A Columbus woman who has filed a civil suit against a local pastor after years of inappropriate sexual abuse said that he twice paid for abortions after getting her pregnant, once when she was 16.
Lequita Jackson, who started attending pastor Lewis Clemons’ church when she was 14 and did not leave it until last month, alleges that Clemons led her into “inappropriate sexual contact.” Jackson, now 30, said Clemons used his position of leadership in the church to make her “do what he wanted and to justify his actions.”
Jackson’s revelations came on the same day that a second Clemons’ church member claimed the pastor had made inappropriate physical contact with her. Tuesday, a second former member of Clemons’ congregation stepped forward with her story of inappropriate contact by the pastor. Lakisha Smith, a member of Clemons’ church from 2011-2016, told of three occasions where the pastor acted inappropriately.
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Jackson filed a suit in Muscogee County Superior Court last month, seeking financial damages and to have Clemons banned from serving as a pastor. She has hired Atlanta attorney Jeb Butler of the firm Butler Tobin.
The civil suit was filed against Clemons, Church of God in Christ Inc., Wynnton Road Ministries Church of God in Christ, Inc., and five other parties that were not named. Clemons is currently senior pastor at Kingdom Awareness Ministries, where his title is apostle.
Calls to Kingdom Awareness Ministries and a personal phone number for Clemons on Tuesday were not returned. He did not respond to interview requests last week when Jackson shared her story with the Ledger-Enquirer.
Tuesday, in a second interview with the Ledger-Enquirer and other local media outlets, she told of additional details involving her relationship with Clemons that she said started in 2002 when she was 15 and continued until 2009.
Jackson said that when she was 16 in 2003, Clemons got her pregnant. After they discovered it, Clemons talked Jackson into an abortion, Jackson said during a Tuesday morning interview with multiple local news outlets. She could not name the facility.
“He took me out of school that day, drove me to the facility under the guise he was my father and signed for me to have an abortion and paid for it,” Jackson said.
Jackson got pregnant again in 2008, she said. Again, Clemons talked her into an abortion, which she had at an Atlanta facility and he paid for it, Jackson said.
Clemons used the Bible to justify their sexual relationship, Jackson said.
“When I was 15 years old, he could tell I was very uncomfortable, very afraid and really confused,” Jackson said. “He would say that men in the Bible had concubines and God was accepting of concubines and that never changed, just the culture changed. ... He told me there were instances where a man had a spiritual wife. ... And he led me to believe by performing sexual duties to him, as a spiritual wife, I was helping him preach better, to stay focused and he could minister to the congregation. And he said my role was very important.”
Jackson said she can recall Clemons preaching against abortion and adultery.
“That’s part of why I felt I couldn’t even come forward,” she said. “He would condemn those things in such a way where I felt that if anyone found out about the two of us that I would get in trouble just like he would. He would also tell the congregation, put me up on a pedestal that I was this perfect member, this perfect young lady.”
Some people would accuse Clemons of inappropriate behavior with Jackson, she said, and he would vehemently deny it.
“And that made me believe he was planting these seeds of doubt,” Jackson said. “If I was ever to say anything did happen, nobody would believe me.”
The newspaper has a policy not to name those who identify themselves as sexual assault victims, but Jackson and her attorney, Jeb Butler, consented to a video interview and the publishing of her name.
Smith’s also told a story of how she claims Clemons abused his position of authority.
On Aug. 30, 2015, she attended the service at Wynnton Road Ministries, but did not usher as scheduled because it was her birthday. Clemons called her back to his office after the service, Smith said. They talked about her family, she said.
“When I got ready to leave the meeting, he called me back to his desk,” Smith said. “... I had on a skirt that day. ... It was not a short skirt. It was down to my knees. He proceeded to rub legs and tell me how pretty they were to him.”
In December 2015, Smith said Clemons called her back to his office and inappropriately kissed her on the lips.
A few weeks later, Smith began to talk in tongues during a service. After the service, the pastor talked to her, she said.
“He said what God had given me that day was something powerful and I might not understand exactly what happened to me that day and he would need to groom me and impart in me and train me in how to operate in my gift,” Smith said.
He also told her that he needed to anoint her body with oil, and shared that he had done the same thing with Jackson, Smith said.
In January 2016, Smith submitted to the anointing process, she said, stripping to her underwear as Clemons rubbed her body with oil. He rubbed her breast and buttocks as part of the process, she said.
“He laid his entire body on top of me and told me that was to seal what God had given me that day,” Smith said. “He said it was going to bring us closer.”
In an interview last week, Jackson described a similar process.
Smith, now 37, said the situation made her uncomfortable and she requested that Clemons’ wife, Belinda, be in the room when it occurred.
“He declined that,” Smith said. “He does not involve her in his body anointings and she can not be in the room.”
That was the only time that Clemons anointed her with the oil, Smith said.
Smith said she left the church in October 2016. Smith has not filed criminal charges against Clemons. Smith declined to answer if she had hired an attorney.
Smith said she is coming forward now, in part because Jackson came forward last week.
“I knew it was time now to come out with this information, especially when I gained the knowledge he was capable of doing this to minors,” Smith said. “I don’t want to see any other woman, child or minor manipulated or sexually abused and tempted by Pastor Lewis Clemons. I feel he should not be pastoring over anyone at this point. ... I honestly want to see him stopped.”