37-year-old Kimberly Pollard filed a $12.2-million lawsuit against the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) and Bishop James L'Keith Jones. Pollard alleged that Jones sexually assaulted her for over 20 years, reported DailyMail.com.
James L'Keith Jones is a bishop at one of the largest African-American Christian churches in the United States.
According to court documents obtained by DailyMail.com, Pollard claimed that Jones assaulted her and coerced into a 20-year sexual relationship and extramarital affair. She also alleged that he attempted to prime her 6-year-old daughter by telling her she looked "sexy" and that he would wait until she was 18 to date her.
The Texas mother alleged the relationship between her and Jones turned sexual in or around 1995, when she was still a minor.
Pollard claimed that the assault began during a Holy Convocation in Albuquerque, New Mexico, wherein Jones used his prestige as a then-pastor to sexually assault her and force her into an inappropriate sexual relationship.
Over the next 20 years, Jones was promoted to higher rankings within the church and given more responsibility. Although he took on a role of higher command, he continued the sexual relationship through coercion and threat. He also used his position as a spiritual adviser to persuade her to stay in the relationship, Pollard claimed.
Jones eventually went on to marry another woman. However, Pollard claimed their relationship did not end.
Pollard said that every time she attempted to end the relationship, Jones told her that no one would believe her allegations because of his high ranking in the organization.
In 2010, Pollard became pregnant with a child not fathered by Jones, which caused him to unleash extreme anger. Pollard added that he accused her of violating the trust of their relationship.
Additionally, Pollard said that in February of this year, Jones sent her now-6-year-old child a video message in which he said, "You look very 'sexy' in your night gown."
Shortly after he sent the message, the Grievance Committee of the Board of Bishops was made aware of the situation and set a trial date for Jones.
Yet, at some point, the board changed their minds and decided not to move forward with the trial.
Pollard accused the church of being negligent and alleged the organization failed their due diligence in the pursuit of an investigation.
“They knew or should have known of the illicit conduct that Bishop Jones was engaging in with Plaintiff Pollard because a basic investigation would have revealed these facts,” Pollard said in court documents.
In her lawsuit, Pollard demanded $6 million in non-economic damages, $100,000 in economic damages for the alleged abuse and another $6.1 million for any harm done to her daughter.
COGIC is one of the largest African-American Christian denominations in the United States, with more than six million members, 12,000 congregations and churches in every state and 70 countries.
President Barack Obama appointed the current head of the church, Bishop Charles E Blake Sr., to serve on his 25-person White House Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
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