A former church staffer and nanny for Hillsong NYC’s former pastor Carl Lentz has come forward claiming the celebrity pastor sexually abused her.
Leona Kimes has accused Lentz of repeatedly touching her in an unwanted and inappropriate manner. Lentz denies the accusations.
In addition to putting Lentz under fire, the accusation focuses attention on the culture of Hillsong itself. Religion News Service reports:
“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 cause turmoil in the global church founded in the 1908s 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 was fired in November for “moral failings” and admitted to an adulterous affair… Hillsong has portrayed his pastorate as a one-time mistake.
In December, the New York law firm Zukerman Gore Brandeis & Crossman, hired to investigate Hillsong East Coast’s leadership, recommended protocols to prevent similar situations, and Brian Houston apologized “unreservedly” for his lack of oversight.
The full article can be found here.