290: Christina Cheetham | Abuse and Cover-up at North Valley Baptist Church

1h 4m | Mar 17, 2024

First coverage of the lawsuit:

Multiple sources close to North Valley Baptist Church in Santa Clara, California, stated that after the evening service on Wednesday, March 13, the livestream was shut off.

After the livestream ended, Pastor Jack Trieber and his staff informed the church body in the auditorium that they had settled a lawsuit.

The lawsuit in question was one I reported on recently -– which was filed on October 19, 2022, by two women, Christina Cheetham and Kim Craig, against North Valley Baptist Church and former youth pastor Mike Strouf, alleging abuse that took place near the end of the 1980s.

Fred Slye, the business manager for the church, read a statement from the pulpit, saying that police were called 34 years ago, and it was dealt with, and that they needed to settle the lawsuit.

Trieber and staff also allegedly communicated to the church that they could have bankrupted the church or put it in significant financial debt and had to sell one property if they did not settle.

And, of course, the congregation was encouraged not to listen to “rumors.”

I’ve been following this case closely since almost the time when the Preacher Boys podcast started.

In fact, on December 9, 2020, I conducted a podcast interview with Christina Cheetham.

The interview was just under two hours in length, with Christina detailing her grooming and abuse at the hands of Mike Strouf, former youth pastor of North Valley Baptist Church in Santa Clara, California.

At our recording time, Christina was unsure of avenues to pursue legal action against Strouf due to stringent statute of limitations laws.

We agreed to keep the episode from being released while Christina searched for ways to pursue justice.

Christina discovered that in 2019, California Assembly Bill Number 218 had amended the law about civil suits for recovery of damages from alleged childhood sexual abuse. The Bill prescribed an amendment and expansion of the definition of “childhood sexual abuse,” extension of the statute of limitations for commencement of civil suits for same, allowance of recovery of up to treble damages under certain circumstances involving a cover-up of childhood sexual assault, revival of specific childhood sexual assault claims, and exemption from the Government Tort Claims Act’s “claims-presentation” requirements for childhood sexual assault claims.

This gave Christina an unprecedented opportunity to take legal action.

Until today, Christina has made no public statement regarding her story of abuse.

I will indeed be sitting down with her again in the future to record an entirely new conversation. However, in the meantime, with her permission, I returned to our 2020 interview to pull key clips from her story to add her voice to the stories being shared regarding the lawsuit.


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