Civil RICO Lawsuit – My Declarations
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON
I, JOHN SUTTON TURNER, declare as follows:
- I am over the age of eighteen years and I am competent to testify to the matters herein.
- As of the date of this Declaration, I have not been served with a copy of the summons and complaint in this matter.
- Mars Hill Church was founded in 1996.
- I was hired by Mars Hill Church in April 2011 as its General Manager. I was promoted in November 2011 to Executive Elder and Executive Pastor. I resigned from Mars Hill Church in September 2014.
- I reported to over a dozen board members and led Mars Hill Church along with over fifty church elders.
- Over two years ago, a group of former members of Mars Hill Church hired Mr. Fahling, to send a letter demanding that documents be preserved for purposes of a civil RICO lawsuit. After that letter and over the next two years, the group of possible plaintiffs in the alleged RICO action changed. Throughout that time Brian Fahling remained their counsel.
- Mr. Fahling, sent many demand letters to Mars Hill Church and to general counsel of Mars Hill Church requesting mediation and threatening lawsuits. The Church spent a significant amount on legal fees responding to these letters.
- In the letters that I read, the Plaintiffs, through their attorney, portrayed a desire for resolution. They also claimed that many other church members, beyond those named as plaintiffs, would step forward and join the lawsuit, if necessary.
- In the months prior to the lawsuit being filed, I became aware that the Plaintiffs and Mr. Fahling were attempting to recruit former members of Mars Hill Church to join the litigation with a purpose that the “threat of the lawsuit would bring all the players to the table.”
- I discovered that Mr. Fahling and the Plaintiffs told these potential plaintiffs that the lawsuit would cost up to $250,000.
- I discovered that a “GoFundMe.com” account was set up and I reviewed it. It is still available for review. Their “GoFundMe.com” account was established on April 13, 2015, to raise money for the lawsuit, which was managed by Plaintiff Brian Jacobsen.
- According to the web page where the account is displayed, I observed that prior to the lawsuit being filed, the Plaintiffs had only raised $33,925 for the potential lawsuit. They were well short of the desired goal of $250,000.
- Even though the Plaintiffs had not reached their desired goal of $250,000, they filed the civil lawsuit on February 29, 2016. Since filing, they have only raised an additional $4,725, and the “GoFundMe” accounts show that the Plaintiffs owe money to their attorney. Even though there were outstanding legal fees, the Plaintiffs prepared a 42-page lawsuit making false accusations, posting it on blogs, and conducting TV and news interviews for the purpose of publicizing their lawsuit.
- In June 2015, I communicated with a former member of the Church who was one of the original clients that instigated the prior demand letters to the Church. The communication with this former member was via email and text. I communicated my desire to meet at the first available opportunity. Since that time, Mr. Turner has continued to communicate to this former member via phone explaining his willingness to meet with others. I have met with many former Mars Hill members since leaving the Church and have written many blogs about my willingness to meet with others. It was clear to those that read my blog posts and who communicated with me that I wanted to personally meet with former Church members to discuss their concerns.
- The Kildeas and the Jacobsens never reached out to me directly to meet or discuss their concerns since I left Mars Hill Church.
- After the lawsuit was filed in February 2016, I attempted several times to meet with the Jacobsens and Kildeas, but they never responded to my email requests, in spite of claiming that they only wanted the opportunity to meet with former Church leadership regarding their concerns. I even offered to fly to Seattle on March 29th to meet face-to-face with the Kildeas and Jacobsens and offered to have a former elder of Mars Hill attend as a mediator. They did not take me up on that offer.
- The lawsuit contains numerous false statements that the Kildeas and Jacobsens chose to make public in a lawsuit even though they knew the claims were false. The Kildeas and Jacobsens chose to file this lawsuit for the sole purpose of gaining publicity, notoriety, and to harm and disparage me and my family. This is clear because they did not have the financial backing necessary to pursue the lawsuit and because they never served the lawsuit. This was an abuse of the legal process. By not serving the lawsuit, I am not given a chance to defend my name, but yet I am left to suffer their harassment and defamation.
