COLUMBUS, Ga. — A local pastor is being sued over allegations that he sexually assaulted members of his church. Two women have come forward with their stories, saying Apostle Lewis Clemons molested them. News 3 sat down with those women, who say they can no longer keep silent. Apostle Clemons is at the center of the civil lawsuit, filed June 19 with Muscogee County Superior Court.
The plaintiff, Lequita Jackson, accuses the pastor of child molestation, sexual battery, and even rape. It’s a position neither Jackson, 30, nor another alleged victim, Lakisha Smith, expected to be in.
“He was a child molester,” Jackson said. “He was a sexual predator who needed to be stopped. I just kind of accepted it at that age. That was what would help me come to terms with what was happening.”
Jackson claims what started as simple talks in the car when she was 15 escalated in to kisses, caresses and even sexual intercourse. Jackson adds the pastor would perform what he called “body anointings,” rubbing oil all over her body. Jackson says Clemons impregnated her twice, posed as her guardian, and paid for two abortions. According to her revelation, Apostle Clemons would cite and use scriptures in the Bible to justify these alleged acts.
“He misinterpreted what God originally put into the scriptures to use it to his benefit.,” Jackson said.
Jackson’s attorney says Clemons used about five different churches, “attacking vulnerable women.” Jackson was married for five years and had two kids before she even told her husband about the alleged abuse. The women tell News 3 Clemons was careful not to perfoorm any “body anointings” on men, as well as not to have his wife around during specific meetings in his church office.
“A lot of the times the victims are forgotten about,” Smith said.
Smith, 37, says it’s been a long uphill battle to rebuild personally, emotionally, and spiritually. Smith believes sexual abuse in church happens a lot more often than people realize.
“Victims feel like they have no proof,” Smith said. “It’ll be their word against whoever is sexually abusing them.”
Smith says she was taking care of her disabled son and her mother, a two-time cancer survivor during her alleged assault in 2015. Smith believes speaking out may help other women. She says during this ordeal, she gave way to doubt and her faith fell on rocky soil.
“I’ve questioned my knowledge of the Bible and God’s Word,” Smith said. “And I feel like honestly, I have to start over. He needs to be held accountable for his actions, There are lives and souls at stake.”
News 3 spoke with Apostle Clemons; however, when we asked him about any possible allegations regarding sexual assault or abuse, he hung up the phone.
“He could explain it away in the comfort of the church walls,” Jackson said. “But if he had to explain it to the public, he could not. I am not surprised he wasn’t willing to explain himself. My only hope is that he does recognize the error of his ways, and that he does do something about it before it’s too late.”
The lawsuit is asking that Apostle Clemons never pastor again, along with a jury trial, damages and other measures. Clemons has 30 days to answer the lawsuit. The statute of limitations has passed for a criminal suit in Jackson’s case. However, Smith still has the option to pursue a criminal and/or civil suit. Stay with News 3 for developing updates on this story.
For more information on sexual assaults and how victims can get help, click here.