Parents settle lawsuit over disabled son’s forced baptism

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PAINESVILLE, Ohio (AP) — The parents of a disabled Ohio teen have settled a lawsuit against a church and others over what they said was the boy’s forced baptism at a picnic in 2016, the parents’ attorneys said.

The confidential settlement on behalf of April and Gregg DeFibaugh and their son, identified as “V,” was agreed to earlier this year in Lake County outside Cleveland. It was announced Thursday by a spokesman for the group American Atheists.

The lawsuit claimed a man from a northeast Ohio Big Brothers Big Sisters group took the boy, then 11, to a Morning Star Friends Church picnic in August 2016 and told him he would stop taking him to minor league baseball games if he did not agree to be baptized.

The full immersion baptism traumatized the boy, causing anxiety and recurring nightmares about drowning, the lawsuit said.

“Although no settlement or verdict could undo the anguish their son suffered, the DeFibaughs are pleased with the outcome,” said American Atheist attorney Geoffrey Blackwell in a statement.

An attorney for Big Brothers Big Sisters said Friday that the lawsuit found no fault with the group. Attorneys for the boy’s big brother, the church and a minister declined to comment, citing the confidential settlement terms.

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