Three former Christian Faith Center congregants have brought a lawsuit against Federal Way megachurch Christian Faith Center and the family who owns it, alleging family members utilize church resources as their own and sexually exploit and abuse church members.
Attorney Joan Mell filed the lawsuit on Nov. 29 in King County Superior Court on behalf of her clients, Janet and Kelly Russell and Cliff Massey, whose wife, Leslie, recently settled a sexual harassment suit against the church in October. The plaintiffs allege that church owners Casey and Wendy Treat exploited them for their own personal advantage, among other charges. The couple, along with their son Caleb Treat, his spouse Christa, their daughter Tasha Treat Masitha and her spouse Moses are listed as the defendants in the case and are collectively referred to as the “Treat Family Enterprises.”
The Federal Way Mirror previously reported that the Russells claimed that a campus pastor sexually assaulted Janet Russell when she was a member at the church. According to the civil suit, in December 2013 she was working in the “crow’s nest” in Moses Masitha’s personal office on the Federal Way campus when he allegedly “groped her rear end as she walked out,” according to court documents. She claims the defendant grabbed her on various dates from 2013-2014.
She later reported the alleged abuse to church leaders, but claims that Casey Treat told the congregation that the rumors were not true and that “Tasha and Moses were ‘good kids,’” according to the suit. The suit claims Casey Treat promoted Moses Masitha to campus pastor of the Mill Creek location, although a church official previously told the Mirror that he was placed on administrative leave while the church conducts an investigation.
The plaintiffs also claim that Caleb Treat pursued a close friendship with Massey while he was sexually involved with Massey’s wife Leslie. In March 2017 when the Masseys left the church, a male staff person came forward and reported that his worship pastor Tasha Treat exploited him sexually, the documents continue.
In response to the civil suit that Leslie Massey filed against Caleb Treat in July 2017, the church “claimed to have sent Caleb Treat to sex therapy, but in reality Caleb took his family and went to another out of state church to preach,” the documents continue. The suit states that Casey Treat recently announced that his son would be returning to the Federal Way church in January 2019 in a leadership role.
The suit lists several causes of action in the plaintiff’s complaint for damages, including the church’s alleged breach of contract. This includes regular and routine cash distributions and lending of credit to Casey and Wendy Treat and their children “upon demand.” Some examples include an approximate $31,000 cash expenditure allegedly taken by Caleb Treat from the the church’s Chief Financial Officer Theresa Fazeka that was used to purchase a Harley Davidson motorcycle for his father. At any given time, Casey Treat had approximately 10 Harley Davidson motorcycles valued at approximately $50,000 each, according to the suit.
The church’s alleged breach also includes the Treat family member’s acquisition of personal real estate using church resources.
In addition to an award of damages, the plaintiffs also seek to remove Casey and Wendy Treat, and CFO Fazeka from their leadership roles, or alternatively the dissolution of the church.
The Treat family could not be reached for comment.
This story was first published in the Federal Way Mirror, a sister newspaper of Seattle Weekly.