An exclusive two part report
The financial damage left by former COGIC minister Donald Barrett, is massive. If there’s one lesson COGIC should have learned by now its that sexually immoral clergy come with a steep price. The Donald Barrett case, unquestionably, is proof of that.
Last week we published an email by Barrett, now living in the Atlanta area, proclaiming ” The case has been dismissed against me. I am yet a member of the Church of God in Christ, Inc.” But If Barrett is still a member of the Church of God in Christ, the first thing Bishop Charles Blake should do is require him to reimburse the church for hundreds of thousands of dollars lost due to his own admitted sexual immorality with two women in his congregation. Then, his credentials should be permanently revoked.
Barrett’s letter claiming the case against him being dismissed is intentionally misleading. Court documents show the case was dismissed only because of financial settlements with the two plaintiffs. But that may be the least of the damage suffered by the denomination he called home for the last 40 years.
Sex cases cost the church big time. In the aftermath of the legal proceedings, the financial loss was so steep Southern California 2nd Jurisdiction was left reeling and narrowly missed being forced to declare bankruptcy. Besides the $350,000 paid to the women from insurance claims, legal fees totalling $134,ooo pushed the jurisdiction’s finances to the brink. Bishop George McKinney paid $4000 of personal money. Whats more jurisdictional pastors were left with a $34,000 tab from Barrett’s out of control behavior. The jurisdiction still owes over $100,000 in legal fees. Just one man’s ungodly action’s cost the church almost half a million dollars.
You can believe that a portion of that money was from the tithes, offerings, reports given by the saints of Southern California 2nd who had nothing to do with Barrett’s illicit actions. We’ve reported on scores of cases where the COGIC has been left holding the legal bill in the wake of sexual abuse cases.
- In 2010, The Church of God in Christ’s Washington state jurisdictional headquarters at 9201 Pacific Ave was put up for sale after having to pay a woman a million dollars in a lawsuit the church lost in King County Superior Court.
- In another case we reported on in 2011, Illnois 5th Jurisdiction was ordered to pay a 12 year old victim $1.5 million after she was sexually assaulted by Elder Ellis Barlow on a church trip.
How is God pleased with such an incredible waste of financial resources?
Report COGIC Abuse obtained court records detailing the deep financial losses suffered. These documents will be posted in our Letters and Documents section.
The Superior Court of California listed the case settled. To “settle” a case mean to legally end a dispute before the end of a trial. Since no case can be dismissed without a specific reason, omitting the reason for the dismissal is intentionally misleading. The question is why does Barrett want people to think the case was dismissed with no consequences? The settlement was reached Jan 29, 2013 with the two women by defendants Donald and Ruth Barrett, Greater Gospel Center COGIC of San Diego and the New Direction COGIC of Yuma, AZ. The settlement amount was $175,000 per plaintiff. One affidavit revealed that the Barretts filed for bankruptcy in a California court prior to the lawsuit, thus the entire burden for the legal assesments were placed on the two churches named in the suit.
To their credit and perhaps due in some measure to the work of Report COGIC Abuse, COGIC is moving towards seriously closing some of the logistical loopholes which have in past times allowed ungodly men freedom to abuse others under their charge. In another post, we will detail some of the new policy changes as recorded in the General Assembly minutes. Prayerfully, the Donald Barrett case will be the last of these types of wicked and damaging incidents which have cast a pall over a great organization.
Listen to the audio of a COGIC “Review Board” questioning Barrett about his involvement with the two women.
Dr. Donald Barrett is a man on a mission to clear his name. Report COGIC Abuse was the first to tell you about the lawsuits levied against the National church, Southern California 2nd Jurisdiction as well as several local churches in California and Arizona by two women who alleged the former Southern California 2nd Administrative Assistant had engaged in sexual acts with them among other charges. Read here, here and here for previous reports. RCA was informed that Barrett is scheduled to appear this weekend at New First COGIC in Chicago Heights, IL pastored by Bishop Robert Sanders.
Now, according to a letter sent to RCA, Barrett makes several counter allegations including accusing our site of doing “irreparable damage to me, my family and my ministry”. He requested that his email telling his side of the story be printed for all to read. In the spirit of fairness, RCA is reprinting the email verbatim for public review.
April 5, 2013
I write you with the assumption that you are a person who desires to expose the genuine truth. And if in fact, you are a person of righteousness, I pray you will post this letter and information therein, on your blog. First, let me start by saying, the case against me (Donald K. Barrett), my wife (Ruth) and any churches I have pastored, has been dismissed. Yes, Dismissed…there are no court actions pending against me. God has given us victory in this situation. “No weapon formed against thee, shall prosper…Isa. 54-17”. I would like to share with you the fact that the way the information was presented concerning the allegations against me on your blog known as COGIC ABUSE WATCH has done irreparable damage to me, my family and my ministry, simply because you took unsubstantiated allegations and presented them as truth; To present allegations in this fashion is paramount to passing judgment and entering a conviction without the benefit of a hearing or a trial. Certainly, this is neither done in a United States Court of Law, nor the Kingdom of God.
