LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — A lawsuit filed in Lauderdale County asserts that a Florence church is at fault for enabling one man to victimize several children while he worked in various leadership positions at the church.
47-year-old Kelly Dale Crotts turned himself in at the Lauderdale County Jail on July 8 following a grand jury indictment that charged him with three counts of indecent exposure, two counts of child abuse with sexual motivation, and two counts of second-degree sex abuse.
The indictment stemmed from an investigation that started in May at the request of Lauderdale
County Sheriff Rick Singleton. The charges in the indictment relate to three victims that were
minors when the offenses occurred.
Now, a civil lawsuit has been filed by Florence attorneys Rick Alvis and Rennie Moody, with plaintiffs identified as John Doe I, II and III, claiming that the Cornerstone Church of Christ where Crotts served enabled him to sexually torture them.
According to court documents, the minors in the suit live in Lauderdale and Colbert counties and Wayne County, Tennessee.
Crotts is named as a defendant in the suit alongside the church, where the plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages that will later be determined by a jury.
The lawsuit alleges assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress/outrage, invasion of privacy, false imprisonment, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence and wantonness, deceit and misrepresentation.
Claims made in the lawsuit claim that Crotts gave the minors gifts, special attention, recognition and praise while presenting himself as a spiritual leader.
“Crotts exposed himself to the plaintiffs,” the suit says. “Crotts enticed and manipulated the plaintiffs with various schemes and lies to expose themselves to him. Crotts, acting with sexual motivation, touched the genitals of (plaintiffs one and two).”
According to the suit, “Crotts consistently and systematically ingratiated himself into the lives of the plaintiffs, slowly grooming them for his own salacious purposes.”
The plaintiffs have been permanently traumatized by the acts of Crotts and those who failed to act to protect them, according to the court documents.
Crotts has pleaded not guilty to the child abuse charges he faces. A jury trial in that case is set to be held on October 17.
The 47-year-old is currently free on bond and has been given a no-contact order for his victims.