Last week, a Georgia pastor and his wife were arrested and charged with false imprisonment after eight people were found locked in their basement. Their attorney has since spoken out about the matter and has denied the claims against his clients.
According to NBC News, Griffin Police Department released a statement and claimed, Pastor Curtis Keith Bankston and his wife Sophia Simm-Bankston were running an unlicensed “group home” out of the basement of their home. Officials became aware of the people in their basement after the fire department responded to a call about someone having a seizure at the home. Once they arrived, they recognized a deadbolt on the basement door and had to climb through the window to reach the patient in need.
The people who were found in the basement range from the ages 25 to 65. Investigators claim that the people found in the basement either have mental or physical disabilities and said, they were “essentially imprisoned against their will, which created an extreme hazard as the individuals could not exit the residence if there were an emergency.”
Of the people that were found in the basement, five of them are wards of the state. Everyone has since been placed into housing by the state.
Pastor Bankston and his wife were also accused of being in control of the “finances, medications, and public benefits,” of those that were in their basement. Police allege that the “group home,” has been “under the guise of a church known as One Step of Faith 2nd Chance.”
The Bankston’s attorney, Dexter Wimbish responded to the claims and said, “First, One Step of Faith 2nd Chance Ministries has not been operating a group home but a Christian Ministry that supplies room and board to individuals who have oftentimes been homeless or wards of the state.”
He continued to say, “Everybody inside this home was here on their own free will, they were free to come and go as they please. No one was kept, held hostage.”
Wimbish did acknowledge that they did not have the proper paperwork to run the “group home,” but said that they would get it.
“We’re going to fight it with everything that we have. There is no intention to have a plea. They have not done anything wrong. Their community is standing behind them. Their family’s standing behind them,” Wimbish added.
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TSR STAFF: Jade Ashley @Jade_Ashley94