North Idaho

Man suing Holdeman Mennonite Church over sex abuse claims

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - A man is suing his church for allegedly allowing him to continuously be sexually abused as a child.

Clayton Peaster is suing the local and national church of the Holdeman Mennonites. The Holdeman Mennonites have a policy to bring wrongdoings forward to church leaders before authorities, and these church leaders are not trained in dealing with sexual abuse victims or children. Clayton hopes that in going after the church at a national level he can change this policy for the better.

Peaster claims when he was 11 his adoptive father, David Peaster, began sexually abusing him and another child. He says he turned his father over to church officials at the Holdeman Mennonite Church in Bonners Ferry. Church officials excommunicated David Peaster from the church temporarily. He was allowed back into the church 10 days later when he repented for his sins.

Clayton says the abuse then continued until he was 16, causing him permanent emotional and physical damage, and he wants to change some of the policies in the national church to help ensure this does not happen to any more Mennonite children.

"The problem is people should've listened when not only me but other people came forward instead of make them grow up and question everything about themselves," he said.

There have been criminal charges against the Holdeman Mennonite church in the past however this will be the first civil suit. Clayton's lawyers say they are not quite sure how the church will react when asked to change long standing policies but they say its all in the interest of protecting children.