fraud lawsuit against kanakuk ministries

Missouri Judge Denied Kanakuk’s Motion to Dismiss Fraud Lawsuit

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (April 28, 2023) – This Tuesday, Judge Raymond Gross, associate circuit judge for Ozark County, ruled against Kanakuk’s motion to dismiss a civil lawsuit filed against them claiming fraud.

Plaintiff Logan Yandell, now 28 years old, was sexually abused by former Kanakuk Director Pete Newman when he was a child. The case claims that he, along with his parents as guardians of a minor, were induced to sign a settlement agreement with Kanakuk and its insurers, inclusive of a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), without the Defendants disclosing key facts regarding Newman’s known patterns of sexually abusing minors throughout his employment. Newman is not named as a Defendant in Yandell’s Petition.

Kanakuk’s motion argued that the claims were barred by res judicata and asserted that the statute of limitations had run. Judge Gross denied Kanakuk’s motion on the legal theories presented in the motion.

“We thank the Court for its ruling denying Kanakuk’s motion to dismiss. Thanks to the courage of our client, Logan Yandell, and his family, justice for the fraud committed upon Logan and others by Kanakuk when it exposed them to a known child predator and attempted to silence them through false representations, is now possible,” says Brian Kent of Laffey Bucci Kent. “This week’s ruling is just the first step towards seeking full justice.”

Attorneys for the Yandell family are Brian Kent, Guy D’Andrea, Michael McFarland and Jill Roth of Laffey Bucci Kent based in Philadelphia, Pa., along with Phillip R. Martens, Robert Thrasher, David Mayer and Ryan Frazier of Monsees & Mayer based in Kansas City, MO.

In December 2021, The Dispatch published an article that disclosed to the Kanakuk survivor community and general public for the first time that Newman’s direct supervisor, Will Cunningham, had, in fact, recommended Newman’s termination in 2003 upon receiving more reports of Newman’s ongoing sexual abuse of children. This termination request was overruled by Joe White, longtime and current CEO and Board Chair of Kanakuk Ministries, who promoted Newman from assistant director to director after Cunningham left his role. Cunningham signed an affidavit with his sworn testimony regarding his recommendation to terminate Newman, due to patterns of sexually abusing minors, as part of this case.

Due to the December 2021 article in particular, and other substantial facts revealed to plaintiff since his original 2010 settlement agreement with Defendants, Yandell is seeking damages for the Defendants’ fraud. He is demanding a jury by trial on all issues triable in this case. The venue is set in Christian County, MO.

For more information regarding Kanakuk’s history of abuse, visit


Laffey, Bucci & Kent LLP ( is a trauma-informed, personal injury law firm based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that represents individuals seriously injured due to the negligence of others. Their crime victim department is made up of former sex crimes prosecutors who solely represent survivors of abuse, assault and human trafficking nationwide. They are currently lead counsel in various well known sexual abuse lawsuits across the country, including litigation against the Southern Baptist Convention for their cover up of sexual abuse. The attorneys at the firm have more than 50 years of experience and have obtained more than $500 million on behalf of their clients, including a $52,000,000 settlement in 2020 on behalf of 29 victims of the Miracle Meadows School in West Virginia. They also have offices in California, Delaware, West Virginia, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey and New York.

Monsees & Mayer, P.C. ( is a personal injury law firm in Springfield and Kansas City, Missouri, committed to helping individuals injured by the negligence and wrongdoing of others with trauma-informed communication. With more than 80 years of collective experience, the attorneys represent clients in sexual abuse, car accident, wrongful death and serious injury claims and have obtained millions in verdicts and settlements, including more than $25 million in judgments and settlements obtained in the past 5 years for victims and survivors of sexual abuse.