Racketeering suit against former Mars Hill pastor could collapse

Former Mars Hill executive pastor Sutton Turner.

Sutton Turner, the former executive pastor of Mark Driscoll's Mars Hill Church, has filed a motion to dismiss a case against him alleging that he and Driscoll were guilty of racketeering in how they conducted the church's affairs.

The case was brought by Brian and Connie Jacobsen and Ryan and Arica Kildea, former church members, who said they should be reimbursed the $92,000 they donated to the church and receive triple the amount in damages.

However, Turner was never served with the lawsuit and his attorney says it has lapsed.

In a blog post he highlights portions of his response to the court, saying that the "sole purpose of filing the lawsuit was to disparage my character" and that the plaintiffs acted in bad faith. He says their "defamatory" accusations had "caused irreparable harm to my business career and future earning potential. This damage can be conservatively calculated at $5 million based on my pre-Mars Hill Church business earnings."

Turner says he had made repeated efforts to reach out to the Jacobsens and Kildeas without success. He vigorously defends Mars Hill's accounting standards and flatly denies ever profiting personally from Mark and Grace Driscoll's book Real Marriage ,whose promotion by the Results Source company, widely perceived as unethical, was one of the controversies that led to Driscoll's downfall.

He also defends Mars Hill's handling of the controversy over the use of funds donated for use in Ethiopia, some of which were applied to work in the US. An investigation by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability had cleared the church, he said.

Turner also refers to a website set up by the Jacobsens and Kildeas, saying: "There has been significant media coverage on this lawsuit, causing irreparable harm to my reputation and business career. I am only sharing this in order to get my side of the story out there, and hope that it is helpful for anyone still seeking answers about Mars Hill Church and the false accusation levied against me."

The attorney for the Jacobsens and Kildeas, Brian Fahling, has been asked for a respond to Turner's statements.