Sunday, February 5

Negligence... "Think About It"

Reposted with permission from

Another great article from Carl Chinn's "Think About It"


My wife and I attended Joel Osteen’s Church in Houston on their anniversary event in 2009 when they had a record attendance. Coming from a mega-church we understand big crowds, but the 50,000 attendance event was unlike any church experience we had encountered before. I was there primarily to observe their security operations, which I found to be quite well done; subtle, friendly and ready -- as a security team should be in a church.
But even with a well-developed professional team like that of Lakewood Church – the largest church in North America – things happen.
We read the story this week of a church volunteer who was charged with one count of indecency with a child in 2011. Not only has a grand jury cleared him of the charges, but he is now suing Lakewood Church for $10,000,000.00.
The interesting part of the negligence lawsuit can be found in what the church is accused of not providing;
A>    Proper training for security operators
B>    Lacking Surveillance that could have proved his innocence
C>    Poor internal investigation methods
D>    Failure to take actions that could prevent such things from occurring
As with many lawsuits, the truth will remain clouded. We may never know the real truth of what happened or didn’t happen, because attorneys on both sides of this significant issue will spin and manipulate raw truth to fit their agenda. A little autistic boy (the alleged victim) and the accused are the only two who really know the truth. In the end, insurance will probably decide once again to avoid the drawn-out fallout by making an offer of settlement, and everyone will be sworn to secrecy so lessons learned for others have to be read between the lines.
But there are some lessons learned we can already observe.
Think About it...
  • As awful as sexual abuse is (among the most vile of things to occur in any environment), I can think of no greater assault than to be wrongly accused. The case of Christ is paramount in this category. When a charge is made, the accuser should be very certain of the accusation and process.
  • It is the duty of all security team leaders to confirm the highest professionalism from their team in all regards. Well-planned and documented training and drills should be a requirement not to be taken lightly. That training should include precautions regarding false accusations.
  • To have cameras of every angle of every room to confirm anything that may have happened or did not is an absurd suggestion. Having no cameras is reckless and provides evidence for a charge of no priority on safety and security. Cameras must be carefully thought through, prudently placed, and properly monitored with sensible viewing, storing and retrieval of video.
  • We can’t avoid every lawsuit. We can prepare carefully to make certain we have ample documentation and good standards. Again – always include an attorney and your insurance provider in the early stages of your security planning. What works well is to have an attorney in your church serve as a volunteer on your security team. Not on patrol – just as an advisor who is copied on all security team communications, and has a hand in policy development.

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