Lawsuit alleges 5-year-old sexually assaulted at Plymouth church

By Mara MacDonald - Reporter, Dane Sager Kelly - Web Producer

PLYMOUTH, Mich. - A lawsuit filed Thursday in Wayne County Circuit Court alleges a 5-year-old girl was sexually assaulted at the First Presbyterian Church of Plymouth on Palm Sunday in 2017.

Filed as a Jane Doe case to protect the anonymity of the family, it alleges the 5-year-old girl went to Sunday school and the usual teachers were not there. Instead of smaller groups of age-alike children, all the children in grades K-5 were put together that day. Jane Doe asked to go to the bathroom and went unescorted. The lawsuit says she was gone for 20 minutes and her absence was not noticed. In that time, the allegation is a man got her in the bathroom, sexually assaulted her and exposed himself.

She told her parents what had happened that night, and they reported it to the Plymouth Police Department the next day and brought in her clothing. Unknown male DNA was found in her underwear. A match has never been found. The only description is an adult man wearing a cross on a chain. 

There are no cameras in the church.

Plymouth police investigated for 17 months but have closed the case pending any new information.

The family is worried about the risk toward other children in the community.

The lawsuit alleges the church was negligent in the care of the 5-year-old. Monica Beck, the attorney for the family, said the church hasn’t been particularly helpful either.

“They really limited their cooperation with police from the get-go,” Beck said. “They waited a month to even tell anybody in the congregation what had occurred.”

A spokesperson for the First Presbyterian Church of Plymouth released the following statement Thursday night: 

The Church was made aware of a claim involving a child on Palm Sunday in April 2017 and immediately commissioned an investigation. The Church has fully cooperated with, and provided information to, the Plymouth Police in connection with the police investigation. The Church has not seen any lawsuit involving this matter and was not aware of the filing.

The Church is deeply saddened by this claim and continues to pray for anyone involved.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Plymouth Police Department at ‚Äč734-354-3232 or 734-453-8600.