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Matt Chandler

Matt Chandler’s Church Settles Sex Abuse Lawsuit

Before Matt Chandler went woke, he was one of the most influential young pastors in America. However, aside from his decline in prominence in Evangelical Christianity, one such threat to his sprawling megachurch is a sex abuse allegation against one of his former youth pastors. As we have noticed here at Evangelical Dark Web, the words “sex abuse” cause many people to stop critically thinking or hold a biblical standard for justice. This has been weaponized by people like Jennifer Lyell and to a lesser degree, Lori Anne Thompson to achieve an maintain an impenetrable victimhood status and financial gain. Therefore, it is important to ask what happened? Who is responsible? What does the Bible say about that?

In 2012, Matthew Tonne, a then youth pastor at Village Church, is alleged to have abused an 11 year old girl at a church camp. This allegation surfaced in 2018 when the parents found out and decided to pursue matters in house and with the police. The Braggs family has since sued the church over the situation. Matthew Tonne was removed from ministry post indictment over alcohol abuse while the church allegedly kept the matter private.

With charges up in the air, this story was used by the New York Times to attack both the Village Church and the church in general back in 2019.

Charges Dismissed

The allegation is that at night in a church camp in the summer of 2012, a man snuck into the girls’ cabin and undressed and molested a girl in the dark. This man escaped before being made. Later, it was alleged that Tonne was this man.

In late August 2020, after a lengthy indictment process that bordered on a 6th Amendment violation, the charges were dismissed. The Texas court dismissed the charge of indecent child contact stating the following.

This case was thoroughly investigated by the Cedar Hill Police Department and the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office. At the time the case was presented to the Dallas County Grand Jury, the complainant could not and did not positively identify defendant as the person who committed this offense. Despite that fact, the Grand Jury indicted the case. Upon further investigation by the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office, the fact remains that the complainant cannot and has not positively identified defendant as the person who committed this offense. The Dallas County District Attorney’s Office therefore moves to dismiss this case in the interest of justice because there was at the time of presentment, and there is at the time of this motion to dismiss, a lack of probable cause to believe defendant committed this offense.

There is a saying that a grand jury could indict a ham sandwich which proved to be the case here. In not so subtle terms, the motion to dismiss states that the basic building blocks of a criminal charge were not met. There was no probable cause to indict Matthew Tonne, which effectively exonerates him.

The Lawsuit Continues

Nearly two years later the lawsuit against the Village Church persisted despite the lack of evidence that the event took place for Matt Chandler and staff to have mishandled. The lawsuit filed by the Braggs sought $1 million in damages. Village Church announced last week a settlement had been reached.

On August 1, 2022, The Village Church and the individual known as Jane Doe One came to a resolution, and the civil litigation case was dismissed from the Dallas County Court.

With the dismissal of both the criminal and civil case, litigation has now come to an end.

The safety of our children and the vulnerable among us has been, and remains, our highest priority. After a thorough and lengthy legal investigation, we maintain and firmly believe that we committed no wrong. It has been our practice to exceed the standard of care as it relates to child safety, and we will continue to take accusations of or suspicion of abuse seriously. We provide ongoing training to all of our staff, elders, deacons, and key lay leaders to increase awareness and delineate instructions for filing reports.

We pray that the individual and their family continues to heal and receive care following this resolution.

No other details of the settlement are disclosed at this time. The Village Church appears to be able to maintain a record of admitting to no wrongdoing as a result of the settlement.

What does the Bible say about this?

The Bible prescribes that a charge cannot be brought against an elder within a church without two or three witnesses (1 Timothy 5:19). In this case there wasn’t even one witness who could positively identify Tonne committed the act in a situation where there could have been multiple witnesses placing him at the scene.

Nevertheless in filing a lawsuit against the church while criminal proceedings were being adjudicated/ have been dismisses clearly violates the standard of 1 Corinthians 6.

Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life? So if you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church? I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren, but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers?

1 Corinthians 6:1-6 NASB1995

Now the question of whether it was moral to settle is a different matter. In the case of the SBC settling a lawsuit with Jennifer Lyell over defamation, the Southern Baptist Convention peddled a false narrative as it further embraces feminism. In Matt Chandler’s case, the matter is different. He’s up against people who have no scruples about talking to the New York Times and in a denomination that has a sadomachoistic obsession with sex abuse. Settling a lawsuit that allows you to continue to maintain innocence, conserve resources, and save face when a reputation could needlessly suffer more damage over this is arguably wise.

While it’s unclear how much the settlement was, it likely was lower than the asking amount given how weak the case against them was. The Bible explicitly condemns the person who accepts bribes (Exodus 23:8), not necessarily the person who gives them, for God’s law is just and recognizes that people can be extorted into paying bribes. Perhaps that is a fitting comparison for this situation in our litigious culture.

While Evangelical Dark Web believes that Matt Chandler is a wolf, this saga cannot be the basis for such an assessment. 

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2 Responses

  1. You are clueless about the responsibility of the church and the parents when a minor reports sexual assault. If this incident is not reported to the authorities then all involved are subject to prosecution. The girl could not identify her abuser but she could identify she was abused. To equate the sexual assault of a child with the “me too” movement shows your lack of judgement.

    1. Again. No evidence the church didn’t report or take necessary action. No evidence that the event took place. Yet this incident was being used to drag multiple people down without due process. That’s where the me too movement fits in.

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