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Jury Finds Pastor Liable for Assault on Two Former Church Workers

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RALEIGH — A Wake County jury has found that the seniorpastor of White Plains United Methodist Church in Cary should be heldliable for assaulting two former church workers.

The jury found that the Rev. Ed Privette should not be held liable foralleged assaults against a third worker.

The verdict in the civil trial was announced before noon Monday. Thejury is now considering what, if any, damages to award to the twowomen, Tracey Newman and Debbie Smith.

The three women alleged that Privette inappropriately touched them.They say he often pulled them close, slapped them on the buttocks, orkissed them on the neck. One of the women, Gail Lawson, says she was firedas a church employee for complaining about the overtures.

But Privette, who church members said was very affectionateand often hugged people, denied that he engaged in any inappropriatetouching. His lawyers argued that the former church workers concocted thesexual harassment claims because Privette gave them unfavorable jobreviews.

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