Former Hillsong NYC Pastor Carl Lentz Is Charged With Bullying And Sexual Assault
A former nanny for ex-Hillsong NYC pastor Carl Lentz accuses him of “bullying, abuse of power and sexual abuse.”
In a message on Medium.comHillsong Boston pastor Leona Kines wrote that in her seven years as a nanny and personal cleaner for the church leader, she was sexually assaulted several times.
Although she didn’t mention Lentz in her Medium post, referring to him as the head pastor of Hillsong NYC,” she confirmed his identity to the Religion news service.
She said Lentz started off with flirty comments about her appearance, but soon asked for foot and muscle massages and touched her inappropriately on two separate occasions — once in a movie theater with at least one of Lentz’s kids around.
A lawyer for Lentz and his wife, Laura, told the… Religion news service they “firmly deny the allegations and furthermore have irrefutable evidence that the events did not take place as they are described.”
Kimes claims in her Medium post from Monday that she was eager to help the family when she took the job in 2011, and “started to feel like I was really part of the family, and they reinforced the idea by telling me that I .’
“The boundaries between personal and professional were blurred early on and an unhealthy bond and attachment developed,” she wrote.
Soon the family began asking her to work from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., calling her Cinderella, “which they said was their way of loving me.”
In a post on Medium.com, Leona Kimes (left) wrote that Lentz touched her inappropriately while in his employ. She is pictured with her husband, Josh, and their children
Lentz was fired from his post as head of the church in New York City in November for “moral flaws,” after which he admitted to having an adulterous affair
Kines claimed Laura Lentz (left) found out about her husband’s violations in 2016 2016
At first, she said, she didn’t think much of it when Lentz started making comments about her appearance, calling it “flirty teasing,” but after a while, she said, the comments started to escalate.
In one instance, she said she remembers the pastor telling her, “If you have kids, we’ll buy you a boob job.”
Another time, Kimes recalls taking her photo while she was sunbathing, cropping his wife, processing the photo with a black and white filter, and texting her saying, “Sheesh girl, looking good.”
Kimes goes on to claim that Lentz would step into the hot tub she was in with his kids and position herself so that his hands could “graze my legs.”
By the summer of 2015, she said, Lentz had started asking for foot rubs when he got home or for muscle rubs after playing basketball.
Then, she said, “the physical encounters escalated.”
“Although he never had intercourse with me and never kissed me, I was physically violated by his unwanted and repeated sexual touching of my private parts,” Kimes wrote in her post.
She told of how he once touched her inappropriately as she drove his sick son to the doctor, and again when she took his kids to the movies and the lights went out.
Kines said Laura discovered Lentz’s alleged misconduct in 2016 and blamed and silenced her, after which she started blaming herself.
“I would leave the church on Sunday in shame after hearing his sermon,” she wrote. “I would think it was all my fault… He was my pastor, I was the problem. He was the boss, I was the employee.’
Lentz was photographed with his family, for whom Kines was hired to care for up to 19 hours a day
The Lentzes reportedly spoke to her again in 2017, when Kines claimed he “took full responsibility for taking advantage of me and putting me in a situation that was so hard on me.”
He even considered confessing to Hillsong executives about his behavior, she reported, but concluded it wasn’t necessary “after talking to his wife about it.”
She said the couple promised to set boundaries with her, but soon Laura told her to “repent” and relieved her of all her duties.
“I was told that if his reputation was ruined, so would my reputation,” Kines said.
She now works as a co-pastor with her husband, Josh, at the new Hillsong Boston location.
Kines said she never spoke to church leaders about the alleged misconduct because she feared she or Josh, who helped build the megachurch in New York City, would be fired.
But instead, Lentz was fired from his position as head pastor of the Church in New York City in November for “moral flaws,” after which he admitted to having an adulterous affair.
Shortly after, Ranin Karim, a Brooklyn jeweler, discussed her relationship with Lentz on Good morning America, and the following month Hillsong co-founder Brian Houston called him a “narcissist.”
DailyMail.com has contacted the Lentzes for further comment.
Founded in the 1980s by Brian and Bobbi Houston, The Hillsong Church has grown into a multimedia empire with 130 locations around the world
The church, which was founded in Australia in the 1980s by Brian and his wife Bobbi and has since grown into a multimedia empire with 130 locations around the world, is now investigating the claims.
In a statement on the Hillsong website, Brian and Bobbi wrote that they found Kines’ claims “very disturbing” when she first came forward with them after Lentz’s impeachment.
“We know Leona could be criticized for her story and her choice to share it,” the statement said. “In that light, we commend her for her courage and have expressed our deepest condolences on her journey forward.”
They added: ‘Abuse of any kind, under any circumstance, is always regrettable. As a church, we are committed to learning more about identifying such trauma and providing meaningful support to all who have experienced it.”
The scandal comes on the heels of Darnell Barret who resigns as creative director of Hillsong New Jersey after sharing lewd photos in April.