Jesus People USA is a religious community in Chicago where families live together, pool their financial resources and offer services to the poor and marginalized. But a host of former Jesus People residents who lived there as children are now coming forward with stories that allege this community has a dark and previously hidden past. WGLT's Judy Valente has been reporting this story for Sound Ideas, and for USA Today, which is scheduled to publish her article on Jesus People this week. Here is an exclusive interview with Micki Johnson, the mother of a man who says he was sexually abused as a pre-teen while living at Jesus People. Johnson says he found out only later that the man who allegedly assaulted her son was living at Jesus People while on parole for a sex offense. She talks with Valente about her efforts to get the Jesus People leadership to address the allegations of abuse.
Two suits have been filed against Jesus People in Cook County Court alleging the community failed to protect minors, to adequately supervise adults and minors living together in the community, and to report allegations of abuse to authorities. Jesus People attorney Phil Zisook says he is preparing a response on behalf of the organization. The suits also name Chicago-based Evangelical Covenant Church, of which Jesus People is a member congregation. A spokeman for that church says Evangelical Covenant Church does not have direct oversight over Jesus People and that each of its member congregations operate independently.
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