Pastor Lewis Clemons of Kingdom Awareness Ministries International in Columbus, Georgia, has refused to take responsibility for allegedly abusing and raping a former congregant, Lequita Jackson, or to provide a public apology on record for the alleged crimes. He chose to proceed with the trial.
On Wednesday, a jury of the Muscogee County Superior Court voted in Jackson's favor and sentenced the pastor to $500,000.
Jackson's attorneys, Jeb Butler of Butler Law Firm and Morgan Lyndall, said in a statement to Christian Post on Thursday that their client was not motivated by financial gain. She merely wanted Clemons to acknowledge and genuinely apologize for the trauma he had caused her.
Jackson's attorneys said the following in a letter to Clemons:
" ... To seriously discuss settling this case, you would have to be willing to make a video statement that: 1. acknowledged all of your sexual misconduct ...; and 2. genuinely apologized for that sexual misconduct; and 3. acknowledged that you have seriously harmed many, many women who trusted you as their spiritual leader.
"Ms. Jackson would then watch the video. She would then decide, in her sole discretion, whether the video sufficiently met the requirements above. She would have sole control over the distribution of the video. She would be authorized to share the video publicly and with anyone that she chose."
The attorneys went on to say that their client, Mrs. Jackson, had offered in writing to settle the lawsuit against Clemons for the sum of zero dollars provided he would film a video in which he admitted and apologized for the sexual assault. According to them, Clemons refused, and as a result, the matter was brought to trial.
"Our client and several other victims told the truth about Lewis Clemons' sexual abuse and rape of themselves and others. Their testimony was detailed, impactful, true, and emotional," they told CP.
Back in 2017, Jackson and another of Clemons' congregation's former members, Lakisha Smith, filed a civil case against the pastor, alleging that he had abused his role as a spiritual leader to sexually harass both of them.
"He was a child molester," claimed Jackson at the time, adding that Clemons started molesting her when she was 15 years old.
As a result of her ordeal, Jackson, who is now 33 years old and married with two children, claimed she was so traumatized by it that it took her five years before she was ready to speak up to her husband about what she had gone through.
"He was a sexual predator who needed to be stopped. I just kind of accepted it at that age," she maintained.
The actions of Clemons with her over time reportedly resulted in two pregnancies, which Clemons paid for her to abort while serving as her guardian.
In court, Butler and Lyndall claimed that Clemons would "find a girl from a troubled background, gave them positions in his church so he could spend more one-on-one time with them, made increasingly sexual requests of them, justified his actions with scripture, asked them to 'stimulate his nipples,' gave them a 'body anointing' in which he had them strip down so that he could rub oil all over their bodies."
A number of his victims were reportedly raped and sexually assaulted while they were under the age of 16 at the time of their claimed assault.
Jackson said in a taped statement that Clemons took advantage of her after she received the gift of tongues.
He informed her that she would need to do a "body anointing," during which he paid particular attention to her breasts and bottoms before resting on top of her undressed body in order to "keep the power of the Holy Spirit sealed in."
Jackson said that Clemons informed her that his behaviors were biblical. But Clemons denied telling Jackson that during a 2019 deposition.
"In our initial meeting about the body anointing ... he read a few Scriptures to me to try to justify the situation. ... I do remember he had me read the book of Acts and the other Scripture. I cannot recall off the top of my head, but it had to do with the laying on of hands," said Jackson.
According to Clemons, when he was younger, he learnt about "body anointing" from an older pastor. He claimed to have used it on a lady suffering from cancer once, who was cured after he anointed her breast.
"Lewis Clemons is a liar and a fraud, and I hope neither my client nor I have to see him again for as long as he lives," said Butler.
Lyndall complimented Jackson for her fortitude to stand up to Clemons, saying that she hoped "the verdict sent a message that sexual assault and rape are never OK."