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Texas federal judge finds NM COGIC Bishop Jones guilty in 2016 sexual abuse lawsuit

March 5, 2019 Leave a comment

According to the Daily Mail, a prominent news organization in the UK, in 2016 the Church of God in Christ organization and its Bishop of New Mexico was hit was a 12.2 million dollar lawsuit alleging sexual abuse of a minor. Now, that bishop has been found guilty in a Texas civil court and ordered to pay his victim $750,000.

LaKeith JamesA bishop at one of the largest African-American Christian churches in the United States has been accused of grooming and sexually assaulting a female member of the denomination for more than 20 years.
Kimberly Pollard, who is now 37, filed a $12.2-million lawsuit against the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) and Bishop James L’Keith Jones, accusing the church of allowing her to be sexually assaulted by the high-ranking bishop for 20 years, according to court papers obtained exclusively by DailyMail.com.
Pollard claims that Jones not only groomed her into what became a 20-year sexual relationship and extra-marital affair, but also tried to groom her six-year-old daughter, telling her she looked ‘sexy’ and that he would wait until she was 18 to date her.
The mother-of-one from Lubbock, Texas, says that the relationship between her and Jones turned sexual in or around 1995, when she was still a minor.

In 2019 Pollard won her lawsuit against Jones but the COGIC organization its board of bishops was dismissed from the suit. Jones was ordered by a federal judge to pay $750,000 but is still denying that he owes or committed any crime. He told a Albuquerque news station KRQE via email that he served a “one year suspension” imposed by the church. In typical fashion, COGIC, its presiding bishop and its PR representatives have all refused to respond to requests for clarification on Jones current position in the denomination. Watch the video of Jones telling a 6 year old girl she looked “mighty sexy” in a nightgown and a video clip he sent to Pollard using his fingers to simulate performing oral sex on her.

 

Kim PollardAn Albuquerque Bishop was ordered by a federal civil court judge to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to the woman who accused him of being a predator.
However, the Bishop, who’s still on the job, claims he doesn’t owe a dime.
Bishop James L’Keith Jones of the Church of God in Christ, or COGIC, in Albuquerque, says he’s done nothing criminal. But that doesn’t change the fact that a federal court has now ordered him to pay $750,000 after a civil lawsuit was filed.
Jones has been preaching in Albuquerque for years, leading the Albuquerque chapter of one of the largest nationwide churches. But on Special Assignment in 2016, KRQE News 13 reported on Texas woman Kimberly Pollard’s lawsuit against the Bishop that revealed another side of him.
Pollard claims Bishop Jones made the comment, “You lookin’ mighty sexy in your nightgown,” to her 6-year-old daughter in a video message.
That comment was just part of a series of video and text message exchanges between Pollard and Jones that the lawsuit centered around. Some images in the messages are too explicit to show on television.
Pollard claims Jones preyed on her when she was a teen 20 years ago, and says he sexually assaulted her in a hotel room when she was 16 years old.
Then as he worked his way up the church ranks, she claims he used his authority to keep preying on her, “using coercion, threats, and his position as a spiritual advisor.”
The Bishop denies any sexual assault occurred. Still, court documents show Pollard won a $750,000 judgment in the case.
Her attorneys say Jones hasn’t paid a dime and instead claims the case was thrown out.
Recently, legal assistants on the case made the trip from Texas to hold up a large sign for Sunday parishioners.
The sign read, “COGIC Bishop James L’Keith Jones has been found liable by a federal district court of having a sexual relationship with a child. And he is still in good standing with the Church of God in Christ.”
One of Pollard’s attorneys told KRQE News 13 via email, “It’s concerning that COGIC allows Jones to continue in such a high profile position.”
Jones declined an on-camera interview and called this a case of a “woman scorned.” Jones told News 13 via email that he served a year suspension with the church, and doesn’t owe Pollard anything because the judge didn’t sign the document ordering him to pay.
He also argued the judgment was by default since he missed a deadline to report to the court.
“So I {sic} am in err for failing to respond to the court and not any damages or harm done to Ms. Pollard,” Jones wrote in an email.
But KRQE News 13 called the Northern District of Texas courthouse where the judgment was filed and were told a judge doesn’t have to sign the document. The writ of execution is valid with a clerk’s signature, meaning Jones still owes $750,000 plus $20 per day in interest.
Both the Church of God in Christ and the Board of Bishops were dismissed from the lawsuit. News 13 called the church’s headquarters in Memphis to ask if Jones is still in good standing with the church. The church did not respond.

TN Central removes New Life Holiness from jurisdictional website

October 3, 2014 Leave a comment

Just a week after Report COGIC Abuse published the story of  COGIC Pastor Frederick Smith and allegations of financial malfeasance, misrepresentation on a legal document and gross sexual immorality , it appears that Bishop Brandon Porter has taken some action against the pastor and church.

