Posts Tagged ‘New Orleans’

Breaking news: Bishop Charles Brown sexual abuse survivors speak out publicly

September 19, 2012 5 comments

New ground has been broken in favor of COGIC clergy sexual abuse survivors. The three victims of Bishop Charles Brown are telling their story publicly for the first time. Brown, who currently sits as pastor of the Williams Temple COGIC in Houston escaped prison earlier this year on a legal technicality.

Four days after that ruling,  the denomination’s General Board immediately reinstated Blake’s longtime friend to office. The previous suspension was lifted “without further comment”.  This left the impression that Brown was not guilty.  But Brown was never exonerated of his sexual crimes against the three young girls, thus he should have never been reinstated.   Report COGIC Abuse also published an exclusive report exposing the General Board who secretly paid off the victims.

But now, those women are speaking out in an exclusive interview with Dunamis Word blog which has helped to document the coverup and complicity by the Blake administration.

The time has come to hold Bishop Charles Blake, Sr. accountable for his role in these matters. According to one of the victims only one other person knew them as well as Brown knew them.

[…]one of the survivors states that until the interviews, which can be heard above, only ONE other person in the church has ever made contact with any of them. That was the Bishop Charles E. Blake, who spoke to one of the victims, as he knew them very well for a number of years. Unfortunately, that conversation was over some 15 years ago before Bishop Blake became Presiding Bishop.”

Report COGIC Abuse calls on faithful bishops in the church to immediately remove Bishop Charles Brown from office and launch a full and independent investigation as to Bishop Blake’s personal knowledge of these crimes. There is nothing more important than the truth.

Read the story and listen to the audio interviews here.

Source: COGIC General Board paid off Bishop Charles Brown victims

August 6, 2012 11 comments

Report COGIC Abuse has learned this week from confidential sources that in June the Church of God in Christ General Board finalized and secretly paid off the three female sex crime victims of Bishop Charles Brown I of Louisiana.  According to the source, “The board voted on the matter [the pending lawsuit] with the vote resulting in 10 bishops voting for the payment and 2 voting against it.”

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told RCA that the three women victims of Bishop Charles Brown I filed suit against COGIC and were paid “a large sum” of money. The lawsuit would have went to court, but COGIC officials quickly agreed to settle out of court. The payment included a nondisclosure clause which prohibits the victims from publicly revealing how much money was paid to them.

One of the women, Gwen Harrell was represented by the law firm of Roger Stetter of New Orleans. Contacted at his office, Stetter would only say he was “not at liberty” to discuss the case. The source alleged that Brown was aware of the payments.

Judge and Jury
The New Orleans Times Picayune broke the story of Brown’s arrest almost a year ago.  COGIC officials dodged the reporter’s attempts for clarification on whether they knew Brown had been arrested. Of course, this follows Bishop Charles Blake’s media blackout rule when sex crimes cases involve church officials. Brown was not suspended until after the story became public.

Brown, a long time friend of Presiding Bishop Blake, formerly served on the board of Blake’s  Save Africa’s Children organization. He was removed from that position [see new board here], but reinstated by COGIC to his religious positions.  Its not clear if Brown was removed because of his arrest or because of the disagreement he and Blake had over Brown taking over a Houston church.  Brown was arrested in June 2011 and charged with multiple counts of sexual abuse. He was held under a nearly 1 million dollar bond. Another charge of “forceable rape” was later added.

In response to the arrest, COGIC announced that Brown had been suspended pending outcome of the trial.

But then on a legal technicality, a Louisiana parish judge dismissed sex crimes cases against Brown saying charges were filed after the statue of limitations had expired.

Four days later, the COGIC issued a brief but tersely worded statement saying that it was immediately lifting Brown’s suspension without further comment.  That statement has since been removed from the website.

Unanswered questions remain

Several legitimate questions regarding Brown, money and Bishop Blake remain that continue to keep this story alive under a strong cloud of suspicion.

First, there are questions of culpability. Charles Blake and Charles Brown were admittedly friends during the period when the young girls were molested. Did either of the victims tell Blake or someone in his inner circle of the molestation, but no action was taken against Brown? Any church official who knows of a sexual crime being committed but takes no action —according to the law— bears the same guilt as the perpetrator. See this.

Secondly, if Charles Brown was innocent of the charges levied against him, why did the COGIC General Board pay off the three victims? Despite rumors, Brown wasn’t “exonerated”.  Had be been legally exonerated he would have been freed from guilt by order of the court. Instead he avoided trial because the statue of limitations had run out on the case. That is not a judgment of innocence, its a legal technicality that worked in his favor. Neither Brown’s guilt nor his innocence has been proved in a court of law. But since neither has been proven, on what grounds then would COGIC’s high office holders have for paying out large sums of money to 3 women connected to Brown? If the women’s accusations are false, why give them large sums of church money and then prevent them from telling how much they received? COGIC’s immediate capitulation to giving the women money could indicate that had the case gone to trial, the church would have lost.  The same scenario occurred under the GE Patterson administration with former Saints College official Supt Larry Weems of Mississippi.

