The founding pastor of the Florida-based megachurch has filed a defamation lawsuit against it after reports of his financial misconduct surfaced.

On Tuesday, the ongoing legal battle between founding Pastor Stovall Weems and the Celebration Church he started in 1998 in Jacksonville, Florida had taken another turn. Weems and his wife, Kerri, the co-founders of the church, are now filing a lawsuit against it after the church released findings in late April of an investigation into the pastor. The report alleged that Weems had narcissistic behavior, enacted emotional abuse, and performed financial misconduct. Weems denied all allegations.

"This case presents an egregious example of what happens when a group of people decide to weaponize false information to inflict harm and advance their personal and economic agendas, demonize someone they target as an adversary, and deceive the public into believing salacious lies are true," the founding pastor's amended complaint stated, as reported by News 4 JAX.

Also Read: Celebration Church Founder Pastor Stovall Weems Resigns Amid Legal Battle With Trustees

Celebration Church Founding Pastor Files Complaint Against Church Following Investigations Into His Leadership

According to Weems' complaint against Celebration Church, the church and its trustees created a "nefarious coup" to remove the Weemses from the church that they founded over 20 years ago. The complaint accused the church of creating and publishing a "bogus" investigative report that portrayed "a scurrilous narrative and false and defamatory statements" about the Weemses.

The co-founders claimed that the people interviewed for the investigation were "known to be biased" against them and included "individuals with axes to grind" and witness to private situations and conversations that took place inside the Weemses' home, all of whom were subjected to non-disclosure agreements.

The Weemses' complaint against Celebration Church alleged that the church launched an "outrageous, libelous attack" after Weems resigned from the church. The Weemses said that they filed the complaint in order "to clear their names; establish the falsity of the scandalous narrative and statements published about them" and "expose how the seditionists now in control (of) Celebration Church maliciously and unjustifiably ruined" their ability to work in their field of profession.

The complaint added that the Celebration Church and its trustees' goal was to "destroy [the] livelihood and reputation" of the Weemses and "publicly humiliate" them, while trying to "prevent them from continuing their ministry elsewhere." The couple claim to have experienced "humiliation, mental anguish, emotional distress and embarrassment" as a result of Celebration Church's investigation and statements. They now seek over $30,000 in damages.

Investigation Reveals Founding Pastor's Financial Misconduct

In April, the Christian Post reported that Celebration Church detailed financial misconduct allegations against Weems, who was accused of making "several large financial transactions earlier in 2021 without notice to or authorization from the board." The founding pastor allegedly made "multiple large transfers to new for-profit entities" that he and his wife intended to manage going forward. It also revealed that Celebration Church purchased a parsonage worth $1.2 million that a company owned by Weemses had bought four months earlier for just $855,000. The Weemses were also found to have used $1 million worth of Paycheck Protection Program loan funds to purchase digital currency called TurnCoin.

Related Article: Celebration Church Report Accuse Former Pastor Stovall Weems And Wife Of Being Abusive