PLNU Added to Previous Lawsuit Involving Former Student and Professor

In Community, Featured, Latest News, News by Andrew Eakes

Amy McClanahan, the woman suing former Point Loma Nazarene University professor and pastor John Wright, is now naming PLNU in her lawsuit. She filed the additional name on May 9. The civil case management was last Friday, June 29 at the San Diego County Courthouse, which was held to discuss how the case would be handled. PLNU did not appear in court.

The university, along with Wright and Mid-City Church of the Nazarene (where Wright was her pastor), is being sued by McClanahan for negligent hiring and retention related to Wright’s employment at PLNU. Twenty unnamed defendants, called John and Jane “Does,” affiliated with either PLNU or Mid-City, are also included in the lawsuit as having knowledge of Wright’s alleged inappropriate behavior toward women.

The lawsuit alleges that PLNU “breached their duties” to McClanahan by allowing Wright to come in contact with her, and others, when they had reason to believe that he was “unfit” for his position.

“It was foreseeable that if PLNU and Does 1 to 20 did not adequately exercise or provide the duty of care owed to their students, including but not limited to Plaintiff, the students would be vulnerable to sexual abuse by Wright,” the lawsuit said.

McClanahan, according to the lawsuit, believes that PLNU violated California Education Code 66270. This code protects people from gender, racial and sexual discrimination in “any program or activity conducted by any postsecondary educational institution that receives, or benefits from, state financial assistance or enrolls students who receive state student financial aid.” PLNU falls into this category.

“PLNU and its employees intentionally discriminated against or were deliberately indifferent toward McClanahan because of her sex in a manner that was so severe, pervasive, and offensive that it effectively and actually deprived her of the right of equal access to educational benefits and opportunities,” the lawsuit claimed.

Other allegations in the lawsuit include allowing Wright to work at the university after gaining knowledge of his harmful behavior toward McClanahan and others, failing to investigate allegations made about Wright, failing to tell law enforcement officials that McClanahan was violated by Wright, creating a situation where McClanahan was less likely to receive medical or mental health treatment and continuing to present Wright to the public as trustworthy.

The Point confirmed with the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office that law enforcement has not submitted to them any case relating to Wright or McClanahan. The San Diego Police Department was not immediately available for comment.

The Point contacted PLNU multiple times for comment via email and phone calls. The university did not respond to questions provided by The Point. These inquiries included whether or not previous complaints were made by staff, faculty or students against Wright, and whether or not PLNU notified authorities that McClanahan may have been sexually assaulted by Wright.

The lawsuit said that McClanahan believes at least two other females complained to either the Mid-City Church, PLNU or Does 1-20 about Wright’s behavior in the past.

Rate My Professor, a website where students can anonymously leave reviews of their professors, was referenced in the lawsuit and lists eight negative complaints made by former students about Wright. Negative comments for many professors are common on this site and are not subject to verification for accuracy.

“Worst professor I have had. He rambles on incoherently and uses students in his class as ‘examples’ very inappropriately. He even left a girl crying once after one such ‘example.’ PLNU really needs to re-evaluate it’s [sic] standards on professors,” one comment from the website said in the lawsuit.

McClanahan believes, according to the lawsuit, that PLNU, the Mid-City Church and Does 1-20 were fully aware of student complaints against Wright, including McClanahan’s, yet did not investigate the allegations.

The Point was able to confirm that PLNU hired a third-party group to conduct a Title IX investigation in December 2017, after issuing no-contact mandates to both Wright and McClanahan in November and December 2017 which forbade Wright from teaching classes mid-semester. As a result of the investigation, Wright’s contract with PLNU was terminated, according to information obtained by The Point.

Wright was removed from the roll of ministers, by surrendering his credentials with the Nazarene Church, according to the Southern California District Church of the Nazarene 2018 District Assembly Handbook. The Point reached out to Rev. Tom Taylor, the church’s district superintendent in San Diego, who confirmed this. He told The Point that Wright surrendered his credentials Nov. 26, 2017.

In an original lawsuit from Jan. 16, 2018, McClanahan sued Wright and his former church over accusations of sexual battery, assault and rape in an attempt to “heal” her PTSD stemming from childhood sexual abuse. She claims in the suit that their sexual relationship occurred while she was a PLNU student and Wright was an employee of both the Mid-City Church and PLNU. The Point was able to confirm that Wright was an employee of both PLNU and the Mid-City Church during the time of his relationship with McClanahan.

The new lawsuit said the two began engaging in sexual acts at various locations, including inside the Church, in cars, at both of their residences and at PLNU, including in Wright’s office on campus while she was a student enrolled at PLNU.

Wright countered the majority of these claims with a lawsuit against McClanahan filed on the same day in January. Wright claims that the sexual relationship, lasting for a year, was consensual and that McClanahan harassed him and his wife repeatedly after he wished to end their relationship. Wright’s lawsuit stated that McClanahan harassed the Wright family through social media and text messaging, blocking the Wright’s cars and disrupting services at the Mid-City Church of the Nazarene.

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