Houston lawsuit accuses Bishops Blake, Kyles, Perry and Brown of over one million dollars property theft
HOUSTON, TX – A lawsuit being adjudicated in Harris County Texas’ 133rd District Court alleges that COGIC Presiding Bishop Charles Blake, Sr., Texas Southeast First Jurisdiction Bishop Rufus Kyles, Bishop Charles Brown II and newly minted bishop Enoch Perry, III acting on behalf of the denomination’s General Board, were responsible for the theft of over 1 million dollars of intellectual properties and items from a church location [source]. The Church of God in Christ, Inc. is also a named defendant.
The plaintiffs Dr. Patricia Brown-Johnson and Interfaith Interdenominational Ministries, Inc say that in 2005 Bishop Kyles accepted Brown-Johnson as a member of his jurisdiction under a special program due to COGIC’s prohibition of female pastors. Brown-Johnson was to be given the designation of “Special Alliance Supervisor”. Kyles later offered to buy a Baytown, Texas church owned by Brown-Johnson and while in possession of the property, sold or allowed to be sold equipment and other items not contained in the agreement. The agreement went sour when Kyles refused to close on the property.
When Brown-Johnson sought to get the items returned through church leadership channels, she was asked by Presiding Bishop GE Patterson (deceased) and then General Secretary AZ Hall (deceased) Kyles not to pursue criminal charges and that the church would recompense the losses. Church leaders wanted to keep the issue private and handle it “internally”.
Brown-Johnson stated in the lawsuit that she contacted the General Board and was instructed to provide extensive documentation because [she was told by Enoch Perry] Bishop Kyles was going to be “defrocked” over the incident and a trial was to be held. She was repeatedly assured by GB bishops that her property would be returned and she would be compensated for any unreturnable losses. Based on these assurances, she did not file criminal or civil suits.
But after providing the evidence to the satisfaction of Enoch Perry, Charles Blake, COO Charles Brown and other defendants, the evidence disappeared. Brown said the items would be returned after Blake reviewed them. Documents and program she had written and copyrighted later resurfaced as COGIC related documents.
In March 2010, she received a letter from Enoch Perry stating that nothing would be compensated or returned. The good ole boy bishop’s club circled the wagons and begin denying that Brown-Johnson was ever given any assurances of compensation or justice. Brown-Johnson subsequently filed suit.
Bishop Rufus Kyles never responded to the lawsuit and never showed up in court. In a July 2012 judgment the court found in favor of the plaintiffs and awarded $900,000 in damages plus court costs and interest until the amount was paid. COGIC’s current legal strategy is to get the case dismissed. The next hearing on that is April 21st at 11 am. You can read the actual lawsuit and judgment under Letters and Documents.
“My Spiritual Heritage has been stolen from me”
An Education specialist with a degree from Sam Houston State University, Brown-Johnson told Report COGIC Abuse, “My Spiritual Heritage has been stolen from me!”
I trusted the men of God, Bishop Charles Blake, Bishop Charles Brown, Judge Enoch Perry and now deceased Bishop Chandler Owens. [They said] No matter how long it would take, Interfaith church and I would be compensated for all losses.
My true proofs copyright venues placed in their hands are worth $1,000,000.00 apiece. They have four. Even in a witness protection program with my life under threat, special alliances were made for compliance with request made by the General Board through Judge Enoch Perry.
I need to recover my losses so my children and my life can move forward. Interfaith church can move forward.
Judge Enoch Perry and the IRS have Kyles’ original police reports. We only want what is due us rightfully. I did not have Bishop Kyles and pastors arrested per the General Board’s request because they wanted to settle within the church. The witness protection and life protection program had to be handled in a way that my true location was not disclosed from 2004-2011. Bishop Chandler Owens did everything he could to resolve this until he became ill and passed.”
Nonbiblical COGIC Bishops
These are inglorious acts on the part of COGIC’s leadership. However, as we have reported for many years the facts of this case come as no surprise. The defendants in this case are no strangers to Report COGIC Abuse. Under Enoch Perry’s disastrous reign as chief legal advisor, COGIC leadership has employed unscrupulous tactics against unwitting its own members. As they did with Brown-Johnson, false promises are made to avert court cases only to later capitulate. All four have been involved in numerous cases of sexual, judicial and administrative abuses in the last five years.
- Bishop Blake – Read here, here and here
- Bishop Charles Brown – Read here, here, here and here
- Bishop Rufus Kyles – Read here and here
- Bishop Enoch Perry – Read here, here and here.
