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Pastor Drops Lawsuit Against His Ex-Church

November 02, 2005|Roy Rivenburg | Times Staff Writer

A fired Orange County pastor who sued his former church and older brother for libel and wrongful termination has dropped his lawsuit, court officials said.

Pastor Joe Sabolick filed a $15-million suit in July against Calvary Chapel of Laguna Beach, alleging that church officials had falsely accused him of pedophilia, adultery and embezzlement.

But last week, after meeting with pastors from other Calvary Chapels -- including the movement's founder, Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa -- Sabolick agreed to withdraw his lawsuit.

The dispute originated in August 2004, when Sabolick and Assistant Pastor Jim Sisco were removed by Calvary Laguna's church board.

Church officials, including Sabolick's older brother, George, alleged that Sabolick had misused church money, had strayed from Calvary theology and was "fixated" on Sisco's wife and daughter.

Subsequent rumors of sexual misconduct spurred Laguna Beach police and outside clergy to look into the matter and declare the sex allegations unsubstantiated.

Sabolick and Sisco eventually found new jobs overseeing a Calvary Chapel in Marin County, then jointly sued their old church, which denied the allegations. Smith, Sabolick and other parties involved didn't return calls seeking comment.

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