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Prosecutor: Sex charge involving child is just first stemming from churches in South Haven, Indiana, and Michigan

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Valerie Clabaugh

Valerie Clabaugh

VALPARAISO — A 29-year-old South Haven, Indiana, woman has been charged with having sex with a 15-year-old boy in what is expected to be a growing case linked to churches in South Haven and Michigan.

Valerie Clabaugh is charged with a felony count of sexual misconduct with a minor, according to court records.

The boy reportedly told police he and Clabaugh had sex multiple times at her home on Capitol Road in South Haven last summer when she was 28.

The incidents came to light when the boy's mother reported it to police and said her former husband had been dating Clabaugh until their son became involved with her, according to charging information.

Police said when they approached Clabaugh about the allegations, she said she wanted her attorney, Gary Germann, present.

Germann did not return a telephone call from an investigator. Germann told The Times on Friday he will not meet with his client until next week and thus any comment at this time would be premature. 

The investigation into the case revealed allegations of other wrongdoings among members of a church in South Haven and another in Michigan, according to court records.

Court documents state Clabaugh was a member of the South Haven church; the boy's father attended the Michigan church. Allegations include attempts to cover up the case involving Clabaugh and at least one further inappropriate sexual situation, records state.

Porter County Deputy Prosecutor Cheryl Polarek said she intends to file more charges.

The boy's father reportedly told investigators he started a "talking" relationship with Clabaugh, but that it did not work out because Clabaugh began "having feelings for his son."

He said the churches in South Haven, Indiana, and Michigan have fellowship with each other, and he is "trying to protect everyone" involved, according to the charging information. "I think you know what I'm saying," he reportedly told investigators.

He said "a sin is a sin," and his son was supposed to wait to have sex until he got married, police said.

Leaders at the churches reportedly told police they were advised of some type of relationship between Clabaugh and the boy, and responded by telling them to "knock it off" and washed their hands of the incident, according to court documents.

An investigator said the claim is contrary to text messages he read from Clabaugh's cellphone, which said a leader at the Michigan church was attempting to persuade the boy's mother not to go to police.

Clabaugh's phone also contained messages from others in the church who allegedly knew about the sexual relationship and who were encouraging Clabaugh "not to speak with the police and that investigations such as this one are hard to prove," according to charging information.

The phone also contained text messages alleging another coverup in the church of an adult sending nude photographs to an underage boy, according to charging information.

Gallery: Recent arrests booked into Porter County Jail


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Porter/LaPorte County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.

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