Bishop in Alabama should be investigated

Reports have also surfaced against Bishop Peter Wren, Sr. of Birmingham, AL.  A woman the Wren family identified as Tiffany Youngblood and a former member of Wren’s East Birmingham COGIC, has begin publicly telling a story alleging Wren was an adulterous sexual predator (among other things) who had manipulated multiple women in his congregation into sexual relationships. But on Jan 14th, Wren’s son posted the following response to Youngblood’s allegations on Black Preaching Network:

“On December 27, 2009, a blog and/or discussion board posted a letter from a member ID (Anchored Soul) concerning the Sexual Misconduct in COGIC. Judging by the content and after further research, the writer is Tiffany Youngblood, originally from Union Springs now living in Birmingham, Alabama. Ms Youngblood moved to the City of Birmingham in search of a place to stay, worship and work while she attended college. Ms. Youngblood attended the church where I pastured [sic] and after some time we realized she needed a place to stay. She befriended my family and eventually moved into our home. For a period of (2) two years she stayed with my family, providing her a roof over her head and food to eat; worked at my place of business, providing her with revenue to support herself. In just a little while she would show a forming motive, after consumptions of alcohol, she would make advances at me. After rebukes and repeat attempts, I put her out of my home. She became angry and left the church and now is seeking ways to destroy my character by spreading these horrible lies. Tiffany Youngblood, it is my recommendation that you seek some type of Psychiatric help and if these lies continue it leaves me no choice but to take legal actions against you because of Slander and Deformation[sic] of Character.” [source]

Another woman, Sandy Woodgrave, came forward January 15th with similar accusations and hinted that there were more Wren victims who have remained silent.

“I also come as a victim of Bishop Peter Wren Sr. You confide in him some of your intimate secrets seeking spiritual guidance and he then takes those same secrets and guide you into unwarranted sexual advances and also his bed. I was too young and naïve to see through the deceit because like most innocent souls, we seek love and acceptance no matter what form.”

But will COGIC officials take notice and enact their alleged “zero tolerance” policy?

Its unknown at this time whether COGIC officials have investigated the matter as part of their sexual misconduct review board/committee. But Wren remains pastor of the church and bishop of Alabama 3rd jurisdiction.

What’s the meaning and application of “blameless”?

For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:  If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.  For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;  But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;  Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. Titus 1:5-9

Its important to remember that a bishop is a purely voluntary administrative position in the church (crossref Eph 4:11)  and is subject to the qualifications set forth above and in 1 Tim 3. Thus, if an individual no longer meets the qualifications —especially for sexual misconduct— they should at the very least be relieved of their duties until allegations against them are found to be completely false. The main goal is to protect the flock of God, not to ensure some nepotic religious dynasty.

Visit ReportCOGICAbuse.com to report clergy abuses.

COGIC Official “offended” by sexual abuse website

In a revealing interview published online by Charisma Magazine October 15th, an official with the Church of God in Christ said he was “offended” by portions of the clergy sexual abuse website which exposes sexual wolves in his denomination.

Apparently responding to the charges of cold silence and inaction directed at victims of clergy sexual abuse by COGIC leadership (which we have proven many times over), Elder Derrick Hutchins, Chairman of the General Counsel of Pastors and Elders told the magazine,

“That’s the part that I really find offensive,” Hutchins said. “Because sometimes it’s written like all we want to do is save ourselves from liability, we don’t really care about people—and that’s not true at all.”
“Our first concern is the parishioners, not just pastors,” he added. “We do not tolerate pastors in the pulpit who are found guilty of these improprieties.”

If COGIC doesn’t tolerate pastors in the pulpit found guilty of sexual malfeasance and more, why then is Larry Weems still pastor and holding all of the offices he held before he was instructed by GE Patterson to pay off the five women he sexually assaulted?

Hutchins offered no examples of COGIC’s alleged compassionate concern to refute the charges. Instead he defaulted into typical uninformed defense mode and said, “Anybody who can find where it’s not being carried out and can prove it, I’m sure that charges will be brought against that bishop who did not carry out his responsibility.”

