SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A Sacramento woman is filing a lawsuit against her stepfather, a former pastor at St. Paul Baptist Church in Oak Park.
She claims he had molested her since she was 11-years-old and she now wants the truth out. The lawsuit details terrifying acts of abuse, dating back decades, at one point inside the church.
Giana Lee, 37, says she’ll live with that for the rest of her life.
“You can never get rid of this, this is a life sentence,” says Shawn Tillis, Giana’s lawyer. Giana was too overwhelmed after filing a lawsuit that says her stepdad, Sacramento Pastor John Black Senior, abused her for years.
“She went through hell, and mostly blaming herself,” he said.
The lawsuit claims Black molested and raped her for years in her home, hotels, his car, and at one point, inside the church.
“There were multiple people who just let Giana down,” said Tillis.
John Black Senior, Giana’s mother Kelli, and the former head pastor of the church, Dr. Ephraim Williams, are all named in the lawsuit. Black no longer works at St. Paul.
Dr. Williams has counseled mayors in Sacramento and at one point dined at the White House. He retired in July after 50 years at the church. The suit says when Giana was taken to Dr. Williams for counseling about the abuse, he told her she was lying.
Lamont Harris, Administrator at St. Paul, says leaders can’t comment on any part of the lawsuit, because the church itself is also named.
Harris said, “We will cooperate and do everything that we need to do, and certainly we have concern and compassion for anyone who is experiencing this type of abuse.”
Too many years have passed to file criminal charges, but how can a case like this hold up in Superior Court? Until this year, Giana couldn’t have filed this suit dating back so far, but Governor Newsom signed a bill in 2019 extending the statute of limitations allowing for abuse claims in civil court.
“This law, this revival, finally recognizes the delayed discovery aspect of childhood sex abuse,” said Tillis.
Attempts to reach Dr. Williams, Kelli and John Black have not been returned.
Based on privacy rights, the Sacramento Police couldn’t say whether is an investigation through their department into these allegations at this time.