Finally, who is bankrolling the not so secret sins and crimes of COGIC leaders? Where is the money funding the lawsuits coming from? Where is the accounting trail for the money? Presiding Bishop Blake stated in 2009 (on official record) that COGIC paid out an average of $800,000 per year for sexual abuse claims. But hardly an eye batted at the enormous figure. There’s been zero accountability as to who approves the money, where it comes from and why it is kept secret. Is the large sums of money being paid from the pockets of General Board members? Is it coming from church insurance money? Or is it coming from the tithes, offering and numerous money gathering portals recently set up by church leadership?

At the time of publication, neither COGIC headquarters officials nor press agent Robert Coleman, Jr.  had responded to requests for statements. A secretary with Bishop Charles Blake said he was currently on travel and unavailable.

COGIC leadership seems to have forgotten one truth that will eventually find them out. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the good and the evil. What you have said and done behind closed doors and in secret will eventually come to the light. You may be living or you may be dead, but your sins will find you out.

Bishop Charles Brown “remanded” on nearly $1million bond

December 3, 2011 Leave a comment

A stunning development in the case of COGIC bishop Charles Brown of New Orleans. The New Orleans Times-Picayune posted on December 2nd that the allegations against Brown have deepened.

With supporters packing a courtroom gallery like a church nave, Bishop Charles E. Brown pleaded not guilty Friday to sex crimes against three juveniles dating as far back as 1977. Judge Karen Herman remanded Brown, the 59-year-old spiritual head of a local Pentecostal church, to jail Friday in lieu of $900,000 bond from a grand jury indictment handed up last month.

Several of his supporters, many of them women who dressed up and wore hats, appeared ready on Friday to chip in for the bond. Brown is scheduled to return to court Monday with the paperwork.

Brown faces a count of forcible rape and two counts each of sexual battery and committing a lewd act on a juvenile in three alleged crimes all dating back at least 30 years.

Police originally booked Brown with aggravated rape on June 28, after an unidentified 39-year-old woman called the NOPD’s child abuse unit in March to report that Brown had molested her between the ages of 14 and 16. According to police, the woman said Brown had been her aunt’s boyfriend and committed the acts at his home.

Since then, at least two other people have come forward with accusations against him, according to the indictment. One of them, now 47, claims Brown committed indecent behavior and sexual battery sometime between her 13th and 17th birthdays, according to the indictment.

Brown forcibly raped another woman, identified only as “G.H.,” in 1977, when she was 17, the indictment states. A brief police report says that woman reported the incident Sept. 28, after The Times-Picayune reported on the first allegation.

Brown, who was a long time personal friend of  current Presiding Bishop Charles Blake, Sr was handcuffed and jailed on the judges orders.

The news report said that COGIC officials “suspended” Brown after learning of the first allegation.

No word on whether COGIC has suspended Supt Thomas A. Wiggins, Jr. of Wilmington, NC who on last week confessed to multiple sex crimes against a 14 year old.

COGIC Bishop booked on sexual battery charges

September 21, 2011 1 comment

New Orleans – The Times-Picayune reported last night that Bishop Charles E. Brown, I, bishop of the Church of God in Christ Greater New Orleans Jurisdiction was booked on charges of sexual battery in June. Brown was released after posting a $25,000 bail. But the story quickly raised more troubling issues about Brown, his past, COGIC’s so-called zero tolerance sexual abuse policy and his association with the church’s presiding bishop.

According to the paper, Brown seemed to have made a very foolish decision to contact the woman he is alleged to have molested. [source]

The spiritual head of a local Pentecostal denomination has been arrested and booked with sexual battery on a teenage girl more than 23 years ago. New Orleans court records show that Bishop Charles E. Brown, 58, was released on $25,000 bond.

Brown, who since Hurricane Katrina has divided his time between New Orleans and Houston, is the jurisdictional bishop for Greater New Orleans in the Church of God in Christ, a Pentecostal denomination with headquarters in Memphis. He is also pastor of a local congregation, Full Gospel Church of God in Christ.

Brown was arrested June 28, according to police records.

Several attempts to contact Brown at his home in Houston were unsuccessful. Court records did not list a lawyer. And denominational officials in Los Angeles and Lafayette who would know about the arrest either were unavailable or did not respond to an inquiry.

A police affidavit supporting the arrest warrant said an unidentified 39-year-old woman called the department’s child abuse unit in March to report that Brown molested her between the ages of 14 and 16.

The woman said at the time Brown was her aunt’s boyfriend, and the acts occurred at his home.

She told police Brown recently reached out and asked to “friend” her on Facebook. She told him she knew him to be an abuser and decided then to go to the police, the affidavit said.

Brown originally was arrested and booked with aggravated rape. But Magistrate Commissioner Harry Cantrell said the specific facts alleged by the woman supported only the lesser accusation of sexual battery.”

