what we can do with it on appeal,” said Chris Garrison, who represents Doe in the case. “It’s not over. Unfortunately, it’s just delayed until we can get a response on that. If we win on the appeal, then it will go back to the court where we left off, and if we lose the appeal, we will have the choice to appeal it to the Indiana Supreme Court. Or if the court makes a finding we feel we can’t defeat, then we will let it go.”

The case stems from claims made by Doe concerning alleged events that transpired approximately 26 years ago when she was about 13 years old. At that time, while attending Temple Baptist Church, according to court documents, Holloway and Croddy met with her mother to discuss Doe living with Croddy so she could attend more church-related events. Her mother, not knowing the allegations against Croddy concerning his alleged molestation of his adopted daughter, agreed to allow her daughter to stay with Croddy.

According to Doe, while staying with Croddy, he molested her.

She claimed she repressed memories of the alleged molestation until reading Croddy’s daughter’s account of her molestation at the hands of her adopted father, which was published in the Kokomo Perspective in 2017. The lawsuit filed by Doe ties this instance to Holloway’s alleged suggestion that Doe stays with Croddy, claiming that the pastor suggested the situation despite prior knowledge of the molestation of Croddy’s daughter.

The attorney for the church and Holloway did not return a request for comment, but in court documents the church and pastor deny having suggested that Doe live with Croddy.

At issue in this case is Doe’s claim that her mother relayed to her that she had met with Holloway and Croddy to discuss the potential living arrangement. However, her mother is now deceased, and the parties in the case argued whether statements made by the mother could be admissible as evidence in the case.

Additionally, Doe’s attorneys utilized expert testimony to assess whether Doe had in fact dealt with repressing the memory of her alleged molestation at the hands of Croddy. That expert, according to court documents filed by the plaintiffs, made the assessment that Doe indeed repressed her memories. The importance of this step in the process is how repressed memories affect the statute of limitations on such cases.

While Maughmer ruled that both Doe’s mother’s statements should be excluded from the case proceedings and that the statute of limitations had been passed in the suit, Doe’s attorney disagreed.

“I think that the court maybe didn’t understand our arguments on a couple things, but it’s hard to know because the court order was really devoid of any actual cited reasons beyond just conclusions that basically the statement of (Doe’s) mother … since she’s deceased, it is not admissible,” said Garrison. “There’s a rule that we believe makes it admissible as admissible hearsay and not inadmissible hearsay. And the judge said it was past the statute of limitations, and we believe that’s a jury question to determine because of the allegation of repressed memory.”

Croddy’s attorney declined to comment for this story.