A jury in the Superior Court of Muscogee County, Georgia, has ordered Pastor Lewis Clemons of Kingdom Awareness Ministries International in Columbus to pay $500,000 after he refused to apologize for allegedly sexually assaulting and raping his former congregant, Lequita Jackson.
According to The Christian Post, Clemons was given the option to publicly acknowledge and apologize to Jackson and his other alleged victims in place of a fine but refused and went to trial where he a jury handed him a $500,000 verdict on Wednesday.
Jackson's attorneys, Jeb Butler and Morgan Lyndall, told The Christian Post that their client was not looking to receive money from Clemons but simply wanted an apology. The lawyers sent Clemons a letter detailing this request, writing, "... 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."
Clemons refused this request, and the case went to trial, where several women spoke out about abuses by the pastor.
"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," the attorneys told The Christian Post in a statement.
In a civil lawsuit in 2017, Jackson and another of Clemons' former congregants, Lakisha Smith, accused Clemons of leveraging his spiritual leadership to sexually abuse them.
Jackson, who is now 33 and married with two children, called Clemons a "child molester," alleging that she was just 15 years old when the pastor began to abuse her.
Jackson said it took her five years to open up to her husband about the trauma she endured from Clemons. "He was a sexual predator who needed to be stopped. I just kind of accepted it at that age," she said, according to The Christian Post.
During the trial, Butler and Lyndall argued 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."
They added that as a part of the "body anointing," Clemons would lay on top of the undressed women. Jackson asserted that Clemons used Scripture to justify his actions, telling her that they were biblical.
Jackson, in a previous report, also claimed that she became pregnant two times as a result of the assaults. Clemons allegedly posed as her guardian and paid for her to abort both babies.
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Kayla Koslosky has been the Editor of ChristianHeadlines.com since 2018. She has B.A. degrees in English and History and previously wrote for and was the managing editor of the Yellow Jacket newspaper. She has written on her blog since 2012 and has also contributed to IBelieve.com and Crosswalk.com.