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Defrocked minister ordered to pay $3.7 million for sexual misconduct

January 18, 1997

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) _ A jury ruled that seven women and one of their husbands should receive $3.7 million because of sexual misconduct by a defrocked pastor of one of the nation’s largest Methodist churches.

Jurors found Friday that Barry Bailey, forced out as pastor of First United Methodist Church of Fort Worth in 1994, should pay for his conduct toward the women, most of whom belonged to or worked at the church. The man claimed Bailey’s relationship with his wife hurt his marriage.

Three plaintiffs testified that they had a sexual relationship with Bailey, 70. Five said he fondled them, made lewd comments toward them and called them late at night.

Ginger Pierson testified that she went to him for help with an eating disorder at age 16 and had a decade-long sexual relationship with him beginning when she was 23. She won the most money, a little more than $1 million.

``It’s never been about money,″ plaintiff Alison Lovett said. ``(The verdict) lets me go on. It lets me go back and be with my family and forget about this.″

Bailey denied that he had sex with the women and said he did not abuse his position. But jurors found that he inflicted emotional distress on the women, invaded their privacy, exploited a counseling relationship and defamed them by calling them liars.

Plaintiffs had sought $14.3 million in compensatory damages and four times that in punitive damages. Two other women are suing Bailey.

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