A present Hillsong pastor beforehand accused of taking benefit of congregant labor has claimed that she, too, was as soon as taken benefit of — and sexually abused — whereas working for an unnamed ex-Hillsong pastor.
In a bombshell essay published on Medium this Memorial Day, Leona Kimes, 37 — at the moment a lead pastor of Hillsong Boston — has alleged that within the seven years she spent as a nanny for Hillsong NYC pastors, she was “subjected to manipulation, control, bullying, abuse of power, and sexual abuse.”
Her allegations be a part of a months-long stream of claims in regards to the once-celebrity adored church and its leaders, starting with the stunning information that its now-fired head “hypepriest” pastor Carl Lentz had cheated on his wife. His “moral failure” exposed rifts throughout the church, fraud accusations and congregant allegations of abuse. The international mega-church’s Australian founder Brian Houston has since apologized, and the church performed an inside investigation into its tradition and whistleblower insurance policies. However, allegations similar to Kimes’ proceed to roil the once-praised establishment.
Kimes’ essay claimed that an “unhealthy bond” shaped between her and the lead pastors for whom she would nanny. Though Kimes didn’t identify the precise pastor who’s the topic of her allegations, it has been previously reported that she served as a private assistant to Lentz and his spouse, Laura, round 2014. In addition, ex-church volunteers stated that Kimes was one of their babysitters between 2010 and 2017, according to Business Insider. The Lentzes co-founded and lead Hillsong’s NYC department throughout the timeline Kimes particulars in her essay.
The Post couldn’t verify that Lentz is the topic of the accusations, and a authorized consultant for him didn’t reply to The Post’s request for remark. However, in an announcement to the Religion News Service, a consultant for Lentz stated that the Lentzes “vehemently deny the allegations and, in addition to that, have irrefutable proof the events did not happen as they are being described.”
Neither Kimes nor Hillsong instantly returned The Post’s requests for remark.
Kimes, nevertheless, alleged an expertise of more and more inappropriate conduct throughout her time as a nanny.
“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?’” she wrote. “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.’”
Over the years, the conduct started to really feel “predatory,” Kimes claimed, including that she felt powerless to talk up. Once, “when I was sitting in the hot tub with the kids, he would get in, positioning himself close to me so his hands could graze my leg.”
Later, she claimed, the state of affairs “escalated” additional.
“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,” she alleged. “I froze. Every time, I froze.”
In 2017, Laura Lentz dismissed her from her nanny duties however, regardless of being let go from the job, Kimes nonetheless “couldn’t even imagine reporting my experiences. [Hillsong was] growing so quickly that we didn’t really have the things that are supposed to protect against situations like this — Human Resources, whistleblower policies or any sort of ‘safe place’ to share concerns.”
Her disturbing expertise led her to conclude that the ex-head-pastor “was an unhealthy leader who lacked accountability,” she wrote. “It seems to me like he held himself accountable to no one and took too much power.”
However, a number of girls who previously babysat for Kimes and her husband, Josh Kimes, have claimed that, regardless of her disturbing expertise, the couple helped proceed the cycle of abuse at Hillsong.
One Montclair, New Jersey-area girl — who babysat for numerous Hillsong pastors together with the Kimes’ for 5 years starting in 2014 — told The Post that she was routinely underpaid, paid weeks late, or not paid in any respect for “10-, 11-hour days.”
Former Hillsong Boston communications staff co-lead Tiffany Perez beforehand told Insider that, throughout her time on the department in 2017 and 2018, she was typically paid a mere $6 an hour to babysit the Kimes’ then 4-year-old daughter for 25 hours per week, along with working 60 hours per week as an unpaid Hillsong administrative assistant. “Hillsong refers to it as ‘honoring,’ ” Perez stated of her labor, “but over the years I wondered, is it really honoring or is it that you’re just being taken advantage of?”
Multiple individuals have additionally accused Josh Kimes of quite a few situations of race-related discrimination. “Our Hillsong Boston team has taken some intentional steps to improve racial diversity and equity at Hillsong Boston since we launched and we’re committed to make further strides as we continue to listen and learn,” instructed Business Insider in response to the claims after they had been first reported.