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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.

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WATCH! Bishop Charles Blake KO sexual sins in WIC message

June 2, 2014 3 comments

The undercover sex wolves in COGIC are NOT going to like this.But COGIC Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake deserves some much needed praise for putting the sword to sexual sins during his address at COGIC’s 64th International Women’s Convention in Louisville this past week. The teaching is masterful and befitting instruction from the office of the Presiding Bishop especially in times like these when adultery, fornication, homosexuality and sexual manipulation sins are cresting IN the church.

Not only did Bishop Blake methodically hit the biblical, moral and physical consequences of said sexual sins, he laid out factual statistics as well.
Now, if he would just do a repeat at the Men’s Conference. Watch all three excerpts below.

LISTEN: Victims Advocacy Open Forum Audio

April 7, 2014 Leave a comment

RCAforumReport 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.

 

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]

COGIC COO deposed in Donald Barrett trial

March 18, 2013 Leave a comment

JuryBoxTrials 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.

Former COGIC deacon given 2 life sentences for sexual molestation

March 1, 2013 Leave a comment

don billupsA 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.