Therefore, I am writing to you to shed light on just a few things that did not show up in the plaintiff’s allegations filed in this civil matter. The two women who filed this civil lawsuit were allegedly lesbian lovers. Both women are in their middle to upper forties (40s).
The woman whom I had known for more than ten years (Ms. Harris)… is a woman, who had just in the past five or six years, had a case in the California courts against her for child endangerment; my wife and I worked with the California Department of Children and Family Services to keep her two children from being taken from her. This woman was a member of my church and that’s how we both knew her.
This was a case of jealous rage, hatred and a promise by Ms. Jones, who made the threatening statement, “I will do all I can to destroy you”.
Your blog reported that my wife attempted to offer Ms. Jones “hush money”. This is totally untrue! Ms. Jones asked for money in a written letter she gave to Bishop McKinney, who in turn gave the letter to me, where she asked me for $5,000.00 for her medical bills. Then instead of taking the money as SHE had requested, she decided to file a lawsuit – hoping for a bigger payday.
The blog you have written with its commentary is one-sided and bias against me and my ministry. I would be ever so pleased if you would report the outcome of this civil case, in this same arena where the allegations were reported.
I feel compelled to make you aware, that in December 2011, the plaintiff, Ms. Harris called my home and spoke to my wife and then to me and stated that, “the lawsuit is not my doing”. Ms. Harris stated that this lawsuit was Ms. Jones’ idea and she didn’t want to go forward with the suit. Are you aware that Ms. Harris, during her interrogatories give 10-12 dates and times when she was supposedly with me romantically? ALL these dates were impossible, because I was either out of state in Arizona teaching a bible class or at a national COGIC convention with my wife. Ms. Harris’ credibility could not, and did not hold up.
Ms. Harris and Ms. Jones’ lawyers and investigators, investigated my pastorate and ministries, going back at least twenty-five (25) years. These lawyers questioned and deposed former members, and leaders I had served and found nothing that would even hint to any improprieties or wrongdoings of any kinds and/or nature of sexual misconduct. They discovered nothing but praise from those I have served and served with. These same lawyers subpoenaed my financial and bank records for over the past twelve (12) years and no improprieties were found. My record is good and clean and still is.
I have been in ministry for almost forty (40) years and pastoring since 1989. I have NEVER been accused of sexual misconduct or misconduct of any kind until now. I have never been arrested for anything! Am I a perfect individual? No. But, my record speaks for itself.
It must be stated that there has been no cover-up or attempt to cover up by me, my wife or anyone associated with me.
The case has been dismissed against me. I am yet a member of the Church of God in Christ, Inc. If, in fact you are a crusader for righteousness, I pray, that rather than continuing to allow these flames of destruction to blaze, present, at least more than one side of this story. For that would be the truest example of righteousness and would also, pay homage to the scripture which implores us in I Corinthians 4:5 “Therefore, judge nothing before the time…” Should you desire to discuss this matter with me further, I invite you reply to this email in order to contact me for that express cause. Dr. Donald K. Barrett
Postscript: RCA did reply to this email informing Dr. Barrett that we would review all our published articles to see if there was any merit to his claim. We also informed him that we were aware of information that would prove these latest claims of his false. He did not respond. We will present that information in a followup to this story.
Its been over three years since Report COGIC Abuse launched an unprecedented outreach which contained elements of confrontation and comfort. Confrontation to those in leadership who would abuse, manipulate and damage God’s people and comfort for the victims of such abuses.
Our reporting portal receives numerous reports each month and while we are grateful that people see RCA as a place they can share information that would otherwise be dismissed by church leaders, we simply cannot be all things to everyman.
About domestic violence, sexual infidelity situations
Reports of spousal abuse, abandonment and the likes are tragic examples of why COGICs Men’s Ministry and its Womens Department should step up (or institute) its efforts to address domestic battery, infidelity (adultery) and relational deception among its male and female attendees, respectively. The problems are real and no amount of pentecostal praise is going to whitewash it away. Reports to RCA of such occurences are increasing and reveal that many women are suffering in silence while their husbands enjoy accolades for their preaching styles and membership building skills. And of course, their money paid to higher ups.
