Lawsuit Claims Local Church Allowed Pastor's Inappropriate Relationship with Teen

By Lindy Thackston
First Coast News, 4/22/2007

CLAY COUNTY, FL -- 47-year old Lonnie Broome met the victim in 1997 when he was Associate Pastor at Hope Baptist Church in Starke. The victim was 15 at the time.

The victim tells police she had a sexual relationship with Broome from 1997 to 2001.

Broome and the victim would meet at a boat ramp Mondays and Wednesdays after church.

The victim claims other sexual activity occurred at least six times per week.

Jennifer Bowens, attorney for the victim, alleges Hope Baptist Church also violated the victim.

The suit claims church members knew of the relationship, held meetings to discuss Broome's behavior, but didn't take action.

Lonnie Broome is currently head pastor at Orange Heights Baptist Church in Alachua County.

Bowens said the next step in the case against Broome is to get depositions from possible witnesses.

Original charges were dropped by the State Attorney because the victims waited longer than three years to file charges.

There is a three year statute of limitations for 2nd degree unlawful sexual activity with a minor.

4/22/2007 Edited by  Lindy Thackston, Reporter
© 2007 First Coast News

SNAP note: Both Orange Heights Baptist Church and Hope Baptist Church are shown as being SBC-affiliated churches. At last check, Lonnie Broome was still in the pulpit.