Mission Viejo Church Sex Case Thrown Out

A 52-year-old woman claims a Presbyterian pastor took advantage of his position as her counselor. But a judge says she sued after the statute of limitations expired. Meanwhile, she has sued another church for allegedly having security guards accost her.

A lawsuit accusing a local church's former pastor of a sexually manipulative extramarital relationship has been thrown out of court.

Carol Ann Carlson, 52, had sued for negligence in hiring and supervising pastor Jack Loo, who resigned in December 2008 after an 11-year affair with Carlson, who had been one of his therapy clients.

But the case was dismissed and Carlson ordered to pay the church's legal fees after an appeals court said the statute of limitations expired years ago.

Meanwhile, Carlson has a second lawsuit brewing against another church, this time alleging she was roughed up by security guards in 2010 (more on that case at the end of this story).

Carlson said she wouldn't appeal the Presbyterian case ruling, which centered around allegations of sexual impropriety.

According to the court's statement of facts, Carlson met Loo in 1987, when he began counseling her at a Presbyterian church in Hollywood. In 1995, two years after Loo transferred to Mission Viejo, the relationship turned sexual.

Carlson said Loo initiated the affair when she was vulnerable, taking advantage of his position of power as her counselor. Describing the relationship as an "ongoing, horrific nightmare," she said Loo also manipulated her into giving him $8,000.

The affair began when Loo visited Carlson for counseling while she lived in Davis.

"He said, 'I didn't get a hotel room.' [So] I made the couch up for him," Carlson said. "I went to the bathroom and I just felt really scared. It just felt really different. I threw up, and I went to bed with all my clothes on. During the night he came in, and wanted to have sex with me. I was like no, no, no. I mean, I loved this man as I loved my father, therapeutically. I trusted him. Suddenly it was so confusing."

The sex continued until 2006. In 2008, Carlson filed a lawsuit. But because she had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder caused by the affair in the 1990s, the two-year statute of limitations for suing began ticking then, Superior Court Judge James Di Cesare said. That ruling was upheld last month by an appeals court.

Dick Williams, a Church of the Master volunteer who chaired the personnel committee when the lawsuit was filed, said the church didn't believe Carlson's claims.

"We did not agree with anything that was in that suit," he said.

Carlson said Loo breached a trust between counselor and patient.

"I've had men fall in love with me because I'm a psychologist," she said. "I explained to them this would be very damaging to you. It's hard to explain, but that's the boundary."

Carlson said her Christian faith hasn't been affected by what happened, but her impression of Christians has.

"I believe in Christ, but I don't practice, and I'm very skeptical of people who are Christian," she said. "I'm still hoping that God will bless me in the midst of this tragedy."

Carlson said the alleged abuse was possibly only because Loo worked in a church, rather than in a secular position.

"What's really troubling to me is that, in the secular world, the line is absolutely black and white," she said. " But ... in the Christian world, they're able to maneuver around it. They're kind of protected."

Second Lawsuit

In a separate case, Carlson has also sued Saddleback Church, claiming she was detained and assaulted by church security guards after being asked to leave a counseling class there in April 2010.

The Saddleback lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial June 25. In court papers, Saddleback filed a motion to strike the lawsuit. A church attorney didn't return messages seeking comment for this story.


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