Earl Paulk at the Center of New Southern Megachurch Sex Scandal
November 21, 2007
Archbishop Earl Paul at the Chapel Hill Harvester Church located just outside Atlanta is at the center of a new sex scandal set to rock the megachurch. Paulk's family stood in front of their parish a few Sundays ago and revealed his dirty secret: their 80-year-old leader had years earlier slept with his brother's wife and fathered a child by her.
The secret was exposed by a recent court-ordered paternity test, and although this is not Paulk or the church's first brush with scandal, Paulk could find himself in trouble with the law this time for lying under oath about the affair.
Proof of the affair and lie is Paulk's 34-year-old son, D.E. Paulk, who was known for years publicly as his nephew. D.E. Paulk said that he did not know that Earl Paulk was his father until the paternity test: "I was disappointed, and I was surprised," he said.
Earl Paulk was ordered to take the paternity test at the request of the Cobb County district attorney's office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Both agencies are currently investigating Earl Paulk for potential perjury and false-swearing charges that stem from a lawsuit.
The church, Archbiship Earl Paulk, and his brother are being sued by a former employee, Mona Brewer. Brewer claims that Paulk manipulated her into an affair from 1989 to 2003 by telling her it was her only path to salvation. Paulk, standing in front of his church, admitted to the affair last January. In a 2006 deposition related to the lawsuit, Paulk said under oath that the only woman he had ever slept with outside of his marriage was Brewer. However, the paternity test proved otherwise.
According to D.E. Paulk, the results of the paternity test are quickening a transformation that has already been underway in the church after more than a decade of sex scandals and various lawsuits involving the Paulks.
At its high point in the 1990's, the church boasted more than 10,000 members and 24 pastors. Today, they have 1,500 members and 18 pastors. The church was started in 1960 with only a few dozen members in the Little Five Points neighborhood of Atlanta. Flash-forward to today, and its now located in the suburbs on a 100-acre lot, with a collection of buildings surrounding a neo-Gothic cathedral.
Back in 1992, a member of the church claimed she was pressured into a sexual relationship with Don Paulk, and other members of the church claimed to have been coerced into sex with Earl Paulk, as well as other members of the church's administration. In retaliation, the church countered their claims with a $24 million libel lawsuit again seven former church members, which was later dropped.
With the latest Paulk family transgression revealed for all the world to see, D.E. Paulk is hoping that they will soon be able to put all of the scandals behind them.
"I am so very sorry for the collateral damage it's caused our family and the families hurt by the removing of the veil that hid our humanity and our sinfulness," said D.E. Paulk, who was named a head pastor at the church one year ago.
Some former members of the church have likened it to a "cult". Jan Royston, a former member, began an online support group for former members to discuss their hurt feelings and crushed faith.
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