GCM Watch Breaking News
Its happened again. In a different place, with a different child, but behind the crime: yet another Church of God in Christ clergy member. With the church already facing pending sexual abuse lawsuits in Texas, Maryland and Washington state totalling in the millions of dollars, news of this crime couldn’t have come at a worse time.
News broke late Saturday via the Winter Haven, FL News Chief of the shocking crime in which a young girl was allegedly sexually assaulted multiple times by Minister Clevon Ghent, 35 and his nephew Genard Jones both members of Born Again Church of God in Christ in Auburndale, FL. The paper identified Ghent as a paid employee/supervisor of the church’s for profit janitorial service. [source]
Clevon Ghent, 35, of 1161 Waterview Point, Lakeland, was charged Thursday with five counts of custodial sexual battery. Gernard Jones, 18, of 1455 Kathleen Road in Lakeland, was charged with three counts of lewd battery.
Ghent managed Trinity Enterprises, a residential and commercial cleaning business owned and operated by Born Again Church of God in Christ in Auburndale. Ghent and Jones are both volunteer ministers at the church, and the girl is reportedly a member of the congregation, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Pastor Theadore Hall Jr. of Born Again Church could not be reached Friday.
The Sheriff’s Office reported that Ghent and Jones both met the 12-year-old girl at the church. Detectives said the abuse began in May or June, when Jones allegedly committed a sex act with the girl in a car in the driveway of her home.
The church is part of the Florida SW COGIC “jurisdiction” under Bishop Matthew Williams. It will be extremely difficult for the church to disassociate itself from Ghent, his picture is plastered all over the church’s website. In his deposition, COGIC head lawyer, Enoch Perry seemly to imply that the church only bears a legal responsibility when a person on the church’s payroll commits a crime.
The News Chief reported that the assaults took place over the summer months of July and August. And the two men basically traded the girl off with each other and then sexually assaulted her together in a remote area near Lakeland, FL.
In mid-July, Ghent (pictured below in his official church photo) picked up the girl from her home and took her to his house to babysit his four children, ages 6, 7, 8 and 12. During the ride to his house, authorities said Ghent told the girl he knew she had been sexually active with his nephew, Jones.
Jones was at Ghent’s house when they arrived, and Ghent told Jones to take his children on a walk. When the girl asked to go with the other children, Ghent told her she was “grounded” and had to stay in the house with him, the Sheriff’s Office reported. After Jones left with Ghent’s children, authorities said Ghent then performed sex acts on the victim.
According to authorities, Ghent committed sex acts with the girl on two separate occasions in July. One of those incidents reportedly took place in his son’s bedroom.
Most recently, Ghent and Jones allegedly sexually abused the girl on Aug. 26. Authorities said Jones drove the girl with Ghent to an isolated spot near Reynolds Road and Skyview Drive in Lakeland, after the men offered to drive her home from Bible study at the church. Instead, the Sheriff’s Office reported that they allegedly sexually abused the girl inside Jones’s silver Lincoln Navigator.
Its unclear as to how or why two adult men could gain so much access and control over the child without anyone questioning it or reporting it. Its strange how these things happen but no one sees, hears or notices anything. However if the allegations are true, what transpired is about as sickening as it gets.
Two days later, on Aug. 28, the girl told two teachers at her school that she had sex with Ghent and Jones. The teachers told the girl’s father, who notified the Sheriff’s Office. Detectives opened an investigation, and Jones and Ghent were interviewed and arrested Thursday, the Sheriff’s Office said.
In a statement, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said, “There are no words to describe the horror” of the alleged abuse. “This so-called minister, and his nephew, Gernard Jones, are now behind bars where they belong – and where they can’t hurt any more innocent children.”
The two men were booked into the Polk County Jail on Thursday and are being held without bond.
Sexual abuse both of adults and children by COGIC clergy is out of control. But according to Perry, there’s little if anything the church can do to control its members or member churches. The exceptions appear to be when local churches attempt to leave the denomination with its assets. Then, the church can expect to be sued in court. The other exception is per Perry’s sworn testimony if the offenders are part of the 70 odd corps of “national church employees” based in Memphis.
What is tragic about all of this is that while under Bishop Charles Blakes’ watch, clergy sexual crimes appear to have increased, the bishop’s voice has decreased significantly. I would not encourage you to hold your breath waiting for Bishop Blake, his administration or COGIC’s ruling aristocracy to answer the cries of ravished children, devastated parents or broken churches. What’s more, its very difficult to understand why a man so passionate and vocal about saving Africa’s children, is so silent and unfeeling about helping COGIC’s children.