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Smithtown Gospel Tabernacle abuse victim comes forward

by Hillary Nappi

Since its enactment in February 2019, the Child Victims Act has produced an overwhelming response: hundreds of survivors of childhood sexual abuse have now come forward and are ready to have their voices heard. These survivors are of both genders, all races, live in all parts of New York state, and are of all socio-economic backgrounds. What they share is that they were sexually abused and assaulted as children, and at the time that the crimes occurred lacked the context for their abuse and the language and power to speak up for themselves.

These survivors, including our client, now have the opportunity to come forward and seek justice for the illegal, heinous, and immoral acts that were forced upon them. That is the case with the suit against the Smithtown Gospel Tabernacle and Camp Cherith in the Adirondacks. Our client finally reached a point in her life where she was able to speak up for herself and report the crimes that were committed against her.

As stated in her complaint, our client was only five years old when she was sexually abused and assaulted by Ron Braaten, a Youth Minister that was employed by the Smithtown Gospel Tabernacle. The first attacks occurred on property owned, operated, and controlled by Smithtown Gospel Tabernacle and were provided to Braaten for his exclusive use as a benefit of his employment. Braaten lived in the house with his family. Our client first met Braaten when she was in kindergarten, while assigned to the same class as his daughter. The girls became friends and would often play together in and out of school. However, playdates at the Braaten house were not normal. Braaten would make our client sit on his lap, as he rubbed her stomach over her clothes, which eventually morphed into Braaten sexually abusing our client.

Our client was fearful and uncomfortable every time she was around Braaten but as a Christian member of the Tabernacle, she was taught that Braaten was a “good man.” Braaten and his wife preached morality in the community, pushing the mission of the Smithtown Gospel Tabernacle, all the while masking his pedophilic tendencies. Morality is something that Braaten lacked and that is evident in the allegations filed in the complaint. After our client was sexually assaulted and abused, Smithtown Gospel Tabernacle continued to support Braaten’s missions in South America and he had continued access to other children. Our brave client came forward and reported her abuse, but Braaten remains outside of the United States.

As word of our Plaintiff’s lawsuit spread, our client has found more support in her community than she thought possible. If you or someone you know was abused by Ron Braaten, contact our law firm.

At Hach & Rose, LLP, we are committed to achieving the justice that our clients deserve. We will work thoroughly and passionately to represent those who felt they could not protect themselves. If you or a loved one has suffered from any form of sexual assault, it is crucial to act now. Do not hesitate to contact the New York sexual abuse lawyers at Hach & Rose, LLP today at (212) 779-0057 or online. Our compassionate, caring, and experienced attorneys will work diligently to uncover whether criminal charges, a civil lawsuit – or both – can be filed against the perpetrator or negligent third party who is responsible for the abuse and its damages to you.


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