Its not a question if there is proof, but the question is just how much proof does Rev. Hutchins need to file charges against bishops who have treated victims like dirt. In one case, even after convicted pedophile Leonard Smith admitted to his guilt, church officials lined up to testify in court that the convicted pedophile was a good man and the district “needed” him.

Members of the victims families said that the pastor Samuel Payne, Sr. (the administrative assistant of the jurisdiction), his wife Barbara Payne (vice chair of the International Assistant Supervisor Unit) and the district superintendent CW Johnson, Jr all passionately –and publicly– rooted for the pedophile. One member under oath said she informed the pastor of Smith’s actions as early as 2004. And the bishop ignored all the warnings, reports and everything. Such gross negligence, incompetence and evil from COGIC leaders is reprehensible at best.

GCM Watch spoke with several family members of the victims of convicted molester Leonard Smith. The families are suing COGIC, Inc, Greater North Carolina jurisdiction and Sycamore Temple COGIC in civil court for unspecified damages. The trial opens in a Asheville, NC district court on Monday.

Family members told me that during a district meeting at Sycamore Temple, Asheville District Missionary Gwendolyn Stokely singled out women in the church whose sons were victims, paraded them around and proclaimed “So what you had a dream [about Smith]?? Youre not the only one who’s had a child molested!”

Upon hearing that, the church’s pastor Samuel Payne, Sr jumped from his seat applauding while shouting, “that’s right, that’s right!”. Not one single member of any “pastor-led jurisdictional council” (if such a thing exists) so much as interviewed the families or the children affected. Instead, they were shunned, smeared and re-victimized by Hutchins’ fellow COGIC leaders.

Bishop Larry Shaw of Hinesville, GA furthered disparged and demeaned the victim’s families. On Easter Sunday 2008 during services at Garden of Prayer Church, Shaw openly accused the victim’s family of being con artists who made a living filing false claims. The implication was that the family was just filing another false claim. That’s called slander. The evidence was caught on tape, so Shaw couldn’t deny he said it. Confronted with the evidence, he submitted an affidavit saying he didn’t mean any harm by it.

Mrs. Gwen Fox, whose son was molested by General Board Member JD Husband in 1981 was treated with much disdain after she reported the situation to church authorities. She said her certified letters to General Board members (of which Bishop Blake was a member of) were ignored. Eventually she went and hand delivered a letter to Bishop Ford. She recalled that he snatched the letter from her hand and refused to speak with her. Instead she was told to talk to a secretary. More abuse and mistreatment from leaders.

Husband was not removed from office until allegations that he had embezzled 500k from jurisdictional churches surfaced. That was almost 10 years after the molestations (which COGIC officials knew about) occurred.

Based on the information we have documented, will Elder Hutchins initate charges against Bishop Leroy Woolard (NC), Bishop Larry Shaw (GA), late Bishop LT Walker (AR), Bishop Chandler Owens (GA), Bishop Samuel Iglehart (TX), Bishop Hollis Musgrove (MS), Bishop J. Harvey Lyles (MD) and Bishop James H. Bell. Sr (KY)? According to your own constitution these men should be brought up on charges because they did not carry out their “constitutional duties”.

Since you’re sure charges will be brought, Elder Hutchins, how much longer will these victims and their families have to wait before the Church of God in Christ even apologizes for what has been proven in a court of law? Since you asked for proof, why don’t you speak up and stand up or admit you’re as much a part of the problems as the pedophiles and rapists themselves?

Related: Pastor Harvey Burnett writes about serious ethical and moral violations in COGIC and why Derrick Hutchins remarks are beyond outrageous.

COGIC sexual abuse civil trial begins this month in NC

smithIf mediation fails, the Church of God in Christ will be facing its first public civil trial on sexual abuse October 16 in an Asheville, North Carolina courtroom.

