Sex abuse survivor files lawsuit against Kanakuk Minstries for fraud

Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 9:39 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - More legal trouble for a popular kids camp in Taney County.

A new lawsuit has been filed against Kanakuk Kamps. This time it involves claims of fraud in a sex abuse scandal.

Former employee Peter Newman admitted to sexually abusing boys at the camp and was sentenced to two life sentences plus 12 years in prison. More than a decade later the lawsuits keep coming. Earlier this year Newman was hit with a civil judgment and ordered to pay nearly $30 million to his victims.

The same victims are going after camp leaders claiming they covered up the abuse.

“It’s time for them to be held accountable for their inactions and their gross negligence,” said Logan Yandell.

He was sexually abused as a child while attending camp. His abuser, Newman, will spend the rest of his life in prison after admitting what he did. Yandell says he wants camp administrators and CEO Joe White to do the same.

“It’s time for them to be honest and quit lying to everyone in the community, quit lying to victims, quit lying to families, quit lying to future campers, and stop treating victims like a PR problem,” he said.

A lawsuit filed on behalf of Yandell last week accuses the organization of covering up Newman’s history of abuse. This occurred before the Yandell family agreed to a legal settlement and signed a non-disclosure agreement. An affidavit signed by former camp director, William Cunningham, Newman’s direct supervisor, is included in the lawsuit. It states that he was made aware of the sexual misconduct that occurred in 1999 by the executive director of personnel and that it was reported to the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office.

“We are pursuing claims of fraud. Not only fraudulent concealment of the scope and scale of the abuse that was taking place at Kanakuk for the better part of a decade but also fraud in the inducement into entering into the settlement agreements, including the NDAs,” said Yandell’s attorney Robert Thrasher.

He says this case could set a new standard for abuse victims.

“There’s a much bigger picture here that we’re hoping to shed light on as well. A lot of states are instituting look back windows or windows for sexual abuse victims to come forward without having to encounter statute of limitations, NDAs, things of the like,” said Thrasher.

Yandell’s father, Greg Yandell says he’s hoping more victims will come forward.

“There is hope. Logan I’m so proud of him for leading this charge and being willing to tell his story to everybody who is willing to listen and to hold Kanakuk and Joe White accountable not just for Logan but for every single victim out there,” he said.

“We hear you. We believe you. We want to be here as a place of support as you begin to heal. This has been years in the making. I’ve been waiting for this for a very, very long time. Even if there’s one person who feels encouraged to use their voice as well, speak out against these things that have been hidden for so long. I would be so encouraged by that,” said Logan Yandell.

Kanakuk Kamps sent us this statement when asked about the lawsuit:

“Our policy is not to comment on pending litigation. We will respond further if or when appropriate. In the meantime, we continue to pray for all who have been affected by Pete Newman’s behavior.”

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