This section contains a few examples of the many civil lawsuits alleging sexual abuse filed against Kanakuk and its leadership. Kanakuk has entered into numerous out-of-court settlements with individuals and families based on similar claims, protecting the camp from public scrutiny.
Filed on November 18, 2022, in Missouri court, the petition alleges fraud and claims that Yandell, now 27 years old, along with his parents as guardians of a minor, were induced to sign a settlement agreement, inclusive of a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), without Kanakuk disclosing key facts regarding Newman’s known patterns of sexually abusing minors throughout his employment.
Filed in February 2021 in Missouri state court, the lawsuit alleges multiple acts of sexual abuse of the plaintiff by Newman in many locations. In his role as a Kanakuk leader, Newman repeatedly told the young boy that the behaviors they were engaged in were normal.
“Prior to Newman’s arrest, there were at least 57 alleged victims of Newman including Plaintiff.”
Filed in May 2020 in Missouri state court, the lawsuit identifies Newman as a “textbook pedophile.” The lawsuit states that Doe XI attended several Kanakuk camps between 2001 and 2008, first as a camper and then as a counselor. Newman allegedly “groomed” Doe XI, using his authority as a leader of Kanakuk Kamps to build a relationship with Doe XI’s family, as well as the boy, ultimately reinforcing the normalcy of sexual abuse.
“During grooming, the predator uses the parents’ blessing and trust as a way to interpose himself between the child and parent.”
Filed in May 2020 in Missouri state court, the filing states that Doe X was a Kanakuk “kamper” for three summers between 2003 and 2005. In addition, Doe X participated in other Kanakuk activities with Newman, including a “father-son” retreat during his sixth-grade year and visited Newman’s home in 2009. According to the lawsuit, from 2003 through 2009, Newman contacted Doe X on multiple occasions, visited him at his parent’s home, and took the boy to several other Kanakuk-sponsored events.
“Newman talked about his hot tub ministry in a speech, wherein Newman stated, ‘Not a night of the week went by that there wasn’t someone to minister to in the hot tub.'”
Filed in June 2017 in Missouri state court, the complaint details numerous instances in which Joe White and other Kanakuk leaders received complaints about Newman’s behavior and outlines their subsequent efforts to conceal that knowledge and protect Newman.
The lawsuit alleges that White and Kanakuk were motivated to cover-up the sexual abuse because Newman was popular among campers and their parents and generated multiple return visits and revenue for the camp.
“Faced with overwhelming evidence of illegal sexual misconduct involving a minor, Joe White and Kanakuk took no action to terminate Newman.”
Filed in federal court in Texas in August 2013, the lawsuit states that Doe III was repeatedly abused by Newman while at the camp and when visiting the boy at the family’s home in Texas.
The filing alleges that Kanakuk leaders were aware that Newman was running nude through the camp with minor boys, playing nude basketball with minor boys, and swimming nude with minor boys.
“Kanakuk had every reason to know that Defendant Newman, a sexual predator, was operating freely in the Kanakuk Kamps and placing young boys at risk for sexual abuse and molestation and the lifelong burdens that childhood sexual abuse creates.”
The litigation was settled through a confidential agreement in October 2015.
Filed in federal court in Texas in March 2011, the filing states that Doe was abused by Newman over the span of three years, and that Newman would have the boy spend the night alone with him at his living quarters on Kanakuk property.
The lawsuit alleges that inappropriate behavior and sexual abuse occurred in the presence of other Kanakuk Kamps personnel and that Kanakuk leaders were aware of Newman’s acts of sexual predation but chose not to terminate him or report him to authorities.
“Although this conduct [of nude activities with campers] came to the attention of Defendants Joe T. White, Kanakuk Ministries, and/or Kanakuk Heritage, Inc., again, Defendant Newman remained on staff in easy reach of his future victims…”
The litigation was settled.