Union Gospel Mission officials said Friday that a former foster home employee sexually abused at least one former teen resident more than 40 years ago. They also said they reached a settlement, details of which they did not disclose, with the victim.
"We want to do the right thing in order to make people whole," Union Gospel Mission CEO Charles P. Morgan said. "We seriously want to do right by people."
But the attorney for a second alleged victim disputed that.
"They determined this guy was a predator," Aaron Eken said Friday. "And they have chosen not to accept responsibility for it."
Eken represents both men who have alleged abuse by the former employee in the early 1970s. Union Gospel officials did not identify the abuser. The man no longer lives in Minnesota and efforts to contact him Friday were unsuccessful.
Eken approached Union Gospel Mission officials with the allegations in May 2016. A law passed in May 2013 gave sexual abuse victims over the age of 24 a three-year window to sue for past abuse.
Morgan said his board of directors moved to investigate the former residents' allegations and, as a result of that investigation, decided to settle with one of the men.
That out-of-court settlement was reached after the former employee admitted having sexual contact with one of the teens, Morgan said, and the allegations were corroborated by their internal investigation. Because of a nondisclosure agreement that officials said Eken's client requested, both sides said they cannot comment further.
But the former employee did not admit to abusing the second teen and officials said their investigation showed his allegations to be "without merit" and they will not settle his case.
That determination has Eken scratching his head — and threatening a lawsuit soon.
"We think really strongly that the evidence is going to show that Union Gospel Mission knew that it had this pedophile on their hands," Eken said, adding that he has made contact with at least one other alleged victim from a different foster home from before his client was abused.
Instead of dealing with the employee, Eken said, Union Gospel Mission's leader at the time, who has since died, moved him to a different foster home.
Brian Molohon, vice president of development for Union Gospel Mission, said the former employee worked for the organization for a couple of years and left soon after the alleged abuse occurred. Union Gospel Mission, which serves about 600 men, women and children on any given night at several different shelter facilities, stopped providing foster care a few years later.
Officials said they have heard from no other alleged victims, but encouraged anyone who was abused to contact Molohon.
"If someone does come forward, we will act with the same sense of dignity and compassion," Morgan said. "Union Gospel Mission Twin Cities is here to help people."