The saga begin with the 2007 conviction of Leonard Smith, a longtime COGIC music minister. Smith was sentenced to 16 years in jail for sexually abusing young boys. A plea bargain spared him a longer sentence. Smith’s accusers said that jurisdictional and national church officials were informed of the crimes, but did nothing. Hence, the civil suit.

Smith may be in jail, but the civil suit for unspecified damages names Sycamore Temple COGIC, Greater North Carolina Jurisdiction (Bishop Leroy Woolard) and COGIC, Inc. as defendants.

In many ways the trial parallels the Sherman Allen case set to start November 16 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Of the three defendants, COGIC, Inc and the local church claim to have money issues. The “national church” claims to be self insured and does not possess an insurance policy to cover sexual abuse cases. Self insured refers to organizations who in essence “pay out of their pockets” as opposed to an insurnace company paying for the legal judgments against them.

According to GuideOne, a major insurer for Protestant churches, most of its clients choose $100,000 of coverage for sex abuse. That might cost a small church with one pastor as little as $100 a year. A much larger church that also runs, say, a day-care center, might pay $6,000 to have $1 million in coverage. Religious organizations buying a lot of coverage may need to prove that they’re taking precautions to lower the risk of sex abuse. GuideOne, for instance, requires some churches to conduct criminal background checks on employees, to allow volunteers to work with kids only after they’ve completed six months of service with the church, and to make sure that no child is ever left alone with just one adult. The policy won’t cover everything. Insurers may put a limit on how much they will pay in aggregate, or for each case. (Recently, three major Protestant insurers reported that they receive 260 reports of child abuse every year.) Partly because of rising insurance costs, a small number of churches are foregoing the coverage.Source: Slate.com

Can COGIC pay up?

In a video interview released by COGIC on August 11, 2009, Blake stated that his church has invested a considerable amount of money into the church web/technology outreach. The interviewer asked Blake, in particular, about the COGIC website.

“So we’ve just pulled out all the stops. We’ve invested a quarter of a million dollars ($250,000) initially…” (5:41)Our italics.

Maybe I’m missing something or maybe Bishop Blake didn’t accurately answer the question. $250,000 initially for the website that is up now? I find that stunning considering the site is a jumbled, incomplete mess. No indication on the site of who’s doing the work, but they’ve made off like a bandit if this is what the church has “invested” the money of the saints in.

The Greater North Carolina jurisdiction reportedly has $300,000 worth of sexual abuse insurance coverage, but it is independent of what a jury may award the plaintiffs for the inaction of the national church.

A spokesman for one of the plaintiffs told GCM Watch that even after Smith plead guilty to the charges ten people including the pastor of the church Supt Samuel Payne came forward as character witnesses for Smith.

Under oath, COGIC legal counsel Enoch Perry makes stunning admissions

Part three of a series exploring COGIC and its policies, practices and entanglements with clergy sexual abuse. Parts 1 and 2 can be read here.

GCM Watch has obtained a copy of the 2008 court deposition of Church of God in Christ top “legal counsel” Enoch Perry who testified under oath that COGIC has virtually no control over its ministers or churches.  But that admission quickly caught the former judge in a series of exchanges where he was less than truthful. The deposition occured in early September 2008, almost a year prior to the approaching sexual abuse trial of Rev. Sherman Allen, a former top COGIC church official.

Perry has operated as the church’s chief legal counsel since 1996. His department is part of the national church triumvirate of “judicial” power which we briefly examined here. Perry also stated he was author of a “Sexual Misconduct Policy” which was allegedly disseminated in 2002.

After reviewing the 91 page document, one picture almost immediately surfaces. According to the sworn testimony of Perry, COGIC is not the organization loyal members perceive it to be. Perry sparingly painted a picture of a church divided: with member churches on their own and a “national church” which operates in a religiousvacuum . Particularly, as it relates to leadership carrying out its paper rules, the Church of God in Christ is in disarray. Reading the document, something else emerges: Perry is well equipped at corporate lie-telling and evasion of truthful discovery.

