A former vice president of the American Family Association is suing the conservative group, claiming he was fired after he reported allegations of sexual assault and financial irregularities.
Robert Chambers, former vice president of policy and legislative affairs for AFA from 2015 to 2022, said that another staffer, Ron Cook, made repeated sexual advances toward him starting in January 2022.
Chambers claimed that Cook grabbed his face and ear and also made comments about masturbation around him.
“I see you’re really good with that wrist action,” the complaint alleges that Cook told Chambers. “You’d really like me to take you and get a hold of you.”
Chambers said he believes he was fired for reporting the harassment and that the group violated federal law by “retaliating” against him.
AFA has denied those claims, according to Religion News Service.
“Since 1977, our ministry has continued to maintain the highest standards of morality and personal conduct for our staff and leadership,” Steve Crampton, AFA’s assistant general counsel, told Religion News Service in an email. “The claims made against our organization by a disgruntled former employee are unfounded gross mischaracterizations of the facts. We will use every tool at our disposal to prevail in this matter. Due to current enquiry, we cannot comment further.”
The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, names Cook, along with AFA President Tim Wildmon, several of Wildmon’s family members who are on AFA’s staff, AFA Vice President Ed Vitagliano and others.
“Defendant W. Wildmon provided Plaintiff with an incident report — which Plaintiff completed immediately — and articulated to Plaintiff that Plaintiff was not the first employee of the AFA to have complained against Defendant Cook’s sexual misconduct,” the lawsuit says.
Chambers said that there was no action or punishment against Cook, and he “suffered increasing discomfort in the workplace due to Defendant Cook’s ongoing engagement in verbal and physical conduct of a sexual nature targeted at Plaintiff.”
It’s unclear if Cook is still employed at AFA, and he has also not commented on the claims.
The AFA is a staunch opponent of gay marriage, LGBTQ rights, and abortion.
Chambers also claims in the lawsuit that he raised alarms about the AFA’s finances, including failing to file financial disclosures on a timely basis and “possible embezzlement of certain funds.”
He was fired in September 2022.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Lakshmiprasad S
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.