A former employee and longtime member of Christian Faith Center, 33645 20th Ave. S., has filed a lawsuit against the church alleging that a pastor sexually harassed her. HEIDI SANDERS, the Mirror

Local megachurch slapped with sexual harassment lawsuit

A former employee and longtime member of Christian Faith Center has filed a lawsuit against the megachurch, claiming Caleb D. Treat, who was a pastor there, had sexually harassed her and other female employees and church members.

The lawsuit, filed by Leslie Massey in July in King County Superior Court, alleges that Treat and the church had discriminated against Massey “by creating a sexually hostile work environment.”

“Defendant Caleb D. Treat repeatedly preyed upon female employees and church members over the course of his employment with Christian Faith Center and involvement in the ministry hierarchy,” according to court documents. “His improper sexual activities were known to his superiors at Christian Faith Center. However, time after time, Christian Faith Center failed to take effective action to protect female Christian Faith Center employees and church members.”

Treat, who was the campus pastor at the Federal Way location and an executive pastor, no longer works at the church, according to church staff.

Treat’s father, Casey Treat, is the founder and senior pastor of Christian Faith Center, which has thousands of attendees each week at campuses in Federal Way, Mill Creek and Gig Harbor.

Colleen Kinerk of Cable, Langenback, Kinerk and Bauer law firm in Seattle is the attorney for the defendants. Kinerk denied the allegations in a response filed with the court on Oct. 17.

Kinerk said in an email that Massey and Caleb Treat were involved in a consensual romantic relationship.

Massey’s attorney, Mark B. Shepherd of Pivotal Law Group in Seattle, has denied the claim that the relationship was consensual.

“My belief is it can never really be consensual when there was disparity in power,” he said, referring to Caleb Treat’s role as Massey’s employer and pastor.

A message to Treat seeking comment was not returned by press deadline. Christian Faith Center declined comment on the case.

“Christian Faith Center has received the pleadings in the lawsuit … and is in the early stages of the discovery process,” Theresa Fazekas, Christian Faith Center’s chief financial officer, said in an email. “Consequently, there is no additional comment at this time.”

According to her attorney, Massey was an active member of the church before she was employed in an administrative position at the Federal Way location in April 2014.

“She was deeply involved in the church for years and years,” Shepherd said. “It was (Massey and her family’s) religious, social and entire community, as well as her work. When this happened, it is as if they were ostracized and not really embraced after it happened.”

Shepherd said Massey worked at the church until March, when she was put on a leave of absence. She was dismissed from her position within the past month, Shepherd said, through constructive discharge, which occurs when an employee resigns as a result of a hostile work environment created by the employer.

Because Christian Faith Center has denied the allegations, Shepherd said litigation will proceed.

According to the lawsuit, Massey is seeking unspecified damages for “loss of earnings, compensation and benefits; mental and emotional trauma, humiliation, pain and suffering; loss of reputation and social status.”

It is unfortunate the church’s leadership did not do anything about Caleb Treat’s behavior toward his client, Shepherd said.

“As I understand it, Caleb’s inappropriate activities were well known to the management structure of the church,” Shepherd said. “Much of that was kept secret from the membership of the church, members of the congregation.”

According to the website lawyersandsettlements.com, Christian Faith Center agreed in 2007 to pay $700,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a man and his parents who had accused staff of failing to protect the man from sexual abuse years ago by a Sunday school teacher at the church.

More in News

Reach Out provides homeless ‘second chance’

People experiencing homelessness share their stories at annual Reach Out breakfast Nov. 7.

Third alleged sexual assault reported at Federal Way foot massage business in three years

The victim reported to police that a masseur inappropriately touched her genital area during a massage at the business.

Political activist Tim Eyman campaigns for Initiative 976 on Nov. 5 in downtown Bellevue. The initiative promised $30 car tabs while functionally eliminating the ability of agencies like Sound Transit to raise taxes for its projects. Photo by Aaron Kunkler
Election analysis: I-976 vote casts South King County against Seattle, Eastside

Preliminary precinct counts show support for the initiative split by region.

Federal Way 7-Eleven robbed at gunpoint for fourth time in one month

The suspect fled on foot; no injuries were reported, police say.

Man shot in leg in another city arrives at Federal Way urgent care

The man was transported to St. Francis Hospital for treatment, police said.

Man in critical condition after Federal Way shooting

Man in his 30s was shot and transported to Harborview Medical Center; information obtained by officers reveal the shooting may have occurred at nearby apartment complex on 1st Way South, Federal Way police say.

A King County judge found the company misled customers into thinking it was a charity. Photo courtesy of the state Attorney General’s office
Judge rules Value Village deceived customers

The King County judge found the company misled customers into thinking it was a charity.

Defending freedom to battling flames

Veterans now serving as firefighters reflect on service to country.

Federal Way’s Annual ‘Honoring Our Own’ event recognizes local heroes

The Veterans Day observance ceremony to be held Nov. 9 at Todd Beamer High School.

Most Read