Ex-Parishioner Sues Over Harassment, Excommunication

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(CN) – An Illinois woman says in a defamation and assault lawsuit that she was branded a “witch” and cast out of her church for refusing sexual advances from her former pastor.

Araceli Guevera made the allegations against Manfred Malagon, International Christian Fellowship and United Pentecostal Church International in a Cook County Circuit Court complaint filed Thursday. She also sued Malagon’s wife Sarai.

Malagon was pastor of the organizations’ church in Elgin, Ill., which Guevera says she attended from 2008 to May 17, 2016.

Guevera claims Malagon send her texts in March of this year showing, “(1) a monkey with its hands and feet spread, exposing its penis; (2) a dog with its legs spread to show its genitalia; and (3) a woman with her breasts and buttocks exposed.”

In the ensuing weeks, Malagon allegedly asked Guevera to send him photos and videos of her nude.

On May 6, Guevera claims, Malagon kissed, hugged and fondled her breasts under the stairs at the church. She says Malagon’s son and his son’s girlfriend witnessed the incident.

According to the lawsuit, Malagon touched her again nine days later, and also said he “wanted to make love” to her “again and again.”

Guevera says Malagon excommunicated her and her family from the church in May, days after the alleged stairwell incident.

“Even after kicking plaintiff out of the church, Malagon, without permission and in his capacity as pastor, continued to send plaintiff text messages of a lewd and lascivious nature,” the complaint states.

During the summer months, after she and her family were ousted, Malagon allegedly told Guevera to leave her husband and called her a “prostitute” and a “witch” during a sermon to church members.

Guevera claims Malagon also accused her of “seducing all the men in church” and having sex with her husband’s sister, and shared a confidential confession.

“Malagon revealed, without plaintiff’s permission, that plaintiff had engaged in an extramarital affair, information that Malagon had learned in confidential counseling sessions with plaintiff in his capacity as pastor,” the complaint states.

Guevera alleges she never had sex with Malagon but that he and his wife nevertheless told church members that she had.

Guevera also claims Malagon threatened to have her sister deported if Guevera made public accusations against him.

She accuses the church organizations of negligent supervision and retention for allegedly failing to stop Malagon’s actions against her.

Guevera brought claims of defamation, assault, battery and infliction of emotional distress against the pastor.

She seeks at least $450,000 in damages and is represented by Richard Gordon in Chicago.

United Pentecostal Church International said in a statement that the authority to hire and retain ministers and other employees rests with the local church.

“The UPCI stands against any form of sexual harassment, abuse, or misconduct,” the group said.