NEW YORK (RNS) — A former Hillsong NYC staff member has come forward with allegations that the megachurch’s former pastor Carl Lentz subjected her to “bullying, abuse of power and sexual abuse” over the course of seven years as she worked as a nanny in Lentz’s home.
“I felt trapped and silenced. I also felt so ashamed and I had been told not to say anything or tell anyone,” Leona Kimes, 37, told Religion News Service via email Sunday (May 30).
In a statement published on Medium on Monday, Kimes, now a co-pastor of Hillsong’s Boston location, claimed Lentz abused her sexually on multiple occasions. “I was physically violated by his unwanted and repeated sexual touching of my intimate areas. I froze. Every time, I froze,” Kimes said in her statement.
A legal representative for Carl and his wife, Laura Lentz, responding to Kimes’ allegations, told RNS the Lentzes “vehemently deny the allegations and, in addition to that, have irrefutable proof the events did not happen as they are being described.”
Kimes’ allegations are the most recent chapter in a scandal that has caused turmoil in the global church founded in the 1980s by Brian and Bobbie Houston in Australia, now a multimedia empire with 130 locations around the world.
Lentz, 42, who had established Hillsong’s Manhattan church with the Houstons’ son Joel, was fired in November for “moral failings” and admitted to an adulterous affair. Soon after, Ranin Karim, a Brooklyn jewelry designer, discussed her relationship with Lentz on “Good Morning America.” The […]
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