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Presiding Bishop comments on COGIC sex crimes and money issues

March 29, 2012 1 comment

In 2009, according to documented testimony by COGIC’s presiding bishop, the denomination on average pays out approximately $800,000 annually to settle clergy sexual abuse legal claims.

But a year later, in a  2010 report to the General Assembly, Bishop Blake told delegates that financial payouts for “settlements” had dramatically increased.

After “expressing concern” over the denomination’s  financial health due in part to improper financial recordkeeping, the minutes reflected that  “Bishop Blake noted the need for adjustments to be made and highlighted the fact that approximately $1.7 million is spent on legal fees and settlements.”

Then, as if to connect then segue:

“Bishop Blake expounded on the problem of sexual misconduct by clergy and emphasized that such criminal activity must be properly reported.  He also intimated that the general church could not pay legal expenses for local and jurisdiction litigation.”

Even though the church’s chief lawyer Enoch Perry  falsely informed the church’s general assembly that in over 100 years of COGIC there had “only been 20-25 processed cases of  sexual misconduct”. Perry did not say what constitutes a sexual abuse case nor why with such a low number of cases, the church pays out such large sums of money to compensate victims each year.

His GA testimony was in sharp conflict with Bishop Blake’s $800k statement. The math between the two statements were worlds apart.

Another note of interest:  Given the prior numbers and statements from the Perry, no one (at least not on record) ever questioned the presiding bishop as to why settlement payouts had increased and who the money was paid to.

As we pointed out here, COGIC’s own “sexual abuse policy”  approved by Blake says that “The local jurisdiction and the National Church can all be held liable for of the acts of one individual.” This was the case in Washington State where after a legal defeat in the case of Supt Charles Smith, the church had to pay a $1 million dollar settlement. The jurisdictional headquarters was later sold.  And several years prior in Illinois (5th jurisdiction) the church paid $1.5 million settlement (see this) because of a failure of leadership to discipline a known sexually immoral pastor.

April 2010 GA Minutes (contains cited remarks)

April 2011 Minutes

November 2011 Minutes

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Sexual offenders and ministry [POLL VOTE]

March 21, 2012 2 comments

One Wisconsin church has recently begun holding biweekly church “adults only” services, in part as a way to allow convicted sex offenders to “worship”.

The church’s pastor said, “Through our work with prisoners we realized that there might be a need for a service of this kind because many sex offenders cannot for legal reason or should not for therapeutic reasons attend worship service when children are present.” [source]

As more and more sexual offenders are returning to seek a place in the church,  questions about re-admission and ethics must be discussed and written into policy for the church. But RCA would like to know your opinion on the matter. Please respond to the following polls with your vote.

A. If a person is convicted of a sexual crime (rape, molestation, assault, etc) and placed on a sexual offender registry [example] by a law enforcement agency, how long do you think it should be, after fulfilling their conviction requirements, before they are allowed to hold a “ministry” office (pastor, elder, evangelist, bishop, etc)?

B. If the offender’s victim is a child, and placed on a sexual offender list, how long do you think it should be, after fulfilling their conviction requirements, before they are allowed to hold a “ministry” office (pastor, elder, evangelist, bishop, etc?

C. If the offender is on the sexual offender registry for life, should they ever be allowed to hold a ministry office?

D. If the offender is on a sexual offender registry for life for sexual crimes against children, but allowed to hold a ministry office, should prospective members of a church be informed of the offender’s presence in the church?

If you have additional questions or comments, use the post comment section.

Categories: policy, polls, sex crimes

CA COGIC lawsuit alleges unusual sex demands by Barrett

March 15, 2012 Leave a comment

**an exclusive report**

Report COGIC Abuse has obtained a copy of the civil lawsuits filed by two California women against a  former Administrative Assistant to Bishop George McKinney, Southern California 2nd Jurisdiction.

The twin 28 page lawsuits names COGIC, Inc., Donald K. Barrett, his wife Ruth Barrett,  So California 2nd Jurisdiction, Greater Gospel Center COGIC, New Directions COGIC and DOES 1-50 as defendants.

Among the charges cited in the 1st suit are Assault and Battery, Intentional infliction of emotional distress, fraud and constructive fraud. The 2nd suit alleges assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, physical abuse of a dependent adult and financial abuse of a dependent adult.

The Barrett case represents yet another unseemly blight on the reputation of the nation’s largest black pentecostal denomination. In 2009, COGIC presiding Bishop Charles Blake admitted to the church’s General Assembly that on average COGIC annually pays out almost 1 million dollars to settle sex abuse cases [source].

At the crux of the problem are male leaders who use their authority, influence, talents and at times brute force to rape, molest, and sexually devastate men, women and children of both genders. The problem is fairly expansive involving every level of leadership the church has in place.  Additionally, COGIC clergy sexual abuse cases have been cited in 29 different states. See more here and here.

Denominational leaders have not been aggressive in dealing with sexual crimes committed by clergy and in many cases have turned a blind eye. Recent developments still show an unwillingness to tender justice to victims via a more comprehensive victims advocacy policy.  Instead, the church has an ineffective institutional policy advising churches on how to protect themselves.

What the suit alleges

The women who filed the lawsuits against Barrett allege that he coerced them into sexual relationships after one woman went to him in late 2009 for counseling and revealed to him that she had been sexually molested as a child.

Ingar Jones’ complaint says that Barrett ensured her that COGIC, Inc was “in the business of protecting victims of sexual abuse, (2) that they intended to protect her from abuse and (3) that they could be trusted with the details of her most intimate and private matters relating to past instances of abuse.”

She alleges that Barrett further ensured her that he had extensive experience in helping victims of childhood sexual abuse.

