As a judge dismisses the racketeering lawsuit against former Mars Hill pastor Mark Driscoll, a former executive elder says he’s willing to answer questions about the church’s financial dealings.
In February, four former members of Mars Hill Church filed a racketeering lawsuit against Pastor Mark Driscoll, claiming misuse of thousands if not millions of dollars in donations.
But the four plaintiffs didn’t have money to pursue the suit and never served Driscoll or onetime Mars Hill executive elder Sutton Turner, also named as a defendant, with the necessary papers.
Consequently, on Thursday, a judge dismissed the suit.
U.S. District Court Judge James Robart declined, however, to sanction the former church members, as requested by Turner. “The plaintiffs have not acted in bad faith, recklessly, or with an improper purpose,” wrote Robart, who also noted their complaint “is not frivolous on its face.”
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The judge also left the door open for the plaintiffs to file the lawsuit again. “We hope to,” said Brian Jacobsen, although he and his fellow plaintiffs are still looking for money to pay legal fees already incurred.
He said the former church members were counting on publicity about the suit to bring in donations. “Some did come in, but not enough.”
Driscoll, who has started a new church on the outskirts of Phoenix, could not be reached for comment.
“It’s time to move on,” said Turner from his new home in San Antonio, calling the implosion of Mars Hill and the bitter aftermath “the most difficult thing I’ve ever gone through.”
Still, he said, he wanted to meet with the plaintiffs and planned to travel next month to Seattle in hopes of doing so. Turner said he would answer whatever questions the former members had, including about financial matters.
He added he has faced resistance about revealing such information. “I was threatened by an attorney representing Mars Hill,” he said. The attorney, whom he declined to name, told him that releasing inside data “would be a big mistake.”
“I don’t know anything about that,” said Ronald Friedman, who represents Mars Hill in its ongoing legal dissolution.
In any case, Turner said he felt free to talk now that the racketeering lawsuit had been dissolved.
“We’re considering that,” Jacobsen said of the offer to meet.