A civil racketeering lawsuit filed against two former leaders of the defunct Mars Hill Church—lead pastor Mark Driscoll and executive elder Sutton Turner—has been dismissed. Back in March, four former members of the controversial church filed a lawsuit which accused Driscoll and Turner of essentially misusing donations.
The suit alleged that more than $200,000 in donations that were collected for the church’s mission fund were used to pay a company to make sure that Driscoll’s latest book ended up on the New York Times best-seller list. He later said that the tactics used by the company “[manipulated] a book sales reporting system, which is wrong,” and retracted its best-seller status in marketing material, though has said that the claims made by the lawsuit were “false and malicious allegations.”
Driscoll and the Mars Hill leadership faced a variety of scandals and controversies before closing the church in late 2014.
The legal issues may not be over for Driscoll however. The racketeering lawsuit was dismissed because the former members bringing it didn’t actually serve Driscoll and Turner after filing it. The judge decided that the plaintiffs didn’t act “in bad faith, recklessly, or with an improper purpose,” and if they can get the money needed to serve the duo, they could refile it and the case could actually be heard by a judge.
In an email to RNS, one of the plaintiffs said, “We are ready to refile, if someone stepped up and offered to fund it. We will also be considering class action and contingent fee possibilities.” So far, a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the legal fees has brought in $34,660 of its $70,000 goal.
This month, Driscoll’s new church, The Trinity Church, launched in Phoenix, Ariz.
In a statement regarding the dismissal, Driscoll said, “I am grateful to God for the dismissal of these false and malicious allegations. I remain steadfast and committed to preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am forever humbled and thankful for the prayers and tremendous support of family, friends, and fellow pastors.”