Kanakuk Kamps Business Directors Offices Sign.jpg

A man sexually abused by a former Kanakuk camp staff member claims leadership of the organization mislead him and his family about what they knew regarding Pete Newman's abuse of campers. A judge has dismissed Kanakuk's motion to dismiss the suit.

A judge has ruled against Kanakuk in their attempt to get a fraud lawsuit brought against them by a sexual abuse survivor thrown out of court.

Judge Raymond Gross ruled on Tuesday, April 26, denying Kanakuk’s motion to dismiss. (The judge did approve the motion to dismiss from the insurance company named in the case, Westchester Fire Insurance Company.) 

According to the judge’s order, Kanakuk’s motion to dismiss had two arguments why the case should not continue. The first is a legal term, “res judicata.” According to Cornell University’s law school, the term translates to “a matter judged” and the legal principle is a case which has been adjudicated on its merits cannot be litigated a second time after a court has rendered final judgment. So, a plaintiff who loses in court cannot sue a winning defendant on the same cause of action; likewise, a winning plaintiff cannot sue a losing defendant on the same cause of action hoping for more damages or different ruling from the court.

Judge Gross ruled in the case of the settlement between Kanakuk and the Yandell family, there was no actual judgment in the case. The judgment from a Tennessee court on the settlement is not something that resolved the disagreement between the two; it just approved the terms of the settlement made between the parties.

Kanakuk’s second claim in favor of dismissal of the suit said the statute of limitations had run out for filing a claim for fraud.

Judge Gross cited a 2014 Missouri case (Ellison v. Fry) that showed under Missouri law, a suit on fraud must come within five years of the fraud being discovered, or 10 years after the fraud took place, whichever takes place first. So if a fraud is not uncovered for 10 years, the five year window for the statute of limitations begins to run even if the fraud is not discovered during that five year period. The result is a fraud claim can be made up to 15 years after any fraudulent incident. 

The Yarnell lawsuit claims Kanakuk head Joe White knew convicted child abuser Peter Newman had sexually abused other children at Kanakuk before Logan Yandell was abused at camp between 2005 and 2008, and that White intentionally lied to the Yandell family before a 2010 settlement regarding the abuse by claiming he knew nothing about Newman’s actions until his arrest.

Judge Gross ruled the suit was brought within the 15 year window for a claim for fraud.

“The Court denies Defendant Kanakuk’s motion to dismiss on the legal theories presented in the motion,” the judge wrote.

In dismissing the insurance company from the suit, the judge wrote the plaintiffs “simply joined the wrong party” to the case. The Yandells were given 30 days by the judge to amend their pleadings before the court if they continue to seek a claim for fraud against the insurance company.

“We thank the Court for its ruling denying Kanakuk’s motion to dismiss,” Yandell family attorney Brian Kent said in a statement to Branson Tri-Lakes News. “Thanks to the courage of our client, Logan Yandell, and his family, justice for the fraud committed upon Logan and others by Kanakuk when it exposed them to a known child predator and attempted to silence them through false representations, is now possible. This week’s ruling is just the first step towards seeking full justice.”

Kanakuk Communications sent the following statement to the Branson Tri-Lakes News: 

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.

The case has been moved to Christian County on a change of venue motion.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.