By Scott Buttram
A Jefferson County jury awarded a $1 million civil verdict against the former youth minister of Word of Life Christian Center, David Webb on Thursday. Webb’s father, Scott Webb serves as senior pastor at the church. The victim had previously settled her claim against the church.
The jury found in favor of the plaintiff, Elizabeth Echols, 24, on all four counts. Echols, who was 15 at the time of the incident, was represented by Rick Stotser and Johnny Brunson of Massey, Stotser and Nichols. The verdict was for compensatory and punitive damages.
The plaintiff alleged assault and battery of a sexual nature, trespass on her body, wantonness, and seduction of an underage and unmarried woman.
When contacted by The Tribune, Stotser said he was pleased with the verdict.
“We believe this verdict indicates that the courts will not tolerate abuse and misuse of a minor by people in a position of power,” Stotser said.
Webb is currently incarcerated in a federal prison in Arkansas after pleading guilty to violations of the Mann Act, transporting a minor across state lines for sexual purposes. Webb waived his right to appear at the civil trial
Stotser said the verdict on behalf of his client was gratifying and makes a strong statement.
“Neither the courts or society are going to accept this type of behavior by people in a trusted position,” Stotser said. “This should send a strong message to anyone who has authority over minors that abusing that authority and influence has dire consequences.”