Seven more women added to lawsuit against former rehab director David Powers

Rock Church Ministries also named in civil suit

SAN DIEGO - Seven more women have come forward claiming they were sexually abused in a local drug and alcohol recovery program.

An amended lawsuit was filed, and among those named in the suit was the Rock Church Ministries.

"I was scared that if I spoke out I was going to be shunned," said alleged victim Alexis Esparza.

"I have been living in constant fear of them," said alleged victim Brienna Hartz. "It needs to change; it really, really needs to change."

Those are words of honesty from the latest women to join the civil suit against David Powers, who was once the recovery minister of the Rock Church.

The first lawsuit was filed last month, when six women claimed they were sexually assaulted, abused or harassed by Powers. According to the women, Powers was a man once considered to be like family.

Now, 13 women have come forward publicly with accusations.

The women's attorney, Irwin Zalkin, told 10News there was abuse that would take place at Rock Church events like "Bonfire Fridays" or at private homes.

"Here's one … it's almost like he's got his little harem around him," said Zalkin, referring to a photo of Powers surrounded by several women.

One of the women was underage at the time, while another was an employee.

"I looked at them like role models … they were powerful people in my eyes, they were authorities," said Andria Firtel, one of the alleged victims and a former employee of Powers.

But she doesn't see Powers like that anymore.

"He would require that they be provided with photographs, see what women looked like ahead of time," added Zalkin. "Parents [of the women] were asked, 'Is your daughter pretty?'"

10News contacted the Rock Church, and Mei Ling S. Starkey of the Rock Church and Academy issued this statement:

"While these accusations are very concerning, none of the alleged misconduct took place on property owned or managed by the Rock Church or was committed by anyone under the authority and control of the Rock Church. They were allegedly committed at a recovery center owned and operated by ABC Sober Living. Since the Rock was made aware of this situation, it immediately stopped referring people to ABC Sober Living until these claims are resolved."

10News reached out to Powers Thursday but were told he is not commenting at this time.

In the past, he has told 10News that the claims are frivolous and the Rock Church is only being included in the lawsuit because it has deep pockets.

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