Carl Lentz, a former pastor in the megachurch Hillsong, is facing allegations of sexual abuse from a former employee. Leona Kimes, who worked as the Lentz family nanny for seven years, published an article on Medium titled, “Writing My Voice Back,” in which she accused the disgraced pastor of sexual abuse and inappropriate behavior.

Lentz was fired from Hillsong in November 2020. Brian Houston, the church’s founder, cited the reasoning behind Lentz’s termination as “leadership issues and breaches of trust, plus a recent revelation of moral failures” in an email to church members.

In her article, Kimes revealed that Lentz’s removal from church leadership, along with support from the Houstons, allowed her to finally tell her story. She thanked the church’s founders in her essay, writing, “It has been a process for me to come forward and report my experiences to leadership. I have been met with compassion, particularly by Brian and Bobbie Houston. And, I have been welcomed into a journey of healing.”

Kimes stated that, while she was the Lentz family nanny, Carl’s inappropriate behavior slowly developed into sexual abuse. She claimed that it started with comments about her body or flirty gestures. However, he soon purposely started touching her legs and “intimate” areas. Kimes said that she “froze” every time Lentz touched her. His high position within her church made her feel like she couldn’t refuse him. She said, “His elevated status made me feel like he had all the power, and I had no voice.”

When Kimes did try to address Lentz’s treatment of her, she was dismissed. The former nanny attempted twice to discuss Lent’s behavior. The second time, she was removed from the family’s household, but not from the staff.

Still Kimes, who is now a pastor herself, stated that, despite everything, the church has remained a source of comfort and support in her struggles. She said, “In my darkest moments, I thought about leaving church. I have decided to stay because I still have the same heart toward church that I’ve always had. Even with all I’ve been through, I still love it. Hillsong is my church, and I will remain on staff, working toward a stronger future.”

The megachurch Hillsong has gained popularity in recent years, especially with celebrities like Kylie and Kendall Jenner, Justin Bieber and Chris Pratt. Bieber actually lived with Lentz and his family after a particularly difficult period of his life. The ex-pastor eventually baptized the pop star.

 

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