John Kaempf specializes in defending churches and religious schools in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho sued for child sex abuse allegedly committed by employees or volunteers. He also defends child sex abuse lawsuits against individuals.


He has 30 years of experience successfully defending child sex abuse cases in the state and federal courts of the Pacific Northwest, both at trial and on appeal. He also assists local counsel with child sex abuse cases against religious entities nationwide.

The Pacific Northwest, including Oregon, has been at the epicenter of child sex abuse cases nationally for decades. John has defended some of the largest civil child abuse cases in the country, including a recent case against a school involving over 70 plaintiffs.

He is well versed in the unique laws about vicarious liability for child sex abuse and the statute of limitations for child sex abuse claims. He has extensive experience successfully defending these volatile, high exposure cases at trial and on appeal.

  • In 2019, John succeeded in getting the plaintiff to drop her lawsuit against an Oregon church based on child sex abuse that supposedly occurred in the 1980s. An investigation revealed that the plaintiff’s family did not believe her claim, and she had no corroborating evidence. Also, John filed a motion to dismiss based on the statute of limitations. While the motion was pending, and after initially demanding $3 million, and when John made it clear that his client would not pay anything to settle the case, the plaintiff dismissed it for nothing. The case is Alston v. Shasta Way Christian Church, Klamath County Circuit Court case number 18CV54946.
  • In 2020, John succeeded in getting the plaintiff to drop his child sex abuse lawsuit filed in the State of Washington against an order of priests. This occurred after an investigation revealed that the plaintiff’s family believed his allegation that a Catholic priest abused him was false. The lawsuit was dismissed after John’s client made it clear to the plaintiff and his attorney that no money would be paid. The case is JR v. Corporation of the Catholic Archbishop of Seattle, King County Case # 18-2-17694-8 SEA.
  • In Schmidt v. Archdiocese of Portland, 218 Or App 661 (2008), based on the statute of limitations and the lack of vicarious liability, John got the trial court to dismiss a lawsuit based on alleged child sex abuse by a Catholic priest. He then got the Oregon Court of Appeals to affirm that ruling.
  • The Oregon Court of Appeals also affirmed the summary judgment John obtained for his clients in J.S. v. Franciscan Friars of Oregon, 215 Or App 500 (2007), a case involving alleged child sex abuse by a Catholic priest. The court upheld the trial court’s rulings that the defendants were not vicariously liable for the priest’s alleged sexual abuse of the plaintiff, and that the statute of limitations barred the case.
  • John obtained the pretrial dismissal of a multi-million dollar child sex abuse action filed in Oregon against a major international church and one of its pastors. The trial court ruled that the statute of limitations barred the lawsuit. The case is JMS v. Roberts, Multnomah County Circuit Court case number 0705-05015 (2007). The plaintiff did not appeal.
  • In 2017, John succeeded in getting the plaintiff to drop his multi-million dollar child sex abuse lawsuit against an Oregon church and an order of priests without being paid any money after an investigation revealed that his brothers, who served as Altar Boys with him, said his allegation that a Catholic priest abused him was false. The lawsuit was dismissed after John’s clients made it clear to the plaintiff and his attorney that no money would be paid. The case is Smith v. Holy Rosary Church, Multnomah County Circuit Court case number 16CV05662.

Thus, John won all of these cases, and his clients avoided the time, expense, stress, risk, and negative publicity associated with a trial.

Also, John is one of the few defense lawyers in the country who has tried a civil child abuse case to a jury. The case favorably settled after two weeks of trial when the plaintiff refused to testify after valid concerns were raised about his credibility.

John’s experience, and his proven willingness and ability to try a child sex abuse case if a reasonable settlement cannot be reached, greatly helps his clients.