Unholy War: Florida Pastor Makes Claim of Rape against Bishop of 5th Largest Christian Church
April 22, 2016
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An unholy war over claims of pedophilia and graft in the nation’s fifth largest Christian church has taken a vicious new turn with the main accuser publicly naming a man who, he claims, was molested by the church’s top bishop.
The new allegation from Florida Pastor Earl Carter was angrily denied by the alleged victim himself as well as his parents and the hierarchy of the 6-million-strong Church of God in Christ, including its top man Bishop Charles Blake.
‘It hurts,’ Sidney Lassiter III — who admits he was molested as a child, but not by Blake — told Daily Mail Online in an exclusive interview.
‘I have been trying to put the horrible thing that happened behind me for years. I repressed my memories for a long time and now it has all been made public.
‘All I want is to heal and for my family to heal and now this comes up. It’s like picking at a scab.’
Lassiter, 32, a church minister in Richmond, Virginia, told Daily Mail Online a now-dead worker in the Church of God in Christ — known by the acronym COGIC — molested him when he was 12 or 13. He has been through therapy for years to cope with the incident.
His father, Sidney Lassiter Sr., a COGIC elder from Suffolk, Virginia, mentioned in passing that a member of his family had been molested as a child during a conversation with a friend, Denise Hall. She allegedly reported that to Carter, who then claimed online that Bishop Blake was the molester.
‘Earl Carter needs to get his facts straight,’ Lassiter told Daily Mail Online. ‘I hate to say this because I was always taught to respect my elders, but this man is just ignorant.
‘He has taken this one incident and run with it as a way to attack Bishop Blake, when it had nothing to do with Bishop Blake.’
Lassiter and his father put up their own YouTube video on Sunday attacking Carter. ‘A cruel and nasty act did happen to me actually at the age of 12 or 13,’ the younger Lassister said. ‘But the perpetrator was not Bishop Charles Blake.
‘This is not OK, it is blatantly wrong and insensitive,’ added Lassiter, who called what happened to him as a boy ‘a very horrible and filthy act.’
His father said: ‘Denise Hall lied about the whole subject, took this information that I gave her and, for some reason, imposed Bishop Blake’s name.
Bishop Blake didn’t even meet my son till he was about 19 years old in Los Angeles at a concert. The only contact they had, he shook his hand and said ‘Thank you for coming to my church and singing the way that you all did tonight.
‘I don’t understand how Denise Hall could do something as ungodly and wicked as she did. She never verified the information with me. She never called me back and said ‘Sidney, is what I’m thinking true or is it a lie?’
The video war is the latest move in a fight that has roiled COGIC for 18 months. Carter has regularly posted videos attacking Blake, who has headed the church since 2007 and is a member of President Obama’s White House Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnership.
Their fight began in November 2014 during the church’s annual meeting — known as the Holy Convocation — in St. Louis. During a speech denouncing homosexuality, Carter said about gay men ‘if you really want to be a woman you should get the whole package, meaning a woman’s monthly bleeding from the butt.’
He was immediately attacked both within the church — which preaches against homosexuality — and in the media for the inappropriateness of his language, and Blake was forced to apologize.
But Carter, 66, said the bishop ‘threw him under the bus’ with the apology. Ever since, he has repeatedly attacked him in YouTube videos, claiming that he not only molested Lassiter, but also slept with an openly gay Harvard professor, traveled to South Africa to have sex with young boys and received $60-a-room kickbacks from hotels in St. Louis where the Holy Convocation was held.
He even claimed that Bishop Henry Ford, a former COGIC presiding bishop who died in 1995, regularly referred to Blake as ‘Charlene.’
Carter alleged Blake, whose LA congregation includes Magic Johnson and Denzel Washington, ‘raped’ Lassiter when he was just 14 in his own YouTube video. Lassiter is demanding the post be taken down and is threatening legal action if Carter does not comply.
