Following the discovery of eight mentally and/or physically challenged persons trapped in the basement of a Georgia pastor, authorities arrested him and charged him with false imprisonment.

Curtis Keith Bankston, 55, and his wife, Sophia Simm-Bankston, 56, were running a “unlicensed group home” at the residence “under the cover of a church called as One Step of Faith 2nd Chance,” according to a Griffin Police Department press release.

According to Georgia police, all of the imprisoned persons, whose ages vary from 25 to 65, have subsequently been housed in proper accommodations.

Griffin Fire was sent to help E.M.S. with a patient who was experiencing a seizure, according to the statement. It was necessary to enter via a window when “the employees realized the entrance door to the basement was double KEYED (dead bolted) to reach the patient.”

Firefighters alerted the Griffin Police Department to the incident, and an investigation ensued.

It was reported that the ‘caretakers’ had ‘shut in’ up to eight people in the basement of this house at various occasions, according to preliminary evidence. This property has been leased by the “caretakers,” who have been utilizing the basement as a personal care home for the clients, thus imprisoning them against their will, which presented an extraordinary danger since the persons could not flee the premises in an emergency. ”

More than half of the people living in the basement were found to be mentally and/or physically handicapped, according to an official statement.

For his wife Sophia’s cooperation in locking up the people in that place, Bankston has been charged with felony arson and other offenses.

Bankstons “were in charge of the handicapped folks’ funds, prescriptions and public benefits,” according to the police, who also discovered that they had refused their inmates’ medication as well as other medical treatment in certain cases.

Additional charges against both Sophia Simm-Bankston and her co-defendant are possible as the inquiry go forward.

“It is both shocking and sickening to witness the degree to which these folks have been taken advantage of by those who were in a position of trust,” Griffin police said in a press statement.

In response, Bankston and his lawyer held a press conference on Thursday, according to a report from WXIA in Atlanta.

“No one was ever deprived of their liberty.” Attorney Dexter Wimbish, representing Bankston, insisted that his client had not been kidnapped. In this case, there is no fraud. An ordinary Christian guy who had been called to serve others in need is all that is needed to explain this. Let’s not stand by and watch while the ministry gets savaged.”

Claiming the police findings are “fraught with falsehoods,” Wimbish said the state-registered Bankston’s scheme failed to meet zoning regulations.

One Step of Faith 2nd Chance Ministries is not a group home, according to Wimbish. Instead, it is a Christian ministry that houses and feeds people who have been homeless or wards of the state. A personal conservator or financial representative is in charge of the financial affairs of these persons, rather than the ministry itself. These payments were made to me, and I have copies of them.”

This is not about making money from the poor; this is about doing what God has taught us to do: go out into the highways and byways, proclaim his word, and feed and clothe the specific people who need it.” Wimbish said, “He’s doing what his God has asked him to do.”

Wimbish stated, “We’re going to fight it with all that we have.” It’s not my aim to ask for a plea. They haven’t done anything to deserve to be in this position. They have the support of their neighbors and friends. “They have the full support of their family.”


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January 24, 2022 12:44 am

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