The screenshot of the website taken before and after the report shows Smith and New Life Holiness church now removed from the official jurisdictional website which lists its member pastors and churches.

TNCENTRALIts unclear at this point whether this action is to be viewed as punitive or evasive. Neither Porter nor Smith’s immediate supervisor Supt Linwood Dilliard (also president of COGIC International Youth Department) have made any public statements although the situation has received widespread attention. Has Smith been booted from the denomination? If so, it would seem to verify all the allegations against him.

Has Smith been put on lay low status until the controversy dies? If so, it could indicate his leaders are avoiding dealing with the obvious breaches to COGIC’s policy and doctrine.

Covering or Coverup?

smith-dilliardHow much about Smith’s sexual proclivities did Porter and Dillard know and when did they know it? Is this situation like many others in COGIC where even though leadership is aware of the serious moral and ethical failings of its pastors, they ignore it in their quest to build district and jurisdictional clout within the denomination? Or ignore it because a person has a position and can deliver emotional orations like deceased Bishop JD Husbands?

Records we found show that Smith initially began his COGIC career as a member of a district under the late Bishop JO Patterson, Jr as early as 2007. At some point, he transferred to the Tennessee Central Jurisdiction.

Serious sexual immorality charges emerge on Memphis COGIC pastor; no response from Linwood Dilliard or Bishop Brandon Porter

September 25, 2014 Leave a comment

fsmithSerious charges of sexual immorality and possible financial malfeasance by a Memphis pastor have emerged but so far there’s been no response from the pastor’s immediate denominational supervisor nor his bishop.

Last week, popular Memphis “shock jock” Thaddeus Matthews made public information given to him about Pastor Frederick Smith of New Life Holiness Church alleging the pastor paid for numerous sexual encounters with another man.

Matthews published a profanity laden letter sent to him by church members who say someone placed it on their car windshields in the church’s parking lot. The anonymous writer alleges Pastor Smith initially picked him up and paid him $100 for sex. After that, the two met frequently for the same. Due to the graphic language of the letter, Report COGIC Abuse has chosen not to repost it.

The website of Tennessee Central Jurisdiction lists Smith and the church as members of the Memphis Southeast District under Supt Linwood Dillard.

In addition to the charges of gross sexual immorality, Matthews alleges that Smith lied or misrepresented New Life Holiness’s affiliation with the Church of God in Christ. An official bankruptcy document filed in 2012 with the Western District of Tennessee and signed by Smith identifies the church as a member of the Church of the Nazarene. But Report COGIC Abuse found a 2007 JO Patterson Memorial District Calendar  which lists Smith and church as members.

Smith arrest reportSmith’s activities became public after he filed a report with Memphis police alleging he had been robbed, beaten and his wallet stolen.  The incident happened around 930p on May 17th. Smith claimed he was at the Harbor Island Apartments because he thinking of moving there when a young black male came up behind him and struck him in the face, took his keys and wallet but not the car and ran.

Police arrested 22 year old Hezekiah Webb who admitted to the incident. Smith refused to press any charges against Webb. Webb now alleges the scuffle took place because Smith attempted to get sex from him.

Its not clear whether Smith is still operating as pastor of the church.

 

Olive Branch MS COGIC minister arrested on sex battery, rape charges

September 23, 2014 Leave a comment

A COGIC Chpatrick-woodsurch in suburban Memphis is about to receive attention for all the wrong reasons due to the arrest of one of its ministers on Sept 22. WHBQ Fox 13 in Memphis identified the man as 40 year old Patrick Woods of St Luke COGIC in Olive Branch.

“A minister of a church in Olive Branch, Mississippi was arrested Monday evening. Patrick Woods is charged with sexual battery and statutory rape by an authority figure.

The 17 year old victim told investigators, she was sitting on a couch watching a movie in Woods’ Southeast Shelby County home, when he reached under a blanket and molested her. She said Woods children were in the room watching the same movie when it happened in May of this year.

Woods is being held on $50,000 bond. He is scheduled for a video arraignment Tuesday morning.

Woods is a minister at St. Luke Church of God in Christ located in Olive Branch, Mississippi.”

The police mugshot of Woods appears to match a photo of a man taken with youth from the church at COGIC’s  2013 “Southern Region Youth Explosion”. In the photo, Woods is wearing a wedding band.  The police report states the victim said she was an “active member” of St Luke Church.

 

 

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Houston lawsuit accuses Bishops Blake, Kyles, Perry and Brown of over one million dollars property theft

April 18, 2014 5 comments

rkylesHOUSTON, 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)  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!”

brownjohnson“I am being blackballed by chief leadership in the Church of God in Christ Church Organization which I have laid my life down for and sacrificed for so many years.

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 its own unwitting 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.

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.

COGIC denies indecision on suspending sex abusing Pastor

December 26, 2013 Leave a comment

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.

