One of the lead ‘pastors’ at Hillsong Boston, Leona Kimes, has come forward and claimed that she was sexually assaulted by disgraced NYC Hillsong pastor Carl Lentz back when she was his nanny in New York City, a claim which Lentz denies.
Kimes, who served as Lentz’s personal nanny for 7 years before moving to Boston and becoming a ‘pastor’ there [Editors note: That is a weird transition], explains in a Medium post that:
Before we moved to Boston, I worked in the lead pastors’ home for seven years. I was responsible for cleaning their house, running their errands and ensuring that everything within the walls of their house was as perfect as possible. It was also my responsibility to take care of the pastors’ children, which, in order to protect their privacy, I won’t talk about.
While there were joyful moments during that time, no one knew that I also experienced a great deal of pain. During the years I spent serving them, I was subjected to manipulation, control, bullying, abuse of power, and sexual abuse. Having told almost no one before this, I am just now able to share what I experienced in their home as the result of intense therapy.
Describing the first few years of working for the Lentz family and being part of their home as “exhilarating but also exhausting,” she quickly became attached and felt like she had to care for their entire family, being part of it almost. But then things began taking a dark turn.
The abuse of power started small. Hours would increase beyond belief. Often I would work from 7 am to 11 pm. Schedules were switched last minute without even attempting to confirm my availability. Tasks kept getting added and added to my load. They made fun of me constantly, even calling me Cinderella, which they said was their way of loving me. My husband was frequently criticized as a group sport. Gossip was constant. If I didn’t join in or if I disagreed, I was the odd one out. Classic bullying.
The sexual abuse started small, too. My pastor would look at me and say, “Gurl, you’re looking good. You’ve been in the gym?” There was a lot of flirty teasing like this. I had been around long enough to know that’s just how he was with women. But after a while, the comments started to escalate. I remember being told, “after you have kids, we’ll buy you a boob job.” Looking back, I know I felt embarrassed, but I didn’t know it was wrong then. It hadn’t occurred to me that I had a right to not be spoken to like that, by my pastor or anyone else.
Kimes describes how Lentz would frequently comment on her body and would make flirtatious comments towards her. At one point, “he took my photo while I was laying out in the sun once. He then cropped out his wife, edited it with a black and white filter, and texted it to me, saying “sheesh girl looking good.”
After a while, the asks began to get more intimate. As part of her duties as their nanny, he began asking her for massages, to rub his feet or shoulders and sore muscles after he came in from basketball.
While he never had intercourse with me and never kissed me, I was physically violated by his unwanted and repeated sexual touching of my intimate areas. I froze. Every time, I froze.
He offered to accompany me to the doctor with his sick son once and he touched me while I was driving, both hands on the wheel. Again, I froze.
He suggested accompanying me to a movie with the kids and sat next to me and touched me in the dark, even though we were surrounded by people. Again, I froze.
After a while, Kimes could not take it anymore. Nearly 5 years in she finally confronted both Carl and wife Laura regarding the inappropriate touching and suggestive text messages. The first time was in the summer of 2016. Instead of apologizing profusely, they choose to “blame and silence her,” but enabled her to keep her job. When things didn’t get any better, she confronted them a year later.
[Carl] sat me down and said he took full responsibility for taking advantage of me and putting me in a situation that was so heavy for me. He told me that I should feel “free” from him and the shame I’d been carrying around. He said he’d thought about confessing to leadership, but after talking it through with his wife, they decided they didn’t have to because it wasn’t necessary, and we could just move on. I was told that if his reputation was ruined, my reputation would be, too. He said his wife would come and talk to me about the boundaries we would have moving forward.
When his wife sat me down, she told me that I should repent and dismissed me from all of my duties in the house. I’d been fired from their family, but not from their staff. I felt like it was my fault, leaving me full of shame. I wasn’t given another role, and thought we could resolve it, though I wasn’t sure how. I just knew we were all going to keep quiet.
Soon after she left New York and she and her husband Josh became ‘pastors’ of Hillsong Boston, where they’ve been leading the congregation there since. After Lentz’s affair was revealed and he was fired from the church and she felt “safe,” she told her husband and Hillsong head honcho Brian and Bobbie Houston about it. She says she was “met with compassion” by the both of them and has now chosen to go public after a time in therapy and self-reflection.
The knowledge of this alleged victimization is likely the cause of Houston blasting Lentz by saying in leaked audio months ago that “It was more than one affair, they were significant. And at least some bad moral behavior had gone back historically.”
In an exclusive statement to RNS, A legal representative for Carl and Laura Lentz has responded to her allegations and told RNS that they “vehemently deny the allegations, and in addition to that, have irrefutable proof the events did not happen as they are being described.”
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