Perry, who said he pastors a 50 member church, was on the stand as the official representative of COGIC and as such authorized to speak for the denomination. Under questioning from lawyers for the plaintiff, Perry testified the denomination doesn’t have a National sexual abuse policy. Perry told the plaintiff’s lawyers the policy was suggested to its member jurisdictions and only intended to be used as a guideline. The policy allegedly in place only applies to the 70 odd employees of COGIC headquarters.

In a stunning admission, Perry told lawyers that COGIC national has no power to make member churches or pastors obey its rules. The reason: “everything in COGIC is voluntary”. Perry said all dues, tithes, fees, reports and financial stipulations on bishops, superintendents, national office holders,licensed ministers, missionaries, local church reports, jurisdictional reports and the likes are all voluntary and nothing was mandatory. Perry said the church has no ability to enforce dues assessed to its members. The only repercussion he said is that “credentials are not lost, just not renewed” (pg 46). So, my COGIC credentials are still good and Ididn’t know it. Well, so are Sherman Allen’s for that matter.

The attorney asked, “If everything is so voluntary than why does the local church has to get approval from the National Council to get out?”

Perry realized he had said something which was at best, contradictory. But he couldnt take it back. It was on record. 

For much of the roughly two hours of deposition Perry talked in proverbial circles. It reminded me of trying to catch a real liar in a lie. The liar tells one lie to cover the first, then tells another to escape the previous one. At one point, Perry when backed into a corner on one of his admissions fell silent while COGIC’s lawyers repeatedly interrupted with client-attorney privilege objections.

The deposition is too lengthy to discuss here, but some of the more interesting admissions made by Perry include:

(1) He did not know that Sherman Allen was Vice President of Evangelism for COGIC.
“It’s not like we go around asking people can we see your credentials to make sure they are who they say they are, because we over 15,000 churches in our denomination,” he said.
But later when asked if he knew Allen was an adjutant to Bishop Haynes in the early 90s, Perry replied “I dont recall him serving in that capacity”. (pg 37). In the next sentence, Perry says “Seems like Ive known him [Allen] forever.”
Isn’t it strange that a man you have “known forever” and know that he didnt serve as a low level assistant job almost 20 years ago, yet you don’t know the same person is serving as in a high level, visible office of the same church where you also serve in a high level, visible office?

(2) COGIC was forced to deal with the Allen case only because of articles which appeared in the Dallas Observer. Perry repeatedly referred to the Observer and blogs mentioning the case as “rag sheets”. In his opinion, blogs were nothing but cheap gossip rags not deserving of legitimacy.  The series of articles on the case written by former DO editor Julie Lyons apparently attracted so much public attention, COGIC was forced to reopen the case. The so-called investigators closed the case because they alleged after six months they couldn’t contact the plaintiff. COGIC thought it was all over.

Perry: “All of the hoopla that transpired from the rag sheets or the blogs or whatever you want to call it, that whole media blitz that was all over the world, if you would that’s what caused the church to look at that again, and that’s what transpired.”

Attorney: So your testimony Judge, is that it was the rag sheets hype that was published in the media that caused COGIC, through it national organization, specifically Charles Blake, Presiding Bishop, to provide some authority for the termination —

Perry: No.

Attorney: excuse me. For the suspension of Pastor Allen?

Perry refused to admit that’s what he’d just said. The implication is that had not Lyons written the stories, COGIC would have treated Allen’s victim like others they have done in the past: either ignore them or quietly settle out of court.
 

(3) Identified Elder Gerald Harris and Elder Melvin Williams as the sole members of COGIC’s “National Sexual Misconduct Committee”. Later, he said their were members of the “National Review Board”. (pg 22)
I had to laugh at the “national sexual misconduct committee”, it just sounded very weird. Seriously, it appears the two investigators violatedCOGIC’s policy which stipulates that there must be at a minimum 5 individuals on an investigating committee of this sort. It also requires that a “detailed report” be filed with the Office of the General Secretary within 6 months of a case being closed. Perry declined to answer if this had been done in the Sherman Allen case. He called the two “investigators” were highly skilled in what they do, but Allen under oath said he was never interviewed by either of the two men.