Our mission is to act as a restraint to those who abuse their authority and office in deference to their own carnal desires. While Report COGIC Abuse will make every effort to help those who contact us, issues of domestic violence should be referred to local law enforcement authories. If a situation in the home has gotten beyond repair, we strongly encourage a certified report in writing to appropriate church authorities (bishop, executive secretary) in hopes that some form of discipline will be applied. If church authorities fail to respond or excuse malfeasance in one if its credentialed leaders, RCA will assist in exposing the problem.
God said divorce is detestable (Malachi 2:16). If possible, and true repentance with proof of behavior change is evident, we encourage husbands and wives to reconcile and stay together.
Trials create strange bedfellows when it comes to unearthing the layers of lies created by COGIC leadership to conceal the ungodly activities of its sexually abusive clergy. Report COGIC Abuse has learned that the denomination’s COO James Smith was ordered to be deposed in the trial of accused sex abuser and former Administrative Assistant Donald K. Barrett. See our previous reports on Barrett here and here. You can go here to see a picture of Barrett as he has complained about the use of his picture.
Pending the outcome of the trial, Barrett has recast himself as a “21st century church leadership consultant” concerned about issues such as “resolving conflict” in the church. Noticeably missing are concerns about resolving sexual abuse, adultery, lying, deception and criminal activity in the church.
Judge Jeffery Barton, presiding in the Superior Court of California, ruled that the plaintiff’s lawyers could put Smith on the stand under oath. We believe it involves the incendiary letter which bore Smith’s name and fingered Enoch Perry as a colossal failure of COGIC legal strategies on sexual abuse.
“Ruling on the Deposition of James Smith: Plaintiff Ingar Jones’ unopposed motion to compel the deposition of James Smith is granted. Plaintiff and defendants should confer as to when a mutually agreeable date may be set within the next 20 days to take Smith’s deposition. Nothing in this ruling affects whether defendant Church of God in Christ, Inc.’s (“COGIC-TN” or “church”) may assert any privilege. The deposition should be completed in 3 hours.”
The trial minutes reveal that Judge Barton ordered the deposition November 2, 2012, allowing 20 days for completion. That would mean Smith was deposed by November 22, 2012.
Report COGIC Abuse also received unconfirmed information that Smith denied being the author of the letter instead saying he was ordered by a senior church official to write the letter and put his name on it.
We are working hard to obtain a copy of the deposition and will post it for your review.
What Ruth Barrett knew
According to the official minutes of the case, the plaintiff’s evidence indicates Ruth Barrett more than likely knew her husband was an adulterer while he was still preaching and holding office in COGIC:
“Plaintiffs’ evidence show that Ruth Barrett may have known that there was a sexual relationship between Harris and Donald Barrett in 2004, which may have continued thereafter. Their evidence does not show that Ruth Barrett knew of her husband’s sexually abusive conduct and/or physical violence against plaintiffs. Thus, though the evidence shows that Ruth Barrett was the attorney for COGIC and Greater Gospel, and may have known about her husband’s indiscretions, even if she is considered an agent for
the entity, there is insufficient evidence to show that her knowledge of Barrett’s abusive misconduct was conveyed, or should have been conveyed, to the church entities. With regard to plaintiffs’ assertion that Ruth Barrett represented the church and offered a post-dated check, even if it was to “hush up” Jones, this does not fall outside the fabric of duties as an attorney to support punitive damages.”
Ruth Barrett attempted to personally pay off the women to keep her husband’s nefarious lifestyle undercover.
A 10 year reign of sexual terror is over for seven girls in Covington, Virginia. A Covington man will spend the rest of his life in prison after being convicted of molesting seven girls. Don Billups was convicted of 16 sex crimes and sentenced to two life sentences plus seventy five years.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Ed Stein said there were seven victims between the ages of 10 and 16. The oldest allegations date back to 2002, the most recent between 2010 and 2012. According to Stein, the girls were friends of Billups’ daughters or were known to him through a church in Covington where he was a deacon.
Stein said Billups denied every allegation to the end. The jury, however, found him guilty on all 16 counts and recommended a sentence of two life terms plus 75 years.
The earliest allegation was reported to law enforcement in 2002. Stein said the case never went anywhere at the time, however. [source]
The church where Billups got his victims was Gospel Tabernacle, a church in the Greater West Virginia Jurisdiction where Henderson Wheeler is bishop. In 2002, when Billups was first reported to police, the church was pastored by Supt. Warner L. Hunter, until his death in 2009. Afterwards his son-in-law, Gregory Moore became pastor. See our reporting on Don Billups and the fallout here and here.
