Broward ex-pastor convicted of child sex abuse dies while serving life in prison
By Paula Mcmahon
April 5, 2016
Jeffery London, the former South Florida youth pastor and charter school official who was sentenced to life for a child sex abuse conviction seven months ago, has died — painfully and unnecessarily as a result of "medical neglect" in federal prison, one of his lawyers said Tuesday.
London, 52, formerly of Broward County, died March 29 at the United States Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, western Missouri, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons confirmed Tuesday.
London had been locked up for the last four years fighting state and federal allegations that he sexually abused underage boys he met at his church, the school, youth groups and an informal foster home that he ran. He called it London's Hotel and said there was always room for another child there.
A dozen boys told investigators he used gifts, intimidation and his status as an upstanding, religious man in the community to harm them and keep them from reporting what he did to them.
In April 2014, a Broward jury found him not guilty of 27 state child sex abuse charges. A little more than a year later, a separate federal jury in Fort Lauderdale found him guilty of using a cell phone to lure an underage boy into sexual activity with him.
The victim, who is not being named because of the nature of the crime, testified that London sexually abused him from ages 7 to 16. The young man, who was 20 when London was convicted, told the Sun Sentinel at the time he was relieved London had finally been brought to justice and could no longer harm other children.
In August, London was sentenced to life in federal prison. He was appealing his conviction and punishment at the time of his death.
The last few months of London's life were filled with suffering, Lourdes Gonzalez, a criminal defense lawyer who represented London, told the Sun Sentinel on Tuesday.
The lawyer said she and London's family are seeking a full investigation of the circumstances surrounding London's death.
"What killed him? Neglect and I personally think it was purposeful neglect," Gonzalez said.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons declined to provide the cause of death, writing in an email that it "is not considered public information and will not be disclosed." The official did not respond to follow-up questions regarding the lawyer's allegations.
Gonzalez said London had congenital heart problems that were properly managed while he was jailed in Broward County and the federal detention center in Miami. But, the lawyer said London became ill after eating something when he was transferred to a federal prison in Arizona about three months ago. He spent about two weeks in a civilian hospital in Arizona before being moved to the prison hospital in Missouri, she said.
In his last phone call to her, about eight days before he died, Gonzalez said London claimed prison medical staff were refusing to bring him medication he needed and he told her: "They're going to kill me."
London was in a lot of pain because of a lengthy delay in prescribing a diuretic medication he needed to help drain fluid his body retained, she said. He had to use a wheelchair but his body was so swollen that he was unable to move it around easily, she said. Gonzalez said London told her prison staff laughed at him and refused to bring him his medication when he was unable to get in a line where medication was distributed.
London's family did not return calls seeking comment but authorized Gonzalez to speak on their behalf.
Burial arrangements are being handled by Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens in Broward County and a funeral service is planned for this weekend, the lawyer said.
London was the youth pastor at Bible Church of God in Fort Lauderdale and was in charge of student discipline at Eagle Academy charter school in Lauderdale Lakes.
He also ran the "Somebody Cares" youth group and operated unlicensed foster homes, which he called "London's Hotel" in Coral Springs and Lauderdale Lakes. London lived in the houses with underage boys, who he said were troubled or abandoned or whose families were in financial difficulty and trusted him to care for their sons. The homes and most of his expenses were paid for by his deceased wealthy benefactor, Elizabeth "B.J." Huizenga Buntrock, according to court records.
London always maintained he was innocent of any crimes.
"I've always been a blessing to people," London told the judge at his sentencing. "I can honestly sit here and say that will never change … One day I will be in heaven and I'm wishing the best to everyone else."
Gonzalez said London's father, a pastor in Palm Beach and Broward counties, and the rest of his family want a full investigation of London's death. The family wants to know what happened, she said. If they do find any wrongdoing, she said they will consider their options at that time, though she said it would be extremely difficult, and likely impossible, to file a wrongful death civil lawsuit because London was divorced and had no minor children who depended on him.
Gonzalez said prison officials were unresponsive and unhelpful in the last few weeks when she tried to get help for London. She said she was planning to fly to Missouri to advocate on London's behalf but was informed of his death before that was possible.