Sexual abuse survivor files lawsuit against Kanakuk Ministries

Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 5:43 PM CST
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - A Midstate child sexual abuse victim of a Christian camp director is now suing the popular camp and its CEO for fraud.

The Hendersonville family wants Kanakuk camp’s leadership to be held accountable.

“I’ve been waiting for this day for a very long time,” said Logan Yandell.

Yandell said he is taking a stand for himself and for all Kanakuk sexual abuse victims. He is suing Kanakuk Kamps, one of the country’s largest Christian camps, and its CEO, Joe White, for fraud.

“It’s time for Kanakuk to be accountable to families, and to stop lying to families today, to victims,” said Logan’s father, Greg Yandell. “Stop lying to other organizations that they work with, stop lying to future campers and future campers’ families.

Logan’s family says from age 9 to 13, he was sexually abused by Pete Newman, a Kanakuk counselor, and later, camp director.

In 2010, Newman pleaded guilty to seven counts of sexually abusing boys and is now serving two life sentences plus 30 years.

The Yandell family says they were persuaded to sign a settlement agreement in 2010, including a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA.

The Yandells said they signed the NDA without the camp or its leadership disclosing known patterns of Pete Newman sexually abusing minors while working for Kanakuk.

“Had I known that they were covering up Logan’s mentor there at camp,” explained Greg Yandell. “Covering up that he played naked with children, he swam naked with children, he played basketball naked with children, he slept one-on-one with children that weren’t his own...If I had known that, there’s no possible way I would have settled.”

Their lawsuit states that new information recently revealed shows that Kanakuk concealed what they knew about the true magnitude of Pete Newman’s sexual misconduct and persuaded victims and survivors into settlements and NDAs.

“My message is now that the facts have come out,” Greg Yandell said. “Now we know that Joe lied, and I want him to hear me say that I know you lied to me, and you lied to every other victim, and because you lied, it’s time for you to be accountable for those lies, and it’s time for you to be accountable for not firing Pete when you knew he was abusing kids.”

“We lost so many family years, so many, so many memories, so many pictures, so many trips,” said Logan’s mother, Christa Yandell. “So many wonderful connecting memories because our child was in trauma, complex trauma, severe trauma, and honestly, just the fact that he survived and has a voice today, to me as a mom, is a miracle.”

Logan believes this lawsuit provides him some hope.

“ hopefully pave the way for others to also be able to come forward with their voice and encourage them to also come forward and speak their truth,” Logan said.

Kanakuk released the following statement regarding the lawsuit:

“Kanakuk received this lawsuit only this morning, apparently after others had received copies of it. Our policy is not to comment on pending litigation. We will respond further if or when appropriate. In the meantime, we continue to pray for all who have been affected by Pete Newman’s behavior.”