Finally, to add to the layers of confusion going on within COGIC, its rules, the Allen case and the general counsel is the strange case of Attorney BJ Warren. Warren, a female, was a member of Allen’s local church and while there handled many of his legal affairs. Its unclear when but sometime during or after the revelation of Allen’s crimes, Warren married a high ranking COGIC bishop, was appointed to the church’s judiciary (supreme court) and signed on as a staff lawyer under Enoch Perry. Coincidental or is something being covered up?

Comments on this article allowed only at www.gcmwatch.com

Under oath, COGIC legal counsel Enoch Perry makes stunning admissions

perry-enoch

Part three of a series exploring COGIC and its policies, practices and entanglements with clergy sexual abuse. Parts 1 and 2 can be read here.

GCM Watch has obtained a copy of the 2008 court deposition of Church of God in Christ top “legal counsel” Enoch Perry who testified under oath that COGIC has virtually no control over its ministers or churches.  But that admission quickly caught the former judge in a series of exchanges where he was less than truthful. The deposition occured in early September 2008, almost a year prior to the approaching sexual abuse trial of Rev. Sherman Allen, a former top COGIC church official.

Perry has operated as the church’s chief legal counsel since 1996. His department is part of the national church triumvirate of “judicial” power which we briefly examined here. Perry also stated he was author of a “Sexual Misconduct Policy” which was allegedly disseminated in 2002.

After reviewing the 91 page document, one picture almost immediately surfaces. According to the sworn testimony of Perry, COGIC is not the organization loyal members perceive it to be. Perry sparingly painted a picture of a church divided: with member churches on their own and a “national church” which operates in a religious vacuum. Particularly, as it relates to leadership carrying out its paper rules, the Church of God in Christ is in disarray. Reading the document, something else emerges: Perry is well equipped at corporate lie-telling and evasion of truthful discovery.

Perry, who said he pastors a 50 member church, was on the stand as the official representative of COGIC and as such authorized to speak for the denomination. Under questioning from lawyers for the plaintiff, Perry testified the denomination doesn’t have a national sexual abuse policy. Perry told the plaintiff’s lawyers the policy was suggested to its member jurisdictions and only intended to be used as a guideline. The policy allegedly in place only applies to the 70 odd employees at COGIC headquarters.

In a stunning admission, Perry told lawyers that COGIC national has no power to make member churches or pastors obey its rules. The reason: “everything in COGIC is voluntary”. Perry said all dues, tithes, fees, reports and financial stipulations on bishops, superintendents, national office holders, licensed ministers, missionaries, local church reports, jurisdictional reports and the likes are all voluntary and nothing was mandatory. Perry said the church has no ability to enforce dues assessed to its members. The only possible repercussion he said is that “credentials are not lost, just not renewed” (pg 46). So, my COGIC credentials are still good and I didn’t know it. Well, so are Sherman Allen’s for that matter.

The attorney asked, “If everything is so voluntary then why does the local church have to get approval from the National Council to get out?”

Perry realized he had said something which was at best, contradictory. But he couldnt take it back. It was on record.

The judge is a terrible witness

For much of the roughly two hours of deposition Perry talked in proverbial circles. It reminded me of trying to catch a real liar in a lie. The liar tells one lie to cover the first, then tells another to escape the previous one. At one point, Perry when backed into a corner on one of his admissions fell silent while COGIC’s lawyers (the non-volunteer ones) repeatedly interrupted with client-attorney privilege objections.

