More accusers sue drug ministry linked to Rock Church
The defendants are the very same ones named in the original suit in May: the head of this ministry, his wife, another program employee and the well-known Rock Church. But the list of plaintiffs has doubled to more than a dozen women who claim they were subjected to daily abuse, but were too intimidated and scared to speak out.
“I feel betrayed by the people who were promising to protect me,” professed plaintiff Brienna Hartz.
They say they were betrayed, abused and shamed. Seven more women have added their complaints to a civil lawsuit against David Powers and his wife, the operators of a drug and rehabilitation program that’s been promoted and endorsed by The Rock Church.
“Before long, he was slapping my butt,” stated one plaintiff wishing to remain anonymous.
Now there are 13 women in all who say David Powers harassed, abused or sexually assaulted them while they were staying in his sober-living homes or in a residential program in La Jolla that only admitted young women.
“They had to be pretty young women,” explained attorney for the plaintiffs Irwin Zalkin. “No ‘oldies’ or ‘fatties’, according to him.”
The women say they were harassed, touched inappropriately. Some were sexually assaulted. One woman said a doctor gave her a shot in the buttocks every week, and every week quote “David insisted on being there to watch her pull her pants down and receive the injection.”
Another woman, who confided to Powers that she was a victim of child sex abuse, says Powers later taunted her in public at an AA meeting saying “you didn’t get raped, you liked it.”
“Getting sober should be about healing, about finding peace, but that is not what we found when we entered The Rock Recovery Program,” said plaintiff Alexis Esparza.
“The pain and confusion I experienced from David’s sexual assaults was made worse by the fact that he was doing this all with the backing of The Rock Church,” continued Hartz.
Another woman described what happened to her after leaving the program and deciding she would speak out against Powers and his wife.
“Knowing I was vulnerable, they showed up at my house and handed me heroin and needles – telling me to shoot up and suggested that I kill myself. That is the treatment I got for standing up for what is right,” said plaintiff Mary Catherine Grayson.
Since the lawsuit was filed with the first set of plaintiffs back in May, The Rock Church has made it clear that it is no longer referring people to the program run by David Powers. Quote:
“While these accusations are very concerning, none of the alleged misconduct took place on property owned or managed by The Rock Church or was committed by anyone under the authority and control for The Rock Church.”
Attorney Zalkin, who filed the suit, says where the abuse occurred is immaterial.
“They had control. They had recommended this guy.”
He says The Rock Church is still accountable.
“(Powers) was their guy; for them to say they had no control, no authority is absolute nonsense.”
The women in this suit say they did not speak out because they were scared they would be forced out of the treatment program. Thursday, ABC Sober Living said no comment to inquiries. At this time, San Diego police are not involved in a criminal investigation. Zalkin says he hears from other women every day and expects the number of accusers to grow.