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Bro Franklin tells his story to Report COGIC Abuse

June 18, 2011 2 comments

A Brother, in his own words, tells of the harm he experienced at the hands of immoral leaders.

They treat my people’s wounds as though they were not serious, saying, ‘Everything is alright! Everything is alright!’ But it’s not alright.   Jeremiah 6:14 GWT

I pray for this church.

The abuse that occurs goes beyond the abuse of women and children.  Men are wounded too. I know of immoral men running churches right here in Boston, Massachusetts. I’m 50 years old and received the Lord and Savior into my heart at age 10. The Word says let not a hint of immorality be mentioned amongst you. But yet we have Bishops, pastors, ministers and deacons committing sexual immorality.

When I was married (I’m divorced now) my church (Saints Memorial COGIC) didn’t do a thing to help save my marriage. It created an atmosphere in the church where the assistant pastor felt bold enough to make “passes” at my wife. One day the assistant pastor, me and my wife were in the church going over some church affairs. At the end of evening my wife went to the back of the church to the ladies room. Seconds later, he followed her and as I stood there the Holy Spirit said to me,” he’s going to try to do something to your wife”. So as I proceeded to the back he came out grinning.  He had walked in the ladies room where my wife was naked using the bath room. When I reported it to the senior pastor, he blew up at me.

This has ruined my trust in the church but not in God. I just can’t believe men like this are “leading” churches and leading men astray. Saints Memorial harmed me and destroyed my marriage. We left there and went to Good Shepard Church of God in Christ. We were trying to salvage our marriage and still serve God.  The pastor is the leader of the flock not the God of judgement. The pastor, knowing my situation, told one of the brothers in church “he’s going to lose his wife”. If youre my pastor and you see that your members are in trouble, you should intervene on the behalf of your members and offer counseling. Sometime before this, this very same preacher coveted another man’s wife, took her while he was supposed to be counseling their marriage. He took this man’s wife and yet he is still the pastor of the church.

What kind of standards are being enforced in COGIC?

The church is built on women and children and the churches I’ve been part of  have exploited them and rejected men. The standard isn’t what degree you have, its do you have God in your heart. I could write much more, but as I write my heart becomes heavier. I just want to be heard. I’m deeply distressed because of my encounter with these two churches.

Bro O. Franklin,  Boston, MA

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Outrage: Is COGIC paying for victims silence on clergy sex crimes?

June 15, 2011 2 comments

Originally published July 27, 2009 at GCM Watch
weems3

A three part GCM Watch Special Report

Just by reading Superintendent Larry Weem’s airbrushed website, you’d never know  three years ago, he was minutes away from going on trial for the sexual assault and abuse of five women under his employ at the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) Saints Academy in Lexington, Mississippi. Some graduates of the school have said it to be a breeding ground of sexual misconduct and includes among its alumni false prophetess Jaunita Bynum. Still, according to Christianity Today, COGIC pumps $1.4 million into the school annually.

All of the attacks on the women occurred while Weems (pictured left) was in his official capacity as head of the school. Weems also served as pastor of  Davis Temple in COGIC’s Mississippi Southern First jurisdiction. In addition, he was the jurisdictions head secretary. Weems also worked as a national trustee overseeing some 400 acres of property and equipment owned by the “national church” in Mississippi.

Then in a stunning reversal of events, Weems offered to pay off all the plaintiffs and ended what would have certainly been a public airing of his sordid sexual attacks against the women. And jail time.

Media interviews of the women reveal that Weems was a sexual predator with few restrictions. He believed the women under his employ were objects meant to indulge his sexual needs at whim.

Algenia Randle is one of five women who filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against Weems, her former boss. Randle complained that the pastor sexually assaulted her at St. Academy in Holmes County. The wrongful termination case was settled out of court.
“It has been a long time. We are just glad it is over and are pleased with the outcome. We’re glad that
it’s over. That’s the main thing,” said Randle. Another woman said it’s not over. A Texas woman who decided not to sue described an incident during a church trip.
“When I woke up, Larry Weems was on top of me grinding himself through my clothes and I told him
to get up and get off of me,” said the woman.
Another woman who sued the church wants him held accountable publicly.
“He needs to be registered as a sex offender so people need to know what he is and what he is about,”
said Earnestine Deering who filed a lawsuit. The women claimed they first tried to settle the case with church leaders but did not get far.
“My response was to be fired after they lied and said it would help us and said they would protect us. All we got was fired,” said the woman.

