A new lawsuit reopens the case of a Kenai minister convicted earlier this year of child molestation.
Monday a lawyer representing families of eight children filed a suit against The Salvation Army and against C. Troy Trickel and his wife, Deborah Trickel.
Troy Trickel is serving three years in prison after pleading no contest to a single consolidated charge of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor. The conviction stemmed from incidents in Kenai in 1998 or 1999 involving four girls who were 8 to 13 years old at the time.
The lawsuit alleges that The Salvation Army officials in Anchorage allowed the Trickels, who were then captains in the ministry, to remain in charge of the Kenai church for two years after people notified them of concerns about Troy Trickel's conduct.
"One of the things (the plaintiffs) seek from the defendants is acknowledgement that they have responsibility," said Thomas P. Owens of Burr, Pease and Kurtz in Anchorage, the prosecuting attorney.
They also will seek monetary damages to defray costs of treating the victims, he said.
Although the case against Troy Trickel named four victims, other victims have been disclosed since the trial. All are from the Kenai area and their current ages range from 11 to 16, Owens said.
The girls have suffered severe psychological damage from the abuse. They have required counseling and some have been hospitalized, he said.
The lawsuit names both The Salvation Army as a whole and its western region as defendants along with the Trickels.
In a press release from its Alaska Division Headquarters in Anchorage, The Salvation Army said it will defend itself aggressively in court and expects to disprove many of the elements of the lawsuit.
In the press release, The Salvation Army said it had been working for almost a month on an out-of-court settlement when it received word of the lawsuit.
According to a statement from Owens' office, the parents of the victims allege that people had accused Trickel of sexual misconduct when he lived in Kake, prior to coming to Kenai. Instead of investigating, the church transferred him to Kenai.
When two girls confided their experiences to their parents, the parents contacted Salvation Army Division Commander Col. Terry Griffin in Anchorage. Instead of reporting the situation to state authorities, The Salvation Army sent Capt. Paul Fanning to talk to the Trickels.
The Salvation Army said it acted quickly in suspending Trickel when charges were brought against him and in terminating him when he entered his plea. The press release also said The Salvation Army cooperated with the investigators and offered assistance to the families of the victims.
Fanning, who was then in charge of youth activities statewide for The Salvation Army in Alaska, has since also been indicted for child molestation. He is not a defendant in the new Kenai case, Owens said.
The Salvation Army confirmed Craig Fanning, an envoy for the church now serving in Kenai, is no relation to Paul Fanning and is not involved in the case in any way, said Jenni Ragland, the church's public relations coordinator in Anchorage.
Owens filed a 50-page complaint in Kenai Superior Court and sent a statement to news organizations about the suit.
The Salvation Army's Anchorage staff learned of the suit when a television station called them with questions.
The defendants have 20 days to answer, he said.
Clarion reporter Jay Barrett contributed to this story.
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