The deposition is too lengthy to discuss in depth here, but some of the more interesting admissions made by Perry include:

(1) He did not know that Sherman Allen was Vice President of Evangelism for COGIC.
“It’s not like we go around asking people can we see your credentials to make sure they are who they say they are, because we over 15,000 churches in our denomination,” he said.
But later when asked if he knew Allen was an adjutant to Bishop Haynes in the early 90s, Perry replied “I dont recall him serving in that capacity”. (pg 37). In the next sentence, Perry says “Seems like Ive known him [Allen] forever.”
Isn’t it strange that a man you have “known forever” and know that he didnt serve in a low level assistant job almost 20 years ago, yet you don’t know the same person is serving as in a high level, visible office of the same church where you also serve in a high level, visible office?

(2) COGIC was forced to deal with the Allen case only because of articles which appeared in the Dallas Observer. Perry repeatedly referred to the Observer and blogs mentioning the case as “rag sheets”. In his opinion, blogs were nothing but cheap gossip rags not deserving of legitimacy.  The series of articles on the case written by former DO editor Julie Lyons apparently attracted so much public attention, COGIC was forced to reopen the case. The so-called investigators closed the case because they alleged after six months they couldn’t contact the plaintiff. COGIC thought it was all over.

Perry: “All of the hoopla that transpired from the rag sheets or the blogs or whatever you want to call it, that whole media blitz that was all over the world, if you would that’s what caused the church to look at that again, and that’s what transpired.”

Attorney: So your testimony Judge, is that it was the rag sheets hype that was published in the media that caused COGIC, through it national organization, specifically Charles Blake, Presiding Bishop, to provide some authority for the termination —

Perry: No.

Attorney: excuse me. For the suspension of Pastor Allen?

Perry refused to admit that’s what he’d just said. The implication is that had not Lyons written the stories, COGIC would have treated Allen’s victim like others they have done in the past: either ignore them or quietly settle out of court.

(3) Identified Elder Gerald Harris and Elder Melvin Williams as the sole members of COGIC’s “National Sexual Misconduct Committee”. Later, he said the men were members of the “National Review Board”. (pg 22)
I admit I laughed at the “national sexual misconduct committee”, it just sounded bizarre. Seriously, it appears the two investigators violated COGIC’s policy which stipulates that there must be at a minimum 5 individuals on an investigating committee of this sort. It also requires that a “detailed report” be filed with the Office of the General Secretary within 6 months of a case being closed. Perry declined to answer if this had been done in the Sherman Allen case. He called the two “investigators”  highly skilled in what they do, but Allen under oath said he was never interviewed by either of the two men.

Finally, to add to the layers of confusion going on within COGIC, its rules, the Allen case and the general counsel is the strange parenthetical story of Attorney BJ Warren. Warren, a female, was a member of Allen’s local church and while there handled many of his legal affairs. Its unclear when but some point during or after the revelation of Allen’s crimes, Warren married a high ranking COGIC bishop, was appointed to the church’s judiciary (supreme court) and signed on as a staff lawyer under Enoch Perry. Coincidental or is something being covered up?

Sherman Allen/COGIC sexual abuse trial looms

allenIts been several years in the making, but the time is drawing to a close.

A Tarrant County (Fort Worth, Texas) clerk for the 236th District Court confirmed to GCM Watch today that the sexual abuse trial with Sherman Allen and COGIC as defendants will be called on September 21st. The court clerk stated that while attorneys will be notified of the date, it may or may not necessarily start on the 21st.

Is a day of reckoning at hand for the nation’s largest black pentecostal denomination?

This is perhaps the first of many lawsuits against the church which will play out in the public eye, unlike others where victims have “settled out of court” and thus allowed the church to fly under the radar on the issue.

Allen is being accused of rape and COGIC, Inc is a co-defendant based on the actions of Bishop JN Haynes of Dallas who is alleged to have known of Allen’s long history of sexually and physically abusing women. It took the church 3 months after the shocking allegations broke publicly to suspend Allen –widely believed to be on the fasttrack to the COGIC bishop’s ranks– from his offices.

Stan Broome, a lawyer for the Davina Kelly said, “We’re glad that future victims may be protected, but we don’t understand why the church, since they had full knowledge this was going on, didn’t take action sooner.”

If you are unfamiliar with the case, you can read  here, here and here.