Brown, pastor of Williams Temple COGIC in Houston and two other churches, was a prominent figure in pre-Katrina New Orleans. His bio connects him with several powerful civic and religious leaders around the country including serving as a board member with Dr. Fredrick Price of LA, Bishop IV Hilliard in Houston, as the “spiritual advisor” to former Katrina-era NO mayor Ray Nagin and ironically as a board member of Bishop Blake’s “Save Africa’s Children” charity. Within his denomination, Brown was the former Chief Operating Officer of the church until he resigned after a fallout with Blake over a Houston church he now pastors.

What’s troubling is that the the police report alleges the crime occured about 23 years ago. That would put the timeline of the crime about 1990-91. During that time, according to Brown’s bio, he was:

  • Director; Youth Church, [COGIC] UNAC/AIM 1980-1997.
  • Executive Board Member; General Assembly of the Church of God in Christ, 1984 to present.
  • Board Member; Fellowship of Inner City Word of Faith Ministries (FICWFM), Dr. F. K. C. Price, Founder. (1990-Present).

The woman alleges that Brown committed the crime while he was her aunt’s boyfriend. Just a few weeks ago, we told you about the case of adulterer and deadbeat father Joseph Hogan. The biblical requirements for the office of a bishop mean nothing to COGIC leadership. If blatant adultery and sexual immorality doesn’t disqualify a man from the office, what will? Sources told Report COGIC Abuse that despite the hard evidence on Hogan, COGIC will consecrate him to bishop.

Although Brown was arrested in June, he still holds his office of pastor and bishop in the Church of God in Christ. Report COGIC Abuse has learned that the denomination passed a resolution giving bishops the power to immediately remove a local church pastor upon allegations of sexual misconduct or criminal sexual activity until an investigation is concluded. But there was no clause for the bishops to remove those in their own ranks.

As the Times-Picayune story noted, church officials aren’t responding even though there is evidence that all members of the church’s “general board” —including Charles E. Blake— were made aware of Brown’s situation prior to the story going public.

LA state accuses COGIC Pastor of misusing $250k Katrina assistance money

August 24, 2011 2 comments

New Orleans – An audit conducted by the state of Louisana says Supt  John Pierre of Living Witness Church of God in Christ misused nearly a quarter of a million dollars given to him to help citizens in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina.   The state  contends that Pierre converted to personal use nearly $74,000 in rebuilding grants, without reporting the income to the Internal Revenue Service or state tax officials. In addition, he “misspent” another $160,000.

According to the report published in the New Orleans Times-Picayune , Pierre recieved the money in 2008 but grossly mismanaged, misspent and could not account for thousands of dollars.

A state audit released today claims the pastor of a Central City church known for its drug addiction programs misspent or wasted at least $160,000 in relief grants after Hurricane Katrina.

In addition, the State Inspector General’s audit also said that Elder John Pierre of Living Witness Church of God in Christ converted to personal use nearly $74,000 in rebuilding grants, without reporting the income to the Internal Revenue Service or state tax officials.

The report recommended that the state begin efforts to recapture the money and consider whether to open a criminal prosecution.

The state’s full report quotes Pierre as acknowledging that some funds were misspent. But in a formal reply attached to the report over the signature of Robert Jenkins, his lawyer, Pierre flatly denies “all wrongdoing and allegations.”

“While I’m anxious to tell my side of the story, I’ve been advised by my counselor not to make any statements,” Pierre said Wednesday.

The inspector general’s report charged that in 2008 the church received $250,000 from the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation, a private non-profit established to distribute Katrina relief donations.

The money was intended to convert a Central City building at 1518 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. into low-income housing for recovering addicts.

But the audit found the building still uninhabitable and said $135,000 was diverted to the church’s “daily operating expenses.”

Another $25,000 grant from the Department of Health and Hospitals was supposed to add 10 beds to a building at 1835 Terpsichore St. the church uses to house recovering addicts.

The report says Pierre used all the money on architectural services, and the building remains unusable.

The inspector general said much of the money was comingled. Its examination of church bank accounts found that in 2008 and 2009 Pierre issued himself 11 checks totalling $32,810, “including a $20,000 check … classified as an anniversary gift.”

He also paid himself $41,000 in regular housing allowances, the report said.

The church allegedly also paid two church members a total of nearly $10,000 “as honorariums for services performed.”

The church reported none of those payments on W-2 forms sent to federal or state tax authorities, the report said.

It appears Pierre had big dreams when he learned he was getting the money. His website says they “fully believe that this year marks a new beginning for all God’s people. Following the devastating effects of hurricane katrina with the blessings of our Lord, Living Witness Ministries is embarking upon a major capital rebuilding and expansions project. We have expanded our ministry’s mission to include housing development to provide decent and affordable housing for those families of the Diaspora who have a desire to return home to New Orleans.”

Unfortunately, the investigation found that Pierre, once he got his hands on the money, forgot all about the grand plans to revitalize the neighborhood and helping victims of the storm. Not only did he prove to be a extremely poor administrator but he has wasted hard earned tax payer money intended to do good. As a “man of God”  Pierre’s actions are completely shameful.