Weems, a married man with 3 adult children, even attacked one woman on the job. Described by her lawyer as a traumatic experience for her client, the woman said: “[Weems] would start out with a conversation and end up with his hands on me in this closet, and pulling my breasts out and spitting on them.”

The attacks came to light in April 2006 during the late G.E. Patterson’s administration. But like all the sexual crimes cases committed by COGIC clergy, not one individual in leadership would even so much as apologize to victims. Victims can expect nothing but cold, arrogant silence from COGIC bishops even when the perpetrator has been found guilty. That’s the culture of cover up and concealment which has allowed the Church of God in Christ to effectively keep its members from discovering the stunning sexual crimes committed by men posing as church leaders. Secret payoffs, which in most cases contain gag restrictions have allowed the church to keep the “dots” separated.

Wolves covering for wolves?

Weems was certainly guilty and knew that going into the trial.  Its not clear whether it was his personal lawyer or COGIC lawyers who convinced him at the last minute to take a dive, pay off the women and avoid the trial, but he did.

In the corporate world such crimes would rapidly transition the most promising of careers. But COGIC seems to operate under a different philosophy. Or at least made Larry Weems an exception to its rules.

As mentioned, Weems held a number of national and state positions as well as the local pastorate of a church which doubles as the jurisdictional headquarters. But instead of being disciplined for his egregious actions, Weems still operates as a church pastor and jurisdictional secretary.

The latter is especially troubling. COGIC jurisdictional secretaries have access to personal information on all pastors and members of their respective ecclesiastical territories. Having Weems operate in this position given his crimes presents two severely problematic scenarios. If there are other sexual predators in Mississippi, Weems authority allows him the ability to shield them. His own latent dishonesty certainly brings that into question. Secondly, with Weems in such a position, would he use personal information against others who may be committing sexual immorality?

The hush money trail

Is the church using hard-earned church money, given to them by church elders, women who pay to carry the COGIC name to pay off sex abuse victims in exchange for silence?

In the Weems case, a report by WAPT ABC in Jackson said the victims were prohibited from saying who paid the money to them.

Upon hearing details of the Weems case, one COGIC pastor who asked not to be named, told GCM Watch “if COGIC used national church funds to settle Weem’s sexual abuse case without discipline, I’ll never pay another church report again!” The pastor said that if the national church is using the money paid to them by honest, faithful credential holders, it should be subject to full investigative disclosure.

Although current Presiding Bishop Charles Blake stated in 2007 he would make it a priority to “take positive steps to seriously investigate every case of alleged sexual abuse by the clergy”, he quickly –and without explanation– retracted the statement. It was even scrubbed from COGIC’s official site.

Blake’s removal of his promise may be why so many victims report COGIC leaders refuse to even acknowledge sexual attacks against them. That’s what the women said happened when they reported Weems.

The women claimed they first tried to settle the case with church leaders but did not get far.
“My response was to be fired after they lied and said it would help us and said they would protect us.
All we got was fired,” said the woman.
At least two of the five alleged victims said they have had a hard time finding work. As for Weems, the case was settled and he is still the pastor at Davis Temple and the superintendent of the school. Weems refused to comment on the case. WAPT tried to contact Weems’ bosses, the local superintendent and the bishop of the Church of God in Christ in Memphis, but none of the calls was returned. The lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount and the victims could not say if the church or the pastor paid them.

In addition to having his sex crimes bills paid, Weems still holds the same positions of authority he had before his crimes. Other than removing him as head of the school, COGIC has given no indication Weems faced any church discipline [read what should happen when COGIC pastors commit sexual malfeasance] for his actions.

