Weil, Quaranta, McGovern attorneys win $12.5M award for abuse victim
The victim, who is identified by the initials C.E. in the lawsuit, was an 11-year-old without a father figure whose family was looking for a male mentor for him. The victim expressed an interest in pursuing a career in the church as a missionary.
C.E. realized he was a victim of abuse after watching a episode of "America's Most Wanted" in February 2006. C.E.'s mother and grandmother notified the Lake County Sheriff's Office.
Myers pleaded guilty to lewd and lascivious battery in 2007 and was sentenced to seven years in prison. State records show Myers was released and is listed as a sex offender living in Prince Frederick, Md.
Plaintiffs case: Myers immediately started "grooming" the boy for sexual predation, Weil and Olszewska said.
C.E. met Myers at the Bay Street Baptist Church, a 1,000-member congregation in Eustis. The boy participated in church activities and helped Myers establish a new congregation, Triangle Community Church in Eustis.
Myers often picked up C.E. at home to escort C.E. to church functions and volunteer work at Triangle, starting six months of unabated abuse.
"He told him these were natural acts between a father and son," Weil said. "The gruesome fact is that the pedophile put a pillow over his head so the victim couldn't see what he was doing."
The civil suit against Myers' former employer alleged sexual assault, battery, intentional affliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring, negligent supervision and detention.
The victim is now a college student in his 20s living in Tavares.
Singletary bifurcated the trial, splitting it into liability and damages phases. In May 2012, a jury found the Florida Baptist Convention was liable for hiring Myers and putting C.E. in danger.