The bible is clear and there’s no shadow of turning in its qualifying instructions for the man who would be bishop. Titus 1: 7-8 For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. (our bold).
When it comes to the flesh and sex, a bishop must exercise self control and discipline. Otherwise, with the magnitude of his influence and the attraction of his persona, his charisma will bring him numerous opportunities to indulge himself sexually and financially. If he does not exercise due diligence in his sexual life (apart from his wife or 100% celibate if single) he will endanger the flock and invite the same spirits to have free reign among those under his jurisdiction.
Secondly, 1 Timothy 3:7 adds this qualifier: Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
A bishop cannot have a bad character/reputation report. This doesn’t include false accusations, it means that there must not be a consistent cloud of suspicious/ungodly/unseemly behavior following him due to his own actions. This extends even to the unsaved. They must not be able to “spot” the bishop’s life inasmuch as his ethics is concerned.
If this is not valued, the bishop will “fall into reproach by giving way to the excesses of his former life [of sin]. Apparently, and with a preponderance of evidence, these COGIC bishops have no resemblance to what is shown in scripture.
Report COGIC Abuse, in partnership with I Am My Brothers Keeper Christian Advocacy Council, held Open Forum Discussion on Victims Advocacy Saturday, April 5th. The Forum was well attended and lasted for 2.5 hours. You can listen to the audio of the event by clicking here (Part 1, introductions and presentation by Pastor DL Foster) and here (Part 2, concluding remarks by Pastor DL Foster). Segments 3-5 of the event are available at Dunamis Word Blog.
A December 2013 ruling found that Bishop Enoch Perry III, the ex-Chief Counsel of the Church of God in Christ, Inc was ineligible to be seated on the church’s highest judicial council. The investigation found that the Board of Bishops violated Article VIII of the church’s constitution when it illegally advanced Perry’s name for election. According to church law, Perry was ineligible to sit on the Judiciary Board before and during the election. The investigation found that Perry didn’t even meet minimum requirements.
“This matter before the Court was referred by Chairman James W. Hunt. He asked the Court to “formally render a ruling concerning the legality of the election and whether or not the names that were received from the Board of Bishops should only have been Jurisdictional Bishops”. Following the November 11, 2013 election, other petitioners filed and raised concerns about various aspects of the electoral process. Among the issues raised were allegations of irregularities in the voting process, and postured that the election was invalid and should be set aside.”
The saga of Enoch Perry and COGIC justice is filled with shady dealings. For years, Perry had been at the center of a string of COGIC legal controversies specifically associated with high profile sexual abuses cases.
Perry had been COGIC’s chief behind-the-scenes architect of its sexual abuse “policy”. He piloted church leadership though numerous legal waters with ubiquitous ease, donning different masks depending on which court room he happened to find himself in. In November 2009, when Bishop Charles Blake dropped a bombshell announcement that his denomination spent on a yearly average $800,000 to settle sexual abuse claims against the church, he actually thanked Perry for his cacophony of supporting distortions.
Report COGIC Abuse obtained a copy of Perry’s 2008 Texas court deposition where he testified under oath that COGIC has virtually no control over its ministers or churches. But that admission quickly caught the former judge in a series of exchanges where he was less than truthful. The deposition occurred in early September 2008, almost a year prior to the approaching sexual abuse trial of Rev. Sherman Allen, a former top COGIC church official.
In a searing letter widely believed to be authored by the denomination’s COO, James Smith, Perry was cited for multiple legal blunders and massive incompetency.
“Regrettably, I must bring to your attention the ongoing dilemma which the National Church has dealt with for many years and will continue to face as a result of the grossly ineffective, entirely inadequate and extremely costly representation being afforded to date by our General Counsel, Judge Enoch Perry, III. As I will address more fully below, in less than a one (1) year time span, the National Church has paid out over $1,000,000 solely due to the lack of sufficient legal acumen and fatal errors in judgment by our General Counsel.”, wrote Smith who called for Perry’s resignation.
Perry was replaced with current counsel Ulysses Henderson and subsequently promoted to auxillary bishop.
The issue of incompetency was raised yet again in the report noting that “The candidate himself has a responsibility to ensure that he or she is fully qualified to run for the office he or she is seeking. In this case, we have a former General Counsel to the Church of God in Christ, Inc., who ran for the highest court in the Church and either did not know the requirements of Article VIII as it relates to who is eligible or did not bother to verify whether he was eligible or not.”