In part 2 of this special report, GCM Watch will look at money and the main characters in COGIC culture of cover-up with clergy sexual crimes.

Deceased bishop’s son goes on the record with GCMW

June 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Originally posted at GCM Watch June 4, 2009

The son of a deceased COGIC bishop voluntarily spoke on the record with GCM Watch about his father’s administration and the controversy surrounding a murdered homosexual pastor in COGIC.

GCM Watch reported on the shocking news of the murder and Pastor Ronald Paige’s apparently openly homosexual lifestyle here.  Additionally, we raised questions (as did the Memphis media) about why sexual abuse allegations reported to Walker went unheeded. But according to Walker’s son, the elder Walker did do something: he removed Paige from his jurisdiction.

Pastor LT Walker, Jr. of Little Rock said there was little doubt in his mind that his father Bishop LT Walker acted honorably in dealing with allegations of sexual molestation and homosexual clergy in Arkansas First Jurisdiction. GCM Watch commends Pastor Walker for stepping up to the plate and doing what COGIC’s  leadership has thus far failed to do. Although we were not completely satisfied with all his answers, we felt he answered to the best of his knowledge.

Pastor Walker, who serves as the Sunday School Superintendent for the jurisdiction said, “My dad Bishop L.T. Walker Sr. is the greatest man I will ever know on this earth and he stood against wrong.”

We asked Pastor Walker about the case with Elder Ronald Kimbrew.

According to Pastor Walker, his father ordered him to not allow Kimbrew to teach in the Sunday School because of the allegations of homosexual conduct and he said he complied. Despite the specific information given to Bishop Walker on Kimbrew’s public activities, Kimbrew “denied all of it to the investigating committee” said Pastor Walker. He wasn’t clear what the investigating committee did beyond that, but said that Kimbrew was not removed. Walker said he knew and others were aware of  other COGIC  pastors who “ran with Kimbrew” but added that no complaints had been filed against them.  Bishop Walker, he said, told him that unless someone files a complaint against a member of COGIC clergy there was little to nothing that could be done.

I reminded Pastor Walker that  even if a member had specific knowledge of such things, they would be fearful of reporting it because they are threatened with the “touch not mine anointed”  defense. The average member isnt educated about reporting procedures.

On the murdered COGIC pastor, Walker, Jr. said Paige was removed from the pastorate by Bishop Walker more than 10 years ago but he was never told why. After his removal, Paige was then allegedly assigned to another COGIC jurisdiction in Tennessee.

“Pastor Paige has not been a member of Arkansas 1st in more than 10 years. The church he pastored was suppose[sic] to have been in Bishop Porter’s [now deceased]  jursidiction out of Memphis that’s why my dad had no comment. Plus he was in and out of the hospital for the last several years. We have nothing to hide from anyone especially from God who sees all.  I speak as a part of Ark 1st jursi [sic]. I am the Jursidictional sunday school supertindent for ark  1st i’m a son that loved his father very much if i thought dad was wrong i would not even comment,but i know what dad stood for holiness.”

He also was not aware if there was any trial or paperwork filed related to reports that Paige had molested several young men in his church. Asked if the Presiding Bishop should do more to deal with homosexual issues in his denomination, Walker replied, “yes he should”.

Postscripts:

  • Removal of a pastor in COGIC is near impossible unless there is some serious charge. Even so, such charges must go through an investigation and trial stage before a pastor’s removal. In this case, its unclear whether any of COGIC’s procedures were followed by Bishop Walker.
  • Paige’s removal could corroborate the allegations against him by parents who said after they reported the information to Walker, they were forced out of the local church.
  • The allegations spanned a period of about 20 years, thus Paige’s  removal occured after some sexual abuse allegations were reported.
  • Since our  initial reporting, Arkansas 1st website, which was controlled by Ronald Kimbrew,  has been dismantled.
  • Although Bishop Charles Blake defended his UN controversy to COGIC’s general assembly, he maintained his silence on  the numerous clergy sexual abuse cases in COGIC, some which threaten to bankrupt COGIC if the victim prevails.