Sexual assault case against pastor remanded to state court

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Jun. 3, 2010, 2:54am

GALVESTON � A federal judge recently ruled to send a Texas City woman's $25 million sexual assault lawsuit against her former church pastor back down to state district court.

In a four-page ruling issued last month, U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt explains that the 80-year-old unnamed plaintiff originally argued that the Rev. Morris Joseph "Skip" Ehrlich III violated her Fourteenth Amendment rights when he falsely imprisoned and molested her, but later filed a motion to remove the claim.

The complainant, who alleges Ehrlich molested her on two different occasions between May and August 2009, "contends it was not her intent to include such allegations in her petition and the inclusion was due to clerical error," Judge Hoyt writes.

Court papers additionally assert that neither a state action nor a state actor is involved in the allegations brought up by the woman's original petition thus it is not a federal matter.

Jane Doe's suit insists that no necessary preventative action was taken in light of the alleged incidents, and the plaintiff had no choice but to stop attending the First Presbyterian Church of Texas City after 60 years.

The house of worship, along with Presbytery of New Convenant Inc. and Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), join Ehrlich as defendants in the December 2009 suit.

Galveston County 122nd District Court Judge John Ellisor has resumed presiding over the litigation.

State Case No. 09-cv-2229
Federal Case No. 3-10-cv-00016

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