Court clears church in pastor firing case

June 4, 2010 

FAIRBANKS -- A Superior Court judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by members of a Fairbanks church who opposed a young pastor's firing.

Roughly two dozen members of the Corinthian Baptist Church sued the church's board of trustees in 2008, claiming the board acted outside its authority when it fired 32-year-old pastor S. Anthony Justice.

Justice was indicted earlier this year on sex abuse charges involving a 15-year-old girl, and lawyers for the members and the trustees decided dismissing the lawsuit was for the best. The judge formally dismissed the case Wednesday.

Gregory Silvey, the lawyer representing church trustees, said attorney fees still need to be worked out.

Worshippers had voted 32-5 to hire Justice in 2007. He led the church for 15 months, and supporters credit him with attracting new members, particularly young people.

Church leaders found fault with Justice's performance and voted 5-2 to fire him.

Justice was indicted on a dozen counts of sexually abusing the girl he met while he was pastor. He is awaiting a trial scheduled for later this month.

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