|Church Member: Pastor Lies to Flock on Sex Case
By Jarrett Renshaw
The Jersey Journal
January 21, 2006
More than 200 people packed into St. John's Baptist Church this week, some hoping to hear a confession from its pastor, who cost the church more than $100,000 after a former church employee won a sexual harassment lawsuit against him.
But the Rev. Sammie Lee Hawkins, who has been pastor at the church for 15 years, not only told his congregation Thursday night that the court documents were lies, but also reportedly said The Jersey Journal was going to retract its earlier account of the lawsuit. The newspaper is not retracting the story.
Jermaine Thomas, who attended the meeting Thursday, said many of the attendees were looking for answers from Hawkins, as well as some insight into how the church plans to deal with the money issue and what steps will be taken next.
"People came looking for answers, but all we got is lies," said Thomas, adding that approximately 50 people spoke at the meeting. He said the mood in the church ranged from uneasy tension to loud shouting.
Darreth Millers, a member of the church's board of trustees, said church leaders had called the meeting in an attempt to remove him. Millers was the only church official who spoke to The Jersey Journal for its previous article, and had questioned Hawkins's behavior.
"I was shocked," Millers said. "Instead of trying to kick the reverend out, they were trying to kick me out, saying I brought disgrace to the church."
However, Millers said, the meeting ended without his removal.
The church's former organist, Kevin Profit, last year won a lawsuit against the church and Hawkins in which he claimed the pastor's "campaign of sexual harassment" forced him to quit his $33,000-a-year job in 2003.
Profit, who is married with children and now lives in Connecticut, said he couldn't work at the church because Hawkins made numerous "lewd sexual comments" about his "sexual organs." Profit also said Hawkins told him he wanted to have sex with him, according to court documents.
Hawkins denied Profit's allegations and said he would represent himself in the suit, but walked out during a pre-trial hearing. In October, State Superior Court Judge Carmen Messano issued a default judgment against the pastor and ordered the church to pay $112,415 to the organist, according to court documents.
Profit's attorney, Mark Mulick, has filed a motion with Hudson County Superior Court asking a judge to force the church to reveal its assets.
"We want to know what they have, so my client can go after it to recoup the judgment," Mulick said.
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