Gospel singer James Fortune is being sued for alleged child abuse. According to a civil lawsuit, in 2001 James Fortune burned his 4-year-old stepson, leaving the boy disfigured with 2nd and 3rd degree burns on nearly half of his body. His wife Cheryl was also named in the lawsuit.
The toddler’s biological father is responsible for the lawsuit and is suing for $5 million in order to take care of the boy’s continued plastic surgery.
According to the lawsuit, James picked up his stepson from pre-school and the teacher told James the boy had been acting up in class. Fortune then allegedly scolded the boy the entire ride home and continued to yell and berate the boy when they got home. He then prepared a scolding hot bath for the boy, the lawsuit alleges. Fortune then allegedly told the boy to take off his clothes and proceeded to whip the boy before pushing him in the scolding hot bath, holding him underwater causing 2nd and 3rd degree burns.
In 2003 Fortune plead guilty to felony injury to a child and received 6 years deferred adjudication.
James Fortune released the following statement in response to the lawsuit:
Several months ago I received a demand for payment from my stepson’s father for an injury to my stepson that occurred in 2001. In the midst of negotiating a settlement regarding that injury, I was served with a lawsuit and now my wife and I are defending ourselves in civil court. At no time in my life was I convicted of felony injury to a child. Following my step-son’s injury, there was a criminal investigation and all matters were resolved. Since that time, my family and I, including my stepson, have maintained a continuous loving family environment. Although his father has maintained custody, Cheryl and I have enjoyed continuous uninterrupted open visitations with my step-son since 2001.
We are shocked by this lawsuit but understand people are free to use the court system to pursue matters, whether or not the claims are baseless. We are confident through this process; the ultimate decision maker will render an outcome that is just and fair. We believe in our American justice system and know that once all facts are made transparent justice will prevail in our favor.
This lawsuit is a direct result of our desire to continue the uninterrupted love, commitment and financial support as well as to protect the ongoing well-being while enhancing the current living conditions of our son. We have given our stepson who is currently in our care during his summer break continuous support and understand these allegations are a direct result of not only our increased profile and financial viability but an individual’s desire to exploit such.
We intend to vehemently defend our right to protect our family while maintaining the character integrity and trusted core values the Fortune family has been blessed to exemplify.” Out of respect to the legal process and the continued positive environment we desire to maintain for my stepson this will be my only statement regarding this matter.