After she confided in him, she alleges Barrett informed her that she would have to “have sexual relations with another female parishioner, while he watched, in order to overcome the emotional issues caused by past incidences of sexual abuse.”

Some time later, another female member of the church was brought into the situation and at locations both on and off church property, Barrett engaged in sexual activity with the two women.

The two women allege that Barrett forced them to perform lesbian sex acts while he watched. Over the course of a year, the woman alleges that Barrett became increasingly controlling and abusive. According to the suit, this culminated in September 2010 when Barrett punched and choked her while calling her “dyke” and b[expletive]. This resulted in “not less than $25,000 in injuries to the woman’s neck and torso”.

The lawsuit further alleges that after the fact, Ruth Barrett attempted to get them to sign a statement of release from liability signifying that she was aware of the crimes her husband had committed and was complicit in her attempt to cover it up.

According to additional court documents, the second woman, Barbara Harris (identified by California law as a “dependent adult”) was also a sexual abuse victim as a child, a victim of rape and at some point attempted suicide. Harris first met Barrett at his church in Harvey, IL where he served as the pastor.

Harris’ suit further alleges that through blackmail and intimidation, Barrett forced her to make him her representative payee for her Social Security Disability Income. According to her complaint, Barrett refused to give her money until she gave in to his sexual demands which included going to “sex clubs” with him, and arranging “sex parties” for him. When she refused to participate one time, Harris alleges Barrett struck her in the face with his fist causing a bloody nose.  He further threatened to call child protective services and have her children removed and have her Section 8 housing revoked. Barrett told her that if she ever came forward  “nobody would believe her and he would take all necessary steps to publicly discredit her.”

Washing hands of negligence?

COGIC has in several cases allowed sexual abusers to “walk away” from the denomination and continue on with “ministry” under another name.   Barrett, if proven guilty, will be another example of this. Barrett was allowed to continue pastoring and using COGIC’s name and image without the denomination ever disclosing what they knew about him. This is the “negligence” that both lawsuits allege against COGIC, Inc and Southern California 2nd.

Barrett represented himself as an authority and an expert on sexual abuse recovery but like most abusers used that as an avenue of legitimacy to ensnare his victims.

The Barrett case contains all the classic signs of clergy sexual abuse:  intimidation, threats, force, deception and charisma.

If you or someone you know has been victimized by a member of COGIC’s clergy, dont remain silent. Silence allows abusers to continue their pattern of deception with more victims. Often, they will not stop until exposed.

Law firm seeking additional victims of Dr. Donald Barrett

March 12, 2012 Leave a comment

The San Diego based law firm representing one of the victims who filed suit against Dr. Donald K. Barrett believes there are more victims who have not yet come forward.

The firm is seeking to have individuals who have been harmed by Dr. Barrett contact them.  Barrett started his religious career in Chicago, Illinois. He left from pastoring a COGIC in Harvey, IL in 2003,  then moved to San Diego.  He then moved to Arizona and eventually to the Atlanta area.  Lawyers believe he may have left a string of victims in the wake of his moves.

Both Barrett and his wife Ruth claim to hold doctorates in theology and law respectively, but do not list the schools which awarded the degrees. Ruth Barrett’s bio says she was a “staff attorney” for the Church of God in Christ national legal department under Enoch Perry.

If you or someone you know has been harmed sexually or financially by Dr. Donald K. Barrett, you can confidentially submit your contact information to cogicabuse@gmail.com and it will be forwarded to the law firm.

RCA will provide more specific details of the lawsuit this week.

Judge dismisses sex crimes case against Bishop Charles Brown

March 4, 2012 Leave a comment

**UPDATED** scroll down

On a legal technicality, a Louisiana parish judge has dismissed sex crimes cases against COGIC Bishop Charles Brown saying  the charges were filed after the statue of limitations had expired.[source]

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported the story March 2nd after the ruling.

Criminal District Judge Karen Herman ruled that the statute of limitations, as it was written when the alleged sexual attacks took place, had long ago run out.

Brown, the jurisdictional bishop for Greater New Orleans in the Church of God in Christ, based in Memphis, Tenn., also was pastor of Full Gospel Church of God in Christ in New Orleans, though he spent much of his time leading a congregation in Houston. The Church of God in Christ suspended him after learning of the first allegation, which came to light in September.

Brown faced a count of forcible rape, two counts of sexual battery and two counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile.

There is no statute of limitations any longer for forcible rape in Louisiana. State law allows prosecution of sexual battery, indecent behavior with a juvenile or other sex crimes against people under 17 for 30 years after the victim becomes an adult.

But that wasn’t the case when the crimes allegedly were committed, between 1977 and 1989. Then, the victims were required to report them no later than 10 years after they turned 17. Forcible rape carried a six-year statute when the woman said Brown raped her, Herman found.

The last of the statutes under the indictment ran out in 1991, Brown’s attorney argued. Herman quashed the rape count in January, and the other four counts Friday.

Brown’s attorney called the ruling “bittersweet”. “He actually wanted to face his accusers,” said Johnson, who claimed the case was “set up for a money grab” by the women. Brown hopes to be reinstated with the church, he said.

Take the poll: based on the ruling should Bishop Blake reinstate Charles Brown to his former positions? If you would like to leave a comment to support your view, use the post comment link.

UPDATE MARCH 21, 2011

Four days after a Louisiana judge dismissed charges against COGIC bishop Charles Brown, the COGIC issued a brief but tersely worded statement saying that it was immediately lifting Brown’s suspension without further comment. Its unclear if Brown will be reassigned or allowed to simply step back into his former positions.