Carter’s video in which he names and shows a photo of Lassiter, claiming he was Blake’s victim, has been viewed by nearly 14,000. Lassiter’s video, which includes comments from his father, church elder Sidney Lassiter Sr., had only garnered 145 views by Thursday morning.
Lassiter Sr. said he even called Carter in January, two months before his son was named, and told his wife Beverly that the accusations were untrue but that failed to stop the onslaught.
‘You could care less about how you defame a person’s family,’ he said in the video, addressing Carter. ‘You could care less about who you hurt in the process of trying to defame Bishop Blake.
Lassiter Sr. told Daily Mail Online: ‘This has been devastating to my family. I feel highly defamed and very offended by Earl Carter.
‘That he would use a real situation and twist it for his own purposes to try to defame Mr. Blake is disgraceful.’
Both Lassiters have made declarations in support of Blake in a court case in which the 75-year-old bishop is suing Carter for $75,000. Sidney Lassiter III insisted he had never told anyone that Blake had touched him inappropriately. ‘Indeed, in my entire life, I have only met Bishop Blake on five or six occasions; these encounters always occurred in a public setting.
‘All of my meetings with Bishop Blake occurred after the year 2001 when I was 18 years old, and not when I was 14 years old (as Mr. Carter has repeatedly claimed),’ he wrote.
The younger Lassiter’s mother, Bethaline Chapman, also a church minister, made a declaration saying Carter’s videos ‘contain outrageously, blatantly and wholly false allegations.’
‘At no time has my son ever told me that he had been molested, improperly touched or otherwise mistreated in any manner by Bishop Blake,’ said Chapman.
‘The stress and strain of these claims has affected my ability to sleep and to perform my job as a global logistics specialist who works the night shift,’ she added.
‘Our son has likewise suffered substantial emotional distress as a result of these wholly false allegations; he is currently receiving psychological therapy in an attempt to cope with the strain stemming from this defamatory and grossly scandalous invasion of his personal privacy.’
COGIC general counsel Uleses Henderson pointed out that the media does not generally report the names of victims of sexual abuse, but Carter’s video had broken that rule. ‘It is unfair and ungodly for Earl Carter to force Minister Lassiter to deal with such a traumatic and personal matter in such a public way,’ he told Daily Mail Online.
Henderson said the church had asked YouTube to take down the videos but the company will not do so without a court order.
And Carter refuses voluntarily to take down his incendiary videos in which he speaks directly to camera. ‘I’m going to fight,’ he said.
He justified posting pictures of Lassiter, saying: ‘You will see how this boy was masculine at one time, but now he is effeminate. He has been feminized because Charles Blake turned him out.
‘I want to be the voice of the voiceless and the voice of the unheard — those who oppose the empire that is the establishment that is anti-God in the church,’ he added.
He said he had been to jail at least 13 times before turning his life around and accepting God. ‘I didn’t get into the church to see no sissy up in the pulpit and whoremongers running through the church, laying with women.’
Orlando-based Carter, who filed for bankruptcy in March, claims Blake is ‘trying to destroy my life, financially, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically and even physically.’
He said Bishop Blake had made it impossible for him to preach any more. ‘He wants my family to starve to death,’ added Carter, who was given one day in jail in 1995 after pleading down a third-degree felony charge of aggravated assault with intent to kill. ‘The man is diabolical. He is ungodly.
‘This man has a wonderful facade. He looks like he won’t hurt a fly. But this man is mean, he is conniving. He is the kind of person that has a false balance and that’s disgusting.’
In his videos, Carter repeatedly asked supporters for money. ‘If 500 people give $50 I will have what I need to fight this thing. (Bishop Blake) cut my income, that’s why I don’t have no money to afford a lawyer. This man destroyed my preaching reputation and all the doors have been closed.
‘Charles Blake is a pedophile, he needs to go to jail,’ said Carter. ‘He doesn’t have no business being the leader of a Pentecostal Church.
Repeated calls to both Carter’s home and office and to Denise Hall were not returned.