Bryan Stamper. According to the lawsuit, Stamper offered a "meager apology" but did nothing to correct the behavior.
  • Bryan Stamper. According to the lawsuit, Stamper offered a "meager apology" but did nothing to correct the behavior.
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A former associate pastor at the Rancho Bernardo Community Presbyterian Church is suing the church and it's new pastor Bryan Stamper for sexual harassment and for terminating her after she complained to church administrators.

Rancho Bernardo Community Presbyterian Church

17010 Pomerado Road, Rancho Bernardo

Dawn Neldon was hired in 2008 to serve as a youth minister. After a number of years working for the Rancho Bernardo Community Presbyterian Church, Neldon was promoted to a "minister of missions and serving" position inside the church.

In March 2017, the church named Bryan Stamper, a pastor from Texas, as its new head pastor. That same month Neldon and Stamper, along with other church staffers, took a bus to a conference in Irvine, California. During the ride, Stamper sat next to Neldon. He told Neldon about a former parishioner, an older lady, who, according to the complaint, liked to grab "his butt every time he saw her." He said he was happy to give her that little thrill.

The story, in addition to his flirtatious behavior, made Neldon uncomfortable. Later at the conference, Stamper addressed Neldon as "honey, baby, and sweetheart." During the ride home Stamper approached Neldon and compared his body to a "Lamborghini" that "couldn’t be kept in the garage."

According to the complaint, Stamper's comments made Neldon uncomfortable.

The alleged harassment continued. Examples include Stamper asking Neldon to dance with him in front of the entire congregation during his first official sermon, commenting on her clothing, kissing his biceps and calling them "pythons."

In another incident, Stamper ran up to Neldon singing a song from Grease and trying to dance provocatively with her. Neldon would raise her arms in order to avoid touching him.

In May 2017, after numerous other inappropriate interactions, Neldon filed a formal complaint to church administrators. She approached Stamper with her complaint. According to the August 7 lawsuit, Stamper offered a "meager apology" but did nothing to correct the behavior.

In August 2017, Neldon was placed on administrative leave. Days later, after nearly ten years as a youth pastor, she was forced to resign.

Neldon is suing Stamper and the church for sexual harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, and failure to prevent retaliation and harassment.

Neldon's attorney Dan Gilleon says the church needs to be held accountable, "Like many of my female clients, Minister Neldon is working in a male-dominated industry that, in many ways, is no different than other employers who simply refuse to accept that discrimination is illegal in America. It's a shame. You'd think a business that claims moral superiority would behave better. Minister Neldon will pay a price for speaking out, as is the case for many women who blow the whistle. But, true to her word, my client is thinking of the other women out there who might benefit once it finally sinks in for employers that civil rights will be enforced in the courtroom."

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Comments

Visduh Aug. 9, 2017 @ 11:52 a.m.

It is far from certain, but I assume that the congregation of that church is predominately older and very conservative, generally retirees. So why was this cool, "surfer dude" type of guy, with his casual attire and facial hair, hired by the congregation? There must have been a reason for it, and now that the woman youth pastor has filed suit, will the church board members take another look at their choice? They should.

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AlexClarke Aug. 10, 2017 @ 7:24 a.m.

I am sure that they prayed and God sent them the "surfer dude". LOL

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Pheadra Aug. 9, 2017 @ 2:10 p.m.

This seems a bit like a vendetta. Comments taken out of context can sound very different from the original intended meaning. Dancing in front of the congregation during a celebration sounds a lot more like enthusiasm. He seems quite young and if he is the type of person to hug his congregation members, that does not mean he is making advances. If comments were made that made her uncomfortable, then why not tell him, right then at that time? A youth Pastor has to be able to speak up to the youth and others, after 10 years she should have a firm foundation, and the confidence to do so. Sexual harassment is easy to claim... Especially, when there is no one who can verify.

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Pheadra Aug. 9, 2017 @ 2:13 p.m.

Sara it is sad, and even more sad if it is untrue.

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jxb3 Aug. 10, 2017 @ 12:50 p.m.

My family and I have been attending RBCPC for over 15 years. We don't know Dawn Neldon personally, but judging her based on everything she has done for this church, the local community, and in missions abroad, we believe that she is a person of solid moral character who is genuinely passionate about what she does. Bryan Stamper, on the other hand, comes across as a vain showman. God is a business for him.

The RBCPC elders and Stamper have ruined this church. They have gotten rid of the people that made it such a wonderful place for us-- Ryan Ross, Neal Nybo and Dawn Neldon.

Tragic.

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AlexClarke Aug. 10, 2017 @ 5:16 p.m.

Church like every organization, has people that rise to the top because they want power and control.

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