Third Congregant at New Braunfels, Texas, Church Sues Former Pastor Alleging ‘Sexual Exploitation’

Photo: Zeke MacCormack /San Antonio Express-News

A third lawsuit has been filed in state court here accusing former Renew Ministries Pastor Terry Knighten of abusing his position to have sex with female congregants, while a related fight in federal court pits the now-defunct church against its insurer.

The newest plaintiffs are Samuel and Kristi Guerrero, a local couple wed by Knighten in 2011 whose suit accuses him of pursuing “a scheme of sexual exploitation” that resulted in repeated sexual contact between Knighten and Kristi Guerrero.

The suit, which seeks $1 million in damages, also names as a defendant Renew Ministries, formerly known as Celebrate Life Church. It accuses church officials of failing to properly supervise Knighten and of not acting when they became aware of his alleged misconduct.

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Describing Knighten as “a sexual predator,” the suit filed by attorney Scott J. Braden claims Knighten groomed Kristi Guerrero before forcing her into “unreciprocated sexual intercourse” in May 2015 at his New Braunfels home, which she cleaned as a job.

Neither Knighten nor the church have filed responses to the Guerrero suit filed April 28.

But both have denied similar claims leveled in suits filed against them last fall by Amy Arp and Kristen Harvey, former congregants who claim Knighten seduced them while purporting to provide marriage counseling.

Arp said she was sexually involved with Knighten from 2005-15, while the alleged incidents between Knighten and Harvey are said to have occurred in 2015.

The shared claims in their lawsuits include sexual exploitation by a mental health service provider, and negligent hiring, supervision, training and retention of Knighten.

A New Braunfels police spokesman said Tuesday that Knighten is the subject of an “open and ongoing investigation” of complaints lodged against him last fall.

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Zeke MacCormack

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