See the 2002 Resolution on Sexual Misconduct Suspensions

COGIC Inc lawyer responds to Memphis Pastor’s sex abuse arrest

December 21, 2013 Leave a comment

With attention mounting,  the nation’s largest black pentecostal denomination has once again found itself over a barrel with the breaking case of yet another clergy sexual abuse case. The Memphis story is making national headlines including News One and The Christian Post.

After a Church of God in Christ pastor in Memphis was arrested for the sexual abuse of a teenage girl, a family member, the denomination’s chief lawyer issued a press statement. Is this a reversal of COGIC’s long standing policy no comment policy? Or is it a forced response due to Memphis religious leaders calling for the church to suspend the pastor?

In the past, COGIC Presiding Bishop Blake rarely if ever responded to clergy sexual abuse cases. But in 2007, when a case involving Pastor Sherman Allen of Ft Worth, TX picked up media steam due to COGIC inaction, Blake issued a statement saying, “The Church of God in Christ does not condone any inappropriate behavior from any of its representatives, and does not comment on pending litigation against the Church or its representatives until a case has been brought to trial and an official ruling has been made. Until then, Pastor Sherman Allen has been suspended from all national and local pastoral roles and activities within the Church of God in Christ. This is Church policy and we will honor this policy for the case against Allen.”

It appears that the only way COGIC will respond is if there is mounting media scrutiny.

michael-bryantMemphis’ ABC 24 affiliate said it began when detectives with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Sex Crimes unit contacted officers with the Fugitive Apprehension Team December 18th  in reference to 48-year-old Michael Bryant who was wanted on a warrant charge of Sexual Battery by an Authority Figure.  The investigation reveals that he had been sexually abusing a 16-year-old female for the past two years.

The victim said in the affidavit that she told her mother about the abuse a year ago. The victim said at that point Bryant admitted to the touching, but the case was not turned over to authorities because Pastor Bryant and the mother decided they would “pray that the Lord remove these thoughts from his head.”

Bryant, who is the Pastor at Hour of Restoration COGIC, was located inside the Delta Express gas station at Hickory Hill and Knight Arnold.  He is being held on $1 million bond.

Fox News carried a broader story about the fallout. Although Bryant has admitted guilt to Memphis law enforcement, COGIC officials said they have not decided if they will remove Bryant from the pulpit. But that met with backlash from other clergy leaders. Its puzzling as to why this church still stumbles and fumbles over enacting basic disciplinary standards with sexually abusive clergy.  But after four years and scores of known offenders, COGIC officials still respond like clueless novices.

Memphis resident and COGIC General Board Member, Bishop Brandon Porter is investigating one of his own pastors after the Pastor Michael Bryant was arrested Wednesday on charges of sexual battery by an authority figure. The CP story also identified Bryant as an elder at Greater Community Temple, pastored by Porter.

COGIC’s name and image in Memphis are at risk.

“COGIC and Memphis are as connected as wine and wafer in the city Christian community. COGIC was founded in the Bluff City and it one of the largest Christian denominations in the world. News that one of its pastors was arrested by a Shelby County Sheriff’s sex crimes task force for sexual battery of a teenaged family member stunned loyal supporters.”, said Greg Coy.

The Church’s new legal counsel emailed the following to FOX News 13:

U.Henderson

Uleses C. Henderson, Jr., COGIC General Counsel

“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

“Nobody is above the law,” said Rev. Ralph White, Memphis Ministerial Alliance. “This is a rare occasion, but it does happen and we need to look it closer.

“This is a wake up call for pastors to look at this and nurture our congregations.”

The affidavit presents a disturbing picture of a crime and allegations of inaction based on faith. It says the teenaged victim told her mother in 2012 about the abuse happening repeatedly in Bryant’s home. The document said says the girl’s mother decided not to call police. The teen’s mother and Rev. Bryant “decided they would pray to remove those thoughts from his head.” Other church members were allegedly aware of the abuse but did not report it.

More implications

“I think she may say that we her affirmative action, that she did not do anything,” said Caren Nichol, FOX13 News legal analyst. “She prayed but the law may not look at that as sufficient protection.”

Many Mid-South religious leaders told FOX13 News Bryant should either voluntarily resign or be removed as pastor of Hour of Restoration COGIC until this matter is resolved. Nichol said the investigation by the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office could be more damaging to COGIC. “It doesn’t matter where it occurred, it matters what they knew,” Nichol said. “If they had some actual knowledge that he some sort of inclination, then they are going to be in trouble.”

Previous Memphis COGIC sexual abuse cases:

2009 –  Dwayne Wilson a music minister at St. Mark COGIC was arrested for statutory rape of a 16 year old girl. [source]

2012 – Orlando Wallace an elder at Lakeview Community Temple was arrested and charged with aggravated statutory rape and sexual exploitation of a 15 year old girl. [source]