Untold numbers of families leave the Church of God in Christ each year due to the sexual immorality or sexual abuse of a pastor, bishop, superintendent and other leaders. Some are forced to leave, while others leave because they can no longer tolerate a leader who has betrayed their trust. Are you or someone you know one of them? Have you left the Church of God in Christ because you or someone in your family was sexually abused? Have you or someone you know been “forced out” of the COGIC because you spoke up against sexual immorality in leader? Did you or someone you know leave the church because you were threatened due to information you knew about a leader?If this is you we want to hear and tell your story.
In what appears to be another fox guarding the pentecostal hen-house arrangement, a man who was the lead investigator of the bungled Sherman Allen sex abuse case is now the Chairman of the “Sexual Abuse and Misconduct Committee”. What an arrogant and pompous sounding title considering the littered trail of sexually abused women and children COGIC sex criminals have left behind. Nonetheless, Pastor Gerald Harris was appointed to the post in January by Bishop Charles Blake during the denomination’s Atlanta Leadership Conference.
According to his bio, Harris was “Chief of Security, Church of God in Christ, Inc. undertaking the responsibility of the supervision and management of the National Security Task Force. Elder Harris is the advisor to the COGIC Presiding Bishop with regards to our National Church security.”
But Harris was also is cahoots with dethroned former legal advisor Enoch Perry in the notorious mishandling of the Sherman Allen case. That case arguably became the lightening rod which first drew significant attention to COGIC’s infatuation with harboring, promoting and celebrating sexual abusers in its clergy ranks.
In a sworn deposition given in a Texas courtroom, Perry identified Elder Gerald Harris and Elder Melvin Williams as the sole members of COGIC’s so-called “National Sexual Misconduct Committee”. Later, in the same deposition, he said the men were members of the “National Review Board”. (pg 22 of deposition filed under letters and documents).
The two investigators violated COGIC’s own policy which requires a minimum 5 individuals on an investigating committee of this sort. It also requires that a “detailed report” be filed with the Office of the General Secretary within 6 months of a case being closed. When questioned about this glaring violation, Perry declined to answer if this had been done in the Sherman Allen case. He called the two “investigators” highly skilled in what they do, but Allen under oath said he was never interviewed by either of the two men. It still remains a mystery as to how men with such skill could disregard church policy in such a high level legal matter.
Despite Harris’ colossal failure, Blake promoted him to the position of “special investigator” . Blake did the same with Perry even after a scathing letter revealing his massive incompetence was released by another church official. This was another immaterial peacock position with special window dressing sauce, dreamed up in the mind of the presiding bishop. There was no evidence COGIC needed a “special investigator”. What was there to investigate?
Although there was no external formal or public announcement we could find, Bishop Blake then created a new Investigative Service Department for COGIC. Something like a church CIA department. The man placed in charge of the job: Elder Gerald Harris of Gilroy, CA. Harris’ dubious promotions followed the pattern of rewarding error, misconduct and incompetence by creating fictitious committees to give the impression the person has done something noteworthy. It also helps to keep the administration’s secrets in its inner circle.
We searched but there was no announcement nor information released publicly about what the newly created “Investigative Service Department” does or does not do, so COGIC members can only speculate as to whether the new department includes elements of secrecy. Shouldn’t members know if they could possibly be under investigation?
When it comes to investigating the sexual abuses of COGIC’s clergy (who commit 98% of the known crimes) its almost unbelievable that the presiding bishop would appoint a man with proven incompetence to head a secret committee to deal secretly with the secret sexual sins, crimes and misconduct of its good ole preacha boys club. Who are the members of the committee? When do they meet? When have they met previously? Women and children comprise 98% of known victims. Are women involved in the decision making process? If so who are they? Where are the rules, procedures and policies governing the sex abuse committee? How does the average member contact them and get access to their qualifications. Why are the members kept secret? Inquire if you desire, search if you may and seek but you wont find this phantom committee.
Bishop Blake has ensured that nothing substantial will ever occur to rectify problems with sexual abuse in his denomination. He does that through manipulative window dressing, creating phantom committees and appointing insider heads to oversee the fake committees. If there was a legitimate committee, they would be investigating Charles Brown, the pedophile bishop who still jumps, shouts, speaks in tongues, pastors a church and sits on the convocation platform. They would be investigating claims made against FE Perry, Jerry Wayne Macklin, Harrison Hale and a crop of other CURRENT church officials. Just like they feigned ignorance and claimed no responsibility with Bishop John Husbands , Sherman “Rev Spanky” Allen and scores of others on the record, they will continue to do the same no matter what evidence exists against one of their own. Its all for the glory of COGIC’s name, image and assets. People are just expendable, collateral damage to keep up the “glory” of the church’s image.
Its a sad and tragic day for sexual abuse victims in the Church of God in Christ.