ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A Bishop who leads the Albuquerque chapter of one of the largest nationwide churches is accused of being a predator.
A woman claims he seduced her when she was a teen, then sexually abused her, and recently came onto her 6-year-old daughter.
Bishop James L’Keith Jones of the Church of God in Christ, or COGIC, has been preaching in Albuquerque for years. But there may be a sinister side to the Bishop that Kimberly Pollard wants the public to know about.
Pollard claims her eyes were opened after Jones called her 6-year-old daughter “sexy” in a video message back in February.
It’s now part of a $12.2 million civil lawsuit the now-Texas woman has brought against the Bishop and his church that centers around a series of personal video messages exchanged between Pollard and Jones.
In her lawsuit, Pollard accuses Jones of sexual abuse, something she said started back in the 90s when she was a teen.
Pollard said she recently reported the abuse to authorities, however, Bishop Jones has not been charged with a crime.
Pollard didn’t want to talk on camera, but said she’s known Jones through COGIC in since she was 15 years old. Jones was 29 at the time.
According to its website, Memphis-based COGIC is the largest Pentecostal denomination in the United States. The membership is predominantly African-American with more than 6.5 million members.
It was during a Holy Convocation in Albuquerque 20 years ago that Pollard claims the Bishop, then Pastor, sexually assaulted her in a hotel room when she was 16 years old.
As Jones worked his way up in the church ranks, Pollard said he used his authority to keep preying on her, “…using coercion, threats, and his position as a spiritual advisor.”
Over the years, Bishop Jones married another woman also involved in the church. However, Pollard claims that didn’t stop him from pursuing an “illicit sexual relationship” with her.
Videos provided by Pollard reveal some images too explicit to show on television, with the Bishop apparently simulating sex acts on camera.
“This one’s for you,” Jones is heard saying on one of the videos. Pollard said the gestures were meant for her.
“He told me that should I ever try to speak on it, he’d always have the upper hand because of who he was and who I wasn’t,” Pollard stated in her complaint.
According to the lawsuit, “He [Jones] told her the only result of her confession would be her embarrassment and humiliation because no one would believe her allegations.”
She provides text messages, which appear to show the Bishop sending her flowers, even at one point promising her a ring.
Pollard also mentions comments about her 6-year-old daughter, who is not related to Jones.
Pollard claims Bishop Jones told her he’d wait for her child to turn 18 to date her.
But it was a particular statement to her child that Pollard said made her realize the Bishop was “…trying to groom my daughter the same way he groomed me from 15 years of age.”
In the video, Pollard claims the Bishop told her 6-year-old daughter, “You’re lookin’ mighty sexy in your nightgown.”
She’s since gone to COGIC’s Grievance Committee with text messages, photos, videos and emails dating back years to try and back up her complaint.
Some videos she shared with the church are from this year, Pollard claims.
Pollard said one video shows her and the naked Bishop in a hotel room.
The church’s Grievance Committee Chairman acknowledges the nude images appear to be Bishop Jones. As part of his proof, the committee chairman points to a video showing a suitcase with a box of Trojan condoms next to a “gold cross commonly worn by Bishops in this Church.”
Bishop Jones refused to talk to KRQE News 13. An informal response through his attorney to the church states Pollard’s complaint is “severely deficient and appears to be without merit.”
Jones claims the only thing definitively proven by the videos is that Pollard “violated his privacy rights.”
While he does not deny having contact with Pollard, Jones also claims the photos of the naked man are blurry, and denies it’s him.
According to his informal response to the church, Jones admits his comment to the 6-year-old was “made in bad taste,” but claims “…this statement does not rise to the level of sexual misconduct, malfeasance, or conduct unbecoming of a bishop.”
Jones’ attorney also argues the statute of limitations is expired for Pollard’s statutory rape complaint.
KRQE News 13 wanted to ask parishioners about Bishop Jones.
“It’s a little weird,” one woman told KRQE News 13 before heading into church, referring to allegations against Bishop Jones. “If you wouldn’t have known that he did that, he’s a real good man. You know, innocent until proven guilty, that’s what I believe,” she added.
Other parishioners at Metro Church COGIC didn’t want to talk.
“My Bishop don’t want you here,” one man told KRQE News 13.
Minutes after he asked KRQE News 13 to leave the property, the same man walked across the street to hand over a printed document to KRQE News 13‘s reporter.
“On behalf of James L’Keith Jones, this is his statement,” the man told KRQE News 13.
When asked if Jones typed the statement, the man responded, “This is his statement.”
There’s no signature on the printed document, but it reads in part that ‘No criminal activity has ever taken place in the 59-year history of this ministry…and Metro Church looks forward to the truth being discovered and published.”
Church officials did not respond to requests for comment.
COGIC’s own Grievance Committee Chairman stated in a written document to the church’s Board of Bishops, there’s an “avalanche of evidence” suggesting conduct unbecoming of a Bishop, and wanted to take Jones’ case to the Board of Bishops for an internal trial.
However, four days later, Pollard’s attorney received a letter stating the church decided not to do anything further with this case.
Bishop Jones stayed preaching on Sundays, but it’s not clear for how long.
The church recently reversed its decision about not moving forward with the case, and now plans to take Jones’ case to the Board of Bishops for an internal trial in January.
Pollard is also suing the COGIC, alleging the church and its Board of Bishops were negligent in its supervision of Bishop Jones.
What happens with Jones’ civil lawsuit will be up to a federal court.
Currently, Bishop Jones is not facing criminal charges for sexual abuse.