EXCLUSIVE: Alleged Sex Assault Victim Accuses Churchome of Protecting Abuser

The Roys Report [Chicago IL]

July 11, 2023

By Julie Roys

Payton (Frye) Jones remembers being in the dorm room of her friend, Zachary Jacquith, and Jacquith getting “touchy feely” with her on the night of February 22, 2019.

“That’s the last thing I remember,” Jones wrote in a statement included in a police report filed with the Kirkland Police Department in Kirkland, Wash. “The next morning, I woke up in my car with his comforter on top of me and my pants unbuttoned. I was so confused on how I got there. I also felt so ‘drunk’ and messed up.”

Over the next few days, Jones became convinced there was a drug in the drink Jacquith had given her the night before, her statement said. Jones added that she “only remembered drinking one small cup of whatever (Jacquith) made for me”—not enough alcohol to make her black out.

Jones also became convinced that Jacquith, a former intern at the West Coast megachurch, Churchome, had sexually assaulted her—something Jacquith emphatically denies. Jacquith, who’s now a TikTok personality with more than 7.8 million followers, told Churchome in a statement included in the police report that Jones initiated the sexual encounter, which was consensual.

Yet, police noted in the report that Jones “had a flash back to the incident. . . . She remembered trying to lift her arm but could barely do so. She said she almost felt paralyzed. She remembered him on top of her ‘intensely kissing.’”

ones wrote in a statement given to police that she “started having panic attacks and breakdowns” after realizing what had happened to her. Jones said she went to Churchome, expecting them to hold Jacquith accountable and help her report the assault to police.

But she said Churchome General Counsel Troy Anderson discouraged her from reporting to police—an allegation Anderson denies. She also said she believed the church gave Jacquith a consequence that was “a slap on the wrist”—a two-year ban from Churchome’s campuses and college housing.

Jones told The Roys Report (TRR) she believes the church protected Jacquith because his father, Justin Jacquith, had pastored a Churchome campus in Mexico and had ghostwritten books for Churchome Lead Pastor Judah Smith.

Her allegation is like several alleged sex assault victims who told TRR that Churchome protected their abusers while ignoring or punishing them. One said Churchome kicked her out of Churchome College for drinking after she reported a rape by a male intern. Another woman said she was booted from Churchome’s worship team after she reported that a popular, male worship leader had sexually assaulted her.

All these reports come after TRR’s exposé in February, revealing that Churchome had re-hired former pastor, Braylon Oliver, after an independent investigation found that Oliver had “more likely than not” raped a woman. That former pastor has since resigned.

Churchome denies wrongdoing, as does Jacquith

Churchome has not admitted wrongdoing in any of these cases.

When asked about its handling of Jones’s allegation, the church replied that Jones informed church staff in November 2019 that “something of a sexual nature occurred” between her and Jacquith “after they drank alcohol together.”

Churchome added, “Payton said she was not clear on what happened other than a feeling that it was inappropriate. Churchome advised her to report the allegation to local police, and after she filed a police report Churchome fully cooperated with and provided documentation for the police investigation.”

Churchome also conducted an internal investigation from November 2019 to January 2020, according to documentation in the police report. And in a January 2020 email to Jones, Churchome wrote that it concluded that Zachary Jacquith had “committed sexual misconduct” against Jones and informed her of the ban against Jacquith coming on church property.

In a February 2020 email to Churchome Executive Pastor Leon Sandberg, Jones expressed dismay that Churchome General Counsel Troy Anderson never met with her during the church’s investigation to discuss the alleged crime.

Jones added, “I was under the impression that (Anderson) was in the process of building a case and that this offense would eventually be reported to the authorities or I would at least have been given the choice of reporting it. Given your finding of Zack (sic) having committed sexual misconduct against me I would like to know if it is your intent to report this crime.”

Jones said that in a follow-up meeting with Anderson and Jon Smith, cousin of Churchome Lead Pastor Judah Smith and former director of Churchome’s internship program, Smith suggested that she report the alleged assault to police. However, Jones said Anderson then responded that she should think about what Jesus would do. 

Anderson denied Jones’s claim. Smith told TRR he doesn’t remember specifics of what happened in the meeting.

In April 2020—five months after first reporting the alleged assault to Churchome leaders—Jones reported Jacquith’s alleged assault to police.

Jacquith maintains he never assaulted Jones. In a statement included in the 2020 police report, Jacquith said that Jones climbed on him and unbuttoned her own pants and repeatedly tried to unbutton his. He added that the encounter with Jones was “so clearly consensual in the moment.”