- The Plaintiffs left out many facts and made many false statements in the lawsuit. The only way I can correct the public record is to call out the most false statements made in the lawsuit. Those false statements from the complaint are set forth below:
- Plaintiffs’ lawsuit intentionally overlooks the fact that Mars Hill Church published financial statements which were audited by independent CPA firms Clark Nuber PS and CapinCrouse LLP. These audits took place annually for many years, including the years of my employment from 2011-2014. All restricted fund accounting, including Campus Fund and Mars Hill Global, was reviewed by Clark Nuber PS and CapinCrouse LLPin these audits.
- The Plaintiffs misled the Court and the public by claiming that in my position of President of Resurgence Publishing that I profited from the sales of Real Marriage. It should have been obvious to the Plaintiffs that this was not true because Resurgence Publishing was formed in May 2012 after Real Marriage was published by On Mission, LLC in January 2012. Resurgence Publishing was 100% owned by the non-profit of Mars Hill Church. I was President of Resurgence Publishing (beginning in May 2012), in conjunction with my role as Executive Elder of Mars Hill Church (beginning in November 2011). Both roles commenced after Results Source was engaged (October 2011). I did not profit from the sales of Real Marriage. The only money I received from Resurgence Publishing was as an author, when I earned $2,000 for the publication of my own book. In addition, I was not on the Board of Directors of Mars Hill Church when the Result Source decision was made in the summer of 2011.
- The Jacobsens and Kildeas ignore the investigations by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) and the audits by Clark Nuber, PS which found that the actions taken with respect to Mars Hill Global were appropriate. They fail to mention that Mars Hill sent out over 3765 emails and approximately 6000 letters to 100% of the people who gave to Mars Hill Global asking if they felt misinformed. Donors were given the option to have their previous gifts designated at their discretion to Ethiopia. Less than 40 families responded, and Mars Hill Church sent approximately an additional $40,000 to Ethiopia after some families requested that their donations to Mars Hill Global be used solely for Ethiopian church planting. Despite this public information being available to the Jacobsens and Kildeas, they chose to make false allegations against me.
- The Jacobsens and Kildeas claim that I financially benefited from the sales of the Real Marriage book. This is completely false. Resurgence Publishing was not financially or contractually linked to the publishing of Real Marriage. I was not involved in the legal entity (On Mission, LLC) that did financially benefit from Real Marriage.
- The Jacobsens and Kildeas incorrectly state that Campus Funds were redirected to other uses without their consent. Once Mars Hill Church stopped accepting Campus Funds, the existing unspent donations to Campus Funds were used by each designated campus until they were depleted. The Campus Funds were also part of the annual financial audit conducted by independent CPA firms Clark Nuber PS and CapinCrouse LLP.
- The false and defamatory claims by the Jacobsen and Kildeas in this lawsuit that were made public for no other reason than to harass and disparage me have been harmful to me and my family. They instigated publicity not for the purpose of pursuing this lawsuit, but rather to cause me harm through making public claims without ever having the intention of following through with serving the lawsuit. My future in business has been forever harmed due to their claims. These claims have caused me harm that is conservatively calculated at $5 million based on my pre-Mars Hill Church business earnings.
I certify under penalty of perjury under the laws of the state of Washington that the foregoing is true and correct to the best of my knowledge.
DATED this 14th day of June, 2016, in San Antonio, Texas.
JOHN SUTTON TURNER
I hereby certify that on the 14th day of June, 2016, I electronically filed the foregoing with the Clerk of the Court using the CM/ECF system which will send notification of such filing to the following counsel of record:
Mr. Brian Fahling
Law Office of Brian Fahling
6221 116th Ave. NE
Kirkland, WA 98033
Attorney for Plaintiffs
DATED this 14th day of June, 2016, in Seattle, Washington.
Michelle A. Tomczak
— Sutton Turner