Mars Hill RICO: Never Served
Yesterday, my attorney filed a motion to dismiss the case that was pending against me. Even though the Jacobsens and Kildeas (Plaintiffs) and Brian Fahling (Plaintiff’s attorney) filed a 42-page document with the court and conducted TV interviews, they never served me with the lawsuit.
So effectively, we don’t have an active lawsuit because under Washington law they have 90 days to file, which has since passed.
Here are some of the important points in my response to the Court from yesterday:
- The sole purpose of filing the lawsuit was to disparage my character. The Jacobsens, Kildeas, and Brian Fahling acted in bad faith and the case should be dismissed with prejudice as a result of this bad faith. In addition, attorney fees and sanctions in the amount of $4,240.00 should be assessed.
- The Jacobsens/Kildeas’ defamatory accusations through this filed lawsuit, along with the accompanying publicity, which they instigated, has caused irreparable harm to my business career and future earning potential. This damage can be conservatively calculated at $5 million based on my pre-Mars Hill Church business earnings.
- The civil RICO lawsuit alleges that the Jacobsens/Kildeas should be reimbursed what they gave to Mars Hill ($92,500) and receive treble (triple) damages under their RICO claim. The Jacobsens were a part of Mars Hill from 2008 to 2014 and the Kildeas from 2001 to 2014. The Jacobsens/Kildeas want me to reimburse them for money they gave to the Church.
- In the months leading up to their filing suit, the Jacobsens, Kildeas, and Mr. Fahling tried 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.” They told these former members that the lawsuit would cost up to $250,000. A “GoFundMe.com” account was established on April 13, 2015, to raise money for the lawsuit, which was managed by Plaintiff Brian Jacobsen. However, prior to filing the lawsuit, the Jacobsens/Kildeas had only raised $33,925 for the potential lawsuit. Even though the Jacobsens/Kildeas had not raised the amount of money they said they needed, 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 Jacobsens/Kildeas owe money to their attorney. Even though there were outstanding legal fees, the Jacobsens/Kildeas 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, I have continued to communicate to this former member via phone explaining my 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.
- Prior to the lawsuit, the Jacobsens/Kildeas never reached out directly to me to meet since I left Mars Hill Church. They were only communicating with Mars Hill attorneys that did not represent me. After the lawsuit was filed in February 2016, I attempted several times to meet with the Jacobsens/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 offered to fly to Seattle on March 29th to meet face-to-face with the Jacobsens/Kildeas and offered to have a former elder of Mars Hill attend as a mediator, but they never accepted.
- After the lawsuit was filed, an email and letter were sent by my attorney to Mr. Fahling offering to accept service and save the Jacobsens/Kildeas the costs of out of state personal service. Mr. Fahling never responded to either the letter or email. I have never been served with this lawsuit.
- The Jacobsens/Kildeas overlooked many facts and knowingly made false statements in their court filing which have defamed me. Notably the lawsuit was not signed under oath by the Jacobsens/Kildeas, unlike the facts presented in my response to the court. Those false statements from the complaint are set forth below:
- Jacobsens/Kildeas’ 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 LLP in these audits.
- The Jacobsens/Kildeas misled the Court and the public that I, in my legal position of President of Resurgence Publishing, profited from the sales of Real Marriage. Jacobsens/Kildeas did so by choosing to ignore the public information that 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) and that 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.
- Jacobsens/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. Jacobsens/Kildeas 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 the correct information being available, the Jacobsens/Kildeas chose to make false allegations against me in their civil lawsuit which they apparently never intended to serve.
- In the lawsuit, Jacobsens/Kildeas state that I financially benefited from the sales of the Real Marriage This is completely false. As stated previously, my role of President of Resurgence Publishing began after the publishing of Real Marriage. Resurgence Publishing was not financially or contractually linked to the publishing of Real Marriage. Furthermore, I was not involved in the legal entity (On Mission, LLC) that did financially benefit from Real Marriage.
- Jacobsens/Kildeas state that Campus Funds were redirected to other uses without their consent. This again is completely false. In fact, 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 Jacobsens and Kildeas created a website called “MarsHillLawsuit.com.” Their home page says “This website will serve as a one-stop resource for everything pertaining to the Mars Hill Church RICO lawsuit- updates, videos, …” However, the Jacobsens and Kildeas are not suing “Mars Hill Church” but a former employee of the church.
There has been significant media coverage on this lawsuit, causing irreparable harm to my reputation and business career. I am only sharing this in order to get my side of the story out there, and hope that it is helpful for anyone still seeking answers about Mars Hill Church and the false accusation levied against me.
— Sutton Turner