Police never charged Jacquith with a crime. And now, three years later, Jacquith is suing Jones for defamation. He’s also claiming in a recent statement to TRR that his sexual encounter with Jones wasn’t consensual after all, and that Jones sexually assaulted him.

Specifically, Jacquith, who was 18 at the time, is claiming that Jones, who was 25, “reached into my pants, under my boxers, and groped me.” He added that he “did not say that she touched me that way because of the deep shame (Churchome) imposed on me from the very beginning.”

Jacquith added that about a week before the alleged assault, he and Jones drank a bottle of wine together in Jones’s car and Jones “initiated kissing” with him.

TRR asked Jon Smith about Jacquith’s claim that Jones had sexually assaulted him.

Smith said he talked to Jacquith in 2019, soon after Jones accused Jacquith of sexual assault. Smith said Jacquith was crying and claiming he didn’t assault Jones. But Smith said Jacquith never claimed Jones assaulted him.

However, Jacquith is also accusing Churchome of failing to “conduct a fair or impartial investigation.” He says the church “only asked pointed questions that investigated Payton’s story” and failed to “fully investigate the things I said about Payton’s aggression toward me.”

Jacquith’s mother, Angela Jacquith, also submitted a statement to TRR, accusing Churchome of conducting a biased investigation. She said Churchome didn’t give her son a final written report, stating the reasoning behind its finding. She added, “The letter only described the outcome without offering any options for appeal.”

TRR reached out to Churchome for comment on Zachary and Angela Jacquith’s accusations, but the church did not respond.

Yet, Payton Jones is not the only woman who has accused Zachary Jacquith of sexual assault, according to the police report. The second alleged assault, which involved another Churchome intern in 2019, also prompted an internal investigation from the church. That investigation likewise concluded that Jacquith had “committed sexual misconduct.”

Additionally, the police report notes that Jacquith’s roommate, who was in the room with Jacquith and Jones the night of the alleged attack, was accused by yet another female Churchome intern of “using a date rape drug” on a different occasion. That incident did not result in criminal charges either.

Multiple assaults and use of ‘date-rape drug’? 

When Jones arrived at Jacquith’s dorm room the night of the alleged assault, two other people were present. One of them was Jacquith’s roommate, “Joe.” We are using a pseudonym for Jacquith’s roommate since he was never charged with a crime.

In the police report is a statement by Jon Smith, noting that Joe was accused by a female Churchome intern “of possibly using a date rape drug.” 

When asked recently about what happened, Smith told TRR that he spoke with the female intern in 2019, and her account was very similar to Jones’s account of what happened with Jacquith.

Smith said the intern recalled being in a car with Joe—then she woke up somewhere else, not knowing how she got there. Smith added that the incident between Joe and the intern occurred about a week-and-a-half before the alleged incident between Jacquith and Jones.

Smith said that at the time, he turned the case involving Joe and the intern over to Troy Anderson to follow up.

TRR asked Anderson what happened with that case, but he did not respond to the question.

The other person in Jacquith’s dorm room the night of Jones’s alleged attack was a female intern, whom we’re calling “Jill” to protect her privacy. According to the police report, Jill also claimed Jacquith had sexually assaulted her.

That alleged sexual assault reportedly happened in June 2019 and also prompted an investigation by Churchome that ran concurrently with the investigation involving Jones and Jacquith.

On the same day that Churchome emailed Jones the results of the investigation into her allegation, Anderson also emailed Jill. The email stated that Churchome found that Jacquith had “committed sexual misconduct” against Jill and informed Jill of the ban against Jacquith coming on church property.

Jacquith, however, suggested that Jill was not a credible source. In his statement to TRR, Jacquith claimed that on the night of the alleged assault against Jones, Jill “was one of three older adults that were dinking with me and I was the only underage drinker.” Jacquith said Jill bought alcohol for the group, “but lied about that to the police.”

Jacquith said he told Churchome about a text message showing that Jill had bought alcohol for the group, but “they ignored it.”

Jacquith gave the text to TRR. The text indicates that Jill bought something for Jacquith and Joe but doesn’t specify what.

TRR sent the text to Churchome for comment, but the church did not reply.

Churchome’s ‘subpar’ response to alleged sexual assaults 

KT Hamrin, who served as an intern at Churchome College from 2018—2020, is a rape survivor who’s undergone sexual violence training and has spoken at multiple events and sororities about survivor advocacy and awareness.

