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Local attorneys honored for $20M judgment

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Attorneys with Bolivar-based firm Douglas, Haun & Heidemann PC were honored last month for obtaining the top plaintiff’s judgment in Missouri last year.

In the Christian County case Doe IX v. Kanakuk Heritage Inc., attorneys Craig Heidemann, Nathan Duncan and Nick Allen obtained a $20 million judgment against Pete Newman, a former camp counselor for Kanakuk Kamps, Heidemann said this morning. The final judgment was issued in March 2018. Douglas, Haun & Heidemann PC also operates an office in Springfield.

Newman was sentenced in 2010 to life in prison for molesting young boys while working for Kanakuk, according to an OzarksFirst.com report.

Heidemann, Duncan and Allen, who filed the suit in 2015 on behalf of victims, were honored Jan. 25 in St. Louis by Missouri Lawyers Media for the 2019 Missouri Lawyers Awards. Missouri Lawyers Media indicated the judgment was the top plaintiff's award in its database for 2018.

“This case was about standing up for personal rights of many young children who could not protect themselves,” Heidemann said in a news release. “It was about doing what was right. No one, especially innocent children, should be subjected to this personal abuse.”

Heidemann this morning said lawsuits are ongoing to collect judgment payments from insurance companies that covered Kanakuk Kamps. Officials with Kanakuk also have been accused of allegedly allowing Newman to continue working even though they “know or should have known about the activity,” Heidemann said.

“Hopefully, the insurance companies will pay,” he said. “It won’t be Pete Newman. He’s not making that much in prison.”

Kanakuk officials previously have condemned Newman's conduct.

“The abusive, criminal behavior Pete Newman admitted runs counter to everything Kanakuk Kamps has stood for over the past 85 years,” the organization said in a 2013 statement to The Kansas City Star. “We have never had, nor will we ever have, any tolerance for anyone who seeks to harm a child in any physical, sexual or emotional way. "

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