UPDATE: The trial date has been moved to November 16.

Count on GCM Watch to keep you updated on this precedent setting trial.

Outrage: Is COGIC paying for victims silence on clergy sex crimes?

weems3A three part GCM Watch Special Report

Just by reading Superintendent Larry Weem’s airbrushed website, you’d never know three years ago, he was minutes away from going on trial for the sexual assault and abuse of five women under his employ at Church of God in Christ (COGIC) Saints Academy in Lexington, Mississippi. Some graduates of the school have said it to be a breeding ground of sexual misconduct and includes among its alumni false prophetess Jaunita Bynum. Still, according to Christianity Today, COGIC pumps $1.4 million into the school annually.

All of the attacks on the women occurred while Weems (pictured left) was in his official capacity as head of the school. Weems also served as pastor of  Davis Temple in COGIC’s Mississippi Southern First jurisdiction. In addition, he was the jurisdictions head secretary. Weems also worked as a national trustee overseeing some 400 acres of property and equipment owned by the “national church” in Mississippi.

Then in a stunning reversal of events, Weems offered to pay off all the plaintiffs and ended what would have certainly been a public airing of his sordid sexual attacks against the women. And jail time.

Media interviews by the women reveal that Weems was a sexual predator with few restrictions. He believed the women under his employ were objects meant to indulge his sexual needs at whim.

Algenia Randle is one of five women who filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against Weems, her former boss. Randle complained that the pastor sexually assaulted her at St. Academy in Holmes County. The wrongful termination case was settled out of court.
“It has been a long time. We are just glad it is over and are pleased with the outcome. We’re glad that
it’s over. That’s the main thing,” said Randle. Another woman said it’s not over. A Texas woman who decided not to sue described an incident during a church trip.
“When I woke up, Larry Weems was on top of me grinding himself through my clothes and I told him
to get up and get off of me,” said the woman.
Another woman who sued the church wants him held accountable publicly.
“He needs to be registered as a sex offender so people need to know what he is and what he is about,”
said Earnestine Deering who filed a lawsuit. The women claimed they first tried to settle the case with church leaders but did not get far.
“My response was to be fired after they lied and said it would help us and said they would protect us. All we got was fired,” said the woman.

Weems, a married man with 3 adult children, even attacked one woman on the job. Described by her lawyer as a traumatic experience for her client, the woman said: “[Weems] would start out with a conversation and end up with his hands on me in this closet, and pulling my breasts out and spitting on them.”

The attacks came to light in April 2006 during the late G.E. Patterson’s administration. But like all the sexual crimes cases committed by COGIC clergy, not one individual in leadership would even so much as apologize to victims. Victims can expect cold, arrogant silence from COGIC bishops even when the perpetrator has been found guilty. That’s the culture of cover up and concealment which has allowed the Church of God in Christ to effectively keep its members from discovering the stunning sexual crimes committed by men posing as church leaders. Secret payoffs, which in most cases contain gag restrictions have allowed the church to keep the “dots” separated.

Wolves covering for wolves?

Weems was certainly guilty and knew that going into the trial.  Its not certain whether it was his personal lawyer or COGIC lawyers who convinced him at the last minute to take a dive, pay off the women and avoid the trial, but he did.

In the corporate world such crimes would rapidly transition the most promising of careers. But COGIC seems to operate under a different philosophy. Or at least made Larry Weems an exception to its rules.

As mentioned Weems held a number of national and state positions as well as the local pastorate of a church which doubles as the jurisdictional headquarters. But instead of being openly disciplined for his openly egregious actions, Weems still operates as the church pastor and jurisdictional secretary and

The latter is especially troubling. COGIC jurisdictional secretaries have access to personal information on all pastors and members of their respective ecclesiastical territories. Having Weems operate in this position given his crimes presents two severely problematic scenarios. If there are other sexual predators in Mississipi, Weems authority allows him the ability to shield them. His own latent dishonesty certainly brings that into question. Secondly, with Weems in such a position, would he use personal information against others who may be committing sexual immorality?