The investigating committee ordered the General Assembly to replace Auxillary Bishop Perry with a qualified candidate.
Read the entire report in our Letters and Documents section.
WREG reported that Bryant pled guilty to the charges and his church was shut down permanently.
Michael Bryant, pastor at Hour of Restoration COGIC in Memphis, was in general sessions court Thursday for what was supposed to be a bond reduction hearing.
Instead, defense attorney Art Horne says he and the prosecution worked out a plea agreement in a “criminal information” that will be brought before a judge in criminal court.
“The case is settled,” said Bryant’s defense attorney, Art Horne. “He’s pleading guilty to sexual battery by an authority figure and the sentence will be six years at 30 percent. And we’ll ask for probation.”
“We’re hoping that some good can come out of this, particularly getting this behind the family and allowing people some time to heal and move on,” Horne continued.
Horne says Hour of Restoration COGIC, a small church with 27 members, will shut down for good as of December 31, 2013.
Bryant remains locked up at 201 Poplar on $1 million bond.
According to an affidavit of complaint, Bryant had been touching a 16-year-old inappropriately for the past two years. She told her mother, but instead of calling the police, her mother and Bryant decided to pray together over the matter in hopes of driving the thoughts out of his head. If convicted as charged, Bryant could have faced between six and 15 years in prison.
Horne says Bryant pleading guilty may be what is best for everybody involved.
“We’re hoping that some good can come out of this, particularly getting this behind the family and allowing people some time to heal and move on,” Horne said.
COGIC did not publish the outcome of its internal investigation allegedly conducted by Bishop Brandon Porter.
The COGIC, Inc. has posted an undated, unattributed statement on its website denying a FOX News report that it was undecided about suspending Memphis Pastor Michael Bryant who was arrested for sexual abuse of a minor. In the past, the website has been unceremoniously scrubbed clean of such notices.
FOX reporter Greg Coy posted the story Dec 19, citing an email from “COGIC officials”:
In an e-mail to FOX13 News COGIC officials said they are very concerned about the allegations against Rev. Bryant but have not decided if they will remove him from the pulpit.
“The Church of God in Christ does not condone and takes a strong stance against sexual misconduct, especially acts targeting minors. Therefore, we are very concerned about the allegations raised against Pastor Bryant. Our local bishop is currently investigating the matter and once his fact finding is complete, the church will respond accordingly. Sexual crimes against children are very serious offenses and we earnestly pray for all of the individuals involved and, in particular, the victim in this matter.” — Uleses C. Henderson, Jr., Office of the General Counsel
But after increased attention on the story, COGIC responded with the following:
Last week, Michael Bryant, pastor of Hour of Restoration Church of God in Christ in Memphis, Tennessee, was arrested on charges of sexual battery against his 16-year-old stepdaughter. Pastor Bryant has since been suspended indefinitely from all of his ministerial duties. The Church of God in Christ does not tolerate such acts.
There has been a fair amount of inaccurate information in the media regarding this matter. The Church of God in Christ has never told the media that it had not made a decision as to whether Pastor Bryant would be removed from the pulpit. There is an internal process to handling matters of this kind that is being followed. We ask for your continued prayers for all of those affected by this matter, especially the teenage victim.
The Church of God in Christ has no further comment on this matter.”
FOX News updated its original story on December 24 “UPDATE: COGIC Pastor Bryant, accused off [sic] sexual abuse, has been suspended indefinitely according to church General Council.”
While the church denied that it was undecided about suspending Bryant, it didn’t clarify when he was suspended. Nor at what point after the church found out, did the suspension occur. Instead it re-emphasized an “internal process to handling matters of this kind”.
The church’s confusing application of its policies and resolutions may be at the heart of the problem with “inaccurate information.” A 2002 General Assembly resolution gave the Presiding Bishop and General Board “the authority to suspend any officer elected or appointed including but not limited to Bishops, Supervisors, Pastors, Elders, Minister, Missionaries, Evangelists or Deacons pending the outcome of any allegations of misconduct which has the potential to substantially impact the National Church financially, morally and spiritually.”
Can the Presiding Bishop suspend upon notice of arrest? Not clear.
Does the Presiding Bishop or General Board have to wait until a case is fully resolved before a person can be suspended? Not clear.
If the accused person admits guilt to the police and its known, is the Presiding Bishop and General Board cleared to suspend the person? Not clear.
The timing of a suspension seems to be intentionally ambiguous. That may be because of legal advice. At any rate, it muddies the entire “internal process” and dishonors victims the church claims to concerned about.