Thursday Nov 12 2009
Auburn woman wins $1.3 million in molest case
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
Lincoln pastor allegedly never reported child’s claims
An Auburn woman was awarded $1.3 million Thursday after a judge agreed with her claim that her stepfather molested her when she was a child. In May 2007, at the age of 27, Jeanne Schreib filed a civil lawsuit against her stepfather claiming that he had molested her between the ages of 8 and 14 at their Lincoln home. On Thursday, Schreib and her attorney, Joseph George revealed the outcome of that suit and Schreib’s reward following a Nov. 9 entry of judgment detailing the restitution amount. “I’m really excited that there’s some vindication and a judge has ruled that this happened,” Schreib told the Journal Thursday. Sacramento County Judge David Abbott ruled in an August statement of decision that the “preponderance of evidence” supported Schreib’s claims of abuse by her stepfather, Lincoln resident Gale Morgan. Morgan denied Schreib’s claims and he and other family members described Schreib as a “drama queen,” according to the statement of decision. During the trial, Morgan’s attorney, Michael Wise, raised Schreib’s prior felony embezzlement conviction and said it was reason to question her credibility as a witness. Also, Pastor Glenn Vance of Salt Mine Vine of Life Ministries Church in Lincoln was named in the decision. Vance said Schreib initially told him that she was being molested but he did not believe her. Vance did not report the molestation to police, Abbott wrote. In his decision, Abbott said that testimony from two psychology experts regarding Schreib’s mental state and stating that she had classic symptoms of someone who had been molested aided her case. Schreib said the embezzlement occurred while she was working as a bookkeeper for Airweld, Inc., from November 2005 until she was arrested in July 2006. She said she pleaded no contest and did not dispute the $54,000 restitution order. Schreib also spent two weeks in Placer County Jail as a part of her sentence. She said since then, she’s made monthly payments and said she will use payments from her civil lawsuit verdict to pay off the remaining amount. Schreib said she believes her desire to “fulfill my needs” by embezzling money stemmed from the years of molestation she endured. She said after she was convicted of embezzlement, she sought counseling and was directed by a new pastor to read a book about child molestation and its effects. Upon reading the book, she realized she was suffering from the impacts of molestation. Schreib said initially she reached out to her mother and stepfather and asked that they go to co-counseling with her to address the issue. Prior to that attempt, she said she had a relationship with her parents and they would talk over the phone and celebrate holidays together. Schreib said the molestation was the “elephant in the room.” However, Schreib said her parents were unwilling to meet for counseling when she finally faced the problem and she eventually filed the civil lawsuit. “The painful part of this is my whole goal was family reconciliation,” Schreib said. “I just wanted to help and I just wanted for all of us to come together. That’s what I tried to do in the beginning.” While most of the abuse occurred in the family’s Lincoln home, Schreib said there were isolated incidents that took place in Sacramento County. She said she tried the case in Sacramento because of convenience for her attorney. She said at this time she does not plan to file a civil lawsuit in Placer County. In November 1997, Schreib said she told her story to a Placer County Sheriff’s Office deputy but was later told that the case would be too hard to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Schreib said she hopes this civil court judge’s ruling will encourage Placer law enforcement and the District Attorney’s Office to revisit the case. Schreib said she hopes her story can help others who have been victims of sexual abuse to come forward. She added that she hopes those who hear of these incidents take them seriously and report them. “My message is to not be silent, to be brave and go to a trusted authority,” Schreib said. Morgan’s attorney, Wise, did not return a call for comment. Vance did not return a call or e-mail for comment. Jenifer Gee can be reached at email@example.com.