KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Nearly 20 years have passed since Logan Yandell says he was sexually abused for the first time at Kanakuk Kamps.
Tuesday, the Taney County Circuit Court issued a win for Yandell by allowing his fraud lawsuit filed against Kanakuk to proceed.
Yandell issued a statement to KSHB 41 that reads in part, "We as survivors are taking back the narrative and demanding that Kanakuk tell the truth."
In November,Yandell filed the lawsuit claiming Kanakuk committed fraud, in the form of withholding information, in an attempt to persuade sex-abuse victims and their families to sign settlements that included non-disclosure agreements.
Yandell's family was one of them.
Yandell claims Joe White, president of Kanakuk Kamps, knew Pete Newman engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior with children years before Newman confessed to abusing kids in 2009.
In 2010, Newman was handed down two life sentences for multiple counts of sexual abuse and sodomy for his crimes committed at the camp.
According to Yandell, White told his family he had no reason to be concerned about Newman until the day he confessed. The Yandell family previously told the I-Team they believed White took immediate action, which is why they agreed to a settlement.
Several years later, the Yandells said they learned White did have reason to be concerned about Newman and that if those concerns were acted upon, many children, including their own, would not have been abused.
What did Kanakuk know?
A sworn affidavit from a former Kanakuk supervisor, which is attached to Yandell's lawsuit, reveals complaints about Newman began in 1999, 10 years before Newman confessed.
The supervisor writes the first complaint was of Newman engaging in nude activities with the kids, such as riding ATVs.
Then, in 2003, the supervisor said Kanakuk received a similar complaint from a parent, who said Newman was playing nude basketball and swimming naked with kids.
The supervisor said he suggested his employer terminate Newman's employment, but he didn't have the authority to fire Newman on his own. Newman remained on staff for years and was later promoted.
Giving survivors a voice
Yandell says he wants to give survivors their voices back, many of whom have been silenced by the non-disclosure agreements as part of each settlement.
Shortly after Yandell submitted his lawsuit against Kanakuk, the company asked the judge to dismiss Yandell's claims.
"I thank the court for letting my story be heard," Yandell said. "And allowing us the opportunity to investigate what Kanakuk leadership has knowingly concealed for the better part of two decades."
Kanakuk would not comment on the judge's ruling, only saying, "Our policy is not to comment on pending litigation. We will respond further if or when appropriate. In the meantime, we continue to pray for all who have been affected by Pete Newman’s behavior."
Although, the camp has a statement on its website that reads in part, "We were wrong in our understanding of the language of many of these agreements, and we failed to recognize the restrictions – both real and perceived – that many victims are under. We absolutely want to clarify this. We support the right of victims to share their story in pursuit of healing."
Despite the signed affidavit by a former supervisor claiming Kanakuk knew Newman was a threat years before his confession, Kanakuk claims, "In 2009, former director Pete Newman was convicted for abusing children. He was a master of deception – fooling not only Kanakuk but also his friends, neighbors, and even his own family. As soon as Kanakuk became aware of abuse, we took action, including immediate termination and reporting him to authorities."
Upon the judge's ruling, Yandell also honored a former camper who was abused and died by suicide in 2019.
"Trey Carlock deserved to see this day," Yandell said.
Carlock's obituary references his abuse:
"Trey was a Kanakuk Kamps abuse survivor and for years fought valiantly against the trauma he suffered. He had a heart for others who were victims there as well, and he was a generous friend to those he could help."
Yandell ended his statement to KSHB 41 by writing, "Ephesians 5:11-14."
Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said:
"Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you."