SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A Sacramento woman filed a lawsuit against her stepfather, a former pastor of St. Paul’s Baptist Church in Oak Park.
He claims to have molested her since she was 11 and now she wants the truth. The lawsuit describes terrifying acts of abuse, dating back decades, at some point within the church.
Giana Lee, 37, says she will live with that for the rest of her life.
“You can never get rid of it, this is a life sentence,” says Shawn Tillis, Giana’s attorney. Giana was too overwhelmed after filing a lawsuit that her stepfather, Sacramento pastor John Black Senior, abused her for years.
“She went through hell, and mostly blaming herself,” she said.
The lawsuit alleges that Black harassed and raped her for years in her home, hotels, her car and, at one point, inside the church.
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“There were more people who just let Giana down,” Tillis said.
John Black Senior, Giana Kelli’s mother, and the church’s former chief pastor, Dr. Ephraim Williams, are all named in the lawsuit. Black no longer works at St. Paul.
Dr. Williams assisted the mayors in Sacramento and at one point dined in the White House. He retired in July after 50 years in church. The lawsuit says that when Giana was taken to Dr. Williams for an abuse consultation, he told her she was lying.
Lamont Harris, trustee of St. Paul, says the leaders cannot comment on any part of the cause, because the church itself also has a name.
Harris said, “We will cooperate and do whatever we need to do, and we certainly have concern and compassion for anyone who is experiencing this kind of abuse.”
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It’s been too many years to file a criminal complaint, but how can a case like this stand up in the Superior Court? Until this year, Giana could not have filed this lawsuit until now, but Governor Newsom signed a bill in 2019 that extends the statute of limitation allowing abuse claims in civil court.
“This law, this awakening, finally recognizes the delayed aspect of the discovery of childhood sexual abuse,” Tillis said.
Attempts to contact Dr Williams, Kelli and John Black have not returned.
Based on privacy rights, the Sacramento Police cannot say whether an investigation is currently underway through their department into these allegations.