Hamrin said she noticed a hickey on Jacquith’s neck the day after he allegedly assaulted Jones and asked him who gave it to him. She said when she mentioned Jones’s name, Jacquith blushed and giggled.

A few days later, Hamrin said she had coffee with Jones and asked Jones what had happened between her and Jacquith. Hamrin said Jones told her she had a drink with Jacquith and that was it.

Hamrin said when she told Jones about Jacquith’s hickey and her interaction with Jacquith, Jones became “visibly distraught and concerned.” Jones then told Hamrin about waking up in the car with her pants undone.

Over the next couple weeks, Jones recovered some memories of what had happened, Hamrin said, and both became convinced that Jacquith had sexually assaulted Jones.

Hamrin said that the same semester, she learned of two other sexual assaults involving interns and realized “how much of an issue sexual violence was in that church.”

She said she then began meeting with Churchome leaders, trying to get them to take responsibility for what was happening, but their response was the “most concerning piece of all of it.”

Hamrin said in the fall 2019, Churchome hosted “what was supposed to be a sexual violence training.” But Hamrin said the leader, an older man, was “subpar” and didn’t allow for the “complexities of survivor stories” or address how to process through trauma. He also didn’t talk about how students could protect fellow survivors, Hamrin said, and reduced survivors to “statistics.”

“That presentation for me was very triggering, very frustrating as a survivor,” Hamrin said. “. . . And it was hurtful to survivors, which is the exact opposite of what sexual violence training should be.”

Hamrin said she communicated her frustration to Pastor Sandberg and offered to speak to students in a way that would be more beneficial. Hamrin said Sandberg responded defensively and she left the conversation “feeling that nothing was going to change or be done.”

“I believe the heart of Jesus is to speak to the marginalized, to support and protect those who have been violated,” Hamrin said. “And not seeing that response from people that I trusted, as far as them hearing the voice of God and speaking into our lives as spiritual leaders, was frustrating and disheartening.”

TRR reached out to Sandberg for comment, but he did not respond.

Churchome told TRR that it discontinued the Churchome College program at the end of the 2019-2020 academic year, but said the decision was “unrelated” to a sexual assault story we reported previously.

However, Jon Smith told TRR that the rash of sexual assault allegations in 2019 certainly factored into the decision to close Churchome College. Smith said during the worst month, he was going to Troy Anderson every few days to discuss how to deal with the situation.

In our next article, we’ll report on yet another alleged sexual assault involving a young adult at Churchome. According to the alleged victim, after she reported that a popular worship leader assaulted her, Churchome kicked her off the worship team but allowed the worship leader to remain.

Timeline: Alleged Sexual Assaults Involving Churchome Interns

*Jan. 2019 – Churchome Campus Pastor Braylon Oliver resigns for “mistake,” after investigation found that Oliver “more likely than not” raped a former Churchome intern/volunteer. (See: “Judah Smith’s ‘Celebrity Megachurch’ Hires Man Accused of Rape Over Alleged Victim’s Objections”)*JAN. 2019

*Early Feb. 2019 – Zachary Jacquith’s roommate, “Joe,” is accused of drugging & assaulting a female Churchome intern*EARLY FEB. 2019

*Feb. 22, 2019 – Sexual incident between Zachary Jacquith and Payton Jones. Jones claims Jacquith drugged and sexually assaulted her; Jacquith claims Jones sexually assaulted him*FEB. 22, 2019

*March 2019 – Churchome intern, “Jeff,” accused of raping one intern and sexually assaulting another. Churchome expels one of alleged victims for drinking alcohol. (See: EXCLUSIVE: “Intern at Churchome Reports Rape, Gets Kicked Out for Drinking.”)*

*June 2019 – Alleged sexual assault of Churchome intern, “Jill,” by Zachary Jacquith.

*Nov. 2019 – Jones reports alleged sexual assault by Jacquith to Churchome*NOV. 2019

*Jan. 22, 2019 – Churchome finds that Jacquith “committed sexual misconduct” against Jill*JAN. 22, 2020

*Jan. 22, 2019 – Churchome finds that Jacquith “committed sexual misconduct” against Jones*JAN. 22, 2020

*Feb. 2020 – Jones emails Churchome, expressing frustration concerning investigation. Asks if Churchome is going to report Jacquith’s alleged crime to police.*FEB. 2020

*April 9, 2020 – Jones reports Jacquith’s alleged sexual assault to police*APRIL 9, 2020