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A young Cuban immigrant has accused Frederick “the Rev. Ike” Eikerenkoetter, a Christian evangelist nationally known for his fleet of multicolored Rolls-Royce autos, of sexually abusing him while he worked as the minister’s personal assistant at his luxury Bal Harbour, Fla., condominium. Augusto Medina’s lawsuit in Miami-Dade Circuit Court alleges that the Rev. Ike, as he’s commonly known, forced Medina to fondle him on several occasions and to perform oral sex on him. The allegations of the suit are similar to those in a 1995 sexual harassment suit against the Rev. Ike that was filed by his former personal assistant in New York. Medina also named as defendants the United Christian Evangelistic Association, the Rev. Ike’s Boston-based organization, and the association’s Florida chapter, which owns the luxury Bal Harbour condo where the alleged conduct took place. The civil complaint alleges that the minister, who’s 70, committed assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. It also claims that the association is vicariously liable for Eikerenkoetter’s actions. The case is pending before Circuit Judge Roberto M. Pieiro. In an answer to Medina’s complaint, the Rev. Ike and the association contend that that the alleged sexual contact never occurred. The association contends that even if the contact did occur, the association would not be liable for the Rev. Ike’s actions, because it was outside the scope of his duties. The minister could not be reached for comment. His attorney, Richards H. Ford, managing partner of the Orlando office of Wicker Smith O’Hara McCoy Graham & Ford, did not return calls for comment. The firm also is representing the evangelistic association. The suit was filed in late March and is in the early stages of discovery. But the association’s liability insurer, West Des Moines, Iowa-based GuideOne Specialty Mutual, has already entered the fray. On June 7, the insurer filed a complaint for declaratory relief in U.S. District Court in Miami, claiming that it should not have to cover any costs or damages arising from the case. GuideOne is represented by Roderick F. Coleman, of Coleman & Associates in Boca Raton. “The policy has exclusions for sexual acts and exclusions for intentional acts,” Coleman said. “Everything that Rev. Ike allegedly did is either intentional or sexual.” Ike and UCEA have not yet filed a response to GuideOne’s complaint. That case is before U.S. District Judge Donald Graham. If the insurer prevails, any settlement or verdict in the Miami-Dade lawsuit would have to be covered by the Rev. Ike and UCEA. Coleman said for now, the insurer is covering the litigation expenses. But if the judge rules in GuideOne’s favor, the insurer plans to withdraw from the case. Medina, who was in his mid-20s when he was hired by the Rev. Ike, came to Miami from Cuba on a raft about 10 years ago. According to attorney Jennifer Ator, of counsel at Tannenbaum & Weiss in Miami, the young man spent several months at the Krome Detention Center after his arrival, and later struggled to learn English and make a living. The suit says Medina was hired by the Rev. Ike in 2001 as the minister’s personal assistant. He was paid $10 an hour in cash. His duties included driving the evangelist, manicuring his nails, dressing him and giving him massages. At the time, the minister was spending a good deal of time in Bal Harbour, where the evangelistic association owns two $1.6 million condos. Initially, Medina was delighted with the job, Ator said. But in August 2002, after Medina had been working for the Rev. Ike for about a year, the minister began to pressure the assistant for oral sex, Ator said in an interview. Medina refused and was fired, only to be rehired in 2003, she said. It was during his second stint as the Rev. Ike’s assistant that the alleged sexual contact occurred. According to the lawsuit, Medina was giving the Rev. Ike a massage, when the minister lifted up his towel and placed Medina’s hand on his penis. Medina alleges that that was the first of at least half a dozen instances of unwanted sexual contacts between himself and the evangelist. “Rev. Ike told Medina that if he did not perform sexual acts on Rev. Ike that he would be fired,” the complaint says. “Medina — afraid that he would lose his job — performed sex acts on Rev. Ike.” Medina left the Rev. Ike’s employ in 2004, after failing to pick the minister up from the airport. Ator said he resigned when he could no longer take the Rev. Ike’s advances. The association contends that Medina was fired, Ator said. BASK IN WEALTH The Rev. Ike was born into poverty in Ridgeland, S.C. As a teen, he began preaching, launching a career that would bring him nationwide recognition and considerable wealth. Preaching prosperity through Jesus, the Rev. Ike rejected the idea of waiting for riches in heaven. Instead, the minister urged his followers to bask in material wealth in the here and now. The pompadour-topped, flamboyantly dressed evangelist brought his sermons to the radio and TV evangelism circuit, rising to popularity in the 1970s. In addition to founding the Boston-based evangelistic association, he started the Palace Cathedral, an opulent New York City church, replete with antique Louis XV and XVI furniture and a seven-story-high organ. This is not the first time that the Rev. Ike has been hit with allegations that he sexually harassed a personal assistant. In 1995, the Rev. Ike’s former assistant, Andrew E. Brown, accused the minister of sexually harassing him, then firing him. Brown claimed in a suit that when he rebuffed the Rev. Ike’s sexual advances, the minister had him prosecuted on bogus burglary charges. Brown was acquitted of burglarizing the Rev. Ike’s Long Beach, N.Y., apartment, then sued the Rev. Ike for sexual harassment and the wrongful burglary allegation in Nassau County, N.Y. Brown sought $100 million in damages. The case dragged on until 2002, when both parties withdrew due to a confidential settlement agreement. When the 1995 lawsuit was filed, the Rev. Ike vehemently denied the allegations in a written statement to the press. “Is there a racial conspiracy here?” he asked. “Is Rev. Ike ‘too black to be so rich and green?’ Is this another case where the slave master uses a ‘House Negro’ to get one who is too ‘uppity’? How much of that $100 million does the lawyer hope to keep?” CONSENSUAL? In court documents, the Rev. Ike denies Medina’s sexual harassment claims, saying no sexual acts took place. The association, however, argued that any sexual contact was consensual, and claimed that it should not be held liable even if Medina’s allegations were true. The association claims that it had a sexual harassment policy in place, and that it did not knowingly condone or consent to any inappropriate conduct. In its motion to dismiss, the association said the Rev. Ike was its employee, and argued that an employer can only be held liable for the wrongful acts of an employee when the acts further the interest of the employer. The motion to dismiss also argued that sexual contact would be outside of the scope of the Rev. Ike’s employment, therefore his employer, UCEA, should not be held vicariously liable for any alleged sexual abuse. The motion to dismiss is still pending, and Ator has not yet filed a response. Ator told the Daily Business Review that Medina was never informed of any sexual harassment policy. She also disputed the idea that the Rev. Ike was merely an employee of the association, and not Medina’s employer. “He was a supervisor and a principal [in the evangelic association],” Ator said. “The reality is he was the main person, and he was the person my client was paid to take care of.” Medina also filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and received a right to sue letter three weeks ago. Ator said she is considering filing a federal sexual harassment suit in addition to the state claims for battery and assault.

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