The money trail

Is the church using hard-earned church money, given to them by church elders, women who pay to carry the COGIC name to pay off sex abuse victims in exchange for silence?

In the Weems case, a report by WAPT ABC in Jackson said the victims were prohibited from saying who paid the money to them.

Upon hearing details of the Weems case, one COGIC pastor who asked not to be named, told GCM Watch “if COGIC used national church funds to settle Weem’s sexual abuse case without discipline, I’ll never pay another church report again!” The pastor said that if the national church is using the money paid to them by honest, faithful credential holders it should be subject to full investigative disclosure.

Although current Presiding Bishop Charles Blake stated in 2007 he would make it a priority to “take positive steps to seriously investigate every case of alleged sexual abuse by the clergy”, he quickly –and without explanation– retracted the statement. It was even scrubbed from COGIC’s official site.

Blake’s removal of his promise may be why so many victims report COGIC leaders refuse to even acknowledge their attacks against them. That’s what the women said happened when they reported Weems. Even news reporters cannot break through the steel wall of silence.

The women claimed they first tried to settle the case with church leaders but did not get far.
“My response was to be fired after they lied and said it would help us and said they would protect us.
All we got was fired,” said the woman.
At least two of the five alleged victims said they have had a hard time finding work. As for Weems, the
case was settled and he is still the pastor at Davis Temple and the superintendent of the school. Weems refused to comment on the case. WAPT tried to contact Weems’ bosses, the local superintendent and the bishop of the Church of God in Christ in Memphis, but none of the calls was returned. The lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount and the victims could not say if the church or the pastor paid them.

In addition to having his sex crimes bills paid, Weems still holds the same positions of authority he had before his crimes. Other than removing him as head of the school, COGIC has given no indication Weems faced any church discipline for his actions.

In part 2 of this special report, GCM Watch will look at the money and the main characters in COGIC culture of cover-up with clergy sexual crimes.

Appendix: Known COGIC clergy sexual crimes

HIV positive  pastor arrested for sexual abuse Jan 2009 (KY)
Pastor arrested for sexual abuse of 4 boys Jan 2009 (MD)
Pastor settles out of court for Saints Academy sexual assaults April  2006 (MS)
Music minister convicted of molestation of  5 boys Dec 2007 (NC)
Pastor arrested for fondling teen Dec 2007 (OH)
Pastor murdered, new details surface Aug 2008 (AR)
Pastor arrested for sex with teen student April 2008 (MA)
Youth minister arrested for sexual assault of teen Nov 2002 (CO)
Pastor molests troubled teen May 2008 (TX)
Bishop convicted of multiple child molestations Feb 2008 (GA)
Woman sues COGIC; alleges childhood sexual abuse by pastor June 2007 (WA)
Former  member reports sexual abuse to COGIC legal department Sept 2008 (GA)
COGIC entertainer a convicted pedophile Feb 2007 (MI)
Youth leader charged with molestation of 13 year old girl (MO)
COGIC sued for $10 million over sexual abuse of teen Nov 2003 (OR)
Prominent pastor sued for sexual abuse Feb 2007 (TX)
Pastor convicted of rape of 19 yr old member Aug 1992 (IA)
Pastor arrested for indecency with male minor July 2005 (NV)
Pastor indicted for impregnating 13 year old girl Nov 2007 (TX)
Asst Pastor sentenced for molesting 13 year old boy Mar 2006 (IL)
Deacon charged with lewd public act May 2008 (WI)
Clarence Garrison (employee of Bethel COGIC) convicted of indecent liberties with a child (KS)
Pastor Rueben Thompson arrested for 5 counts of incest 2007 (FL)
Pastor Issac Goodwater indicted on two counts of “coersion” of girls 2003 (CT)
Bishop JD Husband admitted guilt for sexually molesting underage boys and youth 1991 (GA, TN)
Supt Leon Dupree convicted of assault and rape 1988 (NY)

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