California Church Named in Lawsuit over the Torture, Murder of Former Elder's 11-Year-Old Daughter

  • Kayla Koslosky Former Editor
  • Updated Jul 20, 2023
California Church Named in Lawsuit over the Torture, Murder of Former Elder's 11-Year-Old Daughter

The San Diego, California-based Rock Church and one of its employees have been named as defendants in a civil lawsuit claiming that the church, among others, failed to report and investigate child abuse and neglect by former elder and volunteer Leticia McCormack. McCormack was arrested last November and charged with torturing her 11-year-old adopted daughter, Arabella, who was murdered by McCormack's father.

San Diego County Child Welfare Services and two of its employees, the San Diego Police Department and one of its officers, the San Diego Fire Rescue Department and one of its employees, the Pacific Coast Academy and two of its employees, McCormack, her late husband Brian McCormack's estate, and McCormack's parents, Adella and Stanley Tom, are all listed as defendants in the 27-page lawsuit filed on behalf of Arabella's two surviving younger sisters, ages six and seven.

According to the lawsuit, "the defendants in this case include not only the perpetrators of this horrific abuse … but also the individuals and entities who interacted with the McCormacks and the girls in the weeks, months and years leading up to Arabella's death, and who owed mandatory duties to report the girls' neglect to the proper authorities."

The suit names the McCormacks and Toms as the perpetrators of the abuse.

Leticia McCormack and her parents were arrested on November 7, 2022, for torturing and killing Arabella, several months into an investigation into the family. Authorities first responded to the McCormack residence on August 30, 2022, after receiving a call about a child in distress inside the home. Detectives immediately suspected child abuse, and Arabella was transported to a nearby hospital, where she later died. Her sisters were subsequently removed from the house and placed in foster care.

According to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, McCormack, 49, and her mother, 70, were each charged with three counts of willful cruelty to a child and three counts of torture. McCormack's father, 75, faced cruelty and torture counts while also being charged with Arabella's murder. 

Brian McCormack, who was working as a border patrol officer at the time, committed suicide after police contacted him about the abuse investigation.

The complaint asserts that the church was aware of Leticia McCormack's neglect and abuse.

"During the course of her involvement with the church, the Rock Church (through its volunteers and employees) became aware of issues of child neglect and/or abuse relating to Ms. McCormack. After Arabella' s death, church member Janet Horvath reported that she saw A.M. and E.M. in December 2021 at the McCormacks' home and that they looked like 'little ghosts,'" the complaint says.

"She said that Arabella was kept upstairs away from her while she visited. She said that she was concerned for the girls because they appeared 'fragile' and smaller than her own grandchildren."

According to The Christian Post, Leticia McCormack also reportedly told members of her prayer group that they were struggling with "spiritual warfare" in their home and that Arabella was exhibiting "bad behaviors."

The church has yet to comment on the lawsuit, but Rock Church Senior Pastor Miles McPherson noted in a previous statement that McCormack was required to undergo a background check before working at the church. The background check found nothing to indicate she was abusive or neglectful.

"I know when things happen like this, there are a lot of questions about how it could have happened and why it happened. And we have the same questions, and we got to go to the Lord for those, for comfort in that situation. It's also bewildering because there were so many background checks that were done," McPherson told his congregation last November.

"She was a volunteer for law enforcement. She was background checked by law enforcement, was background checked by Child Protective Services because she was a foster mother, an adoptive parent, her, and her husband, and obviously, we did a background check. After all that and nothing revealed that anything like this would happen, could happen," he added.

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/wwing

Kayla Koslosky is the former Editor of She has B.A. degrees in English and History and previously wrote for and was the managing editor of the Yellow Jacket newspaper. She has also contributed to and